A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 February 1999
SWITZERLAND, BELGUIM, GERMANY TOUR: REPORT
Report on European Tour (see Appendix)
The June 1998 European Tour Report was adopted by the committee. There was no discussion by the members.
TRIP TO SWITZERLAND, GERMANY AND BELGIUM
(Portfolio Committee on Defence)
(14-23 June 1998)
1. Purpose of visit
The Portfolio Comittee on Defence (National Assembly) visited Germany on invitation of its German counterpart. It also visited Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. (Switzerland) and NATO (Belgium). The purpose was firstly to learn how the Germans coped with the integration and right-sizing of two Armed Forces and the role of their Military Ombudsperson. Secondly, it was to meet with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd., which sold military training aircrafts to SA, on accidents with these aircrafts and allegations that it paid huge commissions to certain Armscor officials. Thirdly, it was to compare NATO to African security cooperation structures.
2. Study Tour group
The delegation included the following people;
Mr PJ Groenewald (FF-leader of the delegation)
Ms TR Modise (ANC)
Mr HG Loots (ANC)
Mr HM Fazzie (ANC)
Mr HA Smit (NP)
Mr MA Mncwango (IFP)
Mr DHM Gibson (DP)
Mr G Campher (secretary)
(3.1) Switzerland: 15 June 1998
Meeting with; Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.
(3.2) Germany: 16 - 20 June 1998
Meetings with; Parliamentary Defence State Secretary
Deputy Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs
Defence Committee (Bundestag)
IV (GE) Corps (Army Division)
STN Atlas Elektronik Gmbh (Electronics Company)
Blohm+Voss (Warship & Submarine Manufacturer)
(3.3) Belgium: 21 - 22 June 1998
Meetings with; NATO officials
Belgian Defence Committees
Meeting with Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.
In February 1993, a contract valued at SFr 260 million (Rm 780) for 60 Pilatus PC7 MK11 training aircraft, was signed with Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor). These aircrafts arrived in Pretoria, in November 1994. The direct offset benefits stretched over two years, with a further indirect offset of SFr 65 million over another two years. The fuselage and cut-off models of the aeroplanes were sent to South Africa, to be used in the training of apprentices and technicians, as part of the offset.
The South African Air Force ascribed the accidents to human error and not to aircraft failure. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. was proud of its products and assured the delegation that everything neccessary was done to ensure that the aircrafts perform to the needs of the customer and that high safety standards were maintained.
3. Bribery allegations
Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. denied the allegations that they paid huge commissions to certain Armscor officials in order to get the tender. The Office for Serious Economic Offences subsequently informed `the leader of the delegation' after his return to South Africa, that there was no evidence to support the bribery allegations against Pilatus Aircraft Ltd.
4. Investigation by Office for Serious Economic Offences (OSEO)
The preparatory investigation by OSEO into the alleged bribery case has not been completed, because evidence must be obtained from abroad. However, it has been established that two Armscor agents received R14 396 456 and R33 018 996, respectively. These amounts, as well as the possibility of any kick-backs received by personnel of the Defence department, were still being investigated.
It has further been established that an amount of R6 750 000 was paid to a foreign entity/company, which was apparently controlled by an ex-Armscor employee, who was also living abroad. The circumstances surrounding the payment of this amount needed further investigation. It will take some time, because OSEO lost the services of the accountant and SAPS director involved in the investigation.
5. Tour of the Factory
The workforce was quite motivated and received bonuses for initiative and more efficient and productive working methods. All components were so rigorously tested for quality, that the current machines used in quality control, were unable to meet the challenge, because the quality was too high. They had to manufacture a new machine to test the high "Pilatus class". The delegation was impressed with the quest for quality and precision, as well as the high technological level at which activities were done.
Aeroplanes are also assembled in other countries, but Pilatus Aircraft Ltd. manufacture the parts and do the systems control to ensure that the product is of the highest quality and safety. Pilatus has also introduced new paints to enhance the quality of their products.
6. New product
The latest product was the PC-12M, a single-engine, turboprop, 12-seater utility aircraft, that can transport passengers, cargo or both. It can also be used for special operations, such as air ambulance transport and airborne fire-fighter coordination. Armscor was briefed on the PC-12M in May 1998.
The US Coastguard showed interest, as they were impressed with the following;
(a) low cost during surveillance/reconnaisance
(b) low maintenance costs
(c) short take-off and landing
(d) environment protection (video recording of oil spills and illegal fishing)
Air forces also liked the PC-12M, because it can be used on different missions. These included border/environment/pollution patrol, minefield detection, electronic intelligence gathering, high resolution mapping and UN peace-keeping operations.
C. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF GERMANY (FRG)
1. Meeting with the Military Ombudsperson
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is in the process of setting up an office in the Public Protector's Office that will deal specifically with complaints of and complaints about the SANDF. The Germans calls this office the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces (hereafter Commissioner), which is currently held by Mrs C Marienfeld, a former Member of the Bundestag (i.e. `National Assembly') and Defence Committee (hereafter the Committee).
The origins of this office, which is established by the German Basic Law (or constitution) arose out of the changing foreign and security developments in the 1950's. Its aim was to intensify parliamentary control over the Armed Forces and to safeguard the basic rights of the Armed Forces members, which are "citizens in uniform".
(1.2) Election of the Commissioner
The Commissioner is elected - upon the proposal of the Committee - with a majority in the Bundestag for a five-year term of office. It is one year longer than the electoral term of the Bundestag to further safeguard independence of the Office. Re-election and dismissal is possible with the requisite number of votes. While in office, the Commissioner must be a-political and may hold no other remunerated post, engage in no trade and practice no profession.
(1.3) Functional and material competence
The Commissioner takes action on matters that suggest a violation of the basic rights of Bundeswehr (i.e. German Defence force) personnel or the principles of Innere Führung (leadership and civic education). The aims of the principles of Innere Führung are leadership in line with current requirements and internal structures based on respect for the legal and constitutional order and the capacity to carry out out missions effectively. All personnel have the right to petition the Commissioner and it is not necessary for the petitioner to have a personal grievance. The majority of petitions are concerned with promotions, deployment, etc., while the minority are about unfairness.
The Commissioner is bound by the instructions of the Bundestag, to which she is obligated to report. She is independent when it comes to the assessment of the results of investigations, the presentation of issues, the priorities set out in the annual report and on reports on specific matters. Independence and autonomy is further strenghtened by a budget that she has at her disposal.
(1.4) Legal powers and functions
The Commissioner has a very extensive right to information to carry out her tasks. She can demand inforamtion from the Federal Minister of Defence (hereafter Minister) and all agencies and personnel under his/her supervision. This right can only be denied where secrecy is required and if the decision is taken by the Minister in person, who is then answerable to the Committee.
The Commissioner can also visit any Bundeswehr unit, installation, headquarters or administrative agency at any time, without giving prior notice.
The Commissioner is however part of the legislative powers and is therefore not empowered to give instructions to the Minister or a subordinate agency. She can merely propose that certain actions should be taken. The moral weight of the Commissioner and the political support of the Bundestag are of decisive importance when issues are to be addressed.
The Commissioner has a staff complement of 60 people. They are under the supervision of the Commissioner in respect of work, but in respect of service regulations under the supervision of the Secretary-General of the Bundestag, because they are part of the Bundestag administration.
The Bundeswehr finds itself in a period of profound change. Personnel strengths were reduced, the Bundeswehr was established in former East German areas after Unification, it participates in United Nations (UN) missions and above all it has budgetary constraints. With these changes in the Bundeswehr, the tasks and functions of the Commissioner has also changed.
Until the 1980's, Commissioners focused primarily on deficits and deficiencies for which the Bundeswehr bore the main responsibility. Since then, they have dealt primarily with difficulties and problems caused by decisions taken by Parliament and Government. Increasingly, they have become more `political' by being an advocate for the Bundeswehr vis-a-vis Parliament and the general public.
It is clear that the SANDF, which is undergoing similar changes can benefit from the establishment of a Military Ombudsperson.
2. Meeting with the Parliamentary State Secretary (Federal Defence Ministry)
Dr Klaus Rose, the Parliamentary State Secretary, is a Member of the Bundestag and is appointed by the Federal Defence Minister, as liaison between the Ministry and the Bundestag. He was Chair of the Budget Committee for 5 years and thereafter Chair of the Defence Committee.
The Armies and its equipment had to be downsized after Unification. Weapons from the former East bloc defence force were registered and some were then destroyed. Assimilation of these weapons into the new Defence Force would have been too expensive, because new systems would have to be set up to maintain and repair it. However, some systems were kept, like the Mig fighter planes.
The delegation was surprised that the Bundeswehr still had a conscription policy, because with Germany's history everyone expected the opposite. The argument is that general conscription, which is 10 months long, indicates a country's intention to defend itself and to ensure high levels of internal security. At the same time it eases the integration of the Armed Forces into society and vice versa. There is general public support for conscription, with the result that the outcome of many political elections have been decided by political parties'support or rejection of conscription.
Under Article 4 of the Basic Law, no one can be forced against his/her conscience to serve. However, recognized conscientious objectors must do humanitarian duties for 15 months.
There are however certain political parties, like Alliance 90/The Greens, that are against conscription, because (1) they want to promote voluntarism in all spheres of society and (2) Germany does not have a security problem. They emphasized the fact that all German forces abroad are volunteers.
3. The Bundestag
There are currently 672 members in the Bundestag. The President of the Bundestag (Speaker) is nominated by the largest Parliamentary group and elected even if this group does not have a majority in the House. The number of vice-Presidents is not specified in the Rules and Procedures, but there are four at the moment.
Although Committees are open to all MP's, they are not generally open to the public, in order to ensure an atmosphere in which matter-of-fact discussions can be conducted and compromises hammered out. However, the Committees on Defence, Foreign Affairs and Internal (Home) Affairs, in which security issues are discussed, are closed, even to MP's who are not members of these Committees.
The Defence Committee can summon the Federal Chancellor and Federal Ministers, but not other people, to appear before it. It can also investigate any security related matter, with 25% support of its Members.
(3.2) Meeting with German Defence Committee
(3.2.1) Peace Support
The Committee thanked South Africa (SA) for its assistance in Namibian Independence and then set out the security problem areas of the FRG. Firstly, the instability in the Balkans and the fighting in Cosovo. Secondly, the difficulty of extending the UN mandate in the Bundeshaus (Parliament) to keep Bundeswher forces in Cosovo and thirdly, the internal strain due to Unification.
The Germans wanted to know about security in SA and Southern Africa, the hurdles that had to be overcome in unifying seven different Armed Forces and South Africa's role in Peace Support operations.
The mistrust of the different forces, that were former sworn enemies, was the greatest obstacle. However, the situation is improving with the help of the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT), which acts as an advisor in the transformation of the SANDF.
It was stated that Southern African states co-operate on security matters to ensure that stability reigns in the sb-region. However, Peace Support is difficult to get off the ground, because the SANDF's budget is shrinking, whereas its size is growing, because of integration. On the other hand, SA does not want to be the Big brother of Southern Africa (sub-region) or Africa (region).
(3.2.2) Defence Industry
The Defence Industry of SA equipped the former SADF with technological weaponry to make it a formidable fighting force in the sub-region. However, in the 1980's it began to scale down and SA lost most of its skilled people, especially to the USA. This was and is a major problem for the Industry and the country as a whole, because to replace these people will take a lot of re-investments.
(3.2.3) Lessons from South Africa
They supported the anti-Apartheid struggle and feel that the FRG can learn from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process so that they can move on from the Cold War and the Separation of Germany. Some parties also supported President Mandela's stance on countries, like Libya, which played a role in the anti-Apartheid struggle. SA can play a role in democratizing these countries, because it is only through dialogue that these countries can be changed, instead of letting them fall into disarray in isolation.
(2) Arms Control
SA is the 10th largest producer of Arms, which necessitated good control over the export of Arms, especially to countries that is or might become a "security" problem. Comittee members also congratulated SA in ending its Nuclear programme and in signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
The delegation responded that Arms control is the responsibility of the Cabinet sub-committee on Security, i.e. the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC). The Germans have a Council of Security, consisting of the Chancellor and Foreign Affairs, Defence and Finance ministers, which review sales to non-NATO and countries with which relations are strained. However, their chemical research has been abused, because German companies sold products and tecnology to the "suspect" countries.
4. Meeting with Dr Werner Hoyer (Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister)
(4.1) FRG in Peace Support
Dr Hoyer stated that the FRG believes in multi-laterals and therefore see a role for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the UN and European Union (EU) in international affairs. The FRG, however had constitutional constraints with regard to its involvement in international operations. In Somalia it had limited success and on Cosovo there is agreement that the FRG should be involved, but there is no legal framework or UN Security Council mandate.
The FRG sent troops in December 1995 to Bosnia for one year, as part of the Implementation Force under NATO command, however it has now become indefinite. Germany has also participated in UN humanitarian missions to Cambodia, which was more succesful.
The Bundeswehr is purely a defensive force and has no weapons of mass destruction. "Maintain peace with fewer weapons" was the motto of the FRG's motto to end the East-West confrontation. Through the FRG's involvement in disarmament and arms control, it is also playing a role in stabilizing Europe.
(4.2) RSA in Peace Support
Dr Hoyer believed that SA could play a vital in Southern Africa. The delegation responded that SA has budget constraints, with the first priority now to ensure that SANDF's weapon-systems do not become obsolete. SA also has guidelines for becoming involved in Peace Support missions. SA's geographical position gives it a strategic advantage and as the chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), it can exert influence in Southern Africa and Africa.
(4.3) UN Security Council
He stated that the Council represented a 1948 World Order and currently does not have representation from 4 continents or any third world country. The FRG wants to be on the council and are against the Veto-system and second/third class membership.
(4.4) NATO Expansion
NATO is based on a system of collective defence and is open to any country that adheres to the rule of law, the idea of mutual defence and certain values. NATO signed Protocols of Accession with three former Warsaw Pact countries (Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland) in 1997. Some observers also want Russia to be part of NATO, but others believed that the idea of collective defence will then be watered down, because who will be the target of this collective defence?
5. Meeting with IV Corps (Army Unit)
The Unit briefed the delegation on the state of the new Bundeswehr. The National People's Army (NPA) of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Bundeswehr of the FRG, were ideologically different, but at the end of the day, both were German. This fact was stressed by the presenter.
In accordance with the Cooperation of the Armed Forces of Europe treaty, the majority of the NPA's equipment was destroyed. Some were given to allies during the Gulf War, while other equipment, including tents, vehicles and medical equipment were made available as humanitarian aid.
About 25% of the 2 300 military installations of the NPA are still in use. The rest were transferred to the Federal property. The NPA's military infrastructure was however in a deplorable state and it would take 14 years and DM 21 billion to bring it up to standard.
(5.3) Bundeswehr tasks
The Bundeswehr had the following tasks after Unification in October 1990;
(a) disband the NPA and take over its infrastructure
(b) establish a united Federal Armed Force
(c) integrate selected NPA personnel
(d) safeguard, disband and use NPA equipment
(e) dismantle border fortifications along the inner-German Border.
(f) support the withdrawal of Soviet (later Russian) Forces
(g) support civil administration
(h) reduce the Armed Forces, from 660 000 to 370 000 by 1994.
The reduction of personnel and the integration (some observers call it aborption) of the NPA into the Bundewehr were difficult, because of the perception of two Germanies. It meant a substantal paradigm shift to eradicate clichès and stereotypes. Even in June 1990, 3 months before Unification, the Minister of Disarmaments and Defence of the GDR, ordered new uniforms.
Voluntary packages, although expensive, had to be given, especially to old personnel to whom change was difficult. The GDR government retired all general officers and admirals, career soldiers over 55 years and changed the status of female soldiers to civilian employees, if they wanted to remain in the service.
(5.6) German Unity
On 3 October 1990, the day of German unity, the Armed forces of the GDR was disbanded. The Bundeswehr had 490 000 personnel and the NPA 170 000. The current strength of the new Bundeswehr is about 340 000. The success of unity has been exemplified by the following statement by Federal Chancellor Kohl in 1993, which is also applicable to SA where the Armed Forces of the SADF, MK, APLA and TBVC states were integrated;
"This process is without any precedent in modern history.
Former enemies became friends with the common mission to
courageously defend the freedom of the German People.
In this way the Federal Armed Forces contribute
significantly to merging both parts of our country".
6. Meeting with STN ATLAS Elektronik GmbH
STN Atlas manufactures electronic and computer back-up for naval, land and airborne systems, as well as simulation sytems. The products that they put on tender as part of the defence equipment package deal were; electronics for submarines, corvettes, torpedoes and simulators. Their turnover for the 1997/98 financial year was 1,2 Billion DM
(6.2) Participation Programmes
A requirement from Armscor for tenders was that there must be offsets for the local Industry. The volume of the Direct Industrial Participation (DIP) program is valued at DM 88,6 million, which include local production, transfer of technology and know-how, test infrastructure, software training and tools and a hotline for the duration of the project (appr. 6 years). The volume of Non-direct Industrial Participation (NIP) program, including Defence material that was procurred in SA, is valued at DM 1,462 million.
(6.3) Benefits for SA
(a) Maximum value-added workshare for SA companies
(b) Technology transfer in design and licenced manufacturing and testing of state-of-the-art hydro-acoustics sensors, as well as sophisticated computer and signal processing units.
(c) Ability of SA companies to provide the full scope of Through Life Support for ISUS 90 computer Hardware to the SA Navy.
7. Blohm+Voss Shipbuilders
Designing and building sophisticated, high performance naval vessels remains one of the greatest technical challenges ever. These vessels must meet certain requirements; like the capability to operate efficiently, of being robust and of possesing high survivability capabilities. It must also have the capability for future upgrades and easy refitting, at competitive prices.
(7.2) MEKO Concept
Blohm+Voss introduced MEKO (multi-Purpose combination) technology, i.e. advanced modular warship designs that embraced the flexible installation of weapon, electronic and major service systems in the form of standardized modules and standardized interfaces.
The Modular Construct concept provide the following benefits;
(a) building costs can be cut
(b) modernization is easy
(c) construction time is reduced
The different modules are as follows;
(a) weapons modules
(b) mast modules
(c) electronic modules
(d) equipment modules
(e) ship's service systems and accommodation modules
(7.3) Advantages during construction
The ship's platform can be constructed, while the modular payload (i.e. weapons, electronics) is manufactured in the workshop. When ready, the workshop tested modules are installed in the shipyard and connected to the ship's service systems and database within a few days.
The benefits are as followings;
(a) design flexibility
(b) saving of time and cost
(c) clear division of responsibilty between the shipyard and the manufacturers of the weapons, electronics and machinery systems.
(d) enhanced quality of workmanship due to the assembly and testing of the payload systems under workshop conditions.
(e) testing of complete systems, as well as interfaces on land before installation on board, without the need to erect additional testing facilities.
(7.4) Advantages during the life of the vessel
Due to modularization, the complete payload can be quickly installed, removed, exchanged or replaced, with the following benefits;
(a) design flexibilty for upgrading/modernization
(b) saving of time and costs for maintenance/repair due to shorter periods in the dockyard.
(c) saving of time and costs for upgrades of weapon and electronic systems through the quick and easy exchange of modules
(d) overall reduction of life cycle costs.
1. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)
The North Atlantic Treaty was signed in Washington in 1949, creating an alliance of 12 sovereign nations, committed to each other's defence. Greece, Turkey, Spain and the FRG joined later. In 1997, NATO approached three former East Bloc countries to become members.
(1.2) NATO vs Warsaw Pact
In 1991, NATO decided not to disband, unlike the Warsaw Treaty Organisation, but to adopt a new strategy. In today's cooperative security environment, the Alliance has transformed its structures to undertake, not only collective defence, but also peace-keeping missions and other new tasks, working alongside non-NATO nations and other international organisations.
In 1997, the NATO-Russia Founding Act and the NATO-Ukraine Charter were signed, which provided the frameworks for close consultation/cooperation on issues of mutual concern. Russia and the Ukraine were the only Soviet Republics that retained nuclear warfare capability after the break up of the Union of Sosialist Soviet Republics (USSR).
(1.3) Post Cold War approach
Three assumptions have guided the Alliance in its post Cold War transformation. Firstly, the threat of a major war has disappeared and that regional conflicts are on the rise. Violent ethnic cleansing and civil war in a former East bloc nation might not threaten NATO security directly, but if left to fester, it could lead to instability and insecurity across Europe.
Secondly, practical cooperation and not confrontation should be the key strategic instrument for shaping the security environment. NATO would therefore make an active effort to help its former adversaries to become stable and confident democracies, with military structures firmly under civilian control.
Thirdly, NATO realizes that in the emerging New European security architecture no single institution can provide all the political, economic and military means neccessary to prevent or manage a European crisis. As such, NATO, the EU, the Western European Union (WEU), the Organisation for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe should support and reinforce each other in building a comprehensive security architecture for the continent.
Some observers are however sceptical about having NATO today, because it is a creation of the Cold War. However, NATO's response was that its approach to post Cold War security was aptly demonstrated in Bosnia, with the prevention and management of a regional conflict. The UN delivered the mandate, but not all the means, because it is a body without any teeth! As such NATO had to back-up UN's words with action.
(1.4) Lessons for the Region (Africa) and Sub-region (Southern Africa)
African states were violently created in the previous century by European colonists, who drew national boundaries in the sand and Africans have ever since fought each other to protect these artificial barriers!
Africa is characterized by regional flashpoints, i.e. Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Somalia, Rwanda, Congo and closer to home, Angola. The assumptions that NATO made, can and should be applied in this region by organisations like the Organisation for African Unity (OAU), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the SADC.
2. Belgian Defence Committee (Senate)
They stated that good cultural relations existed between Belgium and South Africa - Afrikaans and Belgian Flemish are close relatives. They feel its unfortunate that the SA Embassy and EU Mission will be amalgated because of financial constraints, but were confident that relations will remain strong.
(2.2) Rwanda Commission
The Commission was independently set up to investigate Belgium's positive and negative contribution to the UN Peace-keeping force. It was chaired by the Chairperson of the Belgian Senate. It lasted for 18 months and focused on the testimonies of more than a hundred Belgians and Rwandians.
(2.2.2) Difficulties experienced
There were some destabilizing factors, i.e. the hatred between the Hutu's and Tutsi's, which was further fueled by the media and the hatred of Belgium by the Rwandese people. Other factors were the weak and unclear UN mandate and contradictory responses of the outside world to the crisis.
(2.2.3) Lessons from the Commission
Peace-keeping missions should be well-prepared. Information on the local politics and cultures and not only military information, should also be used to formulate policy. Belgium also found that their budgetary constraints, with their moving into the European Unity and the Euro currency, meant that not enough money was spent to safeguard Rwandian and Belgian lives. Forty Belgians lost their lost lives compared to 800 000 Rwandese.
The Committee wishes to express its deepest gratitude to the German Defence Committee (Bundestag) for inviting it to its wonderful country. A special note of thanks to Dr U Kaestner, German Ambassador, Capt R Housselle, German Military Attaché and the Bundestag Committee Section for their assistance with the logistics and the itenerary.
The Committee also wishes to thank Mrs R Mompati, Mrs L Mabuza and Mr E Links, our respective ambassadors (and their staff) in Switzerland, Germany and the European Union, for the warm reception.
A thank you also to our Department of Foreign Affairs for their assistance with the arrangement of this succesful fact-finding trip.
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