By Augustine Ehikioya
The Chief of the South African Army, Lieutenant General Lawrence Khulekani Mbatha has charged troops undergoing studies and training to always serve with pride and professionalism in the execution of their duties.
He gave the charge when he visited the South African Army College in Thaba Tshwane.
The visit was part of the second leg of a series of visits to South African Army Centres of Excellence.
This was contained in press statements issued by the South African Defence Force (SANDF), and made available on Thursday to Security Watch Africa (SWA).
The arrival of Chief of the South African Army at the South African Army College in Thaba Tshwane, the statement said “was characterised by a display of high standard of discipline from the staff members and learners at this prestigious training institution.
Addressing the members, the statement said the Chief of the South African Army “emphasis on the constitutional mandate of the South African National Defence Force that is: To defend and protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of South Africa and its people.”
Stating the mandate of the South African Army “that is: To prepare and provide combat ready landward forces as directed by Chief of the South African National Defence Force for employment by Joint Operations Division.
“The Chief of the South African Army went on to state the critical importance of the South African Army Theme to “Define and refine leadership and command as a critical success factor in the restoration of the South African Army to its rightful glory”.
“In this regard, Chief of the South African Army did not mince his words that leadership and command are the pivotal and integral part of the South African Army Leadership Corps and that members have to strive to meticulously develop the art of executing them in a professional manner. He also urged members to always serve with pride and professionalism in the execution of their duties and responsibilities.”
The Army Chief also gave a highlight of the outcome on the recent staffing or placements of South African Army members, especially in the junior ranks.
“In this instances, members that have spent a lengthy period in ranks have been empowered through appropriate functional and developmental study programmes, appointed and promoted accordingly. This, has to a large extent boasted the morale and spirit de corps amongst the members. Indeed, this has demonstrated the success of the Project HOPE.”
Gen. Mbatha, also gave highlight on the recent successes from Operation PROSPER, wherein the immediate response of the South African National Defence Force, predominantly the South African Army working in cooperation with the South African Police Services quelled the unrests and ensured that the situation returned to normal in communities that were mostly affected.
The staff members and learners were also briefed on the current South African Army budget with an expression of optimism regarding future funding requirements relating to the mandate of training and preparing combat ready forces.
“This is in order to honour regional and continental obligations, especially for the African Battle Space, with focus on conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the recent developments in Mozambique,” the statement said.
In specific reference to training in the SA Army, the Chief of the South African Army emphasised that, training institutions must always strive to achieve excellence beyond expectations.
He went on to categorically emphasise that in an environment that is dominated by sharing of knowledge, “it is critical that knowledge is translated into wisdom and in turn translate that wisdom into a course of action.”
Speaking earlier, the Commandant of the South African Army College Colonel B.A. Mathonsi made a presentation to the Chief of the South African Army with regard to the status of courses, challenges and training needs for the institution.
The General Officer Commanding, South African Army Training Formation, Brigadier General D.M. Madie also briefed the Chief of the South African Army on some of the aspects presented by the Commandant.
The Chief of Army Human Resources, Brigadier General D.T. Mumanyi also commented on the human resources challenges that the training institution is experiencing and the proposed way forward on how to resolve them.
During the Questions and Answers session, the learners expressed great appreciation to Chief of the South African Army for demonstrating that he has their career development at heart.
In addition, they also demonstrated their willingness to always take learning programmes presented by the SA Army with great enthusiasm in order to prepare themselves for assuming their responsibilities in their various capacities.
The Chief of the South African Army also visited Infantry School, a unit under the command of Colonel Zola Mbi.
“The Infantry School is the mother of all Infantry Units within the South African Infantry Formation and the South African Army. The unit is considered rich in the culture of development and training in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Lieutenant Colonel Mothogwane welcomed all members, followed by Chief of Staff, South African Infantry Formation, Brigadier General Nkhabu Abram Nthenjane who welcomed the Chief of the SA Army to the Centre of Excellence and set the tone for the evening, subsequently, Colonel Mbi, Officer Commanding, Infantry School presented and touched on issues that were addressed in the first visit in March.
The Chief of the Army encouraged staff members to continue flying the South African Infantry flag high irrespective of the complexities that come with presenting courses during the pandemic.
Furthermore, he said that “victory awaits him who has everything in order, luck to some people, however one sees it, the end is near and everyone will finish strong and the objective will be reached.”
He also gave a great word of appreciation to the sickbay personnel who thrived with minimum resources to accommodate all members on course to date, saying “continue to be the shining star in the Military Command Council”.
At Oudtshoorn, the next day, he also addressed all staff members and later course members on the parade ground.
Greeting everyone on parade and referring to them as Queens of the battlefield with pride, he said that “Infantry School is the heartbeat of the SA Army.”
He outlined the theme of the South African Army which is to “define and refine command and leadership as a critical success factor for the restoring of the dignity of the SA Army to its rightful glory”.
“To refine which refers to improving an idea, method, or system. This is done by making small changes that will form part of a bigger picture.
“To define, meaning to describe the nature, scope or meaning of a concept which is why it is important to define purpose so that there is no derailing from the objective.”
He highlighted on the Defence Review which states that the Department of Defence has to align and develop the South African National Defence Force as a professional competent defence force, capable of executing its constitutional mandate.
“Reference was made to the constitutional mandate of the Army, which is to prepare and provide combat-ready landward forces as commanded by the Chief South African National Defence Force for the utilisation of Chief Joint Operations.
“Meaning that members must be developed and trained to do courses to fulfil their primary role when duty calls.”
The Army Chief also emphasised “that knowledge has to be transformed to wisdom, wisdom must be transformed to a course of action and ultimately everyone should be able to look back and proudly say that we were not historians but change agents that fought to arrest the decline no matter the circumstances.”
In closure, he quoted that “the race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favour to the learned; but time and chance happen to them all” meaning, that all will be well eventually if everyone does little things to contribute to the bigger picture.