The SA Army is rated as one of the strongest on the continent, says Lt-Gen Masondo, but it also not without challenges.
“Some of the equipment we have is old and to some extent this poses the risk of loss of life during training and when we go into a war situation it also places our soldiers in danger.
Even though they are properly trained, soldiers face the risk that the equipment may not function as required because of its age.”
Addressing the issue of ageing equipment is proving to be a challenge for the army, as it juggles its budget.
The budget provides for three areas of expenditure – capital renewal,
which includes renewing equipment, funds to enable the army to operate and deploy, and funds to pay soldiers.
“Currently it’s askew; we are spending a huge portion of the budget on compensating our soldiers
by way of remuneration, which therefore leaves little money to ensure that we can attend the ageing equipment.”
While acknowledging that the army does not have adequate financial resources to do its work,
the Lt-Gen understands that government has other pressing needs to address.
He hopes at some stage these demands will be balanced and budgeted for accordingly.
“The army is a national asset,” the man who heads it up says proudly. And heading up this national asset comes with a fair amount of accountability and tough situations.
Last year South African soldiers who were in the Central African Republic (CAR) to train that country’s army came under attack from the rebels.
Thirteen soldiers were killed. “Those soldiers were youngsters, who had small children, some were not married.
To face, not only their parents, but their kids and young wives in that moment of grief was not an easy task.
“It’s a huge responsibility because whenever things go wrong I’m accountable not only to my Minister and the commanderin-chief but also to the nation,” says the father of three.
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