Peacekeeping: July 10, 2003


There had been distressingly candid articles in South Africa's opposition press, about the deployability of the armed forces for missions like peacekeeping in the Congo. Interviews by psychologists and social workers found that 10 out of 16 soldiers couldn't be deployed outside of the country, as they lacked ambition or motivation. 

One account in January related how 16 soldiers fired more than 2,800 rounds at three targets only 3 meters away and only scored one hit. Defense force leaders then forced the army to invest in 15 fixed and 31 mobile target simulators. The military had also purchased 2 000 global positioning systems (GPD), since infantry section leaders had been failing land navigation in droves. The section-leader course was subsequently increased from 11 weeks to six months.

Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota ejected reports that South Africa soldiers sent to the Congo were not receiving proper medical care. A newspaper report had detailed multiple logistical problems, from a lack of foot powder and oxygen to cases of HIV/Aids and tuberculosis among deployed troops. Most notable was that 10,000 bedpan covers were delivered, but no bedpans. 

The defense minister's spin was that the medical supplies container was initially to be transported by air, but it was decided to ship the container by sea to cut costs and the ship carrying containers had been delayed. - Adam Geibel


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