Forces: December 2, 2000

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: South Africa's National Defense Force is in a budget crisis. Personnel strength has not been cut as planned because of former rebels who insist on remaining on paid military duty. Worse, the former rebels have been rapidly promoted and thousands of officers are in positions one step lower than their nominal rank. Equipment is rapidly wearing out and while billions have been allocated for major arms purchases, it will not be enough. The Army now has only one brigade that could be deployed, and it could only remain deployed for 90 days before running out of just about everything. The 15 light infantry battalions tasked with border security and police support deploy only 19 companies due to budget problems; any rational analysis of the mission would need 52 companies. The Air Force is facing block obsolescence of entire aircraft categories. The number of operational Cheetah fighters will have to be seriously reduced. The Boeing 707 tanker/EW aircraft must be retired as there is no money to operate them. There is no money for the important Rooivalk helicopter program. The Impala trainer and Alouette-III helicopter types must be retired as soon as possible while funding for their replacements is increasingly iffy. The RPV recon drone fleet is grounded for lack of cash. The Navy will get to keep its 17 ships, but nine will be "undergoing refit" (a polite term for "taken out of service due to lack of money") while three will remain fully operational and five will be available only for limited periods. The Defense Department has established three possible funding levels: 


@ Lifeline, a 3.24% increase, would improve readiness, keep the Alouette-III in service until the A109 arrives to replace it, and put the RPVs back into service.

@ Liferaft would require a 4.8% budget increase. This would provide seven more companies of infantry for border patrol and keep the Impala trainers in service until new Hawks arrive to replace them. 

@ Lifeboat is the final option, requiring a 6.36% budget increase. This program would do all of the above, increase readiness further, stockpile supplies, and save the Rooivalk program.--Stephen V Cole

 


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