By Michael Trapido
Now it's soldiers rioting
League calls for solidarity with soldiers
It is a well-recognised fact that a volunteer army, like the United States, should be far more effective than a conscript one simply because the former is made up of career professionals capable of learning about sophisticated weaponry and tactics through years of service while the latter consists primarily of school leavers and other youngsters dedicated to counting the days they have left before they leave the service.
In the case of South Africa we are the exception that proves the rule.
Gone are the days when Africa and the planet viewed the SADF as a lean, mean military machine capable of thrashing all-comers who dared to darken our doorstep and in its place stands an SANDF steeped in the debacle that was Lesotho, submarines on bricks, dodgy arms deals and even plots to kidnap senior officers.
A fucking joke if you pardon my use of the military term.
Yet all of this pales into significance when regard is had to the strike currently being conducted by the Sandu and our brilliant soldiers.
When I was in the army in 1982/3 I was treated to the unfortunate hell that is the life of a military man. Strict discipline, less rights than a prisoner on death row and conditions befitting a Tibetan monk rather than a boy from the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Yet they were designed to break you down and then build you back up harder, leaner, fitter and ready to kill.
No longer, this lot seem to be fatter, unfit, ill-disciplined and ready to kill only for more pay, better conditions and any number of other grievances too endless to mention here. Anything but carrying the uniform and the flag with pride.
The result is our borders are open to invasion or unlimited refugees who pour into our townships which occasions xenophobia, disease and crime while this lot are busy planning strikes and — judging by the kidnap plot — anything from a mutiny to a full-blown coup.
The Democratic Alliance has been asking for reports on the SANDF levels of readiness with limited response. The air force seems to be short of pilots leaving them, at best, open to attack from just about any country with a couple of Cessnas. The navy appears slightly more optimistic while the army is as described above.
This from a volunteer army which is supposed to represent the regional power.
In the interest of the government and the people of South Africa, following a week of strikes, kidnap reports and soldiers fighting police, the minister of defence must call for an urgent and transparent cross-the-board probe into the military and the arms deal.
Recently we saw a senior navy officer who refused to vow allegiance to the president and Cosatu saying the government is being too harsh in its response to these protesting soldiers. This instead of expecting total obedience to commander-in-chief and country.
The time to stamp on this conduct hard has arrived.
Any soldier who strikes must be booted out of the service as well as those who don’t deserve to wear the uniform for whatsoever reason. If they don’t like the military there are millions of unemployed who can take their place.
Man for man the British soldier is the best on the planet. I suggest our senior officers and NCOs be sent across to learn about discipline, loyalty and pride in the service from them.
That way we may land up with a service that we can be proud of and the government will have a tool that can be employed where necessary. Right now I wouldn’t want to rely on our lot to withstand an attack from Lesotho never mind, God forbid, Bob’s mob.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
By Michael Trapido