South African Military History Society

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Curtain Raiser: Lawrence of Arabia by Terry Leaver

The report on this lecture will appear in the October newsletter.

Terry Leaver

Main Lecture: Twenty years of joint operations in the South African National Defence Force by Captain (SAN) Charles Ross (SA Navy Retired)

The roughly 50-minute, well-illustrated and presented talk started with a short introduction on the SANDF's Internal Operations. In the middle part of his lecture, Charles talked on General Military Assistance Operations, Peace Support Operations and concluded his talk with some notes on External Humanitarian Assistance Operations.

Internal Operations

The 1996 Defence Review recommended certain structural changes to the SANDF. One of these changes was the establishment of the Joint Operations Division, or Chief of Joint Operations (CJ Ops), who would be responsible for all joint operations in the SANDF. CJ Ops assumed responsibility for all joint operations on 1 April 1998. The initial structure comprised two sections, Operations and Operational Development and five Regional Joint Task Forces. In 2003 this was amended to a two-level division, Military Strategic and Operational. Internal operations include Border Line Control. South Africa has 4,471 km of land borders with six countries, 4,090 km sea borders (this includes the borders of Marion and Prince Edward Islands) and 7,660 km air borders. Land borders are patrolled by foot patrols (including the use of dogs), motorcycle and vehicle patrols which are support by fixed and rotary air patrols. Maritime borders are patrolled by surface and sub-surface vessels as well as by maritime patrol aircraft.

Humanitarian assistance in the form of firefighting by rotary aircraft is a regular occurrence. There is hardly a bush-fire where the South African Air Force is not involved, dumping bucket after bucket of water on the fires. In 2007, the SANDF assisted the national hospital workers strike. The SANDF has also been called upon to deliver water to drought-stricken areas. These include the delivery of water to the communities of Brits in the North-West and Fauresmith in the Free State. From 2009 to 2010, the SANDF build several bridges in the Eastern Cape.

Search and Rescue operations are usually conducted with the various rescue organisations at sea and on land. Numerous sailors owe their lives to the courage's crews of the SAAF rotary-wing aircraft. Support for the South African Police Service is only provided once the President has authorised the deployment through a Presidential Minute. Support varies from air support to outer perimeter protection during a cordon and searches operations. Support has also been provided at sea during which fishing vessels are boarded and inspected. During the 2010 Soccer World Cup, the SANDF was very much involved rendering support to the SAPS.

Charles Ross

General Military Assistance Operations

Lesotho: Following the unrest in Lesotho in November 1998, members of the SANDF, along with members of the Botswana Defence Force were deployed in an intervention operation to restore order in the mountain kingdom, whilst scuba divers from the South African Navy (SAN) were used to search the various dams for weapons that may have dumped there. Antarctica: Over the period December 1998 to March 1999, SAS Outeniqua, supported by Denel Oryx helicopters, were deployed to Antarctica in support of the Department of Transport to transport equipment and supplies to the South African base in Antarctica.

Gough Island Rescue: Following the collision of two fishing vessel near Gough Island in November 2000, SAS Protea, supported by a SAAF helicopter, were deployed to the area to rescue survivors and recover the bodies of those that had drowned and were airlifted to Cape Town.

Australian Assistance: Following a request from the Australian Government in March 2001, aircraft and ships from the SANDF were deployed to intercept a fishing vessel accused of fishing illegally in Australian waters. A similar request was received on September 2003, during which a fishing vessel was again successfully intercepted.

Support to the Union of Comoros: Over the period July 1998 to July 2007, the SANDF supported the African Union in preparations of elections on the various islands of the Union of Comoros.

Support to the Democratic Republic of Congo: Support rendered included assistance with the integration of the various groups into the new DRC Armed Forces, while a second phase comprised the refurbishing of various training camps in the Eastern DRC. Support was rendered from January 2005 to October 2010.

Support for Koeberg: In March 2007, SAS Drakensberg was rerouted to Antwerp in Belgium to load a 200-ton rotor which was urgently needed at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station on the South African West Coast. SAS Drakensberg arrived in the Cape Town Harbour with the rotor in April 2007.

Support to the Central African Republic: Support was rendered in the form of assistance with the refurbishing of training facilities on the Central African Republic (CAR) Armed Forces. Training assistance was also provided to members of the CAR Armed Forces during the period March 2007 to April 2013.

Election Support to the Democratic Republic of Congo: Over the period July to November 2006, the SANDF was involved with the transportation of the ballot papers to the DRC as well as the distribution of the papers within the DRC.

Anti-Piracy Operations: In terms of a Southern African Developing Community (SADC) agreement, the SAN would deploy a ship to the Mozambique Channel to conduct anti-piracy operations from January 2011 onwards. The deployment of the ships was supported by a Maritime Patrol aircraft. This operation is ongoing.

Showing the Flag: Over these periods, ships of the SAN visited various countries around the world, showing the flag. These included the United States of America, United Kingdom, India, China and Namibia.

Peace Support Operations United Nations Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC): 5 September 1999 to 30 June 2010.

United Nations Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO): 1 July 2010 - ongoing.

United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE): December 2000 to August 2008.

The organisation of African Unity Liaison Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (OLMEE): December 2000 to August 2008.

Bi-lateral Mission in Burundi: October 2001 to April 2004.

African Union Mission in Burundi (AMIB): May 2003 to May 2004.

United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB): June 2004 to December 2006.

African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS): From July 2004 to December 2007.

United Nations African Union Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID): January 2008 to April 2016.

African Union Special Task Force in Burundi (AUSTFB): January 2007 to November 2009.

External Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Operations

Mozambique: Assistance was rendered in 1999, 2001, 2007 and 2015 during severe flooding in various parts of Mozambique. Deployed forces included a command element, fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, Engineer elements, medical support and divers.

Algeria: Following the earthquake in Algeria in May 2003, members of the SANDF were deployed to render assistance, and consisted primarily of engineering and medical support.

Somalia: In August 2011 humanitarian assistance was airlifted to Somalia.

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Military History Journal and Subscriptions

The June 2019 Journal was posted to paid up members on 15 July. Two payments - one on 18 January and another on 2 July - are unidentifiable having stated no name when depositing. Those members will have to contact treasurer Joan ( in order for their payments to be credited and to have their Journals posted to them.

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Visits, tours and conferences of interest

On Saturday 14 September the Eastern Cape Branch will visit Seven Fountains Farm as part of their annual outing to the Grahamstown Area. Details from their newsletter on the web- site or contact Malcolm Kinghorn at or Franco at

On Sunday 15 September Johannesburg members will be going to the Irene Concentration Camp cemetery and to the Smuts House Museum - details from David Scholtz 083-440-1268

Supper Talk at Smuts House Museum Centurion on 19 September by Albert Jansen The Role of Jan Christian Smuts during the occupation of Pretoria: June 1900 Clinical Psychologist Albert Jansen contextualises the June 1900 incidents as part of Jan Smuts' Holistic personality in this presentation. BOOKING ESSENTIAL: Cost and banking details from Cheryl : 083 376 1734 or at or Sue : 082 959 6316 or at

There are detailed notices on the web-site for the following events:
The Night of the Dead Moon tour (Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift) on 23-24 September 2019 led by Pat Rundgren and Pam McFadden - contact Pam at

120-year Commemoration of the Anglo-Boer (S A) War International Conference 9-11 October 2019
War Museum of the Boer Republics Bloemfontein, South Africa
Re-imagining the Anglo-Boer War: New perspectives 120 years down the line. Contact Vicky Heunis: Tel: +27 (0) 51 447 3447 / +27 51 447 0079 or at

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CR = curtain raiser ML = main lecture
DDH = Darrell Dickon Hall Memorial lecture MS = member's slot


Ditsong Museum next to Zoo at 8pm

KZN in Durban:


Rosedale Complex


Branch contact details

For Cape Town details contact Carl Burger 082 333 2706
For Eastern Cape details contact Malcolm Kinghorn 041-373-4469
For Gauteng details contact Joan Marsh 010-237-0676
For KwaZulu-Natal details contact Roy Bowman 031 564 4669

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