The South African National Defense Forces (SANDF) comprises of the South African armed forces. The chief commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President from one of the armed services. He or she is then accountable to the Minister of Defense and Military Veterans of the Defense Department. SANDF is divided into four arms of service that is the SA Army, SA Air force, SA Navy and SA Military Health Service. Recruitment into any of these 4 wings, according to the Department of Defense can be direct or indirect.
Direct recruitment is applicable to people with special skills, for example, mechanics, electricians, engineers, and other people mostly with technical skills. Indirect recruitment is joining through the Military Skills Development System (MSDS).
The MSDS is a program under the Department of Defense that is an entry-level platform for the South African youths who want to be part of the SANDF. The MSDS entails going through an initial period of two years of voluntary training. The first year is for military training, and the second is for deployment, which is like attachment, whereby the skills learned will be applied practically. After two years, it’s either one continues as part of the Reserve Force or may obtain a contract proposal to join the Regular Force. Some members with academic qualifications may be sent to the Military Academy or Universities. MSDS members also receive a salary during their two-year program.
The first year of training comprises of combat-ready training exercises, corps-specific training, basic military training, and functional training. Basic military training is presented at the Air Force Gymnasium Boston (AFB Hoedspruit), over a period of approximately 13 weeks. The training will cover topics such as drills, military law, military ceremonies, buddy aid and physical training and soldiership.
Trainees will also participate in practical military exercises, and the selection of junior leaders will be done in the first year. In the second year of MSDS, junior leaders (officers) will be receiving leader group corps training, and young officers will be undergoing formative training. Some officers will also be selected to go and study at the military academy, and more focus will be on the utilization and deployment of trainees.
Requirements to qualify for the Military Skills Development Program
For one to qualify for the Military Skills Development Program, the minimum requirements are as follows:
- The candidate must be a South African Citizen without a dual citizenship
- Should be aged between 18 and 22 years when they join and should not be more than 22 years if they are graduates
- Only applicants who are single are accepted
- Applicants should be currently in Grade 12 or completed Grade 12 or equivalent with subjects specific to a career selection
- The person should be willing to be deployed in any area or country for work purposes
- Their criminal record should be clean
- Should be physically and medically fit according to the requirements of the SANDF
Once one complies with all the prescribed requirements for appointment in the SANDF, they are recommended by a selection board.
However, specialized occupations may have additional requirements depending on their specific training demands. If an applicant meets the minimum requirements, they are further screened, and the chosen candidates will undergo another selection process which entails psychometric evaluation, formal interviews, medical evaluation, and criminal records check. If all is well, an employment offer is issued. Psychometric tests are tailor-made to suit the position being applied for. They are carried out to measure the mental aptitude of the candidate and their potential to develop in the position that was applied for.
Interviews will be held to ascertain if applicants have communication skills, self-confidence, and leadership potential. A thorough medical evaluation will be conducted by military medical practitioners in order to assess the applicants’ medical status and history. Applicants must have good medical results to qualify. Applicants must also go through criminal record checks done via fingerprint verification by the Criminal Record Bureau. Both successful and non-successful candidates will be informed of their results.
Requirements for joining the South African Air Force (SAAF)
The SAAF is an arm of the defence forces contributing to the welfare, security, and safety of its citizens. SAAF controls the South African skies and has also been structured towards regional peace-making, maritime patrol, operational control, and disaster relief. Some of the careers under SAAF are Aircrew (pilot and navigator), aviation and maintenance, engineering, and general maintenance.
The SAAF also provides combat-ready air capabilities for the SANDF in service of the country. The Air force Military Skills Development program is a two-year voluntary service system. Here, recruits sign up for a period of two years, during which they will receive military training. The requirements are the same as the MSDS program. However, serving in the air force requires psychological and physical attributes and the intellectual potential for developing the unique competencies needed in the air force.
More so, individuals who join the air force must have certain elementary attributes, while each mustering (or occupational class) include additional attribute requirements. For example, electricians must not be colour blind, as they must identify wiring in circuits by colour codes. Exclusion from one occupational class does not disqualify you from being considered for another.
Serving in the air force requires not only academic qualifications but also socially accepted behaviour. Society will be looking up to you; therefore, you have to always lead by example. Volunteers must pledge that they will uphold a strict Code of Conduct.
The SA Navy’s mission is solely to render seaward military service, which is accomplished through the development, management, and maintenance of the ability to provide maritime operations, assistance and support operations, hydrographical services and supporting services. This requires highly trained and motivated personnel.
Those willing to join the SAN can do so through the MSDS. Careers that are featured in the SAN include protection force, engine room attendants, human resources, public relations, hospitality, fire-fighting, logistics, communication, physical training, maritime reaction squadron, SA Navy divers, and combat officers. It also features student engineers and student naval technical officers. However, to note is the fact that some opportunities here do require mathematics and physical science at level 4.
To gain practical experience, junior officers receive their orientation training at the Naval College at Gordon’s Bay in the Cape. Accepted candidates undergo 12 weeks of a basic training course at the Naval College, Gordon’s Bay and Western Cape. Further selection procedures are done upon completion of the basic training, and successful candidates continue with Formative Training for Officers Part I.
As for officers with the required academic aptitude, they are sent to the Military Academy, where they study for their B.Mil. Degree. They may also attend the University of Stellenbosch, where they are trained as engineers. If one wishes to become a naval technical officer, he or she can study for diplomas at the universities of technology. Later on, in their careers, these officers then attend a series of courses at the Naval Staff College located in Muizenberg.
Here, they receive training in Management and Strategy, including other advanced subjects. This qualifies them for senior command and staff appointments. Non-Commissioned Officers: Basic training for all Permanent Force recruits takes place at SAS Saldanha. Technical training takes place at SAS Wingfield. Combat and other non-technical specialist training take place at SAS Simonsberg in Simonstown. Throughout their careers, Permanent Force members periodically return to these training units to do more advanced courses.
Requirements for joining the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS)
The SAMHS’ mission is ‘to support the SANDF by providing quality health services for the full range of armed forces deployments and to sustain the health members and armed forces and their families, and others eligible for SAMHS.’ It is comprised of four specialized units. These include the Institute of Aviation Medicine, the Institute of Maritime Medicine, the Military Veterinary Institute, and the Military Psychological Institute. These provide comprehensive medical care for the armed forces and those who depend on them. For one to join SAMHS, they also are recruited via the MSDS.
For one to be recruited in any of the SANDF‘s four arms of services, they pass through the MSDS. Other requirements will follow based on different specialized skills. But it always helps to study requirements for each of the divisions of the SANDF and apply for the MSDS already knowing where you want to end up being deployed or recruited.