A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Vice Admiral J. Mudimu
The South African National Defense Force expects to see further budget constraints in the coming years, which undoubtedly eventually will affect all the armed services. Despite those constraints, the South African Navy will be able to meet its commitments to serve and protect the people of South Africa, and to assist Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states in developing their navies. The navy has been successful in the development and implementation of a maritime-security strategy that addresses our east coast. It will assist in stemming acts of maritime crime and piracy in regional waters and will be implemented on our west coast and the lakes of SADC members, where acts of piracy are sharply on the increase.
Given our strong participation within the structure of the SADC, capacity-building in our region will be a strategic priority for our navy, which of course will also continue to further foreign-policy objectives in the region. Regarding the former, we will assist SADC members in building naval and operational boat squadron capacity so that in the future they can join fight against piracy on the African coast.
All future multinational and joint exercises are being developed to include antipiracy operations, such as intelligence and information sharing, joint operations, patrols, and interdiction operations. We will continue to assist SADC members in developing stronger doctrine to enable them to conduct such exercises and operations on their own. Additionally, our navy will continue to patrol regional waters to ensure smooth movement of ships and safe commerce and trade in the area.
The acquisition of new offshore-patrol vessels (OPVs) is expected to add strategic value in support of the maritime-security strategy as well as help combat illegal fishing and the plunder of reserves along the South African coastline. This project is expected to deliver eight OPVs, with the first in service by 2016 and further deliveries every three to six months.
The acquisition of a new hydrographic- survey vessel will give the navy the latest technology to continue its efforts to chart the coast of southern Africa to keep the waters safe for all mariners.
Our navy’s greatest strength will be in its ability to ensure unity of focus in order to maximize opportunity. Collective effort, trust, good leadership, and cooperation will be fundamental prerequisites to our success in future years.