Powered by
Share this page on
Article provided by Wikipedia

South African Defence Force
Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag
""SADF emblem.svg
Official emblem, SADF
""Ensign of the South African Defence Force (1981–1994).svg
Founded 1957
Disbanded 1994 Absorbed into the "SANDF
Service branches "South African Army
"South African Navy
"South African Air Force
"South African Medical Service
Headquarters "Pretoria, "Transvaal, "South Africa
Conscription White males between 17–65 years of age (1957–1993)[1][2]
Active personnel (1986) 82,400[3]
Budget $3,092 billion "USD[3]
Percent of GDP 4.1[3]
Domestic suppliers "South Africa "ARMSCOR[3]
Foreign suppliers  "Belgium[4]
 "Rhodesia (until 1979)[7][8]
 "United Kingdom[10]
 "United States[11]
Related articles
History "Rhodesian Bush War
"South African Border War
"Angolan Civil War
"Mozambican Civil War
"Bophuthatswana coup d'état
The former South African Defence Force base in "Outapi, "Omusati, "Namibia.

The South African Defence Force (SADF) comprised the "South African "armed forces from 1957 until 1994. Shortly before the state reconstituted itself as a "republic in 1961, the former "Union Defence Force was officially succeeded by the SADF, which was established by the Defence Act (No. 44) of 1957. The SADF, in turn, was superseded by the "South African National Defence Force in 1994.[12][13][14]

The SADF was organised to perform a dual mission: to "counter possible "insurgency in all forms, and to maintain a conventional military arm which could defend the republic's borders, making retaliatory strikes as necessary.[3] As the military expanded during the 1970s, the SADF general staff was organised into six sections — finance, intelligence, logistics, operations, personnel, and planning; uniquely, the "South African Medical Service (SAMS) was made co-equal with the "South African Army, the "South African Navy and the "South African Air Force.[15]

The military was mostly composed of "white South Africans, who alone were subject to "conscription.[16][17][18] However, "Asians and "Coloured citizens with mixed ancestry were eligible to serve as volunteers, several even attaining commissioned rank.[19] Units such as the "32 Battalion incorporated many black volunteers.[20] Conscription was opposed by organisations such as the "End Conscription Campaign, but overall, white morale remained high — as indicated by the few recruits tried for serious disciplinary offences.[3]

During "apartheid, armed SADF troops were used in quelling opposition to "minority rule, often "directly supporting the "South African Police.[21][22] South African military units were involved in the long-running "Mozambican and "Angolan civil wars,[23] frequently supporting Pretoria's allies, the "Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO)[24] and the "National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA).[25][26] SADF personnel were also deployed during the related "South African Border War.[27][28]



SADF paratroops in training.

Before 1957, the "Union of South Africa had relied on small standing cadres for defence, expanding during wartime through the use of white conscripts. During the "Second World War the Union Defence Force initially fielded only 3,353 full-time soldiers, with another 14,631 active in reserve roles.[29][30] These troops were not prepared to fight in Europe proper, as they had hitherto been trained only in basic "light infantry tactics and bush warfare.[3] However, "Jan Christiaan Smuts proved remarkably resourceful in raising 345,049 men for overseas operations; South African soldiers went on to distinguish themselves as far abroad as "Italy and "Egypt.[31]

After 1957, the new South African Defence Force was faced with a post-war upsurge in "African nationalism, and forced to expand its resources accordingly.[32] In 1963 its total strength stood at around 25,000 men.[3] By 1977, the "United Nations was imposing "arms sanctions on the republic due to its controversial policy of racial apartheid.[33] South Africa responded by developing a powerful domestic arms industry, capable of producing quality hardware, including "supersonic "jet fighters, "armoured cars, "multiple rocket launchers, and "small arms.[3][34] SADF units fought in the "Angolan Civil War during "Operation Savannah[35][36][37] and were also active alongside "Rhodesian Security Forces[38] during the "Rhodesian Bush War.[39][40][41] Although both campaigns were strategically unsuccessful, it was clearly proven that South Africa's military was immeasurably superior in strength and sophistication than all her African neighbours combined.[3] Further enlargement and modernisation of the armed forces continued under former defence minister "Pieter Willem Botha, who became "state president in 1984.[42] Shortly after Botha took office, the SADF numbered some 83,400 men (including 53,100 conscripts and 5,400 non-whites): one "armoured brigade, one "mechanised infantry brigade, four motorised brigades, "one parachute brigade, a "special reconnaissance regiment, twenty artillery regiments, supporting specialist units, a balanced air force, and a navy adequate for coastal protection in all.[3] In addition, numerous "auxiliary formations were trained as support units capable of occupying strategic border areas, including the predominantly Angolan "32 Battalion,[43] Namibia's "South West African Territorial Force,[44][45] and several "Bantustan militias.[46]

During Botha's term, the SADF began focusing on taking a more aggressive stance to the ongoing war against communist-supported nationalist guerrillas in South Africa and Namibia (then "South West Africa) and targeting neighboring countries that offered them support.[47] This was partially justified as a new structure intended to turn back a "total onslaught" on the republic from abroad.[48] The post-colonial rise of newly independent black governments on the apartheid administration's doorstep created a perceived menace to the existing structure, and Pretoria's occupation of Namibia threatened to bring it into direct confrontation with the world community.[49] On the ground, militant guerrilla movements such as the "African National Congress (ANC), "South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) and the "Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) challenged white supremacy with force of arms.[25] In 1984, at least 6,000 such insurgents were being trained and armed by "Tanzania, "Ethiopia, the "Soviet Union, and "Warsaw Pact member states.[3]

In general the struggle went badly for South Africa's opponents. "Mozambique provided support and shelter to ANC operatives; in retaliation South African units launched massive counterstrikes which the local security forces were in no position to block.[3][50] Military aircraft and special forces units deployed across "Zimbabwe,[51] "Botswana,[52][53] "Lesotho,[54] and "Zambia[55] to attack suspected insurgent bases.[56] 30,000 South African military personnel were posted on the Namibian border by late 1985, frequently crossing the frontier to battle SWAPO groups operating from southern "Angola.[25][27][57] SWAPO's "MPLA allies, with the "backing of the "Cuban military, were often unable to protect them.[3] These raids reflected the SADF's talent for combating rural insurgency. Major guerrilla camps were always chief targets, whether on foreign or domestic soil. Consequently, establishing good intelligence and effective assault strategy were commonly reflected in tactical priorities.[3]

The SADF's success eventually compelled SWAPO to withdraw over 200 miles from the Namibian border, forcing their insurgents to travel great distances across arid bush in order to reach their targets.[3] Many could no longer carry heavy weapons on these treks, occasionally abandoning them as they marched south. Moreover, serious SWAPO losses were already having a negative effect on morale.[3] ANC operations fared little better.[58] Most high-profile terrorist attacks were foiled or offered negative publicity from a normally sympathetic international stage.[3] While it was clear that popular support was growing and guerrilla skills were being improved upon, affrays on South Africa itself did not seriously disrupt the economy or impact the country's superior military and industrial status.[32][59]

By the fall of apartheid in 1991, the SADF was an uneven reflection of both the strengths and weaknesses of South Africa's white society at large. It employed many personnel with developed technical skills; thus, the military could more easily maintain and operate sophisticated hardware than black African forces drawn from underdeveloped regions.[3] In an unusual contrast with Southern Africa's other white armies, the SADF had a stern sense of bureaucratic hierarchy.[60][61] Commanders deferred to civilian supervisors and normally could not aspire to political power. The SADF's technical performance had also improved greatly, owing largely to realistic and efficient training procedures.[32] The army in particular was skilled in both counterinsurgency warfare and conventional mechanised operations.[3] In 1984, 11,000 infantrymen were even trained to execute "blitzkrieg tactics.[62][63][64] White soldiers were for the most part reasonably motivated; conscripts had a sense of defending their own country rather than some far-off foreign venture. Commissioned officers generally accepted in principle recruits of all colours, placed an emphasis on technical efficiency, and preferred to fight a foreign rather than domestic enemy despite extensive preparation for both.[3]


As multiracial democracy was introduced to the republic in 1994, the SADF was amalgamated with the formerly independent Bantustan security forces, the ANC's "Umkhonto we Sizwe, PAC's "Azanian People's Liberation Army and the 'self-protection units' of the "Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)[65][66] to form the "South African National Defence Force.[12][13][14]


The State President was the Commander-in-Chief of the SADF with:

Staff Divisions under the Chief of Defence Staff included:

Other Support Services commands included:

Heads of the South African Defence Force[edit]


Prior to amalgamation, the SADF had the following force:

Nuclear weapons[edit]

South Africa at one time possessed "nuclear weapons, but its stockpile was dismantled during the political transition of the early 1990s.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Military service becomes compulsory for White South African men. | South African History Online". Sahistory.org.za. 1967-06-09. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  2. ^ "South Africa Ends Conscription of Whites. | New York Times". nytimes.com. 1993-08-25. Retrieved 2014-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Duignan, Peter. Politics and Government in African States 1960–1985. pp. 283–408. 
  4. ^ http://www.flemishpeaceinstitute.eu/get_pdf.php?ID=263&lang=EN
  5. ^ a b Polakow-Suransky, Sasha. The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. pp. 1–336. 
  6. ^ Chris McGreal (10 March 2006). "Brothers in arms — Israel's secret pact with Pretoria | World news". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  7. ^ Kokalis, Peter. Mamba: Deadly Serpent or Dangerous Fiasco?. Shotgun News, 2006, Volume 60 Issue 15 p. 10.
  8. ^ http://edoc.vifapol.de/opus/volltexte/2011/2624/pdf/ap_23b.PDF
  9. ^ "Trade Registers". sipri.org. 
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 September 2008. Retrieved 19 September 2012. 
  11. ^ Thompson, Alex. U.S. Foreign Policy Towards Apartheid South Africa, 1948–1994: Conflict of Interests. pp. 4–260. 
  12. ^ a b "Final Integration Report: SANDF briefing | Parliamentary Monitoring Group | Parliament of South Africa monitored". Pmg.org.za. 2004-11-09. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  13. ^ a b "SOUTH AFRICA: SA Women: Hard Time in Military — News Library — News & Events". PeaceWomen. 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  14. ^ a b "South Africa Military Profile 2012". Indexmundi.com. 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  15. ^ "SA Medical Services". sadf.info. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  16. ^ http://dih.fsu.edu/interculture/volume5_3/Baines_Blame,_Shame_or_Reaffirmation.pdf
  17. ^ Published: August 25, 1993 (1993-08-25). "South Africa Ends Conscription of Whites — New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  18. ^ "Delmas Treason Trial 1985–1989: UDF Memorandum re Militarisation" (pdfarchiveurl=http://www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za/inventories/inv_pdfo/AK2117/AK2117-J4-24-AAZ17-001-jpeg.pdf). http://www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za/.  External link in |website= ("help)
  19. ^ http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub/article/download/457/484
  20. ^ Venter, Cobus. "The Terrible Ones". flecha.co.uk. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  21. ^ Cock, Jacklyn. "War and Society: the militarisation of SA. Synopsis of book by Jacklyn Cock". historicalpapers.wits.ac.za. University of the Witwatersrand. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Troops occupy the townships". SAHA. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  23. ^ "South Africa: Overcoming Apartheid". Overcomingapartheid.msu.edu. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  24. ^ "Africa Files – Printable Version". africafiles.org. 
  25. ^ a b c Fryxell, Cole. To Be Born a Nation. p. 13. 
  26. ^ "INTERVIEW WITH PIK BOTHA (20/5/97)". Gwu.edu. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  27. ^ a b Green, Sparks. Namibia: The Nation After Independence. pp. 1–134. 
  28. ^ McNab, Chris (2002). 20th Century Military Uniforms (2nd ed.). Kent: Grange Books. "ISBN "1-84013-476-3. 
  29. ^ "Africa: South Africa". get-publishing.com. Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. 
  30. ^ "South Africa". Homepages.force9.net. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  31. ^ "World War II: The nine | South African History Online". Sahistory.org.za. 1940-06-03. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  32. ^ a b c Kaplan, Irving. South Africa: A Country Study. pp. 1–846. 
  33. ^ http://www.mpil.de/shared/data/pdf/pdfmpunyb/wood_2.pdf
  34. ^ Thomas McGhee, Charles C.; N/A, N/A, eds. (1989). The plot against South Africa (2nd ed.). Pretoria: Varama Publishers. "ISBN "0-620-14537-4. 
  35. ^ "Operation Savannah 1975 – 76 UNDER CONSTRUCTION — A Site about the South African Bushwar / Border War". Sites.google.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  36. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  37. ^ "An overview of the conflict — TRC — The O'Malley Archives". Nelsonmandela.org. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  38. ^ "Rhodesia's War of Independence". History Today. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  39. ^ "South Africa". Themukiwa.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  40. ^ "The Recces". FromTheOld. 2012-12-18. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  41. ^ "Replaying Cuito Cuanavale". History Today. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  42. ^ http://www.apartheidmuseum.org/sites/default/files/files/downloads/Learners%20book%20Chapter5.pdf
  43. ^ "New Page 1". flecha.co.uk. 
  44. ^ "Military Chronicle of South West Africa". Rhodesia.nl. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  45. ^ Bennett, David C. (March 1990). "The Army of Zimbabwe: a role model for Namibia" (PDF). Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania: "United States Army War College. Retrieved 19 October 2011. 
  46. ^ "Exotic South Africa _World Cup 2010 ( South Afraica ) Events Special Subject_7M Sports". 2010.7msport.com. 2010-01-13. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  47. ^ "A 'total Onslaught'". New History. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  48. ^ "Indo-South Africa Defence Cooperation: Potential and Prospects". idsa-india.org. 
  49. ^ "A 'total Onslaught' In Pursuit Of Settlement In South West Africa". New History. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  50. ^ "One man's terrorist ... | News | National | Mail & Guardian". Mg.co.za. 2007-03-15. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  51. ^ "SADF mounts raids on ANC targets in neighbouring states | South African History Online". Sahistory.org.za. 1986-05-19. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  52. ^ "gaberone". Rhodesia.nl. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  53. ^ "Civil-Military Relations in Botswana's Developmental State". Africa.ufl.edu. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  54. ^ "South African troops (SADF) raid Maseru in an effort to kill suspected members of the African National Congress | South African History Online". Sahistory.org.za. 1982-12-09. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  55. ^ http://archive.lib.msu.edu/DMC/African%20Journals/pdfs/Journal%20of%20the%20University%20of%20Zimbabwe/vol12n1/juz012001002.pdf
  56. ^ iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page (1985-06-24). "South Africa Deadly Raid". TIME. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  57. ^ "54. Apartheid". Eightiesclub.tripod.com. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  58. ^ Louw, Eric. The Rise, Fall, and Legacy of Apartheid. pp. 1–280. 
  59. ^ Communist Party of South Africa. "The Way Forward from Soweto. South African Communist Party 1977". Marxists.org. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  60. ^ The Institute for Security Studies. "Of Skills and Subordination — South African Defence Review, No 4, 1992". Iss.co.za. Archived from the original on 25 August 2012. Retrieved 26 February 2013. 
  61. ^ Roherty, James Michael. State Security in South Africa: Civil-military Relations Under P.W. Botha. pp. 1–209. 
  62. ^ "Regimental History prepared by James H Mitchell". Jocks.co.za. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  63. ^ "Questions and Answers". Allatsea.co.za. Retrieved 2013-02-26. 
  64. ^ http://www.historicalpapers.wits.ac.za/inventories/inv_pdfo/AK2117/AK2117-I02-37-392-01-jpeg.pdf
  65. ^ The Institute for Security Studies. "Challenges Facing the SANDF: From Integration to Affirmative Action — African Security Review Vol 4 No 1, 1995". Iss.co.za. Archived from the original on 14 October 2008. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 
  66. ^ "From the SADF to the SANDF: Safeguarding South Africa for a better life for all? – Noel Stott". Csvr.org.za. Archived from the original on 7 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-27. 

External links[edit]

) ) WikipediaAudio is not affiliated with Wikipedia or the WikiMedia Foundation.