AIDS infection rates of up to 50% and a lack of cash have seen South Africa’s once feared Defence Force crumble into a farcical level of inoperability, according to South African Defence Ministry officials.
Having dropped from a peak of 104,000 troops, the SADF now has 76,000 personnel, with one of the world’s highest percentage of officers – 293 soldiers to each general, more even than in Angola. The cavalry can field only 4 out of its 168 Olifant tanks and 8 out of 242 Rooikat armoured cars.
The HIV infection rate is a state secret but it is estimated to be as high as 50% in some units, averaging at some 30% overall. Every year, the South African Air Force runs out of fuel in September, meaning that training sorties have to be cancelled.
The navy fears that it will not be able to man the four new corvettes and 3 submarines it has just bought.
Defence spokesperson Philip Schalkwyk concludes, “It has become a bit of a farce”.
John ASHTEAD PRAVDA.Ru London United Kingdom
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