South Africa has taken the lead in promoting the creation of ACIRC with the goal of engaging a number of African countries in crisis management until the establishment of the African Reserve Force (ASF). By this initiative is meant the creation by South Africa of a special combat rapid response group - a group capable of becoming the core of a peculiar analogue of the African "NATO".
Lieutenant General Masondo confirmed that the armed forces are moving towards achieving this goal, and are also going to participate in the specialized military exercises “Seboka”, which will be held this year and will be sent to prepare the army for a new mission.
As stated by Masondo, the main intention is to train a combat group, the basis of which will be a battalion of motorized infantry infantry with the support of armored vehicles, artillery, air defense forces, as well as engineering elements. A group of medics from the Military Medical Service of South Africa will also be at their disposal.
The commander of joint operations, Lieutenant General Derrick Maguby, tentatively stated that after experience in Central African Republic in March, 2013 South Africa would not bring troops into the foreign countries without air support. The ACIRC combat group, at the same time, may be equipped with at least a small number of Denel FH-2 Rooivalk (“Kestrel”) combat helicopters and Oryx medium transport helicopters.
The difficulty for the army lies not so much in organizing a combat rapid response group, as in organizing a mission that requires the deployment of impressive forces. The armed forces of South Africa are already too dispersed, and therefore the South African command will have to work actively to use them in the framework of the new mission.
The army was able to deploy the forces of two battalions outside South Africa and 13-ti infantry units at the border only through the use of reserve troops, which currently provide support to seven border factions.
But when attacking by three battalions, supporting the troops will be difficult, not to mention the inclusion of armored vehicles, artillery and air defense forces in the process.
Another major obstacle lies outside the competence of the army commander: lack of transport units aviation. Currently, the South African Air Force (SAAF) has no more than four operational C-130s, air transport is not in reserve, and the Navy does not have the necessary facilities in principle. The risks of using self-employed aircraft with civilian companies have been clearly demonstrated in the Central African Republic, but while funding for the purchase of heavy transport ships and aircraft of the South African Air Force is clearly not enough.
This is quite a serious obstacle, because the required number of armored vehicles, Carakal armored vehicles (Rooikat) or Ratel-90 will not fit in the C-130 or even in the rented IL-76. The artillery situation is only marginally better: the G5 towing howitzer is transportable, but neither the heavy cannon tractor, nor the Bateleur MLRS will fit the C-130 in the right amount. Military engineers have the same difficulties with their equipment, and medical personnel - with their container systems.
Given that I at ACIRIC means “immediate”, it’s hard to imagine how even with an incredible effort being put into the armed forces, South Africa will be able to fulfill its obligations in the near and slightly more distant future. Worse, there is some misunderstanding with the strategic leadership of the SAAF on the need to use heavy (long-range) transport aircraft instead of medium, and this despite the urgency of the problem. The fact that these problems will not be solved in the near future will mean that the army will face a long-term crisis of air transport shortages as a result of the wrong choice of acquired aircraft.