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The South African Special Forces is a unit under, SANDF, the South African National Defence Force. The capability was established in 1968 staying in line with the international military trends. Before its formation there was need to plan and set up structures that would accommodate techniques tailored to the African Context before a core group was formed and trained.
What’s In a Name?
1. A lot of people know the nickname that the South African Special Forces are nicknamed Recces but the reason behind it may not be as well known and that is the first on the 10 things you are learning today about South African Special Forces. Originally, the Special Forces were called Special Forces Regiments – the Reconnaissance Regiments and this is where the nickname arose from.
Getting Into Special Forces
2. South Africans are revered for their skills in battle and a lot of people actually want to join the Special Forces. For example in 1988 by the time the war was coming to a close in Angola, over 100,000 people had applied for the pre-selection interviews so they could try the training cycle held by the Special Forces but less than 480 people qualified to become Special Forces operators and over 80 of them died in the line of duty.
3. A third fact about the Special Forces that is not common knowledge is that one needs to have graduated from school, speak 2 languages and be between 18 and 28 at the onset of their training.
Tragedy, Resilience and Tenacity
4. It has the highest statistical ratio of Killed in Action numbers.
5. On the same tragic note, over 55% of all Special Force operators were wounded in action at one time or the other and some of them on multiple occasions and had to treat and dress the wounds themselves which speaks of their resilience.
6. Interestingly enough the Special Forces have never had an advantage in terms of numbers over their enemies when they were attacking their enemies fixed positions and were always outnumbered in their engagements and heavily at that.
7. Of all the 10 facts, the fact that their total strength was never over 200 or 250 operators at any given time during the entire period of the Angolan War and that is of all the regiments speaks to their resilience, dedication and skill more than any other.
8. Another interesting tidbit to learn from the history of the Special Forces is that both the first and last soldier to be killed in action in the Angola war formerly the South West war as it was beginning and ending were Special Force Operators.
9. Since the operators need to be equipped during war, they carry kits with them that weigh between 60kg and 80kg and for small team operations or long-distance deployments, the kit can weigh an average o f 100kg. The heaviest kit that was ever carried by long deployment or small team operators was 130kg.
10. South African Special Forces is the military entity that is with the highest decorations of Bravery Medals in South Africa despite being held to higher standards of awarding of medals. It has held this title since the Second World War ended. Unofficially though, an operator receives bragging rights or an unofficial achievement when he successfully completes a Gunston 500. This involves the operator conducting an operation or mission behind enemy lines. The operator has to walk 500 or more kilometers with full kit. The name Gunston 500 comes from the Surfing Championship with a similar name. During the Angolan war, many of the operators who took part have completed it even more than once, as a matter of fact many operators have done this.
The Special Forces has come a long way since its establishment in 1972 and its role in the former South West Africa War cannot be doubted as the South Africa Special Forces operators were instrumental in the 30-year long war and especially with limited resources and with numbers being against them. The Special Forces requires nothing but the highest from its members as this is the only way to succeed in such conditions.
From: Buzz South Africa
On this day, 4th August 1967 South Africa introduced a conscription for all white males in South Africa to join the Defence Force. My two brothers along with many many male friends / colleagues / cousins / nephews etc etc awaited with dread their “calling up papers” when they left school, varisty etc …. I remember going to the railway station to see them off … I remember awaking at all times of the night to cook my brothers a meal … they had hitched from goodness knows where … such excitement and happiness when they arrived – such sadness and worry when they left … lots of memories … quoting from today’s notes in THIS DAY IN AFRICA HISTORY :
“The Union Defense Force was create in 1912 and served as the South African Army. It was renamed as the South African Defense Force (SADF) by the passing of the Defense Act (No. 44) of 1957. Subdivisions included the Army, Air Force and the Navy, and service in any of these divisions was restricted to white South African males.
Prior to the Amendment Act, military service was voluntary. However, on 4 August 1967, military conscription became compulsory for all white men in South Africa over the age of 16. Deferment to complete schooling or a university degree was granted, but hardly any white men were exempt from conscription.
Conscripts formed part of the SADF and their services were largely used to uphold the apartheid regime. They fought against liberation movements in Angola, Namibia and Mozambique, and were often deployed to townships to quell anti-apartheid action.
In 1983, the End Conscription Campaign (ECC) was formed to end compulsory military service. By 1985, the ECC held a “Troops out of Townships” rally, in which the white dissatisfaction with the apartheid government and their policy on conscription was made clear.
The government responded by banning the ECC in 1988. However, the following year the length of conscription had been shortened, and in 1993, the end of conscription was announced.
The SADF was replaced by the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) in 1994″
With kind permission from: June Ulyate Thomas (Facebook)