Alec Hogg’s Inbox: Is it time to reintroduce the National Service?

Were my mailbox physical, it would have been stuffed to the brim by the letters supporting Michael Smythe’s idea of reintroducing National Service. Community member Jenny Alexander wrote:

I like the national service idea! The next step is ideas on how and where to implement it. Many retirees have the ability to train or teach some of these mentioned as they are the last of the disciplined boys that were sent out on national service in the 80s. Many folk now working from home and protecting their homes could also have some form of input?

My other feeling is that prisoners (not rapists and murderers) could be used to clean up towns, sort garbage, fix potholes etc…..a sort of chain gang system where they are useful to the community, not sitting in rooms being fed and watching TV (if that is what happens). We need relevant staff to control them though.

Mindi Hunt, a manager from Midland, who signed off “yours in frustration” contributed this:

The letter from Michael Smythe espouses my long-held thoughts on how to take the youth problems forward so perfectly. It’s so sensible that it should be a complete no-brainer. Let’s start today!

How does one get this to anyone who actually listens and could put this into practice?

Christine Maree picked up on both Michael and Peter Smulik’s notes as per:

Michael Smythe’s suggested list of how to grow our children is fascinating, especially as that was the way it worked in “bad” old Apartheid days, until dear Kader Asmal closed down all the training colleges, because they were too close to those Afrikaner standards! Remember?

Peter Smulik”s list of woes in Cape Town……doesn’t say much for a great city in Western Cape that wants to break away and be independent of South Africa.”

Tim Elliott provided this thoughtful email on a different topic:

Whilst the aftermath of the looting and anarchy continues to unravel there is one very important issue that remains floating in the winds of chaos and that is the SIU investigation into the alleged fraud and corruption perpetrated by the ex Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize. The President himself declared this investigation would be prioritized and the outcome shared with the nation. The SIU must have completed its investigation by now, but once again South Africans are being treated with contempt by being kept in the dark. This is symptomatic of the weak and ineffectual leadership so clearly demonstrated in the handling of the past two weeks’ chaos and the longer the silence from the President on this crucial matter, the greater the likelihood it will be swept under the carpet. The more things change, the more things stay the same!

Last word today to Chris Hoare of Durban who wrote:

Interesting that both Pottinger and Shapiro in their comments referred to morality. I could not agree more.

People talk about the Moderate Middle and indeed our hope must lie there, but I hope they/we could equally be called the Moral Middle.

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Comment from BizNews community member Ralph N Thompson: 

As a serving reservist at the Transvaal Scottish (now named after the convicted criminal Soloman, much to many a bewilderment), national service is not the machine it once was and more than likely will never come close again.

Numerous reasons for this but I will start at the most obvious,

There is no money for this, it is nowhere near  a priority for a government who sees no value in this other than providing a welfare type system for poorly trained and under performing MK cadres. There are as always exceptions but they are nowhere near enough without proper support and structures above them. Our defence minister is a primary school teacher!

The military is now a welfare employee, it is seen (and performs) as another poorly run SOE with no  accountability and standards where skilled staff have been purged and replaced with cadres with little to no knowledge and skills.

As an aside they have lost more than 50 reccaes over the last 6 months to the private sector, the large majority white, who are no longer getting promoted and are tired of the tribalism and political infighting. I know this as my brother-in-law was there until October last year, they have bled over 12 reccaes from Phalaborwa alone.

The national service system was conscripted by many a matric leaver, university graduates and skilled artisans who were placed and utilised according to their skill set.

The current applicants have nowhere near the skill set and experience that your average national serviceman would bring to the table. I would wager that most have a minimum of a grade 10.

The drill, dress and discipline, age curves actual physical ability to place properly trained infantrymen on the ground is nowhere near the internationally accepted statistics required to man even a small army properly.

There are more ‘generals’ and staff officers now than 30 years ago, despite the drastic downsizing of the army. These people cost the most money and I have not seen a general in the modern era who could pass any remotely down-scaled idea of a fitness test. EVERYONE is beyond obese. This is not an example you set as an ‘officer’.

In an effort to change the existing structures in the reserves many a unskilled and under qualified ‘officer’ was appointed to run reserve units that had no experience and skills to do so. Let’s call it ‘some’ of these were unable to pass the requisite course but still managed to stay on as OC.

There are many critical issues, the one that springs to mind is that in the bad old days the SANDF was structured to teach incoming NSM every thing from hygiene to shooting, that no longer exists.

The boertjies didn’t need much training though, most of them are born soldiers because of their upbringing and living on or having access to plots and farms as well as pellet guns from an early age.

I was on the ground on election day 1994 proudly wearing my uniform, it is thanks to those reserves that day that South Africa can thank for having a largely free and fair election with no violence on the ground.

I have served with the Jocks continuously from that point only to see our proud regiment being emptied from the inside out, our traditions tossed in the name of political correctness after 118 years.

Bringing back national service is not a solution because in order to do that you need proper structures. These have all been emptied and demolished. The soldiers (not the connected politicians masquerading as soldiers) have all been removed.

We need a small professional army that is well trained and well-equipped (think Botswana here) with structures that can be scaled up quickly to utilise reserves who are continuously cycled through a training programme providing an ongoing cycle of trained military in various corp that can be called on in emergencies such as the recent riots.

This existed and worked well, until the ANC scuppered it all because the fact of the matter they saw 600 000 ex NSM as a threat to their political power in the event of a problem.

Their only problem now is that many of those ex-NSM is what saved them, the irony!

PS: They are currently reactivating old soldiers within 24hrs of a medical and criminal clearance for 3 ‘combined battalions’ to be based in KZN. 60 ratels, leader group and troops are already on the ground there. The order from the top was specifically for the old white reservists.

This has not been made public and I am sure a few well placed questions to your sources can confirm this. I can name more than ten soldiers I have served with at the Jocks that have already been reactivated and are already in KZN. You didn’t hear that from me.

It was an attempted coup and tribalism is not an issue for ex NSM, hence a very specific group has been targeted for this call-up expected to last until October, watch Cyril closely Cele is not his friend.

The firearms bill strongly backed by Cele was a little too slow on the uptake, can you imagine if they had got this right and then had a coup?

The people of all races standing together to stop this insurrection would have had a much less a degree of standing in the way of the hungry looters without personal firearms to deter the crowds.

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