South African National Defence Force

armed forces of South Africa

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is the military of South Africa.

South African National Defence Force
Current form 1994 - present
Parts South African Army
South African Navy
South African Air Force
South African Military Health Service
Headquarters Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Commander-in-Chief Jacob Zuma
Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Chief of the South African National Defence Force General Solly Shoke
Serving soldiers
Military age 18-49
Available to
be a soldier
10 354 769 males, age 18-49 (2005),
10 626 550 females, age 18-49 (2005)
Fit to be
a soldier
4 927 757 males, age 18-49 (2005),
4 609 071 females, age 18-49 (2005)
Reaching military
age annually
512 407 males (2005),
506 078 females (2005)
Active employees/soldiers 67,373
Reserve personnel 15,107[1]
Budget $US 4.572 billion[2]
Percent of GDP 1.1% (2010-2011)
Suppliers from inland Denel, Reutech Radar Systems, Thales, Paramount Group
Suppliers from
foreign countries
BAE Systems, Saab AB, ThyssenKrupp, AgustaWestland

The SANDF is made up of four branches: the South African Army, the South African Navy, the South African Air Force, and the South African Military Health Service (formerly the South African Medical Service).

The Commander-in-Chief of the military is the President of South Africa, currently Cyril Ramaphosa.[3] The Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans, currently headed by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, is in charge of political leadership. Military command is in the hands of the General Staff, headed by the Chief of the South African National Defence Force, who is General Solly Shoke.

Annual game counting by SANDF

The history of the SANDF can be traced back to 1912, with the establishment of the Union Defence Force (UDF). In 1957, the Union Defence Force was renamed to the South African Defence Force (SADF). The SADF fought a bloody guerrilla war against the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) and the African National Congress in South West Africa (now Namibia). SADF forces were also involved in the Angolan Civil War. In 1994, the South African Defence Force was combined with the ANC's Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the PAC's Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), several Bantustan defence forces, and the self protection units of the Inkatha Freedom Party to form the South African National Defence Force.

Since 1994, South Africa has been trying to develop its military into a professional, well trained and mobile military. The SANDF currently plays a role in peacekeeping in the African continent, in countries such as the DRC and Burundi.


  1. "South Africa". DefenceWeb. Retrieved 2013-11-04.
  2. "National Treasury".
  3. "Government Leaders | South African Government". Retrieved 2022-03-10.