Comparing apples with pears: the pre-1994 and post-1994 South African military cultures

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This article aims2 at providing an exposition of the most important factors that have shaped and are still shaping the institutional culture of the South African (SA) military. The view is broad and holistic and places the timeframe from 1961 to the present under review. It makes sense to divide the article into a discussion of the military cultures of the pre-1994 South African Defence Force (SADF) and the post-1994 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) respectively. However, it is not necessarily a comparison of the two timeframes. There are obvious links between the two eras and two organisations, and a comparison is almost inevitable. This is, however, not done on purpose and not to reflect either positively or negatively on any of the two periods or institutions. Instead, the article highlights the fact that both the SADF and the SANDF are products of their time and the societies they have served or are serving. The military cultures of both the SADF and SANDF were influenced by identity politics, the political structures within which they had to function, the underlying political outlooks of the reigning political elite and the prevailing views on military professionalism. From an organisational perspective, the military ethos was shaped by factors such as the personnel system (conscript vis-à-vis all-volunteer), the size of the military budget and the operational responsibility and missions of the military.