Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Vision of The SANDF?

An affordable, professional and balanced defence force with an integrated Regular and Reserve Force, fully representative of all South Africans, that ensures a safe and secure environment within which national and regional development and prosperity can be pursued. This can only be realized with the support of the employer and the community for the Reserve Force System.

Effective and thorough training is the key to creating and maintaining a credible defence capability. Training will therefore be one of the most important activities of Reserve Force units. The SANDF seeks to provide realistic, flexible and relevant training.

What Is The Reserve Force Service?

Reserve Force service is military service rendered by citizens of the country on a voluntary basis. The members of the Reserve either serve within the structure of an allocated unit or in accordance with a professional and skills requirement programme. Under normal circumstances the period of service will vary according to an agreed contract between the Reserve Force member and the SANDF.

Why Part-Time?

The Reserve Force is the part time component of the SANDF and as such members render voluntary military service on a part time basis whilst following a full time civilian career.

Why Is There a Reserve Force?

The Reserve Force serves as a force multiplier for the Regular Force which is the full-time component of the SANDF. The Reserves expand the capabilities of the Regular Force and are cost effective as the members are only called-up when their services are needed. Members of the Reserve can be called-up for service during war or during peace time for operations other than war eg during times of national disaster.

What Elements Form The Reserve Force?

• The Reserve Force forms an indispensable part of the South African Army, Air Force (SAAF), Navy (SAN) and the Military Health Service (SAMHS). About 85% of the Reserve Force of the SANDF resides in the Army.

SA Army. Conventional Army units are trained and equipped to fight the conventional land battle and the standard of technical proficiency required is high. Intensive training and regular refresher courses on sophisticated equipment are vital. These units are also trained for peace support operations, for border protection and to provide support to the people.

SA Air Force (SAAF). Reserve Force members in the SAAF comprise two main groups. Volunteer Air Squadrons are staffed by licensed pilots who are required to maintain SAAF aircrew standards. They must have suitable aircraft which can be employed for light transport, communication or reconnaissance flights. The second group comprises a pool of Reserve Force members with specific professional or technical expertise who can be called on to solve particular SAAF problems or to provide sophisticated support.

SA Navy. Reserve Force members are responsible for naval control of shipping, harbour defence and supplementing the full-time component in specialised tasks, as well as serving on ships.

SA Military Health Service (SAMHS). The SAMHS Reserve Force medical battalion groups provide operational medical support to the SA Army, SA Air Force and SA Navy.

What Are The Main Sources Of Volunteers?

Current Reserve Force Members. Current Reserve Force members, who are still subjected to service as Reserve Force members, as well as those members who are already serving as volunteers. These are trained citizen soldiers with years of military experience and can therefore be utilised with minimal retraining.

Members of the National Reserve. Members of the National Reserve, who have completed their previous military obligations, but are willing to volunteer for further service. These volunteers include people from all population groups who have undergone previous military service in both the statutory and non-statutory forces.

Members who have completed the MSDS. Members who have completed the MSDS and did not join the Regular Force.

• Members with specialist skills. New recruits with specific skills which are needed to enhance the SANDF capabilities. Professionals such as Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants and technical staff, which undergo shorter periods of military training are also appointed and assigned for utilisation.

What Are The Requirements To Join The Reserve Force?

• New applicants must be between the ages of 18 and 26 years (the required age varies according to the category of training/service) when joining for the first time. This age restriction does not apply to applicants with professional or critical skill qualifications required.

• Applicants must pass the prescribed medical and psychometric tests for appointment in a specific post or entrance to a specific training programme.

• Applicants must sign the prescribed voluntary service contract (usually for a period of five years) for voluntary military service and be prepared to render service when required in terms of the Defence Act and the General Regulations of the SANDF.

• If employed, the applicant’s employer must be willing to grant special leave for military activities within reasonable demands.

• Applicants must have no military of civilian criminal record.

What Is “Continuous” Reserve Force Service?

It is service rendered in accordance with a specific call-up period which commences on one day and continues to the next or following days. The call-up period may vary from 2 to 30 or 60 or 90 or 180 days as agreed to between the member and the Defence Force and in accordance with a signed contract between the two parties.

What Is “Non-Continuous” Reserve Force Service?

It is service rendered on a non-continuous basis for periods of 8 or less hours at a time. The period of service is recorded and calculated on a time sheet. Eight hours equal one day’s service for remuneration and service recognition awards (medals).

What Are There Age Restrictions For Reserve Force Service?

18 – 65 years. Learners with school-going commitments may however, not join the Reserves. Members of the Reserve typically retire no later than the age of 65, but depending on their roles they may be required to retire earlier. In exceptional cases the retirement age of members can be extended beyond 65 years but not beyond 75 years of age.

Can Former Regular Force Members Who Took A Voluntary Severance Package (VSP) Join The Reserves?


Are Reserve Force Members Obliged To Serve?

Yes. In terms of a contract signed between the SANDF and the member and according to a specific call-up instruction. Normally the periods of service are negotiated between the organization and the member.

What Does The Training Entail?

Effective and thorough military training is the key to creating and maintaining a credible defence capability. Training is therefore one of the most important activities of the Reserve Force units. The SANDF aims to provide realistic, flexible and relevant training.

What Benefits Are There For The Individual In Undergoing Reserve Force Training And Service?

• You will learn new skills in a disciplined environment.

• Your self awareness, self discipline and self confidence will improve.

• Through group activities your ability to function in a group will be developed.

• Your leadership potential, communication and management skills will be developed.

• Members are exposed to a challenging programme of military training and additional complementary social and adventure activities that will broaden your outlook on life.

• You will make a contribution to the core values and ethos of the country.

• The extension of this system to all communities enhances the safety and security needed for economic growth.

• These opportunities will lead to personal growth, which can enhance your civilian career.

Are Reserve Force Members Remunerated For Service Rendered?

Yes. Remuneration is in accordance with a fixed daily allowance coupled to the rank of the member.

Do Reserve Force Members Qualify For Specific Service Benefits?

Yes. There is however a difference between the service benefits of members serving on a continuous and non-continuous basis. All members are issued with uniform, are entitled to medical treatment while serving and contribute to a Group Life Insurance Scheme. Members rendering continuous service also qualify for sick leave and vacation leave in accordance to specific periods of service.

What Will The Compensation And Service Benefits Be, While Training And Serving In The Reserves?

Pay. You will be remunerated for the full period of training or service in accordance with your rank and the prevailing remuneration policy of the SANDF. The Regular component pay scales apply to Reserve Force members based on the entry salary notch of the applicable rank. The PAYE tax on this military pay is between 17% and 25 %, depending on your salary scale.

Reserve Force Service Bonus. An annual bonus after you have completed a minimum period of 12 days annual service in accordance with SANDF regulations will be paid during February of the following year. It will be increased after you have completed 4 years Reserve Force military service.

Medical Benefits. You are entitled to medical benefits during periods of official service. This includes treatment of any disability or injury sustained or illness contracted during service or as a result of service. Treatment for injury on duty may be continued after the call-up period, until you have recovered.

Group Life Insurance. Affordable personal insurance will be provided by the SANDF Group Life Insurance Scheme in case of bodily injury, disability or death occurring in the course of, or as a result of military service. Premiums are deducted from your military pay.

Career advancement. You will receive promotion in rank in accordance with the promotion policy of the SANDF.

Honours and Awards. You will be eligible to qualify for awards and service medals as prescribed for members of the SANDF.

Access to Military Institutions and Sport Clubs. You are entitled, subject to certain conditions and restrictions, to the privileges of full-time soldiers in respect of the following facilities, while you are in service:
• ◦South African Defence Force Institute
• ◦Clubs and canteens
• ◦Sport and recreation clubs

How Will The Employer Benefit?

Indirectly,an effective Defence Force will help to ensure a safe and secure national and local environment, in which South Africa can develop and prosper. Some direct benefits of Reserve Force military service are that it delivers personnel with military skills and experience to the economy who;

  • have a strong sense of loyalty, duty and discipline;
  • are a better motivated work force;
  • can both follow and lead;
  • know how to work in a team;
  • can think under stress and know how to communicate;
  • have leadership qualities and management capabilities;
  • can serve as a good example of a firm or industry’s attitude and commitment to National Defence.

How Can The Employer Assist?

• Employers and community leaders at all levels are encouraged to support those employees wishing to join the Reserve Forces by:

• allowing leave for military service;

• not discriminating against employees who volunteer;

• actively participating in the planning of the timing and duration of service of their employees who volunteer;

• supporting the marketing of and recruitment for the Reserve System within their organisation and among their peers.

What Are The External Support Structures?

The Reserve Force Council (RFC). The RFC was established in August 1994. The members of the RFC are appointed by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. Membership includes representatives of Reserve Force units. The Reserve Force Council is an autonomous and statutory independent consultative, advisory and coordinating body and is represented at regional and national levels. Its most important task is to offer advice to the Department of Defence on matters concerning the Reserves.

Defence Provincial Liaison Councils. These councils are established by the Chief of the SANDF for the purpose of ensuring the support of employers for the volunteer Reserve System. They also facilitate employment in the private sector for members of the Reserve.

Council of Military Veterans’ Organisations (CMVO). The CMVO is a voluntary organisation of military veterans, which was established in 1976. The Council co-operates with and promotes unity amongst all military veterans’ organizations. It also assists in the promotion of the welfare and interests of all military veterans and their dependants and coordinates representations made from time to time on their behalf.