18 December 2012

Namibia: The NDF After 22 Years

THE Namibian Defence Force is established by the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia, by virtue of Article 115 that states that "there shall be established by Act of Parliament a Namibian Defence Force with prescribed composition, powers, duties and procedures in order to defend the territory and national interests of Namibia." The Defence Act, Act 1 of 2002, was promulgated by Parliament to give expression to the provisions of the Constitution.

The primary mission of the Namibian Defence Force as enshrined in the Constitution, Chapter 15, and Article 115 is to defend the territorial integrity and national interests of Namibia. Its secondary roles include assisting civil and local authorities in domestic support operations when required, as well as to undertake Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), African Union (AU) and UN peace support missions.

The Namibian Defence Force (NDF) envisions developing and maintaining a small, highly mobile and professional force that excels in service through discipline, vigorous training and the possession of modern armaments and is ready to defend and guarantee the security of the Republic of Namibia. Moreover, this force should actively contribute to the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security.

The Achievements of the NDF

At national level, the NDF is pre-occupied with training, as well as carrying out its secondary tasks of assisting civil authorities during natural disasters such as floods, drought and carrying out emergency relief services. The emergency services rendered by the NDF form part of the peace-making role of the NDF. Procedures on how the aid to civil authorities is rendered are laid down in the NDF publications.

At bilateral level, Namibia has established joint commissions on defence and security with all its neighbours, which include Angola, Botswana, South African and Zambia, with the joint commissions holding regular meetings on defence and related issues affecting the countries.

At the regional level, the NDF further participates in joint exercises with countries in the region. These exercises include cultural, sport and military activities. These activities provide for the sharing of experiences, cultures, learning to know each other within the region, and thus creating conditions of peace, security and stability.

At the international level, the NDF, as a peacekeeping force supports and contributes to UN peacekeeping missions and is always prepared to deploy at the request of the UN. The readiness of the NDF is a reflection of the Namibian Government's commitment to assume its responsibilities under the UN mandate.

The engagement of the Ministry of Defence at all forums for peace and security is an indication to the world that the Ministry of Defence, and in particular the Government of the Republic of Namibia, is a peace-loving one that pronounces itself to maintain peace in the world by its membership and participation in international relations.

NDF Participation in Peacekeeping and Peace Support Operations

Excellence is the core and main theme of the participation of the NDF in international peacekeeping operations. It is achieved through vigorous training, motivation, discipline and the possession of modern armaments. Excellence is the beacon that the NDF aims to reach.

The Namibian Defence Force being a troop contributing country to the United Nations is obliged to maintain peace in the world.

Soon after independence, in 1992 the Namibian Defence Force participated in UN, AU, and SADC-led peace support operations in nine countries, which include Cambodia, Ivory Coast, DRC, Angola, Eritrea/Ethiopia, Liberia, Sudan and South Sudan.

Fighting HIV/AIDS

In the fight against the HIV/Aids pandemic, the NDF formulated a sectoral HIV/AIDS policy in 2011. The policy is a reference framework for all HIV/AIDS related guidelines and procedures to guide that response in the defence sector.

The policy is a response in the fight against HIV/Aids as stipulated in the national strategy plan with the aim to reduce new HIV/STI infections, improve care and treatment and mitigate the impact of HIV and AIDS.

Challenges Facing NDF

As alluded to earlier, a young but professional force is faced with many challenges and in the same vein it has to enforce and uphold the Constitutional obligation bestowed upon it and not to compromise that obligation under any circumstances.

The obstacles that the NDF faces are interlinked with the national budget. Adequate financial resources are needed to achieve the mission of the NDF.

However, the Ministry of Defence has embarked on a number of projects to generate limited income in order to assist in meeting some of the financial obligations.

Just after independence the public had a misconception that conscription into the NDF is a form of an employment creation project of the Namibian Government. However, the reason for conscription and recruitment in the NDF is to create a professional force.

The expansion of the NDF as an institution is another challenge, since the expansion places a strain on the budgetary allocation to the Ministry of Defence and in particular to the Namibian Defence Force. At this point the Namibian Defence Force comprises of the army, the air force and the navy. Resources must therefore be shared equally and be put to good use.

Challenges accompany the growth and progress of any institution, therefore one cannot forecast the challenges ahead. New challenges will arise as we progress and this institution is prepared to deal with and manoeuvre against those odds.

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