by Max Barry

Latest Forum Topics


The Republic of
Civil Rights Lovefest

Overview Factbook Dispatches Policies People Government Economy Rank Trend Cards


The Azanian Defence Force

Azanian Defence Force


(current form)

Service Branches:

The Azanian Army
The Azanian Navy
The Azanian Air Force
The Azanian Military Health Service


Arcadia, Pretoria



Kwezi Dlathu

Minister of Defence:

Lerato Zulu

Chief of the Defence Staff:

GEN Solly Shoke


Military Age:


Available for Service:

20,354,769 males
(age 18–49)
22,626,550 females
(age 18–49)

Fit for Service:

10,927,757 males
(age 18–49)
10,609,071 females
(age 18–49)

Active Personnel:


Reserve Personnel:




US$36.2 billion


Domestic Suppliers:

Paramount Group
Reunert Ltd
Atlas Aircraft Corporation
Truvelo Manufacturers

Foreign Suppliers:

Heckler & Koch
IMI Systems
BAE Systems

The Azanian Defence Force is the military service responsible for the defence of the Republic of Azania. It also promotes Azania's wider interests, supports international peacekeeping efforts and provides humanitarian aid.

The military as it exists today was created in 1981, following the first multi-racial elections and the adoption of a new constitution. It was previously known as the South African Defence Force.

Today, the Azanian Defence Force consists of the Azanian Navy, a green-water navy with a fleet of 108 commissioned ships, together with the Azanian Marines, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the Azanian Army, Azania's principal land warfare branch; and the Azanian Air Force, a technologically sophisticated air force with a diverse operational fleet consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. The Azanian Defence Force includes standing forces, Regular Reserves and Volunteer Reserves.



After the Union of South Africa was formed in 1910, General Jan Smuts, the Union's first Minister of Defence, placed a high priority on creating a unified military out of the separate armies of the union's five provinces. The South African Defence Act (Act 13 of 1912) made provision for a UDF that would be composed of a Permanent Force (or standing army) of career soldiers, an Active Citizen Force (ACF) of temporary conscripts, a Coast Garrison Force and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (South African Division) (RNVR(SA)), as well as any other defence arm that might in future be established to meet the defence requirements of the Union of South Africa. The 1912 law also obligated all white males between seventeen and sixty years of age to serve in the military, but this was not strictly enforced as there were a large number of volunteers. Instead, half of the white males aged from 17 to 25 were drafted by lots into the ACF.

Initially, the Permanent Force consisted of five regular mounted regiments and a small artillery section as well as a headquarters, instructional and administrative staff. Provision was also made for a Coastal Defence Corps, South African Aviation Corps (SAAC) – part of the ACF and School Cadet Corps. No provision was made for an overall commander, instead, the commanders of the Citizen Force, Cadet Corps and Permanent Force reported directly to the Minister of Defence.

On 1 July 1912, the Headquarters of the UDF was established in Pretoria. Headquarters comprised three sections: Secretariat, General Staff and an Administrative section. A Medical Services Section was added in December 1913, and in 1916 the Administrative Section became the Quartermaster-General's Section.

Brigadier General Christian Frederick Beyers was appointed Commandant General of the Citizen Force, Brigadier General Henry Lukin became Inspector General of the Permanent Force and Colonel Percival Scott Beves became Commandant of Cadets. They reported directly to the Minister of Defence.

C.F. Beyers resigned from his post in September 1914 and the role was taken over by the Minister of Defence.

The titles of the officers in charge of these sections were changed on 1 July 1915. The Head of the General Staff became Chief Staff Officer, General Staff and Adjudant-General. The Head of the Administrative section became Quartermaster General. In July 1917 the General Staff post was again renamed Chief of the General Staff and Adjudant-General.

In May 1918 the coordination of all military staff work at HQ and the issue of all military orders was vested in the Chief of the General Staff, as well as the responsibilities of Commandant of Cadets and the role of Adjudant General were split off. There were 4 sections under the CGS – General Staff section, Adjudant General, Medical Services and Quartermaster General. Andries Brink was appointed Chief of the General Staff in 1920. The posts of Chief of the General Staff and Secretary of Defence were combined on 30 September 1922, following the retirement of Sir Roland Bourne.

The South African Army was created first by merging the existing military structures of the former British colonies and Boer Republics that had become the five provinces of the Union.

World War I

The Union Defence Force saw action in several areas in the First World War. In Africa, the Army invaded German South-West Africa, later known as South West Africa. The army expelled German forces and gained control of the German colony. As part of the Allies' East African Campaign, an expedition under General Jan Smuts was dispatched to German East Africa (later known as Tanganyika). The objective was to fight German forces in that colony and to try to capture the elusive German General von Lettow-Vorbeck. Ultimately, Lettow-Vorbeck fought his tiny force out of German East Africa into Mozambique and then Northern Rhodesia, where he accepted a cease-fire three days after the end of the war.

In Europe, the 1st South African Infantry Brigade was shipped to France to fight on the Western Front. In addition to 5 batteries of Heavy Artillery, a Field Ambulance, a Royal Engineers Signal Company and a General Hospital were raised and sent to the front. The Battle of Delville Wood in 1916 was the most costly battle fought by the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force (SAOEF).

The UDF also saw action in the Middle East, with the Cape Corps deploying as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine.

More than 146 000 whites, 83 000 blacks and 2 500 people of Coloured and Asian descent served in UDF military units during the war, including 43 000 in German South-West Africa and 30,000 on the Western Front. An estimated 3 000 also joined the Royal Flying Corps. The total casualties during the were about 18 600 with over 12 452 killed – more than 4 600 in the European theatre alone.


The Azanian Air Force was created as the South African Air Force in February 1920. The formation of the South African Naval service followed in 1922, following the donation of HMS Thames which became the South African Training Ship General Botha.

The SA Defence Act Amendment Act, No. 22 of 1922 re-organised the Permanent Force. From 1 February 1923, the Permanent Force consisted of the Staff Corps, Instructional Corps, Naval Service, Field Artillery, 1st Regiment, Mounted Riflemen, the Permanent Garrison Artillery, the Engineer Corps, the Air Force, SA Service Corps, SA Medical Corps, Ordnance Corps, Veterinary Corps and the Administrative, Pay and Clerical Corps.

To save money another reorganisation took place in 1926. The last regiment of the SA Mounted Riflemen was disbanded as was the Brigade HQ of the SA Field Artillery. The Great Depression put pressure on the Budget and 56 Citizen Force units were disbanded and the number of military districts was reduced from 16 to 6 The Special Service Battalion was started as a way of creating work for young people who could not find employment. A drastic move was the disbanding of the Naval Service.

In 1933 Oswald Pirow became Minister of Defence, General Brink was appointed GOC of the UDF as well as the Secretary of Defence and Pierre van Ryneveld became Chief of the General Staff. Additionally, the 6 military districts were redesignated "Commands".

As the economy, improved Minister Pirow put forward a plan to expand and reorganise the Defence Force. The Air Force would be increased to 7 squadrons, with new bases being built at Waterkloof, Bloemfontein, Durban and Youngsfield. However, by the start of World War II, this was only partially completed. The Active Citizen Force units would increase from 8 to 24, 12 based in urban areas and 12 based in the countryside.

World War II

The UDF contributed to many theatres of war. Azania's contribution consisted mainly of supplying troops, airmen and material for the North African campaign (the Desert War) and the Italian Campaign as well as to Allied ships that docked at its crucial ports adjoining the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean that converge at the tip of Southern Africa. Numerous volunteers also flew for the Royal Air Force.

  • The Army and Air Force played a major role in defeating the Italian forces of Benito Mussolini during the 1940/1941 East African Campaign. The converted Junkers Ju 86s of 12 Squadron, South African Air Force, carried out the first bombing raid of the campaign on a concentration of tanks at Moyale at 8 am on 11 June 1940, mere hours after Italy's declaration of war.

  • Another important victory that the UDF participated in was the liberation of Malagasy (now known as Madagascar) from the control of the Vichy French who were allies of Nazi Germany. British troops aided by Azanian soldiers, staged their attack from Durban, landing on the strategic island on 4 May 1942 to preclude its seizure by the Japanese.

  • The 1st Infantry Division took part in several actions in North Africa in 1941 and 1942, including the Battle of El Alamein, before being withdrawn to be re-constituted as an armoured division.

  • The 2nd Infantry Division also took part in several actions in North Africa during 1942, but on 21 June 1942 two complete infantry brigades of the division, as well as most of the supporting units, were captured at the fall of Tobruk.

  • The 3rd Infantry Division never took an active part in any battles but instead organised and trained the home defence forces, performed garrison duties and supplied replacements for the 1st Infantry Division and the 2nd Infantry Division. However, one of this division's constituent brigades – the 7 SA Motorised Brigade – did take part in the invasion of Madagascar in 1942.

  • The 6th Armoured Division fought in numerous actions in Italy from 1944-1945.

  • The Air Force made a significant contribution to the air war in East Africa, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, the Balkans and even as far east as bombing missions aimed at the Romanian oilfields in Ploiesti, supply missions in support of the Warsaw uprising and reconnaissance missions ahead of the Soviet advances in the Lviv-Cracow area.

  • Numerous airmen also volunteered service to the RAF, some serving with distinction.

  • The UDF contributed to the war effort against Japan, supplying men and manning ships in naval engagements against the Japanese.

Of the 334 000 men who volunteered for full-time service in the Army during the war (including some 186 000 whites, 102 000 blacks and 46 000 coloureds and Indians), nearly 9 000 were killed in action.


After the war, a UDF survey conducted among white officers and sergeants who had a black platoon assigned to their company found the following results: 83% of both officers and sergeants said they had become more favourable towards black soldiers after having a black platoon assigned to their company (no cases were found where someone said their attitude towards them had turned less favourable), 89% of officers and 86% of sergeants thought the black soldiers had performed very well in combat, only 5% of officers and 3% of sergeants thought that black infantry soldiers were not as good as white infantry soldiers, and 73% of officers and 69% of sergeants thought that black soldiers and white soldiers got along together very well. According to this particular survey, there were no reasonable grounds for racial segregation in the defence forces.

In 1946, Jan Smuts (then Prime Minister of the country) signed an Order in Council to promote equal opportunity and prohibit employment discrimination in the country.

In 1949 the ANC renewed efforts to end discrimination in the military, forming the Committee Against Segregation in Military Service and Training, later renamed the Organisation for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation. The Defence Act (Act 12 of 1949) expanded on the Order in Council by establishing equality of treatment and opportunity in the military for people of all races, religions, or national origins.

The Order:

    "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Union of South Africa that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, colour, religion or national origin. This policy shall be put into effect as rapidly as possible, having due regard to the time required to effectuate any necessary changes without impairing efficiency or morale.

    This order also establishes a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the civilian leadership of the military to implement the policy."

Most of the actual enforcement of the order was accomplished by Prime Minister Div Graaf's administration from 1956 to 1961, including the desegregation of military schools, hospitals, and bases. The last of the all-black units in the UDF military was abolished in September 1956.

Shortly before the state reconstituted itself as a republic in 1961, the Union Defence Force was officially succeeded by the South African Defence Force, which was established by the Defence Act (No. 44) of 1957.

Korean War

In the 1950s, 2 Squadron ("The Flying Cheetahs") of the SAAF served as the country's primary contribution to the United Nations Command. Over 200 officers and some 545 airmen in the SAAF saw action over Korea between 1950 and 1953. Also represented were 38 different ranks from other branches of the UDF.

Azania suffered 34 dead or missing in action during the Korean War. Eight pilots either shot down by communist forces or forced to land their aircraft behind enemy lines were taken, prisoner.

Border War

MPLA T-34-85 tank captured
during the Border War

After 1957, the new South African Defence Force was faced with an insurgency in the South West Africa province when the military wing of the Lozi People's Organisation attacked a police station in Caprivi and was forced to expand its resources accordingly. In 1963 its total strength stood at around 80 000 men. The SADF discovered that much of the Western equipment offered to Azania did not meet the technical requirements needed to operate in the country's harsh conditions. Azania responded by developing a powerful domestic arms industry, capable of producing quality hardware, including tanks, drones, guided missiles, armoured cars, multiple rocket launchers, and small arms.

The SADF began focusing on taking a more aggressive stance on the ongoing war against communist-supported Lozi nationalist guerrillas in the Caprivi Strip (and other areas of South West Africa and northern Bechuanaland) and targeting neighbouring countries that offered them support. This was partially justified as a new structure intended to turn back a "communist onslaught" on the republic from abroad.

In general, the conflict went badly for Azania's opponents. Mozambique provided support and shelter to LPO operatives; in retaliation, SADF units launched massive counterstrikes which the local security forces were in no position to block. Military aircraft and special forces units deployed across Zimbabwe and Zambia to attack suspected insurgent bases. 50 000 SADF military personnel were posted on the South West African border by late 1985, frequently crossing the frontier to battle LPO groups operating from southern Angola. LPO's MPLA allies, with the backing of the Cuban military, were often unable to protect them. These raids reflected the defence force's talent for combating rural insurgency. Major guerrilla camps were always chief targets, whether on foreign or domestic soil. Consequently, establishing good intelligence and effective assault strategy were commonly reflected in tactical priorities.

The SADF's success eventually compelled LPO to withdraw over 200 miles from the South West Africa border, forcing their insurgents to travel great distances across the arid bush to reach their targets. Many could no longer carry heavy weapons on these treks, occasionally abandoning them as they marched south. Moreover, serious LPO losses were already hurting morale.


The South African Defence Force was renamed the Azanian Defence Force in April of 1981. The government of Nelson Mandela reaffirmed the country's commitment to the Border War.

Further enlargement and modernisation of the armed forces continued under Nelson Mandela in the 1980s. Shortly after Mandela took office, the military numbered some 160 000 personnel: one armoured brigade, one mechanised infantry brigade, four motorised brigades, six parachute brigades, several special reconnaissance regiments, two Marine brigades, twenty artillery regiments, supporting specialist units, a large air force, and a navy adequate for coastal protection and limited combat support in all.

The ADF's crowning moment came with the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which was fought intermittently between August 14, 1987, and March 23, 1988, south and east of the town of Cuito Cuanavale, Angola. The battle was the largest engagement of the Border War and the biggest conventional battle on the African continent since World War II. UNITA and its Azanian allies defeated a major FAPLA offensive towards Mavinga, preserving the former's control of southern Angola. They proceeded to launch a successful but bloody counteroffensive on FAPLA defensive positions around the Tumpo River east of Cuito Cuanavale. While the battle raged on in southern Angola, Recce (special forces) units launched a helicopter-borne assault on Luanda from ANS Tafelberg with support from the Marines. While the Marines and armed Oryx helicopters drew fire, the Recce units covertly made their way to the MPLA command base in Luanda and assassinated General Leopoldo Cintras Frías - the head of Cuban forces in Angola - and several high-ranking MPLA commanders.

The Windhoek Accords, which were signed in July 1989 in the Azanian city of Windhoek, brought the conflict to an end; Azania withdrew its forces from Angola, and Cuban forces were withdrawn from Angola, Azanian POWs were released from Angolan captivity, Angola agreed to withdraw support for LPO. A separate peace deal was signed with the LPO later that year, which mandated that it had to disarm and disband under the supervision of the ADF. This process was completed by 1991. This is the date used to mark the end of the Border War.

In 1995, an R36 billion (US$27 billion) purchase of weaponry by the Azanian Government was finalised. The Department of Defence's Strategic Defence Acquisition programme purchased small arms, destroyers, frigates, submarines, light utility helicopters, lead-in fighter trainers and multirole combat aircraft. The Strategic Defence Acquisition addressed the need to reequip the defence force and is the largest acquisition programme ever undertaken by the ADF.


Command structure

Presidential command over the Azanian Defence Force is established by the Constitution whereby the president is named "Commander in Chief". The Ministry of Defence is the Government department and highest level of military headquarters charged with formulating and executing defence policy for the armed forces; it currently employs 61 860 civilian staff. The department is controlled by the Minister of Defence. Responsibility for the management of the forces is delegated to several committees: the Defence Council, Chiefs of Staff Committee, Defence Management Board and three single-service boards. The Defence Council, composed of senior representatives of the services and the Ministry of Defence, provides the formal legal basis for the conduct of defence. The three constituent single-service committees (Navy Board, Army Board and Air Force Board) are chaired by the Secretary for Defence.

The Chief of the Defence Staff is the professional head of the armed forces and is an appointment that can be held by an Admiral, Air Chief Marshal or General.


Azanian paratroopers

The Azanian Defence Force is a professional force with a strength of 240 836 regulars and 62 744 Reserves as of 1 January 2019. All ex-Regular personnel retain a statutory liability for service and are liable to be recalled for duty during wartime.

Defence expenditure

The Azanian Government allocated US$36.2 billion to the Azanian Defence Force in the 2022–23 financial year. This level of expenditure is equivalent to approximately 2.0% of the Azanian Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This was an increase in nominal terms from the US$32 billion allocated in the 2021–22 financial year which represented approximately 1.83% of GDP. In broad terms the defence budget is divided into expenditure on personnel, operating costs and capital investment; in 2021–22 40% of expenditure was on personnel, 33% on operational costs and 27% on capital investments.

Azania's defence expenditure is much larger in US dollar terms than that of any other country in the African continent. The share of GDP Azania spends on defence is also larger than that of the other countries of the Southern African Development Community and other Southern African countries.

Nuclear weapons

Azania is a recognised nuclear-weapon state under the Non-Proliferation Treaty and maintains an independent nuclear deterrent, currently maintained by the Azanian Air Force, and consisting of around 50 operational thermonuclear warheads. In contrast with the other recognised nuclear-weapon states, Azania operates only an air-based delivery system, having decommissioned its RSA series of ballistic missiles in 1998. According to former Minister of Defence Gerhard Sprinkaan, the decision to build a nuclear deterrent came as early as the late 1960s, against the backdrop of a Soviet expansionist threat.

International operations

The Azanian Defence force primarily takes part in peacekeeping missions, mostly on the African continent. It also provides election security to allied nations where needed.

More recently, the ADF has taken a more active role in combating militant extremism in the continent, most notably in West Africa where the ADF forces have been deployed to Nigeria in support of the Nigerian government's continuing efforts against groups such as Boko Haram; in the Sahel where the ADF works in concert with France to ensure the stability of the region; as well as in Mozambique where the Azanian Air Force has performed airstrikes against ISIS-linked groups based in the north of the country.

The ADF also has a strong presence in anti-piracy operations, with naval vessels deployed in various regions as part of efforts to improve security in and around the continent's waters.

In addition to peacekeeping, the ADF is also deployed in various African countries as part of efforts to improve local defence capabilities.

The Defence Force

Naval Service

Azanian Navy

The Azanian Navy is a technologically sophisticated naval force, and as of December 2019 consists of 108 commissioned ships. Command of deployable assets is exercised by the Fleet Commander.

The surface fleet consists of amphibious warfare ships, destroyers, frigates, patrol vessels, mine-countermeasure vessels, and other miscellaneous vessels. The recently built President-class destroyers are technologically advanced air-defence destroyers. The President-class is the result of a joint French, Italian, British, and Azanian military procurement venture and is based on the French/Italian Horizon class destroyer.

A submarine service has existed within the Azania Navy for over 50 years. The submarine fleet currently consists of the 10 vessels of the Johannesburg class, which are a modified version of the German Type-214 submarine.


The Marines are the Azanian Navy's amphibious troops. Consisting of a single manoeuvre brigade and various independent units, the Marines specialise in amphibious, jungle, urban, and bush warfare.

Azanian Army

The Azanian Army is made up of the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. The army has a single command structure based in Pretoria and is known as "Army Headquarters". Deployable combat formations consist of two divisions (2 Armoured and 5 Mechanised) and eight brigades.

The Army has 60 battalions (42 regular and 18 reserves) of regular and reserve infantry, organised into 17 regiments. The majority of infantry regiments contain multiple regular and reserve battalions. Modern infantry has diverse capabilities and this is reflected in the varied roles assigned to them. There are four operational roles that infantry battalions can fulfil: air assault, armoured infantry, mechanised infantry, and light role infantry. Regiments and battalions exist within every corps of the Army, functioning as administrative or tactical formations.

Armoured regiments are equivalent to an infantry battalion. There are 14 armoured regiments within the army, ten regular and four armoured reserves.

Arms and support units are also formed into similar collectives organised around specific purposes, such as the Engineer Corps and the Army Air Corps.

Azanian Air Force

The Azanian Air Force has a large operational fleet that fulfils various roles, consisting of both fixed-wing and rotary aircraft. Frontline aircraft are controlled by AAF Air Command, which is organised into five groups defined by function: 1 Group (Air Combat), 2 Group (Air Support), 11 Group (Air operations), 22 Group (training aircraft and ground facilities) and 38 Group (Azanian Air Force's Engineering, Logistics, and Communications Operations units). The AAF is solely responsible for the maintenance of Azania's nuclear deterrent, armed for this purpose with nuclear gravity bombs and nuclear-armed standoff missiles.

The Azanian Air Forces operate multi-role and single-role fighters, reconnaissance and patrol aircraft, tankers, transports, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and various types of training aircraft. Ground units are also maintained by the Azanian Air Force. Ground units essentially function as the ground defence force of the AAF, optimised for the specialist role of fighting on and around airfields, which are densely packed with operationally vital aircraft, equipment, infrastructure and personnel. In addition, they provide Azania's specialist Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear capability.

Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence maintains a number civilian agencies in support of the Azanian Defence Force. Although they are civilians, they play a vital role in supporting ADF operations, and in certain circumstances are under military discipline:

  • The Auxiliary Fleet (FA) operates 19 ships that primarily serve to replenish Azanian Navy warships at sea, and also augment the Azanian Navy's amphibious warfare capabilities through its three Bay-class landing ship dock vessels. It is manned by 2,050 civilian personnel and is funded and run by the Ministry of Defence.

  • The Azanian Corps of Military Police (ACMP) has an established strength of 2,700 police officers which provide armed security, counter-terrorism, uniformed policing and investigative services to Ministry of Defence property, personnel, and installations throughout Azania.

  • The Defence Development Department is the merged procurement and support organisation within the Ministry of Defence. It came into being on 2 April 2007, bringing together Armscore and the Defence Logistics Organisation. As of 2012, it has a civilian and military workforce of approx. 20,000 personnel.

  • The Azanian Hydrographic Office (AHO) is an organisation within the Azanian government responsible for providing navigational and other hydrographic information for national, civil and defence requirements. The AHO is located at Naval Base Simonstown and has a workforce of approximately 1,000 staff.


The minimum recruitment age of the ADF is 18 years; the maximum recruitment age depends whether the application is for a regular or reserve role; it is usually 49. The normal term of engagement is 22 years; however, the minimum service required before resignation is 4. At present, the yearly intake into the armed forces is 21,209.

Since the year 2001, sexual orientation has not been a factor considered in recruitment, and homosexuals can serve openly in the armed forces. The forces keep no formal figures concerning the number of homosexual serving soldiers, saying that the sexual orientation of personnel is considered irrelevant and not monitored.