1 year ago


South Africa’s military, once seen as the iron fist of the apartheid regime, has had to march quickly to integrate black and white soldiers since the country’s turn to democracy five years ago.

And now the South African National Defence Force is for the first time training men and women soldiers together.

The Army Gymnasium at Heidelberg.

It is one of two units that have integrated the training of male and female soldiers to supply the country’s 16 army corps.

The other is Number Three Infantry Batallion which is the training depot of the South African army.

But there men and women are only trained to the level of rifleman for the Rapid Deployment Forces and part-time forces.

SOUNDBITE: (in English)
“I think we’re doing a great job. We’re keeping up to the men’s standards. We’re working just as hard as them if not harder because we don’t have that masculine physical ability. And I think it’s great.”
SUPER CAPTION: Tanya Fraser, Army recruit

SOUNDBITE: (in English)
“I feel good about the whole thing. But I feel sometimes I am a woman in a man’s world. But I’ll make it and we, the ladies, are doing the best out of it.”
SUPER CAPTION: Ladymore Babi, Army recruit

The 46-week course at Army Gymnasium includes ten weeks of basic training; a 13-week leadership development process; 12-weeks learning how to instruct new recruits; 13-weeks in which an individual soldier works towards becoming either a Non-Commissioned Officer or an Officer; and a final two weeks in which one is taught the basics of being a physical training instructor.

SOUNDBITE: (in English)
“The Army Gymnasium’s aim and function is to train leaders for the 16 official corps of the South African army and this is the first time that men and women will undergo this training at the same training institution, doing exactly the same training curriculum and
reaching the same objectives.”
SUPER CAPTION: Colonel Antoni Bornman, Officer Commanding Army Gymnasium

During the Leadership Development Programme a soldier is assessed as to whether they make the grade to become a cadet or a Non-Commissioned Officer.

This decision is made on the individual’s profile as well as the needs of the army.

It is in this phase that the soldiers are expected to walk 80 kilometres in three days in full kit.

Women soldiers carry a slightly lighter kit.

But it is in this phase that the leadership and military skills of the soldiers are put to the test.

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