When navy vessels are not at sea it does not mean they are not being used, a witness told the Seriti Commission of Inquiry in Pretoria on Tuesday (20/08/2013).
"In the case of the SA Navy, a lot of utilisation takes place in the harbour because it’s about training, it’s about keeping the maintenance of the vessel up to date, and it’s also about the development of doctrine that has to be tested in a controlled environment,” Rear Admiral Alan Green said.
"So starting with that fundamental of utilisation then, chair, we must go to what we term the value chain of the DOD (department of defence) because that will give you the understanding of utilisation philosophy.” He said the value chain of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) was about the process in which it achieved its objective which was to employ its forces.
This was a generic term because it could have been for purposes of protecting and defending, military operations other than war, or it could have been for collateral purposes.
"It’s all about employing the forces to achieve a certain objective,” he said.
Green was testifying on the rationale of the multi-billion rand arms deal and the utilisation of the equipment acquired in the controversial transactions. He was the first witness to testify.
He said the first value in the SANDF’s value chain was what was called strategic direction.
"To be able to have a force one develops it.” The process of developing forces covered the procurement process and the activity of developing that capability into a useful component.
"The equipment is then handed over to the service, which could be the air force or the army, then the army or air force will prepare forces, and by that we mean preparing the equipment and ensuring that it is maintained, training personnel, and also ensuring that the competencies of the people match the requirement of the equipment that must be operated,” he said.
During those processes the assets were being utilised.
Utilisation depended on where government ordered the SANDF to deploy its forces.
"Depending on the number of assets you have and the utilisation, both in employment and preparation phases, that would be done in terms of the maintenance required,” said Green.
"It would depend ultimately on the resources. We would discuss the budget; however, the budget isn’t the only guiding principle when it comes to the philosophy of utilisation.” To have a vessel or aircraft available the maintenance cycle had to be endured.
"When these allegations... are made then it’s not always clear to those who make these allegations how the life cycle management of assets is affected.” Green said some maintenance programmes took longer than others.
People also needed to be trained on a rotational cycle to keep them up to date.
All of this needed to be considered, he said.
Arms deal activist Terry Crawford-Browne had alleged earlier that the frigates and submarines were inoperable and were sitting in long-term storage.
Green said that was not correct and that they were operable.
He said long-term storage was part of utilisation.
President Jacob Zuma appointed the commission in 2011 to investigate alleged corruption in the 1999 arms deal. - Sapa