1 South African Tank Regiment
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|1 South African Tank Regiment|
|Branch||South African Army|
|Equipment||Olifant Mk.2 main battle tank|
The Regiment was established in April 1999, composed of members of the old Tank Wing of the Defence Force's School of Armour. It supplies the only full-time tank force to the SA Army. Lt Col William Nondala, the second CO, was the first black commanding officer appointed in the country's Armoured Corps. There are 724 available posts, but 335 are staffed and 389 vacant in 2005. The highest shortage level (75%) was experienced at the level of trooper.
The unit trains jointly with the reserve force units to enhance the ‘one force’ concept, because the reserve force is the expansionary capability of the SANDF in times of national defence. There is however only a small percentage of active reserves, because training call-ups are limited, due to budgetary constraints.
It is equipped with the Olifant Mk.2 main battle tank. The unit’s structure is a ‘type 38 regiment’, with 2 tanks at regimental headquarters and 12 tanks each in the three operational squadrons. There are also support squadrons and tank transport squadrons.
The Olifant vehicles have been significantly upgraded with new power packs and stabilized night vision equipment. The vehicles are also capable of fire on the move manoeuvres. The Olifants are likely to be replaced with a small number of new Main Battle Tanks some time after 2015.
Due to a lack of funds for their primary armoured role and a shortage of regular infantry, the unit has recently been deployed in their secondary line infantry role on border patrol and external peacekeeping operations in central Africa. The C (or third) squadron was deployed from April to July 2004 along the Lesotho border and received praise from the Tactical headquarters, police and the farming community. Another squadron was be deployed from December 2004 to March 2005. Several members of the unit are also deployed in the DRC as part of the United Nations’ peacekeeping force and in Burundi as VIP protectors.