Roland de Vries

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Roland de Vries

BornCalvinia, Cape Province
Allegiance South Africa
Service/branch South African Army
Years of service1965 – 1999
RankMajor General
Service number01506948PE[1]
Commands held
Other workBusinessman

Major General Roland de Vries SD SM MMM was a South African Army officer. He served as Deputy Chief of the South African Army before his retirement in 1999.[2]

Early life[edit]

Military career[edit]

Roland de Vries joined the South African Army in January 1964.

He was commissioned as a officer in November 1965. He served in various training and operational positions.


He commanded amongst others, 61 Mechanised Battalion Group, the South African Army College, 7 South African Infantry Division and the Joint Training Division of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).[2]


His operational experience included various military operations in the former Rhodesia, South West Africa (Namibia) and Southern Angola. Some of these were Operation Protea (1981), Moduler (1987) and Prone (1988) in Southern Angola.[2]

Ratel Programme[edit]

He was a major contributor to the development of the Ratel IFV infantry fighting vehicle and its subsequent combat system and doctrine during the seventies.

His book on mobile warfare, Mobile Warfare – a perspective for Southern Africa, was published during August 1987 in South Africa, while he was a colonel. This book outlined his thinking on the development of operational concepts and military doctrine for mobile conventional warfare within the Southern African context. He is credited with being the main driver behind these concepts within the South African Army.[2]

With the SANDF[edit]

Gen de Vries led the Transformation Team of the newly created South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1997 in developing a new integrated Leadership, Command and Management Concept for the Department of Defence.[2]

In 1997 he was appointed Chief of Joint Training and in 1998 as Deputy Chief of the SA Army. This role entailed developing a new military strategy for the SA Army as well as planning and managing the army’s transformation process.

He retired as the Deputy Chief of the South African Army in April 1999.[2]

Life outside the military[edit]

Gen de Vries is married to Henriette and they have four children Roland (Jnr), Elmarie, Melanie and Pieter.

He currently manages his own business, but remains engaged in advisory support for corporate security services and the transformation initiatives of armies in Africa. His memoirs, entitled Eye of the Firestorm, was published in May 2013.[2]

Awards and Decorations[edit]

General de Vries was awarded the following:[2]


  1. ^ "SADF/SWATF/SAP Veteran Members Roll". Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Senior Offisiere in Bevel - Senior Officers in Command". Retrieved 5 January 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Scholtz, Leopold (2013). The SADF in the Border War 1966-1989. Cape Town: Tafelberg. ISBN 978-0-624-05410-8.
  • de Vries, Roland (2013). Eye of the Storm. Strength Lies in Mobility. Tyger Valley: Naledi. ISBN 9780992191252.
  • Steenkamp, Willem (1989). South Africa's border war, 1966-1989. Gibraltar: Ashanti Pub. ISBN 0620139676.
  • Wilsworth, Clive (2010). First in, last out : the South African artillery in action 1975-1988. Johannesburg: 30 Degrees ̊South. ISBN 978-1920143404.
Military offices
Preceded by
Gilbert Ramano
Deputy Chief of the SA Army
1998  – 1999
Title next held by
Les Rudman in Oct 2011
New title
Established in April 1997
Chief Joint Training
1997  – 1998
Succeeded by
Ashwin Hurribunce
Preceded by
OC 7 SA Div
1992  – 1995
Succeeded by
Koos Laubscher
Preceded by
Bertie Botha
OC SA Army College
1987  – 1990
Succeeded by
Anton van Graan
Preceded by
Commander Formal Training Wing - Army Battle School
1983  – 1985
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Johann Dippenaar
OC 61 Mech Bn Gp
1981  – 1982
Succeeded by
Gert van Zyl