By Lt General (Rtd) Denga Ndaitwah
AS a point of departure, I want to remind and inform readers that, this article will sound like a repetition of an article I wrote in 2014. I must however, appeal to a reader to take time and read this again as it is a little bit beefed up. The beefing up of this article was necessitated by many factors which you will only be able to discover after you have perused through.
From the inception, let me bother a reader by reminding that Namibia is an integral part of the International Community. As part and parcel of the International Community, she has a role to play within the context of that community. There are quite a number of bilateral and multilateral responsibilities Namibia as a country has to play. In order to ensure that Namibia plays its rightful roles within the realm of bilateral and multilateral scopes, she must ensure her readiness, preparedness and efficiency in the fields of diplomacy, economic, military to mention but just a few.
During the drafting of our Constitution by the Constituent Assembly 1990 prior to its adoption on February 9, 1990 there was an argument whether the country needs a Defence Force or not. As was expected within the democratic setting, there were those who were for and those who were against. It was finally agreed to have the NDF with the Constitutional mandate, “to defend the territory and national interests of Namibia”. As enshrined in the supreme law of the land, there are key words that were brought out, namely, defend, territory and national interests.
That prompted questions like, what does defend, territory and national interests mean? Defend, territory and national interest are vague words unless if they are into a state would mean, soldiers making unreserved sacrifices including dying in combat on behalf of the nation. In the same context, territory may be construed as a piece of land or a country/state.
National interests on one hand, may be understood as the facets that are critical for the survival of a nation. That may include but are not limited to the protection of physical, political, cultural, values and many related facets against an aggressor. Furthermore, national interests are what a nation strongly feels indispensable to its security.
National interests must have clear elements of national goals and objectives that a nation is willing to preserve, defend, die for and unwilling to postpone or lose. Wholly, national interests may therefore, be categorised as vital/primary, secondary, permanent, variable, general, specific and international. By and large, national interests are always the responsibility of and driven by the political leadership to enable the Defence Force to toe the line in the defence of those interests.
From the foregoing, one would only sum up that, the Defence Forces globally are charged with a mammoth Constitutional mandate to forfeit their own interests and die in the interest of their nations and people should the need arises. The NDF is this regard, is not spared. For the NDF to be able to effectively defend the territory and national interests, its command leadership has been faced with multiple challenges. Among those challenges, are how to interpret that Constitutional mission and translate it into operational structures.
As we all are aware, Namibia is not a landlocked country. It is a country that has the land, airspace and blue waters. To effectively defend the territory that is endowed with three components as illustrated above, that would demand the land force, air force and navy. Again, to have a land force, air force and navy structures, is not enough. The most critical is the quality of those structures. Quality in this case shall not be determined by how many souls do you have in uniforms.
The most determining factors of quality Defence Force is to have at disposal current structures that are well-trained, well-equipped, well-maintained and professional souls in uniforms. Those are some of the most important a nation like Namibia must aim at. This nation like all other nations must take the NDF as a national pride at its disposal that stands ready to defend the territory and national interests of Namibia.
As the NDF executes its national duty, it does that with the clear understanding of both domestic/ internal and external security environments of which Namibia is part. The international security environment or external security environment is an important political and defence component of Namibia as it will always influence the decisions and actions of the political leadership and that of the NDF.
As the international security environment changes as may be caused by rapid development of globalisation and national interests of other nations, the political leadership must also make the NDF’s mission to change in order to be in conformity with the changing environment. Take a classic example where the world of today is faced with global challenges of terrorism which bring new security dimension of threats. Terrorism brought in a new trend in strategic thinking of which the focus to fight that war must be shaped to fight invisible enemies.
We are living in a world of those who continue to seek for global hegemony, those who are seeking for strategic natural resources, those who want to occupy high heights with regard to strategic geo-strategic location, and those who are fuelling local conflicts and flashpoints across the globe. We must also be mindful that the world is also characterised by the rapid rise and fall of some strategic forces, profound change in international structures and swift readjustment of international security. All the above necessitates the need for planned actions of which the NDF is not excluded.
… to be continued next week
Lieutenant General (rtd) Denga Ndaitwah is a former Chief of the Defence Force, part time lecturer at UNAM, Head of Department and Senior Lecturer at IUM, holder of MA in Strategic Studies
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