With grace and pride the Military Academy has welcomed 253 students, of whom 95 are newcomers, to the 2018 degree programme that is facilitated by the Department of Defence (DoD) and the Faculty of Military Science of Stellenbosch University (SU).
These students were welcomed during an opening ceremony at the Saldanha campus on Wednesday afternoon in the presence of several high profile academia and military personnel which are involved in their training and learning programme.
The ceremony followed a “Handing over Command" parade earlier in the day when the Commandant, Maj Gen Laurence Mbatha, officially handed command over to Brig Gen Gerald Pharo. The latter is now officially the new Commandant of the Military Academy and he will work in close collaboration with Prof Sam Tshehla, Dean of the Faculty of Military Science at the Academy.
The link to the video click here
Gen Pharo said after the parade that he is fully committed to ensure that the students would receive the best training and learning.
Prof Nico Koopman, Vice-Rector: Social Impact, Transformation and Personnel, deputising for SU's Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, delivered the keynote address at the official opening. He called on the students to strive towards becoming “ethical leaders" and used the acronym HHH to explain how such leaders could be created.
The first H stands for Habitat. Koopman said they would need to strive towards making South Africa a safe place which would be similar to a habitat where everyone can live in peace, freedom, justice, equity and with dignity. Secondly they need to look at the virtues (Habitus) they are living by. “Live with wisdom, courage, faith, hope, love, justice, moderation and intervene when necessary. Let your actions (Handlung) serve the habitat," were Koopman's encouraging words. (Watch the video of Prof Koopman delivering the speech by clicking here)
The students are personnel of the DoD and have been selected from the military units of the South African Army, Air Force, Navy and Military Health Services to attend the degree programme at the Military Academy. The qualifications which they hope to achieve will empower them and assist them tremendously in becoming leaders in their specific fields within the military corps.
Prof Tshehla said in an interview with the Corporate Communication Division that the vision for the Military Academy is to increase its student intake and aim to have a thousand students per year within a few years from now.
The Military Academy offers a unique working agreement between the DoD and SU. Tshehla said a renewed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the DoD and SU that was signed last year ensured that this shared training would continue. This agreement with SU was signed for the first time more than 60 years ago and it is still going strong, Tshehla said.
He continued: “Challenges between academic and military training do exist, but they can be managed. Close cooperation between the Commandant and the Dean ensures that the students' learning always tops a the priority list."
Outgoing Commandant, Maj Gen Mbatha, said earlier at the parade that SU and the DoD had a strong relationship which was becoming stronger, especially in light of the renewed signing of the MOA.
Gen Mbatha added: “It was an honour to serve as the Commandant of the Academy. The journey was marked by challenges, but we always placed the interests of the Academy first. The milestones that we achieved could not have been possible were it not for SU, our National Defence Force and support members of the Academy."