Women climb ranks in army

Ellanie Smit
The Namibian Defence Force (NDF) says it has made significant progress over the years on gender mainstreaming, with 23% female representation. This is ranked one of the highest number of women in a defence force in the SADC region.

“However, there is still work to be done to accelerate gender parity,” Air Marshal Martin Kambulu Pinehas, chief of the NDF, said at the force’s 32nd anniversary at the army headquarters in Grootfontein. “In this regard, the defence force will continue to advance gender mainstreaming through policies and structures to ensure that everyone has an equal and fair opportunity for progress.”

According to Pinehas, the force has grown from two infantry battalions in 1990 to three services, consisting of the army, the air force and the navy, as well as other independent dormations and units. He said the NDF continues to play a crucial role in maintaining cordial relations with other defence forces by attending to multilateral commitments.

He added that the NDF also assists in drought relief efforts, curbing the Covid-19 pandemic, containment of migratory locusts and helping in fighting veld fires in affected regions.

Training

Meanwhile, various NDF training institutions were established where members undergo training at various levels, he said.

According to Pinehas, despite limited resources, some tremendous strides have been made on the procurement of defence materials, equipment, property, goods, services as well as the construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure at various military bases. “While reflecting on the defence force’s distinguished achievements, much more needs to be done on our journey towards a modernised and fully professionalised world-class force,” he said.

Impartial

Pinehas said global, continental, regional and domestic security and risk environments are characterised by a variety of complex, evolving, interdependent and partially unpredictable threats and risks. “These threats require that the NDF possess appropriate capabilities in order to adapt to the volatile and unpredictable security environment.”

He also stressed that the NDF is an apolitical institution that is above partisan politics. “Therefore, you are cautioned to refrain from the growing trend of involving yourselves in partisan politics as culprits would be dealt with as prescribed in the Defence Act.”