By Simon E. Kulusika
OPINION – The title of the article would appear nonsensical to many readers because of the term “Transmogrification” meaning conversion or transfiguration. Readers are free to judge, and dismiss the title as irrelevant, if they so wished. Their expected arguments proceed in this fashion: The surmise or conviction that civilian political leaders in South Sudan or elsewhere in Africa or in the world belong or come from the military establishment is unacceptable. This is said to be the case as many states have the military but they have not claimed political leadership. That the military may one day go, or retreat into the barracks having nothing to do with politics, that the state will do away with the Military, or any institution similar to the military, such as militias or groups of individuals armed with some kinds of offensive weapons, which could lead to instability. Thus, such surmises or convictions or utterances are naive, if not totally nonsensical. These anti-military campaigners insist that the military must go back to Baracks to concentrate on military affairs.
They claim that political leaders of SS may also be converted from armed groups who are assembled at random to ward off perceived dangers or to offer protection to the person who assumed command or to engage in subversive activities for personal enrichments, all such leaders deserve to be called the Military. As the groups to which they claim to belong satisfy some labels of the military. Such persons cannot claim that they have nothing to do with the military. As such, they should go back to the Baracks, or where they belong. Readers may assess such argumentations and judge their validity.
This sort of thinking or guessing or wishing is common in Angola, Cuba, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Israel, Mali, Mozambique, North Korea, SS, Sudan, Zimbabwe, and so forth. Where the majority of political leaders were or are in the Military or undergone military training as part of national service, or were in liberation movements. Today, in SS the majority of leaders are from the grand SPLM (taking them all as one despite having been factionalised since 2013). Others had been in the Anyanya movement, a military – political movement, under Gen. Amadeo Tafeng and then Gen. Joseph Lagu. He was said to be responsible for the break – up of HEC for southern Sudan. The remainder of leaders might have undergone military training under successive Khartoum governments. Only a small, negligible numbers escaped military influences. If this is the case, then, one should stop calling on the Military to run back into the Baracks and refrain from indulgence in politics.
Whatever arguments one advances regarding the desirability of the Military and the retention and development of the Military as a defensive institution for any country, or their participation in active politics, what can be asserted here is that the desirability for a state to have a military establishment cannot be doubted. How active they should get involved in politics and assume political leadership is a matter for debate.
If the political environment in SS, remains as it’s at the moment SPLM assili will continue in office indefinitely – at the least for 30 years. But this will happen if it undergoes comprehensive reforms. The other factions of SPLM will struggle to wrestle powers from it. They may or may not succeed depending on their political strategies. This is regardless of whether or not elections are held. SPLM may replicate what the ruling party in Tanzania has done since independence. Or what ZANU – PF is also doing in Zimbabwe. This means that SS will remain under the Military for very, very long period.
The presence of the Military is in fact a deterrence to any kind of aggressive posturings by a state against another or the threats of the use of force against another or even a neighbouring state, as a result of misunderstanding or fear that the other wants to allow another foreign power to establish a military base in its territory. The Military is also a place where men and women are produced or engineered, trained and made to adjust their mentality and attitudes to grow up disciplined, hard – working and honest. That could explain as to why the Monarchs of England (UK), or Kingdoms of Morocco, Jordan and Oman have been keen to send their children for military training before they could assume Royal duties or duties somewhere else.
The vitality of the Military as a national institution that acts as deterrence for all events, pleasant or tragic, can be shown by these examples: the Sub – continent of India, witnessed brutal wars before India and Pakistan acquired Nuclear weapons. Today, the two countries may exchange fires across the borders or what are known as, Lines of Control. There will be no total warfare because Nuclear warheads are acting as incentives to disengagement. Those Nuclear warheads are to be handled by men and women in military uniforms, ie, they are part of organized military. Even Russia and USA will never enter into military confrontation because they are aware of the risks of Nuclear warfare in which there is no winner. The tough words Russia and USA used over Ukraine will remain just words, even if Russian tanks rolled deep into Ukraine. It’s to be recalled that Russia has more than 15000 tanks, available to its forces, the largest (tanks) in the world, some are highly advance.
Apart from being a deterrence to aggression, or internal chaos, the Military plays various roles for a Sovereign State.
They can provide training for school leavers, under programmes known as “compulsory national service”. They defend and protect the territorial integrity of the State: on land, sea and air. That is all the jurisdictions of the State. They provide security services for the State against internal subversions and against external interferences. In the events of internal unrest the Military personnel are deployed to quell riots and prevent looting, damages and destructions to public and private property. SA had to rely on the Military to control, prevent and stop rioters from inflicting further deaths and damages and destructions that took place in some parts of SA recently. The military can quickly construct temporary bridges to replace those washed away by turbulent waves of water after heavy downpours. That is the military are needed to deal with all kinds of disaster.
The Military Hallmark is that they are a nationalistic establishment, unless originally constituted based on discrimination, then they lose the character of being national and patriotic.
It follows that the Military are desirable in all countries across the globe. They can retire into the Baracks if they choose to do so, but not to be pushed in the name of liberal democracy. The military only will whittle away with the withering away of the State, as the communists claimed.
The Military as an establishment is sophisticated. It’s founded on miliarty doctrines. Its successes depend on complex strategies and tactics if these are well orchestrated to suit particular military campaigns, if necessity so dictates.
A minimum of three branches will be sufficient to establish an army or defence forces of a State, such as, SS, Jamaica, Solomon Islands, East Timor, Nepal, Niger, Slovenia, Fiji, etc. Where the Military consists of the Army, the Air Force, the Navy. Each one of these three branches has several divisions or units. Eg, the Army may have a mechanised division (or regiments), Signal (communications) division, moral – orientation division, military intelligence division, mechanical division, Engineering division, medical division, logistics division, administration and finance division and others. A division may comprise numbers of Brigates, Battalions and other smaller units. A Brigate may be under the command of a Colonel. It may consist of between 3000 – 5000 men and women. This alone can tell one how huge is a national Army, in terms of soldiers and officers in addition to the Weaponry that must be made available. The weapons must be kept up – to – date. This also means heavy expenditure on the Military. It’s a necessity. Eg, the military expenditure of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea consumes more than one Quarter of the State GDP. The USA expenditures on the military run into billions of USA Dollars. The same can be said about the military in Russia, China, Uk, France, India, SA, Egypt, Israel, Iran, Iraq (during Saddam Hussein era), and many other countries.
Today’s military do not rely upon conventional weapons alone, such as rifles, sub – machine guns, rockets, RPG, bombs, missiles and ballistic missiles, etc. New, dangerous weapons have been committed to the forces, chemical warfare, biological tactical warfare, Nuclear warheads, sub – marine warfare and unmanned Drones of long range shooting capacities. It’s claimed that successful military campaigns will require fast flying and high altitude aircrafts (the USA is leading in this field and have the best Jet – fighters in the world), effective communications backed by latest Sensors, and powerful mechanized regiments using tanks that cannot be disabled by regular rockets or missiles.
The Military establishments in USA, Russia, China, ,UK, SA, France, Germany, Japan, Israel, India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, North Korea, South Korea, and many other countries are working round the clock, using new military technology to perfect their military capacities and capabilities. Whether or not such actions will promote the Kellogg – Brian doctrine of the renunciation of the use of or threat of force as instruments of national foreign policy remains to be seen. That is also what the international communities pledge under the Charter of the UN.
All human beings must live in peace, a dignified peace for that matter and for all. War must be rejected and rennounced by all nations of the world. But it’s difficult to think that the Military will one day become irrelevant or be confined to the Baracks, peeping through the windows to have a look at how ‘civilian’ politicians are doing the politicking: Right or wrong, life goes on.
The author is a lecturer at Zambian Open University. Reach him via: email@example.com.
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