Comparing deployment experiences of South African National Defence Force personnel during peace support missions: Sudan vs Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Nicolette Visagie Military Psychological Institute: Human Factor Combat Readiness Section
  • Renier Armand du Toit Military Psychological Institute
  • Didi Zungu Military Psychological Institute
  • David Schoeman Military Psychological Institute
  • Stephanie Joubert Military Psychological Institute

Abstract

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has operational responsibilities in Africa regarding peace support operations. These deployments are the bread and butter of the SANDF and members are therefore frequently deployed for extended periods. These deployments are unique environments with taxing circumstances, which place various psychological demands on the soldier. The psychological impact of these demands originates not only from combat and the consequent clinical effect thereof, but also from organisational factors and the contribution of family stressors. The study reported here endeavoured to examine the positive and negative subjective deployment experiences of soldiers in two different mission areas. The data compared and further utilised to provide a framework of two proposed matrices, namely booster and stressor matrices, which may affect the optimal psychological functioning of soldiers. The study adopted a survey design utilising qualitative data focusing on retrospective data. The data stems from the Psychological Demobilisation Questionnaire developed by psychologists in the SANDF and amended by the authors. Data were collected from both combat service support and combat forces, from two different missions in different countries, both missions were one year in duration. Data revealed both positive and negative experiences correlating with the context of operations. These themes were categorised in terms of the sphere of functioning (organisational, family and clinical) from the deployment experience. The booster and stressor matrices provide a practical and accessible framework to military commanders on how to ‘boost’ or mitigate some of the experiences of their deployed force, as the commanders play a key role in the deployed soldier’s experience and the impact of such experiences in the theatre of operation.

Published
2022-08-26
How to Cite
Visagie, N., du Toit, R. A., Zungu, D., Schoeman, D., & Joubert, S. (2022). Comparing deployment experiences of South African National Defence Force personnel during peace support missions: Sudan vs Democratic Republic of Congo . Scientia Militaria - South African Journal of Military Studies, 50(2), 127-154. https://doi.org/10.5787/50-2-1375