Pretoria - More money should be allocated for the military, SA Army Chief Lt-Gen Vusimuzi Masondo said on Thursday.
The national army was in dire financial straits due to increased demand for its services, locally and on the African continent, Masondo told reporters in Pretoria.
"We acknowledge the fact that our country is faced with competing needs and for government it is a difficult balancing act to allocate resources.
"Since we are expected to undertake certain tasks from government, we should be appropriately financed for those tasks.
"Currently the budget of the SA Army stands at around R10.9bn."
Masondo declined to state an actual figure required from government to optimally run the army.
He said the situation would improve if the state allocated two percent of its gross domestic product to the defence force.
Budgetary constraints had crippled the army's attempts to fulfil national and international obligations.
The army's extended periods of deployment on foreign assignments had added to the problem.
"There is an increase in requests for internal and external support that has led to the army deploying available resources for extended periods, exceeding what is deemed the international norm.
"Such strain can only be sustained for a limited period... after [which our] mission readiness may become compromised."
Masondo said internally the army was playing a vital role in preventing cross-border smuggling, illegal border crossing, stock theft, and rhino poaching.
"Since January 2012 our soldiers contributed to the confiscation of 15 391kg of dagga and 2 782 dagga plants," he said.
"[The army also helped] apprehend 12 409 undocumented immigrants, recovered 76 vehicles, confiscated contraband to the value of R18 271.000, recovered 98 illegal firearms, and more than 1 000 head of livestock."
Externally, the army had been involved in several missions sanctioned by the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN).
"We have been involved in the training of statutory forces in many of the countries plagued by turbulence and violence. Such training was presented to the armed forces of DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Central African Republic (CAR)," he said.
"Our participation has created an increased sense among those people, living under horrid and insecure conditions, that South African soldiers are there to assist in providing a better life for all people on the continent."
Lessons from CAR
Masondo said lessons drawn from the deployment to the CAR would be incorporated into upcoming missions.
"Although all things possible are done to prevent casualties on the battlefield, they do unfortunately occur. This is the fact many of the super-powers deployed in UN peace missions have come to accept," he said.
"I want to assure you that we have taken heed of the CAR incident and will incorporate the lessons learnt from this in preparing forces for future operations."
Fourteen South African soldiers were killed and 27 wounded during a clash with Seleka rebel fighters in the CAR on March 23. CAR president Francois Bozize fled into exile as the rebels attacked near the CAR capital of Bangui.
South African soldiers would be part of an intervention brigade, operating under the UN's auspices, designed to neutralise armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi would contribute troops to the brigade.
Masondo said the South African battalion to be deployed to the DRC was undergoing intensive training, helped by its members who served in the CAR.
The SA National Defence Force already had troops deployed to the DRC under the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in that country.