- Permanent Forces - Full-time Active members
- National Servicemen - Initially called up for 1 year national service, later extended to 2 years national service in 1977, with ongoing short term service requirements. Troops were generally fully trained for operational duty within the space of 4–7 months
- Citizen Forces - fully trained part-time members
- Commando Forces - AKA "Active Citizen Force" - fully trained members
- Special forces - including the Reconnaissance Regiments, and the Civil Co-operation Bureau
- Voluntary Term Service - created in 1992 to replace the National Service
- Service Volunteers - non-permanent full-time members
- Auxiliary Service - limited duty personnel who did not meet the academic or physical requirements for national service but performed guard, COIN, labour, and driving duties.
Prior to the dissolution, the SADF had the following force:
- Full-time - 40 000 Volunteer Service, 5 000 National Service
- auxiliaries - 16 000
- civilians - 24 000
- Part-time - 500 000
- Citizen Force (approximately 120 000)
- Commando Force (approximately 130 000 in 200 Units)
- Reserves (approximately 180 000)
Read more about this topic: Sadf
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