Budgetary constraints have crippled the SA Army in its attempts to fulfil national and international obligations, army chief Lt-Gen Vusimuzi Masondo said on Thursday.
With the increased demand for the army's services, locally and on the African continent, the national force was under strain to meet its mandate, Masondo said.
"Within a limited medium-term budget, we will have to find the means to not only regenerate ourselves, but also to position ourselves to comply with future demands on our resources," he said.
"At the moment the SA Army is under strain to fulfil its national and international obligations as our forces [have] become more in demand."
Masondo said extended periods of deployment -- above the international norm -- by the SA Army 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," he told reporters at a briefing on the state of the SA Army.
Regarding the contentious Central African Republic operation, Masondo said lessons drawn from that deployment 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 (United Nations) peace missions have come to accept.
"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," he said.
Fourteen South African soldiers died and 27 were wounded following 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 will be part of an intervention brigade, operating under the auspices of the UN, designed to neutralise armed groups in turbulent eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi will contribute troops to the brigade.
Masondo said the South African battalion to be deployed to the DRC was undergoing intensive training, assisted by members who served in the CAR.
The South African National Defence Force already has troops deployed to the DRC under the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission in the DRC, better known by the acronym Monusco.