Military Wiki
Carlo Gagiano
Born 26 March 1951(1951-03-26) (age 71)
Place of birth Bonnievale, Western Cape
Allegiance  South Africa
Service/branch  South African Air Force
Years of service 1968–2012
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit South African Air Force
Commands held Chief of the South African Air Force
Battles/wars Border War
Awards Southern Cross Medal SM
Military Merit Medal MMM

Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano SM MMM (born 26 March 1951,[1] Bonnievale, Western Cape[2]) was a South African military commander and former Chief of the South African Air Force. He joined the South African Air Force in 1968, and served in the Border War in South West Africa in the 1970s.

Air Force career

Lieutenant General Gagiano joined the South African Air Force in 1968 and qualified as a pilot on the Air Macchi 326M in December 1969[3]

In 1985 he completed the South African Air Force's Senior Command and Staff Course and was subsequently appointed as the OC 3 Squadron, operating Mirage F1CZ aircraft. In 1989 he was appointed as the Officer Commanding 89 Combat Flying School, flying Cheetah D aircraft.

From 1991 to 1994 he was the South African military attaché to Israel.[4] On his return from Israel, Gagiano attended the South African National Defence Force's Joint Staff Course. He served as Inspector-General of the Air Force from 1998 to 2000, as Chief Director: Operations Development[5] from 2000 to 2005, and was promoted to Chief of the Air Force in 2005.[6]

State of the Air Force

In October 2006 he gave an interview to Business Day about the state of the SA Air Force, saying:[7]

'..the decline in the ability of the air force to conduct conventional operations was "exacerbated by a massive loss of specialised technical expertise” during 2005 and early 2006. More than 240 highly skilled aircraft technicians had resigned between April 2005 and March 2006, limiting the ability of the air systems to conduct and sustain extended air operations. “Gagiano warned that the situation in the air force could affect SA’s ability to provide support for the country's peacekeeping missions on behalf of the African Union in various trouble spots on the continent,” Business Day reported. “He stressed also that operations in support of peacekeeping were ‘funded at the cost of other, longer-term needs, such as air base maintenance, aircraft spares purchases, vehicle renewal and infrastructure maintenance’.”

The paper further quoted Gagiano as saying: “All operating risks experienced during the year are associated in one way or another with the considerable levels of underfunding of the operating budget. In some cases, such as the loss of technical expertise, underfunding was not the sole source of the problem. Factors such as the enormous disparities between salaries paid in the air force and those paid in the private sector, a lack of career prospects and inadequate career management contributed significantly to the high resignation rate.” Gagiano said the solution to the deterioration of the main air systems was "almost entirely dependent on the availability of funds and, without at least minimum levels of funding, few, if any, options are available to arrest the continuing decline.'

In 2012 Sisulu cancelled a parliamentary committee appearance by Gagiano after it appeared that he would make public detrimental information about the state of the service.[8]

2011 Resignation

In 2011 Lt. General Gagiano tendered his resignation, following problems with the aircraft that was used to take Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on an official visit to Finland. The aircraft suffered mechanical problems and the trip had to be cancelled. Lt. General Gagiano accepted responsibility for the situation and tendered his resignation, however Minister Lindiwe Sisulu refused to accept his resignation[9]

He was later hospitalised for stress[10]


Lieutenant General Gagiano handed over commanded to Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang in a ceremony on 28 September 2012

Aircraft Flown

Awards and Decorations

Lieutenant General Gagiano has been awarded the following medals and decorations:

  • Southern Cross Medal SM
  • Military Merit Medal MMM
  • Pro Patria medal
  • Southern Africa medal
  • General Service medal
  • Unitas medal
  • Good Service medal Gold, Silver & Bronze[11]

See also


Military offices
Preceded by
Roelf Beukes
Chief of the South African Air Force
Succeeded by
Fabian Msimang

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