Author: David Mannall
Publisher: Helion and Company
The climactic death-throes of Soviet Communism during the 1980s included a last-gasp attempt at strategic franchise expansion in Southern Africa. Channeled through Castro's Cuba, oil-rich Angolan armed forces (FAPLA) received billions of dollars of advanced weaponry including MiG 23 and Sukhoi fighter jets, SAM 8 missile systems and thousands of armored vehicles. Their intent - to eradicate the US-backed Angolan opposition (UNITA), then push southwards into South Africa's protectorate SWA/Namibia, ostensibly as liberators. 1985 saw the first large-scale mechanized offensive in Southern African history. Russian Generals planned and oversaw the offensive but without properly accounting for the tenacity of UNITA (supported by the South African Defense Forces - SADF) or the treacherous terrain typical in the rainy season. The '85 offensive floundered in the mud and FAPLA returned to their capital Luanda. The South Africans stood down, confident their 'covert' support for UNITA had demonstrated the folly of prosecuting war so far from home against Africa's military Superpower. The South Africans were mistaken. Fidel and FAPLA immediately redoubled their efforts, strengthening fifteen battalions with even more Soviet hardware while Russian and Cuban specialists oversaw troop training. As Cuban and Angola fighter pilots honed their skills over the skies of Northern Angola, David Mannall, a normal 17-year old kid completing High School, was preparing for two years of compulsory military service before beginning Tertiary education. Through a series of fateful twists he found himself leading soldiers in a number of full-scale armored clashes including the largest and most decisive battle on African soil since World War II. This is the David and Goliath story that, due to seismic political changes in the region, has never been truthfully told. The author lifts the hatch on his story of how Charlie Squadron, comprising just twelve 90mm AFVs crewed by 36 national servicemen, as part of the elite 61 Mechanized Battalion, engaged and effectively annihilated the giant FAPLA 47th Armored Brigade in one day - 3 October 1987. Their 90mm cannons were never designed as tank-killers but any assurances that it would never be used against heavy armor were left in the classroom during the three-month operation and never more starkly than the decisive 'Battle on The Lomba River'. The Communist-backed offensive died that day along with hundreds of opposition fighters. 47th Brigade survivors abandoned their remaining equipment, fleeing north across the Lomba, eventually joining the 59th Brigade in what became a full-scale retreat of over ten thousand soldiers to Cuito Cuanevale. ## The myth perpetuated by post-apartheid politicians goes something like this "…the SADF force that destroyed 47th Brigade on 3 October numbered 6,000 men and that all the hard yards were run by the long suffering UNITA!" The inconvenient truth is that there were just 36 South African boys on the frontline that day, but it is also true to say they would never have achieved such a stunning victory without the support of many more. This is their story.
Author: Leopold Scholtz
Charlie Squadron - the iron fist of the South African Defense Force's 61 Mechanised Battalion Group - led the way on 3 October 1987 during the climactic battle on the Lomba River in Southern Angola. Not only were they up against a vastly superior force in terms of numbers and weaponry, but they also had to deal with a terrain so dense that both their movement and sight were severely impaired. Despite this, the squadron nearly wiped out the Angolan forces' 47 Brigade. In Ratels on the Lomba, the reader is taken to the heart of the action in a dramatic recreation based on interviews, diary entries and Facebook contributions by members of Charlie Squadron. It is an intensely human story of how individuals react in the face of death.
Author: Andrew Hudson, Leopold Scholz
Publisher: Helion & Company Limited
In the broad history of the Cold War, the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale was the climax of a far-off, but nonetheless important African war. It was waged between the apartheid South African Defence Force (SADF) and the armed forces of the communist MPLA government in Angola and the People s Republic of Cuba. Led by Soviet generals, the MPLA embarked on a grand offensive in order to knock out the pro-Western rebel movement UNITA in southeastern Angola. As UNITA s survival was crucial to South Africa s military strategy in fighting its own counterinsurgency war against the South West African rebel movement SWAPO, the SADF stepped in with a single mechanized brigade and broke the back of the overwhelming MPLA offensive. The MPLA forces were subsequently driven back over a hundred kilometers, before the SADF advance was finally stopped just short of the town of Cuito Cuanavale. Since then, a hot war of words have been waged about who actually won. In this book, a South African military historian and retired journalist examines the campaign, the adversaries, and their achievements on the basis of his research in SADF archives. His scrupulous attempt at objectivity results in interesting conclusions. While the MPLA lost hands down, he posits a draw between the Cubans and the SADF. Although having been a South African reservist officer himself, he has critical words for the SADF leadership. Many misunderstandings, some of which were purposefully created by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, are put to rest. While not sharing Castro s political beliefs, he acknowledges Castro s military acumen and political savvy in extricating his country from an unwinnable war while smelling of roses. The analysis contains many lessons about mechanized warfare in the African context from which both laymen and military professionals alike may learn."
Author: Peter Polack
Publisher: Casemate Publishers
As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse during the late 1980s, and America prepared to claim its victory, a bloody war still raged in Southern Africa, where proxy forces from both sides vied for control of Angola. The result was the largest battle on the dark continent since Al Alamein, with forces from both sides paying in blood what U.S.-Soviet diplomats were otherwise spending in diplomacy. The socialist government of Angola and its army, FAPLA, fully stocked with Soviet weapons, had only to wipe out a massive resistance group, UNITA, secretly supplied by the U.S, in order to claim full sovereignty over the country. A giant FAPLA offensive so threatened to succeed in overcoming UNITA that apartheid-era South Africa stepped in to protect its own interests. The white army crossing the border prompted the Angolan government to call on their own foreign reinforcementsÑthe army of Communist CubaÕs. Thus began the epic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, largely unknown in the U.S., but which raged for three months in the entirely odd match-up of South African Boers vs. CastroÕs armed forces, which for the first time in the Cold War proved what it could achieve. And it turned out the Cubans were very good. The South Africans were no slouches at warfare themselves, but had suffered under a boycott of weapons since 1977. The Cubans and Angolan troops, instead, had the latest Soviet weapons, easily delivered. But UNITA had its secret U.S. supply line and the South Africans knew how to fight, mainly at a disadvantage in air power for lack of spare parts. Meantime the Cubans overcame their logistic difficulties with an impressive airlift of troops over the Atlantic, while the Boers simply needed to drive next door. As a case study of ferocious fighting between East and WestÑalbeit proxies for the great powers on all sidesÑthis book unveils a remarkable episode of the end-game of the Cold War largely unknown to the public. The Angolans on both sides suffered heavily, but it was the apartheid South Africans versus CastroÕs armed forces that provides utter fascination in one of historyÕs rare match-ups.
Author: Fred Bridgland
The Angolan Civil War lasted over a quarter of a century, from 1975 to 2002. Beginning as a power struggle between two former liberation movements, the MPLA and UNITA, it became a Cold War struggle with involvement from the Soviet Union, Cuba, South Africa and the USA. This book examines the height of the Cuban-South African fighting in Angola in 1987–88, when 3,000 South African soldiers and about 8,000 UNITA guerrilla fighters fought in alliance against the Cubans and the armed forces of the Marxist MPLA government, a force of over 50,000 men. Bridgland pieced together the course of the war, fought in one of the world’s most remote and wild terrains, by interviewing the South Africans who fought it, and many of their accounts are woven into the narrative. This classic account of a Cold War struggle and its momentous consequences for the participants and across the continent, is released in a new edition with a new preface and epilogue.
Author: Granger Korff
A fast-moving, action-packed account of Granger Korff’s two years’ service during 1980/81 with 1 Parachute Battalion at the height of the South African ‘bush war’ in South West Africa (Namibia) and Angola. Apart from the ‘standard’ counterinsurgency activities of Fireforce operations, ambushing and patrols, to contact and destroy SWAPO guerrillas, he was involved in several massive South African Defence Force (SADF) conventional cross-border operations, such as Protea, Daisy and Carnation, into Angola to take on FAPLA (Angolan MPLA troops) and their Cuban and Soviet allies. Having grown up as an East Rand rebel street-fighter, Korff’s military ‘career’ is marred with controversy. He is always in trouble—going AWOL on the eve of battle in order to get to the front; facing a court martial for beating up, and reducing to tears, a sergeant-major in front of the troops; fist-fighting with Drug Squad agents; arrested at gunpoint after the grueling seven-week, 700km Recce selection endurance march—are but some of the colorful anecdotes that lace this account of service in the SADF.
Author: Piet Nortje
Publisher: Zebra Books
On 21 May 1980, under the codename Operation Tiro-Tiro, 32 Battalion attacked and routed a FAPLA brigade at Savate, a small Angolan town 75 kilometres north of the border with South West Africa. Fifteen members of 32 Battalion were killed in the action and many more wounded. It was the highest South African casualty rate in a single skirmish since the start of the Border War. Overall, however, Savate was a significant victory for 32 Battalion. FAPLA suffered heavy casualties and the invaders captured a great many vehicles, weapons, ammunition and other equipment. Operation Tiro-Tiro, or the Battle of Savate as it became known, was the first time the SADF had engaged FAPLA in battle since 1975. And, despite the record number of casualties, it was 32 Battalion s biggest victory since its formation in March 1976. While the Border War came to an end in 1989 and 32 Battalion was disbanded in March 1993, to this day a remembrance service and parade is held annually on the Sunday closest to 21 May to commemorate the Battle of Savate and to remember 32 Battalion s victory and the price they paid.Drawing from official documents in the Department of Defence Documentation Centre that have only recently been declassified and from testimonies of soldiers on both sides, The Battle of Savate is the definitive account of one of the greatest battles of the Border War, describing in detail the operation, its motivation and planning, its achievements and failures, and vividly recreating the experience of what happened on the ground."
Author: Douw Steyn, Arn Sderlund
Publisher: Helion and Company
This seminal work documents the clandestine sea borne operations undertaken by South AfricaÕs 4 Reconnaissance Commando Regiment. It breathtakingly reveals the versatility and effectiveness of this elite unit which worked with a range of other South African and Rhodesian forces, including the Rhodesian SAS, to engage in a range of raiding and war fighting activities. These operations saw the clandestine reconnaissance of harbors, the sinking of enemy shipping and the destruction of shore installations in Angola and Mozambique. Just some of the tasks undertaken by this extraordinary maritime capability which totaled no more than 45 operators, both black and white! With unparalleled access to previously secret material, the authors, both of whom worked to develop 4 RecceÕs operating capabilities, trace the origins of the Regiment back to the 1970Õs when the South AfricanÕs determined the need for a maritime force projection capability. They relate how maritime doctrine was developed within South AfricaÕs wider Special Forces capability and how joint operational approaches were configured with the South African Navy. This saw the development of a range of swimmer, reconnaissance, diving and boat operator training courses, along with the design of specialist raiding craft and amphibious assault platforms, which were originated to operate from the NavyÕs existing shipping and submarines. All of which demonstrated the immense potential of this newly emergent force and the resourcefulness of its individual operators. Required to successfully complete a grueling selection process, the operators of 4 Recce were relentlessly tested to prove their physical and mental mettle, not to mention their leadership skills and initiative. Steyn and SderlundÕs chronological analysis of the operations undertaken by 4 Recce and the South African Navy is stunning to behold. They impartially detail the secret and specialized actions which saw both success and failure. From Cabinda on the West Coast to Tanzania on the East, 4 Recce, and whose existence and capability was largely kept secret even within the South African Defence Force, conducted numerous clandestine raids. They attacked shipping and strategic targets such as oil facilities, transport infrastructure and even ANC offices. And sometimes the raids did go wrong, spectacularly so in one instance when two operators were killed and Captain Wynand Du Toit was captured. He was later paraded in front of the worldÕs media, much to the embarrassment of the South African government. This is a fascinating work and one that will enthrall anyone with an interest in Special Forces operations. Profusely illustrated with many previously unpublished photographs, it stands as a testament to the authorÕs endeavors as, respectively, the former Operations Commander of 4 Recce and the former Commander Task Group of the SA Navy - as well as the incredible operators of 4 Recce. Explosive and compulsive, Iron Fist from the Sea takes you right to the raging surf; to the adrenaline and fear that is sea borne raiding...
Author: Roelf Van Heerden, Andrew Hudson
Brutally honest and devoid of hyperbole, this is Roelf van Heerden's Executive Outcomes. Unapologetic, unassuming and forthright, the combat exploits of Executive Outcomes (EO) in Angola and Sierra Leone are recounted for the first time by a battlefield commander who was physically on the ground during all their major combat operations. From fighting UNITA for the critical oil installations and diamond fields of Angola to the offensive against the RUF in Sierra Leone to capture the Kono diamond fields and the palace coup which ousted Captain Valentine Strasser, van Heerden was at the forefront. He tells of the tragedy of child soldiers, illegal diamond mining and the curse of government soldiers who turn on their own people; he tells of RUF atrocities, the harrowing attempt to rescue a downed EO pilot and the poignant efforts to recover the remains of EO soldiers killed in action. Coupled with van Heerden's gripping exposé, hitherto unpublished photographs, order of battle charts and battle maps offer unprecedented access to the major actions as they took place on the ground during the heydays of EO.
Author: Stephen A. Emerson
Publisher: Helion and Company
The sixteen-year-long war in Mozambique between the Frelimo government and Renamo rebels remains one of the most overlooked and misunderstood of the conflicts that raged across Africa during the height of the Cold War. While usually viewed as mere sideshow to more high-profile wars in Angola, Rhodesia and within apartheid South Africa itself, it nonetheless is noteworthy in its complexity, duration and destructiveness. Before it was all over in 1992 at least one million Mozambicans would be dead, millions more homeless and the country lying in ruins. Ultimately Frelimo would get its victory not on the battlefield but rather at the polling booth in 1994. Based on more than a decade of meticulous research, a review of thousands of pages of military records and documents, and dozens of in-depth interviews with political leaders, diplomats, generals, and soldiers and sailors, this book tells the story of the war from the perspective of those who fought it and lived it. It follows Renamo's growth from its Rhodesian roots in 1977 as a weapon against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwean nationalist guerrillas operating from Mozambique through South African patronage in the early 1980s to Renamo's evolution as a self-sufficient nationalist insurgency. In tracing the ebb and flow of the conflict from the rugged mountains and Savannah forests of central Mozambique across the hot, humid Zambezi River valley and down to the very outskirts of the Mozambican capital in the far south, it examines the operational strategy of Frelimo and Renamo commanders in the field, the battles they fought and the lives of their troops. In doing so it highlights personal struggles, each side's successes and failures, and the missed opportunities to decisively turn the tide of war. Accordingly, this book provides the first real comprehensive military history of a war too long neglected and under appreciated in the chronicles of modern African history.
Author: Gennadiĭ Vladimirovich Shubin
This book is a follow-up to "Bush War: The Road to Cuito Cuanavale," which provided, for the first time, personal, firsthand accounts of the military conflict and civil war in Angola, as told by Soviet advisers to the Angolan army. This volume concentrates on the climax of this conflict: the months-long battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987 and '88, the largest military engagement on African soil since the Second World War. There, South African forces came to blows with Angolan FAPLA troops and their Cuban allies in a battle whose outcome is still hotly debated. The Soviet soldiers' experience of the war and their views and assessment of their South African enemies as well as their Cuban and Angolan allies will surprise and fascinate as they offer new insights into the conflict.
Author: Kyle Harmse, Simon Dunstan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
The Border War saw the biggest armoured battles in Africa since World War II. Starting as a counter-insurgency operation by the South African Defence Force (SADF) against the South West Africa People's Organisation, South Africa became embroiled in the complex Angolan Civil War, where they came up against enemies well supplied with equipment and armoured vehicles from the Soviet Union. With the aid of stunning illustrations and photographs, this study details the characteristics, capabilities and performance of the wide variety of armoured vehicles deployed by the SADF, from the Eland armoured car to the Ratel infantry combat vehicle and the Olifant tank. Designed for the unique conditions of the region, South Africa's armour was distinctive and innovative, and has influenced the design of counterinsurgency armoured vehicles around the world. Frequently requested by Osprey readers, and written by two renowned experts on armoured vehicles, this will appeal to all those interested in modern armour and the Cold War proxy wars.
Author: Robert Mason
A true, bestselling story from the battlefield that faithfully portrays the horror, the madness, and the trauma of the Vietnam War More than half a million copies of Chickenhawk have been sold since it was first published in 1983. Now with a new afterword by the author and photographs taken by him during the conflict, this straight-from-the-shoulder account tells the electrifying truth about the helicopter war in Vietnam. This is Robert Mason’s astounding personal story of men at war. A veteran of more than one thousand combat missions, Mason gives staggering descriptions that cut to the heart of the combat experience: the fear and belligerence, the quiet insights and raging madness, the lasting friendships and sudden death—the extreme emotions of a "chickenhawk" in constant danger. "Very simply the best book so far about Vietnam." -St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Mike McWilliams
Publisher: Helion & Company Limited
"[The author] examines why the South African government took the political risk in attacking 'Fortress Cassinga' in a cross-border operation that would clearly attract the ire of the world. He studies SWAPO [South West African Peoples Organisation] claims that Cassinga was a refugee camp guarded by only a few PLAN soldiers, explaining why Sam Nujoma, the SWAPO leader, had no option but to perpetuate this falsehood. He looks ... at all the players involved: SWAPO/PLAN and their commander Dimo Amaambo who fled the field of battle; the Cuban and FAPLA intervention; and the South African paratroopers, led by Breytenbach, who not only had to combat a determined enemy but also senior South African staff officers. Above all, it is a soldier's tale which pays homage in equal parts to the bravery of the paratroopers and the determination of the PLAN fighters who stood to their guns until annihilated"--P.  of cover.