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davidbfpo
01-04-2008, 04:57 PM
Moderator's Note: JMA started this thread and I copied some threads to this thread, they were mainly from the Rhodesian COIN thread and a few others.

Koevoet by Jim Hooper (US journalist embedded with SW African COIN unit, in the conflict over nowadays Namibia)

They Live by the Sword: 32 Buffalo Battalion (of the SADF) by Col. Jan Breytenbach (fighting in Angola & SW Africa; very different to Selous Scouts)

JMA
07-01-2010, 09:38 PM
I shall refrain from commenting on Rhodesian UDI, a "pet" subject of mine.

Anyway this thread has rapidly grown, in posts and views. Some posts have strayed a distance from the Fire Force theme and one day I will move them to the main Rhodesian COIN thread.

Now back to 'Fire Force' which from my "armchair" appears unlikely to be adaptable for Afghanistan now - for all manner of reasons and I exclude political and military will.

Would the 'Fire Force' concept fit an earlier stage or period in an insurgency and staying with the Afghan context - when the Taliban were returning. Even in those northern provinces now where they have taken hold.

I guess you follow the ROE and then the restrictions on air support. But here's a group that good work on flat dessert like terrain.

Koevoet Tactics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koevoet#Tactics)

Koevoet operations were devoted to tracking groups of SWAPO fighters who were on foot. Their tracks were picked up in various ways, but most often from:
Patrols of areas favoured for crossing by SWAPO fighters.
Information from local inhabitants.
From areas surrounding a recent attack.
Once a suspicious track was found, a vehicle would leap-frog ahead a few kilometres to check for the same tracks, and once found, the other vehicles would race up to join them. Using this technique they could make quickly catch up with the guerillas who were travelling on foot. The technique borrows strongly from experience gained during the Rhodesian Bush War.
The trackers were so skilled at their art that they could provide very accurate estimates on the distance to the enemy, the speed at which they were travelling and their states of mind. They were able to do this by "reading" factors such as abandoned equipment, changes from walking to running speed, reduced attempts at anti-tracking or splintering into smaller groups taking different directions ("bomb shelling").
Once the trackers sensed that the SWAPO fighters were close, they would often retreat to the safety of the Casspir armoured personnel carriers to face an enemy typically armed with RPG-7 rocket launchers, rifle grenades, AK-47s, SKS carbines and RPK and PKM machine guns.
Koevoet members were financially rewarded through bounty system, which paid them for kills, prisoners and equipment they captured. This practice allowed many of the members to earn significantly more than their normal salary, and resulted in competition between units.[6]

Mark O'Neill
07-02-2010, 04:25 AM
I guess you follow the ROE and then the restrictions on air support. But here's a group that good work on flat dessert like terrain.

Koevoet Tactics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koevoet#Tactics)

Koevoet operations were devoted to tracking groups of SWAPO fighters who were on foot. Their tracks were picked up in various ways, but most often from:
Patrols of areas favoured for crossing by SWAPO fighters.
Information from local inhabitants.
From areas surrounding a recent attack.
Once a suspicious track was found, a vehicle would leap-frog ahead a few kilometres to check for the same tracks, and once found, the other vehicles would race up to join them. Using this technique they could make quickly catch up with the guerillas who were travelling on foot. The technique borrows strongly from experience gained during the Rhodesian Bush War.
The trackers were so skilled at their art that they could provide very accurate estimates on the distance to the enemy, the speed at which they were travelling and their states of mind. They were able to do this by "reading" factors such as abandoned equipment, changes from walking to running speed, reduced attempts at anti-tracking or splintering into smaller groups taking different directions ("bomb shelling").
Once the trackers sensed that the SWAPO fighters were close, they would often retreat to the safety of the Casspir armoured personnel carriers to face an enemy typically armed with RPG-7 rocket launchers, rifle grenades, AK-47s, SKS carbines and RPK and PKM machine guns.
Koevoet members were financially rewarded through bounty system, which paid them for kills, prisoners and equipment they captured. This practice allowed many of the members to earn significantly more than their normal salary, and resulted in competition between units.[6]

Whilst Koevoet were a SAP unit, the trackers, and a lot of the troops, were not White South African. They were either indigenous SW Africans recruited directly, or captured and turned terrorists / insurgents. For this 'idea' to ahve any utility for AFG one needs to explain :

1. What 'police force' ISAF are to use; and'
2. How and why indigenous people will join and be effective in this initiative, given ISAF is having enough difficulties getting them to participate effectively as 'normal' police.

I am reminded of Sir Michael Howard's description of the use of military history without context as being akin to pornography... I believe that selective cherry picking of 'examples' is just as gratuitous and possibly even less useful.

JMA
07-02-2010, 08:21 AM
Whilst Koevoet were a SAP unit, the trackers, and a lot of the troops, were not White South African. They were either indigenous SW Africans recruited directly, or captured and turned terrorists / insurgents. For this 'idea' to ahve any utility for AFG one needs to explain :

1. What 'police force' ISAF are to use; and'
2. How and why indigenous people will join and be effective in this initiative, given ISAF is having enough difficulties getting them to participate effectively as 'normal' police.

I am reminded of Sir Michael Howard's description of the use of military history without context as being akin to pornography... I believe that selective cherry picking of 'examples' is just as gratuitous and possibly even less useful.

Not at all.

The Koevoet style of operation was a classic intelligent application of what Hans Dreyer saw the Portuguese and the Rhodesians were doing. He was operating on largely flat ground so he used vehicles for greater mobility. He needed to track the insurgents so he used the best he could find among the Ovambo and Koi San (Bushmen). And the rest is history. Absolutely outstanding from a military point of view and coming from a policeman too.

Why introduce the race angle?

In Rhodesia 80% of the government troops were black. And the RAR (Rhodesian African Rifles) did well by any standard.

In South West Africa (Namibia) the South Africans raised battalions from each of the ethnic groups and obviously the police recruited locals for their station areas for language, cultural awareness etc etc. Koevoet was about 25% white and together they fought against SWAPO / PLAN. That mix of black and white policemen achieved the best results of all forces in SWA/Namibia.

So if there is anything to take out of the Southern African wars that is worthy of study it is the Rhodesian Fire Force and the South West African Koetvoet operations.

And for either of these concepts to have any potential value for Afghanistan it needs some like a Hans Dreyer (who knows Afghanistan) to study both concepts in detail and come up some hybrid that would be useful in Afghanistan.

JMA
07-09-2010, 12:12 PM
Little attention seems to have been paid to this small war in south-west Africa. There are lessons to be learned for historians and serious soldiers.

Lets start here:

THE NAMIBIAN BORDER WAR: AN APPRAISAL OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN STRATEGY
Dr Leopold Scholtz (http://academic.sun.ac.za/mil/scientia_militaria/Internet%20Vol%2034(1)/03Scholtz.pdf)

jmm99
07-09-2010, 07:43 PM
a South African small wars course. So, professor, will the teaching methodolgy be Sandhurst or West Point ? :D

Seriously, I think it's a good idea (esp. since your first author spoke well of John McCuen - a better student of Mao-Giap than were Galula et al).

Back in the day, I followed SWA/Namibia/Angola (and your Rhodesian thing) on roughly a monthly basis. Generally, I'm stupid on things African - so, it's nice to have you provide the syllabus and sources I can download to my harddrive (already did that for a bunch of Rhodesian stuff).

Regards (from one of your students in the peanut gallery)

Mike

----------------------
On reflection, I should say what McCuen taught (in mid-1960s), but your SA author has done that for me (pp.6-7 pdf):


His strategic principles were the following:

· Having a clear political aim: In the light of the intense political nature of revolutionary warfare, McCuen places great emphasis on this aspect. Without it, neither the civilian administration of the government nor the military can properly deal with the evolving phases of the rebellion.

· Annihilation of the enemy and preservation of own forces: Obviously, the enemy forces will have to be destroyed, but not to the point of seriously weakening your own forces. The areas which have not yet be subverted, should be safeguarded and developed in order to prevent such subversion from happening. At the same time – and this proved to be very important to the South Africans – the internal and external political infrastructure of the rebels should be high on the agenda for destruction.

· Mobilisation of the masses: This principle rests directly on what Mao had said about the matter, that the active participation of the masses should be secured, especially as far as the so-called silent majority is concerned. In addition, the government should offer a vision which is more attractive than the one offered by the rebels. This should accommodate popular aspirations and eleminate genuine grievances.

· Get outside support: To get the political and moral support of neigbouring states is necessary to counter the external manoeuvres of the revolutionaries.

· Unity of effort: All means and instruments available should be effectively integrated into one consolidated effort. Government departments should not make ad hoc decisions which are not properly integrated into the central war effort, and this applies not only to military steps, but also those in the political, psychological, economic and organisational realms. This principle, when read together with the writings of Beaufre, was the foundation of the P.W. Botha government’s much maligned Total Strategy.

So, McCuen was a realist, who realized that the military struggle (violence with some conversions) and the political struggle (conversions with some violence) had to be integrated, co-ordinated and subordinated to the policy which drives both the military and political efforts (as to which they are "merely continuations"). Giap was emphasiing the same points in his teachings before and during the time that McCuen taught them - ironic that they were on opposite sides.

In any event, neither McCuen nor Giap were "Johnny One Notes". ;)

JMA
07-10-2010, 12:08 AM
a South African small wars course. So, professor, will the teaching methodolgy be Sandhurst or West Point ? :D

Seriously, I think it's a good idea (esp. since your first author spoke well of John McCuen - a better student of Mao-Giap than were Galula et al).

Back in the day, I followed SWA/Namibia/Angola (and your Rhodesian thing) on roughly a monthly basis. Generally, I'm stupid on things African - so, it's nice to have you provide the syllabus and sources I can download to my harddrive (already did that for a bunch of Rhodesian stuff).

Regards (from one of your students in the peanut gallery)

Mike

None of the above.

I think it is important for everyone to figure it out for themselves.

There are certainly lessons to be learned from the South African experiences in SWA/Namibia/Angola.

The political war in Namibia was never going to be won (I mean how could they have sold apartheid to the majority African people of that country?) so the best South Africa could hope for was to offer independence and hope to end up with moderate state on her northwestern border.

What the military did was to adopt a COIN strategy which went as far as they humanly could given the political restraints and because the required safe haven the insurgents thought they had in Angola was being dominated by South African/Unita alliance it was probably close to a situation where South Africa could have achieved a military victory.

JMA
07-10-2010, 12:20 AM
So, McCuen was a realist, who realized that the military struggle (violence with some conversions) and the political struggle (conversions with some violence) had to be integrated, co-ordinated and subordinated to the policy which drives both the military and political efforts (as to which they are "merely continuations"). Giap was emphasiing the same points in his teachings before and during the time that McCuen taught them - ironic that they were on opposite sides.

In any event, neither McCuen nor Giap were "Johnny One Notes". ;)

I can find no areas of disagreement with what McCuen writes. A good man, wonder why the US don't use him more?

His article Hybrid Wars (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/milreview/mccuen08marapr.pdf) I found to be excellent and it is worth a read.

What I like about McCuen is his variation on the “clear, hold and build” approach to the more achievable “clear, control, and counter-organize the population”.

McCuen three golden rules:

●Conducting conventional operations that carefully take into account how destroying or neutralizing the enemy nation’s governmental, political, security, and military structures will play out in the longer term.

●Clearing, controlling, and counter-organizing the indigenous population through a values-oriented approach that fosters legitimacy.

●Winning and maintaining support for the war on the home front(s) and in the international community. Doing so means maintaining legitimacy and avoiding losses through incompetence.

jmm99
07-10-2010, 01:19 AM
McCuen's book, The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War, is available at Hailer Publishing (http://www.hailerpublishing.com/artofcwar.html) as a reprint (good reprint; not expensive).

Niel Smith (Cavguy (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/member.php?u=1223)) has read it, but of more importance COL McCuen was a particpant in a closed forum involving Niel - as he reported with a PM from McCuen, posted here Jack McCuen (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=67691&postcount=4).

I'd be interested in Niel's take on the book and on McCuen's ideas - since he's taught his own neat course on "clear, hold and build" (in Cavguy terms, as he saw it and did it). And, of course, on your take that McCuen is conducive to "clear, control, and counter-organize the population".

Still active as COL (ret.) in 2008-2009, and USMA grad ('48), McCuen had the tickets. I have no idea as to the real man, or why his ideas were not as prevalent as (say) Galula.

Regards

Mike

JMA
07-10-2010, 10:39 AM
McCuen's book, The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War, is available at Hailer Publishing (http://www.hailerpublishing.com/artofcwar.html) as a reprint (good reprint; not expensive).

Niel Smith (Cavguy (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/member.php?u=1223)) has read it, but of more importance COL McCuen was a particpant in a closed forum involving Niel - as he reported with a PM from McCuen, posted here Jack McCuen (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showpost.php?p=67691&postcount=4).

I'd be interested in Niel's take on the book and on McCuen's ideas - since he's taught his own neat course on "clear, hold and build" (in Cavguy terms, as he saw it and did it). And, of course, on your take that McCuen is conducive to "clear, control, and counter-organize the population".

Still active as COL (ret.) in 2008-2009, and USMA grad ('48), McCuen had the tickets. I have no idea as to the real man, or why his ideas were not as prevalent as (say) Galula.

Regards

Mike

Maybe McCuen's ideas are worth a thread of their own?

If there is anyone in contact with him it would be interesting to see if he is prepared to comment of the use of his ideas by South Africa in Namibia and how well or otherwise he thinks it all worked out there.

I have always believed that the concept of holding ground (in the clear, hold and build context) was naive to say the least. Controlling and dominating were much better concepts because they were possible.

For information, I spent a lot of time in the '70s reading and rereading Robert Taber's "The War of the Flea" (http://www.amazon.com/War-Flea-Classic-Guerrilla-Warfare/dp/1574885553). Made a lot of sense then. Need to reread it again to see if I still feel that way.

jmm99
07-10-2010, 06:23 PM
Hello JMA

If Nagl, Kilcullen, Galula, et al, deserve threads, McCuen deserves a thread and more (IMO) based on his analysis of Mao-Giap alone. Niel (of those posting here) seems most acquainted with McCuen and his work. Cavguy, I expect, is enjoying the novalties (to him) of the Alaskan bush as a squadron XO; but I notice he has posted here recently.

So, PM will be sent advising him of this discussion and whether he wants to input - great if he would.

---------------------
Re: Robert Taber's "The War of the Flea" - on my bookshelf too; and IMO not in the same class as (say) McCuen. I suppose it had appeal to young leftist radicals of that time. :D

Some of his ideas (e.g., essentially supplanting or co-opting the revolutionaries in Latin America by taking positions vs the oligarchs and rightist dictators - a "Third Way" insurgency) had merit, but not exactly as he stated them.

Cord Meyer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cord_Meyer) et al had similar supplantation or co-optation concepts, but (unfortunately IMO) never got them to first base because of Colonel King (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J.C._King) et al.

Regards

Mike

davidbfpo
07-14-2010, 06:03 PM
In the first post I mentioned the 1988 book Koevoet by Jim Hooper (a US photographer / journalist based in the UK, who had embedded with SW African COIN unit, in the conflict over nowadays Namibia).

Today I found his website: http://jimhooper.co.uk/ which has a mass of photos: http://jimhooper.co.uk/gallery3.html, three short video clips and other subjects covered.

There are other books on Koevoet, notably those by Peter Stiff, a trilogy on the war(s) fought; The Covert War (2005), The Silent War and Warfare by Other means (2001). The books are not without controversy, nor cheap.

JMA
07-15-2010, 10:11 AM
Another video can be found here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmzO_S8zuJg)

This one seems to have been staged for the video but gives some idea how they operated. Being policemen and not soldiers the contacts were even more chaotic than normal but they did the business with a not so great kill ratio 25:1

jmm99
07-15-2010, 07:47 PM
COL McCuen and COL Gentile faced off in Dec 2009 in a couple of Tom Ricks' pieces:

A challenge for COINhata Gentile (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/12/04/a_challenge_for_coinhata_gentile), Thomas E. Ricks Friday, December 4, 2009 (counterpoint by McCuen to Gentile's Parameters article).

COIN (III): Do not go Gentile into that good night (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/12/07/coin_iii_do_not_go_gentile_into_that_good_night), Thomas E. Ricks Monday, December 7, 2009 (response by Gentile to McCuen's counterpoint).

These are (relatively) short postings which, however, cover a long period in US involvement in "COIN" and irregular warfare.

The Center of Military History has an online book (588 pp.), Birtle, U.S. Army counterinsurgency and contingency operations doctrine, 1942–1976 (http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/us_army_counterinsurgency/CMH_70-98-1_US%20Army_Counterinsurgency_WQ.pdf) (2006), which covers the waterfront pretty well.

I found COL McCuen's brief bio (in the 2008 MR article) to have an interesting entry - that he was in Indonesia, where he was chief of the U.S. "military assistance group" (U.S. Defense Liaison Group, Indonesia). Indonesia at all times pertinent has been more important to SE Asia than Vietnam.

Regards

Mike

JMA
07-16-2010, 08:50 AM
Moderator's Note: JMA started this thread and I copied some threads to this thread, they were mainly from the Rhodesian COIN thread and a few others.

Koevoet by Jim Hooper (US journalist embedded with SW African COIN unit, in the conflict over nowadays Namibia)

They Live by the Sword: 32 Buffalo Battalion (of the SADF) by Col. Jan Breytenbach (fighting in Angola & SW Africa; very different to Selous Scouts)

It is of interest that 32 Battalion was raised from members of the FNLA (one of the anti-communist movements in Angola which lost out to the MPLA when the Portuguese withdrew from Africa. There has got to be interest in how this force was put together by the South Africans and turned into such a ruthlessly efficient force. Lessons learned applicable generally but specifically in the African context.

Books (in print):

32 Battalion: The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit - Piet Nortje (http://www.amazon.com/32-Battalion-Inside-Africas-Fighting/dp/1868729141)

The Buffalo Soldiers: The Story of South Africa 's 32 Battalion 1975-1993 - Jan Breytenbach (http://www.amazon.com/Buffalo-Soldiers-Africa-Battalion-1975-1993/dp/191985407X)

32 Battalion website here (http://www.32battalion.net/index.htm)

davidbfpo
08-08-2010, 10:34 AM
Came to my in tray via a BSAP History email; alas I cannot attend being in the French Alps.


This is a rare and valuable opportunity to learn the inside story of South Africa's airborne 'foreign legion'. Established as part of the South African Defence Force's' Order of Battle, the Pathfinder Company developed an unrivalled reputation for aggressive and forceful soldiering. Author Graham Gillmore will be signing copies of his book and reflecting upon the intricacies of the South African Border war. A former Grenadier Guardsman, Graham Gillmore went on to join the Rhodesian Light Infantry. In 1980, he joined the Pathfinder Company of the SADF's 44 Parachute Brigade, seeing active service in South West Africa and Angola. An accomplished military historian, Pathfinder Company is his first book.

UK Pathfinders will also be present, with a display.

Thursday 16th September - London Club of the Rifles, 52-56 Davies Street, London W1K 5HR. 1800hrs for 1830hrs Start - Dress: Jacket & Tie.

Contact: steve@30degreessouth.co.uk

Website:www.30degreessouth.co.uk

JMA
08-08-2010, 03:45 PM
Came to my in tray via a BSAP History email; alas I cannot attend being in the French Alps.

UK Pathfinders will also be present, with a display.

Thursday 16th September - London Club of the Rifles, 52-56 Davies Street, London W1K 5HR. 1800hrs for 1830hrs Start - Dress: Jacket & Tie.

Contact: steve@30degreessouth.co.uk

Website:www.30degreessouth.co.uk

A central character in this book on the 44 Brigade Pathfinders is the then WOII Peter McAleese, ex Brits Paras, ex Brit SAS, ex Angola, ex Rhodesian SAS, ex 44 Para Brigade and other civilian work.

Was on the same static line para course has him in Rhodesia and served later with him at 44 Brigade. Above all else... a fine soldier.

davidbfpo
08-08-2010, 07:03 PM
JMA said:
A central character in this book on the 44 Brigade Pathfinders is the then WOII Peter McAleese, ex Brits Paras, ex Brit SAS, ex Angola, ex Rhodesian SAS, ex 44 Para Brigade and other civilian work.

Small world, Peter McAleese wrote a good, small book 'No Mean Soldier' ten years ago and he was then living in Birmingham, with detours to Algeria. He ran a few pubs near where I worked then.

JMA
08-08-2010, 08:14 PM
JMA said:

Small world, Peter McAleese wrote a good, small book 'No Mean Soldier' ten years ago and he was then living in Birmingham, with detours to Algeria. He ran a few pubs near where I worked then.

If you were in town on 16 Sept you would see him there (still lives in Birmingham).

BTW I heard on the same day at the same place (earlier) Stuart Tootal's new book is also to be launched.

davidbfpo
08-12-2010, 08:01 PM
Book review, thanks to the BSAP email:http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8792:book-review-pathfinder-company&catid=57:Book%20Reviews&Itemid=141

Jim Hooper
03-07-2011, 07:57 PM
In the first post I mentioned the 1988 book Koevoet by Jim Hooper (a US photographer / journalist based in the UK, who had embedded with SW African COIN unit, in the conflict over nowadays Namibia).

Today I found his website: http://jimhooper.co.uk/ which has a mass of photos: http://jimhooper.co.uk/gallery3.html, three short video clips and other subjects covered.

In a moment of whimsy, I Googled the title of my first book and was surprised to see it mentioned here. My thanks go to DavidBFPO.I hope those who have read Koevoet or its American edition Beneath the Visiting Moon found the story of passing interest.

Another first-hand account of the unit will be published in July 2011 by Zebra Press, an imprint of Random House-Struik. Written by Arn 'Jim' Durand, one of my first mentors when I was embedded with Koevoet, Zulu, Zulu Golf covers his seven years of COIN operations on both sides of the Namibia-Angola border. My six months covering the bush war, during which I managed to get winged twice, pale by comparison with Durand's 120+ contacts.

In the meantime, if anyone has questions about the most effective COIN unit ever to have operated in Africa I'm happy to answer them as best I can.

Jim Hooper
www.jimhooper.co.uk


"There's no such thing as a small battle or tiny war at cockpit, squad or platoon level."
Colonel Jack L. Mullen
Road Runner 6

JMA
03-08-2011, 03:22 PM
In a moment of whimsy, I Googled the title of my first book and was surprised to see it mentioned here. My thanks go to DavidBFPO.I hope those who have read Koevoet or its American edition Beneath the Visiting Moon found the story of passing interest.

Another first-hand account of the unit will be published in July 2011 by Zebra Press, an imprint of Random House-Struik. Written by Arn 'Jim' Durand, one of my first mentors when I was embedded with Koevoet, Zulu, Zulu Golf covers his seven years of COIN operations on both sides of the Namibia-Angola border. My six months covering the bush war, during which I managed to get winged twice, pale by comparison with Durand's 120+ contacts.

In the meantime, if anyone has questions about the most effective COIN unit ever to have operated in Africa I'm happy to answer them as best I can.

Jim Hooper
www.jimhooper.co.uk


"There's no such thing as a small battle or tiny war at cockpit, squad or platoon level."
Colonel Jack L. Mullen
Road Runner 6

Hi Jim, welcome.

Any input you may have with regard to the Koevoet operations and tactics in northern SWA/Namibia would be useful and appreciated. The Koevoet operation was a unique concept successfully developed and used there. There are lessons to be learned from Koevoet specifically.

Regards

Jim Hooper
03-09-2011, 04:07 PM
In South West Africa (Namibia) the South Africans raised battalions from each of the ethnic groups and obviously the police recruited locals for their station areas for language, cultural awareness etc etc. Koevoet was about 25% white and together they fought against SWAPO / PLAN. That mix of black and white policemen achieved the best results of all forces in SWA/Namibia.

So if there is anything to take out of the Southern African wars that is worthy of study it is the Rhodesian Fire Force and the South West African Koetvoet operations.

And for either of these concepts to have any potential value for Afghanistan it needs some like a Hans Dreyer (who knows Afghanistan) to study both concepts in detail and come up some hybrid that would be useful in Afghanistan.
In the last few years I have been approached by a number of Ph.D. candidates whose theses centre on the use of private military companies (PMCs). I confess that they eventually come to me because their first choices succumbed to interviewee fatigue long ago and now decline such requests. My supposed expertise is limited to having written the first books on both Koevoet and Executive Outcomes, the former police unit comprising an important element of the latter company. The success of both has led some academics to believe they could be equally effective anywhere in the world. However, a critical analysis of what made them so successful suggests otherwise. The latest PH.D. student is convinced that EO-like PMCs are the answer to a First World country’s internal political divisions over involvement in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. In hope of generating debate, I’m sharing part of my latest email to him:

************************************************** ******************

Dear Mr ……, I believe your thesis on the role of PMCs is fatally flawed. First, Executive Outcomes was an anomaly, a phenomenon that is unlikely ever to be repeated. Its success was the result of black and white Africans - professional soldiers and airmen who had already worked together for 15 to 30 years - in Africa. They understood the culture and spoke the lingua franca - Portuguese in Angola, English in Sierra Leone. Were EO still in existence today and operating in Iraq or Afghanistan, they would not enjoy the same success; their military skills would be the same, but the local culture would be incomprehensible to them and they could not function without interpreters (who, due to tribal loyalties and various cultural imperatives, can never be relied on completely, especially in the chaos of combat); and without supporting arms such as artillery, fighter bombers and intelligence-gathering, their effectiveness in an offensive role would be close to zero in comparison to well-integrated state armies.

[Break-break for SWC readers: Michael F’s question in the COIN case: LRA thread, and Tom Odom’s eminently sensible answer lead to the perfect role for the now-retired EO.]

Second, your focus on jus in bello suggests to me that you see PMC employees as less ethical and less sensitive than state armies to their own losses and civilian deaths. From my experience, this perception is profoundly wrong. Remember that they learned their professions as members of Western military/police structures imbued with Judeo-Christian values and working in accordance with national and international law. To think that they will abandon those values when they exchange a state uniform for a PMC uniform is illogical. Equally illogical is to think that war can ever - or should - be risk free. War is defined by the possibility of death, and taking that risk is one of the greatest psychological motivations for young men who volunteer for military service.

No modern state is going to hire PMCs to conduct offensive operations in order to minimise own-force casualties. Doing so would call into question the state's investment in training, command and control, combat and logistics capabilities, and ethics. Nor will it dedicate artillery, close air support, precision guided munitions, aerial surveillance, sigint and a multitude of necessary specialists for the benefit of PMCs. The cost of providing those assets for both its own forces and PMCs (already better paid than its own personnel) would be astronomical. Do you really believe the US Congress, British Parliament, German Bundestag, French Assemblée Nationale, or Israeli Knesset - all legislatures representing countries that admire their nations' military prowess - would authorise such a radical departure from convention? It would be a damning self-indictment with huge political implications, both domestically and internationally. A comparison to 3rd and 4th Century Rome would be inescapable.

The only politically acceptable offensive role for PMCs is anti-piracy operations. Pirates are themselves mercenaries operating outside international law. They are universally seen as dangerous criminals who represent a clear and present danger to a law-abiding merchant fleet on which a large part of the world's economy is dependent. Compared to the manpower and materiel requirements for effective ground operations, the necessary assets to counter pirates are minimal and not financially burdensome: a few fastboats with radar, secure communications, automatic weapons no heavier than 20mm, a few relatively inexpensive UAVs data-linked to the boats and central command post, and a long-range helicopter capability for medical evacuation. And there are ample historical precedents for issuing letters of marque giving maritime PMCs a legal basis for their actions.

ENDS

JMA
07-14-2011, 07:46 PM
For those interested the book IGOR ZHDARKIN - WE DID NOT SEE IT EVEN IN AFGHANISTAN (http://www.veteranangola.ru/main/english/zhdarkin1) is worth a read to see events through the eyes of a Russian translator/advisor during the Angolan war. (Above the photo of the book cover is a link to a word doc - We did not see it even in Afghanistan.doc - website is in Russian.)

There is a review to be found here (http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=23035)

Two quotes from the review:


"As the author relates, even the Russians who had served in Afghanistan had never experienced such “horrors” as the barrage of SADF artillery across the Lomba River. Under fire from the G-6 guns and the Mirage and Buccaneer aircraft, FAPLA brigades panicked and deserted the field in flight, leaving behind their Soviet equipment in a graveyard of tanks, trucks, ammunition, and other materiel. "

and

"As for the Angolan soldiers, they were “unsuitable for war.” Not only were they “afraid to take part in combat actions,” they were also unwilling to follow the “reasonable advice” of their Soviet advisors (p. 341). Consequently, it was necessary for the advisors to tell the Angolans that they were wrong and beat them up accordingly."

Fabulous stuff... the Keystone Cops in Africa.

Note: The G-6 is a 155mm SELF-PROPELLED GUN-HOWITZER

http://media.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/LAND_SPH_G6_155mm.jpg

JMA
07-16-2011, 05:37 AM
The following thesis was produced by (then) Major Michael F. Morris, USMC on CSC 2000

An extract from the executive summary:


The study also illustrates the utility of battalion and brigade level MAGTFs at the operational level by analyzing a case study, Operation Modular. In 1987 in southeastern Angola the South African Defense Force employed a three thousand man mobile strike force to defeat a combined Angolan / Cuban division size force intent on destroying the UNITA resistance movement. The campaign's military outcome convinced the Soviets and Cubans to settle the twenty-three year Angolan border war and the political future of Namibia in a diplomatic venue rather than by force of arms. Operation Modular highlights the potential of small, mobile, hard-hitting fighting columns in a small war environment.

Download here (http://www.sa-soldier.com/data/06_sadflinks/UsedPDFs/SADF_OPs_analysis.pdf)

davidbfpo
07-16-2011, 10:52 AM
JMA,

A good catch and reading through it I found this - note written in 2000 by a USMC officer:
Given the proliferation of mines throughout the Third World, all future U.S. military vehicles should incorporate similar mine protection features as a priority force protection issue.

See pgs.52-53.

JMA
07-16-2011, 04:26 PM
JMA,

A good catch and reading through it I found this - note written in 2000 by a USMC officer:

See pgs.52-53.Given the proliferation of mines throughout the Third World, all future U.S. military vehicles should incorporate similar mine protection features as a priority force protection issue.

Yes and what did they do? They ignored him... and the rest is history.

Ken White
07-16-2011, 05:26 PM
The US Army bought some CASSPIR Mk IIs in 1999 as a result of a Foreign Articles Test statute that had taken years to get through Congress (who are very much into a "Buy American" attitude regardless of the fact that other people make good or better stuff)...

IIRC, they had earlier -- in the early 80s -- bought a Nyala and wanted to buy some Buffels but the combination of Track-centric Armot Officers and Congressionally beloved and sponsored contractors defeated the idea of producing any here. Until... :rolleyes:

The knowledge of need was there, it got sat upon.

JMA
07-16-2011, 08:36 PM
The US Army bought some CASSPIR Mk IIs in 1999 as a result of a Foreign Articles Test statute that had taken years to get through Congress (who are very much into a "Buy American" attitude regardless of the fact that other people make good or better stuff)...

IIRC, they had earlier -- in the early 80s -- bought a Nyala and wanted to buy some Buffels but the combination of Track-centric Armot Officers and Congressionally beloved and sponsored contractors defeated the idea of producing any here. Until... :rolleyes:

The knowledge of need was there, it got sat upon.

You can't beat the procurement system. There are too many vested interests and...

I think we touched on this before. It should have been done at local (Afghanistan) level where a workshop could have been set up to do the work locally. Civvies or military who cares but what you need is some staff (foreman/welders/mechanics/etc) some armour plate (roqtuf or equivalent) and the appropriate chassis or drive train if you settle on a monocoque design) and some of that cash the US is throwing around all over Afghanistan and you are in business.

Had this started in 2006/7 then by now there would have been a improvements so lets say Mark 1 to say Mark 5. You set up a rotation to allow vehicles to be recalled for an upgrade to the latest Mark as improvements are signed off.

The ANA and ANP can be cut in on the deal and when ISAF force levels reduce the vehicle can be refurbished and then reissued to ANA/ANP.

It is easier than it appears. All you need to find one of those hard-charging officers who won't take no for an answer ;)

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4085/5194876317_2b768dc0aa.jpg

Ken White
07-16-2011, 09:13 PM
You can't beat the procurement system. There are too many vested interests and...Had this started in 2006/7 then by now there would have been a improvements so lets say Mark 1 to say Mark 5. You set up a rotation to allow vehicles to be recalled for an upgrade to the latest Mark as improvements are signed off.I certainly agree I'm pretty sure we could and would do that in an existential situation. As you probably know, it was done, ad hoc, and on a unit by unit thus small scale in both theaters to an extent much as was done on a far larger scale in Viet Nam (LINK) (http://www.google.com/search?q=Vietnam+gun+truck&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi&biw=1129&bih=922). Though the buried IED problem existed in VN, it was not as pervasive, thus no significant mine protection. Not many urban areas nor even much Bush so not that much close-in and heavyside protection either.

Still, today, I'll have to defend the Troops by mentioning the overwhelming, cumbersome US Army bureaucracy -- most of which is Congressionally induced -- is too unwieldy to do that lacking more cause than was extant in Afghanistan or Iraq. :mad:
It is easier than it appears. All you need to find one of those hard-charging officers who won't take no for an answer ;)Easier provided someone not risk averse has the authority to turn on the money spigot and fifty people are not looking over a shoulder to make sure it's spent 'properly.' This after all is the nation where a then sitting President, asked about a tax cut in a booming economy said "We'd give it back to you if we knew you'd spend it right..." :rolleyes:

As to the hard chargers. Hmmm. Worked for several of those. Often lot of flash and dash, brave to a fault, aggressive, forward thinkers, some good guys, some arrogant ar$#'oles...

Gotta watch 'em all though, the long and the short and the tall -- good, bad and those in between. If you do not, they tend to get a lot of people killed -- unnecessarily. ;)

JMA
07-17-2011, 03:34 PM
I certainly agree I'm pretty sure we could and would do that in an existential situation. As you probably know, it was done, ad hoc, and on a unit by unit thus small scale in both theaters to an extent much as was done on a far larger scale in Viet Nam (LINK) (http://www.google.com/search?q=Vietnam+gun+truck&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi&biw=1129&bih=922). Though the buried IED problem existed in VN, it was not as pervasive, thus no significant mine protection. Not many urban areas nor even much Bush so not that much close-in and heavyside protection either.

Still, today, I'll have to defend the Troops by mentioning the overwhelming, cumbersome US Army bureaucracy -- most of which is Congressionally induced -- is too unwieldy to do that lacking more cause than was extant in Afghanistan or Iraq. :mad:Easier provided someone not risk averse has the authority to turn on the money spigot and fifty people are not looking over a shoulder to make sure it's spent 'properly.' This after all is the nation where a then sitting President, asked about a tax cut in a booming economy said "We'd give it back to you if we knew you'd spend it right..." :rolleyes:

As to the hard chargers. Hmmm. Worked for several of those. Often lot of flash and dash, brave to a fault, aggressive, forward thinkers, some good guys, some arrogant ar$#'oles...

Gotta watch 'em all though, the long and the short and the tall -- good, bad and those in between. If you do not, they tend to get a lot of people killed -- unnecessarily. ;)

I feel I need to emphasise that this local solution (being the local construction of mine and ambush protected vehicles) is really pretty simple and does not require national existential circumstances.

Like with IEDs one needs to accept that they will learn and adapt to what you do and in turn you need to respond by modifying the vehicles in double quick time. Its a no brainer that Kabul or Kandahar are the places where this should be carried out. Modify/adapt/fix/improve/upgrade the vehicles fast. What other way can this be done other than in-country?

The solution is obvious given that these vehicles would be developed for local Afghan circumstances and not exported along with the troop draw-down (but rather handed over to the ANP/ANA).

The only problem (probably insurmountable) is how to side-step the formidable procurement machine the the commercial lobbyists who would see control and profits slipping through their fingers. The lives of soldiers have never been more important than "the process" or a juicy government procurement contract.

Ken White
07-17-2011, 04:25 PM
I feel I need to emphasise that this local solution (being the local construction of mine and ambush protected vehicles) is really pretty simple and does not require national existential circumstances.And I obviously need to emphasize that you have not dealt with the ponderous, inflexible bureaucracy that is the US government of which the US Army is a heirarchial, excessively conformity oriented extension. :wry:
The solution is obvious given that these vehicles would be developed for local Afghan circumstances and not exported along with the troop draw-down (but rather handed over to the ANP/ANA).I totally agree -- you don't have to convince me. You could probably work on convincing those members of the US Congress (and they are many...) who think the US should NOT be in Afghanistan at all and try to hobble efforts there in any way they can to include reinforcing that conformity thing... :mad:.

You may also need to work on those members of the US Armed Forces (all ranks...) who are there but either do not want to be or do not agree with their mission and are not about to risk their 'careers' by being innovative in an organization that too often punishes innovation and initiative. :rolleyes:

That kind of stuff is perfectly normal in most nations in peacetime. Only in an existential conflict do those chafing, foolish problems get significantly reduced -- they do not ever go away; they are human failings and we had them to a minor extent in WW II (which wasn't really existential for us though it was at least partly treated as such and thus was big enough to eliminate some of that idiocy...).
The only problem (probably insurmountable) is how to side-step the formidable procurement machine the the commercial lobbyists who would see control and profits slipping through their fingers. The lives of soldiers have never been more important than "the process" or a juicy government procurement contract.Yes. You answered your own objections. :(

Pete
07-18-2011, 02:11 PM
In theory at least it is the "combat developments" community that writes the requirements for future military systems and products. Those elements are part of the branch schoolhouses -- U.S. Army Infantry School, Armor School, etc. The combat developers write the system requirements documents which then have to be staffed and approved by a half-dozen echelons within the TRADOC/DA bureaucracy.

It is the "materiel developers" who cut metal and develop prototypes. Those organizations belong to Army Materiel Command, except for those of the Medics and parts of the crypto Signal community.

Even after the Soviets collapsed we continued developing weapons for Fulda Gap threats until the "Transformation" net-centric initiative started. The rest is fairly recent history.

Firn
07-18-2011, 05:09 PM
I enjoyed the article in question very much, and he put the whole operation well into the strategic context of the time and the 20th brigade into the military historic one.

I read once a very good article by Breytenback about the formation and operation of the Buffalo Battalion, IIRC it had also a good deal of information about the transformation and 'up-gunning' for Modular.

And the article reminded me once again that the current TO&E of many/most Italian brigades (in fact the whole army structure) should really just be seen as peacetime bureaucracy.

Pete
07-18-2011, 05:13 PM
The topic of DoD and Army policy for research and development is far removed from South African Army operations and the study of military history. It deserves its own thread rather than being here. Therefore I'll try to be brief.

When I began working in U.S. Army medical materiel development in 1986 I began reading the various directives and regulations that govern it. The impression I got is that all this policy guidance grew during the 1950s and 1960s in an effort to prevent various SNAFUs -- cost overruns, scandals, and failed weapons systems -- from ever happening again. In effect it was the bureaucratic equivalent of slamming the barn door shut after the horse had escaped.

Though all these regulations, directives and management procedures were implemented with the best of intentions by well-meaning officers, one step at a time DoD and the military services managed to create an impenetrable thicket of policy guidance and a veritable bureaucratic maze, the American equivalent of the Soviet Five Year Plans for the management of their economy. Piles and piles of paperwork were created, to the extent that only 10 percent of those in DoD R&D are doers who make things happen. The other 90 percent are staff weenies and their Highway Helpers who review the documents and sharpshoot from the sidelines. It's consulting firms who write most of those piles of DoD documentation, billing by the hour, like I once did.

About 20 years ago DoD standardized its systems development policy with its "DoD 5000" series of directives. It superceded the service-unique regulations and policies. Now we have standard life cycle names, terminology and acronyms. But the big-bureaucracy thing in military R&D endures.

Pete
07-19-2011, 06:30 PM
One aspect of this systems development thing is a subject that Ken White has harped upon eloquently over the years, the personnel system. In the Army the hard-chargers are selected for the command and operations track at the major or lieutenant colonel level. Those non-selected for battalion command have to find a new way to earn a living in their alternate specialty so they can do the big two-zero.

(That is not to say that all of the guys on the command list should have been there, or that all of the non-selected ones shouldn't have been there. I crashed and burned as a captain so with all of these broken windows in my house I'm reluctant to be the one to throw stones.)

In any event, in the Army at the rank of major you often have to find a new niche -- it may be personnel, logistics, contract management, or perhaps systems development.

In DoD systems development the only programs that exist are those being conducted under an approved requirements document by a military service and that have the required funding, which usually takes at least four years to obtain by going through the POM/PPBES process. Everything else, including ideas from those in the field with mud or dust on their boots, is neither here nor there. I'm not trying to justify or make excuses for these basic facts of life, I'm just trying to explain them to those who have not been there.

Firn
07-19-2011, 06:39 PM
The following thesis was produced by (then) Major Michael F. Morris, USMC on CSC 2000

An extract from the executive summary:

Download here (http://www.sa-soldier.com/data/06_sadflinks/UsedPDFs/SADF_OPs_analysis.pdf)

Certainly the SADF knew the vital importance of massive firepower linked by radio to many watchful eyes against a greatly superior foe with a far stronger and (technically) advanced airforce. And the value of infantry and AA protection as well as of good camouflage, basic counter-counter-battery tactics and artful deception to keep that important firepower alive. The ammo supply obviously proved to be difficult.

What surprised me is the high survivability of the RPVs under those high-threat conditions. I really would like to know more about how they were employed. Flying usually low in close cooperation with all those ground-based assets, I guess:


Organic collection assets were limited to [various] recce teams augmented by forwardobservers and liaison personnel [UNITA], and electronic intelligence (ELINT).

That ELINT proved to be unvaluable doesn't surprise me that much. It is easy to be sloppy in that regard, and the enemy all too often listens and has also often the codes. At least WWII provides countless examples of that, and in the heat of battle people tend to throw even good rulebooks away. Sometimes, as this example shows it can even be completely unforced errors. Making the ELINT business harder for the enemy (and easier for yourself) should really be an important task for training and technology.

[text] is mine.

JMA
07-20-2011, 08:46 PM
A mine and ambush protected school bus in northern SWA/Nambia during the border war.

http://a2.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/254213_232653710083953_100000179785258_1127513_718 0258_n.jpg

If it is considered important... the money will be found.

Ken White
07-20-2011, 10:24 PM
If it is considered important... the money will be found.Always true -- the problem is who considers what important, isn't it...

Thanks for posting that picture. It will let many see how good and easy we in the US have had it for about 200 years.

carl
07-21-2011, 01:07 AM
I hope this isn't too far off topic but didn't some of the old tanks, M-48s etc have rounded bottom hulls the intention of which was protection against anti-tank mines? I think Bradleys and Abrams have flat bottom hulls. Is this a case of forgetting?

Ken White
07-21-2011, 02:53 AM
I hope this isn't too far off topic but didn't some of the old tanks, M-48s etc have rounded bottom hulls the intention of which was protection against anti-tank mines? I think Bradleys and Abrams have flat bottom hulls. Is this a case of forgetting?Not forgetting as much as a different and better riding suspension system (Torsion bars that run across the hull) favored flat bottoms and -- foolishly -- it was decided that the improved suspension merited taking a chance that land mines would be less used in the future. That didn't work out too well...

There was also the factor of increased interior roominess, important in peacetime, not so much in wartime, favoring the flat bottoms. As did production and maintenance costs, also a peacetime concern...

Still newer hydropneumatic and hydraulic suspensions will allow a return to sloped or rounded bottoms. Today's shallow 'V's work better than the old rounded hulls. Everything goes in cycles...

Firn
07-21-2011, 04:53 PM
Moderator's Note: the cited interview is not available in English and appeared in an Austrian military periodical. Now if anyone wants to volunteer and supply an English translation SWC will be indebted to you.

From the interview of Breytenbach in the ÖMZ 1/2009:


Jedenfalls gab es unter uns Obristen einige, die dafür plädierten, den Vormarsch auf dem Westufer des cuitos einfach fortzusetzen, um cuito cuanevale vom Westen her anzugreifen, d.h. in den Rücken des feindes zugelangen. Dadurch würde das vorgeschobene Logistikzentrum des Gegners und, vielleicht noch wichtiger, auch die einzige Brücke erobert werden.
Die südafrikanische Brigade wäre dann genau auf der Versorgungs-
und Rückzugslinie des Gegners platziert, und dieser wäre von seinem Nachschub abgeschnitten.

Die Brigaden selbst waren ja schon allein durch das 32. Bataillon am Lomba aufgehalten worden. Doch sie konnten dauerhaft dort verharren, solange der Nachschub floss oder sie sich auf cuito cuanevale zurückziehen konnten. Würden wir cuito cuanevale nehmen, wären sie auf der falschen flussseite
ohne Nachschub gestrandet, würde bald kein fahrzeug mehr fahren können, und die Truppe, ohne dass wir einen Schuss abfeuerten, würde liegen bleiben. Was nützt ein Panzer ohne Treibstoff? Er wird zur metallenen hülle, dessen Besatzung sich bei einem Ausbruch zu fuß einer Umgebung voller UNITAKämpfer aussetzen müsste, die ihnen mit Begeisterung, v.a. den
Kubanern, die Kehlen durchschneiden würden. So hätten fünf Brigaden restlos vernichtet werden können.

I always wondered why the SADF didn't try to cut off in earnest the enemy brigades which relied for practically all their needs on the very long and difficult support lines from western Angola. As this interview shows some of the SADF officers, among them Breytenbach wanted to do exactly that.


ÖMZ: Was hinderte Sie daran, genau dies zu tun? Doch nicht etwa politische Intervention?
Breytenbach: Vernichtung der feindlichen Kräfte war leider nicht auf der Tagesordnung, v.a. nicht beim Außenminister. Die Brigaden sollte lediglich nach cuito cuanevale zurückgedrängt werden, der Ausgangsstellung ihrer Offensive. Man hielt es für politisch klug, der fAPLA die Demütigung zu ersparen, fast ihre ganze Armee durch eine einzige südafrikanische Brigade vernichtet zu sehen. hier kamen die „win win“-Parole und die diplomatische Schiene durch, die nun ins militärische Umfeld transplantiert werden musste, egal ob der militärische „Patient“ diese außergewöhnliche Behandlung annehmen wollte oder nicht.

Wie man so schön sagt: Der Rest ist Geschichte. Die Südafrikaner saßen mit dem handicap am Verhandlungstisch, dass die fAPLA-Kräfte durch unsere eigenen Politiker vor der endgültigen Niederlage gerettet wurden.

Basically he says that some SA politicians didn't want to humilate the enemy too heavily to enable a "win-win" diplomatic solution, crossing deeply into the military strategy and tactis of the campaign. So instead of annihilation they just wanted a push-back. (Breytenbach accepts the supremacy of politics, but that it should limit itself to the political strategy. Overall he sounds pretty Clausewitzian in many of his answers)

In the end this political choice backfired on the SA diplomacy, as the Cubans, FAPLA and SWAPO could claim victory, retain their military strenght and take over the country after sitting out the process in their secret bases which were of no interest to the UNO.


Of course I have no idea how feasible the destruction of the five brigades could have been and how things would have shaped up after a devastating outcome for FAPLA.

ganulv
07-21-2011, 05:27 PM
Basically he says that some SA politicians didn't want to humilate the enemy too heavily to enable a "win-win" diplomatic solution, crossing deeply into the military strategy and tactis of the campaign. So instead of annihilation they just wanted a push-back. (Breytenbach accepts the supremacy of politics, but that it should limit itself to the political strategy. Overall he sounds pretty Clausewitzian in many of his answers)

In the end this political choice backfired on the SA diplomacy, as the Cubans, FAPLA and SWAPO could claim victory, retain their military strenght and take over the country after sitting out the process in their secret bases which were of no interest to the UNO.

From my readings on this forum and elsewhere I am lead to believe that many foreign policy and military professionals seem to conceptualize the political and the military as separate and separable domains. In reading recently about the Angolan Civil War I came upon Chester Crocker (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Chester_Crocker)’s quote that
[r]eading the Cubans is yet another art form. They are prepared for both war and peace. I was gobsmacked that this should be considered unusual.

Firn
07-21-2011, 05:52 PM
From my readings on this forum and elsewhere I am lead to believe that many foreign policy and military professionals seem to conceptualize the political and the military as separate and separable domains. In reading recently about the Angolan Civil War I came upon Chester Crocker (https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Chester_Crocker)’s quote that “[r]eading the Cubans is yet another art form. They are prepared for both war and peace.” I was gobsmacked that this should be considered unusual.

If I read Breytenbach correctly he didn't agree how deeply the political interventions went and he wasn't sure if the politicians grasped the effects of their choosen military means. Personally I do think that there will be never a "solution" for handling the interplay of both spheres "correctly".

He seems to agree of course on the supremacy of political realm, and behaved accordingly if they demanded thus. Of course when he had leeway and no direct orders, which happened quite often, he did what he thought best for the SA effort.

Fuchs
07-21-2011, 06:37 PM
Jedenfalls gab es unter uns Obristen einige, die dafür plädierten, den Vormarsch auf dem Westufer des cuitos einfach fortzusetzen, um cuito cuanevale vom Westen her anzugreifen, d.h. in den Rücken des feindes zugelangen. Dadurch würde das vorgeschobene Logistikzentrum des Gegners und, vielleicht noch wichtiger, auch die einzige Brücke erobert werden.
Die südafrikanische Brigade wäre dann genau auf der Versorgungs-
und Rückzugslinie des Gegners platziert, und dieser wäre von seinem Nachschub abgeschnitten.

In English:Some among the colonels argued for continuing the advance on the west riverside of the cuitos, to attack cuito cuanevale. This would capture the forward logistical node and -probably more important- also the only bridge.
The South African brigade would then be cituated on the supply and withdrawal route of the opponent, and this one would be cut off from supply.

(Wow, their locations sound dirty!)


Die Brigaden selbst waren ja schon allein durch das 32. Bataillon am Lomba aufgehalten worden. Doch sie konnten dauerhaft dort verharren, solange der Nachschub floss oder sie sich auf cuito cuanevale zurückziehen konnten.

Würden wir cuito cuanevale nehmen, wären sie auf der falschen flussseite ohne Nachschub gestrandet, würde bald kein fahrzeug mehr fahren können, und die Truppe, ohne dass wir einen Schuss abfeuerten, würde liegen bleiben.

Was nützt ein Panzer ohne Treibstoff? Er wird zur metallenen hülle, dessen Besatzung sich bei einem Ausbruch zu fuß einer Umgebung voller UNITAKämpfer aussetzen müsste, die ihnen mit Begeisterung, v.a. den
Kubanern, die Kehlen durchschneiden würden. So hätten fünf Brigaden restlos vernichtet werden können.

In EnglishThe brigades themselves are already stopped by the 32. Bn at the Lomba. But they could stay there permanently, as long as they received supply and were able to withdraw to cuito cuanevale.

If we would capture cuito cuanevale, they would be stranded on the wrong side of the river without supply, soon no vehicle would be able to drive any more, and the troops would - without us firing a single shot - be stuck.

Of what use is a tank without fuel? It becomes a metallic hull, whose crew would in a breakout exposed to an environment full of UNITA fighters who would with enthusiasm cut their throats (especially of Cubans). This way five brigades could have been annihilated entirely.



ÖMZ: Was hinderte Sie daran, genau dies zu tun? Doch nicht etwa politische Intervention?
Breytenbach: Vernichtung der feindlichen Kräfte war leider nicht auf der Tagesordnung, v.a. nicht beim Außenminister. Die Brigaden sollte lediglich nach cuito cuanevale zurückgedrängt werden, der Ausgangsstellung ihrer Offensive. Man hielt es für politisch klug, der fAPLA die Demütigung zu ersparen, fast ihre ganze Armee durch eine einzige südafrikanische Brigade vernichtet zu sehen. hier kamen die „win win“-Parole und die diplomatische Schiene durch, die nun ins militärische Umfeld transplantiert werden musste, egal ob der militärische „Patient“ diese außergewöhnliche Behandlung annehmen wollte oder nicht.

Wie man so schön sagt: Der Rest ist Geschichte. Die Südafrikaner saßen mit dem handicap am Verhandlungstisch, dass die fAPLA-Kräfte durch unsere eigenen Politiker vor der endgültigen Niederlage gerettet wurden.

In English:ÖMZ: What did them keep from doing exactly this? Was it political intervention?
Breytenbach: Destruction of enemy forces was not on the agenda, especially not for the foreign secretary. The brigades were only to be pushed back to cuito cuanevale, the starting point of their offensive. They considered it politically wise to spare the FAPLA the humiliation of having almost their entire army being destroyed by a single South African brigade.

Here came the "win win" rallying cry and the diplomatic venue into effect, which now had to be transplanted into the military environment - no matter whether this military "patient" was willing to accept this unusual treatment or not.

The rest is history. The South Africans sat at the negotiating table with the handicap that the FAPLA forces had been rescued by our own politicians.End of English


(Yes, the guy really talks this weird!)

JMA
07-21-2011, 09:41 PM
Moderator's Note: the cited interview is not available in English and appeared in an Austrian military periodical. Now if anyone wants to volunteer and supply an English translation SWC will be indebted to you.

A simple Google Translation gives the gist of what is being said.


I always wondered why the SADF didn't try to cut off in earnest the enemy brigades which relied for practically all their needs on the very long and difficult support lines from western Angola. As this interview shows some of the SADF officers, among them Breytenbach wanted to do exactly that.

Basically he says that some SA politicians didn't want to humilate the enemy too heavily to enable a "win-win" diplomatic solution, crossing deeply into the military strategy and tactis of the campaign. So instead of annihilation they just wanted a push-back. (Breytenbach accepts the supremacy of politics, but that it should limit itself to the political strategy. Overall he sounds pretty Clausewitzian in many of his answers)

In the end this political choice backfired on the SA diplomacy, as the Cubans, FAPLA and SWAPO could claim victory, retain their military strenght and take over the country after sitting out the process in their secret bases which were of no interest to the UNO.

Of course I have no idea how feasible the destruction of the five brigades could have been and how things would have shaped up after a devastating outcome for FAPLA.

The aim was to send in a brigade (never numbering more than 3,000) to stop an Angolan division overrunning UNITA. This was achieved at the Lomba river where the Angolan (FAPLA) 47 Brigade was destroyed and their 59 and 21 Brigades badly mauled. The mission as given by the politicians had been achieved. (You probably need to read the then Chief of the Defence Force Gen Jannie Geldenhuys' book "At the Front" (http://www.amazon.com/At-Front-Jannie-Geldenhuys/dp/186842331X/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) where he explains it simply.

Of course at colonel level (and below) there were those who saw only the military opportunity on offer to annihilate the Angolan division and to hell with any "limit of exploitation" and not what the politicians refer to as seeing "the big picture".

As to the propaganda potential of South Africa not pressing home an attack on Cuito Cuanavale to the Russians/Cubans/Angolans yes, it was always there and remember that in every operation before and after the "world" media happily repeated the line fed them that South Africa was the aggressor and the UN always demanded they withdraw their forces from Angola immediately.

So the fact is that the mission was accomplished in that the Angolan advance was halted with significant loses. That the "colonels" were not allowed to exploit the opportunity to annihilate what remained of the Angolan division does not constitute a defeat. Whether the soldiers like it or not the politicians make those decisions, right or wrong.

Note: a good lesson learned here was that in the absence of air superiority maximum use of artillery is required and was use to devastating effect.

Fuchs
07-21-2011, 09:47 PM
It would be interesting to learn how they believed to be able to supply the brigade behind the OPFOR better than OPFOR would be able to supply its spearhead?
This is the classic problem of encirclements.

JMA
07-21-2011, 09:58 PM
It would be interesting to learn how they believed to be able to supply the brigade behind the OPFOR better than OPFOR would be able to supply its spearhead?
This is the classic problem of encirclements.

Yes, and also a question of time.

South Africa was restricted to reasonably quick in-and-out forays into Angola where battle-groups or brigades were used (while smaller stuff was in there all of the time). It was necessary to get in, do the business and be out or on the way out by the time an international political row blew up.

There was no way that a South African force would be allowed (by the politicians) to sit astride the Angolan/Cuban supply route for any length of time as it would then be portrayed as an occupation rather than a raid.

JMA
07-22-2011, 10:54 PM
In English(Wow, their locations sound dirty!)

(Yes, the guy really talks this weird!)

Thanks for the translation, much appreciated.

BTW care to elaborate on your comments in brackets?

JMA
08-14-2011, 03:43 PM
Shadows in the Sand (http://www.30degreessouth.co.za/index.php?nav=category&category_child=subcategory&category_id=1&subcategory_child=products&subcategory_id=77&view=143)

http://www.30degreessouth.co.za/storage/images/Shadows_in_the_Sand_180.jpg


This is the story of a Kavango tracker who served for six years with Koevoet
(‘Crowbar’), the elite South African Police anti-terrorist unit, during the South West
African–Angolan bush war of the ’80s. Most white team leaders lasted only two years;
the black trackers walked the tracks for years. Sisingi Kamongo tells the story of the
50 or so firefights he was involved in; he survived five anti-personnel mine and POMZ
explosions and an RPG rocket on his Casspir APC vehicle; he was wounded three
times; he tells of the trackers looking for the shadows on the ground, facing ambush
and AP mines at every turn; he tells of the art of tracking ... where dust can tell
time. Kamongo’s story is supported by two accounts from renowned Koevoet team
leaders, Herman Grobler and Francois du Toit—a powerful collection of experiences
from South Africa’s most successful counter-insurgency unit.
• The first-ever account of the bush war by a non-white member of the South
African security forces
• A unique, previously untold perspective of the bush war, by an on-the-ground
tracker
• A powerful, harrowing read; the tension is palpable

davidbfpo
09-14-2011, 10:04 AM
Cross-posted from the 'What are you reading' thread.

About to finish this excellent 300 pg. book, which is sub-titled 'A Koevoet Tracker's Story of an Insurgency War' by Sisingi Kamongo and Leon Bezuidenhout. Published by Thirty Degrees South 2011, main website in South Africa:http://www.30degreessouth.co.za/ and a UK website:http://www.30degreessouth.co.uk/

Website summary:
This is the story of a Kavango tracker who served for six years with Koevoet ‘Crowbar’), the elite South African Police anti-terrorist unit, during the South West African–Angolan bush war of the ’80s. Most white team leaders lasted only two years; the black trackers walked the tracks for years. Sisingi Kamongo tells the story of the 50 or so firefights he was involved in; he survived five anti-personnel mine and POMZ explosions and an RPG rocket on his Casspir APC vehicle; he was wounded three times; he tells of the trackers looking for the shadows on the ground, facing ambush and AP mines at every turn; he tells of the art of tracking ... where dust can tell time.

A fascinating account, probably the only black African account from the South African side. The integration of basic police skills, tracking, fire-power and mobility was awesome, terrible for those on the receiving end - which the author often acknowledges.

The UN-sponsored period appears, the bloodiest time when SWAPO decided to send its troops across the border; the author glides over the politics, although he notes the impact on the ground with local information falling away.

davidbfpo
01-13-2012, 02:06 PM
Jim Hooper's book on Koevoet is a classic, embedded writer's account of this conflict in SW Africa now Namibia, which was written twenty years ago and is being launched in March 2012, in London. Attached is an image free flier and this a link to the publisher's website:http://30degreessouth.co.uk/

Firn
01-13-2012, 09:24 PM
Yes, and also a question of time.

South Africa was restricted to reasonably quick in-and-out forays into Angola where battle-groups or brigades were used (while smaller stuff was in there all of the time). It was necessary to get in, do the business and be out or on the way out by the time an international political row blew up.

There was no way that a South African force would be allowed (by the politicians) to sit astride the Angolan/Cuban supply route for any length of time as it would then be portrayed as an occupation rather than a raid.

Perhaps he throught back to Operation Askari. Of course it is difficult to know which at which stage of the operation he advised to block the Angolan/Cuban supply line, possibly even before the enemy was stopped deep at the Lomba. This would of course expose the own supply lines to a very great degree.



Manchmal gelang es uns jedoch, die Politiker zu tuschen. 1983 wurde Operation Askari initiiert, um zum wiederholten Mal die fAPLA aus der Kunene-Provinz zu drngen und die bestehenden SWAPO-Sttzpunkte zu zerstren. Ohne das Wissen der Polidas gesamte 32. Bataillon geschlossen auf chindit Art als Guerillaeinheit eingesetzt wurde.Die Operationen waren zwar eher komplementr zu den konventionellen Einstzen der mechanisierten Kampfgruppen der Grooperation Askari, stieen jedoch weit in die Kunene-Provinz vor, griffen dort Sttzpunkte an und zerstrten diese von Ongiva im Sden ber Evale und Mpupa bis ins nrdliche Cuvelei. Das 32. Bataillon infiltrierte ber Buschpfade teils mit Fahrzeugen, teils zu fu, tief in die stark bewaldeten Gebiete des Ostkunene, weit hinter den Linien von fAPLA. Es wurden SWAPO-Sttzpunkte lokalisiert, die sich geschtzt glaubten, und diese angegriffen.

Inzwischen stie eine mechanisierte sdafrikanische Brigade nordwrts, um in der grten und entscheidenden Schlacht eine FAPLA-Brigade in der Nhe von cuvelei zu schlagen. Nachdem die FAPLA-Brigade sich besiegt zurckgezogen hatte, trafen diese zermrbten Truppen berraschend auf das weit im hinterland operierende 32. Bataillon. Die Brigade wurde ausgelscht, wie auch eine weitere, die den Versuch unternahm, von Norden her als Rettung zur ersten zu stoen. Beide Brigaden verloren alle ihre Panzer und fast alle ihre Schtzenpanzer. fAPLA war geschlagen und aus der gesamten Kunene-Provinz vertrieben worden.

Das 32. Bataillon hat bei dieser Gelegenheit gleichzeitig die schlecht ausgersteten Kwanyamas unter den UNITA-Truppen bewaffnet, mit dem Ziel, eine freie Zone ohne das Wissen von Savimbi, dem Militrnachrichtendienst und der sdafrikanischen Regierung zu errichten. Doch dieses Geheimnis hielt nicht lange, und in Krze war unser Auenminister wieder unterwegs, um
alles Gewonnene zu verschenken. Dies bedeutete erneut den Abzug, auch fr das 32. Bataillon.

In the Operation Askari the whole 32. infiltrated partly on foot, partly on vehicles very deep into southern Angola isolating and attacking SWAPO bases and getting into the rear of FAPLAs bases further down south. A mechanized SADF brigade stroke in typical fashion from Namibia and defeated the FAPLA brigade. When the dispersed and worn down rest of the brigade retreated it was completely surprised and annihilated by the 32. battalion. A brigade streaming down to come to the rescue suffered the same fate, loosing all the MBTs and most of the APCs.


Wir mussten mit Politikern zurechtkommen, die dachten, dass sie mehr von Krieg verstnden als professionelle Soldaten. Daher auch der Spruch, dass Krieg ein zu ernstes Geschft sei, als dass man es den Generlen berlsst. Diese arrogante Einstellung erreichte ihren Hhepunkt der Verachtung whrend der Kmpfe 1987/88 am Lomba. Dieser fluss war ein Ort, an dem entscheidende Kmpfe zu der Niederlage von vier greren FAPLA-/Kubaner-formationen fhrten, die von einer schwachen sdafrikanischen mechanisierten Brigade zerschlagen wurden.

Zuvor hatten fnf mechanisierte fAPLA-Brigaden den cuito stlich von Cuito Cuanevale ber die einzig verfgbare Brcke berquert, um nach Mavinga vorzustoen und ein flugfeld zu erobern, von wo aus Savimbi der Todessto gegeben werden sollte. Dieser war im abgelegenen Jamba verschanzt. Savimbi schrie, wie immer, Mord! Mord! und die sdafrikanische Armee wurde zum soundsovielten Mal durch den SSc umgehend zu dessen Rettung entsandt. Das 32. Bataillon - wer sonst? - setzte sich also am Lomba fest, um den Vormarsch des feindes zu stoppen. Weitere Einheiten wurden eingeschoben, m zusammengefasst eine schwache Brigade zu bilden. War dies jedoch der richtige Weg?

Die Sdafrikaner waren wieder verpflichtet, den Gegner zurckzudrngen. Dabei sollten diesem maximale Verluste beigefgt werden, doch nirgendwo bot das Terrain die Gelegen-heit, die feindbrigaden in die Enge zu drngen und endgltig zu vernichten. Den Gegner erfolgreich in eine Situation hin-einzumanvrieren, in der er mit minimalen eigenen Verlusten
vernichtet werden kann, ist immer die Kerneigenschaft eines fhigen Kommandeurs.

Einem Kommandeur jedoch eine Philosophie aufzudrngen, die man dann auch noch eine win win-Situation nennt, in der keine Seite gewinnt oder verliert, ist die Einfhrung einer Art Blasphemie in die edle Kunst der Kriegfhrung.

...

Jedenfalls gab es unter uns Obristen einige, die dafr pldierten, den Vormarsch auf dem Westufer des cuitos einfach fortzusetzen, um cuito cuanevale vom Westen her anzugreifen, d.h. in den Rcken des feindes zu gelangen. Dadurch wrde das vorgeschobene Logistikzentrum des Gegners und, vielleicht noch wichtiger, auch die einzige Brcke erobert werden.

Die sdafrikanische Brigade wre dann genau auf der Versorgungs- und Rckzugslinie des Gegners platziert, und dieser wre von seinem Nachschub abgeschnitten.

Die Brigaden selbst waren ja schon allein durch das 32. Bataillon am Lomba aufgehalten worden. Doch sie konnten dauerhaft dort verharren, solange der Nachschub floss oder sie sich auf cuito cuanevale zurckziehen konnten. Wrden wir cuito cuanevale nehmen, wren sie auf der falschen flussseite ohne Nachschub gestrandet, wrde bald kein fahrzeug mehr fahren knnen, und die Truppe, ohne dass wir einen Schuss abfeuerten, wrde liegen bleiben. Was ntzt ein Panzer ohne Treibstoff? Er wird zur metallenen hlle, dessen Besatzung sich bei einem Ausbruch zu fu einer Umgebung voller UNITA-Kmpfer aussetzen msste, die ihnen mit Begeisterung, v.a. den Kubanern, die Kehlen durchschneiden wrden. So htten fnf Brigaden restlos vernichtet werden knnen.

I tend to think that maybe they even thought about moving at soon against Cuito Cuanevale, possibly without stopping at the Lomba. In this case the whole supply system would have to be organized differently, I guess, not operating from the Eastern Caprivi towards Mavinga and the Lomba river but on interior lines, with the attack force striking from Rundu or Nkurunkuru northwards, keeping always on the western side of the Cuito.

The second option, after having stopped the attack at the Lomba, was to strike west roughly towards Cumuioio and turn northwards along the street on the western bank of the Cuito. In both occasions the SADF would have at least partly relied to have a cooperative enemy, showing little offensive initiative and spirit. As usual supplying the SADF brigade would have been difficult and it is hard to imagine that a single brigade, good as it might have would have been enough to defeat the heavy concentration of enemy forces even with the five brigades on the move towards Mavinga.


Phase I: Defending UNITA (4 Aug - 5 Oct). By August 1987 the Angolans had concentrated five brigades around Lucusse and assigned them the mission of seizing the cities of Cangamba and Lumbala (see Map 2). Eight other brigades and two battalion-size tactical groups assembled near Cuito Cuanavale, the town situated at the end of the mproved road closest to Jamba. Cuito Cuanavale also contained an important air base from which Angolan fighters and bombers could range in a matter of minutes over the expected battlegrounds.

JMA already has the link to the source in one of his earlier posts...

Firn
01-14-2012, 11:35 AM
Forged in Flames 1 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fclRzi4E9TY&feature=related)

See also part 2 and 3. In part 2 the follow-up after the clashes of the Lomba river is described, when parts of the 21 brigade tried to mantain contact in very difficult terrain with the retreating enemy. The potential result of insecure communications, lack of coding, and too much talk on the radio is shown. This happened also frequently in WWII, for example with radio-rich American forces.

Operation Packer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGriJDVuus4&feature=related)

From the middle of Part 2 till the end of Part 3 mostly English, talking about the planning cycle for the staff. Shows a bit about how the attack on forces southeast of Cuito was perceived by the SADF.

The last domino (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dNi--acWe0&feature=related)

General overview of the Borderwar from the South African/South West (Namibia) perspective.

The Saints - the Rhodesian Light Infantry (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3qcZzAfvN4)

A rather long and detailed documentary about RLI, posted due to the partial connection with later SADF tactics in Ovamboland.

The Cassinga raid (http://uir.unisa.ac.za/bitstream/handle/10500/1475/00dissertation.pdf?sequence=4)

A very detailed Master thesis. The author has served in combat capacity in the SADF in most of the conflict and is a serving officer of the SANDF.

Strickland
01-29-2012, 03:03 PM
Please excuse my ignorance when it comes to the South African Insurgency...during recent debates with classmates, the question of Nelson Mandels role as arisen with some asserting that he was an insurgent, and other claiming he was more akin to a terrorist (Begin in the Stern Gang) than insurgent (Washington in the American Revolution). Which is more accurate?

ganulv
01-29-2012, 03:44 PM
[…] and other claiming he was more akin to a terrorist (Begin in the Stern Gang) than insurgent (Washington in the American Revolution).
‘Terrorist’ is such a subjective term IMHO it tells you a lot more about the person applying it than it does about the person it is applied to. There seems to be some semantic slippage around ‘insurgent,’ too. Your usage above suggests (to someone who went to elementary school in the United States, at least) that an insurgent is a revolutionary undertaking justified violence. Recent use of the term in relation to the adversaries of the United States in Iraq and the narco side of the drug–related violence in Mexico doesn’t really suggest that connotation, though.

If you have ever been to or ever go through central New York you’ll see a number of plaques and monuments (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtbradley/tags/sullivanclintonexpedition/) singing the praises of the Sullivan–Clinton Expedition against the Iroquois. Contemporary Haudenosaunee, on the other hand, are not unlikely to relate to you that their ancestors gave Washington the sobriquet ‘Town Burner’ because of his role in ordering the punitive expedition (despite the existence of evidence that the name predates the Revolutionary War) and will often portray the expedition as tantamount to a crime against humanity. In my eyes both of these portrayals of the past are politicized oversimplifications.

So back to your question: Was/Is Mandela a terrorist or an insurgent? Yes. No. Maybe. False dichotomy. Both. All of the above. None of the above.

Strickland
01-29-2012, 03:59 PM
For exactly the reasons you cite, I am attempting to use words with precision. For that reason, from a historical analysis of the South African Insurgency, did Mandela intentionally target or sanction the deliberate use of violence against civilians?

ganulv
01-29-2012, 04:45 PM
For exactly the reasons you cite, I am attempting to use words with precision.
:confused: Ummm, okay…


For that reason, from a historical analysis of the South African Insurgency, did Mandela intentionally target or sanction the deliberate use of violence against civilians?
Anyone who is in doubt as to whether the ANC conducted attacks sanctioned by Mr. Mandela in which civilians died can have their doubt removed within 30 seconds with the search function on Google. But good luck with answering the question of whether any of the attacks sanctioned by Mandela intentionally targeted civilians or deliberately used violence against civilians. Part of the difficulty with such as that is the fact that state sanctioned use of force is guided (or not) by a definition of proportionality formulated by state actors. Non-state actors may point out (http://youtu.be/Q3SzIlrU_6k?t=8s) they are not able to avail themselves of all of the resources available to their state actor adversaries. In addition, there is the question of whether the principle of distinction makes any sense in an existential conflict. In the context of a true life–or–death struggle (and some would argue that some or all of the parties to the struggle of which Mr. Mandela was a part were hyperbolic in referring to it as an existential conflict, so there’s another issue to grapple with in coming to anything approaching a clean answer to your question) some would say that nobody standing by is innocent.

JMA
02-08-2012, 09:16 AM
Now that it is quiet around here I can slip in with my piece.

To discuss whether Nelson Mandela was or wasn't a terrorist is pointless. Here's why:


If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. – Bertrand Russell

JMA
03-29-2012, 10:36 AM
A simple Google Translation gives the gist of what is being said.



The aim was to send in a brigade (never numbering more than 3,000) to stop an Angolan division overrunning UNITA. This was achieved at the Lomba river where the Angolan (FAPLA) 47 Brigade was destroyed and their 59 and 21 Brigades badly mauled. The mission as given by the politicians had been achieved. (You probably need to read the then Chief of the Defence Force Gen Jannie Geldenhuys' book "At the Front" (http://www.amazon.com/At-Front-Jannie-Geldenhuys/dp/186842331X/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top) where he explains it simply.

Of course at colonel level (and below) there were those who saw only the military opportunity on offer to annihilate the Angolan division and to hell with any "limit of exploitation" and not what the politicians refer to as seeing "the big picture".

As to the propaganda potential of South Africa not pressing home an attack on Cuito Cuanavale to the Russians/Cubans/Angolans yes, it was always there and remember that in every operation before and after the "world" media happily repeated the line fed them that South Africa was the aggressor and the UN always demanded they withdraw their forces from Angola immediately.

So the fact is that the mission was accomplished in that the Angolan advance was halted with significant loses. That the "colonels" were not allowed to exploit the opportunity to annihilate what remained of the Angolan division does not constitute a defeat. Whether the soldiers like it or not the politicians make those decisions, right or wrong.

Note: a good lesson learned here was that in the absence of air superiority maximum use of artillery is required and was use to devastating effect.

Further to the Cuito Cuanavale debate here is a view from opposition elements within Namibia - “THE DECISIVE BATTLE OF CUITO CUANAVALE” IS A HOAX (http://www.nshr.org.na/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=1351)

As they say it all comes out in the wash...

JMA
03-29-2012, 05:24 PM
Jim Hooper's book on Koevoet is a classic, embedded writer's account of this conflict in SW Africa now Namibia, which was written twenty years ago and is being launched in March 2012, in London. Attached is an image free flier and this a link to the publisher's website:http://30degreessouth.co.uk/

Today 18h15 UK time at the Imperial War Museum. House full. Good luck with the re-launch!

http://30degreessouth.co.uk/img/Koevoet!%20cover%20image%20C%20Jim%20Hooper%20.jpg

davidbfpo
03-29-2012, 10:48 PM
I was at the book launch this evening and have my copy to read, so a review will follow soon. The new edition has 30% new material and more names than before.

ganulv
03-30-2012, 01:45 AM
Further to the Cuito Cuanavale debate here is a view from opposition elements within Namibia - “THE DECISIVE BATTLE OF CUITO CUANAVALE” IS A HOAX (http://www.nshr.org.na/index.php?module=News&func=display&sid=1351)

As they say it all comes out in the wash...

Mvula is at variance with every other author I have read in portraying Operação Saludando Octubre as a FAPLA/Cuban rather than FAPLA/Soviet undertaking.

jmm99
12-12-2013, 01:03 AM
Mark,

I tracked down the 2005 article by Paul Sturges (then at Loughborough University in the UK), Information in the National Liberation Struggle: modelling the case of Namibia (1966-1990) (https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/bitstream/2134/558/1/NAMIBIAN%20LIBERATION%20STRUGGLE%20rev21105.pdf).

His published model finds its "guiding spirit" in Bernard Fall and others:


The guiding spirit of the model is the formulation by Bernard Fall of the revolutionary war as:

RW (revolutionary war) = G (guerrilla warfare) + P (political action).

In this formula, Fall (1967) points out that ‘The kill aspect, the military aspect, definitely always remained the minor aspect: the political administrative, ideological aspect is the primary aspect.’

The validity of this is amply evident from a critical reading of the evidence provided in surveys and discussions of the subject from Heilbrunn (1962), Taber (1970), Van der Haydte (1972), through to Joes (1996), Lacquer (1998), Beckett (2001) and others. It is the case, even though recognition of the paramountcy of the non-violent aspects of the struggle may not be explicit in an author’s commentary.

Schell (2003, p.97) is quite explicit on this, calling it ‘the eclipse of the power that flowed from superior military might by the political power that flowed from the hearts and minds of the people’.

What applies to those conducting revolutionary struggle applies equally to those countering it on behalf of the established regime.

Sturges was less wordy (and with a different "saint") in an earlier draft (http://www.asis.org/Conferences/FAM04/posters/F16_Camera_Ready_Final_Manuscript.doc) of the paper:


The guiding spirit of the model is Sir Gerald Templer’s laconic comment on the British campaign against communist insurgency in Malaya that he commanded to such positive effect. ‘The shooting side of the business is only 25% of the trouble and the other 75% lies in getting the people of this country behind us.’ (Beckett, 2001, p.102)

Beckett, I.F.W. (2001). Modern insurgencies and counter-insurgencies: guerrillas and their opponents since 1750. London: Routledge.

I'm comfortable with either Fall's qualitative formulation or Templer's "quantitative" formulation; realizing that, if a largely or even wholly military effort can force an acceptable solution, the military could be a larger part than the political effort.

In any event, here is Sturges' explanation and diagram of his model:


The distinctive thing about the model is that it gives equal expression to both the liberation movement’s information and communication activities and the equivalent activities of the established power’s counter-insurgence programme. It is genuinely a model of conflict: not just a formal model that merely accommodates interference from political and military conflict. It first divides information and communication elements, on both sides, into three spheres of information activity: the field, the headquarters and the media. It then further divides information activities into three types according to whether they are concerned with information input (acquisition and processing of information); information output (the dissemination of messages); and information suppression. Each of these divisions by aspect is further divided into its overt and covert elements. Thus input includes both the overt, information acquisition and research, and the covert, espionage and surveillance. Output includes both the overt preparation and distribution of formal propaganda and political education messages, and the covert passing on of operational messages. Suppression covers both the overt censorship of documentation and speech, and the covert control of critical and hostile thought through the ‘suppression’ of individuals and their ideas.

The model enables types of activity to be set in the context of the spheres of activity. This places overt input and output types of activity within the headquarters sphere; covert input and suppression activities in the field sphere; and overt and covert output and suppression activities into the media sphere. The way the model expresses this can be shown in graphic fashion as a circle divided into three with the three divisions further subdivided, thus:

1757


This diagram has, however, to be duplicated to accommodate two different sets of data, one concerning the activities of the liberation movement, and the other concerning those of the established regime. The two circles then contain sets of data about the same types of activity in shared spheres. These two different versions of the model then need to be placed in relation to each other. This can be done in the form of a striking metaphor. The two circular geometrical planes can be seen as resembling the faces of two millstones. If one of the planes is rotated through 180 degrees to face the other, the two can be imagined grinding against each other in an opposition resembling the attritional aspects of warfare. The power imparted through the centre of both stones in a mill from some energy source such as wind or water to create movement, could then be imagined as the purposive use of information by both contestants in what constitutes a very distinctive form of information management. In an unpublished conference presentation of the model in 2001, it was illustrated by a moving image rather than the static diagram that is all that can be offered here.

This seems a valid enough theoretical model (it's logically coherent internally).

Sturges then goes on to present and analyze the facts, reaching a number of conclusions. My question to you (giving you the hard part) is how accurate and credible is Sturges in the factual-opinion part ? Are we dealing with "articulate competence" or "articulate incompetence" ?

Regards

Mike

davidbfpo
05-12-2017, 03:26 PM
An article on South Africa's 'Total National Strategy' from the UK blog (yes again) Defence in Depth; it starts with:
Concepts of grand strategy generally stress the requirement of governments to outline clear strategic goals, and to ensure that all elements of national power are co-ordinated by ministers and senior officials (civil service and military) to achieve them. In recent history, one state achieved the apparent success of devising a ‘total’ strategy and of establishing a bureaucratic framework to implement it. That state was South Africa, governed at that time by the apartheid regime of the National Party.It ends with:
Concepts of grand strategy generally stress the requirement of governments to outline clear strategic goals, and to ensure that all elements of national power are co-ordinated by ministers and senior officials (civil service and military) to achieve them. In recent history, one state achieved the apparent success of devising a ‘total’ strategy and of establishing a bureaucratic framework to implement it. That state was South Africa, governed at that time by the apartheid regime of the National Party.Link:https://defenceindepth.co/2017/05/08/total-national-strategy-a-cautionary-tale/

At one point there were books on this theme, many written by critics of apartheid and one by an American, Robert Jaster, maybe from RAND or IISS.

davidbfpo
05-04-2018, 05:04 PM
Browsing YouTube I found a number of old documentaries, mainly from the South African viewpoint and notifications of new South African films, like Recce, alas only a trailer:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpUQn7ZZwrs

Here is one by Al Venter, a South African writer from 1981-1982:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocTtdMUZiiM