View Full Version : Oman / Dhofar campaign: catch all

05-17-2007, 06:46 PM
Moderator's Note: This now little known COIN campaign has re-appeared in August 2010, after points were raised on an Afghan COIN thread and Jon Custis has asked about the coalition built in Oman - which won. I have copied over some of the more promising posts, although there are others notably on two current threads: Winning the war in Afghanistand and COIN and its discontents (ends).

Just got a new book from Amazon a few days ago and couldn't put it down. Its called "In Service of the Sultan: A first-hand account of the Dhofar Insurgency" by Ian Gardiner.

First off, if you are thinking about refugee camps in Africa, you are WAAAY off base. This book covers the counterinsurgency fight in the Dhofar region of Oman in the 1970s. Relatively unknown due to the ongoing Vietnam War and the Cold War in Europe, the Dhofar COIN fight is a classic example of what a good COIN operation looks like. The Brits, leading militarily with their SAS and politically with the Omani Government, waged an effective COIN campaign against communist insurgents. Gardiner does a great job describing the terrain, the culture, and both the strengths and weaknesses of the Dhofari people. He also focuses on both sides of the COIN fight, militarily and politically. He has an easy to read writing style which really helps the book flow along. Gardiner was there and shares his first hand accounts of the fighting that he saw, the progress made since the 1970s and shares his lessons learned in what was a successful COIN Campaign.

Link to the book at Amazon below:


I've read "SAS: Operation Storm: Secret War in the Middle East" by MG Tony Jeapes as well. Its another good account of the Dhofar COIN fight but, in my humble opinion, focuses more on the SAS/military side of the COIN fight. Again, great lessons to be taken away from Jeapes' account...he was a SAS commander in the COIN fight so well worth your time as well.


SWJ Blog
05-31-2009, 12:00 PM
SAS Secret War (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/05/sas-secret-war/)

Entry Excerpt:

SAS Secret War
Operation Storm in the Middle East
reviewed by Travis Weinger, Small Wars Journal

SAS Secret War (Full PDF Article) (http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/docs-temp/249-weinger.pdf)

SAS Secret War: Operation Storm in the Middle East (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1853675679?ie=UTF8&tag=smallwarsjour-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=1853675679). By Major General Tony Jeapes. London: Greenhill Books, first published 1980, this edition published 2005. 253 pages. $22.95. Reviewed by Travis Weinger.

A fanatical group, playing upon political and economic grievances in an isolated province, develops a base of support among the local tribes and launches a full-blown insurgency against the government and foreign power supporting it. The group violently attempts to break the traditional power structures and elites of the tribes and imposes a brutal and foreign ideology in their place. Realizing their mistake, the tribes begin, fitfully, to fight back against the outsiders, slowly reconciling with the counterinsurgents. The counterinsurgents partner with these tribal fighters to great effect, and the back of the insurgency is largely broken.

This could be a description of the course of the modern insurgency in Anbar province. Instead, it is the picture we get of the Dhofar insurgency in Oman in SAS Secret War, written by Major General Tony Jeapes, commander of the first full Special Air Service (SAS) squadron in Oman and SAS Commanding Officer from 1974 until the end of the war in 1975. Republished in 2005 (originally written in 1977), doubtless to cash in on the interest in counterinsurgency generated by the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, General Jeapes’ first-hand account of the successful British campaign in Oman during the 1970s is a fascinating read, both on its own merits as a story of war and in light of present-day discussions and debates about the nature and best practices of COIN.

SAS Secret War (Full PDF Article) (http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/docs-temp/249-weinger.pdf)

Note the publishers PR refers to details censored oringinally by the UK MoD now appear twenty plus years later; the original edition was called 'SAS Operation Oman' and is the copy I have.

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2009/05/sas-secret-war/) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

05-31-2009, 01:19 PM
There is another RFI thread on UW which has suggestions, which may have an application: .

I suggested some titles then and have thinned it out: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=4613

'They Live by the Sword', on the only black SADF infantry unit, 32 Buffalo Battalion by Col. Jan Breytenbach (fighting in Angola & SW Africa; included as unusual)

'SAS Operation Oman' by Col Tony Jeapes (Dhofar campaign early '70s). See new edition review, under new title: http://smallwarsjournal.com/mag/docs-temp/249-weinger.pdf. There is another book on the campaign, which I've not read: 'We Won the War' by John Akehurst (Pub. 1982).

'The Frontier Scouts' by Charles Chevenix Trench (para-military forces on British Empire NW Frontier, predecessors of the Frontier Corps)

'Soldier Sahibs: The men who made the NW Frontier' by Charles Allen (superb book for India 1839-1858, focus on small units and the leaders)

Some of these titles have appeared on another thread.

Have any of the books on the Soviet era in Afghanistan touched upon the advisory role? I am sure books on Malaysia refer to this theme, but not read much on that - perhaps our Australian / Kiwi members can help?


06-25-2009, 02:30 AM
My experiences come from selected populations, so not necessarily representative of the whole.

-In general, in most of the Gulf militaries, officers are drawn from a select population of influential nationals. Within the militaries, there is a definite hierarchy of officer positions, often with pilot positions going to the best connected/most powerful. Some, like UAE, officer pay is astronomical compared to what even a U.S. officer makes, with great benefits. In countries, particularly Saudi, the military is more of a morning job which leaves the rest of the day to work on the real money-maker which is a personal or family business. In many Gulf militaries, the enlisted ranks are drawn from much less priveledged nationals or even foreigners such as Baluchis or other south Asians. This of course makes the officer-enlisted relationship very asymmetric, especially given the position foreign labor has in these countries.

In Saudi, I worked with their Marine Corps. The officers were generally not drawn from the upper crust of Saudi society and the enlisted were nationals. There did not seem to be a great rift between the officer and enlisted corps. Most of the officers were not very tactically proficient, but some, particularly those who had trained or studied in the U.S. or England were very sharp. Their officers did not seem to me to have the air of arrogance that I noticed in some other militaries. The situation could be quite different in the SANG or the Air Force, which have a quite different social structure.

In Oman, which I think has a more egalitarian society than other Gulf states, the NCO corps seemed to have a lot of strong nationals with good bearing. Their officers were generally proud of their military and relatively proficient as well. I think there is a much higher representation of nationals in the enlisted ranks than in UAE and Qatar, which makes officer-enlisted relations more equal.

In Jordan, I had the opportunity to interact with some SOF officers. They were the most impressive I encountered in the region. They were very professional, motivated, and patriotic. I did not get to experience their officer-NCO interaction very much though.

02-17-2010, 01:30 AM

My name is Will Clegg, and I've just joined SWC. I am an academic and journalist with an interest in small wars. Presently, I have two pieces in the pipeline: one about the internal structure of non-state armed groups in the Afghan Civil War, 1978-2001, and another about the use and management of auxiliary forces in counterinsurgency war. I intend to begin doctoral studies about the Firqats raised by the BATT (22 SAS) in Oman in late 2010.

I'm an Australian, though am currently based at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. I write for a magazine, 'Government, Business, Foreign Affairs and Trade' and have a piece forthcoming about Australia's defence-industrial base.

Best wishes, and please get in touch if you have an interest in my work, or you think I might be able to help you.


William F. Owen
05-26-2010, 04:51 AM
To simply say violence is war, and war is a military matter, and the military's job is to crush said violence is the same supervicial analysis from the perspective of the Despot that has lead to many a long, drawnout struggle between a populace and its failed governance.
That is an over simplification of my position. Rebels seek to alter the distribution of power by violence - and other means. The job of the military is to counter that violence. How skilfully that is done pretty much defines how effective it is.

Better instead for Governance to see such movements as the clearest of metrics, the most accurate of polls, and to modify their behavior to the degree practicable to resolve their failures short of simply ramping up the oppression.
That view assumes that the Rebels always have a legitimate point that matches a position the government could take if it wished. That is almost never the case, nor is it ever likely to be.
Rebels rarely, if ever, have a legitimate cause in the eyes of the Government. That is the problem! - Moreover who is to judge legitimacy for the "Jones Model."
The primary purpose of Government is defence of the state. You have a Government so as people cannot set forth policy using violence against the state.
Rebels seek power via violence. You prevent them gaining it, via violence.

Concur completely that AQ is not an insurgent organization. After all, they have no populace, and they have no state.
Yet AQ seeks the re-distribution of power via violence. They have a policy, they aspire to a state, and they conform to a Clausewitian trinity - they do have a populace. People support them. People fund them.
They are clearly strategically inept, so I wonder why we worry so much about them.

What if the instruction given to the military force by its government is to solve the problem by any available means? Shouldn't that force be considering all means, both violent and non-violent, that might have a bearing on solving the problem?

Why should this discussion avoid political devices that might have a bearing on the problem. or be confined to the use of violence?
Well if anyone ever says "solve the problem by any available means" then they are an idiot, because that is not a setting forth of policy. That is the opposite of Strategy. You have to have a policy! That policy set conditions for the employment of force.

In Oman the Sultan, said "defeat the rebels, - so that development can begin."
In most UK insurgencies the basic guidance was "defeat the rebels - so as we can organise the peaceful transfer of power to a democratic political process."

Yes, all instrument of power should be used, but the primary aim should be ending the rebellion, by getting the rebels to give up. Then the politics can kick in.

William F. Owen
05-26-2010, 06:55 AM
And in both of those cases, the populace's position was "throw out the Despot so that we can replace it with govnernace who's Legitimacy we recognize, who treats the populace with Respect; where the people can find Justice under the law; and where once again the people can have Hope."
I submit that historical fact shows the opposite.
In Oman, the populace largely rejected the communist rebels and opted for the rule of the Sultan. - not everyone wants to be a democracy.
UK policy was to divest itself of the Empire. It cost too much money and it gained little strategic benefit. WW2 confirmed the need for the process. In all but 2 cases the planned transfer of power took place on UK terms.

I'm sorry, Great Britain is the best BAD example of COIN theory in the past 200 plus years. Their entire model is based upon sustaining in power forms of government over the populaces of others that recognizes its priority mission being to support the National interests of Great Britain. That, my friend, is not COIN. That is Colonial Oppression.
Again, I submit that is not an accurate version of history. UK Colonial policy varied greatly in time and place. For example, Ireland was offered Dominion status before WW1. The situation in Kenya was very different from Cyprus. The Kenyan insurgency was tribally based and thus not legitimate in the eyes of a lot of Kenyans 15-30,000 died at the hands of the rebels as a result. The Cyprus insurgency was tied to Greek Nationalism, and not legitimate in the eyes of Turkish, etc etc etc.

Now, I will agree with you that the mean used to defeat each particular rebel group, were extremely brutal, but no more so than the means common at the time. I am no advocating brutality. I am advocating the use of armed force to defeat armed force.

07-26-2010, 01:13 PM
I think out of all those people I mentioned, MG (RET) Tony Jeapes is the only one still alive besides Dr Hosmer. He did write a excellent book SAS Secret War about his time in Oman, I was lucky enough to correspond with him via email a very generous and insightful man.


08-06-2010, 08:26 AM
davidbfpo's original
present on the ground were: UK SAS, a large brigade-sized Imperial Iranian force, a Jordanian contingent, mercenary Baluchis from Pakistan made up a good part of the Omani Army and in the air were the RAF, Iranian AF and an Omani AF with a good number of Brits and Rhodesians on contracts.

From 1958-1978 a UK officer was the Omani Armed Forces No.2, a Brigadier Colin Maxwell and a UK loan officer was the Dhofar Brigadier, John Akehurst (who wrote a book 'We Won the War:The campaign in Oman 1965-1975). 'SAS Operation Oman' by Tony Jeapes is another book.

Which led to Jon's comment and question:
Are these the best books on the subject of the Oman campaign? The only one I recall reading that mentioned Oman was one of Andy McNab's follow-ups, IIRC. I'd really like to sink teeth into something with depth, especially now that I have seen that Iranian and Baluchi Paks were involved. How that coalition was formed is of definite interest to me.


It is twenty-five years since I read the two books and IIRC the coalition aspect was not well covered, as the focus was on the Omani effort and the UK role. I think the RUSI Journal had shorter articles. Later I will have a look around and perhaps our UK Army contributors can comment too. Perhaps a new RFI thread? Mulling that over.

08-06-2010, 08:37 AM
This now little known COIN campaign has re-appeared this week, after points were raised on an Afghan COIN thread and Jon Custis has asked about the coalition built in Oman - which won.

08-06-2010, 11:39 AM
Some presentations and papers on the Dhofar War which I have found useful:

Ladwig, Walter. "Supporting Allies in Counterinsurgency: Lessons from Dhofar" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association

http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/1/0/8/2/pages210829/p210829-1.php (sorry for the weird format I do have this in pdf though if anyone wants it)

Talk given to the Bahrein Society by Brigadier Peter Sincock, Brigade Major Dhofar Brigade 1972-74


Edward Ashley collection:


The Insurgency in Oman 1962-76 by Major Stephen Cheney USMC


I would also recommend Maj Gen Tony Jeapes's book SAS Secret War


Red Rat
08-06-2010, 11:52 AM
excluding the SAS never rose above the 300 personnel mark and consisted predominantly of officers on contract to or seconded to the Omani armed forces. Officers were expected to see action and a good 'tick' from an Oman tour, including combat, was viewed very favourably by promotions and postings boards.

Red Rat
08-06-2010, 03:07 PM
Moderator's Note: See Post 19 for a current link to the Grendel Report on the relevance of the Dhofar Campaign to Afghanistan.

Red Rat
08-06-2010, 03:23 PM
Brigadier Akehurst was a British officer who commanded the Dhofar Brigade. We have some of his notes in our archives here which I will try and post up on this thread. He also published a book "We Won A War" We Won A War (http://www.amazon.co.uk/We-Won-War-Campaign-1965-1975/dp/0859550915/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1281108096&sr=8-1)

It is worth drawing attention to the international nature of the SAF. Britain provided an SAS squadron, a squadron of engineers, and some locating gunners as well as loan service and contract officers. Contract officers came from all over the Commonwealth, including even a VC holder from Australia. Jordan provided a Special Forces Battalion and a sapper squadron. Two of the Omani battalions contained mercenary Baluchi soldiers from Pakistan. Pakistan also provided sailors for the Sultan’s navy, and India provided Doctors and other medical personnel. Add to this the Iranians and you have a truly multinational force.

Note that he states "international nature of the SAF" (Sultan's Armed Forces). This implies that even the Jordanian and Iranian elements were heavily incorporated into the structure of the SAF implying a command relationship like the NATO OPCON (Operational Control) at least.

08-07-2010, 11:14 AM
Salaam Aleykum

A good overall look at the campaign is in:
Oman's Insurgencies - The Sultanate's Struggle for Supremacy by J.E. Peterson.

Books on the role of the Omani and Baluch infantry, who did most of the legwork, are:
Muscat Command by Peter Thwaites.

Dangerous Frontiers by Brian Ray

Where Soldiers Fear to Tread by Ranulph Fiennes

An interesting command perspective can be read in:
List The Bugle - Reminiscences of an Irish Soldier by Corran Purdon

The experiences of an Air Despatcher are written in:
The Secret War - Dhofar 1971/1972 by David C. Arkless.

(Amber39 was my callsign for a time during the campaign.)

06-14-2011, 10:06 AM
This 'small war' has appeared on other threads, only with a mention and in particular in the 'what are you reading' thread.

Yesterday this story appeared 'RAF pilots carried out secret raids in Yemen' and for a moment I thought we'd joined the USAF in contemporary raids. No, it was during the Dhofar War:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/8571133/RAF-pilots-carried-out-secret-raids-in-Yemen.html

Hardly a 'small war':
In 1975 a major air offensive, again involving RAF pilots, lasted six weeks destroying ammunition dumps and command and control centres, resupply convoys, gun emplacements and heavy artillery.
More bombs were dropped than by the RAF during the entire Falklands War.

The book cited as the source is Rowland White's book Storm Front:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Storm-Front-Rowland-White/dp/0593064348

Linked to that is an obituary of the RAF pilot / CO involved in Oman when seconded to the Oman AF, in particular his part in the legendary SAS battle at Mirbat in 1972:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/air-force-obituaries/7734339/Wing-Commander-Bill-Stoker.html

Aged only 50, he fell victim to a crippling illness requiring treatment in a nursing home until his death on April 23 this year. Twenty-four years confinement.:eek:

05-26-2012, 09:44 AM
There are parallel threads which have some items on this campaign:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=15471 and: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?t=15619

05-22-2013, 10:51 AM
A "lurker" has identified a hitherto unknown academic dissertation 'The Dhofar War and Its Significance' by a British Army Lt. Col. John McKeown, from 1981, the author was an engineer officer and was able to get officers serving in Oman to talk. The paper is available via, scroll down list to McKeown, it is 140 pgs long, so about 1 Mb and appears to be cited with permission (see copyright notice):http://55fst-ramc.org.uk/FRONT%20PAGES/FP_SOURCES/FP_SOURCES.html

You will note an extensive list of sources on this small war, some of which are not cited in the thread.

The website itself has a primarily medical focus, as the site refers to a thirteen man 55 Field Surgical Team (FST) and on a quick glance has more to offer:http://55fst-ramc.org.uk/index.html

Red Rat
05-23-2013, 08:45 AM
From memory this is the same report as I originally linked to (in substance at least):

The Dhofar Campaign & How Its Lessons Can Be Applied To Afghanistan (http://wdsi.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/the-dhofar-campaign-and-how-it%E2%80%99s-lessons-can-be-applied-in-afghanistan/)

07-14-2013, 01:27 PM
First up, an excellent SWJ article 'Six Requirements for Success in Modern Counterinsurgency', from the Abstract:
In recent counterinsurgency operations, Western military forces have been slow to adapt, and slow to adopt lessons learned in comparable prior conflicts. By undertaking a detailed study of two such conflicts – the Algerian Revolution of 1954-1962, and the Dhofar Rebellion of 1970-1976 – six overarching lessons for success and failure in COIN operations were revealed. In the following essay, these lessons are detailed, informing recommendations for both policy-makers and warfighters engaged in future conflicts of these and other comparable types.


Which has a bibliography, but misses this 2011 book on the Mirbat battle: 'SAS Operation Storm: Nine Men Against Four Hundred in Britain's Secret War' by Roger Cole and Richard Belfield:http://www.amazon.com/SAS-Operation-Storm-Against-Hundred/dp/144472696X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373806113&sr=1-1&keywords=SAS+Operation+Storm

01-06-2015, 07:04 PM
Somehow I missed this book, as have I expect others. It was published in 2007, so thanks for the pointer via Twitter to Dr. Simon Anglim, of Kings War Studies recommendation:
Oman's Insurgencies by JE Peterson

The closest thing to an official history of the Sultan's Armed Forces of Oman, this book shows how insurgencies can be beaten and how a country
teetering on the edge of civil war can not only be pulled back from the brink, but put on the path to success and prosperity. The secret is political leadership honest and courageoous enough to address the real issues feeding an armed revolt not the ones it wants to address, and military leadership capable of applying the minimum necessary force in pursuit of this agenda.

This review points out he was the Omani forces official historian:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/mej/summary/v064/64.1.allen.html

It is available in the UK in print and on Kindle:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Omans-Insurgencies-Sultanates-Struggle-Supremacy/dp/0863564569

In the USA:http://www.amazon.com/Omans-Insurgencies-Sultanates-Struggle-Supremacy/dp/0863564569

Neither Amazon has any reviews.

Contents list:http://jepeterson.net/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/Oman_s_Insurgencies_Table_of_Contents.pdf

02-04-2015, 11:30 AM
Now that would be an interesting 'staff ride':
In July and October 2014 I visited Oman in support of a battlefield tour of Dhofar, which gave me the opportunity to see the ground over which the SAF, 22 SAS and their local allies (the firqat forces militia), the Iranians and the PFLO fought.

A reminder that most of this war was conducted on foot:
The second was to appreciate how tough the terrain was for the combatants, particularly because prior to the arrival of the Iranians in December 1973 the SAF were always short of helicopters. Without an efficient road network the Sultan’s Omani and Baluchi troops – and the British officers who commanded them – often had to manoeuvre and fight on foot.


04-15-2015, 04:06 PM
Another update via Defence-in-Depth (Kings War Studies @ UK Staff College aothors) by Geraint Hughes:
Thanks to the declassification of British government archives under the 30 Year Rule we now have greater knowledge of the covert operations conducted during this conflict, in the form of cross-border raids conducted into the former People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), otherwise known as South Yemen.

He concludes, with my emphasis:
from the documentary evidence available British officials in Oman or London did not expect that the cross-border attacks would have any strategic effect against the insurgency in Dhofar itself. Operation Dhib was ultimately conducted as a limited action to satisfy Sultan Qaboos’ wish to punish South Yemen for backing the PFLO, and in this respect it was a covert operation intended to influence an ally, rather than an enemy.


06-26-2015, 06:55 PM
Actually the source for this has a fuller title: A more complex and conventional victory – revisiting the Dhofar counterinsurgency 1963-1975.

The Dhofar COIN campaign has a special place in British military history, even though at the time it was a virtually unknown war to the British public. Add in the almost unchallenged praise for the SAS, with a focus on the Battle of Mirbat (19th July 1972) – is now a relatively well known public incident. Post-Afghanistan some apparently want to use Dhofar as a model campaign for today rather than the ‘Malayan Emergency’.

So with interest I read an article in ‘Small Wars & Insurgencies’, an international academic journal, in the March 2012 issue, by Marc R. DeVore: A more complex and conventional victory – revisiting the Dhofar counterinsurgency 1963-1975.
Link to journal website:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fswi20#.VY2fLlI0piU
His argument is summarised as:
Only Iran’s direct intervention and post-1973 greater Omani financial resources enabled large-scale offensive action. Previous counterinsurgency lessons proved of only limited vale.
‘Drawing on declassified primary sources, I argue that Oman’s victory was or owes itself to a far more complex combination of factors than is usually acknowledged’.
The one outstanding success was British and Omani psy ops. Notably in the use of Islamism, long before its use in Afghanistan following the USSR’s intervention.
Note the local population was 30k in the 1960’s and 50k by 1970.
The insurgency started locally in 1963 and changed in 1967 when South Yemen (PDRY) emerged following the UK’s withdrawal from Aden. The insurgents renamed themselves People’s Front for the Liberation Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG) and by 1970 had a Marxist agenda, duly supported by China, USSR and others.
PFLOAG set itself the dual tasks of defeating Omani government forces and forcibly reshaping Dhofar society. Helped by being better trained and trained the group controlled 80% of Dhofar province between 1968-1970, with two thousand trained guerrillas and four thousand part-time militia. One helpful factor was that Omani forces were from Northern Oman and Pakistan, who were unacceptable to the local Dhofar population.
In July 1970 a coup replaced the old sultan; this was not popular with the many UK officers who had served him – so they were excluded from the planning.
Local auxiliary forces, known as Firqats were developed from PFLOAG members who had surrendered. By October 1971 there three hundred men involved; they were often not reliable. In one group forty of the sixty-six retired after factional fighting and others refused in an offensive operation to fight during Ramadan to seize a town.
I was not aware that the insurgency involved for long periods – before Mirbat in July 1972 – Yemeni artillery firing across the border and Omani jets (flown by British pilots) hitting back with bombing missions. The UK feared PDRY would escalate, whilst the young sultan was not so concerned. By 1973 PDRY had a greater conventional capability, plus modern Soviet jets in support giving them potentially local air superiority.
In April 1972 a new forward base @ Surfait was established, albeit in an ineffective blocking position vis a vis cross-border supplies reaching the insurgents. In February 1973 PDRY a bombardment stopped all flights and to the rescue came Imperial Iranian helicopters. The British commander of the Omani forces had wanted to withdraw, the sultan did not. The base was regularly mortared and sometimes by PDRY artillery till 1975.
A fixed line, known as the Hornbeam Line was built from late 1972 onwards, with eight company or platoon bases; its impact on insurgent supplies was limited as up to twenty kilometre gaps existed between the bases and only August 1974 were the gaps closed. Another fixed line was also built.
Both sides mutually escalated in 1973. New weapons, including rockets and regular Yemeni soldiers supported insurgent raids and larger British numbers (SAS support, medics, mortar locating radar and advisers) with the Omani forces. Yemeni rocket fire lasted three months, August to November 1973.
In October 1973 Imperial Iran committed fifteen hundred soldiers, then in June 1974 another two thousand four hundred soldiers. A Jordanian SF battalion arrived too. The first Iranian unit used for the first time “free fire” zones to keep open the newly constructed road between Dhofar and Oman.
By the end of 1974 Oman could use eleven thousand soldiers and others in Dhofar: five thousand Omani (including Pakistani Baluch), three thousand Iranians, twelve hundred in Firqats, a thousand British (contract officers, loan officers and regular soldiers) and eight hundred Jordanians.
PFLOAG had six hundred full-time fighters and twelve hundred militia men.
Nevertheless Omani and Iranian forces were still being hurt hard in attacks. By resisting the Omani and allied conventional operation PFLOAG lost too much and became a hollow force. An end to the insurgency was declared by the sultan in late November 1975.

The author concludes:
Acknowledging that conventional offensives rather than traditional counterinsurgency techniques, played the predominant role in winning the Dhofar War is not to argue conventional operations are always the best response to insurgencies. In the July 2012 issue of Small Wars & Insurgencies another author, I.I. Martinez, wrote ‘The Battle of Mirbat: turning point in the Omani Dhofar Rebellion’. He cites that after the battle PFLOAG lost at least 10% of its active members (80-200 dead) and the 2iC was killed. A bout of factional fighting followed, with twenty-five dead, leaders were executed and in the following months large numbers defected.

07-20-2015, 01:38 PM
Prologue from Defence in Depth Dr. Geraint Hughes (cited before):
Last month, I was invited to a workshop at the University of Glasgow on ‘Proxy Actors, Psyops, and Irregular Warfare’. This proved to be a valuable experience, giving me the opportunity to share and debate ideas with fellow academics, and also to develop a strand of research that started with an article I co-authored with Christian Tripodi (http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09592310802571552#abstract) six years ago. Just under a century ago the German sociologist Max Weber observed that one of the essential attributes of a modern state was that it possessed ‘a monopoly of violence’, and that it alone had both the authority and the means to raise and use military and police forces both for external defence and internal security. Yet throughout history governments have raised militias consisting of irregular volunteers to fight internal foes, and the US-led coalitions engaged in campaigns in Afghanistan (2001-2014) and Iraq (2003-2011) likewise raised local surrogate forces against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

On the Oman campaign:
The mythology surrounding the firqats in Dhofar (1970-1975) overlooks the fact that the Sultan of Oman and his British backers ensured that they never outnumbered the Omani military, and that its fighters were armed with nothing heavier than machine-guns and light mortars. The equivocal commitment of this militia to the government’s cause was such that in December 1973 Sultan Qaboos summoned tribal leaders to a meeting in which he berated them for maintaining contacts with the insurgents, and gave them an ultimatum best paraphrased as ‘you are either with me or against me’.
The Omani state and its British allies managed the firqat forces so that they could never be sufficiently strong enough to rebel against the Sultan, and also carefully monitored them for their loyalty. In other conflicts the government side has been less successful in controlling its own militiamen.

08-06-2015, 07:59 PM
From the Obituary for a British Ghurkha officer, whose career in Oman spanned twenty-four years by the look of this:
Soon after retiring from the Army in 1960 he was back in service at the start of a long association with the Sultanate of Oman, where his fluent Urdu and Arabic, learned in addition to Gurkhali, were put to good use. As Deputy Commander of the Oman Gendarmerie he helped to defeat rebels in the rugged and inhospitable Dhofar region and ran the sultanate's navy, sailing dhows as Commander, Coastal Patrol. After Sultan Qaboos came to power in a coup against his father Sultan Said bin Taimur, in July 1970, Vivian served in the Oman Research Department (Intelligence), then as Jebel Liaison officer (Political Officer) in the Jebel al Akhdar mountains. Oman decorated him in 1984 with the Sultan's Distinguished Service Medal.

08-13-2015, 07:32 PM
Just found a note from a 2009 RUSI conference, where a retired British Army brigadier, David Venn (whose career in intelligence included service during the Dhofar War) stated:
By the end of the Dhofar campaign a thousand Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP) had changed sides.I have not seen this figure before, including the Wiki entry and here.

09-01-2015, 10:25 AM
Thanks to twitter I found out that in July 2015 a short, hour long documentary was released and is available to buy or rent via Vimeo:https://vimeo.com/ondemand/operationoman

From the website:
More than 40 years have passed since Britain fought a secret war in Oman. Major Nicholas Ofield has returned for the first time since his involvement in the conflict to retread his battlegrounds and reflect on what the conflict meant personally, and in the wider socio-political context. Supported with rare archive footage and interviews from Colonel Mike Ball and Major Mike Austin, who also fought in the conflict, Operation Oman is the gripping true story of one of the most successful counter-insurgency campaigns ever fought.I just watched the clip 'Kill Group' where Major Olfield recounts firing 1500 rounds from four machine guns and missing five insurgents at 400m range.

Small snag. It may not be available in the USA. They are on offer:http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Operation-OMAN-DVD-2014-/131570220457?

09-01-2015, 10:28 AM
On a tweet by @OperationOman is the photo below:
A Hedgehog. 44 gallon oil drums filled with sand to create a defensive position. Mounted with a Vickers Machine gun


03-07-2016, 12:29 PM
Dr Geraint Hughes, from the blog Defence-in-Depth, refers to Oman in a wide-ranging article:
With reference again to Dhofar, the Popular Front still had a base of sympathisers within the local community even after their formal defeat in December 1975, and the province was by no means 'at peace' even after Qaboos declared the emergency over.

The main article is likely to be added to the COIN thread, maybe a new thread. The cited article alas is behind a link to a "pay wall" and entitled 'Demythologising Dhofar: British Policy, Military Strategy, and Counter-Insurgency in Oman, 1963–1976,' by Geraint Hughes, The Journal of Military History, 79:2 (April 2015): 423-456.
This article re-examines the civil war (1963–1976) between the Sultanate of Oman and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (PFLO), particularly the U.K.’s support of the government. Using archival evidence and private papers, it argues that the counter-insurgency (COIN) campaign’s image as “population-centric” is flawed, and that the British and Omani governments relied more on military measures against the PFLO to recapture Dhofar province than on the “hearts and minds” and civil development programmes emphasised in traditional accounts. It counsels against using Dhofar as a possible example of indirect military assistance in contemporary COIN, arguing that the conflict’s specific historical characteristics may not be replicated now or in the immediate future.


05-09-2016, 03:56 PM
SWJ has an article which uses the Dhofar campaign as an example, with a lot of references, especially to one book: J.E. Peterson, Oman’s Insurgencies: The Sultanate’s Struggle for Supremacy (London, United Kingdom: Saqi Publishing, 2008 (which is cited in the thread).

There alo a reference to a 2011 JSOU report on Oman, which has a chapter on Dhofar:http://jsou.socom.mil/JSOU%20Publications/11-5_Oman_final.pdf Which I don't think is cited here and has not been read beyond the cover.


06-06-2016, 12:25 PM
Contemporary conflicts in the Middle East and beyond find the US and others fighting alongside or with nearby if hostile allies.

So a new short article on the Iranian involvement in the Dhofar, Oman insurgency 1972-1079 is very topical; as the author writes:
At a time when the UK and other Western powers favour a ‘light footprint’ in military interventions, the prospects are that British military trainers and advisors will be working with allies like the Artesh – with armed forces with little if any record of alliance interaction with the UK, and with specific weaknesses such as those originating from the coup-proofing of militaries by regimes.....The Iranians had a steep learning curve to climb. Their initial performance in combat showed that their soldiers often lacked basic infantry skills.....(a British officer in Omani command) noted in December 1976 that ‘without Iranian assistance we would not have won the war’.Link:https://defenceindepth.co/2016/06/06/all-the-shahs-men-the-imperial-iranian-brigade-group-in-the-dhofar-war/

06-10-2016, 02:21 PM
My professor at Fletcher, Dr. Richard Shultz, travelled over to work with the Omani Army in the early Spring and got to get some great stories about their efforts in Dhofar.

07-09-2016, 10:20 PM
An article by Dr Simon Anglim, whose work IIRC has appeared on SWC, possibly on the Dhofar campaign; id'd via Twitter and from the website The Strategy Bridge in 2014:http://www.thestrategybridge.com/the-bridge/2014/12/1/the-oman-djebel-war-195759

He starts with:
The years 1955–1959 brought a major insurgency to the Gulf state of Muscat and Oman which, for a while, threatened the integrity of the Omani state. All the key battlefields were in Northern Oman, within 150 miles of the capital, Muscat, and because this is a mountainous region, Omanis remember it as the Djebel (Mountain) War; in the UK it is referred to usually as the Djebel Akhdar campaign, after its climactic battle. Historically, the Djebel War has been almost completely overshadowed by Oman’s other insurgency, Dhofar 1965–1975, which was longer, bigger, bloodier and far better covered in print. However, the Djebel War sends messages in its own right. It was truly ‘complex’, difficult to pigeonhole as either insurgency or civil war and showing many of the characteristics of both, and at the tactical level mixed battalion-level battles, including sieges of fortified areas, with close air support and bombing of the rebel infrastructure, alongside guerrilla warfare, sabotage and terrorism. As strategy, it illustrates limited military force dealing with a potentially major crisis where larger-scale deployments were unacceptable politically.

SWJ Blog
08-02-2016, 09:01 AM
The Secret War: Intelligence and Covert Operations in the Dhofar Rebellion (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/the-secret-war-intelligence-and-covert-operations-in-the-dhofar-rebellion)

08-02-2016, 10:42 AM
A new Journal article, with many references to sources cited in this thread.

The author cites several times a hitherto unknown article, which has very few references cited, but on a quick read has points of interest:
Monick, S.; Victory in Hades: The Forgotten Wars of Oman 1957-1959 and 1970-1976, Part 2A: The Dhofar Campaign 1970-1976; Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol. 12, Nr 4; Saldanha, South Africa; 1982The author concluded:
Precisely because of its dual COIN-conventional aspect, the lessons derived from the Dhofar war are peculiar to each individual dimension of warfare, as well as being common to both. They are thus both extensive and complex and, to do them justice, detailed discussion is reserved for a succeeding, final paper
(Section B).Link:http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac...e/view/600/605 (http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/600/605)

The SWJournal author does not refer to Monick's 'Section B, which was published in 1983 and it appears the author had written on Rhodesian COIN. It is more concerned with any potential application to South Africa, then in the midst of several campaigns, internally and in SW Africa / Angola.

In his conclusion is one good passage:
This clearly exemplifies a fundamental characteristic of all insurgencies; success is far more dependent upon the reaction of their adversaries (i.e. the established government and security forces) than upon any inner impetus within the revolutionary movement itself.Link:http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac...e/view/591/596 (http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub/article/view/591/596)

01-07-2017, 07:05 PM
Just found a review of 'Dangerous Frontiers: Campaigning in Somaliland and Oman' by Bryan Ray, pub. 2008 by Pen & Sword (UK). Not spotted this before. The author served on 'loan' to Oman 1972-1974, commanding the Northern Frontier Regiment; plus other stints in service.

The reviewer in British Army Review (Spring 2009) writes:
...it is an excellent account of the trials and tribulationss, successes and occasional failures commanding foreign troops - Omani and Baluch - not to mention Iranian Special Forces....

04-10-2017, 09:43 PM
Thanks to a clue on SWJ Blog I have located this extensive book review by Alexander Schade:https://medium.com/@schadeam/applying-counterinsurgency-theory-to-omans-rebellion-d131e3859a22

He writes critically:
The book does not include sources or accounts by the insurgents, nor are there any sources from Omani officers, members of the firqat mixed platoons, or Omani political elite. Whether these omissions were intentional or due to availability, the lack of Arabic sources limits the objective examination of the conflict. One example of an Arabic language source that could have been referenced is Mohammed Said al Duraibi’s The Oman Revolution, published in 2004, which incorporated accounts from insurgent fighters as well as Omani officers during their struggle in the war.Alas this book cannot readily be identified!

He concludes:
Oman’s Insurgencies fills a valuable gap in the scholarly research of the Dhofar Rebellion and is a succinct examination of developing counterinsurgency strategy in a contemporary conflict.

SWJ Blog
04-20-2017, 06:20 AM
Counterinsurgency Strategy in the Dhofar Rebellion (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/counterinsurgency-strategy-in-the-dhofar-rebellion)

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/counterinsurgency-strategy-in-the-dhofar-rebellion) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).

SWJ Blog
04-20-2017, 06:20 AM
Counterinsurgency Strategy in the Dhofar Rebellion (http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/counterinsurgency-strategy-in-the-dhofar-rebellion)

This is a Journal article by Captain Alexander Schade, submitted forthe Small Wars Journal and Military Writers Guild Writing Contest.

11-03-2017, 10:09 PM
In the latest British Journal of Military History Geraint Hughes (a familiar name on this thread) has a new article Amateurs Who Play in League Division One’? Anglo- Iranian Military Relations During the Dhofar War in Oman (http://www.bjmh.org.uk/index.php/bjmh/article/view/196)

It is 21 pgs. and has numerous references to pursue.

Are there lessons to be learnt, the author argues there are.

01-12-2018, 06:07 PM
An overview of this war by a Malaysian author. It is quite interesting as a commentary on fighting similar wars today.

What was a surprise was this passage, which I have never seen referenced before:
The SAF also sought to subvert PDRY support for the rebels by sponsoring proxy guerillas in the desert region on the Yemeni-Omani border. In early 1969, Britain’s MI6 intelligence service managed to persuade the nomadic Mahra tribe, which inhabited the region, to launch an anti-communist revolt to disrupt PFLOAG supply lines. The Mahra, combining nomadic raiding skills with British supplied modern arms and Land Rovers, attacked the forts that the PFLOAG depended on for their supply lines. The Mahra did extensive damage in the enemy’s rear and relieved pressure on the SAF. By 1972 the Mahra were being led by SAS personnel, and kept an estimated four PDRY battalions occupied by the end of the war.The author cites as his source Marc DeVore, The United Kingdom’s Last Hot War, 455-456, in the journal Small Wars & Insurgencies , which I read and posted a summary in Post 24, in 2015 and missed this.


Update: DeVore was referring to two sets of sets of private papers in the footnotes, which have now been id'd.

01-13-2018, 02:31 PM
I’ve long considered this rebellion most relevant to courses of action to defeat the TB in AFG. Alas, Pakistan’s proximity and degree of support tilts the situation.

01-13-2018, 02:52 PM
I’ve long considered this rebellion most relevant to courses of action to defeat the TB in AFG. Alas, Pakistan’s proximity and degree of support tilts the situation.


There is now ample writing that the Omani Sultan remained in charge, with initially UK support and then a wider coalition. One must wonder is the GIRoA in the same position today. Or is there an Afghan consensus to cease the war, which IMHO is no longer going to include defeating the Taliban?

01-13-2018, 04:04 PM
The realist in me says that “defeat” is no longer in the cards.

07-02-2018, 11:31 AM
In an old Post No.28 in 2015 I referred to a new documentary being made available for payment. I missed looking at their website till today (due to a post in another, new thread).

The website has five short clips and their YouTube arena has more.

Note YouTube has nine hundred hits on Dhofar War!

Finally cross-border raiding is mentioned in part of the website; it involves Nick Downie, who was ex-SAS and on contract to Oman. Here is a quote:
By that time I was a contract officer in SAF, charged with fomenting insurrection among the tribes of S Yemen. I commanded a unit of Yemeni exiles (bedouin) and we lived on the edge of the Empty Quarter. On one raid, we captured a substantial fort, 80 miles across the border. After the garrison surrendered, I filmed a bit of the action, before blowing it up with 1,100 lb of gelignite. This was three times more than was necessary. The fort literally vanished.

06-12-2019, 08:19 PM
Id'd today whilst looking for very old Rhodesian personalities; the author is Professor Clive Jones, of Durham University and was published originally in the journal 'Small Wars & Insurgencies' and available via a link to the university library. As yet not fully read.

The Abstract:
This article examines the role military intelligence played in the Dhofar campaign between 1970-1976. Drawing on an array of sources, it examines not only the crucial role played by military intelligence in prosecuting a successful operational campaign against a Marxist inspired insurgency, but equally, the importance that intelligence played in consolidating the Al-Bu-Said dynasty when across Oman and Dhofar itself, the material benefits to be had from the discovery and production of oil had yet to be realised.


His other article still has no web link alas: Jones, Clive. (2011). Military intelligence, tribes, and Britain’s war in Dhofar, 1970-1976. Middle East Journal. Vol, 65, No.4, p.557-574. A quick search cannot find an open access edition.