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Thread: Rhodesian COIN (consolidated thread, inc original RLI)

  1. #181
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Not sure how much following that link clarified matters for you.

    The envelopment of a target area was often not quite that. If the Fire Force comprised a K-Car and 3 G-Cars (3 x 4 man sticks) with 20 paras (5 x sticks) following the a Dak (Dakota-DC3) one could rarely seal off an area. The trick was to get a complete and detailed briefing from the call-sign on the ground and select the likely escape routes given the line of approach of the aircraft. The troops in the para-Dak would then be dropped in a cultivated field somewhere close by and ferried in closer by chopper. The Allouette III was great as it could get into a tight LZ and you had to get the pilot, the fuel line or the tail rotor to really put it on its ass.

    There was a lot of skill required by the Airborne Commander and the K-Car pilot (the senior pilot) to work the deployment to its best tactically.

    I never heard of the paras being dropped in a stop line on the ground where they stayed. It always required movement or ferrying to get into position. And the need for paras was only there because there were not enough choppers to lift enough troops in.

    Later in the war there was a increase in the number of choppers through South Africa sending in (I think) 27 choppers and crews so the 'Jumbo' Fire Forces were established (jumbo only in the Rhodesian context) with two k-Cars and 5 G-Cars each with a para Dak (DC3) and two Lynx (Cessna 337 Skymaster) aircraft. The second K-Car was normally what was termed and alpha-fit where insted of the 20mm cannon there were four .30 Browning MGs side mounted. The alpha-fit was actually more lethal than the 20mm cannon because when there was tree cover the rounds would explode on contact with very little resulting penetration and when the ground was soft the rounds would penetrate fractionally before exploding with the resultant limited shrapnel spread. (A 7.62mm minigun would be similar to the alpha-fit)
    30mm is the soft sand is having the same problem. While wonderful for top attack on armored vehicles, a M134 would be much better for what we find ourselves doing now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvan View Post
    30mm is the soft sand is having the same problem. While wonderful for top attack on armored vehicles, a M134 would be much better for what we find ourselves doing now.
    What incidence of stoppages are found with the M134?

    With the Alpha-fit (4 x .30 Brownings) if one gun had a stoppage it was not the end of the world as the remaining three were still pretty good. With the 20mm if it had a stoppage then you had nothing.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Rhodesian photos plus

    I know there are a number of Rhodesian history sites, a few appear scattered in the threads and this link came via BSAP History email: http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums...r-Phtotographs

    It is mainly a collection of photos, with copies of contemporary articles from SOF magazine and elsewhere. There are hundreds of photos and I've only dip sampled a few pages.
    davidbfpo

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    There is also this site, the New Rhodesian Forum:

    http://www.newrhodesian.net/

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Own Goals

    This is a small privately published book, Own Goals: national pride and defeat in war: the Rhodesian experience, by Roger Marston. It is available via Amazon: UK link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1...r_mts_prod_imgand USA:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/189...r_mts_prod_img

    Attached is my review. I open with:
    Roger Marston’s short book (193 pgs) is a good read and as Zimbabwe marks thirty years of independence the passage of time has enabled a fuller picture of what happened to Rhodesia. It will be difficult reading for some, not just Rhodesians, but those who admire her military performance – in a bloody insurgency campaign (1971-1979).
    Closing with:
    For me the author is on less certain ground when he writes in the concluding chapter ‘So what?’ that other settler countries need to learn those lessons – Israel and the USA. It would be an interesting subject for staff college discussions – the “ghost” of the last Rhodesian military commander, General Peter Walls, lives on today in Western COIN campaigns, discuss.
    Attached Files Attached Files
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    This is a small privately published book, Own Goals: national pride and defeat in war: the Rhodesian experience, by Roger Marston. It is available via Amazon: UK link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1...r_mts_prod_imgand USA:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/189...r_mts_prod_img

    Attached is my review. I open with:

    Closing with:
    David, I have ordered this book and will comment once read. Do you believe his comments are supported by in depth research?

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    Default Q&a

    David, I have ordered this book and will comment once read. Do you believe his comments are supported by in depth research?
    JMA,

    Yes, I first met the author a long time ago when I was looking at Rhodesian history.
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    JMA,

    Yes, I first met the author a long time ago when I was looking at Rhodesian history.
    I have got it (in ebook form) read it and its twaddle (sorry to say).

    Will do a review for amazon over the next week.

    Why I asked if you knew this guy was that I had a hunch that he was carrying some psychological baggage from his time back in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and reading his screed seems to confirm it. Sad to see he has been lecturing at Sandhurst for many years. Hope not in any critical area. He seems to have decided on his opinion and then pulled some snippets out of history to supposedly prove his point. Would have failed the exercise where I come from by situating the appreciation. Not good at all.

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    Default Check the thread 'What is presence patrolling?'

    In the last few days some posts have appeared on What is presence patrolling? about the Rhodesian Fire Force concept and body counts. Specifically posts: 158, 161-165. Note the last refers to a Fire Force concept evaluation exercise in North America currently.

    I decided to create a new thread: Moving the Rhod. Fire Force concept to Afghanistan and please check there: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=10742.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-27-2010 at 04:06 PM. Reason: Updated as I changed my mind!
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  10. #190
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    Default White Crosses

    Sirs

    As an ex-RLI Trooper, too naughty to promote, I'm hoping I may add a few thoughts from the bottom of the pile on the Ant Farm? We had an interesting experience at the end of the Rhodesian war, when the Brits arrived to check that we weren't scaring the general population with our fierce looks, just before that farce of an election held in 1980. We were very impressed with the Hercules transports you all showed up in, but couldn't work out the logic of placing a giant white cross on the nose of the aircraft so that everyone, including a peasant with a rifle, had something nice and visible to aim at. And we aimed at your white crosses a lot . . . When the Rhodesians politely suggested (ahem), that sticking such an obvious aiming point on the front of said aircraft was perhaps not wise, and that perhaps it should rather be on the tail so that anything aimed at it will whizz behind the moving Herc, the surprising response was, “Don't tell us what to do, we have flown all over the world.” This incident became rather infamous inside Rhodesian circles as an “obvious” sign that the “Brits don't really know what they're doing.”

    I raise the point, again if I may, for the following reasons. It seems to me that while the Big Ants here are busy having a “Who's got the Biggest . . ” discussion, poor Johnny Bravo seated at the rear of your pretty Hercules has had his life placed at greater risk, because of the wanton stupidity of someone who didn't think about where to paint his white cross, and then wouldn't admit his mistake. It also seems to me that the discussion on Fire Force and why it isnt happening in Afghanistan has equally gone the way of the Herc - We got the cross in the wrong place, we wont admit it, we wont move it, and when questioned we'll use words like, “It wont work, it cant be done, it costs too much, what cross are you talking about, what's a helicopter, and who the £*$! cares about little Johnny Bravo anyway?”

    Rhodesians were great at kill rates, and bloody awful in the Hearts and Minds department. In fact the only thing we knew for certain about Hearts and Minds was how to shoot them. This aside, if we are discussing the relevance of the application of over-whelming vertical force within the Afghan theatre etc, then Fire Force was a good example of how to up a kill rate. Rhodesian culture is what made Fire Force work. While you lot plonked sanctions on us, our country grew to have the second largest industrialized economy on the African continent. Our dollar was worth US2.00 at the end of the war! The same ingenuity that made the economy do amazing things was applied to how we do everything else, including how Fire Force was designed to meet our needs, using what we had available. We are a “can do” people, when faced with a problem we “Make a Plan” (words that form a saying we use), we are of Pioneering stock, reinforced by British, yes British, and Dutch, and German, and French and even Portuguese skills and ingenuity, and we are taught from a very early age to look for simple solutions to problems and not to get overwhelmed by the sight of the problems themselves. A lot of the discussion held here is coming from people who “have flown all over the world,” telling everyone, some in a sarcastic manner, why FF wont work, cant be done, it's too scary, it might kill people, its really gonna annoy the ROE inspectors, and we might even get rockets fired at us etc. Also with genuine respect, Rhodesia had plains, and mountains, and caves, and green zones, and so on and so on (I actually found the pics really interesting, thank you, looked like Bulawayo . . . I hated Bulawayo!) We worked in many similar environments, including the nasty thick stuff inside Mozambique, and we would get dropped at the top of the hills, not on the open ground of the plains. Did you really think we were idiots? Actually, attacking terrs hiding in caves was a Rhodesian sport . . . but I digress,

    May I humbly suggest, and again without sarcasm or any intent to embarrass, that perhaps leaving the cross where it is, and re-engineering the entire Hercules so that the cross magically appears where the tail used to be is also the wrong way to go? And may I ask on behalf of little Johnny Bravo the following:

    1. How long are you going to make me drive around in a snatch landrover, or patrol with no expectation of an air-strike within 45 minutes, nor have any chance of a quick uplift in the event that I get hurt?
    2. When can I expect to be able to direct 20mm canon fire to within 5 meters of my own position if needed and on very short notice?
    3. When will I be able to call in an air-strike from a light aircraft that goes everywhere I go, buzzes around for hours, and attacks within minutes of my request being made?
    4. When can we expect Terrence to discover that fighting aggressively merely gives his position away, and that he will be quickly surrounded and so severely smacked from all directions that he thinks twice about being naughty again?
    5. When, God forbid, can I expect to be Medevacked (Casevacked) and flown off to see a pretty nurse within 7 minutes of receiving my injury?
    6. And when will some of the Big Ants accept that Rhodesians fixed many of YOUR obvious problems just with what they had, without over-engineering the solution, without fancy kit, and all of this well over 30 years ago?

    I am sorry sirs, but it's embarrassing to see all the hand wringing from those who have “flown all over the world.” China, YOU PUT YOUR £$%^&* CROSS IN THE WRONG PLACE. FIX IT!

  11. #191
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Interesting post, lot of valid points

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodesian View Post
    Sirs
    But I'm not and was not a sir -- I did get promoted -- but only 'cause I managed to stay alive all over the world before and after there was a Fire Force. Still never got to the 'sir' level...
    the surprising response was, “Don't tell us what to do, we have flown all over the world.” This incident became rather infamous inside Rhodesian circles as an “obvious” sign that the “Brits don't really know what they're doing.”
    Surprising and disappointing display of arrogance and willful ignorance (as opposed to real ignorance). Brits are bad about that, so are we Americans all too often. No excuse for that, shame on 'em.
    ...Fire Force and why it isnt happening in Afghanistan has equally gone the way of the Herc - We got the cross in the wrong place, we wont admit it, we wont move it, and when questioned we'll use words like, “It wont work, it cant be done, it costs too much, what cross are you talking about, what's a helicopter, and who the £*$! cares about little Johnny Bravo anyway?”
    Could be. I don't see it that way but discussion boards are an imperfect communications medium. I missed anyone saying any of those things, particularly that last and there are enough people here who have worried about a bunch of Johnny Bravos and are worrying about them as we comfortably write back and forth on a board to make that a comment in rather poor taste .
    This aside, if we are discussing the relevance of the application of over-whelming vertical force within the Afghan theatre etc, then Fire Force was a good example of how to up a kill rate.
    Totally agree but I don't think we were. Rightly or wrongly, that hearts and minds BS permeates UK and US society and political thought -- and therefor, military action. Now. Hasn't always been that way and likely will not be at some time in the future, everything goes in cycles...

    Our emphasis, no matter how misplaced, is not on the kill rate for most of the force. For that small part where that is emphasized most of your concerns are met but no more details make it into print than did some Fire Force or other Rhodesian actions at the time of the ops, that all tumbles out later.
    Rhodesian culture is what made Fire Force work.
    Excellent point and I totally agree. No question about it. Be nice if modern western types had some of those attributes. Unfortunately, times and mores change and we mostly -- not all -- don't nowadays. Kids from Liverpool and Los Angeles are not going to react the same way nor are senior Army types from Surrey or Kansas. That doesn't even address the fact that you guys did a great job of cutting the BS and bureaucracy to fight an existential war while we are flooded with an almost Byzantine bureaucracy, BS in ten pound bags and fighting, lackadaisically, a minor war of choice. We don't have to be there and most everyone knows it. That makes a difference. A huge difference.
    A lot of the discussion held here is coming from people who “have flown all over the world,” telling everyone, some in a sarcastic manner, why FF wont work, cant be done, it's too scary, it might kill people, its really gonna annoy the ROE inspectors, and we might even get rockets fired at us etc.
    I didn't see all that much sarcasm but agree with rest -- only pointing out that the guys who would have to do it (except for the helicopter jockeys who really do tend to worry with good cause about RPGs up tail pipes) are not the ones who have those concerns; it's their nominal civilian bosses back in the States and Whitehall. I didn't see any suggestions re: what to do about that...
    LIST {omitted}... I am sorry sirs, but it's embarrassing to see all the hand wringing from those who have “flown all over the world.” China, YOU PUT YOUR £$%^&* CROSS IN THE WRONG PLACE. FIX IT!
    I won't respond to your list by item. I will merely point out that what you folks did in one war against one enemy in one place at one time in one set of circumstances was great, it really was. However IMO trying to apply it almost verbatim to another war fought by other people with differing political rules and parameters in another time and place is just as surprising and disappointing a display of arrogance and willful ignorance (as opposed to real ignorance) as were the RAF with their crosses.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodesian View Post
    We were very impressed with the Hercules transports you all showed up in, but couldn't work out the logic of placing a giant white cross on the nose of the aircraft so that everyone, including a peasant with a rifle, had something nice and visible to aim at.
    Perhaps that might have been because a white cross was the agreed recognition symbol for Operation Agila, the Commonwealth ceasefire and elections Monitoring Force in Rhodesia?





    Since the reason for having the symbol was so that locals wouldn't fire on aircraft and vehicles, there's every reason to have it on the nose--where it hopefully gets seen before they fire--as well as on the tail, where it gets seen after they've shot.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  13. #193
    Council Member Rhodesian's Avatar
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    Since the reason for having the symbol was so that locals wouldn't fire on aircraft and vehicles, there's every reason to have it on the nose--where it hopefully gets seen before they fire--as well as on the tail, where it gets seen after they've shot.
    I remember a Brit Bobby on a truck ranting, "They cant do this, they cant do this," just after his vehicle got rocketed and shot up by a few terrs who didnt bother with things like "agreed recognition symbols." We armed him after that, at his request

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhodesian View Post
    Sirs

    As an ex-RLI Trooper, too naughty to promote, I'm hoping I may add a few thoughts from the bottom of the pile on the Ant Farm?
    Howzit?

    Was in your 2 Cdo in ’73 then after commissioning was in 3 Cdo. Good to see you still have the same fire in your belly which made the RLI what it was.

    Of course it hurts bad that even though we killed them as fast as they pushed the cannon fodder over the border we were overtaken by the political events of the time.

    When Carter was elected in the US the Brits saw their chance to slap down this little rebel state that had declared UDI and humiliated Britain in the eyes of the world and especially the Afro-Asian block. Back to the war.

    As to Hearts and Minds the RLI had very little opportunity to do that stuff from about ’77 onwards as it was either fire force ops or external ops and patrols on Mozambique and Zambia. And of course the kind of troopie who gravitated to the RLI was not the type to hand out sweeties and soccer balls anyway.

    The Rhodesian fire force kill rate was magnificent especially when we finally concentrated our helo resources and created the Jumbo fire forces with 2 gunships, 5-6 troopers, a Dak and two Lynxs. While we culled them like it was going out of fashion remember too that we lost 31 of our own in 1979 alone. We took the weapons and left the bodies and probably understated the kills as there was no longer a point to prove. The Selous Scouts pseudos relied on body count as they got a bounty per dead gook. Good luck to them.

    Sanctions were a great motivation in that it brought innovation in the military as well in in commerce, manufacturing, mining and agriculture. In the Air Force they were fabulous with what they achieved. The locally made bombs (Golf-bomb, Alpha-bombs and the Frantan (napalm) were outstanding weapons and yes they worked with the South Africans on much of this. We in the army had to make do with what we had and what a victory it was when I managed to get 8 H-frame Bergens issue to the commando so when we did patrols in Mozambique we had a decent pack to carry our stuff. My first set of chest webbing was put together by the cobbler at the QM store based on SKS webbing a gook no longer needed with FN pouches he stitched on. Then before you know it Faraday’s was selling chest webbing and before we knew it we were the only army who bought their own webbing from Camping Supply Shop in downtown Salisbury.

    The fire force as a concept is the application of the principles of war; Surprise, Offensive Action, Concentration of Force and Cooperation, all suddenly and violently on one small piece of terrain occupied by the enemy. To achieve this we used helos as a gun-platform and as means of delivery troops into contact. If there were 10, 15, 20 gooks or more sitting in one place the idea was to involve them all instantly in the contact through being engaged by airstrikes while the troops were put on the ground to close with and kill them.

    In Rhodesia we used what we had and adapted to our situation in terms of terrain and enemy and went for maximum kills per contact. In another theatre such as Afghanistan there may be other means of achieving the same aim. Sadly it appears that they have more (politically imposed) constraints that hinder many possible tactical application of the fire force concept. Yes there are the faint hearted among them that may even be secretly happy that these constraints are in place. But you can be assured that there are plenty plus US and Brit kids as young as we were back then who would be up for a modern fire force version even more violent due to the weapons and stuff available today. And like in our day there will be plenty of young helo pilots who will take their chances with RPGs as our young pilots did back then.

    One assumes that there is a nice reward for RPGs being handed in by the locals and surely masses of booby trapped RPG rockets (explode on firing) are being fed into the Taliban supply chain?

    What one needs to sift through at this stage is whether respective militaries are champing at the bit under these political restrictions or are at least some happy and secretly thankful to take cover behind these restrictions?

    The Taliban have got this thing sewed up. The ROE are such that there is no possibility of a re-run of the Rhodesian Style fire force in Afghanistan. Not going to happen as long as they have got this hearts and minds thing so ballsed up. And yes its irritating to hear people go on about the RPG as if it is the greatest weapon ever invented. But speare a thought for the US Joe and the Brit squaddie who are probably just as keen as you or I to get stuck in. We could, they can't.

    But you are correct in a number of things. Back then in the lates 1970s we were far ahead of the game in terms of many aspects. CAS in those days was C.L.O.S.E. People don't believe it today when you say you called in an 19 gal Frantan (naplam) strike at 20m, then with a 37mm SNEB strike the "twirler" lands safely behind you. The yes then the 5m away 20mm gunship strike puts some shrapnel in the ass of one of your riflemen from a tree burst. So don't expect too much appreciation of how close was close back then. But remember that the guys who put that strike right on the button time after time were youngsters like you and I whose dad had probably flown Spitfires for the Brits during WWII.

    We were 20-30 yerars ahead on individual medical training and casevac because we had to be. Did you know that I went through our old 3 Cdo 1977 photo with Chris Cocks the other day and we found that fully 34% of the people in that photo had been either KIA or seriously wounded by the end of the war. We had to get the medical side right. Remember too that the added value in a quick casevac was to get the rest of the callsign back into the contact ASAP. Head wounds, sucking chest wounds and arterial bleeding needed immediate attention on the ground but for the rest, get them on a chopper and out of there. Funny thing about contacts where we took casualties. Seemed we took very few prisoners on those days.

    Ken has some wise words on this. I'll try to translate into English for you. Correctly he states that Rhodesians were fighting for the very existance of their country, their way of life and everything they held dear. It was the end game. That is why Rhodesian 18 year olds were able to pull enormous reserves of courage and endurance and innovation from within to achieve such results against seemingly impossible odds. This is not the same for the troopies in Afghanistan.

    Oh yes, the monitoring force. In 3 Cdo we knew just how to welcome them to Rhodesia. See below the 3 Cdo welcome at Kotwa airfield 1980.


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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post


    . But you can be assured that there are plenty plus US and Brit kids as young as we were back then who would be up for a modern fire force version even more violent due to the weapons and stuff available today. And like in our day there will be plenty of young helo pilots who will take their chances with RPGs as our young pilots did back then.

    Correctly he states that Rhodesians were fighting for the very existance of their country, their way of life and everything they held dear. It was the end game. That is why Rhodesian 18 year olds were able to pull enormous reserves of courage and endurance and innovation from within to achieve such results against seemingly impossible odds. This is not the same for the troopies in Afghanistan.
    Aren't you contradicting yourself here? Are you implying US and UK soldiers in Afghanistan aren't trying their best within the political and tactical constraints they are operating under?

    The point it's not just the ROEs or the motivation (which I doubt is lacking), many people in this thread have pointed out technical and tactical reasons too. The way you go on about it you would think you guys had invented the wheel or something. Fireforce was obviously very effective at that place and time, but again as others have pointed out other militaries have used variations on the theme before eg. the US Army Eagle Flights and USMC Sparrowhawk forces in Vietnam. Helicopter-borne quick reaction forces have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan too, obviously not quite in the same way.

    Finally, while Rhodesia operated under some major disadvantages, as Wilf posted above you had some advantages too- operating on your own territory, able to gather intelligence far more easily, without the constant and sometimes debilitating scrutiny of the politicians and media, without the need to keep a coalition of nations together, without the need to satisfy the whims of a host/client government. There are certainly lessons to be learned from the Rhodesian experience, and you are undoubtedly correct about some of the major mistakes the NATO governments and militaries have made. But we've been through this numerous times before.
    Last edited by baboon6; 07-01-2010 at 12:06 PM.

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    Default two caveats, and a suggestions

    While I don't want to divert this thread into a political discussion, it is worth pointing out that, in at least two ways, the high Rhodesian kills rates achieved against ZANLA and ZIPRA were politically problematic.

    First of all, the military success achieved against black nationalist guerillas appears to have blinded many in the the Rhodesian government to what had been perfectly obvious since 1965: that, in the end, the Rhodesian experiment with white minority rule was doomed to eventual failure. By delaying the point of implementing one person, one vote it ended up weakening Rhodesian negotiating power (which would have been far stronger in, say, 1967 than it was at Lancaster House, by which time Rhodesia had become almost universally reviled). At the same time the war actually strengthened ZAPU and ZANU relative to other potential political forces in the country (much as the wars in Vietnam, Algeria, Mozambique, or Yemen strengthened the Viet-Minh, FLN, Frelimo, and NLF/YSP).

    Second, Rhodesia's external operations—while hugely successful in a narrow military sense, with kill rates of up to 3000:2 in Op Dingo—also served to weaken rather than strengthen the country's international position, and thereby increased external pressure. Certainly those in the international anti-Apartheid movement at the time saw them as a political godsend, facilitating efforts to paint Rhodesia as a rogue, racist state.

    While there's no doubt that ISAF ROE could be tweaked in a variety of useful ways, the political reality is that if ISAF started racking up similar kills rates, greater civilian casualties, and conducting major raids into Pakistan it would have the effect of undermining US domestic and international support for the counterinsurgency, weaken Karzai, alienate Pakistan, and probably increase Taliban recruitment rates. As Wilf and Ken are inclined to remind us, the military is an instrument of policy, and wars are fought in a context. There's no point undertaking operations that win battles at the cost of losing the broader political-military struggle.

    On a side issue, might I also suggest that we start referring to the black Zimbabweans killed in the war as ZANLA, ZIPRA, "black nationalist guerillas," or something else a little more appropriate than terrs and gooks? SWJ has always frowned on the use of "gooks" for the Viet-Cong, "ragheads" or "hajis" for Iraqis or Afghans, "wogs" in the former British Empire, "kaffirs" for blacks, "stücke" or "figuren" for Jews and gypsies, etc,—regardless of whether such derogatory terms were in common use in theatre by the troops of the day.
    Last edited by Rex Brynen; 07-01-2010 at 02:43 PM.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Also, despite the Fire Force's high kill rates, wasn't the rate of infiltration towards the end of the war far exceeding this rate? Didn't this lead to the effective abandonment of most of the countryside to the insurgents by 1978, and indeed this was simply recognition that the insurgents had already broken down Rhodesian government authority in those areas?

    If any of this is inaccurate, please let me know.

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    Default Times change...

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Yes there are the faint hearted among them that may even be secretly happy that these constraints are in place. But you can be assured that there are plenty plus US and Brit kids as young as we were back then who would be up for a modern fire force version even more violent due to the weapons and stuff available today.
    True -- and not just the kids, many of the older people as well. However, I think you answered your own question:
    What one needs to sift through at this stage is whether respective militaries are champing at the bit under these political restrictions or are at least some happy and secretly thankful to take cover behind these restrictions?
    Some of the latter, many of the former. So it has always been. In every Army.
    People don't believe it today when you say you called in an 19 gal Frantan (naplam) strike at 20m, then with a 37mm SNEB strike the "twirler" lands safely behind you. The yes then the 5m away 20mm gunship strike puts some shrapnel in the ass of one of your riflemen from a tree burst.
    A lot of folks from Viet Nam can recall Nape right on top of their position and 2.75 Rockets spewing Nails at them. They'll all believe you.
    Ken has some wise words on this. I'll try to translate into English for you. Correctly he states that Rhodesians were fighting for the very existance of their country, their way of life and everything they held dear. It was the end game. That is why Rhodesian 18 year olds were able to pull enormous reserves of courage and endurance and innovation from within to achieve such results against seemingly impossible odds. This is not the same for the troopies in Afghanistan.
    That's noty exactly what I said. In your case the NATION was committed to an existential war. In our case today that is not true; quite the opposite, it's a war many object to and that affects what the Congress, the civilian policy makers and even the senior military leadership can do. The troop capability to do good things is little diminished and that only insofar as western society has changed in the last 40 years.

    The kids will do what they're allowed to do and chafe because they cannot do more.

    Forty years? Wow! you're old...

  19. #199
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default

    There are also parallels to the 9th ID's operations in lower III Corps and IV Corps under Julian Ewell in '68 and '69. Ewell shifted his division to a heavy use of H&I fires, night helicopter operations (to include snipers and .50 caliber MGs on the birds), and sweeps (both riverine and land-based) that relied on heavy firepower. It was also widely rumored (and confirmed on a couple of occasions as I recall) that he rated his subordinate commanders (battalion and up) based on their body count reports. As a result, the 9th ID's kill ratios climbed, but the number of recovered weapons (considered a better indicator of enemy casualties by many) dropped drastically. Ewell ended up defining his operations based on what he called the exchange ratio (friendly losses versus reported hostile KIA numbers) and goes into this in some detail in Sharpening the Combat Edge. Some reports referred to the division HQ as "bloodthirsty" and obsessed with body counts.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  20. #200
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Heh. Yep, I remember that flap...

    OTOH, the Brigade I was with in '66 had two brags. They had not been in their Base Camp in over 300 days and they had a higher weapon count than body count. Different strokes...

    Unfortunately, body counts can get get corrupted in the name of propaganda. Oops. I mean PsyOps, Information Warfare, Influence Operations or something...

    When I went back in '68, I was visiting a nearby unit's TOC and noticed a Body Count of 800 some of and a Weapon Count in the low hundreds. I asked some skeptical questions and got what amounted to a shoulder shrug. The idea really got corrupted by us in Viet Nam and thus it is a no-no for us today. However, Ewell was right -- so was JMA -- in that the ratio is the important thing. Today, the troops keep score, even if units do not.

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