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Old 03-13-2015   #1
CrowBat
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Default Few 'Small Wars' - in Africa

Hope, nobody is going to mind me drawing your attention at the following titles, all of which are related to 'Small Wars'.

Since few years, Helion Publishing (UK) is running a book series titled Africa@War. Dedicated to in-depth coverage of post-WWII African military conflicts, campaigns, battles, or 'just' certain military services, this series has so far resulted in release of about 20 volumes. Each is 96 pages in DIN A4 format, and richly illustrated (lately in full colour).

Between titles released about two weeks back are two by your very own:

- Wings over Ogaden, which is a very detailed (and richly illustrated) history of coming-into-being of Ethiopian and Somali air forces, of their equipment and training, and their air warfare during Ogaden War, fought in 1977-1978.

Of particular interest during the work on this project was a series of interviews with participants from both sides. While Somalis were nowhere near as 'talkative' as Ethipians (who helped even with some of their official documentation), what they all provided is a unique insight into differences in training methods provided by the USA and the USSR to 'Third World' allies at the heigth of the Cold War.

Results of that training came out as a quite unpleasant surprise for the Soviets, and might still surprise quite a few - even more so because it was 'common knowledge' since decades that Northrop F-5E Tiger II and MiG-21 'never met in combat'.

Well, they did, and the outcome of their battles was decisive for the outcome of this war too.

- http://www.amazon.com/Libyan-Air-War...r Wars, Part 1 is the first in a mini-series (three volumes are in making) covering aerial conflicts over Libya, but also several neighbours (foremost Chad, of course).

Part 1 is therefore somewhat of an 'introduction'. It's centred around a reconstruction of the build-up of the Libyan Arab Air Force during the 1970s, their lessons learned from the short war with Egypt (1977) and the first series of US-Libyan clashes, in 1981-1983 period. Subsequently, this conflict was 'transferred' to Chad, where Libyans found themselves confronted by the French in 1981-1985 period.

Once again, particularly interesting experience from working on this project was meeting and 'chatting' with some of participants. It never stops amazing me what kind of surprises are most of them able to provide - and how 'things' start making sense once they do so.

For those with interest in even more recent, 'post-Cold War' African conflicts, of particular interest might be two earlier of my titles published in this series:

Great Lakes Holocaust: Fist Congo War, 1996-1997

Great Lakes Conflagration: Second Congo War, 1998-2003

These are two chronologies and studies of military aspects of the Congolese Wars fought between up to a dozen of different African nations in the DR Congo, with some 'heavy leaning' on the use of air power too.

But that all said, my drive when working on projects of this kind is always to find out what were the motives and reasons for conflicts, what were all involved parties intending to do, what were they capable of doing, what did they use, what were their experiences, and why. I'm always striving to get approach to 1st hand sources too. Although 'oral history' approach to subjects of this kind is never yielding '100% perfect' results, it does offer original insights of participants. Foremost, it's explaining how 'they' saw their situation, reasons and experiences. Thus, there is plenty of 'lessons learned' in all of these volumes, always obtained from 1st-hand sources.

In that sense, Adrian Fontanellaz and me are also working on something like a 'prequel' to the story of Congolese Wars, namely the title Rwandan Patriotic Front, which is to cover military aspects of the Rwandan Civil War of 1990-1994, and then the emergence of the Rwandan Patriotic Front in particular...

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Old 12-23-2015   #2
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Two additional titles from Helion's Africa@War series became available these days:

Wars and Insurgencies in Uganda, 1971-1994



This volume is detailing the military build-up in Uganda through the 1960s and 1970s, but also that in Tanzania during the same time. Of course, much to this happened 'against the backdrop' of Idi Amin Dada seizing power in a military coup and then rulling his country into a state of chaos. But, instead of repeating the usual exercise of explaining Amin's 'politics' and 'rule', we've attempted to track the further development of Ugandan military through these years, and compile a very good order of battle for it as of 1978.

The first part of this book 'culminates' in a very detailled narrative about military operations during the Kagera War (also 'A Just War', or 'Liberation War'), fought between Uganda and Tanznia, 1978-1979, which ended with Tanzanians advancing all the way to Kampala and further north - and this inspite of an ill-fated Libyan military intervention.

The second part of further tracing the almost continuous armed conflict in Uganda of 1981-1994, which became renowned for emergence of several insurgent movements notorious for incredible violence against civilian population. Some of 'offshots' of groups in question - foremost the notorious 'Lord's Resistance Army' remain active in central Africa to this day.

This volume is illustrated with a unique selection of photographs, colour profiles, and maps, describing the equipment, markings, and tactics of the involved military forces.

**********

Very much related to the wars and insurgencies in Uganda is the next volume in this series: Rwandan Patriotic Front, 1990-1994



For most of us, the Rwandan Civil War quasi 'began' with the well-known genocide of 1994: although plenty of documentation and at least as many publications are meanwhile available, not one of these attempted to describe military aspects of this conflict before that tragic event.

Actually, this war began already on 1 October 1990, when hundreds of Banyarawanda militants that served with the Ugandan Army deserted their posts to form the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and invaded Rwanda. The 'how comes' is described in step-by-step fashion - actually starting already in the volume 'Wars and Insurgencies in Uganda', mentioned above - beginning with in-depth descriptions of Rwandan political, military and security development.

As the title suggests, we've paid plenty of attention to research and reconstruct history of the RPA from its emergence as a small-scale insurgent group formed from the ranks of Rwandan refugee diaspora in Uganda; its military organization, operations and related experiences during nearly four years of war against the Rwandan government; and its establishment of control in Kigali, in July 1994. Nevertheless, we've paid a lots of attention at reconstructing operations of the former government's military too; then, IMHO, these provided plenty of 'lessons learned' for COIN warfare.

Call me biased (and I certainly am), but I found it very interesting to resarch, study and summarize the military story behind the emergence of modern-day Rwanda (and its military) - which, IMHO, strongly influenced developments in a number of other modern-day African wars.

Combined with 'Wars and Insurgencies in Uganda', this volume is also offering a prequel to nearly all of the subsequent wars in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo - and in neighbouring Burundi.

'Rwandan Patriotic Front' is illustrated with about 150 photographs, colour profiles, and maps, describing the equipment, colours, and markings - but also tactics of the RPF and its opponent/s.

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

The third title that came out was published within Helion's newest 'Middle East@War' series, and was very long in waiting (originally planned for publishing last year in June, and actually delivered on time for that): Syrian Conflagration: The Syrian Civil War, 2011-2013.



The first two chapters of this volume are offering a summary of the Syrian military and security build-up since its independence, but particularly so since Hafez al-Assad's ascent to power, in 1970. There's a big order of battle of the Syrian Arab Army as of early 2011, with a break-down down to brigade- and (as far as known) battalion levels, and a similar oder of battle of the Syrian Arab Air Force for the first two years of this war.

Rest of the book is providing a detailed insight into regime's - and then insurgent - military operations through 2011 and 2012, and then what we now know was something like the 'early phase' of IRGC-QF's (i.e. 'Iranian') military intervention in Syria, in 2013. I've attempted to provide coverage of degeneration of the original insurgency into a host of very different umbrella organizations and groups too, and thus the volume is ending with a sort of 'catalogue' of various beliguerents as of late 2013 and early 2014.

As usually, this book is illustrated with about 120 photos, colour profiles, maps and diagrams.

If anybody has any further questions about any of these, any of earlier, perhaps also about some of coming volumes, feel free to contact me.

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Old 01-14-2016   #3
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Another new book recently published (should be available in the USA too, meanwhile), is
Arab MiGs, Volume 6: October War 1973 (Part 2)



This volume is a kind of 'culmination' of nearly 10 years of intensive work on 'Arab MiGs' - a project that evolved into a history of Arab air forces at wars with Israel (and elsewhere), in period 1955-1973.

Published back in October 2014, Volume 5 offered an in-depth insight into preparations of these air forces for the October 1973 War, i.e. their build-up, training and combat operations in period 1971-1973, and then the first three days of the October 1973 War. Volume 6 covers operations of Arab air forces during the rest of that conflict, and until the cease-fire between Israel and Syria, signed only in May 1974.

As usually, the volume starts with an Addenda/Errata to earlier books from this series, offering additional information that became available in the meantime (often in reaction to publications of earlier volumes).

The first two chapters of Volume 6 describe combat operations on Egyptian and Syrian 'fronts' from 9 until 13 October 1973. AFAIK, this is the first time ever that this air war is described to such detail and within its general context, explaining the story not only in relation to ground warfare, but also explaining inter-relations between specific aerial operations. For example, the Israeli strike on the Syrian Army HQ in Damascus is not described from the point of view of few involved Israeli pilots, but starting with the Israeli attack on Lebanese radar station at Jebel Barouch, early on 9 October. The rest of the story is primarily based on Syrian sources, and revealing plenty of new details about how the Israelis managed to reach Damascus after all, and how they took Syrian air defences by surprise. Thanks to cooperation from several Syrian sources, there are plenty of details about the actual outcome of this operation too.
Another example would be descriptions of 'other air bridges' run by different air forces during this war. Namely, the US-run air bridge to Israel is well known; at least some general details about the Soviet-run air bridge were available so far too. But, never before has anybody published anything about Algerian and Iraqi air bridges to Egypt and Syria, for example. Of course, these were no 'massive' nor 'flashy' operations of C-5s and similar aircraft - but they are still worth mentioning.

We've added lots of 'boxes' to this volume, and used them to explain additional related affairs. One is providing details on the Israeli 'nuclear blackmail' in Washington, and whatever information we were able to collect about availabilty, numbers, and even shapes of Israeli nuclear weapons of the early 1970s. Another is detailing the backgrounds to appearance of Dassault MD.620 Yericho surface-to-surface missiles in Israeli arsenal, and SS-1c Scud-B missiles in Egyptian arsenal.

Namely, one thing that might surprise many is that both of these affairs de-facto dictated much of what was going on in the air over Egypt in October 1973. This was so because Israelis were so concerned about Soviets arming Egyptian Scuds with nukes, that they did their utmost to destroy Egyptian air defences in Port Said area - the only part of Egypt west of the Suez Canal from which Scuds could reach central Israel. Therefore, the IDF/AF flew thousands of air strikes against targets in that area, and the EAF responded with SAMs and interceptors, resulting in days-long air-to-air and air-to-ground battles.

Related to these affairs was also the story of 14 October 1973. This day is most famous for the supposed 'all out offensive' of the Egyptian Army aimed to lessen Israeli pressure upon Syria. Well... cross-examination of publications and documentation from both sides has revealed that there was no 'all out offensive' at all, and certainly no 'biggest armour battle since Kursk'. Actually, the Egyptians launched only a minor show-operation - but both sides were then more than happy to exaggerate the scope of this out of any proportions (each for their own purpose, of course). In turn, and expanding their 'area denial' operations in Port Said area, Israelis then launched their famous raids on el-Mansourah and Tanta air bases in Nile Delta - prompting Egyptians to claim up to 17 Phantoms shot down, and subsequently declare this date for their Day of Air Force...

Next chapter is detailing the Syrian 'burnout' during the second and thrid week of the war (they've really 'spent' most of their military early during that conflict); Israeli Operation Dominique (little known 'strategic' campaign against Syrian economy and communications network); and the final Battle for Jebel Sheikh. Another chapter is describing final days of the war on Egyptian front, including EAF's 'mass' air strikes on Israeli bridgeheads over the Suez Canal. One thing that surprised me a lot while we were finalizing our work on this volume was the high number of very authoritative accounts about air battles between Egyptian, Iraqi and Syrian MiG-17s - yes: MiG-17s - with Israeli Mirages and F-4s we've collected over times. Most of these are far more detailed, and better supported than majority of Arab accounts about air combats involving MiG-21s. Without revealing too much, let me also observe that not only MiG-17s, but also MiG-21s proved much more survivable to combat damage than usually assumed.

Final chapter is dedicated to 'post-war' combat operations, particularly so on the Syrian front. The volume is rounded up by a total of four Appendices, including one providing scans of log-books of EAF pilots; one with additional details on training of Iraqi pilots in former Czechoslovakia; and - for example - a big one detailing authentic camouflage colours and markings of dozens of Arab aircraft deployed during this war...

Overall, this really became a sort of 'what I ever wanted to read about air warfare in October 1973, but never found anywhere else' - volume. Call me biased (and I certainly am), but I'm very happy with its final content and look.

It's also the last (planned) book from Arab MiGs series: I'll not say 'never again', but subsequent story of Arab air forces is neither that of '-MiGs', nor as coherent as during the period 1955-1973 (plus, the entire team of involved authors needs some rest after all of these years of often exhausting and intensive work on this project).

***********

PS For those who wonder: yes, the colour profile on the cover is showing an Iraqi MiG-21MF with a 'kill marking' for a claim (remains unconfirmed) against an Israeli Mirage, over Jebel Sheikh/Mount Hermon, on 22 October 1973. BTW, the same MiG went on to serve during the Iran-Iraq War too, and was later decorated by a 'kill marking' for an Iranian F-4 too...

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