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Old 01-04-2008   #1
davidbfpo
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Default A mixture

Moderator's Note: JMA started this thread and I copied some threads to this thread, they were mainly from the Rhodesian COIN thread and a few others.

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

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

Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-10-2010 at 02:04 PM. Reason: Copied from another, old thread and Mod's note added
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Old 07-01-2010   #2
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I shall refrain from commenting on Rhodesian UDI, a "pet" subject of mine.

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

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

Would the 'Fire Force' concept fit an earlier stage or period in an insurgency and staying with the Afghan context - when the Taliban were returning. Even in those northern provinces now where they have taken hold.
I guess you follow the ROE and then the restrictions on air support. But here's a group that good work on flat dessert like terrain.

Koevoet Tactics

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

Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-10-2010 at 02:05 PM. Reason: Copied to this thread from elsewhere
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Old 07-02-2010   #3
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Default You are missing the most vital point..

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

Koevoet Tactics

Koevoet operations were devoted to tracking groups of SWAPO fighters who were on foot. Their tracks were picked up in various ways, but most often from:
Patrols of areas favoured for crossing by SWAPO fighters.
Information from local inhabitants.
From areas surrounding a recent attack.
Once a suspicious track was found, a vehicle would leap-frog ahead a few kilometres to check for the same tracks, and once found, the other vehicles would race up to join them. Using this technique they could make quickly catch up with the guerillas who were travelling on foot. The technique borrows strongly from experience gained during the Rhodesian Bush War.
The trackers were so skilled at their art that they could provide very accurate estimates on the distance to the enemy, the speed at which they were travelling and their states of mind. They were able to do this by "reading" factors such as abandoned equipment, changes from walking to running speed, reduced attempts at anti-tracking or splintering into smaller groups taking different directions ("bomb shelling").
Once the trackers sensed that the SWAPO fighters were close, they would often retreat to the safety of the Casspir armoured personnel carriers to face an enemy typically armed with RPG-7 rocket launchers, rifle grenades, AK-47s, SKS carbines and RPK and PKM machine guns.
Koevoet members were financially rewarded through bounty system, which paid them for kills, prisoners and equipment they captured. This practice allowed many of the members to earn significantly more than their normal salary, and resulted in competition between units.[6]
Whilst Koevoet were a SAP unit, the trackers, and a lot of the troops, were not White South African. They were either indigenous SW Africans recruited directly, or captured and turned terrorists / insurgents. For this 'idea' to ahve any utility for AFG one needs to explain :

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

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

Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-10-2010 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Copied to this thread from elsewhere
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Old 07-02-2010   #4
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Whilst Koevoet were a SAP unit, the trackers, and a lot of the troops, were not White South African. They were either indigenous SW Africans recruited directly, or captured and turned terrorists / insurgents. For this 'idea' to ahve any utility for AFG one needs to explain :

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

I am reminded of Sir Michael Howard's description of the use of military history without context as being akin to pornography... I believe that selective cherry picking of 'examples' is just as gratuitous and possibly even less useful.
Not at all.

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

Why introduce the race angle?

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

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

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

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

Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-10-2010 at 01:59 PM. Reason: Copied to this thread from elsewhere
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Old 07-09-2010   #5
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Default South Africa's COIN war in SWA/Namibia/Angola

Little attention seems to have been paid to this small war in south-west Africa. There are lessons to be learned for historians and serious soldiers.

Lets start here:

THE NAMIBIAN BORDER WAR: AN APPRAISAL OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN STRATEGY
Dr Leopold Scholtz
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Old 07-09-2010   #6
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Default Looks like we may get ...

a South African small wars course. So, professor, will the teaching methodolgy be Sandhurst or West Point ?

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

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

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

Mike

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

Quote:
His strategic principles were the following:

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

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

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

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

· Unity of effort: All means and instruments available should be effectively integrated into one consolidated effort. Government departments should not make ad hoc decisions which are not properly integrated into the central war effort, and this applies not only to military steps, but also those in the political, psychological, economic and organisational realms. This principle, when read together with the writings of Beaufre, was the foundation of the P.W. Botha government’s much maligned Total Strategy.
So, McCuen was a realist, who realized that the military struggle (violence with some conversions) and the political struggle (conversions with some violence) had to be integrated, co-ordinated and subordinated to the policy which drives both the military and political efforts (as to which they are "merely continuations"). Giap was emphasiing the same points in his teachings before and during the time that McCuen taught them - ironic that they were on opposite sides.

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

Last edited by jmm99; 07-09-2010 at 09:13 PM. Reason: add PS
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Old 07-10-2010   #7
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a South African small wars course. So, professor, will the teaching methodolgy be Sandhurst or West Point ?

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

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

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

Mike
None of the above.

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

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

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

What the military did was to adopt a COIN strategy which went as far as they humanly could given the political restraints and because the required safe haven the insurgents thought they had in Angola was being dominated by South African/Unita alliance it was probably close to a situation where South Africa could have achieved a military victory.
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Old 07-10-2010   #8
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So, McCuen was a realist, who realized that the military struggle (violence with some conversions) and the political struggle (conversions with some violence) had to be integrated, co-ordinated and subordinated to the policy which drives both the military and political efforts (as to which they are "merely continuations"). Giap was emphasiing the same points in his teachings before and during the time that McCuen taught them - ironic that they were on opposite sides.

In any event, neither McCuen nor Giap were "Johnny One Notes".
I can find no areas of disagreement with what McCuen writes. A good man, wonder why the US don't use him more?

His article Hybrid Wars I found to be excellent and it is worth a read.

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

McCuen three golden rules:

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

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

●Winning and maintaining support for the war on the home front(s) and in the international community. Doing so means maintaining legitimacy and avoiding losses through incompetence.
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Old 07-10-2010   #9
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Default McCuen briefly

McCuen's book, The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War, is available at Hailer Publishing as a reprint (good reprint; not expensive).

Niel Smith (Cavguy) has read it, but of more importance COL McCuen was a particpant in a closed forum involving Niel - as he reported with a PM from McCuen, posted here Jack McCuen.

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

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

Regards

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Old 07-10-2010   #10
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McCuen's book, The Art of Counter-Revolutionary War, is available at Hailer Publishing as a reprint (good reprint; not expensive).

Niel Smith (Cavguy) has read it, but of more importance COL McCuen was a particpant in a closed forum involving Niel - as he reported with a PM from McCuen, posted here Jack McCuen.

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

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

Regards

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

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

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

For information, I spent a lot of time in the '70s reading and rereading Robert Taber's "The War of the Flea" . Made a lot of sense then. Need to reread it again to see if I still feel that way.
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Old 07-10-2010   #11
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Default McCuen Thread

Hello JMA

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

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

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

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

Cord Meyer et al had similar supplantation or co-optation concepts, but (unfortunately IMO) never got them to first base because of Colonel King et al.

Regards

Mike
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Old 07-14-2010   #12
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Default Visual aids: Koevoet

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

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

There are other books on Koevoet, notably those by Peter Stiff, a trilogy on the war(s) fought; The Covert War (2005), The Silent War and Warfare by Other means (2001). The books are not without controversy, nor cheap.
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Old 07-15-2010   #13
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Default Koevoet video

Another video can be found here

This one seems to have been staged for the video but gives some idea how they operated. Being policemen and not soldiers the contacts were even more chaotic than normal but they did the business with a not so great kill ratio 25:1
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Old 07-15-2010   #14
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Default Further McCuen

COL McCuen and COL Gentile faced off in Dec 2009 in a couple of Tom Ricks' pieces:

A challenge for COINhata Gentile, Thomas E. Ricks Friday, December 4, 2009 (counterpoint by McCuen to Gentile's Parameters article).

COIN (III): Do not go Gentile into that good night, Thomas E. Ricks Monday, December 7, 2009 (response by Gentile to McCuen's counterpoint).

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

The Center of Military History has an online book (588 pp.), Birtle, U.S. Army counterinsurgency and contingency operations doctrine, 1942–1976 (2006), which covers the waterfront pretty well.

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

Regards

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Old 07-16-2010   #15
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Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
Moderator's Note: JMA started this thread and I copied some threads to this thread, they were mainly from the Rhodesian COIN thread and a few others.

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

They Live by the Sword: 32 Buffalo Battalion (of the SADF) by Col. Jan Breytenbach (fighting in Angola & SW Africa; very different to Selous Scouts)
It is of interest that 32 Battalion was raised from members of the FNLA (one of the anti-communist movements in Angola which lost out to the MPLA when the Portuguese withdrew from Africa. There has got to be interest in how this force was put together by the South Africans and turned into such a ruthlessly efficient force. Lessons learned applicable generally but specifically in the African context.

Books (in print):

32 Battalion: The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit - Piet Nortje

The Buffalo Soldiers: The Story of South Africa 's 32 Battalion 1975-1993 - Jan Breytenbach

32 Battalion website here
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Old 08-08-2010   #16
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Default London book launch: SADF Pathfinders

Came to my in tray via a BSAP History email; alas I cannot attend being in the French Alps.

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

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

Contact: steve@30degreessouth.co.uk

Website:www.30degreessouth.co.uk
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Old 08-08-2010   #17
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Came to my in tray via a BSAP History email; alas I cannot attend being in the French Alps.

UK Pathfinders will also be present, with a display.

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

Contact: steve@30degreessouth.co.uk

Website:www.30degreessouth.co.uk
A central character in this book on the 44 Brigade Pathfinders is the then WOII Peter McAleese, ex Brits Paras, ex Brit SAS, ex Angola, ex Rhodesian SAS, ex 44 Para Brigade and other civilian work.

Was on the same static line para course has him in Rhodesia and served later with him at 44 Brigade. Above all else... a fine soldier.
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Old 08-08-2010   #18
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Default Peter McAleese: small world

JMA said:
Quote:
A central character in this book on the 44 Brigade Pathfinders is the then WOII Peter McAleese, ex Brits Paras, ex Brit SAS, ex Angola, ex Rhodesian SAS, ex 44 Para Brigade and other civilian work.
Small world, Peter McAleese wrote a good, small book 'No Mean Soldier' ten years ago and he was then living in Birmingham, with detours to Algeria. He ran a few pubs near where I worked then.
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Old 08-08-2010   #19
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JMA said:

Small world, Peter McAleese wrote a good, small book 'No Mean Soldier' ten years ago and he was then living in Birmingham, with detours to Algeria. He ran a few pubs near where I worked then.
If you were in town on 16 Sept you would see him there (still lives in Birmingham).

BTW I heard on the same day at the same place (earlier) Stuart Tootal's new book is also to be launched.
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Old 08-12-2010   #20
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Default Book reviewed

Book review, thanks to the BSAP email:http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.ph...ews&Itemid=141
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