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Old 05-17-2007   #1
sullygoarmy
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Default Oman / Dhofar campaign: catch all

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:

http://www.amazon.com/SERVICE-SULTAN...9427177&sr=8-1

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.

http://www.amazon.com/SAS-Operation-...9427177&sr=8-1
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Old 05-31-2009   #2
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Default Oman campaign

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)

SAS Secret War: Operation Storm in the Middle East. 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)

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.

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Old 05-31-2009   #3
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Default Historical items

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/...ead.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...49-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?

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Old 06-25-2009   #4
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Default Arab Militaries

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.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-06-2010 at 12:11 PM. Reason: This post copied here from elsewhere to assist current RFI and reading on background.
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Old 02-17-2010   #5
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Default Oman campaign

G'Day,

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.

Will

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Old 05-26-2010   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
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.
Quote:
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.
Quote:
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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
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.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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Old 05-26-2010   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
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.

Quote:
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.
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- The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
- If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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Old 07-26-2010   #8
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Default SAS Secret War

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.

Kelly

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Old 08-06-2010   #9
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Default Oman campaign: coalition reading

davidbfpo's original
Quote:
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:
Quote:
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.
Jon,

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.
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Old 08-06-2010   #10
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Default Oman campaign

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.
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Old 08-06-2010   #11
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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_m.../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

http://www.bahrainsociety.com/Dhofar%20War.pdf

Edward Ashley collection:

http://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/mec/MEChand...Collection.pdf

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

http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...t/1984/CSA.htm

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

http://www.amazon.com/Sas-Secret-War.../dp/0004708997

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Old 08-06-2010   #12
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Default The British Contribution

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.
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Old 08-06-2010   #13
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Default Blog Report

Moderator's Note: See Post 19 for a current link to the Grendel Report on the relevance of the Dhofar Campaign to Afghanistan.
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Old 08-06-2010   #14
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Default Akehurst Perspective

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


Quote:
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.
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Old 08-07-2010   #15
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Default Books on the Dhofar Campaign

Gentlemen
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.)
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Old 06-14-2011   #16
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Default Dhofar Province, Oman

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/worl...-in-Yemen.html

Hardly a 'small war':
Quote:
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-.../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/obit...ll-Stoker.html

Note:
Quote:
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.
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Old 05-26-2012   #17
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Default Updating

There are parallel threads which have some items on this campaign:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=15471 and: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=15619
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Old 05-22-2013   #18
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Default A "goldmine" on Dhofar's small war

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%20PAG...P_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
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Old 05-23-2013   #19
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Default Updated Link

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
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Old 07-14-2013   #20
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Default More to read and ponder

First up, an excellent SWJ article 'Six Requirements for Success in Modern Counterinsurgency', from the Abstract:
Quote:
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.
Link:http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art...nterinsurgency

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-...peration+Storm
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