Manage episode 356385199 series 2885055
After years of strategy and diplomacy, the protagenists in this war had moved firmly from attacking the opponents strategy and diplomacy as the first phase to a new phase where victory apparently lay in only one outcome - destroying the enemy’s army. More material, more heavy weapons, actions and reactions.
Things were becoming more bitter, and the South African government was up against the wall. They had decided to take a few leaves out of the books of dictatorships like General Galtieri’s Argentina and developed death squads and torturers comprised of police and civilians. They were known as the Civil Cooperation Bureau and some would join SADF Special Force Operations from the end of 1985.
As you’re going to hear, the professional soldiers in the Recces and 32 Battalion regarded these civilians and police as amateurs in the art of war.
Particularly as the ANC’s MK were now targeting white civilians for special attention. The PAC were also changing their targets. In October 1985 a chicken farm near Bushbuck Ridge in the eastern Transvaal, today’s Mpumalanga, was attacked by men armed with AK47s. Landmines were being laid by the dozen inside South Africa.
In December a bakkie carrying families was traveling on the Farm Chatsworth, 45 km west of Messina, when it hit a landmine. Six died, four children and two adults, two children and three adults were injured.
A farmer and his wife were shot dead in a night of attacks outside Uitenhague in the Eastern Cape. The PACs armed wing APLA claimed responsibility.
But first, back to the ground war in the western theatre, Angola.
FAPLA supported by the Russians and Cubans, began their annual attack on UNITA in early 1986 and South African special forces were on the ground working with the rebel movement monitoring and sabotaging.
One of the Recces was Koos Stadler, who’s book on Small Team missions behind enemy lines is an exceptional document. It was first published in 2016 and for training and operational insights, it’s first class.
In the western Theatre, 32 Battalion launched Operation Gomma on 18th March 1986, where four reconnaissance teams were sent to gather information about the bridge at Cuito Cuanavale and the surrounding area.