Across Africa in the post-1956 era, the aspirations of African nationalists to secure power were boosted and quickly realized by the British, French and Belgian hasty retreat from empire. The Portuguese, Southern Rhodesian and South African governments, however, stood firm and would be challenged by their African nationalists. Influenced by the Communist bloc, these nationalists adopted the 'Armed Struggle'. In the case of Rhodesia, the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU), led by Joshua Nkomo, took this step in 1962 after their effort to foment rebellion in Rhodesia's urban areas in 1961-62 had been frustrated by police action and stiffened security legislation. Rhodesia's small, undermanned security forces, however, remained wary as Zambia and Tanganyika had given sanctuary to communist- supplied ZAPU and Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) guerrillas.
The Rhodesians had foreseen that the northeastern frontier with Mozambique would be the most vulnerable to incursions because the African population living along it offered an immediate target for succour and subversion. The Portuguese were not seen as a bulwark as they were clearly making little progress in their counter-insurgency effort against their FRELIMO nationalist opponents. The Rhodesians were fortunate, however, that ZAPU and ZANU chose to probe across the Zambezi River from Zambia into the harsh, sparsely populated bush of the Zambezi Valley.The consequence was that the Rhodesian security forces conducted a number of successful operations in the period 1966-1972 which dented insurgent ambitions.
This book describes and examines the first phase of the 'bush war' during which the Rhodesian forces honed their individual and joint skills, emerging as a formidable albeit lean fighting force.
At any given time, there are at least half a dozen conflicts taking place in Africa, from civil strife and brutal insurgencies to full-blown conventional wars. Yet, apart from the grand campaigns and battles of colonial yesteryear—Omdurman, Isandlwana, Spioenkop et al—little is known outside the Dark Continent of the plethora of brushfire wars that occur with monotonous regularity. Following the Second World War, with the colonial powers—Britain in particular—looking to divest themselves of their burdensome empires, the ‘winds of change’, fuelled by the Cold War, swept through every nook and cranny of the continent. From Algeria to South Africa, from the Congo to Kenya, the continent literally erupted in conflict. Butchery and barbarism, under the guise of Black Nationalism, became bywords of African insurgencies; the tactics of terror, so espoused by Chairman Mao, one of the principal backers—in competition with Soviet imperialism—of African liberation movements, became standard operating procedure.
Africa—the continent that gave the world ‘pseudo’ counterterrorist operations as developed in Kenya to combat the Mau Mau, the Rhodesian Fireforce concept, radical innovations in vehicle mine-proofing, South African armour which fought the Cubans to a standstill at Cuito Cuanavale in the largest continental tank battle since Alamein, MiG and Mirage dogfights over the skies of Angola—is not all doom and gloom: it is as rich in its cultural diversity as it is in its martial traditions. Apart from a colourful array of liberation movements, mercenaries, brigands, pirates and terrorists, the cast includes such legendary units as the King’s African Rifles, the Portuguese Flechettes, the French Foreign Legion, the Rhodesian Selous Scouts and SAS, and the South African Recces, 32 Battalion and Koevoet.
Africa@War, a ground-breaking series, studies Africa’s post-1945 conflicts and military players in an informative and entertaining manner, examining some of the lesser known campaigns and shedding new light on some of the better known operations.
“Africa@War is a ground-breaking series concept, studying Africa’s conflicts and military players in an informative and entertaining manner, examining some of the lesser-known campaigns and shedding new light on some of the better-known operations … great models of what the combination of authors and publishers can produce by way of useable case studies for the market place in a concise illustrated format. They are recommended as professional military education references.” Charles D. Melson, Chief Historian, U.S. Marine Corps
"Each of the books in this series is a well-documented and researched synopsis of the events that they are focused upon. They layouts and presentation are logical and of a very high quality ... As an introduction to this field of operation, this series is outstanding. A definite asset for those wishing to improve their knowledge and understanding of the development of successful, multi-faceted doctrine in the fight against insurgent/assymetric war."
Major Chris Buckham, Royal Canadian Air Force Journal
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