Login |  
..:: Home ::..
 
You must be logged in and have permission to create or edit a blog.
 

 

 

Categories
 

 

 

Tags
 

 

 

Search the Blogs
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

Only Registered Users of War In Angola that have subscribed to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP will have access to their own WarBlogs. For more information on the Premium Membership, click here...

 

 

If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

Only Registered Users of War In Angola that have subscribed to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP will have access to their own WarBlogs. For more information on the Premium Membership, click here...

 

 

 

 

View the selected Blog
Apr 19

Written by: Jim Hooper
2011/04/19 12:28 AM  RssIcon

This was my first article on UNITA, published in the INTERNATIONAL DEFENSE REVIEW 1/1989. The conditions and situation described are as it was in 1989...
Map of AngolaIn the 13-year-old civil war in Angola the Soviet and Cuban-backed MPLA government has repeatedly gambled that it can destroy Jonas Savimbi's US and South African-backed UNITA movement. Each gamble has involved meticulous planning and tens of thousands of conventional troops supported by tanks, jet fighter-bombers and helicopter gunships. Each has failed.
This year (1989) the Cubans are raising the stakes yet again with an unprecedented build-up of forces along the borders of the 225,000km2 rebel-controlled territory in south-eastern Angola. But if UNITA is wor­ried, there is little sign of it. From UNITA's headquarters in Jamba to the Benguela railway there is such an air of determination and confidence among the scarred guer­rilla fighters that one wonders if they are bluffing or have a deck of aces up their sleeves. When asked the well worn ques­tion "Can you hold without the South Afri­cans?" they bristle ever so slightly and come back with their own well worn ans­wer. From Savimbi down to his most junior and worshipful acolyte it is the same:
UNITA forces halted and threw back previous Soviet and Cuban-planned offensives without the South Africans. Further, with their present strength in men and advanced - though unspecified - hardware, they are better prepared than ever before to do so again. Only Brigadier Wambo Kasitu, UNITA's chief of intelligence, deviated slightly. "We haven't been sitting still," he declared enigmatically in good American.  

 CIA connection

Part of that confidence may be due to the fact that CIA has not sat still, either. At a remote base near the Benguela railway line, the underside of the table bore the stencilled legend: MILAN BOX CORP. MILAN, TENNESSEE - AMMUNITION FOR CANNON WITH EXPLOSIVE PROJECTILE. Sitting at the table was a group of UNITA soldiers playing cards. Each card carried the silhouette of a NATO or Soviet warplane and the crisply lettered words:
Aircraft Recognition Cards. To Be Distributed to US Army Training Aids Centers.
A South-African-made Samil 100 crosses the Lungue-Bungo River in northern Mexico Province.Among visiting journalists, all of whom love the hint of a conspiracy, rumours are rife of American-speaking whites accidently encountered In the environs of Jamba, while the Americanese spoken so fluently ("I learned it in school; come on, let's hit the road,") by many UNITA officers brings wry smiles to those ever on the lookout for the "Company" connection. It is already common knowledge that the Agency is delivering quantities of the deadly Stinger anti-aircraft missile, as well as advanced anti-tank weapons, from the US-built airstrip at Kamina In Zaire. What other goodies may be arriving is open to speculation, but conventional wisdom suggests there are more aces in the shipments than might be found in a deck of Aircraft Recognition Cards.
Speculation that Savimbi might shift UNITA's headquarters from Jamba in southeastern Angola to a point closer to the Zairean border and the CIA supply routes is dismissed out of hand. He explained that the population within "free Angola" is "100 per cent for UNITA and can play an important role against an offensive. The people in the north are not 100 per cent for us. Also, if the Cubans and FAPLA try to attack us here they must cross a lot of open terrain where we can use our missiles to the best advantage. We will not move."
A Cuban Vietnam
Recent Cuban-MPLA victories over strategically and politically important towns along the Benguela railway line are dismissed with shrugs. It is quickly pointed out that these crumbling ex-Portuguese settlements — particularly Savimbi's birthplace of Munhango — have regularly changed hands over the years, just as positions were repeatedly won and lost by the Americans during the Vietnam War.
This dismounted tank from a diesel bowser serves as a refuelling point for UNITA trucks moving along logistics lines toward the Benguela Railway.Indeed, once the situation is seen at first hand, the Vietnam analogy and the difficulties faced by the Soviet- and Cuban-advised MPLA army become glaringly obvious. Like the Americans in South-East Asia, they are waging a conventional-style war against an increasingly sophisticated will o' the wisp guerrilla army that enjoys over two decades of bush warfare experience. And the Angolan troops they support appear every bit as moribund as the South Vietnamese soldiers the Americans, with increasing frustration, supported with massive quantities of arms and material, yet forever failed to mould in their own political image. History goes round and round, and it would appear that neither Marxist nor capitalist theologies are easily translatable into Third World lexicons.
While UNITA lives easily off the land à la Viet Cong, MPLA forces must rely on food flown from major bases to the nearest airstrip and then convoyed through hostile and unfamiliar terrain. If UNITA is to be believed, these convoys seldom arrive unscathed; mines and ambushes take a steady toll. Air-delivered supplies are even riskier. From one of UNITA's forward positions I watched as Angolan-piloted helicopters attempted to land at Cangonga with food and ammunition and pick up wounded. Heavy mortar and rocket fire from hidden UNITA positions quickly drove them away. In response to their calls for help, MiGs taking off from Luso (Luena) were reported approaching the area at an altitude of 3,000m. The threat of Stingers, however, sent them another 3,000m higher, from where their bombs were scattered inaccurately and harmlessly a mile away.
Troops inspect the remains of a Soviet Mi-8/17 helicopter gunship by UNITA at Munhango.On the other side, supplies appear to move steadily, albeit laboriously, in trucks, along UNITA’s version of the Ho Chi Minh Trail - hundreds of miles of tortuous dirt tracks through dense bush and forest that stretch from Jamba in the far south-east of the Benguela railway line. None of these, according to UNITA, has ever been successfully attacked by MPLA forces. Although UNITA guerrillas operate throughout almost 90 per cent of Angola, the MPLA has been incapable of conducting small unit special operations against logistics lines inside "Free Angola". Even the bombing of these tracks from the air has proved ineffective; a direct hit on one requires no more than a minor diversion to avoid the crater.
Propaganda or not, it must be remembered that the Americans, with a professional air force far more potent and many times the size of what the Cubans have in Angola, were never successful in halting the flow of men and material into South Vietnam.
"I've personally been fighting in these hills since 1976," said Gen Arlindo "Ben-Ben" Pena, UNITA's chief of staff, as he ordered rocket fire on the MPLA positions inside Cangonga, "We know this terrain, we're far more mobile than the enemy and we have the support of the local population, who provide us with food and information. Without that support we wouldn't be operating across as much of Angola as we are. Obviously, we'll never be able to win a military solution to this war- not with the Cuban superiority in tanks, MiGs and helicopters - but it's impossible for them to defeat a guerrilla army."
This Soviet T-55 tank was captured in If recent history is anything to go by, this may very well be true. Aside from Vietnam, where a marginally equipped and outnumbered guerrilla army frustrated the world's most powerful and sophisticated army and air force, far less organised and motivated rebel movements than UNITA have carried on for years in various parts of Africa.
Still, the Cuban general staff in Angola is gambling for the tenth time since 1976 that UNITA can be dealt a crippling blow. Designed to deceive and split UNITA's numerically inferior forces, these carefully planned offensives have always involved a two-pronged drive from the Benguela railway line in the north and from Cuito Cuana-vale in the west. Each of these logistically complex efforts has not only failed, but proved enormously expensive In terms of men, morale and equipment. In fact, the MPLA's losses in military hardware over the years have made Angola the world's tenth-largest importer of arms. The 1986 and 1987 offensives proved so costly and were such debacles that the previous chief of staff, Soviet Gen Konstantin Shagnovitch, was recalled to Moscow in disgrace.
After engaging a FAPLA unit, UNITA soldiers pursue withdrawing enemy forces.The architect of this year's assault on UNITA, Cuban Gen Cintio Polio Fria, is opening the betting with a new twist — a third front along the south-western border of UNITA-controlled Angola, Here, MPLA brigades are already battling toward the ex-Portuguese town of Savate. Where the main thrust will come is anyone's guess, but with the biggest build-up taking place in the west, Cuito Cuanavale remains the odds-on favourite. It was at Cuito Cuanavale and along the Lomba River last year where direct South African air and artillery support blunted the Cuban-MPLA advance on Mavinga, a crucial stepping stone to Jamba.
Dr Jonas Savimbi, president of UNITA: With the withdrawal of the South African Defence Force, Savimbi has emphasised that the Cubans' stated role in Angola - defending the MPLA from South African aggression- is no longer valid. In response to this propaganda ploy, the Cubans appear to be handling only logistics and rear-echelon security this time around, pushing FAPLA to the three fronts. Savimbi maintains that this suits UNITA, as "FAPLA is not a serious threat; to reach Mavinga, only a major Cuban effort can do it."
As the war goes into its 14th year, both UNITA and the Cuban/FAPLA alliance are playing their cards very close to the chest. The stakes for each side are enormous:
Angola, one of the richest countries in Africa. Which side holds the winning hand is still open to conjecture, but as a visitor to Jamba said recently: "Say what you want about Savimbi, but he's the best poker player in Africa right now."  
 

3 comment(s) so far...


Gravatar

Re: Can UNITA survive without the South Africans?

I very much doubt if Unita could have survived without South Africa. That civil war was going bad for Unita already in 1975, when South Africa was withdrawing from Luanda (and Angola). That was with the Mpla following them, thus also pushing back Unita. By 1987, the Mpla were already closing in on Jamba, which was right in the southeast of Angola. That was during the famous Cuito Cuanavale battle.
Unita also never got much help from the USA - only a little more than the Stinger SAM missiles. After the South African withdrawal in 1989, the civil war probably continued to go from bad to worse for Unita - due to little outside aid. Plus, Unita was also shunned by the outside world then.
That civil war ended in 2002, when Savimbi was gunned down. I doubt if Unita could have held out much longer. Perhaps a Unita soldier shot him - in order for the war to end. A former Unita soldier told me that he doubts it (and was Mpla).

By Rudi Kramp on   2011/10/26 08:28 PM
Gravatar

Re: Can UNITA survive without the South Africans?

Still, the Cuban general staff in Angola is gambling for the tenth time since 1976 that UNITA can be dealt a crippling blow. swtor credits swtor credits

By runescape gold on   2011/11/25 04:09 PM
Gravatar

Re: Can UNITA survive without the South Africans?

Another perspective. http://www.conservativeusa.org/angola.htm One has to measure him against Africa's norms, not Western norms.Treason within treason, also on South Africa's part. He was a guerilla fighter in the African way, perhaps more a black nationalist for his own people who at the end died a heroic death.Imagine living your whole life seeing nothing but war, living under the crudest and most spartan conditions - those are not the actions of an average man, but the actions of a man with a deep seated idealism, a man way above the masses. Quite a few Western leaders could take an example from him, a black man, I am sorry to say. Would we fight for our nations today like he did for his people?Somehow the whole UNITA saga has the feel of a great tragedy play in the manner of Shakespeare. While he and his men were fighting for over 40 years basically for nothing at the end except for a heroic struggle which rather has the feel of the way of the Teutons than that of a common black man, those that betrayed him were living in splendor and luxury, and still are living in splendor and luxury, while managing the West, our white West, into the ground.

By Observer on   2011/11/26 07:47 AM

Your name:
Gravatar Preview
Your email:
(Optional) Email used only to show Gravatar.
Your website:
Title:
Comment:
Security Code
Enter the code shown above in the box below
Add Comment   Cancel 
Recent Blog Entries
IN SEARCH FOR A HOME
Posted on: 31 May 2017
"Saturday Night Live"
Posted on: 30 May 2017
BUSH WAR VETERANS!
Posted on: 06 February 2017
The Road to Botswana
Posted on: 13 May 2016
Supper in Sá da Bandeira
Posted on: 05 September 2015
The red cross
Posted on: 28 August 2015
Operation Savannah
Posted on: 23 August 2015
 

 

 

Recent Blog Comments
Free Relationship Help
WarBlogs > Home - Operation Savannah
# dating advice for guys online
By on: 17 July 2018
cheap Car Insurance
WarBlogs > Home - A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
# junk marketing
By on: 09 July 2018
Handcrafted jewelry typically
WarBlogs > Home - Operation Savannah
# gemstone jewelry set
By on: 07 July 2018
Matrix Jewelry Software Classes
WarBlogs > Home - A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
# quality pearls ring
By on: 07 July 2018
simply click the following site
WarBlogs > Home - Operation Savannah
# brivo access control pricing
By on: 05 July 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Duncan, I remember you well!

Unfortunately I do not know about Maj Kruger. I've made enquiries in the past but wasn't successful.

Take care!
By Johan du Preez on: 17 May 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Hi Johan
You mentioned 1 Mil in your story. I was there 15th Nov 1975 spent 9 mths-also very secretive. Lost both my arms. You mention a Major Kruger -Social Welfare. She was a wonderful person. Would you by any chance know if she is still alive and if so, how to contact her. I last met her in 1980 at 1 Mil.
Great site
Regards
Duncan
By Duncan Mattushek on: 16 May 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
Sorry to reply very late Lukas, but the story of the statue is a sad one. In short the money to make the statue was either stolen... There is lots of infighting in the provincial government.
By Dino Estevao on: 30 April 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
I must say i'm so happy to see my great grandfathers name being mentioned in the books of history. i grew up hearing of his names in stories (folk tails), know i have discovered myself his name and his contribution to the world history and the shaping of the Namibian and Angolan borders of today
By Thomas Mweneni Thomas on: 29 April 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi Johan
I drove 72C in smokeshell, Kobus Nortje who has put up a number of Photos was in 72A
As you know from Hilton's email above I have written a book that Hilton is editing and I'm looking for good photos. How do I contact Kobus to ask him for permission to use the pictures?
Thanks Brian
By Brian Davey on: 02 April 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hilton, I could not find the exact reference in my notes, but I suspect it was Lt Paul Louw as I do remember reading about that report. As soon as I pint it down i will get back to you again...As to the photographs, none of them belong to me. Many come from the 61 Mech site and you may be able to obtain high res ones directly from them.There has been too many holdups and issues re the publication (mostly from my side) so I would have to re-approach the publisher to do it "my way" as previously they wanted me to reduce a 200-page manuscript to 64 pages to fit to the standard format of the publisher's series. It was not exactly what I had in mind, so I put it on ice...
By Johan Schoeman on: 16 March 2018
Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell)
Hi Johan,
Thank you for the wonderful service you provide for Bush War vets.

1. Can you tell me which officer said during the attack on Smokeshell, "My troops are bleeding!" It might have been Maj Fouche.

2. An old friend of mine, Brian Davey, is writing his memoir of National Service, including Smokeshell. He was driver of Ratel Seven-one Charlie. I am doing the editing, and would greatly appreciate permission to use some of the photographs you have here.

3. When do you think your book will be published?

Thanks again
By Hilton Ratcliffe on: 06 March 2018
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
I was 10 years old and went to skool in Katima Mulilo, I will never forget that knight, siting in the bom shelter. Our house was against the Zambezi river next to the gest house.
By Jan Cronje on: 23 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Thank you for the interesting information, Sandy.
By Johan du Preez on: 03 January 2018