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Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . - Foreign Affairs (3) - Nairaland

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“If Mugabe Dies, We Will Field His Corpse As A Candidate For Election” - Wife / Photos: What Some Countries Gives Their Soldiers To Eat On The Battle Field. / Video Of Frightened Black Man Forced Into A Coffin By White Man Sparks Outrage (2) (3) (4)

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Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 12:20pm On Apr 11, 2015
CION pictures

1 Like

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 2:34pm On Apr 11, 2015
Battle Field Pictures:

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 11:38am On Apr 17, 2015
Random pictures ;


Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 11:43am On Apr 17, 2015
Lay hold on these old pictures !

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 11:45am On Apr 17, 2015

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 8:34pm On Apr 17, 2015
CION pictures

1 Like

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by 50calibre(m): 9:01pm On Apr 17, 2015
Is this the Nigerian army I know or are these just for the photos. I must say I'm quite impressed, the Nigerian army seems to be stepping up their game, it looks as if they recently took delivery of some arms consignment.

Perhaps Jonathan beefed them up in an attempt to hoodwink gullible Nigerians into voting for him lol too bad, it's Buhari's to command now.

Btw, what rifle are these guys carrying, they look like Uzi


Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 11:54am On Apr 18, 2015

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by aariwa(m): 1:10pm On Apr 18, 2015
no military girls in the pictures. are they forbidden from combat?
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 4:29pm On Apr 18, 2015
no military girls in the pictures. are they forbidden from combat?
I think I have posted pictures of Nigeria female soldiers on page "0" or "1". Anyway more will be coming on female combatants .
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 4:39pm On Apr 18, 2015

Kenya's invasion of southern Somalia, which
began in October 2011, has turned into an
occupation of attrition – while “blowback” from the
invasion has consolidated in a series of deadly Al-
Shabaab attacks within Kenya. This article reviews
the background to the invasion, Operation Linda
Nchi, and the prosecution of the war by Kenya's
Defence Forces up to the capture of the city of
Kismayo and the contest to control its lucrative
port. The second section discusses Al-Shabaab's
response, showing how the movement has
reinvented itself to take the struggle into Kenya.
We conclude that while the military defeat of Al-
Shabaab in southern Somalia seems inevitable,
such a victory may become irrelevant to Kenya's
ability to make a political settlement with its
Somali and wider Muslim communities at home.
ON 16 OCTOBER 2011, KENYA'S armed forces
invaded southern Somalia in the midst of a
severe local famine and a regional drought. Their
purpose was to capture the port city of Kismayo
and to crush the Al-Shabaab Islamist militia.1 The
first aim was accomplished after more than a year
of slow progress and sometimes hard fighting, but
with the second aim seemingly as remote as ever
after a third year of war, the capture of Kismayo
looks increasingly like a hollow victory. Al-Shabaab
has reacted with gun, bomb, and grenade attacks
against targets in Nairobi, Garissa, and other
Kenya towns, most notorious among them the
assault upon Nairobi's prestigious Westgate
shopping mall.2 The “blowback” from the invasion
is now having an impact on Kenya's troubled
internal politics, with recent evidence from attacks
on the coastal settlement of Mpeketoni to suggest
that the Islamists are skilfully exploiting local
political quarrels to further their own cause.3
While Kenya's citizens come to terms with the fact
they are at war, their soldiers in southern Somalia
are locked into a longer-term struggle for
ascendancy in Jubaland. How long can Kenya
sustain this war, and can victory be ensured? Al-
Shabaab has lost its economic stronghold of
Kismayo, has recently suffered the death in an
American attack of its leading emir, Ahmed
‘Mukhtar Abu al-Zubayr’ Godane, and has also
been forced to retreat from its training base and
operational headquarters at Barawe.4 The Africa
Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) force, capably led by
Uganda, has undoubtedly gained significant
ground against Al-Shabaab's mujahideen. Yet,
despite its defeats, this Islamist organization
remains a potent and dangerous force: it still
controls much of the countryside of southern
Somalia, hampering the movement of the Kenyan
military and other components of AMISOM
through regular ambushes5 – and, meanwhile, its
affiliate Al-Hijra has proved capable of bringing the
war back into Kenya.6
This article analyses the impact of the Kenyan
invasion. It is argued that, far from sweeping Al-
Shabaab into the sea, the intervention in southern
Somalia has fuelled wider political dissent within
Kenya. Building on the extensive literature on
eastern Africa's recent jihadist struggles,7 we
emphasize the capacity of the Islamist group to
adapt and transform. The flexibility and
responsiveness of Al-Shabaab in the past has
transcended its internal factionalisms between
nationalist and internationalist jihadi elements,
enabling it to react speedily to opportunities, both
economic and political, without allowing ideology
to impede its progress.8 In common with other
analysts – including Ken Menkhaus,9 Matt
Bryden,10 and Paul D. Williams,11 in their recent
publications – we therefore warn against a
complacent view that posits AMISOM successes as
‘victory’ without considering what the future of Al-
Shabaab is likely to be. Drawing upon studies of
the politics of Kenya's Muslim communities,12 we
suggest that Al-Shabaab is likely to exploit the
deeply rooted disaffection amongst the peoples of
the Kenya coast and north-east in gaining recruits
to its banner. These affiliates may only see Al-
Shabaab's black standard as a temporary flag of
convenience, but that may be enough to incubate
and evolve an Al-Shabaab-led insurgency within
The article begins with a review of Operation Linda
Nchi, which saw the Kenyans capture the port of
Kismayo. It then considers the ‘blowback’ of
retaliatory attacks, including the massacre at
Mpeketoni in June 2014, and the response of the
security forces, which culminated in Operation
Usalama Watch (launched in April 2014 in an effort
to disrupt Al-Shabaab support within Kenya). The
implication of our analysis, discussed in the
concluding section, is that Al-Shabaab is
reinventing itself to exploit the wider sense of
economic and social grievance amongst Kenya's
disadvantaged Muslim populations in its north-
eastern and coastal provinces. The resilience of Al-
Shabaab presents the key challenge: unless the
Kenyan state radically changes its approach, this
could prove to be a war that Kenya did not want,
mostly to be fought on Kenyan soil.13
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 4:42pm On Apr 18, 2015

The Kenyan invasion of southern Somalia,
Operation Linda Nchi, came as no surprise. More
than a year before the Kenyans rolled across the
border, the country's foreign minister tried to gain
US support for the invasion plan, but was curtly
rebuffed. The Americans doubted that such a
mission could be successful, and anyway preferred
other, more indirect approaches to the Al-Shabaab
problem.14 All the same, the US government knew
of the plan to invade, as did Kenya's other Western
partners – though they may not have known the
precise timing.15 The question then must be what
prompted the Kenyans to act at this time, and
without the backing of their allies? According to
Bruton and Williams, three factors conspired to
determine Kenya's invasion: the chronic refugee
crisis on its borders, worsened by famine, which
was becoming a growing security concern; the
evolving anxieties of regional insecurity, fuelled by
Ugandan and Ethiopian concerns, and encouraged
by AMISOM's success against Al-Shabaab in
Mogadishu in August 2011; and the threat posed to
Kenya's economy by the destabilization of the
coastal regions through Al-Shabaab activities. The
goal of Kenya's policy was to create a ‘friendly’
buffer-zone state in Jubaland that would work in
Kenya's interests.16
Since at least 2009, the Kenyans had advanced a
plan to infiltrate southern Somali with trained
militia to undermine Al-Shabaab's influence and
build an internal force against them. The United
States trained elite Kenyan troops for this task,
helping the country to establish a Ranger-style
fighting force.17 In accord with this plan, the
Kenyan military helped Azania, a rebel group led
by Mohamed Abdi Mohamed (also known as
Mohamed Abdi Ghandi), a French-educated
anthropologist, to enter southern Somalia and
establish some kind of autonomous state. Azania
is also an alternative name that some Kenyan
politicians use for Jubaland. In April 2011, having
completed training with the Kenyan army near
Isiolo, the militia led by Ghandi and made up of
Somali soldiers from Ogadeni clans began
operations in southern Somalia.18 By then Kenya
had trained a force of 3,000 Somali ‘counter-
insurgents’, supplied with Chinese-manufactured
weapons – though Ghandi had command of (at
best) only 500 men.19 To open another front
against Al-Shabaab, Kenya also supported the Ras
Kamboni Brigade of Sheikh Ahmed Madobe.20
This group briefly took the town of Dhobley in
April 2011.21 Madobe then had 600 men under
The actions of these surrogate forces and their
supposed ‘successes’ are a matter of dispute. From
the beginning, the Ethiopians objected to the
Kenyan scheme as they feared it would give too
much influence to Ogadeni activists sympathetic
toward the Ogaden National Liberation Front
(ONLF). But in adopting surrogate forces, the
Kenyans saw themselves as following the
Ethiopian example: since the 1960s, the Ethiopians
have meddled in Somalia's internal politics by
supporting dissident groups and cultivating
militias,22 and since 2007 have focused this policy
on securing their Ogaden border – combined with
a forceful campaign against Somali insurgents
throughout the Ogaden region.23 Ethiopia is home
to 4 million ethnic Somalis,24 many of whom
support the secessionist aims of local rebel
movements. For Ethiopia, as for Kenya, foreign
policy in Somalia has a strong domestic dimension
– even though the two countries often disagree
about how this should be managed.
Kenya's invasion went ahead without the support
of its most prominent Western allies, and without
a common agreement with Ethiopia, which shares
a border with Jubaland. As invasion turned into
occupation, this would become a critical issue, but
within a month of crossing the border the Kenyans
appeared to have engineered broad-based
diplomatic support. In November 2011, President
Mwai Kibaki met his Ugandan counterpart, Yoweri
Museveni, and Somalia's leader, Sheikh Sharif
Ahmed, in Nairobi. Declaring their unity in tackling
the regional security threat presented by Al-
Shabaab, their joint statement described this as an
‘historic opportunity’ to defeat Islamic terrorism.25
This announcement came one day before the
meeting of the African Union (AU) Peace and
Security Council in Addis Ababa, where the
agreement was reached to incorporate Kenya's
invading forces within the African Mission to
Somalia (AMISOM) led by Uganda.26 At the same
time, bilateral discussions between Kenya and
Ethiopia resulted in an agreement on the support
that Ethiopia might give against Al-Shabaab.27 The
next week saw heavy Ethiopian military
deployments moving toward Baidoa, protecting
the northern flank of Kenya's advance, and the
arming of local militias opposed to Al-Shabaab was
stepped up.28 In December 2011, the Ethiopian
intervention was strengthened, with soldiers of the
Ethiopian National Defence Forces (ENDF) taking
up strategic positions within southern and central
Somalia until May 2012.29 In June 2012, the KDF
signed the memorandum of agreement that
formally incorporated them as part of AMISOM.30
By April 2013, Kenya had a total of 4,402 troops on
the ground in southern Somalia, each being paid
for by the EU at a rate of US$1,028 per month.31
The invaders had become peacekeepers – in name
if not in deed.
It was always the intention of the KDF's senior
commanders that they would join the
peacekeeping force.32 This brought considerable
financial advantages, as well as greater
professional experience through collaboration
with other militaries. It also gave the invasion far
stronger international legitimacy. Unwilling to be
trammelled by the external influence of European
paymasters, the Ethiopians continued to act only
‘in aid’ of AMISOM. Both armies, the KDF and the
ENDF, understood that the campaign against Al-
Shabaab might be protracted, and costly. The
KDF's commander-in-chief, Karangi, was
circumspect: ‘This campaign is not time bound’, he
warned after two weeks of fighting. ‘When the
Kenya government and the people of this country
feel that they are safe enough from the Al-Shabaab
menace, we shall pull back. Key success factors or
indicators will be in the form of a highly degraded
Al-Shabaab capacity.’33 This, of course, was an
easier position to adopt knowing that the EU would
pay, and not the Kenyan exchequer.34
Wider economic issues also loomed large. On 8
November 2011, The Guardian reported that the
Kenyan invasion was intended to secure the
coastal region and to establish Lamu as a
development port. This was linked to plans for a
second ‘transport corridor’ across Kenya,
exploiting a potential outlet for oil from South
Sudan. According to the report, the port scheme,
and connecting transport network, had already
secured an investment of US$10 billion from the
Chinese.35 These early reports have since been
corroborated, and Kenya is now openly canvassing
investors for its visionary schemes for the
development of the northern districts, including
the border region with southern Somalia.36 Add to
this the discovery of substantial oil deposits near
Lake Turkana, and oil exploration in several off-
shore blocks within Kenya's disputed maritime
waters with Somalia, and it is easy to see how
economic arguments have gained traction in
analysis of the invasion and its motivations.37
After many decades of neglect and disregard,
Kenya is now pursuing the economic integration of
its northern region, and the security of southern
Somalia is a critical element in this.
Having established the political and economic
contexts of the intervention, let us consider the
military aspect. Two Kenyan battalions, with
armoured vehicles and air support, were deployed
to Somalia at the start of Operation Linda Nchi.
Additional troops have entered the country since
then; by July 2014 there were 4,400 Kenya soldiers
in southern Somalia and the Kenya navy was
patrolling Jubaland's coastline.38 Avoiding full
engagement, Al-Shabaab fighters retreated to
defensive positions, ambushing the KDF whenever
the opportunity arose. Kenyan air strikes sought to
dislodge Al-Shabaab fighters from key towns,
including Afmadow, and targeted training camps
and supply bases, but with only limited success.
The Kenyans progressed to within five kilometres
of Afmadow five days into the invasion, where they
later linked up with Madobe's Ras Kamboni forces
and the Somali National Army (SNA) in early
November, but it would be several months before
they finally wrenched the town from Al-Shabaab
control. There is little information on casualties
and costs of the operations, with the Kenyan press
preferring upbeat coverage of the war in the early
months. However, estimates suggest that the first
five months of the campaign cost the Kenyans
$180 million,39 and that more than 50 Kenyan
soldiers may have been killed.40 The Ethiopians,
also circumspect in declaring losses in their
struggles against Al-Shabaab, have acknowledged
heavy casualties.41
It was not until August 2012 that the KDF finally
came within striking distance of Kismayo. Though
Al-Shabaab is known to receive funding from
wealthy backers in the Muslim world,42 control of
the lucrative trade through Kismayo's busy port
was critical to their strong financial position. Al-
Shabaab reputedly raised revenues of $25 million
per annum from taxing Kismayo's trade.43 Sugar,
cement, and some manufactured goods are
imported into Kismayo, for onward illegal
transportation to Kenya; the principal export has
been charcoal, produced locally for shipment to
the Gulf and Saudi Arabia. Al-Shabaab takes rents
from the producers of charcoal in the areas it
controls, taxing the vehicles bringing bagged
charcoal to Kismayo, and also taxing exports
leaving the port. Since 2007 this trade had grown
markedly, despite international efforts to close the
port. Many vessels discharging legal cargoes at
Mogadishu afterwards docked in Kismayo to load
illegal charcoal, to avoid returning from the Somali
coast unladen.44 Accordingly, seizing the port of
Kismayo was the KDF's primary objective, because
in this way it hoped to destroy Al-Shabaab's
economic strength and thus make it harder for it
to sustain control in the rural areas of southern
The final assault, Operation Sledge Hammer,
commenced at dawn on 28 September 2012 with
an amphibious landing on Kismayo's northern
beach – nearly a year after the Kenyans first
crossed the border. There was little resistance, and
the port was easily secured.45 This was heralded
as the beginning of Al-Shabaab's demise,46 but in
the months that followed nothing of the kind
happened. Having made an orderly retreat from
the port, Al-Shabaab regrouped at strategic points
throughout Jubaland and the Shebelle Valley.
Although they were spread thinly, they were
effective in keeping the Kenyans locked into
Kismayo, while harassing them every time they
moved to extend the “liberation” through the rural
areas. Al-Shabaab attacks in southern Somalia
increased over the six months following the
capture of Kismayo. From October to December
2012, there were 178 attacks, including 70 combat
engagements, 39 grenade attacks and 43
assassinations of Somalis believed to be assisting
the invaders or obstructing Al-Shabaab. In the next
three months, to the end of March 2013, this
increased to 192 attacks, of which 78 were combat
engagements, 26 grenade attacks, and 52
assassinations.47 Over this period, Al-Shabaab
recaptured several towns that had been “liberated”
by the ENDF the previous year. Intelligence
gathered in early 2013 suggested that Al-Shabaab's
5,000-strong militia was still largely intact and fully
operational, that they had stockpiled weapons in
anticipation of mounting a retaliatory assault once
international forces had reduced in intensity, and
that the loss of Kismayo made no difference to
their capacity to function in southern Somalia.48
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by Nobody: 11:49am On Apr 19, 2015
KDF marks first anniversary since entering Somalia

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 14 – Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) on Sunday marked the first anniversary since entering Somalia, with the message ‘we will not let you down.’

The celebrations held at the Nanyuki Garrison also provided soldiers who have been fighting in Somalia with an opportunity to tell Kenyans the harrowing experience they went through in the deadly war, as well as challenges faced.

“We will not let our country down, it is our duty to protect our territories,” Chief of Defence Forces General Julius Karangi said, adding “We never give up and that is why we have succeeded in the war.”
uring the celebrations, a monument was unveiled and wreaths laid for all soldiers killed since the war on Al Shabaab started on 14 October, 2011.
“We crossed into Somalia at the beginning of the rainy season and captured many territories,” he said. “I know we have surprised many skeptics.”
KDF has made tremendous achievement in the war, having taken control of most regions previously occupied by the militant group—including the port city of Kismayu which was the group’s major stronghold.
“We went inch by inch and eventually captured Kismayu on September 20,” he boasted.
Similar celebrations were held at the Defence Headquarters here in Nairobi, Moi Airbase Eastleigh, Manda Naval Base, Gilgil and Kahawa Garrisons.

Defence Minister Yusuf Haji who presided over the main celebrations in Nanyuki said the country is proud of the KDF for the “good work they have done in Somalia.”

He said the government would support families of all the soldiers killed or maimed during the war.

“To the lives that were lost, my heartfelt condolences. I want to assure the families of the fallen heroes that the government will fully support them,” the minister said.

Last week, the Minister announced that at least 3000 Al Shabaab militants had been killed in Somalia since KDF commenced the war on them.

Statistics at the Military headquarters here in Nairobi indicate that nearly 30 Kenyan soldiers have been killed since the war started.

KDF is currently fighting under the umbrella of the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) whose mandate expires at the end of this month.

President Mwai Kibaki has urged AMISOM to extend the mandate to enable soldiers to complete their mission.

In this video you can see the monument to honour fallen soldiers, all soldiers names who died in OLN in the one year,


and here is a summary documentary by a media house, collected from different journerlist who manage to capture some action when they they got a chance to be embeded with Kenyan soldiers

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by PapiWata: 11:59am On Apr 19, 2015
Fantastic reportage here , Bidexxi.

You is da man !

More pictures please !
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 5:41pm On Apr 19, 2015

1 Like

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 5:48pm On Apr 19, 2015

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 8:56am On Apr 20, 2015

The 1st picture,his an f7 armed with a 500kg unguided bomb,BH his in deep shit !
While 3rd pic is one of the six purchased pre-owned alpha jets with day and night capabilities(also armed with unguided bombs).

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 3:59pm On Apr 20, 2015
From the front lines;

1 Like

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by rocoh(m): 4:04pm On Apr 20, 2015

He's still right in OBJ's role...he never laid siege on any land area, he was the commanding officer for the battalion on the atlantic ocean. Go check facts again, I'm sure you'll find it somewhere. OBJ was never near Nnsuka

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 5:22pm On Apr 20, 2015
Battle Scenes picture !

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 7:39pm On Apr 20, 2015
DISCOVERIES DURING TROOPS' ADVANCE TO BITA - Boko Haram food & fuel dumps, store for fertilizer used in making improvised explosive devices, police armoured personnel carrier, burnt police station, land loaders and the infamous human abbatoir where Boko Haram terrorists slaughter their captives.

1 Like

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 7:41pm On Apr 20, 2015
Continuation ;

1 Share

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 7:46pm On Apr 20, 2015
Captured BH technicals and ZSU AA-guns.

1 Like

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by PapiWata: 10:16pm On Apr 20, 2015
You's da MAN, Bidexii.

Bidexii he momma dit'n raise no fooz

Bidexii he don't be half-steppin'

He a baad mufugguh, and that ain't no lie.

Keep those pictures of the war-front flowing, brother, because they are HIGHLY informative and inspirational, for sure. Much obliged.
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 11:51pm On Apr 20, 2015
You's da MAN, Bidexii.

Bidexii he momma dit'n raise no fooz

Bidexii he don't be half-steppin'

He a baad mufugguh, and that ain't no lie.

Keep those pictures of the war-front flowing, brother, because they are HIGHLY informative and inspirational, for sure. Much obliged.
Tnk's man
Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 11:56pm On Apr 20, 2015
NN. Pictures;

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 9:28am On Apr 21, 2015
NA Outpost on the front-line;

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 2:20pm On Apr 21, 2015
NA special force training in pakistan .... !

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 8:10pm On Apr 21, 2015
CION pictures;
1st pic is NA soldier with an AK-74M with GP-34 grenade lunchers.
2nd pic is NA soldier with RPK (light machine gun).

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 9:21am On Apr 22, 2015
Battle ready soldiers;

Re: Battle Field Discussion (picture/video) Of African Military . by bidexiii: 9:58am On Apr 22, 2015
THE BATTLE OF CUITO CUANAVALE "1988". The battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the Cuban intervention in Angola is one of the turning points in Southern African History. It led to the movement of powerful Cuban armed force, into the west, towards the Namibian border. The fighting in the south western part of Angola led to the withdrawal of the South African, ANC and Cuban presence in Angola, and to the Independence of Namibia.
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale is, however, a contentious
issue, widely discussed and debated by ordinary people,
participants and historians. Depending on where you stand,
Cuito Cuanavale is described as a defeat of the South
African Defence Forces (SADF), a tactical withdrawal by the
SADF, or, a stalemate.
The battle, or more correctly termed the siege, of Cuito
Cuanavale was fought on the banks of the Lomba River in
the vicinity of Cuito Cuanavale, in south-eastern Angola,
between UNITA (aided by the SADF) and the Angolan army
(FAPLA) aided by Cuba, the Soviet Union and to a lesser
extent East Germany. The stakes were high for both sides
and the battle involved the biggest conventional operations
of South African forces since World War II.
The battle lines were drawn along ideological conviction.
Following Angolan independence in 1975, the Marxist
orientated party Popular Movement for the Liberation of
Angola (MPLA), under the leadership of José Eduardo dos
Santos ascended to power and set up a government.
However, the triumph of the MPLA was not celebrated by all
Angolans. Civil war broke out between MPLA and the Union
for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The Angolan
government received support from the Soviet Union, Cuba
and other liberation movements from the African continent.
It was also backed by the African National Congress and
SWAPO forces based in Angola. The Angolan rebel
movement UNITA, led by Jonas Savimbi, received military
and other means of support from anti-communist countries
like the USA and the South African Regime. Because of
international interference Angola became a battleground of
the cold war.
The prelude to the battle started in July 1987 when Angolan
government forces (FAPLA) attempted to advance on Jonas
Savimbi’s UNITA stronghold at Mavinga, the strategic key to
his base at Jamba near the Caprivi Strip. At first the
offensive progressed well, with FAPLA gaining the upper
hand, inflicting heavy casualties on UNITA, driving them
south towards Mavinga. Fourteen Angolan and Cuban
brigades under a Russian commander began a large-scale
attack on UNITA on 14 August 1987. SADF troops were
rushed in to support UNITA. It was in the interest of the
South African government that UNITA not succumb to the
Cubans and FAPLA – they were of the opinion that it would
disrupt peace in Namibia and enable Umkhonto We Siswe
(MK), the military wing of the ANC, to establish bases in
Angola, creating entrance routes to South Africa from
Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
In October FAPLA’s advancing 47th Brigade at the Lomba
River, 40 kilometers south-east of Cuito, was all but
destroyed in an attack by SADF forces hastening to UNITA’s
Several other FAPLA brigades wilted under
heavy bombardment but managed to
retreat to Cuito, a minor town near the
confluence of two rivers that constitute its
name, set in the remote expanse of south-
east Angola, a region the Portuguese
referred to as the Land at the End of the
Cuito could have been overrun then and
there by the SADF, changing the strategic
situation overnight. The interior of the
country would have been opened up to
domination by UNITA with Angola being
split in half. But, for whatever reason, the
SADF failed to seize the initiative. This
allowed an initial contingent of 120 Cuban troops to rush to
the town from Menongue, 150 kilometers to the north-west
and help organize the defences.
It is from this point in the battle that opinions and
interpretations of events differ. How the battle is seen,
depends on how the intention of the South African regime
is perceived. However, the events that follow FAPLA’s
retreat to Cuito are fairly clear. Following the battles at the
Lomba River in November 1987, battles on 13 January and
14 and 15 February followed. On 23 March 1988 the SADF
launched its last major attack on Cuito Cuanavale.
The cuban forces: school of thought on the intentions
and the outcomes of the battle
One school of thought (supported by the ANC, Cuba, other
liberation movements and several historians) is that South
Africa’s decision to launch the attack was influenced by their
intention to rescue UNITA and their want to seize the town
of Cuito Cuanavale through the capture of the air force
base. It is argued that the actions of the SADF prior to the
23 March 1988 are clear evidence of their determination to
break-through to the town. The SADF forces attacked Cuito
with the massive 155mm G-5 guns and staged attack after
attack led by the crack 61st mechanized battalion, 32
Buffalo battalion, and later 4th SA Infantry group.
On the 23rd March the battle reached a halt. In the words
of 32 Batttalion commander, Colonel Jan Breytenbach. He
writes: ‘ the Unita soldiers did a lot of dying that day’ and
‘the full weight of FAPLA’s defensive fire was brought down
on the heads of [SADF] Regiment President Steyn and the
already bleeding Unita .’
According to this view, the SADF failed in its intention and
was successfully thwarted by the combined Angolan forces.
This view is supported by Horace Campbell, Hasu Patel, P
Gleijeses, Ronnie Kasrils and others.
Read Ronnie Kasrils’s article on Cuito Cuanavale.
The SADF forces: school of thought on the intentions
and the outcomes of the battle
The second school of thought maintains that the SADF had
only limited objectives, namely, to halt the enemy at Cuito,
to prevent its airstrip from being used, and then to retreat.
Further action would have undermined negotiations
between Cuba, Angola and South Africa, which began in
London early in 1988 and continued in May in Brazzaville,
Congo, and Cairo, Egypt. By this time, the South African
government had already recognised the political change in
Russia and the ending of the cold war. Gen. Jannie
Geldenhuys, Chief of the SADF, stated that the most
important battle in the campaign was when the Cubans
were defeated at the Lomba River and Cuito Cuanavale was
simply part of a mopping up operation after this battle. This
view is also supported by Gen. Magnus Malan, South
African minister of defence at the time. Following this the
SADF’s intention was to prevent the capture of Mavinga and
through that prevent assaults on Jamba. This was
successfully accomplished. This view is supported by the
SADF and several historians such as Fred Bridgeland, W.M.
James and others.
In addition both SADF and military analyst’s statistics are
mentioned contradicting claims of a victory. Gen. Jannie
Geldenhuys, Chief of the SADF, quoted the following in support to this argument.

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