I think I have an Osprey book on it somewhere (no, a genuine Osprey book). Will see what I can find tonight.
Any good book suggestions with regards to Oman?
I think I have an Osprey book on it somewhere (no, a genuine Osprey book). Will see what I can find tonight.
Don't forget the Russian "advisors" that were embedded with the Cubans.
There is a website dedicated to these Angola veterans: http://www.veteranangola.ru
I've downloaded some interesting documents from that site, including a 85 page diary of Lieutenant Colonel Igor Anatolevich Zhdarkin who served in Angola duirng 1986-1988
I did present about 4 years ago a presentation on the Battle of Cuito Canavale to a very distuingish audience - military officers[Australian, South African, New Zealand, British, etc] - and I will go and dig that very specific presenation out of my digital archives with some information that is for most of the people in the West totally new news.
The Cuban/Russian build-up during 1987 was huge and that was a huge concern to the South African forces in Namibia/South West Africa.
To say that the Cubans "kicked" ass is not correct, quite to the contrinary, they were kicke din the ass by the South Africans - which is a historical fact and it will be denied by the Cubans to save face, but the Russians actually admitted it themselves. One of the Cuban leaders was even executed in Havana and the other one escaped to Florida[USA] via a light airplane, which still remains the highest Cuban military officer to date to have defected to the West.
I will uploade a revised edition[making it smaller] of my presentation. You willthen also notice the Russian generals who was involved in the Battle of Cuito Canavale - which was the biggest battle since El Alamein on the African continent.
Just some other interesting facts: -
1. The old SADF also captured 3x SAM-8[Gecko] systems intact and at that stage was the only country in the Western hemisphere to have it. The USA wanted it badly to counteract Saddam and that information gained form it was used to defeat Saddam's systems.
2. The only 3x tanks that South Africa ever lost in this 23 years long battle was 3x Olfants[updated Centurions], of which you see the pictures and their respective stories as well.
Three tanks lost in 23 years (only being across the border on operations during 1987-1988) is different then three tanks on a single day (3/23/1988) were so badly damaged that they were left (cut loose after they had tried to tow them out) for the enemy while SADF troops withdrew to their starting positions under enemy fire. That was the last major SADF push against the defenses and it foundered. So I guess "we abandoned three tanks during our final failed push against Cuito" didn't sound as nice as "three tanks lost in 23 years" despite their lack of involvement in Angola until the end of the conflict.2. The only 3x tanks that South Africa ever lost in this 23 years long battle was 3x Olfants[updated Centurions], of which you see the pictures and their respective stories as well.
That leaves out IMV/ICV/weapons carriers, which bore the brunt of the action, that were knocked out or heavily damaged .
The SADF was repeatedly checked by Cuban engineers and Cuban directed artillery during the drive on the town itself, which ultimately failed. The SADF (with UNITA) initially heavily defeated the Angolan offensive against UNITA but then further escalated and attempted to seize Cuito proper. Cuban regular forces entered the fray to stiffen the Angolans, and the SADF/UNITA ultimately failed repeatedly to take Cuito. Overall the fighting ended up a stalemate more then any great victory for either side whatever kill ratios either side claims.To say that the Cubans "kicked" ass is not correct, quite to the contrinary, they were kicke din the ass by the South Africans - which is a historical fact and it will be denied by the Cubans to save face, but the Russians actually admitted it themselves. One of the Cuban leaders was even executed in Havana and the other one escaped to Florida[USA] via a light airplane, which still remains the highest Cuban military officer to date to have defected to the West.
Last edited by mwe12; 08-30-2012 at 06:36 PM.
Absolute best book on that conflict:
The Cuban Intervention in Angola, 1965-1991 From Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale by Edward George
Superbly researched, balanced, objective, in-depth.
I'm citing a part of the introduction here:
In November 1975, Cuba launched the largest intervention in its history,
sending 36,000 troops into Angola to defend its Marxist ally from twin
invasions by South African and Zairian forces. This unprecedented event
– which overnight turned Angola into one of the main fronts of the Cold
War – did not arise out of a vacuum, however. It was in fact the culmination
of more than a decade of uneven cooperation between the Cubans
and the MPLA, dating back to Che Guevara’s Congo campaign in the
mid-1960s. Over the next thirteen years, the Cuban military contingent
grew until, by 1988 – when Cuban and South African forces clashed at
Cuito Cuanavale in the second largest battle in African history – there
were over 65,000 Cuban troops in Angola, proportionally four times the
American commitment to Vietnam. The Cubans fighting in Angola professed
to uphold the ideals of internationalism, an ideology little understood
in the West and often dismissed by their opponents as a mask for
Soviet imperialism. Yet despite being labelled ‘Moscow’s Gurkhas’, the
Cuban ‘internationalists’ drew overwhelming support from the majority of
African states, catapulting their leader – the charismatic and much
maligned Fidel Castro – back onto the international stage, and by the early
1980s turning him into the unofficial spokesman for the Third World. The
fifteen-year intervention in Angola would shape the lives of a generation
of Cubans, and by its end in 1991 nearly half-a-million Cubans would have
The aims of this book, therefore, are to explain why a Caribbean
country sent as many as half-a-million of its citizens 6,000 miles to fight in
sub-Saharan Africa, and to examine how a short-term intervention escalated
into a lengthy war of intervention, culminating in the spurious Cuban
‘victory’ at Cuito Cuanavale. Previous studies of the Angolan War have
tended to examine Cuba’s role in isolation – or as subordinate to Soviet
interests – and this book looks at the multidimensional character of the
Angolan War, examining how the interaction between the main players
affected and shaped the Cuban intervention. The first two chapters look at
the roots of the Cuban–MPLA alliance, examining the evolution of Che
Guevara’s brand of internationalism which spawned the Brazzaville
mission (1965–7), and the weakening of this alliance in the early 1970s as
both allies underwent internal crises. Following the Portuguese decision to
decolonise Angola (in mid-1974), the perspective expands to take in the
other main actors in Angola’s chaotic decolonisation – South Africa, the
Soviet Union, the USA and Zaire – and follows their fruitless struggle to
gain ascendancy in Angola, culminating in the New York Peace Accords
in December 1988. The book is therefore more than just a study of the
Cuban phenomenon in Angola, and is in a broader sense a study of
foreign intervention in the Angolan War, attempting to explain Cuba’s
escalating involvement in relation to the many other competing strategies
Like all conflicts of the Cold War, the Angolan War has produced its
share of propaganda and disinformation. Throughout thirty years of nearcontinuous
conflict those involved have seen fit to rewrite events after they
occurred to further their political agendas. A balanced analysis of Cuba’s
involvement in Angola is further hampered by the extreme polarisation of
opinion on the Cuban Revolution and its most notorious protagonist –
Fidel Castro. For, while some depict him as the saviour of the Cuban
people and the champion of the Third World, others label him a Soviet
puppet and a monstrous dictator who has ruthlessly maintained his grip on
the reins of power in Cuba for more than four decades. Such extreme
views on Revolutionary Cuba and its outspoken leader fail, however, to
shed any light on the ideologies which motivated the hundreds of thousands
of men and women who served in Angola. For the Cubans this
involved the constantly-evolving model of Guevara’s ‘internationalism’;
for the Angolans (at least on paper), Marxist–Leninism; and, for the South
Africans, ‘Total Onslaught’, an apocalyptic theory which depicted Pretoria
as the last bastion of Western values against the ‘Communist onslaught’.
Given the vast amount of confused and contradictory reporting from
the war zone – and the heavily-biased official accounts produced after the
war – it has proved essential to draw on first-hand accounts of those
involved in the conflict, from the politicians in Havana, Luanda and Pretoria,
to the troops on the ground. For this reason, during a year spent in
Cuba between 1997 and 2002 (and two visits to Miami) I interviewed two
dozen Cuban internationalist veterans of Angola, among them professional
officers, reservists and civilians (who worked on humanitarian projects).
Their views span the political spectrum, and their detailed
testimonies shed fresh light on the experience of Cubans serving in
Angola, painting a bleak picture of Cuban-Angolan relations which contrasts
starkly with the harmonious relationship depicted by Havana and
Luanda (see Chapter 7).
During a three-month visit to Angola in early 1998 (when there was a
lull in the fighting), I visited the main battlefields at Quifangondo, Cuito
Cuanavale and Kuito-Bié, and interviewed a dozen Angolan veterans of
the 1985–8 campaigns who provided me with detailed information about
the fighting in Cuando Cubango. This was countered by interviews in
South Africa with former SADF officers and senior politicians which
helped to shed some light on South African perspectives of a conflict in
which they were internationally reviled as the pariah. Drawing on their
first-hand accounts – and on much new material from libraries and private
sources in Cuba, Angola and South Africa – this book aims to construct as
accurate a picture as possible of the conflict which has plagued Angola
since the early 1960s, dispelling the myths associated with Cuba’s intervention
in November 1975.
In particular, a fresh examination of the launch of Operation Carlota
seeks to demonstrate that Havana’s decision to intervene in Angola was
not so much an heroic gesture of international solidarity, but rather a lastditch
gamble to avert military disaster (see Chapter 4). By the same token,
Cuba’s much-heralded ‘victory’ over the South Africans at Cuito Cuanavale
is shown to have been no more than a costly stand-off, its real
significance lying in the impetus it gave to the American-brokered peace
process (see Chapters 9–11). Given the extremity of the ideological clash
in Angola – and the disagreement which still exists over the outcome of
the fighting – the book’s ultimate goal is to explain Cuba’s relationship
with Angola within the context of the many conflicting agendas in the
Angolan War. Only by examining the interplay between the many bickering
parties can a more accurate picture be constructed of the chaotic
events which escalated Angola’s guerrilla insurgency into a full-scale war
of intervention, spawning the conflict which was to plague Angola for four
Thank you for your research as well. Herewith as part of another presentation that I did 4 years ago another perspective. I had to eliminate almost 3/4 of the other info as that is linked to the battle itself indirectly but not relevant to this forum. The jpg's are only screencaptures as the other info are way too big to upload. However as with almost everything - the best info on a topic is to be there yourself. Enjoy!
If you're looking at an artillery specific angle to the Angola conflict, I recommend First In, Last Out: The South African Artillery in Action by Clive Wilsworth, who was a senior SA artillery commander involved in the operations in Angola
Strange that us SA soldiers that we there all seem to suffer from a/the same collective amnesia,dont quite recall this supposed "beating" we got but hey...
What a friggin joke!BTW,get over it,that was 25yrs ago...,I suppose the telling part is that 25yrs later the non-SA/UNITA camp is still trying to prove a "victory".
Reality is,like in all/any war,there are no "victors",only lotsa people who make money from other people's kids dying in some ****ty field somewhere...!
They made a claim about the number of SADF members that had been killed by them in that battle. I checked the SADF casualty stats (which are made public).
I found that the claimed Cuban figure for SADF losses for that single battle exceeded all actual SADF losses for the entire Ops Savannah campaign.
Sure we (the SADF) lost a number of battles during that campaign and acknowledge that, but the Cuban claims generally about "victory" during this and later campaigns are simply preposterous.
We've written/posted about this war to death!
There's a new South African dvd series with English subtitles available. It's called Grensoorlog in Afrikaans, if you are going to buy online make sure you buy the one with the English subtitles. They speak to absolutely everyone, Russians, Cubans, Angolans, Namibians, presidents, etc... It may be called Border War in English.
Here's a little out-of-context quote, read the link for more:
The following quotation sums up the battle of Cuito Cuanavale:-
"If defeat for South Africa meant the loss of 31 men (ED. should be 60), three tanks, five armoured vehicles and three aircraft, then we'd lost. If victory for FAPLA and the Cubans meant the loss of 4600 men, 94 tanks, 100 armoured vehicles, 9 aircraft and other Soviet equipment valued at more than a billion rand, then they'd won."
(Colonel Dean Ferreira, CDR SADF in Angola, Paratus (SADF Magazine), March, 1989)
Instead of labouring who (supposedly)won/lost or whatever,it would've been far more fruitfull to actually have attempted to discuss the role of sigint and ew in this conflict,especially in the light of the fact that it was pretty much a proxy war,both politically and technology wise for "east"(soviet) vs "west"(usa and nato).Instead we invariably get the thinly veiled ramblings/drivel of a political commisar type who in all likelyhood has never ever seen active service neither here or anywhere else,yawn!
A decent discussion could have been based on eg:
The tech avail at the time,eg low tech computers,early frequency hopping radios,captured comms equipment on both sides.The use of eg by SA of Portugese speaking members to listen in on fapla comms by the so-called ops "BRUSH" units,the presence of Chilean airforce officers(on sa side) to help translation from spanish with radio intercepts of fapa/daa radio traffic,etc.How sa forces eg used this intel to protect themselves from detection/attack by the faa/daa.
The role of east german tech's on the other side,etc.The jamming of fapla comms during battle,and from the sa side,there is more than enough annecdotal evidence to support the fact that their(sadf) comms were also succesfully intercepted on the odd occasion...
No (revisionist)political BS in any of that is there...?
I have that DVD set, thanks. Just a note of warning to international buyers. The set I have is recorded in the PAL video format, and if you live in North America these DVD's will not work on NTSC standard players. The DVD's can however be watched on a computer with a DVD player.
Regarding SIGINT, during Ops Savannah, our SADF SITREP and INTREP messages were coded by hand using a one-time pad and then the encoded message was sent one letter at a time by voice over radio. That was a very laborious and time consuming process and happened twice a day. The encoding / decoding was not my favourite thing to do.
Non-sensitive messages were often sent "in the clear" in Afrikaans, especially when it became known in the international media that the "third force" was not foreign mercenaries working with Unita but the SADF.
The Cubans also sent some messages in the clear and we had some local (Angolan) Portuguese speaking members embedded with us that translated these intercepts.
We had no high-tech signals gear but there were also much more sophisticated listening posts, (assuming they were in SWA) that also did intercepts and they sent the INT to us in the field.