Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Wars and Rumors of War II.

This is coolbert:

Beginning in the mid-1970's and raging for almost two full decades was another unreported and unheralded war. A civil war in Angola that had large scale participation from diametrically opposed outsiders.

[a civil war that also had wide-ranging international implications. The war in Angola and Soviet involvement was part of a far-ranging Moscow plan to deprive the "west" of one of it's two great "storehouses of wealth", namely, the vast mineral deposits of southern Africa.]

A war between coalitions of the odd fellows.

On one side you had the forces of the central Angolan government in Luanda. The MPLA. Backed on a large scale by Cuban troops with Soviet advisors. Also backed with the full panoply of Soviet equipment. At one time it was estimated that as many as 40,000 Cuban troops were serving in Angola.

On the other side you had the Angolan rebels of UNITA. Commanded by a nominal Marxist, Jonas Savimbi. Savimbi, trained and backed by Maoist Chinese, was supported in the Angolan civil war by the South African Army. The South African Army of the apartheid regime in Pretoria.

The latter was a coalition that best exemplifies the adage, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

Beginning, as I have said, in the mid-1970's, and continuing for a period of years, battle continued between the two warring factions, neither side being able to prevail over the other.

By 1987, a lack of progress on the battlefield and a desire for "total victory" prompted the combined forces of the MPLA/Cuban/Soviet to make one "big push" that they believed would result in the annihilation of UNITA.

[the Angolan troops of UNITA had the reputation as the best black fighters in all of sub-Saharan Africa.]

For the forthcoming "big push", the two opposing forces seemed to be sorely mismatched.

A force of about 40,000 MPLA/Cuban/Soviet troops massed with the full array of Soviet weaponry, poised itself for the "final" offensive on UNITA.

UNITA was able to oppose the MPLA/Cuban/Soviet advance with about 20,000 of it's own troops. Lightly armed. BUT SUPPORTED BY A BATTALION [??] OF REGULAR SOUTH AFRICAN TROOPS, EQUIPPED WITH RATEL [90 mm] ARMORED CARS AND A BATTERY OF G5 HOWITZERS.

[that G5 howitzer has tremendous range and power. Was at the time, and still maybe is, the best piece of artillery in the world??!!]

[a battalion of troops is not much numerically compared to several divisions. But that South African battalion had a combat power probably far in excess of a normal battalion. A battery of G5 howitzers [six guns] probably had the firepower of a much large unit of artillery.]

These two different and apparently mismatched forces met in battle at a place called CUITO CUANAVALE.

[this became the site of the largest battle in Africa since World War Two.]

Just as the two forces were diametrically opposed in a number of ways, the two versions of what occurred at CUITO CUANAVALE are also exactly the opposite. Each side claims a tremendous victory over the other.

What is the truth? You will have to decide for yourself.

The Cuban account.

[typical communist doggerel??]

"dog‧ger‧el  - - adjective 1. (of verse) a. comic or burlesque, and usually loose or irregular in measure. b. rude; crude; poor."

The South African account.

One anecdotal account the from South African "story" of things did catch my attention.

"The Ratels raced for the tanks, surrounding them and dodging back and forth until they could get behind them and shoot at the comparatively vulnerable rear ends of the tanks."

[this is a Ratel armored car versus a T-55 tank. NOT a match by any means. The tank should easily overcome that armored car.]

This greatly resembles, NO, exactly resembles what did occur in Romania during World War Two when German armor forces encountered the Soviet Joseph Stalin [JS] tank for the first time. German tanks were ABLE TO DEFEAT THE ONRUSHING JOSEPH STALIN TANKS BY QUICKLY MANEUVERING AND ATTACKING THE JS TANKS FROM THE REAR!!

Where does the smart money place the bet on who won at Cuito??

"The people's armed forces for the liberation of Angola have not been able either, even with the help of the Cubans, to decisively defeat the enemy and drive him out of the territory or the country. The result, frankly speaking, was an impasse."; M. Ponoromov; Krasnaya Zvezda Magazine; May, 20, 1988.


My guess is, with the South Africans!!

Here is a Google Earth web site that lists "all the bases, battlegrounds and other areas of interest of the Border War in Namibia [formerly South West Africa] and Angola, including Moçambique, Swaziland, Zambia etc."



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