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South African Defense Forces (SADF); USMC Analysis of Operations in Angolan War

South African Defense Forces (SADF); USMC Analysis of Operations in Angolan War

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Published by kickerofelves
US Marine Corps analysis of South African Army operations during Angolan War.
US Marine Corps analysis of South African Army operations during Angolan War.

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Published by: kickerofelves on Apr 10, 2011
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11/21/2013

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Fighting Columns In Small Wars: An OMFTS ModelCSC 2000Subject Area - Warfighting
Preface
From August to December 1987, South Africa conducted a little-known campaign insoutheastern Angola to prevent a communist regime from gaining complete control of thestate and further destabilizing the region. The fighting was the culmination of manyyears of intermittent conflict along the border of Angola and Namibia. The campaign isof contemporary interest for two reasons. First, it provides an excellent example of thepolitical utility of carefully modulated military power. In short, South Africa achieved itspolicy goals by employing a small but potent strike force. Second, the force selected wasa modern version of the colonial war era "flying column", a mobile all-arms battle grouptailored to operate effectively at the end of a long supply line. Both aspects of theoperation make it an interesting model for potential United States Marine Corps (USMC)Operational Maneuver From the Sea (OMFTS) applications. Part I will establish thestrategic context behind the
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campaign. Chapter One will examine the historicalbackground, the primary players involved in the drama, and the results of previous SouthAfrican military excursions into the maelstrom of Angola. Subsequent chapters willexamine the elements of the operation itself, the tactical lessons it underscores, and thepointers it provides towards possible naval applications. Part II will assess the viability of Marine fighting columns launched from the sea to conduct similar combat operationsseveral hundred miles inland.
 
 
EXECUTIVE SUMMARYTitle
.
 
Flying Columns in Small Wars: An OMFTS Model
Author
. Major Michael F. Morris, USMC
 Thesis
. The colonial war "flying column" concept provides an effective model for MEUand MEB level OMFTS/STOM operations.
Discussion
. This monograph examines the feasibility of MEU and MEB level STOMoperations in the 2014 timeframe. It concludes that specially organized, trained, andequipped MAGTFs can conduct STOM versus objectives up to three hundred milesinland. Specific MEU and MEB models, based on the proven concepts inherent invarious historical flying column operations, are proposed. Required shifts in doctrine,organization, training, and equipment are identified.The study also illustrates the utility of battalion and brigade level MAGTFs at theoperational level by analyzing a case study, Operation
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. In 1987 in southeasternAngola the South African Defense Force employed a three thousand man mobile strikeforce to defeat a combined Angolan / Cuban division size force intent on destroying theUNITA resistance movement. The campaign's military outcome convinced the Sovietsand Cubans to settle the twenty-three year Angolan border war and the political future of Namibia in a diplomatic venue rather than by force of arms. Operation
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highlights the potential of small, mobile, hard-hitting fighting columns in a small war environment.
Conclusion
. Most OMFTS/STOM analysts have thus far advocated either infestation or vertical envelopment tactics. Few recommend using surface battle groups withsignificant organic CS and CSS capabilities. This study suggests that fighting columns,heavy (by Marine standards) in armor, artillery, and logistic support, provide the mostflexible and powerful STOM employment option. It concludes that a combination of robust, mobile CSSDs and aerial resupply can furnish the supplies, particularly Classes I,III, and V, necessary to fight and win.ii
 
 
Table of Contents
Page
MMS COVER SHEET............................................................................................ iDISCLAIMER........................................................................................................iiPREFACE..............................................................................................................iiiEXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................................................................................... ivTABLE OF CONTENTS.........................................................................................vLIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS...............................................................................viiiLIST OF TABLES................................................................................................. ixLIST OF MAPS.......................................................................................................xPART I: OPERATIONAL MANEUVER FROM THE VELD: 20SOUTH AFRICAN BRIGADE IN ANGOLA, AUG-DEC 1987...........1CHAPTER 1: STRATEGIC CONTEXT.................................................................2Prelude to Conflict...................................................................................... 2Superpowers and Proxies.............................................................................4External Operations: A Legacy of Intervention...........................................8CHAPTER 2: OPERATION
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.............................................................12Doctrine......................................................................................................12Equipment..................................................................................................13Organization...............................................................................................16Phases of the Campaign.............................................................................19Phase I: Defending UNITA (4 Aug-5 Oct)................................... 20Phase II: Refit and Pursuit (6 Oct - 27 Oct)...................................25Phase III: Counteroffensive (28 Oct - 5 Dec)............................... 29Conflict Termination..................................................................................32CHAPTER 3: TACTICAL LESSONS..................................................................35Command and Control...............................................................................36Intelligence.................................................................................................40Maneuver...................................................................................................43Fires............................................................................................................47Force Protection.........................................................................................51Logistics.....................................................................................................53Conclusion.................................................................................................57iii

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I disagree with the description of the Brits. They're very well-trained but definitely under-equipped. A large % of their air, arty & medevac support come from the U.S. forces. Most of the American forces who've been in service for a few years tend to be on their 4th, 5th or more combat tours. There's a level of skill present that wasn't there a few years ago. I'm certain the same with the Brits.
kickerofelves added this note
Shaun, early on in the Iraq war we could very well have used something as simple as the SADF's v-shaped hull vehicles, something it took us three years to get to. I believe we actually bought a couple of hundred SA vehicles at one point then went to design our own. Now the designs have improved dramatically even beyond the SADF's concepts. Billions of dollars and nine years of war will do that.
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