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This week in War in Peace

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Published weekly by Orbis Publishing Limited
Orbis House,20-22 Bedfordbury, London WC2N 4BT 01-3796711
Since the development of the Gulf region as a major
sou rce of oi I su ppl ies to the Western world, dom i na nce
of that area has been a priority of the UnitedStates'
global strategy. Until 1979 the key ally of the Ufiited
States in the Gulf was the Shah of lran, primedwith
Contents Volume 9 lssue 98 Western military equipment to be the 'policeman' of
the region. Yetthe Shah faced mounting popularhostil-
ity, both from left-wingers and lslamic fundamental-
Thetall olthe Shah 1949 Consultant Editors
ists, against which his military armoury proved use-
Walter Haffmann DrJohn Pimlott less.
Senior Lecturer in the Department of After the Shah's dramatic fall in January 1979 hostil-
Chronology 1976-80 1954 WarStudies atthe Royal Military
Academy Sandhurst ity to the United States became a dominant theme of
Americadefied
BarrySmith
1956
David Floyd
the new lslamic Republic's policy. Washington was
Specialist writer on international consequently forced to seek a new m ilitary capacity for
Rapid deployment 1960 politics intervention in and around the Gulf to defend its
Robin Corbeu
Editorial Advisory Board interests.
Key Weapons: Air-to-Air Brigadier-General {Retd) James L.
Missiles 1963 Collins Jr
FormerChief of Mllitary History,
US Department of the Army
Nextweek's issue
Editor
Ashley Brown
lan V. Hogg ln December 1979 the Soviet Union moved a large
Authority on smallarms and modern
Deputy Editor weapons systems combat force into Afghanistan and immediately be-
Reg Grant came involved in a major counter-insurgency cam-
Production Editor Vice-Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailley KBE CB
paign forwhich its armywas almosttotally unprepared.
Sue Leonard Council member of the lnstitute for the
Sub-Editors Study of Conflict
Robin Corbett
Paul Szuscikiewicz Professional Laurence Martin
Vice-Chancellor atthe University of
Artwork Researcher Newcastle upon Tyne, and former
Simon lnnes Head of the Department of War Studies
Artwork Buyer at King's College, University of London
Tricia Young CONTRIBUTORS
Air Vice-Marshall S.W.B. Menaul CB
Picture Editor CBE DFC AFC Walter Hoffmann is an Australian writer who specialises in problems of security and
Carina Dvorak Commandant of the Joint Seruices international relations in East Asia and the Pacific.
Picture Researcher Staff College, 1965-67, and
Director-General of the Royal United Barry Smith taught until recently jn the Department of Politrcs at Exeter University.
Staszek Gnych
Services lnstitute, 1 968-76 He is a contributor to the iournal H/story of Political Thought and specialises in the
Picture Consultant English CivilWar and in modern political ideologies.
Robert Hunt Editorial Director
Design Brian lnnes Acknowledgements
BAC 1965(inset);BAC/M. Roberts '1956(8i; Engins Matra/MARS 1966(C), 1966(inset), 1966-67(8);
EDC (Partworks) Ltd
Circulation Director McoonnellDouglas 19&(C); Popperfoto 1958{C); BafaelArmamenVMARS'19681T); RexFeatures
1 951 (T), 195318), 1 956, 1 958-59(B); Michael Roberts Front cover, 1 958(T), 1 9601T), 1 961 (inset), 1 961,
Design Coordinator David Breed 1 960-61 (B), 1962(Ti, 1 963, 1964{B); SAAB 1 965(T); FrankSpooner Pictures 1 949, 1 950(C), 1 950-51 (T),
Stephen Westcoti 1951(B), 1952, 1953(Tr), 195&57, 1959{8); TASS 1966 67(C); US Navy/MABS 1964(T); US Navy/M.
Editorial Secretary Marketing Director Roberts 1965(C), 1966-67(T), 19671T).
MichaelJoyce Maps and diagrams: Robert Burns/Drawing Attention I 949, 'l 958. Back coverartworks byMalcolm
Clare Witherden McGregor.
Production Assistant Subscription Manager @ Orbis Publishing Limited 1984. Typesett'ng by Text of Orpington. Reproduction by Adroit Phoro
Alastair Gourlay ChristineAllen 0488-72666 Litho Lld. Printed in Great Britain b\^GLB Offset Ltd. 1 3841 2

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Thefall
The lranian revolution
1978-79
The strongman of Iran and master of the mightiest
military machine in the Gulf region, Shah Moham-
med Reza Pahlavi. owed his Peacock throne twice
over to fbreign intervention. The first time was in
1941 . when British and Soviet troops had entered lran
to depose his pro-Axis father, Reza Shah Pahlavi. The
second occasion was in 1953. when the Shah was
returned to the throne he had hastily fled by an
American-inspired coup, which ousted his enemy,
the nationalist lranian prime minister, DrMohammed
Mossadegh.
In the wake ofthe events of I 953, the badly shaken
Shah turned increasingly to his omnipresent secret
police, SAVAK (Sazeman Etelaat va Amniat Kesh-
var State Security and Information Organisation),
which ruthlessly suppressed all open opposition, and
pursued the Shah's enemies abroad as well as at
home. By the late 1970s, it was esrimated rhar
SAVAK employed at least 20,000 people and con-
trolled a network of over 180.000 informers and
spies. SAVAK's rnethods, which included the
routine use oftorture and executions, gained the Shah
an unsavoury reputation, and provoked worldwide
protests at Iranian human-rights violations.
Refbrms introducedby the Shah in l96l , including
land refbrm, f'emale emancipation and the secularisa-
tion of the state were designed to promote the mod-
ernisation of Iran, and certainly helped impel the
country into the 20th century. But at the same time.
this 'White Revolution' alienated the powerful Mus-
lim clergy, who not only lost their own extensive
landholdings. but also denounced the reforms as
anti-Islamic. The most prominent of these Muslim
traditionalists was thc Ayatollah Ruhallah Khorreini.
who usedhis position as arespectedteacherof Islamic
theology as a propaganda platfomt against the Shah.
The clash between the clergy and the Shah reached a
peak in 1963, when the storming of Khomeini's
theological school in Qom by lmperial Guards trig-
gered off widespread riots and demonstrations.
Khomeini was arested and ntany demonstrators kil-
led; the Shah denounced what he called an alliance of
'black reactionaries' (the Muslim clergy) and 'dark
red fbrces' (the communist Tudeh Party). Khomeini
continued actively to oppose the Shah after his release
in March 1964, but failed to mobilise mass supporr
and became increasingly isolated. By November
1964. the Shah f'elt strong enough to order
Khomeini's expulsion fiom Iran. After a brief period
in Turkey. Khomeini settled in lraq. where he spent
the fbllowing l4 years as a political exile, denouncing
the Shah and all his works.
A second source ofopposition to the Shah enterged
in 1965,_ with the fbundation of the Sazeman-e-
Mujahidin-e-Khalq-e-lran (People's Mujahidin
Organisation of Iran) by a small
-{roup of
lefi-wing
Muslim graduates of Tehran University. Several had

1949

L
rRAN 1978-79

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taken part in the 1963 pro-Khomeini demonstrations.


but later moved beyond Khomeini's conservative
traditionalism to a radicalism derived from a com-
bination of Islam, Marxism and the example of Third
World national liberation movements. The Mujahi-
din soon developed close links with the Palestine
Liberation Organisation. in whose camps they re-
ceived their first military training, and by 197 I they
were beginning to lay the foundations for an urban
guerrilla movement. Their first operations included
the assassination of a senior American military advis- came increasingly fiom her marn ally and alrns sup- Previous page: As the fi res
er and ofthe Tehran chiefofpolice. plier. the United States. after the election of Jimmy of lslamic revolution swept
lran during the winter of
The organisation quickly became the number one Carter to the White House in 1976. President Carter
1 978-79, the power ofthe
target for SAVAK, and by late 197 I the entire lead- saw lran as a test case lor the human-rights orientated
Shah turned to ashes.
ership had been captured - by May 1972 they had all fbreign policy which he hoped to initiate for the Left-wing and
been either executed or tortured to death. The blow United States. American pressure did persuade the fundamentalist opponents
was severe, but the Muiahidin simply went deeper of liberalising measures,
Shah to introduce a number of the Shah united in huge
underground, rebuilding their shattered organisation including the announcemcnt ol free elections to be mass demonstrations
and gradually leaming the dangerous lessons of urban held in the summer of 1979. which Iedto bloody
confrontations with the
guerrilla warfare. As the Mujahidin organisation The American-inspired liberalisation. however. lranian Army. Above: A
grew it began to cooperate with the Marxist unleashed a waveol protests against the regime. victim of the first such clash
Fedayeen-e-Khalq in a series of terrorist operations which became caught in the classic dilemma of in Tehran on 4 September
airned at showing that resistance to the Shah was modernising autocracies. which findthat each step 1 978. Top: The Jaleh

possible, and that SAVAK was not invincible. towards liberalisation is seen as a sign of weakness. Square massacre on the
Both the Mujahidin and Fedayeen were able to tap and each reassertion of authority as a provocation t<r following day led to the
deaths of 500
the growing reservoir of discontent with the Shah's new protests and opposition. The trigger for the demonstrators and
new lran which was widespread not only among the protests was a governrnent-inspired irress attack on convinced many of the
urban poor and the growing working class, but alscr the Ayatollah Khomeini which appeared on 7 January need to overthrow the
among the atlluent and socially privileged middlc 197u. The attack fbllowed shortly after the myste- Shah.
class which was itself largely a product of the Shah's rious death of the Ayatollah's eldest son. which many
programme of modernisation. The corruption and attributed to SAVAK. and led to demonstrations in
ostentation of the Shah's court contrasted dramatical- the religious centre of Qorn which werc fired on by
ly with the condition of the large numbers of unem- troops. causing many deaths.
ployed urban poor, r.,u'ho had been drawn to the shanty The ,10-da1, mourning period laid down by the Top right: The austere
figure of the Ayatollah
towns, such as those which surrounded Tehran, by the Shi'ite religion was widely observed. and its end was
Khomeini became the
lure of work and a share in the prosperity of an marked by a renewed round of demonstrations and universalsymbolof the
increasingly remote and Westernised society. Their clashes between protesbrs and security forces. ln opposition to the Shah.
disillusionment combined with the desire of the Tabriz. ovcr 100 demonstrators were either killed or Right: The Shah
expanding educated administrative and industrial woundcd by the police. and the cnraged crowd attack- responded byemploying
middle class fbr a share in the powcr which remained ed cinernas ancl banks as the symbols of the Wester- troops against unarmed
demonstrators, butthe
concentrated exclusively in the hands of the Shah, nised Iran the Shah hoped to construct. This anti-
willingness of manyto
who did little to win support outside of the elite. but Western nationalist lslan.ric aspect of the opposition accept martyrdom only
increasingly alienated opinion by the brutality ofhis to the Shah was encouragcd by cassette recordings of demoralised the army and
suppression of all dissent. rnessages f}om Khomeini which were being illicitly hastened the final collapse
Pressure fbr a liberalisation of the lranian regirne clistributed throughout the countrv. calling on the of the regime.

r 950
rRAN 1978-79

taithtul to rise up against the Shah as their religious


duty.
The depths of the latent distrust and hatred which
existed towards the Shah were most clearly illustrated
after an arson attack upon the crowded Rex cinema in
Abadan on l9 Au-uust 1978. during which some 600
people were burned to death. Although subsequent
evidence pointed strongly to the responsibility of
fanatical Islamic fundamentalists. many Iranians
accepted without question the allegation that the
attack had been carried out by the Shah's agents in
order to discredit the opposition. The Rex killings
initiated a new wave of attacks on banks and cinemas"
and protest demonstrations took on the character of
fanatical confrontations with the security fbrces. each
yielding its own crop of marlyrs. and the continually
repeated.l0-day mourning periods were transfbrmed
into a process oforganisation and propaganda. result-
ing in ever larger protests which the securitl, forces
were increasingly powerlcss to prevent.

Demonstrations and death


The first mass demonstrations to be held in Tehran
took place on 4 September 1978. when over 100.000
people took to the streets in an unprecedented chal-
lenge to the Shah. The sovernment reacted by ban-
ning all demonstrations. but was unable to prevent a
secondlnarch on 7 September. The regime responded
by plqding the capital under marlial law. and soldiers
were brdered to shoot to kill.
The fbllowing day. however, den'ronstrators again
trssembled in the Jaleh Square in south Tehran. The
Tehran correspondent of the French newspaper l-r
Figaro described what fbllowed. as the soldiers
opened firc: 'This is not a fi-sht: this is a nrassacre. A
firing squad at work. Thc street one minute befbre-
hand darkened with people. is strewn with bodies,
shoes. trampelled banners. the wounded crau'ling
toward each other, stru-ugling to reach each other. ' An
estimated -500 demonstrators had been slaughtered. It
was a turnin-{ point that nrarked the transition from
pr()lest l() rL'\ ()luli()n.
Tehran Universitlr. which reopened towards the
end of September. became the or-uanisational centre
lbr rer,olr.rtionary/ activity. and thc virtually open base

i9-i l
IRAN 1978-79

of the Mujahidin and Fedayeen guerrtllas who not


only helped organise demenstrations and n.reetings,
but also trained many people in the use of weapons.
Meetings, exhibitions and the production of a torrent
of propaganda material transformed the university
into a blatant challenge to.the Shah's authority. On 4
November a raily of over 100,000 high school and
university students was attacked by units of the
Shah's Imperial Guards - 65 demonstrators were
killed and up to 400 wounded. Tehran witnessed the
most violent protests yet, and by the following day a
nationwide state of martial law had been imposed.
The prime minister, Sharif Ernami, who had been
appointed as a half-hearled gesture to liberalisation.
was removed from office, and the Iranian chief of
staff, General Azhari, took his place. Tehran Uni-
versity was occupied by troops and control of the
campus became a key issue in what was rapidly
becorning an all-out struggle for power between the
Shah and the loose opposition coalition that ranged
from Islamic fundamentalists loyal to Ayatollah
Khomeini, through moderate liberals of the National
Front, to the more radical Mujahidin and the pro-
Mosct.rw communists of the Tudeh Party. Whiie a
group of lecturers occupied classrooms at the uni-
versity, students staged a sit-in at the Ministry of
Education from 23 December. which escalated tcl
massive demonstrations involving ovcr 400,000
when troops shot and killed one ofthe student protes-
ters on 26 December.

The flight of the Shah


The martial iaw regime appeared increasingiy desper-
ate as the various strands of the opposition united
behind the austere and intransigent figure of Ayatol-
lah Khomeini. now based in Paris. Isolated incidents
of fraternisaticm between troops and demonstrators
began to be reporled, and anti-Shah slogans were
chanted nightly from the rooflops in a constant pro-
vocation to the army patrols in the streets bclow. resolution appearcd inevitable. Above: Left-wing guerrillas
The uprising which sealed the fate of the Shah's and arrned supporters of
General Azhari , who had suffered a heart attack late in
the Ayatollah round up
December, was replaced as prime n'rinister by forrner re-eime was set in motion by cvents which occurred at
agents of SAVAK, the
opposition National Front politician Shapur Bakhtiar an lranian Air Force base at Farahabacl, in south Shah's hated secret police.
on 29 December, but the situation had already de- Tehran. A lilmed report of the arivel of Khorneini in Above centre: The arrival
teriorated far beyond cosmetic cabinet changes. On Tel.rran being shown on television was grected bv a ofKhomeini atTehran
13 January 1979, demonstrators marched on the group ofair fbrce technicians and cadqts rvith chanted airport on 1 February 1 979
itoginr in suppofi of the Ayatollah. Iirperial Guards to a rapturous welcome.
occupied university and took it over as the 'Central
Fort ofthe Revolution' . Three days later the Shah and loyal to the Shah who were present attackccl the
his wife lefi Iran by air for the final exile. airmen and laid siege to thenr in their banacks.
Within hours the news of the Shah's departure had News ol the fighting at Farahaba<J, spread rapidlv
reached the streets of the capital, where hundreds of throughout the capital. and thc airmen appeaiecl fbr
thousands demonstrated their joy and relief. The help against the hnperial Guarcls. Armecl Mujahidin
Bakhtiar govemment continued to oppose change by and Fedal,cer.r rushed to the scene of the fighting, and
armed force, however, and the runway of Tehran took up positions to the rcar of the Irnperial Gutrrcls
airporl was blocked by army tanks in order to prevent who sucldenlir tbund thcmselves uncler attack trtlm all
the much heralded retum ofKhomeini. Bv I Febmary sides. The airmen distributed weapons tiorn their
the runway bariers had been removed, however, and armoul'y to the lar-ee numbers of civilian-s who had
the Ayatollah landed to the rapturous reception of the come to their aid, and fighting became general
Top right: The bodies of
people of Tehran, who lined the route of his trium- throughout Tehran as the revolutidnaries rnoved to lranian generals,
phant entry into the capital in their millions. cut off units ol the Imperial Guards rvl.tich rvere suppofters ofthe Shah,
Two centres of authority now existed in Iran: that of moving to the support of thcir comrades. killed bythe firing squads
the Shah. represented by the totally isolated person of Thc insur-qents. armed with light autonlutic of the new lslamic
Prime Minister Bakhtiar; and that of Ayatollah wcapons ancl mokrtov cocktails, f'aced the tanks of the Republic. Right: The Shah
lranian Army, but the mclralc of the -{ovcrnment flees Iran on l6January
Khomeini, to whom the majorityof the Iranian people 1979. Aftertaking refuge in
now looked fbr leadership, and who appointed Mehdi troops had alreacly been rvcakened by the months of a numberof countries,
Bazargan as prime minister of a provisional govern- confrontation with fanatical unarmed dettttlnstt ators including the United
ment on 5 February. The arnted forces renlained for who had welcomcd mafiyrdom in the light against the States, he fina lly died of
the mostparlloyaltothe Shah. however, andformed a Shah. Resistance began to crumble. anclby I I Febru- cancer in Egypt in July
last barrier to.a peacefirl transition. A hnal bloody ary the insurgents were mttving over to the oft'en$ive i 980.

1952
IRAN 1978-79

and had be-eun to attack SAVAK buildings, police


stations and the capital's five main military bases.
News of thc insurection had already spread to the rest
of lran and fightin-u brokc out in all the country's
majorcities. Late on I I February the tall ofTehran to
the insur-tents was announced on radio and television.
Thc rule of the Shah was at an end.
The n'iurnphant Islarnic revolution now turned to
the grinr business of visiting retribution upon the
senior arnry olficers who had been responsible fbr
propping up the Imperial regime and for the bloody
suppression of opposition. General afier general
fhced firing squads of the new Revolutionary Guards
who had taken overresponsibility fbr security. Loyal
to Ayatollah Khorneini. they were distinct tiom the
guer-rilla groups which had played such an active part
in the fighting. and providcd the Islanric fundamental-
ists u,ith the means to impose their starnp on lran.
Divisionri within the anti-Shah coalition soon be-
gan to re-emerge when the Shah himself had been
removed liom por,i,er. Though the Tudeh Party con-
tinuecl to support the socially conservative but
violently nationalistic ancl anti-Westem lslan.ric Re-
public established in the wake of the revolution (until
thc MLrslim fundamentalists themselves turned on the
cornmunists and destroyed them), conflict with the
Mujahidin and with Iran's various national n.rinorities
soon explodcd into open warfhre. The Mujahidin,
driven once mclre underground. resorled to terrorist
tactics in a violent strug-ule over the course of the
Iranian revolution. while national minorities. such as
the Kurds, who had playecl an active paft in the
struggle ;rgainst the Shah, fbund that their hopes of
equalitl' and self:deterrnination wcrc to be shattered
a-gainst the even rnore a-qgressive Persian chauvinisnr
ollran's new Islamic rulers. The 1979 revolution had
substituted a dictatr:rrship of the Mullahs tbr the
autocracy of the Shah - a dictabrship which in many
respccts was even more brutal than that which it had
replaced WalterHoffmann
Chronolog
.

EUROPE AND NORTH AMERICA December December


13 United States announces resumption of 27 Vietnam sends troops into Kampuchea. '
1916 diplomatic relations with China.
Januaiy 23 United States and Soviet Union SALT talks end
5 Northern Ireland Ten Protestant textile workers t919
without agreement.
killed by terrorist group at Whitecross, Armagh. January
May 7 Kampuchea Vietnamese troops occupy Phnom
Penh, and set up govemment under Heng Samrin.
9 West Germany Red Army Fraction leader Ulrike 1979
Meinhoffound dead in her prison cell. February
28 United States concludes treaty with Soviet Union
March 17 Vietnam Chinese troops invade the northern
on the control ofunderground nuclear explosions for
22 Netherlands British ambassador assassinated by provinces of Vietnam.
non-military purposes.
IRA. 23 Vietnam Soviet military supplies airlifted to the
30 Britain Airey Neave MP assassinated by INLA. Vietnamese.
JulY May
2l Eire British ambassador Christopher March
,l Britain Margaret Thatcher becomes f,rst woman 5 Yietnam Long San abandoned to Chinese forces
Ewat-Briggs assassinated. prime minister. after fierce fighting.
November 8 Ilnited States and Soviet Union Presidents
I United States Jimmy Carter elected president.
I 6 Vietnam Chinese begin withdrawal from Vietnam.
Carter and Brezhnev sign SALT II treaty in Vienna. 20 Vietnam Chinese withdrawal completed.
August
t97l 27 Ireland Earl Mountbatten killed by terorist bomb
January at Mullaghmore in the Irish Republic; 18 British paras
12 Northern Ireland Secretary of State Roy Mason killed by terrorist bombs at Warrenpoint in Northern
announces the 'Way Ahead' policy - 'Ulsterisation' . Ireland.
May December SOUTH ASIA
11 Soviet Union and United States begin SALT II 6 Netherlands Dutch parliament rejects Nato plan 1916
talks in Ceneva. for stationlng of cruise missiles in the Netherlands.
June
l6 Soviet Union Leonid Brezhnev becomes 12 Nato approves stationing of572 missiles in 29 Seychelles gains independenc,3, remaining in
president as well as general secretary ofCommunist Europe.
Commonwealth.
Pafiy.
17 Nato agrees to a 3 per cent annual rise in defence
spending. 1980 t971
23 Netherlands South Moluccan tefforists seize January
April
hostages in train and school. 1 United States President Carter recalls US 2l Pakistan Martial law imposed in major cities.
June ambassatlor from Moscow following Soviet invasion June
ll Netherlands Dutch Marines and police release ofAfghanistan. 5 Seychelles Presldent Mancham overthrown in
April bloodless coup.
hostages from South Moluccans.
30 United States President Carter announces 28 Europe European Campaign for Nuclear JulY
cancellation of B- 1 bomber programme. Disarmament (END) founded. 4 Pakistan Army takeover under GeneralZia
30 Britain lranian embassy seized by tefforists. ul-Haq.
JulY
7 United States President Cafter reveals neutron May
bomb in production. 4 Yugoslavia PresidentTito dies atter long illness. t918
September 5 Britain SAS commandos storm Iranian embassy April
5 West Germany Industrialist Dr Hanns-Martin and release hostages. 27 Afghanistan Daoud govemment overthrown in
Schleyer kidnapped by Baader-Meinhof group. June coup; Noor Mohammed Taraki comes to power at head
October 19 Britain Government announces intentlon to of Marxist regime.
13 West Germany Lufthansa flight hijacked to deploy cruise missiles at Greenham Common and
Mogadishu, Somalia, by West German and Palestinian Moleswofih. L919
terror.ists, demanding release of Baader-Meinhol September
JulY
prisoners. 12 Turkey Demirel govemment overthrown in Sri Lanka State ofemergency in response to Tamil
l8 West Germany GSG9 anti-terrorist squad military couf led by"General Kenan Evren. revolt.
successfully assaults hijacked aircraft at Mogadishu. October September
Three Baader-Meinhof leaders, including Andreas 24 Poland Independent trade union organisation *7 Afghanistan Taraki ousted by Hafizullah Amin.
Baader. found dead in their cells. 'solidarity' recognised by government.
November
19 West Germany Kidnapped industrialist Dr November
2l Pakistan US embassy in Islamabad burnt down.
Schleyer found dead. 4 United St4tes Ronald Reagan elected president. Decemtrer
November 24 Afghanistan Soviet aircraft deliver comba"t troops
2 Soviet Union President Brezhnev offers to halt to Kabul airporl as flve divisions mass on frontier.
nucleartesting. 27 Afghanistan Amin killed in Soviet assault on
SOUTHEAST ASIA presidential palace. Babrak Karmal flown in by Soviets
t918 1976 to take his place.
January June
4 BritainRepresentative of PLO in London Said 24 Vietnamofflciallyreunifled. i980
Hammami assassinated. 30 Thailand South East Asian Treaty Organisation January
February (Seato) closes Bangkok headquarters and ceases to 1 Afghanistan Soviet force of some 60,000 men in
17 Northern Ireland Fire bomb at La Mon exist. the country; fighting continues throughout the year.
restaurant kills 1 2. October
March 20 ThailandMilitarycoup.
l6 ltaly Aldo Moro. five timesprime minister.
kidnapped by Red Brigades.
May EAST ASIA
9 Italy Body of Aldo Moro found. t978
September November t916
15 Britain Baader-Meinhof terrorist Astrid Proll 3 Vietnam and Soviet Union sign a Treaty of Sgptember
arrested in London- Friendship. 9 ChinaDeathofMaoTse-tung.

1954
CHRONOLOGY 1976-80

1918 March 15 Angola FNlA/mercenary force finally driven


May 26 Egypt and Israel sign peace treaty in from northem Angola by MPLA/Cuban advance;
II China and Soviet Union Troops clash on the Washington. MPLA in effective control of the country.
Ussuri River. 3l Malta Final withdrawal of British Navy. 13 Nigeria General Murtala Mohammed, head of
June April state, assassinated.
5 ChinahaltsaidtoVietnam. I Iran declared an Islamic Republic. March
August October 3 Mozambique closes border with.Rhodesia,
12 China and Japan sign treaty of peacq and 23 United States Ex-Shah
e of Iran flown to New York imposes sanctions. -
friendship. forcancertreatment. June
November 16 South Africa Rioting in black to\tnship of
1919 4 Iran Students occupy the US embassy and take the Soweto, Johannesburg.
January stalThostage. JulY
28 China Deputy prime minister Deng Hsiao-ping 14 Iran United States fieezes all Iranian assets. 3-4 Uganda Israeli airbome troops rescue hostages
begins official visit to the United States. fiom Entebbe airport.
October 1980
26 South Korea President Park assassinated. January t9l1
27 Israel and Egypt reopen theirborder. February
April 3 Ethiopia Lieutenant-Colonel Mengistu Haile
9 Lebanon lsraeli troop> move in. Mariam seizes power in palace coup.
24-25 Iran US Delta Force carries out abortive 24 Ethiopia United States halts arms supplies.
attempt to free the embassy hostages in Tehran March
MIDDLEEAST t Operation Eagle Clau ). 10 Zaire Shaba Province invaded bv Katansese
t916 JulY gendarmes from Angola.
April 27 EgyptDeathof ex-Shah of Iran. JulY
9 Lebanon Syrian regul ar troops intervene in September 24 Somalia launches full-scale invasion ofthe
Lebanese civil war to prevent a Muslim/Palestinian 4 Iran attacks Iraqi border villages in escalation of Ogaden area of Ethiopia.
victory. border clashes. September
JulY 22 Iran Start of Gulf War as Iraq invades Iran. 12 Ethiopia Somali forces capture Jijiga.
3-4 Israel mounts asuccessful rescue mission to 23-25 Iran and Iraq launch crippling air strikes October
Entebbe, Uganda, where israeli passengers on a against each others' oil relining installattons. 18 Somalia Rescue of Lufthansa flight hostages at
hijacked Air France flight are being held hostage by October Mogadishu by West German GSC9.
West German and Palestinian lerrori:ts. 13 Iran Khoramshar falls to Iraqi forces; Abadan November
November besieged by 1and. 4 South Africa UN security council imposes
15 Lebanon Syrian troops enter Beirut as guarantors mandatory arms embargo.
ofan Arab peace agreement to end the civil war; 26 Ethiopia Soviet airlift of Cuban troops and
fighting subsides. weapons to aid Ethiopia in the Ogaden War.

t9t1 SOUTH AMERICA t918


July t976 February
2l Libya and Egypt engage in border clashes. August 7 Ethiopia launches major off'ensive in the Ogaden.
November I Trinidad and Tobago gain independence within March
22 Israel President Sadat ofEgypt addresses the the Commonu,ealth. 9 Somalia announces total withdrawal from
Israeli Knesset in Jerusalem. Ethiopian territory.
Ma]-
1911 I Angola Nlajor incursion by South African troops.
tgt8 August 12 Zaire Second invasion of Shaba from Angola.
February l1 Panama United States agrees to hand over the 18-25 Zaire French legionnaires paradrop into
19 Cyprus Egyptian commandos unsuccessfully Canal to Panama by the year 2000. Kolwezi to rescue white hostages and det'eat Shaba
storm a hlacked aircraft at Larnaca.
invasion.
March
14 Lebanon Large-scale thrust by Israeli forces into
1978 July
the south ofthe country (Operation Litani).
August l0 Mauritania Coup brings Lieutenant-Colonel
22 LebanonUN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL)
7 Honduras Military coup. Salek to power.

despatched to the south Lebanon.


September 30 Mozambique South African troops attack
June
I INicaragua Martial law imposed through much of guerrilla bases.
the country as Sandinista guerillas increase pressure August
13 Lebanon Israeli forces withdraw from south
on govemment of General Somoza. 30 Namibia UN plan for Namibia accepted by
Lebanon.
November SWAPO, rejected by South Afiica-
24 North Yemen President Ghashmi assassinated. 24 BoliviaMilitarycoup.
26 South Yemen President Rubayi Ali deposed and
executed by pro-Soviet opponents. t9t9
September t9t9 April
5-17 Egypt and Israel Camp David summit during May $ 1 IUganda Kampala occupied by force ofTanzanian
which Prime Minister Begin, President Sadat and ,4 El Salvador Guerillas seize French and Costa troops and Ugandan exiles: Amin overthrown.
President Carter devise a 'framework fbr peace' . Rican emtlassies. June
8 Iran Martial law declared in Tehran and i 1 other 17 Nicaragua President Somoza flees to the United 4 Ghana Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings takes power in
cities afler widespread demonstrations against the States leaving Sandinistas in control ofthe country. military coup.
Shah. October September
28 Israel The Knesset approves the Camp David 17 ElSalradorColonelsseizepower. impose 5 Rhodesia launches ground and air attacks into
agreement. martial law. Mozambique.
October November 20 Central African Republic France ovefthrows
27 Egypt and Israel Begin and Sadat awarded Nobel I Bolivia Military coup. 'Emperor' Bokassa and installs David Dacko as
Peace Prize. president.
November 1980 December
3 Egypt suspended from the Arab League. March 2l Rhodesia Treaty on preparations for
December 2,1 El Salvador Archbishop Romero assassinated at independence signed at Lancaster House in London
20 Lebanon Israel attacks Palestinian bases. altar in San Salvador.
r 980
t919 March
January
AFRICA 4 Rhodesia/Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe's ZANU
16 lran The Shah leaves the country in the face of party wins overall majority in elections.
relentless mass demon5tration:. t976 April
February February 18 Zimbabwe becomes independent state.
I lran The Ayatollah Khomeini retum: from exile. 9 Angola MPLA/Cuban forces capture UNITA .Iune
16 Iran Pro-Shah.qeneralsexecuted. 'capital'. Nova i-isboa. 16- 19 Soxth Africa Serious rioting in Soweto.

l 955
Left: Militant lslamic
students burn the
American flag on the roof
of the US embassY in
Tehran, November 1980.
The students seized the
embassy and took 66 US
citizens hostage,
demanding the return of
the Shah to face a
revolutionary tri bu nal.

The lranian hostage crisis


On Sunday, '1 November 1979 some 400 militant cil. an alliance of lslamic factions' took over the
Islamic students occupied the United States embassy govemment. The new govemment conflrmed that
in Tehran. capital of lran, and took 66 American ih..v *.t.
not prepared to negotiate the release. tl1 the
citizens hostage. Three more US officials on a visit to hostages: in theory at least the students occupying the
the Iranian Foreign Ministry were alsotaken prisoner. embaisy were acting independently. The An.rericans
The occupation appears to have sulprised not only-the were therefore obliged to try to negotiate with the
Americans - who had not long before abandoned on students through intermediaries.
grounds of cost a plan to 'harden' the embassy US President Jimmy Carter had publicly rejected
iompound - but also the revolutionary leaders thenl- any notion of military intervention to tiee the hostagcs
(rerluced in number to 53 in the embassy compound
selves. Neveftheless. Ayatollah Khomeini and his
allies in the Islamic Republican Party (IRP) were by the release of l3 people by 20 November) but with
quick to back the action of the students, seizing the the American public clamouring for a solution to thc
oppo,'trnity that it presented to undermine the liberal crisis, and the 1980 presidential election on the hori-
gbvernment headed by Prime Minister Bazargan and zon, it is hardly surprising that he did in lact consitler
push forward their project of institutionalising the the military option from the very beginning ol the
power of the Islamic clergY . crisis. The US naval presence in the Gul{of Oman was
Anti-American fervour, fomented by the revolu- stepped up and a special unit, Delta Force, under
tionary clergy, had run high in Iran since the flight of Coionel Charlic Beckwith. was charged rvith de-
the Shah and the collapse ofthe hated Pahlavi reginre veloping plan to retake the embassy by fbrce.
a .

ln 1962 Charlie Beckwith. as ayoun'! captain in the


in the preceding February. lndeed, on 14 February,
only three days after the tall of the Pahlavi govem- Green Berets, had been posted to Britain fbr a year to
ment, the American embassy had been briefly occu- train with the SAS. He had been impressed with their
pied by Fedayeen-e-Khalq guenillas. Since the end of counter-insurgency methods and on his return he had
begun a can'rpaign for a similar American unitto be set
ihe firit occupation the American diplomats had been
'protectecl' by a contingent of Revolutionary Guards upl After seerng active service in Vietnam, Beckwith
who were, however, disavowed by the govemment- continued to press tbr an SAS-type unit to be set up
On 22 October the ailing fugitive Shah was adrnit- with a counter-insurgency and counter-terorist role,
ted to the tjnited States to receive medical treatment, untrl finally in 1911 he was given command of a new
and this provided the militant students with their detachmentofSpecial Forces: the lst Special Forces
immediate pretext for the seizure of the hostages ln Operational Detachment Delta. When the crisis
return tbr fieeing them, the students demanded that broke in Novembcr 1979 Beckwith was given a
the US retun'r the 'treacherous Shah' to Iran to stand chance to test his new fbrce.
trial, rejecting any possibility of negotiation. The US Although Beckwith's men had been traine<l to
govemment had maintained relations with Bazar- assault buildings occupied by terrorists and liee civi-
lian hostages, none ofthis training had anticipated the
lon'. gou.n nlent throughout this period in the.hope
Ihat it would be abie to survive the pressures of Islamic immense problems presented by the situation in-lran '
fundamentalism, but in the aftetmath of the occupa- Instead ofoperating on friendly teritory. Delta Force
tion Bazargan resigned and the Revolutionary Coun- would have to move deep into the Iranian interirrr

r 956
IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS I980

Tehran. A retuelling stop in the desert would have to


be arranged.
At each stage of the planning of the operation -
code-named Operation Eagle Claw - new difficulties
emerged, and each solution made the operation more
complex. To make matters worse, therq,.was a shor-
tage olgood intelligence. When the crisis broke, there
had been no American agents in lran excepfthose who
were attached to the embassy and were now among
the hostages. An ex-CIA agent, code-named'Bob',
was quickly briefed and inserled into Iran, followed
by lbur more Depafiment of Det'ense agents. But
there u'as no time to train them properly and none of
them rvas able to speakthe main locallanguage, Farsi.
Nevertheless the quaiity of inteliigence began to
improve and Delta Force were able to build up a
Above: The American And anv solution b the logistical difTiculties would detailed picture of the buildings in the embassy com-
hostages were su bject to have to preserve the elernent o1' surprise - once pound. Not until late in the pianning, however, was it
intense psVChological Anrcrican forces rvere detccted in lran there could be discovered that all the hostages were being held in the
pressure, and were often
blindfolded and displayed
no rnistuking their trhje. tilc. Chancellery building. The American agents were
Lrefore television cameras
Earl,v suggestions that Delta Force should para- also able to supply details of the dispositions of the
and anti-American crowds. chute into Tchran or drive there in trucks fiom Turkey Revolutionary Guards.
were dismisscd as unrealistil. Helicopters would When Delta Force deployed to Egypt on 21 April
certainly be neeclcd to evacLtate the hostages once the 1980. after months of training. the 72-man team that
embassv had been takcn. and so it rvas decidedto use had been agreed on in December had expanded to
Below:The occupied them on the way in. Naval carrier-based RH-53D Sea over 130, plus a detachment ofRangers to secure an
enr bassy became the focus
for violent anti-American
Stallion helicoplers with a lon-e-ran-{e heavy-lift airfleld tbr the withdrawal. In addition to the Sea
demonstrations which capabilitl,. pil<-xed b1, N1arines. coulcl be launched Stallion helicopters, eight in nnmber, the operation
swept lran in the wake of fiom the Gulf rtf Oman, but ilespite their long range involved C- 1 30 transports. tankers and gunships, and
the lslamic revolution. thcy rvoulcl be unable to cover the whole distance to two C- 141 Starlifters with lighter cover fbr the final
evacuation.

Delta Force and 'Deseft One'


The plan fbr Ea-ele Claw called fbr the Delta Force
assault team to be landed at 'Desert One'. a deserl
e. Jg= ..
; -,s i*-.
': Jt;:tg'
rotid 320 km (200 miles) southeast of Tehran, by three
troop-canying MC- l30s accompanied by three EC-
::
130 fuel tankers. Thity rninutes later they would be
rnet by, cight Sea Stallions launched tiom the carrier
Nintitz. The assault fbrce of I I 8 men and their equip-
inent would be loaded onto the helicopters, and after
the refuelling was cornplete Delta Force would be
flown on to a hide-site near Tehran, aniving befbre
sunrise. The helicopters were then to be moved to a
second site and concealed to await the call to evacuate
the Force and the rescued hostages. lt was agreed that
unless at least six of the Sea Stallions were available
the operation would not be viable and would have to
be aborted.
Meanwhile, Beckwith and his men wouldbe ledby
two ofahe Deparlment of Def'ense agents to a wadi
sonre Skm (5 miles) from the landing zone and spend
the day in hiding. After sunset two of the agents would
return with two vehicles. Six drivers tiom Delta Force
would drive to Tehran, pick up six Mercedes trucks
and rctum to the wadi while Beckwith carried out a
reconnaissance. Finally, Delta Force would divide
into separate elements and drive to f'ehran by separate
routes.
Sometime alter 2300 hours the leading contingent
wor"rld clrive up to the embassy and take out two
guard-posts with silenced handguns. Two elements
olDclta, Recl and Bluc. fbllowing close behind, were
tasked to climb over the embassy walls, secure diff'e-
rent sections of the compound and fiee the hostages,
killing any arned Iranians they encountered. Mean-
while. White Element was to secure the outside of the
embassy and covcr thc withdrawal. The assault on the
bLrilclin.cs in the compound would be signalled bv a

l 957
IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS I 980
gigantic explosion as the wall of the compound was
6t6*, ,p. At approximately the same time a special
l3-man assaultleam would attack the Foreign Minis-
try- building and free the hostages there.
By now-, the Sea Stallion helicopters would be
circling to the north of Tehran and at a siglra! from
Delta'J air officer they were to begin landing either in
the compound or in a nearby soccer stadium. The
whole operation would be covered from above by two
C-130 gunships whose massive firepower could be
called down to halt any response by the lranian armed
forces. The Sea Stallions were to ferry hostages and
assault teams to Manzariyeh airfi eld, 55km (35 miles)
to the south , where a contingent of US Rangers would
be defending a flight of C-141 Starlifters waiting to
airlift everyone out of lran.
The plan was almost unbelievably complex' and
vet eueiyone involved thought that it could work' The
io-ahead was given and Delta Force was air-lifted to
itre island of Masirah in the Gulf of Oman on Thurs-
day,24 April. At 1630 hours, dressed in Levi's and
blick held jackets, Delta Force boarded the C-130
transpofis. An hour and a half later the first aircraft
took off and set its course for Desert One '
The hrst stage of the operation went smoothly . The
aircratt succesifully eluded the lranian ground radar
svstem and the leading transport landed at Desefi
One; the Ranger Road Watch Team deployed and
secured the flanks of the site and Delta Force moved
intp position. Then, unexpectedly, a large. civilian
Meriedes bus arrived along the road with its head-
lights blazing. Blue Element surrounded it as Beck-
with fired a shot at one of its tyres. The passengers
were ordered off. searched and placed under guard'
As a second Ranger fbrce was deploying to the west of
Deseft One. anoiher civilian vehicle. a petrol tanker,
drove up. One of the Rangers flred an M72 Light
Anti-tank Weapbn " and the tanker burst into tlames '

:iii'..;:.,+@

ffi
.tE
.r8'
r&a w_
-1 S
=6
,'-rffi
& ?. .:
?i , r# 1*1
IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS 1980

Left: Sikorsky RH-53 Sea A truck drove up behind the tanker and the tanker hours preparations were complete. The C-130 pilots
Stallion helicopters on the dnver jumped out of his blazing vehicle, got into the had started to gun their engines when the first helicop-
deck of USS //rm itz prepare truck, and was driven off at speed. The Road Watch ter lifted off. As the wind gusted around, the helicop-
to take part in the
Team failed to stop it. terbankedrorhe left, slidbackwards andhitthe C- 130
hazardous mission to f ree
the US hostages. Below The remaining troop-transpofts and'fuel-birds' with Blue Element on board, before bursting into
left: Colonel Charlie arrived one by one and flames. A huge conflagration ensued.Vith flames
Beckwith, Delta Force " Delta Fodce deployed reaching far into the sky and Redeye missGs explod-
commander, who led the and settled down to wait ing in all directions. Miraculously, all of Blue Ele-
rescue operation. Main
,' for the helicopters. They ment managed to disembark as the C- 1 30 caught flre.
picture:The burnt-out
wreckage of a C-130
j were due to anive in 30 Eight men crewing the C-130 and th.e Sea.Stallion
destroyed in a collision 9u minutes. After an hour there were killed. Boarding the remaining aircraft, Delta
with a Sea Stallion at was still no sign of them and Force swiftly abandoned Desert One, leaving five
'Desert One' inside lran. By it was clear that Delta would helicopters intact on the ground.
I the timethis collision took be unable to reach the hide-site The failure of the mission was a humiliation for the
place- killing eight men - before first light, which was United States and especially for President Carter.
Delta Force had already
due at 0530 hours. After an hour When the Shah died in July 1980 the immediare issue
abandoned the hostage
rescue bid. Below right: and a halfthe first helicopter ar- behind the hostage-taking was resolved, but the re-
The hostages, released as rived; flve more appeared during volutionary students announced further conditions.
the result of a negotiated the next 30 minutes. The last two They sought the retum ofthe Shah's assets in the US to
settlerhent in January never arrived at ali. The helicopters Iran and a series of humiliating apologies and under-
1 981, returned to a hero's
had encountered appalling dust takings on the part of the US govemment-conditions
welcome in the Unlted
storrns, which had caused the delay. that President Carter was unable to meet.
States.
The two that failed to arrive suffered Nevefiheless, the crisis was finally resolved by
mechanical and electrical failures. negotiation in January 198 I , after an agreement was
There was now no margin for error: reached between the US and Iran in Algiers. The
with only six helicopters, the operation hostages retumed to the United States, to a hero's
depended on every one of them. Although welcome. So not only had the 'military solution'
the risk of discovery was mounting every proved a disastrous failure - it had in the final analysis
i minute. Beckwith decided to continue. The proved unnecessary. ltis, ofcourse, impossibleto say
j Sea Stallions were refuelled and loaded. Del- with certainty if the operation could possibly have
. ta was ready to move out of Deserl One. and succeeded, but a plan of such complexity inevitably
then, with the operation already ninety minutes risks failure. In the event, it was the use of helicopters
behind schedule, Beckwith was told that only - notoriously unreliable aircraft at any time - in desert
, five of the helicopters were flyable. Eagle Claw tenain where they were all the more likeiy to fail, that
,- was doomed and Beckwith ordered a withdrawal. resulted in a disaster that probably cost Jimmy Carter
.' Th. withdrawal plan was for everyone to off- the presidency. BarrySmith
' load and rejoin the C- 130 transports. The five Sea
Stallions would then fly back to the lttrimirz. At 0230

L,:.r, -::'.:,':ii-:l
::t:::,: l=;
ili.,.|i{ii,:.-=j':!it.'.-l

:..i;.,,t:;.i",.;,:;f::=,ii. .:l
;
::' a :aa.,Er:..: V |.:.::'1 :,4..:.. a1
4
January 1980 contained a clear comrritrnent to the Above: A US Marine M60
The idea of a quick-reaction military lorce, capable of
tank practising an assault
worldwide deployment, had first been suggested by securitv of the Gulf. and indicated a US readiness ttl
ianding during exercises in
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during the clel'encl its intere sts there b-v rnilitary tbrcc i1'abstllLrte- the Middle East.
Kennedy administration. McNamara had drawn the ly necessary.
essential lesson of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis that On 1 March 1980. the headquarters of the Rapid
advantage in sub-nuclear superyower confrontations Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF) was set tlp at
went to ihe side which could deploy a decisive local McDill air fbrce base, Tampa, Florida, in bunkers
conventional military superiority. Such a capabtlity previously occupied by the Strategic AirConrmand.
would also help prevent an escalation of such con- McDill was also the headquarters of the US Readiness
frontations to the nuclear level. Command (REDCOM) to which the RDJTF was
It was not until 1977, however' when President suborclinated. The Iirst corunlander of the RD.ITF was
Jimmy Carter issued a directive (Presidential Direc- Lieutenant-General Paul X. Kelley of the US Marine
tive No. l8 - PD I 8) to the Joint Chiefs of Staff , that Corps , later to command the United States contingent
the first practical steps were taken to create such a in Beirut.
force. ln the general mood of post-Vietnam depress-
ion there was much opposition to this initlative, and Aunif,edcommand
progress was at first slow. The rapid deterioration of At firstthe RDJTF was little more than a skeleton HQ,
ielations with the Soviet Union during the late 1970s but by l0 October 198 I it had been transtbrrned into a
and the Iranian revolution of January 1979. which sepaiate task fbrce with joint command and control of
ovefthrew the United States' closest and most impor- tbices designated to it, and on I January 1983 the
tant ally in the Gulf region, provided the context for a RDJTF became a separate unifled command. Known
more active appllcation of PD 18, however. ln August as the US Central Cornmand (CENTCOM). theoreti-
1979 the Jornt Chiefs produced proposals lor the cally equal in status to the European and Pacitic
establishment of a unified operational command commands, it had a 977-strong HQ organisation and
aimed at the development of a force ready to respond was responsible fbr all military operations in the
to threats to US interests in the Gulf. Southwest Asian theatre.
Events in the region proceeded apace. The seizure From the beginning, the RDJTF faced special'
of the US embassy hostages in Tehran on 4 November clifficulties inherent in the task it had to t-ulhl. The
1979 created a mood of extreme hostilrty to lran essential problem was how to transport a sutficient
which swept the United States during the winter of nurrber,tf i,ighly trained. well equipped men.from
1979-80. fhe Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in the continental United States where they were based
December 1979, added to the anti-American hysteria to Southwest Asia rapiclly enough to ccrunter any local
of Khomeini's lran, seemed to pose a direct threat to or external threat to stability. The sheer distances
Western oil supplies from the Gulf and to the stability involvecl in such an enterprise and the nlagnitude of
and security ofpro-Western countries there. Presi- the resources required would have det'eated any other
dent Carler's State of the Union message on 2l nation than the United States. Logistic's rvere the mirin

r 960
Iinritation to operations, and therefbre occupiecl a ing fuel, ammunition and vehicles. Supplies were
central position in RDJTF planning. held at secret locations in the Middle East, cln the
In US Fiscal Year 1983, the US Military Airlifi temitory of liiendly countries as well as on a nunrber
Command (MAC) ancl Tactical Ai r Crrrn mani tTAC) of' ships permanentlv based at Diego Garcia in the
had some 5I2 C- I30 Hercules. 2.14 C- l4l Starlifters. lndian Ocean. Until 1984 these ships constituted a
70 C-5 Galaxies ancl l2 KC- 10 Extenders. to which Near-Term Prepositioning liorce (NTI'[') of l8 ves-
could be added some 109 cargo and 215 passenger sels, but fi'on.r 19ti,l RDJTF planning provided tbr the
aircraft of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). es"tablishment of a larger operation. comprising three
Nevertheless, it was still only possible to airlift 30 per Maritime Prepositioning Ship (MPS) task firrces by
cent of the RDJTF's sole qr"rick-reaction paratroop 1986. Each MPS task lorce was to carry sufficient
unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, at any one time to supplies fbr a hi-ehly mechanised M arine Amph ibious
the Gulf region. and that only if stopover lhcilities Brigade.
were available at some fiiendly base along the way. Plans fbrthe airlift of troops and equiprnent into the
The total pal,load of the MAC would not be capable of region, as rvell as thc pemranent pre-
transpol-ting the RDJTF-assigned 24th Infantry Divi- sence of prepositioned matcrial, de-
sion in less than five weeks. and once in action that manded the availability of local milit-
division would need 1000 tonnes of supplies every ar1 and nar ul lacilitic:. Br 19x.1. i
day to rcrnain conrhat-ellective.
'ueh lucilitie. eristcd in Oman at Sib C

The US sought to reduce these ditliculties by on the Gulf of Oman and on l\4azirah ii
adopting a policy of prepositioning supplies in the island; at a number ol points on the
regior.r. ready for local transportation and use. Pre- Saudi Arahian Gulf coast. inclucling
positioning applied to equipment olall kinds. includ- Dharan: at the L,g\,ptian Red Sea

Right: US airborne troops


jumpfrom a C-'130
Hercules during Bright Star:
exercises in Egypt. Above:
Paratroops ofthe 82nd
Airborne Division prepare
to boarC a C-l30. Equipped
with desert-camouf lage
uniforms and the new
Kevlar helmet, they form
the quick-reaction
spearhead ofthe RDJTF.
Lefr:An M113APC being
dropped by parachute
du ring desert exercises.
US RAPID DEPLOYMENT FORCE

port ol Ras Banas and in the Western Desert:


at Mombiisa in Ken1,'a: ancl Berbera and Moga-
dishu in Somalia. The kev base fbr the RDJTF
remained the British-owned islancl of Diego
Garcia in the lndian Ocean. from which ntlt onlv
suppl-v vessels but also can'ier task lilrces ancl
Stratcgic Air Comnrand B--52s could operate.
While strategic and tactical airliti rvould supply
RDJTF combat troops with logistic support in the
shorl-term. and thc MPS task fbrces in the mcdium-
term. the long-term logistical back-up to operations in
Southwest Asia would have to come front a greatll'
enhanced sealift capability routed around the Cape of
Good Hope, and delivering men and material fron-rthe
US East Coast in son.re 30 days. A Sealiti Readiness
Program was initiated in I 979, which provided fbrthe
gradual replacement of commercially-hircd vessels
with purpose-bLrilt ships. to include roll-oniroll-ofJ
container ships and fuel and water tankers. Sealift
would also provide atr alternative method of trans-
porting troops to the Gulf. in vessels such as the SL-7
high-speed container ship. Above: US ArmY SikorskY States not only as a routine military training program-
UH-60,4 Black Hawk me. but as a demonstration to both allies and potential
hel icopters transPorti ng enemies that the RDJTF was an eft-ective military
High-profrle exerc i ses jeeps during Bright Star in
Each stage in thc developntent o1'the RDJTF u'as force. RDJTF exercises were therefore high-profile
the Egyptian desert. The
accornpanied by extensive and exhaustive exercises RDJTF depends heavilY
political occasions. as well as a military necessitl,.
to test the logistical system under operational condi- upon the cooPeration of The first exercise combined both political and
tions. ancl to train the desi-enated troops in the special allies inthe Middle Eastto militarv aspects to an exemplary degree. Within a
techniques of warfare derlanded by Southwest Asian overcome its enormous month of President Carler's 1980 State of the Union
logistical problems. messa-rle. a Marinc Amphibious Task Force. includ-
conditions. Thcse ererciscs were seen by the United
in-u fbur vessels, led by the amphibious assault ship
USS O,(irrrnla ancl carrying some 1800 men. lefi the
Major forces available to the RDJTF Pacific fbr the lndian Ocean fbr rnanoeuvres with
Canier Task Force 70 on station in the Arabian Sea.
Units Since then sirnilar Marine Task Forces have been
US Army rotated to thc Arabian Sea to nraintain a perntanent
(XVlllAirborne Corps) prcsence there. The operation was a clear signal of
82nd Airborne Division Fod Bragg Arrenca's determination to det'end its intercsts in the
i 0'lst Air Assault Division FortCampbell Gulf region by military fbrce if necessary.
24th lnfantry Division (Mechanised) Fort Stewart Subscqucnt erercises have taken place in the
6th Air Cavalry Brigade Fort Hood
gth lnfantry Division Fon Lewis
United States in the Calilornia desefi (Gallant
Eagle. March I 982 ) anci in Nevada ( Refbrger series)
US..Ai'.E,.gr.'ill....'.:.....::.::
(HO 9th Air Force)
and in the Middle L,ast (Bright Star series and Jade
Tiger). The lirst Bright Star exercise in Novcrnber
$even,lecticalii'ghief wi,ngs (TF!U; ' ,

including 1980 involved thc deployment of 1400 troops of the


lstTFW (F-1 5 Eagles) rr, :.:Laiiglgy:4;8" .,:, ', l0l st Air Assault Division and of the -502ncl lnfantry
27th TFW (F-1 1 1 Ds) ',,,'r'Ca,nndni{FB':':: :
(24th Diiision) in Egypt tbr joint training with the
49th TFW (F-1 5 Eagles) ,',rHoll'-a AFg.: ..' Egyptian armed fbrces. Bright Star 82 saw thc de-
347th TFW (F-4E Phantoms) r,,r:MoodVhFB.: ::.:!:'.',,,: .. ,. ployn'rent of 6500 US troops in L,-uypt. and units of
354th TFW(A-1OAs) r,r,rl-llyrtleiBegoh'AFB''
rr.':,.r,Moiifitiiin,rHo,me
AFB Rangers".and Special Forces to Somalia and Sudan,
3661h TFW {F-1 1 1As)
while I 000 Marines were landed in On.ran.
Strategic Projection Force Joint exerciscs in the Middle East with lriendly
57rh Air Division, sAC ,.r,'' MriiilotAFB: '.::.. .:
local tbrces imnreasurably increased the combat
USNavy readiness of RDJTF troops. and ironed out manlr
3 Carrier Battle Groups including one problcms arising tiom the adaptation of US equip-
on-Station in lndian Ocean ment to the harsh conditions associated with desert
r,,,arf'are, but the high visibilit,v of such operations,
while dernclnstratin-s thc seriousness of the Arnerican
cor.rmitmcnt to the re-sion. also increased political
pressures on Arab governments cooperating with the
Amcricans. US backing lbr lsrael leti pro-Westcrn
Arab -uovernments involvcd in RDJTF cxercises or
, lq6r6p,fsndLetO.n: r-.,:r,," r,
ir',. providing the RDJTF with base lacilities opcn to
'Cam,PPendletaa "'. intcrnal criticism as being tctols ttf lsrael's most
MCASEl,Toror ' i.,, powerflrl ally'. This problenr has led to attacks on the
Camp,Peridletoh , , ,

RDJI'F conccpt from some of the E,uropean Nato


countries. u,ho regard it as a further destabilising
JFK Cnter, ('Fort Bragg) intlLrence upon an alreadl troubled region.
Robin Corbett
KEY WT]APoNS

Frorn its origins in the last years of Worlcl War II. the
air-launched niissile has hccoure a firndarncrntal ele-
rnent in aerial combat" Originally sccn a\ pr irrrarilv an
interceptor's weapon. the class has clir,ersificd so that
today missiles are louncl in tlre irir-to-air'" air-to-
surface. anti-shipping ancl anti-tank roies.
Current air-to-air rnissiles (AANIs) can he sub-
divided by their means of guidance: the tw'o nlost
comlnortly employecl systems arc infra-r:ed (lR) and
semi-ac{ive radar (SAR) hcxrring. Infi'a-rcd mis,cilcs
(also known as heat-seekine nrissilesl arc eqLiippeil
rvith a seeker unit sensitive to the IR racliation gener-
ated b1, a target's engine erhaust ancl airli-anie. The
first -ueneratir-rrr of IR niissiles lvas al't'ectecl by poor
seekerdiscrirnination and miglrt hc,nrc rxtkr the sun or
an1' other intense heat s()urce instead of the t1'ue tar-qr:t.
The rlissiles rvere restrictecl to liring inttr the real'arc
of an aerpplirne wlterc the IR raclia(ion uencrated by
the targe t's enginc xhausts wirs strc)nse sl . ( lurr ent IR
e

weapons have been clesigned to or,'ercome thcse


litnitations: their seeker units respond ernlv to the
pattern of IR u'avclengihs associated with aircraft.
and their incrcasecl sensitivity enables thern to ire
launched everr tiom directly heacl-on to l targct and
still lock on to the radiations this is knorvn a-s

all-aspect capabi lity "

Niissiles with SAR hcirning require a radar on the


launching aircrali fc-r iliurninate tlie target rvith radir.r
waves: they then locate the target r,rsirrg an internal
'-l
radio receiver ttrat gcncrates steering cornlnanrl s. he
SAR weapon has the advantage of trn all-rveatlter rvhere it fbrmed the primary arnlament of the Royal Previous page: An AIM-9J
c,apability and can engage targets be1'orrcl visual Navy's Sea Flarriers and was responsible fbr the Sidewinder on the pylon of
an F-5E belonging to a
range. but the need firr the launclring aircrait to have majoritv of the 25 kills credited to the aeropiane.
USAF'Aggressor'
its raclar lockecl-on to the targert throughout the rrris- The AIM-7 Sparrow is the dorninant SAI{ nrissile squadron. Top: An AIM-9E
sile's llight lirrrits the nuurtrer ol targets that cair he: irr the air h.rrces o1'the Urrited States ancl its allies. is loaded onto an F-8C
engagecl by one aetoprlarte. Itr surnrount tlris prolr Starting life as Project llot Shot in 1946. the rnissile Crusader on an aircraft
errfercd service during l9-56.
'fhe frrst rrodel, known carrier off Vietnam in 1 967.
lerl. the newest genet alicrtt of raclar -grridecl r nissilers is
prcvided with its own integt'al taclar seeke r: the laurr- as the AAN{-N-2 Sparrow I, used a 'beam riding' Above: This F-'15 is
gr"r idance sl,stern , tbllowing the raclar beam locked-on
carrying AIM-9Ls on its
ching aircraft directs the nri ssi le torvards iti targcrt, but
wingtips and AIM-7Fs
in the final stage the missile's olvn radar tal<es (lver. to the target by the laLrnch aeroplane's radar. Sparrolv
u nder the fuselage.
One of the nrost widel,v used IR air -to-ail rlissiler is i only saw limited service and it was with the Sparow
the Amer"ican Allvl-q Sidewiuder". l)evcloped hr' the III that the AIM-7 came into wide-scale use.
US Naval Weapons Center atClhina l,ake. Calitbrnia. Spatrow III sivitched to SAR guiclancc and entered
the Sideu,inder [irst enterecl selvicc in Ma-"- ]9.56 arrd seri'ice as the AIM-7C during 19581 the main produc- Below: An F- l5A of the
tiorr vtrriant has been tire AIN/I-7E, some 2.5.000 of 48th Fig hter lnterceptor
by l9tt3 a staggering tr(al c,f 158.00U AII\4-9s hrrd
Squadron f ires its last
been prr-rclucecl in l-l separate vet'sions. lhe irritial rvliich have becn built. The AIM-7E has seen con-
AIM-7F. The AIM-7
moclels. the AIM-9A and AIN1-9B ^ rvet e prirrritivc by siclcrabie conrbat service" notably in Vietnam. but has Sparrow has not proved as
today's standards because 61f 1f1e 1-roor se rrsitivity ol proved to be far fiorn the ideal rnissile. The Span-ow successful as hoped in
their seeker urrits. Snclr rr-rissiles ruere the fir:t A,AN'Is has been tbuncl to he unreliable and ol less value in a actualcombat.
to be used in combat. during clasltr-s hetu,een
Nationalist Chinese F-u6s and ccin-rmurtist Cllrinesc
MiG- l7s over the F()rnrosa Stl'ait dLrrirrg t9-58.
The clevelc,pnrent of the Sidewincler rrra\, be seen irr
terms of gencrations. each ol whic:h has inrpror,ed the
missile's perlbnnance. Flrlkru,ing ort from the initial
r-nodels. the second Elcneration conrprisccl the
AIM-9D to the AIM-9J and introducecl a nunrber of
technical improvernents t'rn tlre original clcsign: this
generation achieved its highest degree ol sophistica-
tion in the AIM-9H u'hich brought solid-state electt'o-
nics to the seeker unit. double delta control surthces
that -qive irnproved rnanoeuvrability" ald a lirrrited
all-weather capabilit_v. ln l9l1 . the AIM-9L laun-
ched the third generation ot the Siclervincler and
probably repl'esents the ultirnate developtrrent of the
type. fhe AtM-9L can ire recognisecl by its pointed
delta control surfhces and is the filst all-aspect arrd
all-weather rnen.rber of the liLrnily. I'he type achieved
considerable, attention duriug the Falklands War

-*I
196.1
AIR-TO-AIR MISSILES
dogfight than the Sidewinderbutdespite its shorrcom-
ings it has been the subject of major development in
hoth thc UK und Europe.
In the UK. British Aerospace combined the AIM-
7E airfiame with a new monopulse seeker unit to
produce a more efl'ective weapon.. Development of
the 'UK Sparrow' began in 1969 ancl.. as the Skv
F-lash, it entered service with the RAF cluring I978. ln
Anierican service the AIM-7E was superseiled by the
AIM-7F durin g 1977 , bur ir was nor until 1982 and the
introduction of the AIM-7M rhat the US AirForce hacl
a Sparrow which could match a Skv Flash.
The other irnponant AAM ro enter scrviee during
the 1950s. along with the Spanow and Sidewirider,
was the Hughes AIM-4 Falcon. [t entered service in
l9-56 and was developed into ei-sht versictns, fbur of
which employ SAR guidance and fbur IR. The basic
dcsign was fiuther developed as the AIM-26 Super
Falcon. two models of which were procluced, the
,4I[,1-26A with nuclcar warhead and the AIM-268
with a high explosive one. Bttth types were designed
for the def'ence of the continental United States but the
AIM-26ts rvas also supplied to Su,eclen as the Rb27.
fhe Hughes AIM-54 Phoenix, which cnterecl ser-
vice in 1974 on the F- l4As of the US Navy, began life
in 1960 as a devclopmcnt of the Falcon. It is repre-
sentative of the trcnd towards AAMs with greater
range and less dcpendence on the launch aerclplane. ln
older to achieve the required range and inclepend-
ence. the Phoenix uses SARguidance until it is within
20km ( 12.-5 miles) olits targer. when it sw.itches to an
on-board activc radar fbr the reniainder of the flisht.
When the AIN,I--54 is combined with the F- l4,A ani its
AN/AWG-9 fire-control sysrem, it probably repre-
sents the most conrplex AAM svstem in service.
Some of Ainerica's Nato allies have produceri their
own AAN,ls. The first British AAM r,r,iis the Fire-
streak" cleveloped by.de Har,illancl Propellers in con-
junction with various olficiat agencies. Entering ser-
vice wirh the Royal Navy and rhe RAF in ig58,
Firestreak carried a 23kg (501b) warhead and used a
relativeiy cornplicated IR system borh lor guidance
and as a proximity fuze. During 1964, an iinproved
Firestreak * Redtop - enterecl service cornbinin-e an

Righttop: A Swedish
Draken interceptor with
two Falcons underthe
&
wing andtwo Super
Fatcons underthe fuselage
(Swedish designations are
tr
Rb2B and 8b27. Left:ATornado ADV (Air
respectively). Rig ht centre; Delence Variant) prototype
An AIM-S4C Phoenix lired carrying four Sky Flash
by an F-l4; together, the missiles. Above : The Red
Phoenix and the Tomcat Top missile will be phased
are a fdrrnidalrle outof servicewith the
combination. Lightning.
KEY WEAPONS

improved seeker with an even larger warhead and it


wiil remain in RAF service until the complete with-
drawal olthe Lightning interceptor.
In 1975 the Matra R550 Magic IR missile entered
service with the French Air Force. Magic began
development in 1968 and two versions of the basic
weapon have appeared, with the Mk2 incorporating
an improved seeker and new rocket motor. The R550
saw action duringthe Falklands WarwiththeArgenti-
nian Air Force and is also in service with the lraqi Air
Force against the Iranians.
One of.the newest missiles in service is the Matra
Super R530, developed from the earlier R530 which
proved unsatisfactory in service. The R530 could use
Argentina, lraq, lsrael and Pakistan. Above: An Su-15 armed
either IR or SAR guidance, depending on the seeker with AA-3 missiles; it
unit installed, but the Super R530 is restricted to SAR In aprogramme similartothe British SkyFlash' the
was this combination
guidance. The Super R530 is produced in two ver- Italian firm of Selenia lndustrie Elettroniche Associ- of aircraft and missile that
sions. the F and the D: the fbrmer entered service on ate has developed a multi-role missile using SAR shot down flight KAL 007
the Mirage F I in 1980 and the latter is scheduled for homing, the Aspide. Although the configuration is of Korean Air Lines in 1 983.
introduction on the Mirage 2000 in 1986. The R530 the same as that of the AIM-7. the Aspide f'eatures a Right:TwoAA-6s
new motor, a new seeker unit and reconfigured nose, mounted on the
and the Super R530 have done well in the expott wing pylonsof a LibYan
market and the R530 has been used operationallv bY and control surface geometry. The Aspide entered
MiG-25. Below: A
MiG-21MF carrying
Right: A Mirage Fl carrYing AA-2 missiles on the
the R550 Magic on its outerwing pylons and
wingtip and the Super AA-8 missiles onthe inner
R530F on its wing pylons. wing pylons.

Below: An R550 f lies away


from the Mirage 2000that
has launched it. lnset: An
R530 mounted on a French
Navy F-BE Crusader

1966
AIR-TO-AIR MISSILES

irb.

service in 1978 and will replace the AIM-7 on the the early 1970s, Hindustan Aeronautics began pro-
F- l04S and possibly on the Tornado. ducing IRmodelsofthe weaponunderlicence inlndia
The Soviet Unionintroduced its firstAAM in I 958; and there are also reports of a Chinese version. In
it was dubbed the AA-l Alkali by Nato analysts. 1967 a'new variant was identified. known in the West
Development work on the missile probably began as the AA-2-2 Advanced Atoll, part of a new genera-
during 1950 and the mature weapon was used to arm tion ofmissiles using differently shaped and enlarged
both the MiG-l7PFU and the MiG-19FM intercep- control surfaces; it also appears to have been de-
tors. There has been some disagreement over the type veloped in both IR and SAR forms. The Advanced
of guidance system used by the AA- I but it is now Atoll is used on both late-model MiG-2ls and a
generally believed to have used SAR orto have been a number of MiG-23 variants. As a whole, the AA-2
'beam rider'; indeed, both systen.rs may have been lamily is the most widely used Soviet AAM and
used as the weapon was developed in six separate examples of both generations are in service with the
models during its service lif'e and it is common Soviet air lorces ol'at least 29 countries.
practice to employ different guidance systems in the The AA-3 Anab was the Soviet Union's first long-
same basic airframe. As far as is known. Alkali was range, all-weather AAM and has been used on the
withdrawn fiom frontline service in 1978 but it is Yak-2SP. the Su- I I and the Su- 1 5. Both IR and SAR
believed to be still in use as a training round by the versions have been developed, the SAR models using
Soviet Air Force. continuous wave target illumination generated by the
The second generation of Soviet AAMs entered Skip Spin fire-control system. A second generation
service about | 961 and consisted of three types: the Anab, the AA-3-2 Advanced Anab, was identifled
AA-2 Atoll. the AA-3 Anab and the AA-5 Ash. In its during 1972 and is still the primary armament of the
initial form the AA-2 was a straightforward copy of 700 or so Su-l5s which remain in service with the
the American AIM-9B Sidewinderbut ithas followed Soviet Air Def'ence Force.
its own path of development. Used primarily in the The AA-5 Ash is a Soviet Air Def'ence Force-only
MiG-2 I , the Atoll has been built in very large num- weapon and is believed to have been developed
bers and produced in both IR and SAR forms. Durins specifically for uSe with the Tu-28P interceptor.

1961
KEY WEAPONS
Outside Nato and the Warsaw Pact, the ma.1or
producerofindigenous designs is Israel whose Rafael
Armament Development Authority produces the
Shafrirand its successor. the Python. These IRAAMs
have seen considerable operational service. The
Shafrir, based on the design ofthe early Sidewinder,
entered service in 1969 and the lsraeli Air Fo.tce has
claimed200kills withthe missile. In I 982 adevelop-
ment of the Shafrir, the Python, was used operational-
ly forthe first time during the invasion of the Lebanoni
this new weapon features a more sophisticated seeker
and is an all-aspect weapon. Armscorof South Afiica
have developed the V3 Kukri which has a helnlet-
mounted sight to designate the target, while CTA
Above:The Shafrir's lnitial Ash models used SAR guidance, employing Instituto de Atividades Espaciais of Brazil are
appearance demonstrates the Tu-28's Big Nose radar lor target illumination, developing the Piranha; both of the missiles are IR
well its descentfrom the but by 1965 an IR model was introduced to cornple- seekers.
Sidewinder. Proven in ment the radar weapons and both models remain in Deveiopments in AAMs in the 1980s are tending
combat, the Shafrir is fairlY service. This very large AAM was used to arm the towards ever more sophisticated and con'rplex mis-
inexpensive in comParison siles. Missile engineers are now aiming to produce
with other missiles, costing earliest models of the MiG-25 Foxbat as well as the
Tu-2ft. missiles with either a 'fire and ibrget' capability or
only about $20,000. The
Shafrir is carried on lsraeli The Soviet AA-6 Acrid entered service during 'look-down shoot-down' capability and preferably
Mirages, Neshers (likethis 1970 and like the AA-5 appears to have been designed both. Fire and tbrget missiles have pre-programmed
one) and Kfirs. exclusively for a single aircrafi type. in this case the inerrial guidance fbr the initral stages of flight and an
MiG-25. The Acrid has been produced in both lR and active rad4r fcrr homin-e onto the target. Look-down
SAR fbrms and has been supplied to Libya and shoot-down capability is provided by installing mis-
possibly Algeria as well. The Acrid is now being siles with radars which discern the Doppler effect of
withdrawn in favour of the AA-7 on the newest an aeropiane at a lower altitude and aiso suppress
MiG-25, the Foxbat-E. The AA-7 was developed static echoes fiom the ground. The AIM-54 Phoenix
between 1971 and 1914 and represents the third is a look-down missile as is the Sparrow replacement
generation of Soviet AAM; it has been developed in in development (the Hughes AIM- l20A);the Soviets
both IR and SAR versions. The radar version has an now have an operational look-down missile - the
unusual fixed extemal reception antenna array in AA-9 and are developing the AA-X-10; both of
place of the more usual internal scanner. The AA-7 is these cor-rld be used a-eainst cruise missiles. Also
most frequently seen on the MiG-23 in Soviet and under development in the United States is the Vought
allied air forces. ASAT (Anti-SATellite) which could be launched by
The AA-8 Aphid entered service in 1976 as a an F-15 against enemy satellites. All these high-
replacement for the Atoll family. A very c_ompact technology missiles seem very impressive, but during
weapon, the Aphid appears to have been developed in the Vietnam Warthe AIM-7 Sparrow had akillrate of
both IR and SAR forms and has been caried by the about 10 per cent, and the Falcon could only achieve
MiG-21. the MiG-23 and the Yak-36MP. seven per cent.

,-r
I 968
:
WarinPeace
The Nflem
The Biafran Army They were supported, moreover, by most of the
Biafian population, who were willing to bear enor-
mous sacriflces to defend their state. This could never
act as a substitute for outside support, but it did mean
that the army was never short of manpower and its
morale remained high even under the most severe
conditions of blockade and defeat. In addition. the
energy and resourcefulness of the Ibo people was
devoted to the war effoft, producing rudimentary
military equipment and home-made weapons which
sustained the frontline forces when all else failed. ln
this they were aided by some very capable white
mercenaries, notably 'Colonel' Rolf Steiner, who
raised the Fouth Biafran Commando Brigade in
1968, and Count Carl Gustav von Rosen, who flew
Swedish-built Minicon light aircraft against Federal
targets with demoralising effect in 1969. Finally, as
the Federal forces closed in, the Ibos began to operate
on their own territorv and this enabled them to move

On 30 May 1967 Lieutenant-Colonel Chukwuemeka


Ojukwu declared the independence of the predomi-
nantly Ibo Eastern Region of the Federation of Niger-
ia, creating the Republic of Biafia. It failed to attract
widespread intemational recognition or suppofi and,
from the staft, fhced a Federal government under
General Yakubu Gowon that was detcrmincd to
reunite Nigeria whatever the cost. By January 1970,
surrounded by three Federal divisions, which mus-
tered over 60,000 men equipped with armoured cars.
artillery. aircraft and virtually unlimited supplies,
Biafia was forced to surender. In retrospect, its
demise seems to have been inevitable.
Yet the fact remains that Biafra did survive against
apparently insuperable odds fbr nearly three years,
fighting a bitter and destructive war which was not
always one-sided. To a certain extent this was a result
of Federal weaknesses - the Federal Army was often Top: Biafran soldiers swiftly across terrain which their enemy. who uer;
poorly led, tactically inept and too easily demoralised who are manning an tied to the roads and tracks by heavy dependence ()n
but there was more to it than that, fbrthere can be no outpost along the Niger modem weapons, ofien regarded as impassable.
doubt that Biaira def'ended itself remarkably well. At River; they are armed Taken together, these advantages read like a recip'-
first glance this may seem surprising, tbr the Biafian with a variety of small fbr guerrilla warfare, and it was perhaps one of th.
Army was never large barely more than 40,000 men arms. The skull belongs weaknesses of Biafran strategic thinking that suur.
to a northern Nigerian. operations were not canied out on a more regulr
at its height-and was poorlyequipped,lacking heavy
Above : B iafra n so ldiers basis. To begin with, Ojukwu wasted valuable man-
weapons, ammunition stockpiles and a rnodern air
near Owerri form up for power and resources on conventional military opera-
element. Moreover. fbrmuch of its existence ithad to
inspection of their
survive on inadequate supplies, receiving littlc from tions such as the invasion of the Mid-Western Re-eir.t
machine guns. Both of
outside sources and depending to a significant extent of Nigeria in August 1967, and it was only aflerthe..
these groups of soldiers
on what it could capture from the enemy. On closer are exceptionally
had failed completely in 1968-69, defeated by' the
analysis, however, it is apparent that the Biafians welLequipped forthe growing numerical strength of the Federal forces. thr:
enioyed cerlain hidden advantages which, although Biafran Army, which he took the advice of Steiner and adopted gueml..
insufficient to ensure final victory, did prolong the found itdifficultto tactics. By then it was already too late to save Biair..
war. acquire sufficient but the fact that the Federal Army, sufTering th:
The first of these was the fact that the lbo tribe munitions. eff'ects of constant ambush and hit-and-run attack.
contained within it a hard core of military experlise took another year to defeat its enemy, shows uh.:
and experience which could be exploited. lt has been could have been achieved. Biafra was, in the fin'
estimated that over 50 per cent of the pre-1966 analysis, unsuited to conventional warfare; to stan:
Nigerian Army officer colps was Ibo, and although a any chance at all of long-term survival. the am;'
significant number of these men failed to survive the should have exploited its natural advantages .,:
coups and massacres of 1966-67 , enough rernained to popular support, high motivaticln and extensive lcx-"
form the solid backhone of the new Biafran Armv. knowledge.
Biafran Soldiei
Nigertalg67
Biafran soldier, Nigeria, 1968

The Biafran forces faced great difficulties in get-


ting equipment. Virtually any sort of quisi_
military tunic or trousers would be worn, either
light khaki like this man's tunic, olive green like his
trousers, jungle-pattern camouflage or even civi_
Iian clothes. Headgear could be berets, tropical
hats or bush hats: this man is wearing a light khaki
cap with earflaps which he has tuck-ed up inside
the crown. He has unconventional footwear _
wellington boots - and is armed with a Czech
7.62mm vz 58 assault rifle together with the
appropriate bayonet and ammunition pouches.

Below: Newly trained troops soon to go into


action are encouraged by their NCO. 7ne no
soldiers had good morale throughout thewar
and enthusiastically supported the Biafran
Republic.