My writing on SOFREP has been limited to Rhodesia and its Special Operations Units during the Bush War. Trying to understand the conflicts in Southern Africa require a historical setting and an understanding of the history and culture of those nations. Most Americans see the end of the Vietnam War as a détente of sorts with the Soviet Union. In essence, the Cold War went cold.

For the people of South Africa, the combined efforts of the Soviets, East Germans, North Korea, China and Cuba extended the Cold War into a very hot fight for the expansionist ideals of Communism. In Rhodesia, Communism took on the mask of Black Nationalism. The Soviets and Chinese sought to exploit the West’s decision to withdraw from Colonialism and absentee governance of nations on a far off continent.

The nation of South Africa watched Rhodesia closely and offered assistance in aircraft, material and personnel to an extent but as early as 1966, encroachment on and within their borders began with terroristic activities of a whole host of insurgent groups. South West Africa / Namibia’s border with Angola started to produce similar activity as in Rhodesia. SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) began attacking white farms and civilian targets. All of this festered along with a long running civil war in Angola against the colonial rule of Portugal until in 1975. That nation packed up and left. While warring groups sought control, the Communist powerhouses used the opportunity to strike against the South Africans.

SWA/Namibia was given to South Africa to administer after WW1 and many settlers farmed the territory. As the United Nations came into being, disputes over who would run the country arose and were not settled until the late 1980’s. In the meantime, South Africa believed that should the country be ruled by Russian and Chinese military powers, the next domino to fall would be South Africa itself. It was a fight against Communism.

The western media chose to ignore the issue of a massive military buildup around South Africa and turned the issue to a single but important issue. Apartheid. This institution was dying a slow death as the generation who brought it into being were losing its grip. Rather than viewing the Border War in its proper context, South Africa was isolated and became a pariah to the world over this. A proper view would see the massive Communist intent on invading South Africa and Communism/Marxism as an issue of stopping a machine that would destroy any freedom or hope thereof for all peoples in South Africa. Apartheid was an internal issue that was being dealt with and would resolve itself in time. In the meantime, South Africa would go it alone in its fight to preserve its borders and security.

The rough and unforgiving terrain of Africa, combined with the ultra violent nature of the insurgents backed by legitimate conventional military force would naturally produce a rare breed of soldier to fight back, especially ones who would take on unconventional roles in Reconnaissance and Direct Action duty. Among those groups that rose to legendary status was the South African Recce. In an age before drones and sophisticated ISR military technology, men required to take the battle to the enemy would have to be a breed apart. Men who could ruck 150 pounds of equipment on their back across the rugged, parched African terrain in two or three man teams, undetected and self-reliant. Men who could operate beyond the reach of air support and quick extracts. Should they be detected or encounter the enemy, they might be required to Escape and Evade for 150-200 kilometers back to safe territory. Their story, which I will be presenting in upcoming articles, is nothing less than astonishing and almost hard to believe.


To say that these men were elite is an understatement.