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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The South African Defence Force versus SWAPO and its allies: Operation Askari, 1983-1984
Author:Oosthuizen, G.J.J.ISNI
Periodical:New contree: a journal of historical and human sciences for Southern Africa
Geographic terms:Angola
South Africa
Subjects:military intervention
armed forces
military operations
Abstract:The struggle for South West Africa (present-day Namibia) was not limited to SWAPO and the South African Defence Force (SADF). Supported by the MPLA (and its military wing FAPLA), which received weapons and financial aid from the USSR and Cuba, SWAPO established military bases in the south of Angola in order to penetrate South West Africa more effectively. It was only a matter of time before the SADF would encounter not only SWAPO, but also the MPLA and Cuban forces. Determined to maintain the initiative, South Africa began its so-called pre-emptive operations in the mid-1970s. Operation Askari, launched in December 1983, was one such cross-border incursion. The FAPLA strongholds of Cahama, Cuvelai and Mulondo had to be isolated, exhausted and terrorized so that FAPLA would either withdraw or desert on a large scale. SWAPO then had to be dealt maximum losses. Despite the SADF claim that Operation Askari was a great success, the overall aim, namely to hamstring SWAPO infiltration into the south, was not realized. Although SWAPO suffered heavy losses, the pattern of the insurgency was continued. Operation Askari can, however, be regarded as a watershed event in the so-called 'bush war'. Militarily the fight had taken on a new dimension. It had changed from guerrilla warfare in small groups to a conventional war against forces armed with sophisticated Russian weaponry. In addition, Operation Askari to a very large extent alienated the West even further from South Africa. Note, ref., sum. in Afrikaans. [ASC Leiden abstract]