SADF mass armed incursions into Angola – not an occupation, there’s a big difference.

Political cartoon in Die Burger 17 January 1984 which quite accurately captures the mood felt by the readership base and South Africans serving and/or in support of the Bush war’s objectives.

Operation Askari, launched in December 1983 was the SADF’s sixth large-scale cross-border operation into Angola and was intended to disrupt the logistical support and command & control capabilities of PLAN (SWAPO’s military wing) in order to suppress a large-scale incursion into South West Africa/Namibia that was planned for the beginning of 1984. The communist Cuban backed FAPLA army of the Angolan governing party MPLA also became involved in some of the skirmishes and where heavily defeated.

The operation was highly successful and severely contained PLAN (SWAPO) armed insurrections into South West Africa/Namibia for some time to come.  The political cartoon also quite accurately captures the SADF policy with regard to Angola at the time, which was not one of occupation, but one of massed armed incursion into Angola to tactically destroy predefined SWAPO targets, conduct a search and destroy mission for other targets, gather intelligence and then the safe and orderly return to their bases along the South West African border once all the mission objectives were attained.  The duration of these operations were usually limited by the extent that logistics – supplies of food, water, ammunition, troop support etc – would allow.

These large armed incursion operations into Angola were branded by Cuban and MPLA propaganda as one of SADF “occupation”, of Angola, the SADF’s return to base branded as “beaten back” by brave Cuban and MPLA troops resisting the subjugation of Apartheid and preventing an invasion –  which is entirely untrue as the return to base was always part of the SADF’s logistics planning.

The belief that the SADF intended occupation and was “defeated” was complete gibberish then and it’s still utter gibberish today.

2 thoughts on “SADF mass armed incursions into Angola – not an occupation, there’s a big difference.

  1. This sounds like our Fapla propagandists talking..
    Some of your facts are somehow the same I have when fighting against you lot..however I would like if you tried to refrain from heavily biased opinion.
    Keep the good work brother.
    Peace to our region.



    • Hi Miguel, the term at the time amongst the SADF was ‘hot pursuit’ when it came to these operations. They had specific objectives which were time-bound and then they had to return to base. In most instances the operation objectives were met. At no time did the SADF plan prolonged ‘occupation’ – simply put they never went into Angola with the logistics that would be needed for a lengthily occupation. Domestically in South Africa, politically speaking an occupation of Angola as a foreign country would not have been tolerated by the ‘voters’ whose family members were conscripted into the SADF. It would have been political suicide for the National Party in South Africa. Any ‘bias’ is not intended.


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