Ospery, the bird of the Selous Scouts.Selous Scouts "Pamwe Chete" title block.Ospery, the bird of the Selous Scouts.


































By Captain James K. Bruton Jr., US Army Reserve

The Rhodesian army has been called the world’s finest counterinsurgency force. The author had occasion to visit Rhodesia and study its military structure, training and tactics. His opinion is that Rhodesia has the necessary manpower to counter the insurgency, but a shortage of funds limits the expansion of the training base and other programs. This article was written in the fall of 1978. Portions of the article may have been overtaken by events 8uch as the change in governments on 31 December 1978, but, on the whole, this piece represents one man’s opinion of what is happening in Rhodesia today.


    The Rhodesian army has been called the world’s finest counterin­surgency force. Although branded as an outlaw nation and constricted by United Nations-imposed trade sanctions, the Rhodesians have responded to the threat of a Marxist-directed terrorist war with determined resiliency and astounding ingenuity.

This nation’s eclectic applications of the principles of war are embedded in the training system and reflected in tactical operations. Rhodesia’s improvisations include the use of a horse-mounted infantry unit, the deployment of austere bush wise, long-range tracking teams, insertions of quick-reaction forces in operational jumps, protected movement afforded by hideous looking, mine-protected armored vehicles and an assortment of locally manufactured weapons.  


Soldiers seeking information from tribesmen in the Tribal Trust Lands (TTL).

Rhodesia’s counterinsurgency doctrine has been influenced specifically by the army’s experience as part of the British Commonwealth forces in Malaya and, in general, by the study of revolutionary movements in Africa. This doctrine can be broken down into six points:

  Popular support or fighting a war for people, not for terrain. This is sought through the maintenance of government services administered by the Internal Affairs branch.

  Protection of the populace from terrorist harassment through the establishment of protected villages guarded by special guard troops.

  Predominant reliance on local police intelligence and operations as the means of maintaining civil order.

      •  Coordination of combined operations between civilian and military services at district and

      Continuous small unit tactical operations using observation posts, patrolling, ambushes and tracking conducted by highly mobile forces who spend extended periods in the bush.

  Surprise cross-border raids on terrorist training camps within their sanctuary areas of Zambia and Mozambique.

Most significant in instilling the tactical applications derived from the doctrine is the Rhodesian training system. This system generates a steady flow of officers, noncommissioned officers (NCOs) and soldiers into the force structure while continually advancing their professional development. A proficient leadership cadre is seen as an essential requirement in any counterinsurgency effort.

Critics who see the Rhodesian war as a racial struggle are often surprised upon discovering that three-quarters of the Security Forces are African, with blacks and whites fighting side by side, and that most businesses, restaurants, hotels, discotheques and the national university are multiracial as well.(1)  


Troopers from the Rhodesian African Rifles on patrol in the unforgiving bush.

The majority of Rhodesia’s African population of six to seven million are farmers and craftsmen living in the Tribal Trust Lands. The towns and cities support a growing African middle class.

    This group and the 265,000 Europeans, who have held key positions in the government, in the military and police units and in the commercial sector, have the capability of providing the social and political leadership needed to administer the country.

In March 1978, Prime Minister Ian Smith, representing the strongest party of the European population, the Rhodesian Front Party, concluded a settlement with three of the moderate African nationalist leaders. These are Bishop Abel T. Muzorewa, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and Senator Chief Jeremiah Chirau who, with Prime Minister Smith, form the provisional Executive Council. An interim government filled by both African and European officials is preparing for national elections scheduled in December. On 31 December 1978, power will be transferred to a black parliamentary majority government. Rhodesia then will officially become Zimbabwe (the traditional African name).

    Opposed to the evolvement of such moderate leadership with concomitant support of the whites, the Marxist-directed Patriotic Front (PF), under the doctrines of revolutionary warfare, has been conducting a campaign of terrorism and subversion to gain ascendancy within Rhodesia. Recent targets of the terrorists have been the moderate black party leaders and their supporters.(2)  



Out on the "follow-up", two Selous Scouts read a group of "terrs" spoor, while the rear scout covers them.

The importance of Rhodesia to the West is both moral and strategic. Morally, the realization of a multiracial government based on British parliamentary procedure and English common law, and committed to a liberal capitalist society, can serve as a needed model of stability and growth on a continent suffering from a shortage of democracies and an excess of repressive oneparty states administering stagnant economies.(3)

    Strategically, Rhodesia is a minerally rich area contiguous to an even richer area. It is a leading supplier of asbestos, beryllium, chromium, copper, lithium, magnesium and nickel. It is a dagger pointed at the Republic of South Africa, with its strategic geographic significance, as well as its resources of platinum, chrome ore, gold, diamonds, uranium and copper. Furthermore, both countries have vast food potential.

Rhodesia has become the prime target within the Soviet Union’s strategy of “liberating” Southern Africa through the use of surrogate forces—namely, indigenous terrorist organizations such as the Patriotic Front and the South-West Africa People’s Organization, trained and supported by advisers and technicians from Soviet bloc nations and Cuba.(4) Intelligence reports link the planning and orchestration for the Patriotic Front to an African veteran and top KGB (Committee of State Security) man, Soviet Ambassador Solodnovnikov, who is stationed in Lusaka, Zambia.(5)

Rhodesia was founded in 1890 as a British colony by a minerals magnate, Cecil Rhodes. It was administered under a Royal Charter granted to the British South Africa Company.

This early period saw longstanding hostility erupt into war between the warlike Matabele and the more peaceful Mashona tribal groups, followed by a rebellion of the Matabeles and then the Mashonas against the white settlers. Upon completion of peace negotiations between the settlers and the tribesmen, the administrative and economic foundations were established for the development of modern-day Rhodesia. When the Royal Charter expired in 1923, Rhodesia became a self-governing colony of Great Britain. In both world wars, Rhodesia contributed its share of men, both black and white, to the imperial British forces.(6)  


Another famous unit of trackers; Greys Scouts. Specializing in  pursuit operations.

During the 1960s, Britain began granting independence one by one to its former African colonies. After a complicated dispute with the London government on the constitutional question about the speed toward black majority rule, Rhodesia, under Prime Minister Ian Smith, proclaimed its Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) on 11 November 1965.(7)

Britain retaliated with a trade embargo, and, in 1968, it persuaded the United Nations to impose mandatory economic sanctions to bring an end to the “rebellion” against the Crown.(8) Subsequent talks between British and Rhodesian representatives to resolve the matter have been unsuccessful.

Origins of the current terrorist organization go back to legal African nationalist movements in the 1950s. Civil disturbances by militant elements of some African nationalist parties broke out in several African townships in 1961. Because of political violence, two parties, the Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU) and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU), were banned, their leaders arrested and their remnants scattered in exile in neighboring countries.

During this period, ZANU and ZAPU cadre began to receive military and political training in Tanzania from the Chinese. Small teams conducted incursions into the northeast from Mozambique and the northwest from Zambia from 1966 to 1972.

The terrorists, in groups of six to 10 men, attacked mainly farmhouses, abducted black workers, ambushed lone vehicles or planted mines. Rhodesian Security Forces encountered little difficulty in tracking down and killing or capturing most of these terrorists.

    As a briefing officer of the Cornbined Operations Headquarters in Salisbury described the situation:

From 1970 onwards ZAPU played no part in the terrorist war. They were in a state of disarray following their decisive defeats within Rhodesia, and they took the opportunity of con­solidating their position by sending their terrorists, outside the country, on extended courses to Russia, Cuba, and North Korea. This situation as regards ZAPU continued until 1976. ZANU took time out to re-think the tactical lessons that they had learnt. At this time, we saw increasing Chinese Com­munist influence with ZANU.... The most significant development was that ZANU learnt the lessons of Mao Tse Tung, namely, that it was pointless to operate in remote areas without the support of the local population.(9)

However, ZANU guerrilla attacks intensified toward the end of 1972. A coup in Lisbon, Portugal, in April 1974, brought about a change for the better for the ZANU. The new Portuguese government negotiated with the Marxist guerrilla movement in Mozambique (FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front)) to give independence to its former colony. The FRELIMO not only gave complete sanctuary to the Rhodesian terrorists and permitted establishment of training camps, but also placed vehicles, railways and ships at their disposal.(10)

    Rhodesia, which is about the size of California, now faced what was to become a four-front war: ZANU incursions in the northeast and eastern highlands from Mozambique, terrorist attacks in the northwest by the ZAPU and limited terrorism and recruiting mainly by the ZAPU along the western border with Botswana. Only 225 miles of border, that with South Africa, remained that could be called friendly toward Rhodesia.

The ZANU, under the titular leadership of Robert Mugabe, a declared Marxist, allied itself in 1976 with the ZAPU faction under Joshua Nkomo to form the Patriotic Front. Chinese advisory and logistical support appears to have been withdrawn from Mozambique camps, if not from Tanzania. Soviet, Cuban and, reportedly, East German support remains. ZANU camps are based in Mozambique, while the ZAPU continues to operate out of Zambia and sometimes Botswana.”

The Patriotic Front is a marriage of convenience. The ZAPU derives most of its support from the Matabele tribal groups in the west; the ZANU from the Mashona groups in the east. Both factions are wracked with internecine power struggles.

At the time of this writing, the ZAPU is trying to expand its influence to the east, and the ZANU is pushing to the west. Armed clashes between the two organizations have been reported.(12)

Both terrorist leaders thus far have declined invitation to participate in the December elections. Nkomo and Mugabe are not interested in power-sharing nor in black majority rule in and of itself, but, rather, in total power with which to affect the revolutionary transformation of society under their aegis. In free elections, many doubt whether Nkomo and Mugabe together could win 15 percent of the vote, hence the resort to gun-barrel politics.

Should international pressures cause the current governmental structure of white and moderate black administration to collapse and the Patriotic Front to assume power, the underlying tribal animosities could easily trigger the bloodiest conflagration in Africa since the Nigerian Civil War.

The PF strategy is to undermine government control over the population in three ways. First is disruption of internal administration and governmental services. In the vast Tribal Trust Lands and African townships, health clinics, medical stations, local council offices, cattle dips and schools, as well as missionaries, have been prime targets.(13) Government spokesmen acknowledge that while no part of Rhodesia has been given up, there are areas where the government has difficulty maintaining its presence.

The second part of PF strategy is complete intimidation of the populace through the use of murder, mayhem and savage barbarism. The terrorists seek to hide among the people to recruit support and to resupply themselves. They attempt to neutralize government intelligence and anti-PF sentiment. The terrorist strikes, therefore, focus on “soft” civilian targets. One objective is to break down the traditional tribal authority, with its implied replacement, ultimately by some new form of social organization. The other objective is to demonstrate government inability to provide security.

While insurgent attacks on white civilian establishments, including International Red Cross teams, missionaries and commercial airliners, receive most of the attention in the world press, around 90 percent of the terrorist victims are black.

    Reports document mass killings of African workers, abduction of school children, incidents of enforced cannibalism, the public torture and execution of village headmen and others randomly selected as “sellouts to the Smith regime,” mining of civilian road traffic and urban terrorism. While an overwhelming majority of Africans resent terrorist intrusions, many remain cowed by the terrorist threat.

The third part of PF strategy is to render the entire counterinsurgency effort of government cost-ineffective. Attacks on farmers have caused approximately 10 percent to abandon their farms.

Distribution services, affecting the sales volume of many manufacturing industries, have been severely curtailed as a result of guerrilla activity.... Distribution has collapsed completely in much of the former sales area, causing a severe cutback in turnover and profit margins.(14)

The decline in farming and commercial activity has reduced the government tax base, while the cost of fueling the military machine is increasing. The war effort, along with the economic sanctions, is costing Rhodesia over one million dollars a day.

    The war against soft civilian targets has mobilized Rhodesia into an armed camp. Security alarm fences guard farmhouses, police convoys protect vehicular movement in the countryside, women become adept at handling pistols and Uzi submachine guns and many camouflage-uniformed soldiers remain armed while in the otherwise normal-looking cities of Salisbury, Bulawayo and Umtali. Most men of the European population from 18 to 50 are subject to varying lengths of military or police commitments.

The Security Forces conducting the counterinsurgency include roughly 40,000 persons in the air force, the police and the army, whose total strength approximates that of a full division. The army is composed of regular units and Territorial Army units.

The backbone of the counterin­surgency effort is represented by battalions from two regular infantry regiments: the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) and the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR). The entire RLI and most of the RAR are airborne qualified. Most European regulars— volunteers with contracts of three years or more—are assigned to the RLI. Most African regulars are posted to the RAR, Rhodesia’s senior regiment.

    The 1st Battalion, Rhodesian Light Infantry, is organized along commando lines. It consists of three company-size units called “Commandos” and a support group with mortar, reconnaissance and tracking detachments. Trained to operate either as small teams, as separate commandos or as an integral battalion, the RLI has the general mission of following up suspected terrorist presence or of backing up other troops in contact.

Volunteers for the RLI receive their 16 weeks of recruit training within the regiment and undergo continuous unit training within their respective Commando. Normally, RLI units spend a month to six weeks in the bush and 20 days in their camp south of Salisbury for rest and retraining.

By any standard, the Rhodesian African Rifles is an elite unit. As there are on a weekly basis far more African volunteers than positions to fill, the RAR recruits are handpicked. Six months of basic training at the depot RAR in Balla Balla cover both conventional and counter-insurgency tactics intensively and extensively. The newly trained soldiers are assigned to subunits within the regiment.

A rigid selection system in the RAR produces candidates for junior and senior NCO training courses. Officer candidates are likewise selected from among the NCOs. RAR units are farmed out to the operational commands for security missions, for seek-and-destroy operations or for area wide reaction force contingencies.

The Territorial Army corresponds to the US National Guard or Army Reserves. It is filled by national servicemen who, as opposed to regulars, enter the army with an 18-month initial commitment, followed by periodic call ups thereafter.

Following four and a half months of basic training at Llewellin Barracks, the majority of these men are assigned to one of the battalions of the Rhodesian Regiment (RR) or to independent companies where they serve their initial tour. Some are selected to serve in a specialist unit or a Service Corps unit. Completing their 18-month requirement, the territorials are then assigned to a reserve RR battalion at a center near their homes where they train and serve during their call ups.

The constant retraining and the maintenance of unit integrity results in a high experience level for the Territorial Army. The RR battalions now assume as active a combat role as do the regular battalions.

    Specialist units, those with unique combat specialties, include the Rhodesian Armored Corps (RAC), the Artillery Regiment, the Grey’s Scouts, the Selous Scouts and the Special Air Service (SAS). Formerly known as the Rhodesian Armored Car Regiment, the RAC fulfills an armored cavalry mission. It possesses antitank capability and usually functions with its sub elements assigned to operational commands for task organization. The corps represents a unit approximately regimental size along with an armored car training center. Armored car operational techniques are influenced by US, British, German and South African doctrine and experience.

Officers, NCOs and soldiers of the RAC all have had infantry training, followed by armored car training in the corps depot. Drivers, gunners and vehicle commanders are cross-trained in others’ skills and in vehicle maintenance as well.

Particulars about most of the armored vehicles are classified. Generally, their design protects the occupants from mine blasts which damage little more than the tire.

As with the armored troops, the gunners of the 1st Field Regiment Rhodesian Artillery are trained first as infantry. Using 88mm gun howitzers and heavier pieces (which are classified), the batteries are oriented to both the conventional and counterin­surgency requirements.

The Grey’s Scouts are a mounted infantry unit about battalion size that specializes in tracking and pursuit.( There are few places in Rhodesia’s highveld and lowveld that horses cannot go, and horses are more silent than army lorries or land rovers.

    The Grey’s are deployed in the operational areas by squadron. A squadron (roughly equivalent to a company) is made up of three troops (roughly equivalent to platoons), each with four eight-man sections. The Grey’s Scouts consist of three “saber” (combat) squadrons and a support squadron containing a 60mm and 81mm mortar section, a reconnaissance troop and a tracking dog troop using mostly English foxhounds.

    With better visibility and faster mobility, an eight-man section can cover the same ground as a foot-bound infantry battalion. This section, working in two teams of four, can advance on a 550-meter front. Sometimes when closing in on fleeing terrorists, the Grey’s radio for heliborne reinforcement of a “fireforce” for mopping up operations.

Most soldiers in Grey’s Scouts are selected from recruits who undergo basic training with the RU. They then receive 16 additional weeks of training, including horsemanship, with the Grey’s at Inkomo Barracks, north of Salisbury.

The Selous Scouts have become legendary during their short existence.(16)They basically are a 300-man tracking unit, about half African, half European, who can travel and survive in the bush for extended periods on limited rations. The Selous generally work from friendly lines forward. In pursuit of terrorists, they also radio for reinforcement, if required.

    Their selection course is rough. Every eight months, up to 400 trained soldiers may be screened to select about 100 candidates for the arduous training course. Of these, only one-sixth will complete a four-week endurance and survival course, with constant deprivation of food and sleep. Once in the unit, the men are prepared literally to follow terrorist spoor for weeks on end in all types of Rhodesian terrain while living off the land.

The mission of the Special Air Service is long-range reconnaissance, generally far in front of and working back toward friendly positions. The SAS has an additional role as a quick-reaction force and the capability for direct-action missions such as cross-border operations.

Modeled upon the British SAS, the men of this unit experience the most diversified training of men in any of the units. Initially, this includes static-line parachuting, light and heavy weapon training, bushcraft, first aid, communications, watermanship (handling canoes and boats) and minor SAS tactics. Successful completion of the above just gets the volunteer into the unit!

From this point on, he has to undergo a series of specialist courses in such subjects as advanced medical work, demolitions, free-fall parachuting, tracking, aqua-lung diving and a course in indigenous language. SAS training can take up to three years.

Combat support and combat service support is provided by supporting services. These include the Service Corps, the Medical Corps, the Military Police, the Pay Corps, the Rhodesian Women’s Service, the Engineers and the Signal Corps.

While the army provides the preponderance of forces in most of the operational areas, the Rhodesians see their stage-one level of counterin­surgency as essentially a police operation—and correctly so. The terrorists are not treated as a true guerrilla organization, subject to the Geneva Convention, but as criminal lawbreakers. Evidence concerning incidents is accumulated, presented in court within established legal procedure and the defendants sentenced accordingly.

The British South Africa Police have both a regular police role and a paramilitary function. The Support Units are predominantly African regulars with both police investigative and bush warfare training. Nicknamed “the Blackboots,” they operate nationwide. The Police Antiterrorist Units are predominantly European reservists who operate on call up within their own locales.

The command and control of operations are exercised from the Combined Operations Headquarters in Salisbury under one commander to four major JOCs, each of which incorporates an army brigade headquarters and controls a major operational area. Under each major JOC are several “mini-JOCs,” corresponding with districts.

    A JOC is a combined operating center containing representatives of the army, the air force, the police and Internal Affairs. Sometimes present. are the Special Branch personnel, the government’s intelligence service. The army commander is the senior commander of the JOC. The various elements of the Security Forces assigned to each operational command are task-organized for that area’s requirements.

Three of the major JOCs each controls a quick-reaction force called a “fireforce.” Described by one officer as “our best killing machine,” the fireforce (comprising regular or Territorial Army units) is airdropped and/or air-landed by helicopter to reinforce forward units in contact and to pursue, block and close with terrorist forces.

The government has countered the guerrilla presence by the establishment of protected villages within the affected areas. The villagers remain in these fenced-in complexes under a dusk-to-dawn curfew. The villages are protected by a Guard Force unit and administered by Internal Affairs advisers.

Where terrorist presence or avenues of approach are known, police or army forces conduct searches, extensive patrolling and ambushes. Attention is directed toward the populated areas where terrorist incidents are frequent. Very few fire fights develop that are of the intensity or duration that US troops encountered in Vietnam. This is because the terrorists, who usually operate in 10 to 15-man sticks at the most, try to avoid contact with the Security Forces or, failing that, simply flee after a brief skirmish. On the whole, the Patriotic Front’s “freedom fighters” are considered neither a well-trained nor a well-disciplined military force.

    The Rhodesian military training system has three distinct features supporting continuous evolvement of doctrine and tactical application. First is that the three major schools are staffed by officers and NCOs who rotate to instructor positions from their respective parent regiments. Between training cycles, these instructors visit the operational units. Thus, vital feedback channels between the combat realities at the “Sharp End” and the presentation in the classroom are maintained.

The second feature is the wealth of experience represented by the instructor cadre themselves. The instructors’ backgrounds reflect their diverse experience derived from their parent units like the RLI, the RAR, the SAS and the Selous Scouts, hence a great amount of cross-fertilization of ideas.

The third feature is the emphasis in the schools given to producing NCO instructor cadre. Trained as instructors in specific disciplines, these men return to their units to help maintain the high level of basic or of continuation training within the units.

The three major schools are the School of Infantry at Gwelo, the Depot RR at Llewellin Barracks near Bulawayo and Depot RAR in Balla Balla.

The School of Infantry is organized into three training wings: the tactical, the cadet and the regimental wing. The tactical wing conducts courses in tactics and operations from junior NCO level up to battalion/brigade level for captains and majors.(18) The cadet wing offers training for both European and African officer candidates who have been selected by a board. Aside from direct appointment, this school is the only source of army commission. The regimental wing instructs NCOs in drill and in weapons and has one weapons course for junior officers.

    The school holds that men can actually get rusty in the bush with regard to weapons handling and training, and require formal retraining. With only 30 officers and 45 NCOs, the School of Infantry is expected to train up to 3,000 students in 1978.

National servicemen undergo four and a half months of basic training at Llewellin Barracks. Those selected by a board the first week can go directly into officer cadet or NCO cadet training. African regular recruits receive six months of basic at the Depot RAR, Balla Balla, where junior leader courses also are taught for privates and corporals to advance.

    Rhodesian military training places emphasis in four areas: close-order drill, physical and mental conditioning, marksmanship and immediate-action techniques in conventional and counterinsurgency situations.

In the British tradition, the Rhodesians see “square-bashing,” or drill, as the foundation for discipline, esprit and leadership. The results from the parade field can be seen in the sharp appearance and impeccable military etiquette reflected throughout the army.

    The training for recruits and for officer and NCO cadets is rigorous physically and mentally. A number of foreign volunteers in the Rhodesian army, including some American Vietnam veterans, have failed to complete their initial training course successfully or have eventually “taken the gap” (deserted). Night-long land navigation exercises, 15 to 20-kilometer forced marches over difficult terrain in full combat kit and negotiation of an assault course of 12 or so obstacles, where live fire, smoke and simulators add verisimilitude, serve to toughen and to instill confidence.

On the rifle range, each recruit fires 800 to 1,000 rounds to perfect his marksmanship. The FN self-loading rifle is the standard infantryman’s weapon.

Seeing classical, conventional war as their long-term threat, the Rhodesians spend 70 percent of their training time on conventional tactics. Thirty percent goes to counter-insurgency tactics. Counter-insurgency training includes study of terrorist tactics, patrolling, ambush, vehicular movement in an operational area, organization of patrol bases, cordon and search operations, attack on terrorist camps, and mounted and dismounted counter ambush techniques. Field training exercises and “tactical exercises without troops” rehearse both conventional and counter-insurgency techniques within a realistic scenario.

    Rhodesia’s is a performance-oriented army. Instructors assess officer and NCO performance in the schools to recommend their subsequent assignments to troop leadership or to administrative positions. One may opt to serve indefinitely in one capacity, maintaining his present rank, or to advance to a different position for which he is qualified. In Rhodesia’s small army, retention of expertise and experience at various levels of administration and command is preferable to the “up-or-out” syndrome known to other armies. However, a qualified, motivated trooper, African or European, can rise to NCO rank or to commissioned rank in a relatively short time.

To maintain the link between the people and the government, an increasingly large cadre of administrators, advisers, policemen, technicians, health workers and teachers are needed.

Rhodesia’s counter-insurgency effort is definitely hampered not by any manpower shortage, but by shortage of funds required to expand training facilities and programs. The survival of Rhodesia as a free, multiracial society hinges on this economic factor rather than on the fighting ability of the Security Forces. A strained economy with a decreasing growth rate curtails the expansion of such programs.

If Western nations began lifting sanctions to establish trade and domestic investment resumed its former level, this broadened base of trade and commercial activity would enable the government to expand its Internal Affairs activities. Under these favorable conditions, the insurgency could be overcome within 10 to 18 months.

Many have erroneously counted the survival of Rhodesia’s present form of government in just a matter of months: first, after the UDI in 1965, after imposition of UN sanctions in 1968 and again after the Portuguese collapse in Mozambique in 1974. Not considered was a homogeneous European society, supported by a sizable segment of the African population, that was willing to tax itself to the limit and to conscript almost its entire manpower. Also not considered is the most important factor of all in international politics—the sheer force of will—which Rhodesians have aptly demonstrated over the last 14 years.




1 In Rhodesian parlance, the term “African” refers to the indigenous black population. The term “European” refers to the whites regardless of national origin or length of family duration in the country.

2 The terms “terrorist,’ “guerrilla” and ‘insurgent’ are used interchangeably in the Rhodesian context. Given the brutal attacks on civilians to break down law and order, the term “terrorist” is not misapplied.

3 Some of the African states most vociferous in their call for one-man, one-vote black majority rule for Rhodesia are those ruled by their armies and those with “presidents for life.”

4 The border area between Angola and South-West Africa, which is administered by the Republic of South Africa, is the scene of another insurgency. South African forces and South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) terrorists based in Angola are locked in conflict over control of the Ovambo tribal area. Sea Al J Venter, “South Africa vs. SWAPO Terrorists,” Soldier of Fortune, November 1978.

5 Count Hans Huyn, “Rhodesia and Southern Africa: Decision for the Future of the Free World,” Journal of International Relations, Volume Ill, Spring 1978, p 63.

6 Among these was a farmer named Ian Smith who flaw in the Rhodesian Squadron of the Royal Air Force during World War II. On one occasion, his Spit fire was shot down behind German lines in Italy. He lived for a time with Italian partisans, than evaded through German positions to the American lines.

7 For an account of the events leading up to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence from the British viewpoint, see Robert Blake, A History of Rhodesia, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., N.Y., 1978.

8 The sanctions had the reverse effect of compelling the Rhodesians to develop local industry to manufacture what had been imported. From 1968 to 1976, the. economic infrastructure strengthened, minerals and food were exported and the economy continued to expand.

    9 Lieutenant Colonel A. E. H. Lockley, A Brief Operational H/story of the Campaign in Rhodesia Covering the Period 1964-1978. a briefing paper originally drafted in November 1977 and revised subsequently.

10 Ibid.

11 In more precise terminology, the ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) end the ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union) refer to political parties. The ZANU cells Its guerrillas the ZANLA (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army) and the ZAPU’s guerrillas are known as the ZIPRA (Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army). Rhodesians regard Nkomo’s ZIPRA, although the less active of the two groups, to be better trained.

12 Godwin Matatu, “Zimbabwe: A Journey Without Maps,” Africa, May 1978, p 12.

13 With 903 schools destroyed, around 218,000 African children have been deprived of education and 4,900 teachers left un­employed. Cattle are dying by the hundreds due to diminishing veterinary services. See John Maynard, “The Forces of War and Disorder,” Illustrated Life Rhodesia. 3 August 1978, p 8.

14 Ibid.

15 Named after Captain George Grey who organized a mounted infantry unit during the 1896 Matabele uprising.

16 Named after F. C. Selous, 19th-century scout and hunter.

17 These operational areas are named Tangent under 1st Brigade (the west and northwest), Hurricane under 2d Brigade (the northeast), Thrasher under 3d Brigade (the eastern highlands) and Repulse under 4th Brigade (the southeast). There are also two minioperetional areas: Grapple (the midlands) and Splinter (Lake Kariba).

    18 These courses are the junior NCO tactical course; the tactical instructor’s course for NCOs; ‘the senior NCO tactical course; the combat team course for training officers to run a company with a background in battalion functions; the joint services counterin­surgency course on Joint Operations Center operations for army, air force, police and Internal Affairs personnel; the territorial company commander and platoon leader course; and the battle group com­mander course for captains and majors, covering battalion operations, with a background in brigade operations.




Captain James K Bruton Jr., US Army Reserve, is a sales representative for Hilti Inc. He received a B.A. from Washington and Lee University, a Master of International Management degree from the American Graduate School, and is a USACGSC graduate. He has served in Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, and in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Readiness and Intelligence, Headquarters, US Army Training and Doctrine Command. He is currently mobilization designee to the 3d Battalion, 12th Special Forces Group


***(NOTE)*** Source for this article is from Military Review, Vol. LIX, March 1979, No3, pp 26-39.





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