The Selous Scouts, a multiracial unit formed in 1973 with the aim of
conducting a clandestine war against ZANLA and ZIPRA, both inside and,
later on, outside Rhodesia. The Selous Scouts operated as
pseudo-terrorist groups, collecting intelligence on the enemy and then,
at the right moment, destroying him. This was not a new idea, it having
been used with some success by Special Branch against Communist
guerrillas in the Malayan crisis and later in Kenya against Jomo
Kenyatta’s Mau Mau. As the war in Rhodesia escalated, General Walls
decided to form such a force and chose for its commander the somewhat
unorthodox Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Reid Daly. Reid Daly, who had served
with Walls during the Malayan campaign and was later regimental
sergeant-major when Walls commanded the Rhodesian Light Infantry, was
the driving force behind the Selous Scouts. Learning from the
experiences of BSAP Special Branch, who had operated a small number of
“pseudo—teams” on a limited basis, Reid Daly recruited his
officers and NCOs from the Army, mostly from the RLI and the SAS.
Captain Jeremy Strong, one of the first to be recruited, was a former
British Army officer who had resigned and returned to Rhodesia after UDI.
Most of the others were either soldiers from the Rhodesian African
Rifles (RAR), or “tame terrs”, as ex-guerrillas recruited by the
Security Forces were called. These ex-members of ZANLA and ZIPRA,
together with the RAR and white Rhodesian soldiers, formed one of the
most successful counterinsurgency units in the Rhodesian Army.
is interesting to note that Reid Daly had never before commanded African
troops, and that many of the whites came from all-white units such as
the RLI or the SAS. Nevertheless this multiracial, multinational unit
was responsible, either directly or indirectly, for over 60 per cent of
all enemy killed within Rhodesia during the war, and won a total of 85
awards for bravery. They lost less than 40 of their own men.
The Selous Scouts had the toughest selection and training of any unit in
the Rhodesian Security Forces, including the SAS. Operating in small
groups, the men, mostly Africans, dressed in nondescript clothing such
as that worn by ZANLA and ZIPRA and carried Soviet-made weapons. The
Selous Scouts were undoubtedly the most feared and perhaps effective
unit in southern Africa.