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































General Elements


  1. General. The insurgent threat to southern Africa is a real and complex one, aimed at removing the white man's influence on the sub-continent at all costs. Insurgents are trained, indoctrinated and equipped mainly by communist countries. This manual is only concerned with one aspect of this threat, namely the rural terrorists.
  2. Characteristics. The enemy is usually careless of death. He has no mental doubts, is little troubled by humanitarian sentiments, and is not moved by slaughter and mutilation., His upbringing and standard of living make him well fitted to hardships. He requires little sustenance and comfort, and can look after himself. His standard of bushcraft is usually of a high order and he has a keen practiced eye for the country and the ability to move across it at speed on foot. He is usually physically fit, being able to cover long distances rapidly carrying a heavy load. He is capable of being trained to use modern and complicated weapons to good effect. He is taught to read a map, use radios and voice procedure and effectively employ simple but deadly booby traps.
  3. Tactics. Enemy tactics are based on the following:
    1. Flexible, imaginative and unorthodox operations, relying above all on surprise.
    2. Offensive action, even when temporarily on the defensive.
    3. A high degree of foot mobility.
    4. The ability to exploit the advantages of night operations.
    5. Detailed preparations before any attack; local superior strength and favorable conditions being a prerequisite.
    6. Frequent use of all types of ambush.
    7. Extensive use of booby traps. improvised mines, obstacles and field works using locally available material.
    8. Evading decisive engagements.
  4. Arms. The terrorists are normally well armed with modern automatic or semiautomatic rifles, submachine guns and machine guns. Hand grenades are in abundance. More sophisticated arms are in use on an ever increasing scale, e.g., grenade launchers, mortars, guns and even anti-aircraft machine guns. The use of mines is a favorite terrorist tactic. Most arms originate from communist countries, but the terrorists are also trained to use the military forces I own weapons against them, be they stolen or captured in combat. When forced to, he can revert to primitive weapons such as muzzle loaders, spears and bows and arrows.
  5. Equipment. The terrorists are well equipped with modern items such as radio sets, plastic explosives, map reading aids, first-aid kits and rations. However, when forced to, his training allows him to fall back on primitive means in order to improvise and survive.
  6. Vulnerability of the terrorist. The most important factors are the need for the support of the local population and external assistance. These should be exploited by all concerned when countering the terrorist threat. if he is cut off from outside assistance, and finds no comfort or aid from the local population, his war will be over. It is also important to remember that the terrorist is normally disciplined by indoctrination to accept an ideology foreign to his own tribal background. Furthermore, the group is normally held together more by strong leadership than by common cause. Physical or psychological action aimed at these sources could easily undermine his discipline, and break his morale.


  1. Theatres of operation in southern Africa are characterized by terrain and climatic conditions that adversely affect the deployment of modern armies.
  2. Geographically, the terrain ranges from semi-desert to mountainous areas, and many areas are thickly vegetated. This causes the following restrictions:
    1. Mobility.
      1. Vehicle movement is normally restricted to an underdeveloped road network, paths and tracks.
      2. Rivers in flood hamper mobility.
    2. Observation of the enemy and of support weapons fire is difficult, if not impossible, and may require increased air effort.
    3. Radio transmission and reception ranges are greatly reduced.
    4. Navigation is difficult and calls for improvised methods.
    5. Employment of arms is often restricted to infantry on foot.
    6. Liaison and control are difficult.
  3. Southern Africa is known for its extreme climatic conditions and this calls for:
    1. A high degree of physical fitness and a period of acclimatization for all troops.
    2. Proper medical cover against tropical diseases and a high standard of personal hygiene.
    3. Protective measures and proper maintenance of all weapons and equipment.
    4. The rainy season reduces vehicle movement considerably, as roads and tracks become impassable in places, thus placing greater emphasis on air support.
  4. operational areas will cover vast areas and are normally remote from permanent base facilities. This causes long lines of communications and complicates logistical. support.
  5. Because of the large areas to be covered, units and sub-units are normally far apart. This calls for delegation of powers of command, and freedom of action to lower levels, necessitating good communications and liaison at all levels.
  6. Wildlife, insects and reptiles are in abundance and call for proper training and precautionary measures.


    1. General. This section emphasizes those factors which have a special application to successful anti-terrorist operations.
    2. Cooperation. The military must never lose sight of the paramount importance of close understanding and cooperation with civilian counterparts. This principle must be followed at all levels of cooperation, e.g., army/air force, military/police, etc.
    3. Hearts and minds. Unless the trust, confidence and respect of the people are won by the government and the military forces, the chance of success is greatly reduced. If the, people support the government and the military forces, the enemy becomes isolated and cut off from its supplies, shelter and intelligence.
    4. Intelligence. Successful ATOPS depend upon an efficient integrated intelligence Organization, planned and controlled on a national or theatre of operations basis. Good intelligence is the key to successful operations. Very little of value will be achieved without timely and accurate intelligence, and commanders will often have to plan special operations and take considerable risks to obtain valuable intelligence. Before undertaking military operations against terrorists, the district in which they are operating should be thoroughly studied and a dossier prepared by the police or civilian intelligence unit, working in conjunction with the local civil authorities where necessary.
    5. Security of bases. It is fundamental to the success of ATOPS that all bases are secure, whether it be a major base, mobilization center, installation, airfield, police post or patrol base. All members of the military forces, whatever their tasks, must be trained to take an effective and active part in the defense and protection of installations.
    6. Planned pattern of operations. Operations must be planned on the basis of systematically gaining and maintaining control of the country or area concerned, by the establishment and constant expansion of controlled areas. By establishing controlled or safe areas, enemy freedom of movement is curtailed and a safe place is provided for the local indigenous people away from the influence and intimidation of the enemy.
    7. Seizing and holding the initiative. A clear-cut political policy and offensive action by the military forces are essential for seizing and holding the initiative. Every effort must be made to dominate any area in which the military forces are operating.
    8. Speed, mobility and flexibility. Military forces must be equipped, trained and accustomed to operating for long periods under the same conditions as the enemy, while full use must be made of air support to provide additional mobility, reconnaissance, air strike capability and a flexible administrative system.
    9. Surprise and security. The strictest security in planning is essential if surprise is to be achieved. Loss of surprise probably means an unsuccessful operation and at least a temporary loss of initiative.
    10. Ground forces. If success is to be achieved, it is essential that sufficient infantry, together with armor and other supporting arms, are deployed on the ground. The infantry must be highly trained, acclimatized and masters of modern techniques. Air mobility, modern weapons, good communications and fire support, as well as first class foot mobility are also essential.
    11. Training. Success in ATOPS is only possible if troops are highly trained, supremely fit and sufficiently tough, cunning and skillful to outfight the enemy on his own ground. While full use must be made of technical superiority in firepower, mobility and equipment, all troops must nevertheless be trained to such a pitch that they are fully confident that man for man they are better fighters than the enemy. The two most important training requirements are supreme physical fitness and the ability to shoot accurately at fleeting targets at short and medium ranges.
    12. Air support. Although air power in itself does not guarantee success in ATOPS, the tactical concept relies primarily on it for strategic and tactical movement, fire support and logistic support, with particular emphasis on the use of helicopters and light aircraft in reconnaissance, armed and support roles.
    13. offensive action. The tactical concept is essentially offensive from the beginning. The commander must, however, bear in mind the protracted nature of operations, the great boost to morale of success and the corresponding danger of failure. He must avoid acting on too great a scale prematurely and he must ensure that his initial offensive operations are within the capabilities of the military forces he has available.
    14. Conclusion. The outstanding lesson from recent revolutionary wars is that no single program --political, social, psychological, economic or military -will in itself succeed. It is a combination of all these elements, together with a joint government/police/military approach to the problem, which will counter the efforts of the enemy, and restore lawful authority.



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