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Brandon Webb. Blijf op de hoogte. Klik op de button als je updates wilt ontvangen over Brandon Webb. Troopers were taught to look through, not at the vegetation. It took a lot of experience to develop an eye for spotting the enemy. Many Terrs who were ill-trained and ill-motivated would simply try to hide, knowing that they were surrounded.
Face to Face encounters were not uncommon for the Rhodesian Soldier.
Once the pressure had been put upon those willing to fight, anyone not hiding fled. Stop groups were not always successful at bagging the last left alive, even though the FF Commander was able to orbit the battlefield and move the stop groups to strategic exit routes. Once ferried in, they would find the spoor of those who made it out and track them down until they were either found or the mission called off. So determined and keen were these men that one story stands out to the tenacity of the unit.
After an escaped Terr fled the scene of a FireForce Mission, for 3 days and 3 nights, the trackers pursued him until the tracks stopped and he was found hiding behind a tree. He was captured and put into criminal proceedings. Once the shooting stopped, the work continued. All bodies were recovered and recorded. Troopers were responsible for dragging the bodies of the men they had just killed into a central area where members of the Special Branch could investigate and look for intelligence. Depending on the size and length of the operation, Call Outs and Contacts could occur up to 3 times in a day.
Should they lose the war, they would no longer exist as a nation. Many Rhodesians served in an ongoing shooting war on its doorsteps for close to two decades and knew nothing except War and Soldiering. Even within Fire Force, there is much more to be researched. Many fine books have been written by Military Historians and by those who served. The SAS and the Selous Scouts were formed to hit the enemy where it hurt and use pre-emptive force to stop insurgents from making their way to the borders. As the fighting intensified, the RLI would join in those External operations with astounding success.
The average muster at any given time was around The Commando was divided into 5 Troops consisting of 12 man patrols. These patrols consisted of three, 4 man sticks. In the field, they often acted as a regular Commando. As the tempo of the war increased, so did the need for manpower. A worldwide recruiting campaign ensued. The drawdown in Vietnam left a large swathe of experienced combat veterans without a war to fight.
Amongst many Americans, there was a bitter taste in their mouths, having walked away from a 20 year effort to fight Communism in Vietnam. It is estimated that around Americans volunteered to serve in Rhodesia. Unlike a Forsyth mercenary novel, anyone who came to Rhodesia was required to join the regular ranks of the Army and receive the same pay as a native born citizen. They swore an oath to fight for the nation. It was hardly profitable. Both seasoned soldiers and civilian alike came from nations including, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, France and several others to fight Communism.
Unfortunately, not everyone who showed up came with a clean slate or the right motives. As much as possible, impostors and trouble makers were sent packing and their passport stamped PI. Prohibited Immigrant. Many of the Americans and Australians that enlisted were Special Forces trained. True Cold Warriors.
Africa Lost: Rhodesia's COIN Killing Machine
With them came the recent experiences of Vietnam. Though the Rhodesians themselves were tremendous innovators in Counter Insurgency, all experience was welcomed and molded into the Rhodesian way of war. The RLI set up outposts along the borders, yet it was impossible to block every entry point. Mobility was key.
Maintaining an Air Force is extremely expensive. Each aircraft was meticulously maintained and stretched far beyond its recommended life span. It became obvious that Air Power would have to be integral to its overall defense plan. In Rhodesia took into its inventory two jet aircraft types mainly for the support of its ground forces. The Rhodesians had the distinction of being the nation who would retire it The British Hawker Hunter was the second jet aircraft taken on as an air to surface asset. Due to their irreplaceable status, the primary aircraft used on Fire Force missions was the Cesna push pull engined Lynx.
It was outfitted with twin Browning Machine Guns along with various munitions including napalm. Much like the A-1 Skyraider in Vietnam, these aircraft were outdated in terms of the technology available but were still useful in a counter insurgency role to deliver anti-personnel ordnance.
The most needed aircraft for the RLI to effectively protect its borders was the helicopter. They would greatly boost the number of boots on the ground during operations. The Alouette came into the Rhodesians inventory prior to in a limited supply. Many early Air-Ground missions nearly ended up in Blue on Blue accidents.
Small patrols would respond to farm attacks composed of BSAP officers and RLI soldiers available then initiate a follow up to track the attackers down. Like most nations during wartime, experience and repetition spawned development and refinement of operations. The first formal Fire Force duties were carried out in The war intensified in North Eastern Rhodesia in with many attacks on white farms. So often and varied, they needed a quick reaction force that would allow sufficient amounts of troops to Find, Fix and Finish the Terrorists.
Trials were initiated to test and evaluate Fire Force doctrines. Parachute training would have to be expanded to the RLI as there were not enough helicopters to ferry troops into battle. The Alouette carried Four Troopers the Stick. By qualifying in Air Assault and Parachute training, the delivery methods were enhanced dramatically. The Trooper was designed for speed and mobility. Instead of being weighed down with heavy body armor and heavy packs, they often wore shorts up until and sneakers. The light infantry part was taken seriously. The idea of standard issue webbing was thrown by the wayside and a dizzying array of designs were found.
Each trooper outfitted himself as he saw fit. Weighing in at pounds, it was rugged and common in Africa at the time. The preferred bullet was NATO 7. Twice the range of the 7. Issued rounds, bullets were used sparingly, like everything else the sanctioned country needed and running dry without results would end up in disciplinary action.
Conscious of their rate of fire, often the bottom two rounds were tracers to remind the engaged soldier of the impending reload. Rhodesian soldiers were constantly exercising their immediate reaction drills while in garrison. Fire courses were set up in thickly vegetated areas. This honed their ability to make instant and accurate shots in a realistic manner.
It taught them to identify and shoot at likely locations of the enemy. They would view the area from which the fire came and pick the locations of cover. For instance, most men shoot right handed. For cover behind a tree, the enemy would be located on the right hand side. In turn, a RLI soldier would double tap that area which he viewed on the left. Anything that looked like a concealed position was shot. With the odds and reach of the RLI soldier, he outgunned his opponent. The 4 man stick was a self-contained fire team. Fire discipline for the gunner was strict as well.
The fourth man was the Stick Leader. Whether by parachute or helicopter, they entered the fray in this formation. Needless to say, the RLI troopers often carried any number of combinations of grenades, handguns and knives. The Scouts operated in a variety of roles from direct action missions, active recon or sitting on top of a mountain awaiting Insurgents to appear along known infiltration routes. After a brief FRAGO if they were lucky; often battle plans were made enroute to the location they would move to their aircraft.
They are the finest website by far regarding Special Operations and related topics. Thanks to Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb for allowing me to contribute to their site. The helicopter has become an iconic image of war. It changed the way soldiers were able to deploy on the battlefield, dramatically reduced the mortality rate of wounded soldiers and delivers hell fire and brimstone to the enemy. To the soldier in the field it was a ride in and a lifeline out. The American military first saw its utility in the Korean War as an airborne ambulance and cargo carrier.
The technology for an offensive weapon did not yet exist. However, the British were putting the new aircraft to good use for counter insurgency missions by the SAS and SBS in the Malayan Emergency that was fought between and Special troops were infiltrated and ex-filtrated deep into the jungle, bypassing traditional methods of troop movement with great effectiveness.
The platforms for offensive capabilities began to emerge and platforms such as the Huey and Cobra gunships came to prominence on the battlefield. They have continued to improve and are integral to the missions carried out today. It is a tool that our enemies fear. With the start of the Cold War, the United States trained its military to fight against the Soviet Union in set piece fashion. The Korean War was fought against a uniformed and recognized foe. Vietnam threw a wrench into the status quo, yet the veterans and policy makers who had lived through and fought World War Two tried to apply traditional methods and tactics at a guerilla army.
Late in , when the first air-mobile teams fought in the Ia Drang valley against regular NVA formations, they did well. It was a morale booster for the Pentagon and the public that we could insert troops via chopper onto the doorstep of the enemy and defeat them. History then tells us about the failure of the powers that be to further adapt methods to fight against a guerilla army. Perhaps the most innovative use of the helicopter and Special Forces in Vietnam was the Mobile Strike Force and the lesser known Eagle Flight, a heliborne tactic to find, fix and kill the Viet Cong.
The Eagle Flight typically consisted of 11 helicopters, six carrying paratroops and the others acting as gunships. Soldiers were set down in strategic positions to cordon off groups of insurgents, either closing with them on foot or being blasted from above. Due to the terrain of Vietnam, it was often difficult to find the ideal kill zone. The power vacuum left by the decolonization of several nations allowed Soviet-bloc and Chinese backed revolutionaries to set up power and fight their way into power.
A small, independent country stood alone and against the world and the Communist tide. Battered by sanctions and abandoned over politics with the U. Communist Terrorists were harboring in Mozambique, Zambia and Botswana and making incursions into Rhodesia, killing farmers, destroying livestock, crops and creating a panic amongst the native tribes and the general population. Great Britain resented the declaration of independence of Rhodesia in and was not interested in helping the wayward nation in retaining it freedom. Ronald Reagan addressed Rhodesia in a radio broadcast, recognizing their fight against Communism.
The Rhodesians were on their own to preserve the land that they had cultivated into the literal Breadbasket of Africa. From the early sixties onward, they were faced with a ruthless insurgency. Though they offered troops in World War Two and the Malayan Emergency to their former patron, Britain, their own standing Army was very small and their main defense force was the British South African Police and Reservists. It has been stated that even at the height of the insurgency, the Rhodesian Light Infantry never had more than one thousand fighting men on the ground in action at any given time.
With thousands of miles of borders to protect, the aim of the Army was to meet problems with solutions that worked rather than adhere to Classical doctrine for the sake of doctrine. Several soldiers that had served with the British SAS during the Malayan Emergency understood the nature of this type of warfare and were able to help put together an Army suited to the task. This drive to protect the only place they called home produced concepts and soldiers that are still studied today to learn lessons that can help our current struggle against Insurgents world-wide.
Political dissidents were imprisoned and an attempt to maintain the safety of the nation went full steam ahead.
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Rhodesia needed fighting men and solutions to effectively stop a numerically superior force. Main menu Skip to content. Highway to Hell The Gold of Katanga.
Please read and post it on your facebook, twitter, etc. Rhodesia was hardly a nurturing environment for an experimental military unit. But history demonstrates some of the toughest life forms spring from harsh environments. TCU plankowner Joe Conway was decorated for tackling four terrorists while armed only with a bayonet. The original members of the Tracker Combat Unit were veterans and genuine hard-cases.
They had to be. TCU soldiers also had to be innovative. They formed their unit out of not much more than a concept and an urgent necessity. And as important a part of military field operations as it is, patrolling was often an ineffective means of contacting the enemy in the vast bush of southern Africa. Without luck Or adequate military intelligence there was generally no contact, particularly if the insurgents had the assistance of the local population. Fighting terrorists —when they could be forced to fight — was easy. Finding them is another story and the genesis of the TCU. In , foreseeing the fundamental problem of covering large areas with limited troops in heat that often exceeded degrees, the Rhodesian Army adopted a solution suggested by ex-game ranger turned ecologist, Allen Savory.
They began experimenting with trained tracking teams which could react to any incident or reported presence of terrorist groups. That may seem simple enough. American Indians have tracked human and animal quarry for centuries and the British used Iban trackers in the Malayan Campaign. But the Rhodesians developed the basic fieldcraft into a tactical science that later accounted for the deaths of many terrorists who mistakenly thought there was no danger in leaving a track of communist-supplied boots across the African veldt.
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He argued that a soldier already skilled in patrols, ambushes and tactical maneuvering could better almost anyone in the man tracking game once trained in the necessary techniques. Savory put them through a Spartan, rigorous training program in the Sabie Valley adjacent to the Mozambique border. Eight weeks in the field, two weeks back in town and another eight weeks back in the bush was just enough to bring his men to what he felt was the required standard.
It was just in time.