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Operation Daisy: Winding Up...

Operation Daisy D+12 (16 November 1981):
Operation Daisy came to a virtual standstill, as Battle Group 61 spent the day at Mupa, resting and repairing vehicles. An attack was planned against the North-East Front and Northern Front Headquarters for the following day, and to this end reconnaissance teams were deployed from 201 Battalion (on 15 Nov) and 32 Battalion to establish the precise locations of SWAPO's North-East Front and Northern Front Headquarters.

The ground forces requested the following Aircraft support of the planned operations for the following day:

  • 5 x Alouette Gunships
  • 1 x Alouette Trooper
  • 2 x Pumas
  • 1 x Bosbok on request at Ondangwa
  • Impala's on stand-by at Ondangwa

D+13 (17 November 1981):
The attack by Battle Group 61 and 201 Battalion against the suspected North-East Front and Northern Front Headquarters failed to make contact with the enemy, who apparently fled the day before after a PB (local population) had sighted the Reconnaissance groups.

As a result the Impalas on standby at Ondangwa were not used. The only flying done during the day were reconnaissance sweeps by the four Alouettes at Commandant Foote's disposal, and two Bosbok Telstar/Spotter missions flown from Ondangwa to the target area.

In the late afternoon Commandant Foote and the remaining ASO ALPHA and BRAVO personnel flew out to Ondangwa with the two Pumas and three Alouettes, leaving the Buffel drivers to bring out the rest of the equipment with the ground forces convoy which was due to move out of Angola the following day. At this stage, therefore, Operation Daisy came to an end as far as the Air Force was concerned. The operation was gradually wound down and the last of the ground forces withdrew on 20 November 1981.


During the Debrief Meeting held on 25 November 1981, the following issues were highlighted as SOME of the main causes of the many failures of Operation Daisy:

  • In terms of Security:
    • While the advance of Battle Group 61 from the Cut Line to the Assembly Area was not compromised, the Reconnaissance Commando operators deployed at the target claimed that they could hear the mechanised force from as far off as 30 kilometres. Planning and experience had limited this distance to 12 to 15 kilometres, which should have allowed SWAPO only between 1 to 2 hours to evacuate.
    • 201 Battalion’s route via Kalavi, Mulola, Chifufua, Nova Lidondo, Chingangando and Onguluma had led to a number of premature contacts, firstly on D-1 at Kalavi, which had probably been reported by VHF radio to the Military Command Post. On D-day, the Command Post reported to their higher headquarters at Lubango that the battalion was moving north.
    • The trooping of the three Parachute companies were detected by SWAPO, and the Military Command Post was relocated from its original position.
    • The planes that dropped the reconnaissance teams were reported to the Command Post at 08h20 on 2 November (D-2) which were then relayed to Lubango at 08h32 on 4 November (D-Day). During the night of D-1 a reconnaissance team had a brief contact at the target area when the team was hailed but could not respond with the password. It was unknown how SWAPO interpreted this.
  • In terms of the Operation itself:
    • The main attack was realistic and were executed according to plan. Unfortunately, the target turned out to be much less active than what was hoped for.
    • The area operations were ineffective due to:
      • The fact that the area operations were done using vehicles;
      • Very little or no intelligence available;
      • Too little time were allowed;
      • Enemy moved in small groups which enabled them to hide effectively from moving vehicles.
  • In terms of Personnel:
    • A shortage of experienced drivers.
    • Too little time was allowed to train normal drivers which had to be utilised as echelon drivers in the bush.
    • The Air Observers did not join 61 Mech Bn early enough to be able to observe how the battle group looked on the ground.
    • Training of Air Observers occurred in the RSA at the ideal height and over open terrain, with the result that they had difficulty identifying targets and routs in the dens bush operationally from a safer height.
    • The Bosbok pilots were too young and inexperienced.
    • Only two days were allowed for training of echelon personnel while ten days were required.
    • A real air threat started developing but air-defence drills were lacking.
    • There were no mechanised air defence capability.
    • Navigation teams were not available to guide vehicles and foot operations when reconnaissance planes became unavailable.
    • Pathfinders and Paratroops should have been more experienced for their respective roles, especially in terms of night jumps and the marking and dropping of equipment in bushy drop zones.
    • Medical personnel were badly equipped for operations by foot as their combat equipment were incomplete.
  • In terms of Intelligence:
    • The intelligence gathering process takes time and there were not always enough time available for complete processing, especially during the area operations.
    • UNITA liaison officers were only available at the headquarters, and not at the battle group level.
    • In terms of Electronic Warfare, there existed no direction detection capability of enemy electronic activity at battle group level.
    • Sensitive Electronic Warfare equipment could not be used to intercept enemy messages while on the move.
    • It was a long and difficult process to locate the enemy’s VHF radio frequency in the field.
    • A shortage of operational maps.
    • Intelligence remained the single biggest problem during an operation.
  • In terms of Logistics:
    • The single biggest problem experienced was the delivery of vehicle spare parts, because these items were not available at Oshakati or the Logistical Command.
    • The diesel usage of vehicles were 80% more than planned allowances, resulting in severe fuel shortages.
    • An inability to drop certain vehicle spare parts like axles by parachute were discovered.

Support from the Air Force was of a high standard:

  • From 1-17 November 1981, 272 sorties in support of Operation Daisy were flown from Ondangwa Air Base by all types of aircraft.
  • Between 4 - 12 November 1981, 207 Alouette, Puma and Bosbok sorties were flown from MAOT ZULU at Ionde.

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