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The Final South African Phase

Almost twelve years had passed since South Africa's first direct intervention into Angola during Operation Savannah in 1975/76, and South Africa's involvement in the War In Angola was about to reach new heights it had not even considered before. The fighting from August 1987 to July 1988, referred to as the "Final South African Phase", evolved into an extensive South African ground- and air-intervention to assist UNITA in repelling the most ambitious FAPLA offensive launched against the insurgent-held areas of the Cuando Cubango and Moxico provinces, towards Mavinga in particular.

The SADF's involvement began modestly with initially only token ground forces involved to stiffen UNITA's resistance to the FAPLA offensive. Eventually, the addition of a mechanised force (61 Mechanised Battalion Group) led to FAPLA suffering one of the worst defeats of any army since World War 2, when FAPLA's 47th Brigade was completely annihilated on the southern banks of the Lomba River on 3 October 1987.

The FAPLA offensive was effectively stopped and the FAPLA withdrawal began in a series of chess-like moves wherein the SADF threw in two mechanised forces to prevent a successful withdrawal to Cuito Cuanavale. This culminated in the SADF attacks on isolated FAPLA brigades during the last stages of Operation Moduler and Operation Hooper, but failing to pin down and destroying any further brigades. The result was that the FAPLA brigades could settle down in prepared defences in the Tumpo-Triangle. They were able to thwart every attempt of the SADF to destroy the FAPLA forces on the eastern side of the Cuito River.

The failure of the final assault on 23 October 1988 during Operation Packer, coupled with political negotiations conducted between the warring parties, led to the final South African withdrawal, but not without crossing swords with the Cuban 50th Division when elements clashed in the final battle at Techipa on 27 June 1988 during Operation Displace.

Negotiations led to the complete withdrawal of both South African and Cuban forces from Angola and eventual Namibian independence

The following sections only discuss the events and elements involved in this, the Final South African Phase:

 
Other links
South African History Online: Battle of Cuito Cuanavale 1988
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale and the Cuban intervention in Angola is one of the turning points in Southern African History.
The Sunday Independent TURNING POINT AT CUITO CUANAVALE
When Jorge Risquet, one of Fidel Castro's shrewdest and most trusted colleagues, addressed the seventh congress of the South African Communist Party, hosted in Cuba in April 1989, he was greeted with the resounding salutation "Viva Cuito Cuanavale!"
Wikipedia: Battle of Cuito Cuanavale
The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987/88 was an important episode in the Angolan Civil War (1975 to 2002).
SA-Soldier.com: Days of Glory. The Final Defeat of South Africa in Angola, from a Cuban perspective
From November 1975 to May 27, 1991, no less than 377 000 Cubans sustained the fight for Angolan independence. The South Africans claim to have killed about 10 000 Cubans, the real figure is 2077... a high price nevertheless, but acceptable given the huge victories that were obtained.
Rhodesia and South Africa: Military History: THE BATTLE OF CUITO CUANAVALE Cuba's Mythical Victory
In 1988 the Angolan Minister of Defence and other official Angolan and Cuban sources claimed that a South African offensive consisting of up to 9,000 troops with 500 tanks, 600 artillery field guns and scores of aircraft had attacked the town of Cuito Cuanavale in Angola. According to their version the attack had failed thanks to a valiant defense effort by Cuban and Angolan troops, and the South Africans had lost 50 aircraft, 47 tanks and hundreds of men.
State Security Agency of the Republic of South Africa: CUITO CUANAVALE : A PARADOX OF HISTORY
t is a paradox that a place where Africa´s history has been dramatically shaped is so well off the beaten track as Cuito Cuanavale, a remote outpost in the featureless wilderness of southeast Angola, a region the Portuguese referred to as the Land at the End of the Earth EL FIN DEL MUNDO.
The Parliamentary Milllenium Programme The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and its consequences for Angola
The battle of Cuito Cuanavale was a bloody confrontation which took place during the full; throes of the Cold War. It is upheld by the great world powers, mainly the heads of the world political blocs (Socialism - Capitalism), or even (NATO - WARSAW PACT)
South Africa’s Intervention in Angola: Before Cuito Cuanavale and Thereafter
This study by Bernice Labuschagne is about South Africa’s interventions in Angola, culminating in the battle/siege of Cuito Cuanavale in 1988.
NAMRIGHTS: “THE DECISIVE BATTLE OF CUITO CUANAVALE” IS A HOAX
There was neither a battle for nor a battle of Cuito Cuanavale. Rather, there was a battle of Mavinga. All the loose talk about the supposedly “glorious battle of Cuito Cuanavale” is a Cuban-made myth, parroted by some people without taking into consideration very important facts.
Stellenbosch University Library: Cuito Cuanavale - Wie het werklik Gewen? 'n Strategiese en Operasio
The campaign is analysed in the light of military theory, especially the ideas of Clausewitz and Liddell Hart. The conclusion is that the MPLA lost badly, that South Africa reached its strategic objectives but did badly operationally, and that Cuba came out of the affair with flying colours.
61 Mech Bn Gp Veterans Association: Operation Modular
The aim of Operation Modular was to halt and reverse the FAPLA advance on to the Unita strongholds of Mavinga and Jamba
Pambazuka News: Cuito Cuanavale A Tribute to Fidel Castro and the African Revolution
Between October 1987 and June 1988, in one of the fiercest conventional battles fought on African soil, the troops of the South African Defence Forces (SADF) fought pitched tank and artillery battles with the Angolan army (FAPLA) and her Cuban supporters at Cuito Cuanavale.
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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET

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