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: