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Deployment in the South-West

Extract taken with the author's permission from: “War In Angola - The Final South African Phase“, by Helmoed-Römer Heitman (See Bibliography) For the Background and the Run-up to Intervention, get the book! *

While Operation Displace was winding down the campaign in south-eastern Angola, there were other developments in the west that were giving cause for concern. These hinged on the deployment of strong Cuban forces in south-western Angola. Fidel Castro ordered additional ground forces and aircraft to be sent to Angola. The 50th Division formed the bulk of the additional force and its first elements arrived in Angola on 15 November 1987. With the MiG-23s, Castro also sent “some our best pilots”.

Castro’s intention at that point was to prevent the “…military and political catastrophe” that would result if the Fapla force at Cuito Cunavale were “annihilated”. To that end he also ordered a Cuban regiment based at Menongue to move to Cuito Cuanavale to stiffen Fapla defences. General Cintra Frias was sent to take personal control at Cuito Cuanavale in February, effectively cutting Fapla out of their own command system.

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