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The battle at Catengue

Initially the personnel of the task force headquarters had been under the impression that it was just another ambush which would be cleared without much effort, as had been the case in the past. The infantry was therefore assembled to attack the enemy again. The reality of the situation was, however, as it became apparent later, that the task force had encountered the Benguela reinforcements of FAPLA at Catengue, which had already been expected a week before. It can generally be accepted that the task force have now clashed with FAPLA-soldiers that had been trained by Cubans since August 1975. They were the best-trained military force that had been encountered thus far. Evidence that the Cubans had assisted with the planning and control, included among other things, a road map later found on the battlefield, which contained annotations in Spanish.

It was clear that the enemy had deployed enough anti-tank weapons on the furthest hill to dominate the area. These weapons comprised of RPG7s, two recoilless 82 mm and two 75 mm guns which had been deployed on either side of the road. 82 mm mortars and 122 mm single barrel rocket launchers had been deployed behind the hill. Behind the mortars, the tactical headquarters had been deployed where two radios were later found, both still tuned to their operational frequencies. According to a radio signal to Dr. Neto, intercepted on 3 November, 70 Cubans, which had been working at the CIR (Centre for Revolutionary Instruction) south of the Benguala since August 1975, had crewed the sophisticated weapons during the battle.


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