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Operation Forte, 1985

Operation Forte With the JMC in full swing around Cuvelai and regular deployments of 32 Battalion, it became increasingly evident that SWAPO was capitalising on the agreement negotiated by the politicians by infiltrating the so-called 'free zone'. In the absence of a mechanism to control 'free-zone' activity, the South African authorities took clandestine steps to determine whether SWAPO was re-establishing itself in areas controlled by FAPLA. For political reasons, troops from 32 Battalion would masquerade as members of UNITA under the banner of 154 Battalion.

Major Jan Hougaard, second-in-command of 32, and Commandant Johan Schutte of Military Intelligence were responsible for obtaining all the equipment and arms needed for the operation. From depots controlled by the Chief of Staff Intelligence in Pretoria, they drew everything from civilian T-shirts to Russian-made RPD machine guns. In addition to uniforms and boots of the type favoured by UNITA, brand new velskoene - shoes made from soft rawhide and popularly known as vellies — were shipped to the Operational Area along with AK47 rifles, RPG 7 rocket launchers, and Mercedes Benz and Samil 100 trucks.

 

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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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