This aim of this operation was to stop a People's Armed Forces for the Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) advance on the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) "capital" of Jamba. Operation Alpha Centauri was developed out of a cancelled plan that had been modified to become Operation Southern Cross that occurred during July 1986. Operation Southern Cross was not successful and therefore Operation Alpha Centauri called for a ground assault during August 1986 on the FAPLA town and airbase at Cuito Cuanavale. Originally the plan called for a night attack by 32 Battalion and UNITA troops supported by artillery but the South African government decided that the attack would be carried out by UNITA and 32 Battalion would protect the SADF support troops and artillery.
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