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Weekly Timeline for "The Final Phase": Aug 1987 to Jul 1988 * [Only Registered Users can Comment on the Events of the Timeline]
February 1988
22Plan for the attack on Tumpo approved
Fresh intelligence reports indicated that Fapla had moved additional 23 mm guns forward and was placing even more than the usual emphasis on them. The plan for the attack on Tumpo was approved on 22 February, and an operations order was issued. 20 SA Brigade was to co-operate with Unita to either destroy the Fapla forces in the Tumpo area or drive them across the Cuito River. A troop of tanks had been alloted to the flanking force for the attack. The 23 mm guns - very familiar to the soldiers - were to be dealt with by a fire belt action, mortar fire or, if necessary, artillery fire.
February 1988
23"All Fapla forces to withdraw from Cuito Cuanavale"
On 23 February a signal was intercepted from the Angolan Ministry of Defence, instructing the commander of the 6th Military Region to withdraw “all forces and structures” from Cuito Cuanavale, and to prepare bunkers at Menongue, As no Fapla action followed the receipt of this signal, it was interpreted as an attempt at deception.
February 1988
24Preparations for the attack
At 11h00 on 24 February Unita's 4th Regular Battalion attacked Fapla elements at Capamba, supported by the G-5s. The forces allocated for the attack on Tumpo moved into their forward assembly areas from 20h20.
February 1988
25First Attack on Tumpo
The main force comprised 61 Mech with both its Regiment Molopo tank squadron and F Squadron, minus one troop detached to the flanking force. It thus had two tank squadrons less one troop, one mechanised infantry company, one 81 mm mortar group, two anti-tank groups, one assault pioneer platoon, one anti-aircraft group (20mm and SA-7), and an engineer troop. It was to carry out the attack in close conjunction with 32 Battalion and Unita's 3rd, 4th and 5th Regular Battalions. For an historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section.
February 1988
26Planning for a renewed attack
Considering the details of the failed attack, the South Africans came to the conclusion that any renewed attack would an engineer-intensive operation. It would also require a detailed, deliberate appreciation. A debriefing conference was held on 26 February, attended by General Demosthenes, and this meeting also set out the initial guidelines for a renewed attack.
February 1988
27Operations order for the attack issued
The operations order detailing the renewed attack on Tumpo was issued on 27 February.
February 1988
28Tank attack to be launched
A final co-ordinating conference was held on 28 February, with General Demosthenes again present. It had been decided to launch a tank attack during the night of 29 February to 1 March.
*Extracts 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!

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