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Subject First attack on Tumpo: 25 February 1988
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host
Posts:6172
Posted:7/15/2009 11:21:51 PM
Having been forced out of both their defence lines east of the Cuito River, Fapla were in a difficult situation. If they were to retain any capability of remounting their offensive in the south-east during 1988, it was essential to retain possesion of the Tumpo area as a bridgehead. In fact, the loss of Tumpo would also render Cuito Cuanavale and its air base untenable.

The situation around Tumpo heavily favoured Fapla. Not only was the terrain favourable to the defence. but they had had several months to dig in and prepare it. They had built strong positions strengthened with minefields, with fields of fire cleared where necessary by bulldozers. Infantry supported by tanks, antitank weapons and artillery were positioned to cover all approaches to the base, and mines also been laid on all likely approaches...


The plan for the South African's attack on Tumpo wqs approved on 22 February, and an order was issued...


If you were involved in any way in this attack of the South African ground forces and FAPLA on this day, please feel free to post your story and comments here.



gerrit1965k
Posts:1
Posted:2/25/2015 8:42:23 PM
The artillery fire from Fapla was unbelievable...Being part of the Regiment Molopo Tank Squadron I remember stopping when two of our Tanks detonated mines.Our tank was moving / vibrating whilst standing still the whole time due to all the ordinance falling around us. The guys got out of their tanks to repair the tracks..Close to us a Mortar Crew of 32 kept on firing with virtually no cover..I felt for the poor Unita soldiers on the Tanks who also had scant cover...

host
Posts:6172
Posted:2/26/2015 3:12:34 AM
Gert, I was OPO for the G5s during the Third attack on 23 March, done by Regiment President Steyn, and I saw exactly what you are referring to... there were about 60 guns that opened up with indirect fire on the tanks and the accompanying UNITA soldiers initially riding on the tanks and afterwards advancing next to them... They took the brunt of casualties that day as I am sure was also the case on 25 February!

host
Posts:6172
Posted:2/26/2020 5:15:26 PM
DIE EERSTE AANVAL OP TUMPO IN OëNSKOU

561. Die aanval op Tumpo het nie geslaag nie. Met uitsondering van 32 Bn se vroeëre aanval, is daar nie op enige stadium kontak met die vyand gemaak nie. Howel baie of die meeste van die FAPLA troepe oor die rivier gevlug het, was die vyand se verdediginsstellings nog soos dit voor die aanval was.

562. Retrospektief kan die vyand se taktiek vir die verdediging nie anders as uiters suksesvol beskryf word nie. Die lê van die mynveld binne die boslyn het eie magte verhoed om direkte vuur op die vyandelike stellings neer te bring. Daarenteen het dit aan die vyandelike artillerie die geleentheid gebied om met behulp van waargenome artillerievuur groot verliese in eie magte se geledere te veroorsaak en om die beweging van die hoofmag effektief te vetraag. Die feit dat die mynveld presies op die toegangsweg van die hoofmag gelê was, kon moontlik die resultaat gewees het van deeglike vyandige verkenning wat die uitwerk van die toegangsweg waargeneem het.

563. Die vyandige lugmag het altesaam 59 uitvlugte gedoen en sodoende feitlik ononderbroke in die lug gebly. Nie alleen het dit die beweging van die hoofmag bedreig em belemmer nie, maar ook aan die vyandige artillerie die geleentheid gebied om akkurate en vernietigende vuur op die hoofmag neer te bring sonder dat die RSA se artillerie effektief teenbombardement kon lewer.

564. Die feit dat die gesamentlike RSA/UNITA aanval afgeslaan is sonder dat die vyand se tenks of troepe in direkte kontak met hulle was beslis 'n inspuiting vir die lae moreel van die vyand. Die beplanners van die verdediging moes beslis baie tevrede gevoel het met hulleself.

565. Die aanval het ook beweys gelewer van die sterk moontlikheid dat doie RSA/UNITA magte in die laaste instansie teen so te sê suiwer Kubaanse magte te staan sou kom as dit by die finale geveg om die brughoof sou kom. FAPLA troepe het weereens, en waarskynlik to groot ergenis van die Kubane, getoon dat hulle nie bereid was om in hulle stellings te bly wanneer hulle deur 'n gemeganiseerde RSA mag aangeval word nie.

566. Van RSA/UNITA kant beskou, was die uitslag van die aanval teleurstellend. Nie alleen is die spesifieke opdrag vir die aanval nie uitgevoer nie, maar was die status quo in geen opsig verander nie. Die vyand was steeds veilig in beheer van die Tumpogebied as die sleutelgebied oos van Cuito Cuanavale.

567. Die ernstige behoefte aan effektiewe grond-tot-lug lugafweerwapens wat saam met die aanvalsmag optree, is opnuut beklemtoon. Gesien teen die totale lugoormag wat die vyand gehad het, kon die SA Lugmag ook nie noue lugsteun aan die grondmagte verleen nie. Dit het die RSA se artillery sodanig aan bande gelê dat teenbombardemente en die bestoking van geleentheidsteikens soos die kruising van die rivier nie gedoen kon word nie.

568. Die aanval op Tumpo was die eerste werklike terugslag vir die RSA magte. Die aanval het geskied teen 'n aantal faktore in wat groot beperkings op die RSA magte geplaas het, terwyl dieslfde faktore die vyand bevoordeel het en deur hulle behoorlik uitgebuit is. Beplanning vir toekomstige optrede sou aan hierdie faktore aandag moes verleen en maniere moes vind dit te neutraliseer of te benut indien enige sukses behaal wou word. In hierdie opsig was daar veral vier aspekte waarna deeglik gekyk moes word, naamlik :
  • a. Neutralisering van die vyandige artillerie.
  • b. Neutralisering van die vyandige lugbedreigiing en die effek wat dit gehad het op die aanwending van eie grondmagte, RSA en vyandige artillerie.
  • c. Die vermoë om mynvelde vinnig te bres.
  • d. Deeglike verkenning en vee van toegangsweë kort voor die aanval plaasvind of voor die gemeganiseerde mag tydens die aanmars.

569. Die kommentaar van 61 Meg na die aanval soos vervat in Sitrap 412/26 Feb 88 is insiggewend en kan beskou word as 'n baie raak siening van die eerste aan val op Tumpo. Die volgende staan daar geskrywe :

"Die vyand het eie magte se onwilligheid om met voertuie te beweeg of om artilleriebestokings te doen tydens vyandige vliegtuie se uitvlugte maksimaal uitgebuit. Eie magte sal voortaan 'n berende risiko moet loop in hierdie verband om momentum te handhaaf, verrassing te verkry en druk op die vyand uit te oefen om sodoende sukses af te dwing, met gepaardgaande beperking van personeel en voertuigverliese."


[BRON: Uitreksel uit "GESAMENTLIKE AKSIES DEUR RSA EN UNITA MAGTE TEEN FAPLA MAGTE IN DIE SESDE MILITêRE STREEK VAN ANGOLA VANAF DESEMBER 1987 TOT MAART 1988"]

Translation into English follows:




host
Posts:6172
Posted:2/26/2020 5:20:12 PM
THE FIRST ATTACK IN TUMPO IN RETROSPECT

561. The attack on Tumpo was not successful. With the exception of 32 Bn's earlier attack, no contact was made with the enemy at any time. Although many, or most, of the FAPLA troops had fled across the river, the enemy's defences were still as they were before the attack.

562. Retrospectively, the enemy's tactics for defence cannot be described other than being extremely successful. The laying of the minefield within the forest line prevented our own forces from bringing down direct fire on the enemy positions. In fact, the opposite effect was experienced by the enemy as it provided the enemy artillery with the opportunity to inflict great losses on the ranks of our own forces with the help of observed artillery fire, and to effectively slow down the movement of the main force. The fact that the minefield was located exactly on the main access route could possibly have been the result of thorough enemy reconnaissance that had observed the nett effect of the access route.

563. The enemy air force made a total of 59 out-flights, thus remaining in the air virtually uninterrupted. Not only did this threaten the movement of the main force, but also gave the enemy artillery the opportunity to bring accurate and destructive fire to the main force without the RSA's artillery being able to effectively do counter-bombardment.

564. The fact that the combined RSA / UNITA attack was defeated without the enemy's tanks or troops making direct contact with them was certainly an injection for the low morale of the enemy. The planners of the defence must have felt very satisfied with themselves.

565. The attack also proved the strong possibility that the RSA / UNITA forces would eventually face virtually pure Cuban forces in the final battle for the bridgehead. FAPLA troops once again, and probably to the great annoyance of the Cubans, showed that they were unwilling to remain in their positions when attacked by a mechanized RSA force.

566. From RSA / UNITA's point of view, the outcome of the attack was disappointing. Not only was the specific instruction for the attack not achieved, but the status quo was not changed in any way. The enemy was still safe and sound and in control of the Tumpo area as the key area east of Cuito Cuanavale.

567. The serious need for effective ground-to-air air defence weapons acting with the attack force was re-emphasized. In view of the total air force the enemy had, the SA Air Force was also unable to provide close air support to the ground forces. This restricted the RSA's artillery in such a way that counter-bombardment and the engagement of targets of opportunity, such as the crossing of the river, could not be done.

568. The attack on Tumpo was the first real setback for the RSA forces. The attack took place against a number of factors which placed great restrictions on the RSA, while the same factors favoured and was properly exploited by the enemy. Planning for future action would have to address these factors and find ways to neutralize it, or use it for own benefit, if any success was to be achieved. In this regard, there were four aspects in particular that had to be carefully considered, namely:
  • a. Neutralization of the enemy artillery.
  • b. Neutralization of the enemy air threat and its effect on the use of our own ground forces, and its effect on both RSA and enemy artillery.
  • c. The ability to break through minefields quickly.
  • d. Thorough exploration and sweeping of access routes shortly before the attack or in front of the mechanized force during the march to engage.

569. The comment of 61 Meg after the attack contained in Sitrap 412/26 Feb 88 is informative and can be considered a very touching view of the first attack on Tumpo. The following is written:

"The enemy has maximally exploited our own forces' reluctance to move vehicles and conduct artillery strikes during enemy aircraft flights. Our own forces will henceforth have to bear the risk in this regard in order to maintain momentum, gain surprise, and exert pressure the enemy in order to enforce success, with the consequent limitation on personnel and vehicle losses. "


[SOURCE: Excerpt from "JOINT ACTIONS BY RSA AND UNITA FORCES AGAINST FAPLA FORCES IN THE SIXTH MILITARY REGION OF ANGOLA FROM DECEMBER 1987 TO MARCH 1988"]




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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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