South African Border Wars
South Africa’s 23 year border war has been almost forgotten as the Cold War ebbed away and bygones were swept under the political carpet. South African politicians, particularly the ANC and the National Party, decided during negotiations to end years of conflict that the Truth and Reconciliation commission would focus on the internal struggle inside South Africa.
For most conscripts in the South African Defence Force, the SADF, they completed matric and then were drafted into the military. For SWAPO or UNITA or the MPLA army FAPLA it was a similar experience but defined largely by a political awakening and usually linked to information spread through villages and in towns.
This was a young person’s war which most wars are – after all the most disposable members of society are its young men. Nor was it simply a war between white and black. IT was more a conflict on the ground between red and green. Communism and Capitalism.
The other reality was despite being a low-key war, it was high intensity and at times featured unconventional warfare as well as conventional. SADF soldiers would often fight on foot, walking patrols, contacts would take place between these troops and SWAPO. There were many conventional battles involving motorised heavy vehicles, tanks, artillery, air bombardments and mechanised units rolling into attack each other. The combatants included Russians, American former Vietnam vets, Cubans, East Germans and Portuguese.