1976 was a very pivotal year in the decades of Southern African conflict from a South African perspective.
Operation Savannah escalated and cemented Cuban involvement in Angola.
PLAN or the military wing of SWAPO renounced its neutrality in the Angolan civil war and firmly threw its lot in with the Cubans and MPLA.
The poor handling of the Soweto Uprising at home and the meddling in Angola further served to Isolate South Africa internationally and draw even more harsh criticisms of its Apartheid policies.
Military conscription became compulsory for all fit white South African males.
The Shipanga Affair would lead to SWAPO relocating from Zambia to Lubango, Angola
The Soviet, Cuban, MPLA, SWAPO alliance was now firmly entrenched against the South African, UNITA alliance. South Africa would also begin more intensively recruiting South West African citizens to create specialized units.
Added to this alliance would be the Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), insurgency forces that would be active in Rhodesia and South Africa.
The war for South West Africa was now in some respects brother against brother, as the civil war in Angola was countryman vs fellow countryman and the whole was compounded by global proxy against territorial proxy.
SWAPO change in stance.
In September 1975, SWAPO issued a public statement declaring its intention to remain neutral in the Angolan Civil War and refrain from supporting any single political faction or party. With the South African withdrawal in March, Sam Nujoma retracted his movement's earlier position and endorsed the MPLA as the "authentic representative of the Angolan people". During the same month, Cuba began flying in small numbers of PLAN recruits from Zambia to Angola to commence guerrilla training. PLAN shared intelligence with the Cubans and FAPLA, and from April 1976 even fought alongside them against UNITA. FAPLA often used PLAN cadres to garrison strategic sites while freeing up more of its own personnel for deployments elsewhere.
The Shipanga Affair
Up till now PLAN had been operating mostly out of Zambia. This had resulted in reprisals against Zambia from South Africa. A number of PLAN mutinies blamed on Andreas Shipanga (SWAPO's Secretary for Information) lead to a crackdown by the Zambian National Defence Force (ZNDF)
Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda deported Shipanga and several other high-ranking dissidents to Tanzania, while incarcerating the others at remote army facilities. Sam Nujoma (head of SWAPO) accused them of being South African agents and carried out a purge of the surviving political leadership and PLAN ranks. Forty mutineers were sentenced to death by a PLAN tribunal in Lusaka, while hundreds of others disappeared. The heightened tension between Kaunda's government and PLAN began to have repercussions in the ZNDF. Zambian officers and enlisted men confiscated PLAN arms and harassed loyal insurgents, straining relations and eroding morale.
With things having gone so sour in Zambia PLAN relocated headquarters to Angola.
By 1977 Cuba and the Soviet Union established many new training camps in Angola to accommodate PLAN, ZIPRA and MK.
The Cubans provided instructors and specialist officers, while the Soviets provided more hardware for the guerrillas. This convergence of interests between the Cuban and Soviet military missions in Angola proved successful as it drew on each partner's comparative strengths. The Soviet Union's strength lay in its vast military industrial complex, which furbished the raw material for bolstering FAPLA and its allies. Cuba's strength lay in its manpower and troop commitment to Angola, which included technical advisers who were familiar with the sophisticated weaponry supplied by the Soviets and possessed combat experience. In order to reduce the likelihood of a South African attack, the training camps were sited near Cuban or FAPLA military installations, with the added advantage of being able to rely on the logistical and communications infrastructure of PLAN's allies.
Quoted text from Wikipedia
Other posts so far
The piece of the cold war nobody told you about - Africa's forgotten war
The Air Battles
The SA Fighter Aircraft
The SA Bomber Aircraft
The conflicts deep roots and start
Africa's forgotten cold war - Angolan War of Independence.
Africa's forgotten cold war - Mozambican War of Independence.
Africa's forgotten cold war - Rhodesian Bush War
Africa's forgotten cold war - The Angolan War of Independence transitions to the Angolan Civil War
The South African Border War - The start of Operation Savannah and Large scale South African involvement.
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - the wheels start coming off.
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - Battle of Quifangondo
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - Battle of Ebo
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - Battle of Bridge 14
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - Battle of Luso
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah comes to an end.
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah the withdrawal.
The South African Border War - Meanwhile back on the home front.
The South African Border War - Meanwhile over in neighboring Mozambique.
The South African Border War - Meanwhile back at the South West African Border and 32 Battalion.
From the stone age to modern warfare in a couple of years and the hunter-gatherer lifestyle lost.