The South African Border War - Operation Seiljag

in #war4 years ago (edited)

Operation Seiljag was aimed at preventing further PLAN infiltration into South West Africa through preemptive strikes.

In order to do this 32 Battalion operated from November 1976 to March 1977 largely in the Yati Strip.

The yati strip was a 1km wide strip just inside South West Africa.


img source

The operation was led up to by a number of encounters or "contacts" in the strip with insurgents.

These typically did not end well for the insurgents.


img source

It was then that 32 battalion switched from simple patrols to sweeping for forward operating bases.

These bases often consisted of trench networks hidden in the bush.

img source

It became clear during these operations that small groups of PLAN insurgents were not really intent on a fight and would withdraw over the border or further into Angola, even quite quickly retreating from well defended positions.

In the process three forward operating bases were destroyed.

Plan also began hugging the MPLA and Cuban bases more closely in the hopes that the South African would be less likely to engage them so close to the Angolan military presence.

According to Wikipedia

By the end of 1977 it was clear that the South African government would have to take stronger action to curb guerrilla activity. On October 25, 1977, SADF spokesman Wally Black disclosed that there were 300 PLAN militants in the operational area and skirmishes with security forces averaged a hundred a month. A further 2,000 PLAN were active in Angola and 1,400 in Zambia near the Caprivi Strip. Not long after Black's statements an exceptionally large PLAN force of over 80 guerrillas was able to infiltrate the border. The SADF was concerned that such raids could be indicative of a PLAN strategy to increase its semi-conventional capabilities and operate in larger cadres. For over a decade South Africa had concentrated on a counter-insurgency doctrine based on fighting small, lightly armed, and relatively disorganised partisans. PLAN's decision to escalate the war had forced a change in priorities; comparatively punitive actions such as Operation Seiljag were no longer regarded as adequate.

This would lead to Operation Reindeer and the so called "Casinga massacre" and the political disaster it would become.

Previous posts in this series can be found at the bottom of this post:

The South African Border War - 1976, The end of a chapter and the beginning of a new phase.
The South African Border War - Mines, Mines did I say mines?

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Great post. I've work for 10 years in the military industry with various of the veterans that fought in the Border War. There are various interesting stories you here when you 'braai' with them. As far as I understand Seiljag was one of the earlier operations.

What was the role of the Recces during this operation? As far as I know they were instrumental to elimination of enemy front-line forces. Please do a write-up on some of the Recce operations! ;)

The South African Reconnaissance Commando was quite newly formed in 1977, their main objective in the case of Seiljag would have been information gathering, I do not think they were involved in Seiljag as at this stage the unit was quite small and mainly on missions in Zimbabwe ( then Rhodesia), the official unit only came into existence in 1970 with Commandant Breytenbach hand picking 11 men to join him, previously the operations were carried out under the Hunter Group and only formally recognized as a unit in 1972.

I am also interested to hear more about the Recces.

Recces were everywhere and nowhere all the time.

What do you mean?

they operated in small groups and were pretty much active all the time, wherever necessary, but nobody would generally know about it.

I see what you mean. Did they actually do anything useful though?

They where super useful and in some cases a single Recce took out a full enemy base. They are known for "Guerrilla warfare" and trust me, there are the most hard-core people I have met in my life!

What do you mean by hard core? Yeah makes sense! 😀 😃 😄

they would get there..."the firstest, the fastest, with the mostest"

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A always great post

The true power of guerilla warfare isn't military but political. It is almost perfectly optimized for getting the bigger stronger side to defeat itself either by appearing hapless or, as ended transpiring in the above case, disastrously overreacting in a bid to *

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@gavvet talking about war is really sad
I already feel how the state of war
awry,,
the atmosphere is always in a tense state.
let alone anti-guerrilla warfare
I do not think you have felt the tragedy of war
thanks for sharing

Fell very worst :(

The next clash of the last century, if we talk about the war as a whole, then immediately it is necessary to discard the opposition of white and black. The opposition was against the spread of the ideas of Marxism and black nationalism in Southern Africa.

This is the result of a war, in addition to the people's army also involved victims. great post and good

As what i remember in a famous movie line from V for Vendetta: "As long as there is profit in war, the world will never know peace" sad to say this line is true

This is the consequence of a war, notwithstanding the general population's armed force likewise included casualties. extraordinary post and great

This is very informative.....i would like to see many more posts from you

A always great post, thank you.

@gavvet, my grand father is veterans on guerrilla war, he fight on japanese war here on our country philippines, many of his friend soldier die on the battle of leyte gulf,as the american approaches on the battlefield, my grandfather fight with courage and heroism, in the name of freedom. the japanese soldier try to shoot him on the head but he crawl on the grass..and he hit him with his rifle gun.

he told me that war is very tragic events on his life..many lives has been lost, he always cried when time remember it.my grandfather past away at the age of 85, his memory will always remembered on our hearts...

P.s

mrblu

Thanks for the pic, can I use it?

Nice way and effort to stop the infiltration by huge force on that wide strip

@gavvet - Oh my goodness, look how people died Sir. Oh no humanity there. But they fight for what Sir. Made a country through blood shells or brothers. Love your article Sir. History make future.

+W+ [UpVoted & ReSteemed]

Great post, thank you for sharing! Upvoted

It's a terrible war of horrors.

Very interesting post......

After reading your post it feels that as if were there in the war.

Your icon "Mars" is underlined by your perfect reporting on these wars. Thank you again gavvet. Who Dares Wins.

actually its a "blood moon"

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Please excuse @gavvet, it's so small I can't see it that properly. I had thought there may be a connection between Mars and your reporting since the ancient sign of war is a Mars stellar configuration. Thank you for clarifying gavvet.

This is the result of a war, in addition to the people's army also involved victims. great post and good

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I love history like this. Great post! Keep it up and best wishes from kenentertainment!

What a heavy stuff/situation, no one is secure in that part of the country. Violence is realy a day to day issue, never thought it is so big ,..... What a shame!

a heart-stopping post, good post and interesting and worth discussing

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War, what is it good for! uh huh, yeah...Absolutely.....Nothin'

I believe that's from an anti vietnam war song from the 70s, just in-case you thought I lost my mind!

Another great post @gavvet! Keep them coming :)

A lot of people were killed in this fight. Thank you for sharing

Thanks for the valuable post. South west africa military frontiers good history.
@gavvet
thanks for sharing.

huy what information ... terrible war and discord, as it looks that cadaver ahhhhh

Guerrilla warfare doesn't always work I guess...Resteeming! I hope you have a WONDERFUL day! 😀 😃 😄 😁 😆

great post, thank you.UpVoted & ReSteemed

I never supported war. Dialogue would have been the best option. The trauma, memories, pains, anguish can never be forgotten. That is why we need to prevent another major war brewing between north korea and usa

Gracias por la información..

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It's good to read such a well-written post but sad to know the horrors of war. Wars bring destruction, deaths, diseases, sufferings, poverty, famines and all the bad things we humans could have. It's a pity that man has not learnt lessons from past and for that reason even in today's modern world, we see wars.
Good job @gavvet.

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And borders are nothing but a fallacy of human mind...nature doesnt follow BORDERS...a bird in africa travels to anywhere without its wings being restricted by borders....water flows across the borders...and air in syria and finland change their places...may we be saved by all the things that man created for himself

I hope that as humankind, we might take lessons from the things we have seen in history and little by little we can improve how we treat each other and collaborate towards common goals, instead of being in constant conflict because of injustices.

Thanks for the informational post.

@gavvet,
You are a library! Why Is aid it! Look you know the every inch of the history how South Africa build on ashes of border wars. Yeah this is definitely a massacre! It definitely killed thousands of innocents, but it was the way the country built!
I think that mission was a very strategic one! Mistakes can happen!
"Plan also began hugging the MPLA and Cuban bases more closely in the hopes that the South African would be less likely to engage them so close to the Angolan military presence."
You explained it further well!
Actually I assure you and I recommend every South African should read your blog! This is the history most of people don't know! This is the history people must know! Great article and thank you very much for sharing with us!

Cheers~

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ReSteemia
'UpVoted ReSteemed Commented'

@gavvet. Please clarify South West Africa for me. I have a general idea, but I want to be sure that I am on the right page.

wao its awesome to know about 1976 the end of chapter and the beginning

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Great post again! I have a deep love for history but am ashamed to say I know less about my own countries conflicts than anything else. I absolutely love reading your posts.

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Thanks @gavvet About Operation seiljag !
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Interesting how the whole Soviet influence thing in Central America also played out in Africa. I think South Africa was a lot like North Korea back in those days.

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addition infos for your interested topic:
Operation Seiljag was a broad inquiry and wreck crusade, directed against the South West African People's Organization (SWAPO) in South West Africa by components of the South African 32 Battalion. The operation was completed from November 1976 to March 1977 to a great extent on the Yati Strip, a territory watched by individuals from the South African security powers parallel to the Angolan fringe. By February, the battling had escalated and moved to around fourteen kilometers into Angola. Over the span of a four month time span 32 Battalion had wiped out two units of SWAPO's guerrilla wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), repulsed a third invasion over the outskirt, and devastated three activist bases.The assortments of nineteen guerrillas were recouped, notwithstanding a store of mortar bombs and RPG-7 shots expected for use on PLAN assaults.
Operation Seiljag was one of the biggest activities including 32 Battalion by then, including firefights with up to three hundred agitators. Losses were moderately light on the two sides.

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interesting post.