An in-depth examination of Portugal's bloody, thirteen year war in Angola, and the reasons Portugal lost the hearts of its own citizens.
Nominated for the NYMAS Arthur Goodzeit Book Award 2013 Portugal's three wars in Africa in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea (Guiné-Bissau today) lasted almost 13 years - longer than the United States Army fought in Vietnam. Yet they are among the most underreported conflicts of the modern era. Commonly referred to as Lisbon's Overseas War (Guerra do Ultramar) or in the former colonies, the War of Liberation (Guerra de Libertação), these struggles played a seminal role in ending white rule in Southern Africa. Though hardly on the scale of hostilities being fought in South East Asia, the casualty count by the time a military coup d'état took place in Lisbon in April 1974 was significant. It was certainly enough to cause Portugal to call a halt to violence and pull all its troops back to the Metropolis. Ultimately, Lisbon was to move out of Africa altogether, when hundreds of thousands of Portuguese nationals returned to Europe, the majority having left everything they owned behind. Independence for all th Indeed, on a recent visit to Central Mozambique in 2013, a youthful member of the American Peace Corps told this author that despite have former colonies, including the Atlantic islands, followed soon afterwards. Lisbon ruled its African territories for more than five centuries, not always undisputed by its black and mestizo subjects, but effectively enough to create a lasting Lusitanian tradition. That imprint is indelible and remains engraved in language, social mores and cultural traditions that sometimes have more in common with Europe than with Africa. Today, most of the newspapers in Luanda, Maputo - formerly Lourenco Marques - and Bissau are in Portuguese, as is the language taught in their schools and used by their respective representatives in international bodies to which they all subscribe. ing been embroiled in conflict with the Portuguese for many years in the 1960s and 1970s, he found the local people with whom he came into contact inordinately fond of their erstwhile 'colonial overlords'. As a foreign correspondent, Al Venter covered all three wars over more than a decade, spending lengthy periods in the territories while going on operations with the Portuguese army, marines and air force. In the process, he wrote several books on these conflicts, including a report on the conflict in Portuguese Guinea for the Munger Africana Library of the California Institute of Technology. Portugal's Guerrilla Wars in Africa represents an amalgam of these efforts. At the same time, this book is not an official history, but rather a journalist's perspective of military events as viewed by somebody who has made a career of reporting on overseas wars, Africa's especially. Venter's camera was always at hand; most of the images used between these covers are his. His approach is both intrusive and personal and he would like to believe that he has managed to record for posterity a tiny but vital segment of African history.
The Portuguese planning for and conduct of its 1961-1974 counterinsurgency campaign in Africa.
This book explores the lived memory of the Portuguese colonial war (1961-1974) through the analysis of thirty-six oral history interviews with ex-combatants of this conflict. The meanings that the combatants attributed to their war experiences then and now are the book’s analytical focus. This project seeks to answer the following questions: how has the public memory of this colonial conflict developed in Portugal from 1974 to approximately 2010? what issues does an oral historian encounter when conducting interviews with veterans on a past that remains traumatic for many? what were – and are – the most significant aspects of the war experience and its aftermath for the veterans? how do the veterans perceive their group identity and their historical situation? and what innovative perspectives does oral history offer to the historiography of the Portuguese colonial war?
Author: Simon Robbins, Frank Kitson
Publisher: The History Press
Twentieth and 21st century conflict is dominated by counterinsurgency operations, where the enemy is almost indistinguishable from innocent civilians. Battles are gunfights in jungles, deserts, and streets, and winning "hearts and minds" is as crucial as winning territory. From struggles in Ireland to Malaya; fighting the Viet Cong in Vietnam; operations in India, Yemen, Kenya, Aden, and Palestine; and of course Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, this book covers the strategy and doctrine of counterinsurgency and how often it has been spectacularly unsuccessful, leaving soldiers embedded in a hostile population, immersed in costly and dangerous nation-building. This book explores not only the British and American experience, but also details operations by France, Israel, Russia, India, and China. Eyewitness accounts from Special Forces reveal what it is like to fight a war in the shadows against an enemy that can disappear as quickly as it is located.
Author: John Cann
Publisher: Helion and Company
In 1961, Portugal found itself fighting a war to retain its colonial possessions and preserve the remnants of its empire. It was almost completely unprepared to do so, and this was particularly evident in its ability to project power and to control the vast colonial spaces in Africa. Following the uprisings of March of 1961 in the north of Angola, Portugal poured troops into the colony as fast as its creaking logistic system would allow; however, these new arrivals were not competent and did not possess the skills needed to fight a counterinsurgency. While counterinsurgency by its nature requires substantial numbers of light infantry, the force must be trained in the craft of fighting a small war to be effective. The majority of the arriving troops had no such indoctrination and had been readied at an accelerated pace. Even their uniforms were hastily crafted and not ideally suited to fighting in the bush. In reoccupying the north and addressing the enemy threat, Portugal quickly realized that its most effective forces were those with special qualifications and advanced training. Unfortunately, there were only very small numbers of such elite forces. The maturing experiences of Portuguese and their consequent adjustments to fight a counterinsurgency led to development of specialized, tailored units to close the gaps in skills and knowledge between the insurgents and their forces. The most remarkable such force was the flechas, indigenous Bushmen who lived in eastern Angola with the capacity to live and fight in its difficult terrain aptly named Lands at the End of the Earth. Founded in 1966, they were active until the end of the war in 1974, and were so successful in their methods that the flecha template was copied in the other theaters of Guiné and Mozambique and later in the South African Border War. The flechas were a force unique to the conflicts of southern Africa. A flecha could smell the enemy and his weapons and read the bush in ways that no others could do. He would sleep with one ear to the ground and the other to the atmosphere and would be awakened by an enemy walking a mile away. He could conceal himself in a minimum of cover and find food and water in impossible places. In short, he was vastly superior to the enemy in the environment of eastern Angola, and at the height of the campaign there (19661974) this small force accounted for 60 per cent of all enemy kills. This book is the story of how they came to be formed and organized, their initial teething difficulties, and their unqualified successes.
When Portugal's colonial rule in Angola ended in 1974, three liberation groups--UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola), FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola), and MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola)--agreed to a tripartite movement for the fledgling nation. Conflicts quickly arose and the MPLA, with Cuban and Soviet assistance, drove its rivals from the capital, instigating a civil war, which continues into three periods (1975-1991, 1992-94, and 1998-2002). This volume covers the first period, focusing on the political history of the UNITA movement and its struggles with the MPLA. The Angolan civil war was the product of personal jealousies, contrasting ideologies, and ethnic animosities. From its inception, the conflict between UNITA and Angola's Marxist government was an international affair involving the U. S., the USSR, China, and many African states: W. Martin James III, who wrote his book near the close of the first period of civil war, contends that despite Gorbachev's "new thinking" and talk of peaceful solutions to regional conflicts, Soviet policy toward Angola marked a reversion to the Brezhnev Doctrine. The biggest MPLA-Cuban offenses occurred during Gorbachev's tenure with Soviet advisers at the brigade level directing an MPLA offensive. American policy toward Angola is also examined here. This is the first book to emphasize the dynamic role of UNITA in the Angolan liberation movement. James acknowledges that the importance of foreign powers in guaranteeing a government of national reconciliation. Just as important are strategies of compromise requiring trust in a political context where it is violated and submission for the common good where defiance is a remnant of the colonial past. Foreign policy analysts, African area specialists, and scholars of post-colonial history find this volume indispensible.
During the 13-year insurgency (1961-74) in Portuguese Africa, more than 800,000 men and women served in the Portuguese armed forces. Of this number, about 9,000 served as commandos (or about 1 percent). Yet their combat losses ― 357 dead, 28 missing in action and 771 wounded ― represented 11.5 percent of the total casualties (a percentage 10 times that of normal troops). It is well established that these warriors were responsible for the elimination of more insurgents and capturing more of their weapons than any other force during the war. Great pains were taken to stay abreast of the latest enemy operational methods and maintain the 'warrior edge' in the force. This edge, in essence, was an approach to fighting that pushed the commandos always to think of themselves as the hunter rather than the hunted. Officers returning from contact with the enemy were rigorously debriefed, and commando instructors regularly participated in operations to learn of the latest enemy developments. This information was integrated with intelligence from other sources gathered by the military and national intelligence services, and from this current knowledge, training was constantly revised to remain attuned to the enemy and his behavior. The commandos became a breed apart - and their reputation was such that when insurgents discovered a unit deployed into their area, they would generally withdraw until the killers left. This commando training - and its sympathy with the fighting environment - made the commandos the most effective ground force in the Portuguese Army. The commandos were expert practitioners in the art of counterinsurgency, and their practice of destroying the enemy in great numbers quickly and quietly served as inspiration not only to South Africa and Rhodesia, but to the enemy himself. This is the story of the Portuguese commandos: their beginnings, their unique operations and their legacy and influence in subsequent sister units such as the Buffalo Battalion of South Africa.
Flight Plan Africa
Author: John P. Cann
Publisher: Helion and Company
Following the 1952 reorganization of the Portuguese Air Force from the army and naval air arms, Portugal now had an entity dedicated solely to aviation that would bring it into line with its new NATO commitment. As it proceeded to develop a competence in modern multiengine and jet fighter aircraft for its NATO role and train a professional corps of pilots, it was suddenly confronted in 1961 with fighting insurgencies in all three of its African possessions. This development forced it to acquire an entirely new and separate air force, the African air force, to address this emerging danger. This is the story of just how Portuguese leadership anticipated and dealt with this threat, and how it assembled an air force from scratch to meet it. The aircraft available at the time were largely castoffs from the larger, richer, and more sophisticated air forces of its NATO partners and not designed for counterinsurgency. Yet Portugal adapted them to the task and effectively crafted the appropriate strategies and tactics for their successful employment. The book explores the vicissitudes of procurement, an exercise fraught with anti-colonial political undercurrents, the imaginative modification and adaptation of the aircraft to fight in the African theaters, and the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures for their effective employment against an elusive, clever, and dangerous enemy. Advances in weaponry, such as the helicopter gun ship, were the outgrowth of combat needs. The acquired logistic competences assured that the needed fuel types and lubricants, spare parts, and qualified maintenance personnel were available in even the most remote African landing sites. The advanced flying skills, such as visual reconnaissance and air-ground coordinated fire support, were honed and perfected. All of these aspects and more are explored and hold lessons in the application of airpower in any insurgency today.
Modern African Wars (2)
Author: Peter Abbott
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Portugal was both the first and the last of the great European colonial powers. For 500 years Portugal had colonies in Africa. In 1960, as liberation movements swept across colonial Africa, the Portuguese flag still flew over vast expanses of territory across the continent. The spread of decolonization and the establishment of independent states whose governments were sympathetic to the cause of African nationalism led, in the early 1960s, to a series of wars in Angola (1961–1975), Guiné (1998) and Mozambique (1977). This book details each of these liberation movements, focusing on the equipment, uniforms and organization of the Portuguese forces.
Brown Waters of Africa
Author: John P. Cann
Publisher: Helion & Company Limited
During World War II, Portugal played its cards uncommonly well as a neutral and subsequently became a member of NATO. This membership resulted in a modernizing of its navy and its integration into the Atlantic Alliance. By 1960, when other colonial powers were abandoning their empires, Portugal made the decision to cling to its possessions, as they had been Portuguese for over 400 years. Without them Portugal saw itself as only a small European country, whereas with them, it would be a great nation. Portugal ultimately would fight a 13-year debilitating war against various nationalist movements in Africa to retain its possessions. By the mid 1950s, it became apparent to the Portuguese Navy that it would fight in Africa, and it began to make preparations. Ultimately, it would perform a near wholesale conversion from the blue water or oceanic navy that supported NATO to a brown water or riverine one to fight in Africa. This is the story of that conversion and the great "battle of the rivers" in Africa. This naval reorientation was a remarkable achievement, in that Portugal not only learned to fight a new kind of war, it built a navy to accomplish this and did so while shouldering its NATO commitments. The Portuguese Navy in developing a specialized naval force clearly foresaw the paramount economic, military, and psychological importance of controlling the interior waterways of Africa, for the infrastructure there was universally primitive. While there was generally a road network radiating from the colonial capital, the primary routes used clandestinely by insurgents were chiefly the waterways. The job of the navy was to foreclose enemy use of these lines of communication, and this it did with great success. The lessons from this experience tend to be forgotten, as this war was overshadowed by the U.S. conflict in Vietnam. Today, however, riverine operations are experiencing a renaissance in reaction to the "war of the weak." While modern boats are more technologically advanced, and their crews use newer and better equipment and weapons, the problems and their solutions remain largely the same. The operating environment remains the rivers, bayous, salt pans, canals, lakes, and deltas extending inland from the coast. The population remains a vulnerable target, and the need to establish a permissive environment continues as the primary goal. Clearly, the legacy of the Portuguese "brown water navy" remains relevant today.
The Last Empire
Author: Stewart Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Intellect Books
This book is the result of a conference organised by the Contemporary Portuguese Political History Research Centre (CPHRC) and the University of Dundee that took place during September 2000. The purpose of this conference, and the resulting book, was to bring together various experts in the field to analyse and debate the process of Portuguese decolonisation, which was then 25 years old, and the effects of this on the Portuguese themselves. For over one century, the Portuguese state had defined its foreign policy on the basis of its vast empire – this was the root of its 'Atlanticist' vision. The outbreak of war of liberation in its African territories, which were prompted by the new international support for self determination in colonised territories, was a serious threat that undermined the very foundations of the Portuguese state. This book examines the nature of this threat, how the Portuguese state initially attempted to overcome it by force, and how new pressures within Portuguese society were given space to emerge as a consequence of the colonial wars. This is the first book that takes a multidisciplinary look at both the causes and the consequences of Portuguese decolonisation – and is the only one that places the loss of Portugal's Eastern Empire in the context of the loss of its African Empire. Furthermore, it is the only English language book that relates the process of Portuguese decolonisation with the search for a new Portuguese vision of its place in the world. This book is intended for anyone who is interested in regime change, decolonisation, political revolutions and the growth and development of the European Union. It will also be useful for those who are interested in contemporary developments in civil society and state ideologies. Given that a large part of the book is dedicated to the process of change in the various countries of the former Portuguese Empire, it will also be of interest to students of Africa. It will be useful to those who study decolonisation processes within the other former European Empires, as it provides comparative detail. The book will be most useful to academic researchers and students of comparative politics and area studies.
This two-volume history of counterinsurgency covers all the major and many of the lesser known examples of this widespread and enduring form of conflict, addressing the various measures employed in the attempt to overcome the insurgency and examining the individuals and organizations responsible for everything from counterterrorism to infrastructure building. • Provides an extremely broad coverage of counterinsurgency that spans the period from 1900 to the present day and addresses geographical areas such as Algeria, India, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan, Malaya, Cyprus, Vietnam, and many other regions and countries • Supplies historical and geographical perspectives that enable the reader to examine each chapter as an independent case study and compare and contrast each event with others to draw lessons across time • Includes an extensive bibliography that covers all aspects of modern counterinsurgency-based themes, including geographical regions, theory, and tactics
Author: John P. Cann
Publisher: Helion and Company
In 1961, Portugal found itself fighting a war to retain its colonial possessions and preserve the remnants of its Empire. It was almost completely unprepared to do so, and this was particularly evident in its ability to project power and to control the vast colonial spaces of Africa. Following the uprisings of March 1961 in the north of Angola, Portugal poured troops into the colony as fast as its creaking logistic system would allow; however, these new arrivals were not competent and did not possess the skills needed to fight a counterinsurgency. While counterinsurgency by its nature requires substantial numbers of light infantry, the force must be trained in the craft of fighting a ‘small war’ to be effective. The majority of the arriving troops had no such indoctrination and had been readied at an accelerated pace. Even their uniforms were hastily crafted and not ideally suited to fighting in the bush. In reoccupying the north and addressing the enemy threat, Portugal quickly realized that its most effective forces were those with special qualifications and advanced training. Unfortunately there were only very small numbers of such elite forces. The maturing experiences of the Portuguese and their consequent adjustments to fight a counterinsurgency led to the development of specialized, tailored units to close the gaps in skills and knowledge between the insurgents and their forces. This book is about the Fuzileiros or Portuguese marines, a naval force that operated in the riverine littorals of Africa and that was both feared by the enemy and loved by those loyal to Portugal. The Fuzileiros underwent one of the longest and most physically demanding specialist infantry training regimes in the world, lasting some forty-two weeks. Perhaps only 15 to 35 percent of the inductees eventually passed the course and were awarded the traditional and highly coveted navy blue beret. When deployed to Africa, they underwent further acclimation for weeks until they were able to move through the slime and mud of a riverbank with ease, as their lives depended on it. They became experts at riverine warfare and regularly ranged inland on extended patrols, many of which are recounted here. They were comfort able with the uncomfortable fighting environment, and this ability translated into an unpredictability that the enemy feared. This book is the story of how they came to be formed and organized, the initial teething difficulties, and their unqualified successes.