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Operation Southern Cross
Part of South African Border War
Location Angola
Operation Southern Cross is located in Angola
Mavinga
Jamba
Cuito Cuanavale
Operation Southern Cross (Angola)
Objective Artillery Bombardment of Cuito Cuanavale
Date July 1986


Operation Southern Cross (1986) was a military operation by the South African Defence Force during the South African Border War and Angolan Civil War.

During May 1986, the SADF began planning an operation that called for the capture of the FAPLA controlled town and airbase at Cuito Cuanavale.[1] The units would consist of 32 Battalion, SAAF, Special Forces and UNITA troops. The operation would be carried out at night and aided by air and artillery attacks. Cuito Cuanavale was a military base used previously to launch Cuban and Angolan attacks on the UNITA held town of Mavinga with the objective to capture it and eventually launch an attack on the UNITA headquarters at Jamba. The 13th and 25th FAPLA Brigades were deployed protect Cuito Cuanavale.[2]

This initial plan was scrapped by the SADF and modified to become just an artillery bombardment on Cuito Cuanavale. This occurred during July 1986. The SADF would use the Valkiri multiple rocket launchers and the G5 155 mm artillery guns.[3] 32 Battalion would be used for escort and protection duties. The town was bombarded for two nights and failed to achieve its destruction.[4]

The original assault plan was then revived and this became the planning tool for Operation Alpha Centauri during August 1986.[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Nortje, Piet (2004). 32 Battalion. The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit. p. 227.
  2. Wilsworth, Clive (2012). First in Last Out. eBook. Chapter 9.
  3. Wilsworth, Clive (2012). First in Last Out. eBook. Chapter 9.
  4. Nortje, Piet (2004). 32 Battalion. The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit. p. 227.
  5. Nortje, Piet (2004). 32 Battalion. The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit. p. 227.

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Steenkamp, Willem. South Africa's Border War 1966 - 1989. Ashanti Publishing, 1989
  • Nortje, Piet. 32 Battalion: The Inside Story of South Africa's Elite Fighting Unit. Zebra Books (SA), 2004.
  • Wilsworth, Clive. First in Last Out: The Story of the South African Artillery in Action 1975–1988. 30 Degrees South Publishers (Kindle Edition), 2012.

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