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The Last Hot Battle of the Cold War (Hardback)

South Africa vs. Cuba in the Angolan Civil War

Military > By Century > 20th Century

By Peter Polack
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 304
Illustrations: 16pp. photos
ISBN: 9781612001951
Published: 1st March 2014

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As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse during the late 1980s, and America prepared to claim its victory, a bloody war still raged in Southern Africa, where forces from both sides vied for control of Angola. The result was the largest battle on the dark continent since Al Alamein. The socialist government of Angola and its army, FAPLA, had only to wipe out a massive resistance group, UNITA, secretly supplied by the U.S, in order to claim full sovereignty over the country. A giant FAPLA offensive so threatened to succeed in overcoming UNITA that apartheid-era South Africa stepped in to protect its own interests. The white army crossing the border prompted the Angolan government to call on their own foreign reinforcements—the army of Communist Cuba. Thus began the epic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, largely unknown in the U.S., but which raged for three months in the entirely odd match-up of South African Boers vs. Castro’s armed forces, which for the first time in the Cold War proved what it could achieve. The South Africans were no slouches at warfare themselves, but had suffered under a boycott of weapons since 1977. The Cubans and Angolan troops had the latest Soviet weapons, easily delivered. But UNITA had its secret U.S. supply line and the South Africans knew how to fight. Meantime the Cubans overcame their logistic difficulties with an impressive airlift of troops over the Atlantic, while the Boers simply needed to drive next door.

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