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A generation ago soldiers of the South African Army slipped discretely over the northern border of what was then South West Africa on the country's first real external combat operation since World War II. Operation Savannah marked the start of a protracted campaign, part counter-insurgency and part conventional, that did not end until 1989, a decade and a half later.

In 1983 Willem Steenkamp wrote the first detailed account about the early days. Entitled "Borderstrike!", it went into two editions and is still a standard reference work on the place and period. In this new third edition, he has updated and greatly expanded his original work to provide what is virtually a new book, which retains most of the old material but has a great deal that is new.

Amoung the provocative comments, observations and revelations which emerge from the revised version of Borderstrike! are the following:

  • Why the "border war" came within an inch of ending in 1978 instead of 1989 ... but didn't.

  • How the Cold War drastically affected every single military war and insurrection in Southern and Central Africa for almost three decades.

  • Why none of the three home-grown movements involved in the Angolan civil war had any proven legitimacy in terms of popular support.

  • What was the real planning failure - not the flawed drop about which the Army and Air Force have been arguing for 30 years, but the actual defect - which nearly turned the 1978 Cassinga parachute attack into a disaster.

  • Why did Operation Savannah end up becoming virtually a private war between the South Africans and Cubans?

  • What happened to the three 5.5-inch guns the South African artillerymen had reluctantly abandoned after the disastrous Battle of Death Road on 10th November 1975?

  • Why did the SWA/Namibia peace talks break down on several occasions when they were close to a resolution?

  • Was there a third alternative in 1975 which might have prevented both a protracted counter-insurgency campaign in SWA/Namibia and a South African incursion into Angola?

  • How the frigate SAS President Steyn sneaked along the Angolan coast and snatched up a top-secret South African mission which was in danger of being captured by the MPLA: the first time the full story has been told.

  • How Operation Savannah's tactical legacy, both good and bad, affected the South African military, then and much later.

  • What happened to some of the "cast of characters" in later years.

Paperback. 350 pages.with photos

3rd Revised & enlarged edition (March 1, 2006)

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
Evelyn Ferreira

Excellent cover the early part of the border war.

Jackie Liebenberg

Borderstrike! South Africa Into Angola 1975-1980 - Willem Steenkamp

Chris Kruger



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