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Bandit Mentality captures Lindsay ‘Kiwi’ O’Brien’s Bush War service from 1976–1980 at the coalface of the Rhodesian conflict. Starting in the BSA Police Support Unit, the police professional anti-terrorist battalion, he served across the country as a section leader and a troop commander before joining the UANC political armies as trainer and advisor. Much has been written about the Army’s elite units, but Support Unit’s war record was mainly unknown during the conflict, and has faded into obscurity afterwards. Support Unit started poorly supplied and equipped, but the caliber of the men, mostly African, was second-to-none. Support Unit specialized in the “grunt” work inside Rhodesia with none of the flamboyant helicopter or cross-border raids carried out by the army.

O’Brien’s war was primarily within selected tribal lands, seeking out and destroying terrorist units in brisk close range battles with little to no support. O’Brien moved from the police to working with the initial UANC deployment in the Zambezi Valley where the poorly trained recruits were delivered into the terrorist lair. They had to learn fast or die. O’Brien’s account is a foreign-born perspective from a junior commander uninterested in promotion and the wrangling of upper command. He was decorated and wounded three times.

First published: July 2017. Paperback 352 pages with photos.

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One of the best combat books I have read.

I guess I'm biased because I served 2 years from 1971-73 as a section leader in Delta Troop Support Unit, aka The Black Boots, when the bush war was just sporadic and spluttering along. By the time the author joined, it was full on. I can relate to several of the patrol areas in the book and also knew or came across quite a few of the personnel mentioned. Like the author, I also had scant regard for some of the senior, non Operational personnel in Support Unit although the good officers did outnumber those who were less so. We, the junior ranking NCO's, were volunteers from the regular police. The senior ranks, however, were drafted in from the regular police, which might go some way to explaining the occasional 'differences'. For us, R&R's back in town were also a bit of a haze and one long party. Unlike the author, my combat experience was virtually nil. O.P.'s , Stop Groups, the odd follow up - all lemons. That's why I enjoyed the book so much. It relates the real war that escaped me, warts and all and using terminology and situations that I can understand. I can't recommend the book enough - either for former members, anorak war game re-enactors or those who just like to live their lives vicariously It's a no bull-sh*t book. Too many former 'Black Boots' are still around, including many who served with or alongside the author, for any liberties or journalistic licence to have been taken.