Volume 1 - South West African Police Counter-Insurgency Operations During the South African Border War 1978-1984

Steve Crump

Koeovet - the South West African Police's elite counter insurgency unit; feared and respected in equal measure. This first volume of an all new, two-part work, documents the inception of ‘Ops K' or Koevoet and its role in the vicious South West African Border War up to 1984.
Date Published :
January 2023
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Illustration :
9 b/w photos, 43 color photos, 12 color profiles, 6 maps, 5 diagrams
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781915070562
Pages : 66
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


Koevoet (Afrikaans for ‘Crowbar’) tells of the origination and deployment of the South West African Police’s elite counter-insurgency capability during the South African Border War of 1978–1989. Drawing upon previously unpublished sources and from interviews with a number of key personalities, including former members of Koevoet, this volume, the first of two, documents the formation of Koevoet and its early operations up to 1984.

Koevoet examines the background and context to the South West African conflict and details the early experiences of the South African Police in seeking to counter SWAPO/PLAN activities. It outlines the tasking assigned to Colonel Hans Dreyer of the South African Police to establish ‘Ops K’ and to develop a counter-insurgency unit as part of the South West African Police response to the developing conflict; a unit that was to become both respected and feared and is, today, considered as one of the most effective counter-insurgency forces of modern times.

Koeveot describes the recruitment of trackers from the local population; the integration of black and white Koevoet operators into a single entity; their training, organization and deployment across the ‘Operational Area’. The author examines Koevoet tactics in the field – including all arms co-operation with the South African Defence Force and the South African Air Force and the practice of ‘turning’ captured SWAPO/PLAN fighters and their employment across the Zulu teams. The design and evolution of the iconic Casspir and Wolf Mine-Protected Vehicles (MPVs) is covered as is their practical use on operations, alongside the development of other specialized weapons and equipment utilized by Koevoet.

In documenting Koevoet operations in Kavnago, Kaokoland and Owamboland, Volume 1 of Koevoet seeks to examine SWAPOL-COIN’s effectiveness and to assess how the lessons learned between 1979–1984, shaped future Koevoet doctrine and thinking, to afford the reader a truly inclusive perspective on counter-insurgency today as police and armed forces globally move to a greater reliance on cutting-edge digital technology, including artificial intelligence.

Color profiles detail a range Mine-Protected Vehicles (MPVs) used by Koevoet, including the iconic Casspir and Wolf, along with SADF and SAAF helicopters used to support these operations. Uniforms and insignia of Koevoet are presented in specially commissioned full color artworks.

About The Author

Steve Crump has worked at senior level in a number of humanitarian, development and global health organisations including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health. In 1997 and as program Co-ordinator for the MAG mine action program in Angola, he worked to oversee a number of clearance operations in Moxico, Cunene and Cuando Cubango, aimed at clearing the legacy of the South African border war; namely landmines and unexploded ordnance. He also worked to support MAG’s Namibian assessment mission which saw MAG collaborate with the Explosives Inspectorate of the Namibian Police to ascertain the potential for joint clearance work in Northern Namibia.

Through his experiences in Angola and Namibia, the author became interested in the South-West African Police Counter-Insurgency effort and, in particular, the origination of ‘Ops K’ or Koevoet. This led to him leading on the update and re-publication of Jim Hooper’s bestselling ‘Koevoet’, both through his own imprint, GG Books, and in partnership with Helion & Company.

Based in Brighton, the author is currently working on a series of volumes for Helion & Company detailing British military operations during the 1982 Falklands War.

More from this publisher