Mobile Warfare for Africa

On the Successful Conduct of Wars in Africa and Beyond - Lessons Learned from the South African Border War

Willem Steenkamp, Roland DeVries, Camille Burger

Presents detailed case studies from South Africa's Border War, supported by an extensive number of photographs and maps, for historians, and contemporary military practice.
Date Published :
February 2018
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
illustrations, photos, diagrams, plus color maps and photos in separately bound atlas
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781912174089
Pages : 488
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Presenting a remarkable amount of experience drawing primarily from South Africa’s Border War in the form of case studies, supported fully by an extensive number of photographs and specially commissioned maps, this study has applications for historians, researchers, and contemporary military practice.

This is an easy-to-read book with many real-life case-studies and examples which presents a yardstick for the enhancement of contemporary combat practices. In this context, the Namibian-Angolan-South African Border War serves as one of the principal benchmark studies. It was an armed struggle which typically evolved into a transnational conflict over time and which brought about all the imaginable political, diplomatic, military and social ramifications and complexities of African warfare. More so, this war included low as well as high intensity engagements across the full spectrum of warfare, playing out within a vast geographical expanse over an extended period – all elements holding valuable lessons to be learned from.

The book therefore provides a knowledge resource for enrichment of the intrinsic know-how of commanders and young leaders for the successful conduct of warfare in Africa and similar battlefield environments. In this regard the pages contain a wealth of hands-on military concepts to be used for the conduct of conventional, unconventional or peace support operations or the more integrated form thereof.

It is also significant to realize that southern Africa served as a leading laboratory for counterinsurgency warfare at the time of the South African Border War, from which much can be learned by military practitioners, historians and scholars worldwide.

Many valuable lessons can be learned from the African way of warfare and what is referred to today as ‘4th Generation’ and/or asymmetric warfare, besides providing insights as to how this will influence future military needs and requirements, for instance the development of forces and the incorporation and employment of advanced technology.

About The Author

Willem Steenkamp has been a journalist, soldier, writer of fact and fiction, military tattoo producer and specialist tour guide. A military reservist, he was called up for military service on various occasions from 1976 onwards and took part in four external operations, including an attachment to 61 Mech on its first real test of strength: 1980s 'Operation Sceptic'. After the end of the border conflict in 1989, he served on a presidential advisory council and as a security advisor during the 1994 election, as well as helping to write the seminal 1996 Defence Review. Subsequently, he was a consultant to the SA National Defence Force and Ministry of Defence on several occasions. He is the author of 18 factual books and novels, co-writer of a stage play and two television scripts, and has won three literary prizes.

Major-General (Retired) Roland de Vries, a former Deputy Chief of the South African Army, is an internationally-respected speaker on what might be called 'Third World War themes'. De Vries’ career bracketed the 23-year South African Border War, which was irrevocably interwoven with the machine he helped create - the incomparable six-wheeled Ratel Armoured Combat Vehicle – and his beloved regiment: the renowned 61 Mechanised Battalion Group. He participated in many military operations in Southern Africa during most of the 1980s and is deemed the 'father' of South Africa’s mobile bush warfare doctrine, which achieved such success during the fighting in Angola from the beginning of the decade to the end of hostilities in 1988. He has written two books which have become standard reference works: Mobile Warfare – a Perspective for Southern Africa (first published in 1987; then in revised and updated form in 2014) and his autobiography, entitled Eye of the Firestorm, which was published in 2013.

Camille Burger served as an officer of the South African Armoured Corps for four years before commencing full-time studies to qualify as a town and regional planner. His deep personal interest in geography and cartography, however, gradually shifted his career focus towards geographical information systems and the related disciplines of aerial photographic and satellite image interpretation, as well as cartography. His keen interest in warfare in Africa - combined with his service background and his broader interests - has led him to become the most prominent specialised military cartographer in South Africa, with more than 120 insightful and highly detailed maps published in eight books (the most recent being Helion & Company’s Mobility Conquers).


"..whilst the book is a good introductory course for cadets – and contains some excellent elements – it falls down in its core purpose of providing a comprehensive set of lessons learned or a framework for a specific approach to mobile warfare."

- Miniature Wargames

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