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The Bushman soldiers were the most outstanding all-round fighters of the Border War. As the first of the indigenous population to take up arms on South Africa’s behalf, they were among the last to lay them down. The border’s oldest and most bush-wise people, they became feared as relentless trackers and dedicated soldiers. Coming from a primitive hunter/gatherer culture, they responded well to a crash course in modern warfare. Their use of automatic weapons and mortars, coupled with their phenomenal tracking abilities, made them a formidable fighting force. During Operation Savannah they were deployed in a conventional role as Battle-Group Alpha, part of Task Force Zulu, and advanced approximately 2,000 kilometers in a month. Afterwards, some of the Bushmen were trained as parachutists and served as Recces behind enemy lines. Others were attached to various units as trackers and guides. Amazon.com Widgets Their loyalty and bravery was recognized in the award of Honoris Crux decorations to members and former members of this elite corps. Controversy followed the battalion to South Africa after the war. Persecuted for centuries, the Bushmen have displayed an uncanny ability to survive and have adapted remarkably well to the modern world. Their transition from the Stone Age in less than 20 years is a story, which will never be forgotten. Hailed as the ‘Gurkhas of Africa’ the Bushmen have proved themselves second to none. This is an exceptional record of 31 and 201 Battalions and their remarkable personnel, fully illustrated with many photographs.
Bushman Soldiers: Their Alpha and Omega, by Ian Uys, 1993, first edition, 288 pages, lots of photos, Roll of Honour, Commanding Officers, endpaper maps. The Bushman soldiers were some of the most outstanding trackers and fighters of the Border War. Source: http://www.samilitaria.com/
Redakteurs: Renier du Toit en Ronnie Claassen 1 Valskermbataljon is een van die bekendste weermagseenhede in Suid-Afrika. Die bekende maroen baret en die vlerkies met die valskerm op die bors van hierdie soldate, het aan hulle ’n onderskeibare identiteit en status verleen. Rooiplaas, die opleidingsterrein in Bloemfontein vir honderde valskermsoldate, het ’n ryke geskiedenis. In 1960 is die eerste Suid-Afrikaanse soldate in die verenigde Koninkryk as valskermspringers opgelei. Op 1 April 1961 is die eerste valskermeenheid in die geskiedenis van die Suid-Afrikaanse Weermag en van die Unie van Suid-Afrika in die lewe geroep. Rooiplaas sou ’n deurslaggewende rol speel in die opleiding van valskermsoldate en valskermpakkers vir die Weermag. Die valskermsoldate, of “parabats” in die volksmond, sou ook ’n beduidende rol in die Grensoorlog speel. Soos in die geval met enige ander militêre opleidingsentrum, kon die sukses van 1 Valskermbataljon as opleidingsentrum vir valskermspring eers bepaal word nadat dit as eenheid of as deel van ’n vegtroep aan militêre operasies van die SAW deelgeneem het. Sedert die stigting van die eenheid in 1961 is baie SAW-operasies, sommige minder belangrik en suksesvol as ander, onderneem. 1 Valskermbataljon het in alle operasionele gebiede en tipe operasies van die SAW deelgeneem. Die soldate van hierdie spogeenheid was by ’n paar geleenthede die eerste Suid-Afrikaanse soldate op die toneel of die soldate wat die operasie uitgevoer het. Rooiplaas is die aangewese boek vir enigiemand wat belangstel in avontuur en die verhaal van die rol van 1 Valskermbataljon in die jongste militêre geskiedenis van Suid-Afrika. VERKOOPSPRYS R 235 BLADSYE 288 FORMAAT 222mm x 152mm ISBN 978-1-920654-70-2 PUBLIKASIE DATUM November 2014 KLASSIFIKASIE Millitêre Geskiedenis Bron: www.naledibooks.co.za
Jim Hooper’s work needs little introduction. His words and photographic images have captured the heart, soul and desperation of Third World conflict for almost three decades. Author of the critically acclaimed Koevoet! and A Hundred Feet Over Hell, Hooper is renowned for his brutal honesty. In this all-new work, he takes a powerful and retrospective look at four of Africa’s deadliest conflicts. Known to many of the former South African Special Forces employed by the private military company Executive Outcomes, Hooper was granted unparalleled access to its engagement in Sierra Leone. He accompanied the black and white mercenaries fighting the sadistic Revolutionary United Front, which was responsible for the torture, mutilation and death of thousands. His images capture the role of guns for hire that protected the innocent as much as the failed state that bought their services. In Namibia, Hooper was the only outsider ever embedded with the South West African Police Counterinsurgency Unit – the legendary Koevoet. Over the course of five months, he earned the respect and trust of these elite warriors as they conducted aggressive search and destroy operations against the communist-backed People’s Liberation Army of Namibia. Armed with just his pen and cameras, he was twice wounded in the chaos of close quarter combat. His unique images bear witness to the ferocity of the war fought by ‘Ops K’. During the 35 years of the Angolan civil war, Hooper was one of only two journalists allowed first-hand access to Jonas Savimbi’s Unita movement. Three long trips with the battle-hardened guerrillas took him into the heart of the country, trekking hundreds of kilometres through savannah and jungle to document attacks against Cuban-supported government forces. Included in his unique photographic record is the use of child soldiers, a tragedy he revealed long before it became a cause célèbre in the West. The third-largest country in Africa, Sudan suffered the continent’s longest-running and least-reported civil war. On one side was the Arab government in Khartoum which tried for over 50 years to impose fundamentalist Islam on the south. Treated as a friend by the ebony giants of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, Hooper criss-crossed the battlefields to record their struggle against the religious and racial oppression of the north. His images of their victories were the first to be published in the West. Each page in Black Vortex tells a story, each reflects the human cost of war. Look into the eyes of the warriors, the survivors, the dead – reproduced here as a commentary on Africa’s never-ending history of violence. “…succeeds in owning the eyes and chilling the soul to the very bones. Credit must be given to Hooper’s courage and conviction in carrying out his art and this latest work will doubtless inspire the next generation of reportage students.” History of War magazine Amazon Customer Reviews – USA 5.0 out of 5 stars Black Vortex – The “dark continent” exposed, July 16, 2014 By Barend J. Kruger “Ben Kruger” (USA) Black Vortex. Recalling the realities of the violent civil wars, insurgencies, multiple coupe d’ etat and unrest that have plagued Africa since the sixties, it is a profoundly apt title. Through the lens of a talented photographer who happen to be an unbiased reporter, his stark use of monochromatic black and white combined with color pictures tell the tragic story of the “Dark Continent. ” Despotic cannibal rulers, corrupt officials, the ineptness of the UN to address the issues and unwillingness of the western media to report the truth, is vividly depicted. From the border war in Namibia fought between South African forces and the communist backed elements in Angola, to the devastation of the “blood diamond” atrocities in Sierra Leone and the successful resistance by the rebel forces who resisted Muslim oppression in Sudan, it is obvious that the book was written by a real life reporter who “was there”. No punches pulled and no political agenda. The book is a beacon to truthful reporting. It is highly recommended on it’s own, but best appreciated if read along with “Koevoet,” one of his other books. 5.0 out of 5 stars Great pictures, April 4, 2014 By CalleF Lots of pictures and not so much text. I haven’t spent that much time with the book yet but I’m really looking forward to it. If you want more text and details read, “Koevoet” by the same author. 5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent summary with important details and pictures, February 6, 2014 By Boogie Man (HAFB Panama) Amazingly good book that covers a very broad subject matter. I think that the major achievement in this book is covering so much area, so many battles, so many different aspects of the many wars in the past 40 years inside Africa. I rate this book so high since it truly gives the reader enough information (I love the introductions) for each of the individual segments, but at the same time leaves the reader longing for more! Then you must consider the amazing pictures that give the reader an insight into what was happening, and where, and what the situation was at that time. Again, some might consider this a weakness, but I am just the opposite! It builds the case of the author, without a sense of pandering or promoting his personal ideals. You really get a sense of the reality of the wars, and the brotherhood of soldiers wherever they are. Simply amazing. Highly recommend this entertaining and educational adventure into Africa’s many wars. 5.0 out of 5 stars Pictorial Retrospective, January 30, 2014 By William Martin In the closing decades of the 20th century, armed conflicts in Africa were either largely ignored by the worldwide popular press or the accounts were notoriously, and in many instances preposterously, presented through the political lenses of absentee reporters. As an embedded, dedicated, and objective war correspondent, Jim Hooper’s most recent contribution to the literature, “Black Vortex: One man’s Journey Into Africa’s Wars” is in stark contrast to those perspectives. In particular when observed in concert with his other narratives on the subject, his personal pictorial retrospective covering Namibia and Koevoet, Angola and UNITA, Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone, and Sudan and the SPLA, offers a valuable block in building an overall understanding of the current geopolitical state of affairs in several countries across Africa. 5.0 out of 5 stars An Unflinching Look Into The Wars of Africas’ Yesterdays, January 16, 2014 By Aaron Wyllie (Jacksonville, FL) Jim Hooper, author of “Koevoet: Experiencing South Africa’s Deadly Bush War”, has put together what can be fairly described as being on par with books like “Contact: A tribute to those who serve Rhodesia”, by John Lovett and “South Africa’s Border War 1966-89″ by Willem Steenkamp. It’s just going to be something you’ll want to have just by virtue of what it is; a solid collection of memories. About the book itself. Overall quality is excellent. Strong binding, thick covers, heavy weight pages, very nice dust cover, and lays flat when open. It’s a coffee table book at 10.7″ x 9.5″ x 0.9″, really, so all qualities you would expect. After a short preface and short guide to the acronyms and abbreviations to follow, it’s broken into four primary sections … : . * (I) Namibia and Koevoet * (II) Angola and UNITA * (III) Executive Outcomes in Sierra Leone * (IV) Sudan and SPLA Each section ranges anywhere from approximately 20 to 45 pages and begins with some background on the conflict and the combatants, how and why Jim Hooper came to be there, and some thoughts about the politics of the day. Each introduction is relatively terse, at around two to five pages each, and it’s clear that, while the photography is excellent, having some knowledge of the bush wars Jim Hooper presents would be helpful to fully appreciate the material. Past each sections’ brief introduction, the reader is presented with a series of approximately 9″ x 6” photographs (although there are some slightly larger and other smaller photos as well), one per page side. Each collection starts with a series of black and white photos, then a smaller amount of colour photos, and finished with yet another smaller set of black and white photography. I found the quality of the photos to be very good. To be true, the print quality of the entire book is very high. No colour bleeding, no unintended blurriness. Colour plates are page numbered separately from the black and white prints but they’re done by section. In that, I mean, the first colour photograph in section one is “page 1” and first colour photograph in section two is “page 1”. I don’t know if that was intentional but, without a proper index, I think it was either a bad idea at best or a printing mistake at worst. Each photograph carries with it a sentence or two describing the scene Jim Hooper has provided; short and sweet. The reader is left to their own devices or experience to fill in the rest of each story. A lot of this work I have never seen before but I do not know if Jim has published any of it previously. I’m tempted to list my personal favourites here but I’ll let each reader find their own. I have given this book 5 stars. First reason being that I think Jim Hooper is exceptional in his efforts to make this available and to have even had put himself there to capture it in the first place. So, right from go, it’s a unique collection. Second, I have read, and subsequently lost, Jim’s book “Koevoet: Experiencing South Africa’s Deadly Bush War” so I have an idea of where he is coming from now, where he was at then, who he was with, and why. I have a personal appreciation for this work. Is this book perfect? No. It suffers from lack of general context. Not that it’s Jim Hooper’s fault or even the subject matters’ fault. It’s just not a subject many people are familiar with, unfortunately. Or, they are familiar with a very biased version of it all that diminishes the spirit and subject of the work unfairly. I think that is the price that has to paid when the cover is pulled back and the reader is presented with both barrels of “Ware Afrika”. I hope that Jim Hooper finds good success with this offering and I would be lying if I said I have not been left wanting more. Amazon Customer Reviews – UK 5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, 20 Mar 2014 By Geriatriix Having been involved in a sub Sahara war for many years , I found this excellent book to be very well researched & written. 5.0 out of 5 stars Just amazing! What an excellent book with amazing pictures covering …,18 Aug 2014 By Bernhard D Uytenbogaardt Just amazing! What an excellent book with amazing pictures covering Namibia, Angola, Sierra Leone and Sudan. One of the most interesting books that I have acquired. A must for all interested in KOEVOET.
UPDATED REVIEWS: An international bestseller since its release over 20 years ago, this new edition of Jim Hooper’s classic captures the courage, fear and intensity of the Namibian bush war. Never before had an outsider been given unrestricted access to Koevoet, the elite South West African Police counterinsurgency unit. His five months embedded with the semi-secret and predominantly black Ops K coincided with one of the most vicious and determined infiltrations ever mounted by the communist-backed South West Africa People’s Organization. Crossing regularly into Angola in pursuit of the insurgents, he saw friends die next to him and was twice wounded himself. This updated edition, drawing on the recollections and diaries of the men he rode with, will fascinate yet another generation of readers. In assembling this work Hooper had the opportunity to re-connect with many of the men who allowed this outsider to ride with them, all of which brought a new intensity and poignancy. A tribute to Koevoet and the legend they created, this new edition features a substantially rewritten and expanded text accompanied by nearly 100 colour photographs. “…a valuable first-hand account of South African counter-insurgency operations in what was then South-West Africa and should be read by anyone interested in the southern African conflicts of the late twentieth century.” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research “Hooper’s informal style of writing brings the reader immediately into the story. The more I read … the more I am amazed that this story has never been properly told before. I knew absolutely nothing about this conflict and through Jim’s book I am finding it so engrossing and educational it is hard to stop. It is full of detail, flavour and character… but what is most important is that he provides detail to a conflict that, I suspect, most people in the Western World have never heard of or if they have, have no real idea of what went on or why. The portrait he paints of Africa is hugely interesting, compelling and sad at the same time. I think this is a bestseller and deserves to be on the book shelves of everyone who has an interest in international conflicts. As editor I decided to publish these excerpts because of the descriptive nature of COIN operations and also because this kind of experience is currently unavailable from our COIN operations in Afghanistan. British Army Review ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬“A thrilling exposé of modern military history, and of one of Africa’s bloodiest conflicts”. Dan Mills, author of the bestseller Sniper One: The Blistering True Story of a British Battle Group Under Siege ________________________________________________ The continued presence of irregular conflict in Africa has brought new interest in the conduct of contemporary counterinsurgency by South Africa and its roots, practices, and prospects after decades of neglect. Required reading should be Jim Hooper’s account of South Africa’s successful “Ops K” in Namibia against South West Africa’s People’s Organization guerrillas. The classic narrative is as timely today as it was twenty years ago. Charles D. Melson Chief Historian U.S. Marine Corps University The Canadian Army Journal 14/03/2012 The book Koevoet (read Koo-foot) is a reissue a publication originally published in 1988 relating the experiences of its author, independent journalist Jim Hooper, during the South African Bush War. Hooper spent a year embedded with the SWAPOLCOIN (South West African Police Counterinsurgency Unit), the official name of Koevoet, during the period 1986 to 1987. Hooper’s book traces the path he took that led him, as a journalist, first to Africa and the Chadian insurrections and then ultimately to South Africa. He outlines in detail the challenges that he faced getting the opportunity to join Koevoet on patrol and the even greater gulf that he had to overcome to become accepted and trusted by unit members. His book sheds light on aspects of the South Africa Bush War that were rarely seen and even more poorly understood by those not involved (including the people of South Africa themselves); those being the level of mutual trust and respect between members of the unit (which was a mix of black and white), the level of violence and the capability of the SWAPO (South West Africa People’s Organization) forces that they were fighting. Hooper details the development of the unit, the tactics that it developed to address bush fighting requirements, its success and failures, the nature of the war itself and the differences between what the world saw (and assumed) and the realities of fighting on the ground. He does not glorify what these men were doing nor does he gloss over the less palatable aspects of the war (including his own naiveté and preconceived ideas). Rather, he paints a picture that is raw, honest and enlightening. The small unit structure of Koevoet operations means that Hooper gets to know the soldiers themselves and is able to convey their frustrations, prejudices, loyalties and underlying motivations. This is critical to adding a human face to the conflict. While today viewers may be well adjusted to seeing journalists placing themselves in as much of the ‘operational’ world as possible, this was not the case in the 1980’s. This was especially true in the counterinsurgency war within South West Africa (modern day Namibia) where South African and Namibian regular and irregular forces (such as UNITA – National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) were engaged in a long running war with Soviet and Cuban-backed SWAPO who were seeking the establishment of a communist regime in Namibia. Hooper’s writing style is very accessible for the casual tactician. He specifically avoids long technical descriptions of equipment and operating doctrine; providing enough information to inform the reader without detracting from the overall picture. Instead, his narrative is focused on the ‘human’ dimension of the conflict; the soldiers with which he worked and came in contact with, their frustrations, fears and successes. He paints a very deliberate picture of the conflict itself blending into the storyline explanations of the external stressors placed on the unit through conflict with the international media, the regular army, the political climate and the great divide between the population “at home’ in South Africa and the soldiers doing the fighting at the front. Readers will certainly appreciate and understand the difficulties faced by the author as he endeavours to understand and be accepted by the men that he is stationed with. Given the lack of international support for South Africa and its operations on the international stage throughout the 1980’s, it is very understandable that Hooper would have been met with a less then rousing welcome as an American journalist when he first arrived. His explanation of his efforts to obtain permission from the authorities to report on the conflict, his disappointment at seemingly being regulated to a unit he had never heard of and his gradual transition from green reporter to seasoned bush veteran make for a remarkable and engaging narrative. While Hooper obviously respects and admires the soldiers that he is working with, he does maintain an impartiality that balances his storyline and draws attention to some of the less palatable aspects of the bush war. This includes the hypocrisy of the so called freedom fighters of the SWAPO organization and its blatant manipulation of the international media and organizations such as the UN. Through interviews with SWAPO representatives in London and elsewhere, he exposes a number of contradictions between what the world viewed and the realities on the ground. He also focuses upon the tragedy of the people of South West Africa caught up in the fighting between the opposing forces. The production value of this book is high and it includes a myriad of maps, colour and black and white photographs and an acronym section that is of great value. The reprint of this book with an update by the author should be very well received by the reading public. It is an engrossing ‘amateurs’ insider view of operations during the Bush War and an outstanding glimpse into a region of conflict that remains virtually unknown to the general population. Reviewer: Major Chris Buckham is a Logistics Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He has experience working with all elements including SOF. A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, he holds a BA in Poli Sci and an MA in International Relations. He is presently employed as an ILOC Officer with the multinational branch of EUCOM J4 in Stuttgart, Germany. _________________________________________________ Originally published almost 25 years ago, this book is an updated account by American journalist Jim Hooper who was embedded with the South West Africa Police Counter-insurgency unit, also called Koevoet (Afrikaans for crowbar), in 1986-87 during it’s struggle to prevent South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) infiltration from neighbouring Angola. SWAPO fought an insurgency against South African occupation of South West Africa, which dated from 1915, from the late 1960s to 1989 when an international agreement led to becoming an independent Namibia in 1990. In this new edition recent statements by former members of Koevoet have been sprinkled throughout the book to give additional perspectives on specific incidents. Predictably, the Koevoet operators did not want Hooper around, as they distrusted foreign journalists who usually portrayed them as brutal agents of a racist regime, but eventually he gained some acceptance, particularly after being twice wounded in combat. The book offers a day-to-day narrative of Koevoet’s main task, the rapid tracking and elimination of SWAPO insurgents that often led to hot pursuit across the Angolan border. Taking turns riding in mine-protected armoured personnel carriers, the skilled Ovambo trackers – some of whom were former SWAPO fighters who had changed sides – would stay on the trail of the insurgents for a long time, and ultimately catch up with them. At this point the Koevoet team, which usually consisted of four carriers, would use the superior firepower of its vehicle-mounted machine guns and on-call helicopter gunships to kill the insurgents. This was an incredibly dangerous tactic as given the sound of the armoured vehicles, the insurgents would usually know they were being followed and would plant anti-personnel mines and set ambushes for the trackers. As a result, Koevoet suffered high casualties rates compared to other South African units in what came to be called the ‘Border War’. Displaying a stunningly cavalier toward danger, Koevoet members initially shocked Hooper, and also their more conventional South African Defence Force colleagues, by using open cooking fires in their temporary bush camps, including those inside Angola, with the explanation that SWAPO insurgents could not predict where they would be located in the vast area and could not shoot straight if they did. The main strength of the book is on the individual policemen of Koevoet including their physical appearance, personalities and stories. However, as Hooper readily admits, his inability to speak Afrikaans or Oshivambo – the working languages of the unit – meant the personal accounts of the Ovambo trackers do not receive the attention they deserve. The few that are included offer a fascinating glimpse into the experience of the black security force personnel who fought for the South African apartheid regime. The book also raises questions – and again the author fully recognises this – about the potential objectivity of war correspondents embedded in military units engaged in combat. Hooper is obviously no fan of SWAPO, which he accuses of hypocritically brutalizing and killing the Namibian people it claimed to be fighting to liberate, and grossly dishonest in wildly exaggerating the extent of casualties and damage it inflicted on South African forces. Furthermore, given the time that has passed since the first edition, a few more explanatory notes would have been useful such as for Eugene de Kock, a founding Koevoet officer, who is briefly mentioned for his role in developing the unit, but in fact that he later became commander of a notorious apartheid-upholding police death squad in South Africa and is currently serving a 200-year sentence is omitted. Since Hooper was a photographer, there are several sections with monochrome and colour photographs of Koevoet operations and personnel, including many of those who are discussed in the text and who have contributed their own memories. The book ends with a new section on what eventually became of many of the Koevoet members that Hooper came to know after the unit was disbanded in 1990, including the betrayal of the Ovambo trackers who were re-settled to South Africa and promised jobs in the South African Police, but then abandoned during the political transition in that country. While this is clearly not an objective book, it is a valuable first-hand account of South African counter-insurgency operations in what was then South West Africa, and should be read by anyone interested in southern African conflicts of the twentieth century. —Tim Stapleton Trent University Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research ________________________________________________________________________ KOEVOET!, experiencing South Africa’s deadly bush war by Jim Hooper Jim Hooper is an American journalist based in England. A former parachute jumping instructor and business owner, Hooper turned to journalism in the 1980s. He began to seek out a small war that he could report on. His instincts lead him to the war in Namibia. He managed to get a short attachment to the South African Defence Forces operating against the SWAPO guerrillas in Namibia. Based on those experiences, he sought, and was granted a six-month attachment to Koevoet. Koevoet [pronounced koo-foot] means Crowbar in Afrikaans. This was the name adopted by the South West African Police Counterinsurgency Unit during the period of the conflict with SWAPO in Namibia. Hooper was given complete and uncensored access to their operations. He accompanied several units on their week long operations, and tried to acquit himself in the bar afterwards. Publication of the book was controversial in 1987, as it showed a human face and a reality, to the otherwise contra view held by many areas of the liberal press and political establishment. This re-published version contains new material from those he worked with. This consists of their personal recollections, inserted into appropriate passages of the original text. This adds much to the original as it gives the perspective of those he was with at the time. This is really two stories in one. Firstly, it is an account of Koevoet’s operations at a particular point in time. Secondly, it is an account of Hooper’s own passage as a War Correspondent. I found this a particularly good read. Despite the occasional use of Afrikaans, the language is clear and vivid. I only had recourse to the glossary once. It has a good pace. It also has a good postscript detailing what has happened to the main characters from Koevoet since he left. It wraps the book up nicely. ARRSE – the Army Rumour Service – Unofficial website of the British Army. ________________________________________________________________ “As editor I decided to publish these excerpts because of the descriptive nature of COIN operations and also because this kind of experience is currently unavailable from our COIN operations in Afghanistan.” So says the editor in the latest issue of the British Army Review. There can be little higher praise from the point of view of serious military interest and possible applications to the vagaries of Counter-insurgency Operations Theory. This is a revamp of a book first published in 1988 and which subsequently became a niche best seller in the genre of “Obscure African Bush Wars during the Proxy Wars of the Cold War.” The current interest in Bar and others in these wars is indicative of the continuing intellectual search for a sound COIN basis for the West’s more recent and current conflicts; but as every “counterinsurgency” has proved to be quite distinct from the next, the arguments continue over the very definition. Hooper describes the actions of the South West African Police COIN unit, which operated on the northern border of Namibia in the 1980s to counter the infiltrations of the communist-backed military arm of SWAPO, which had been provided with safe bases in Angola. Most of the success of Koevoet, which comes out clearly in the book, was due to the fact that 90% of its members belonged to Ovambo tribe, some even included ex-SWAPO. The remaining 10% were white South Africans and “Southwesters” (whites from Namibia). SWAPO itself was dominated by the same Ovambo tribe, and a motivation to defeat what SWAPO stood for was the human combat driver for members of Koevoet. The application of what can be described as “cultural intelligence” by the Ovambo members of the unit, and the whites’ lifelong knowledge of southern Africa fulfilled the primary requirement for effective COIN: intimate knowledge of people and environment. The unit did not function as part of an overall strategy of co-ordinated Information Operations as we would try to apply it today today. The South African security forces did have ComOps (loosely embracing Influence Activities) but Koevoet was not under this umbrella. It was particularly known for its high kill rate, but this was a unit which essentially worked with the law and within clear moral parameters. The book is slightly unusual in that it is also a bit of a personal quest by the author; there is quite a bit of bonding all around and this makes for a lively and reflective read, especially when he gets shot and then, later, hit by mortar shrapnel. There is plenty of understated humour; after a particularly bloody contact: ‘A medic is carefully cleaning Lesch’s back. His bush shorts are eased off, and we’re all suddenly aware of the blood on the front of his underwear. Lesch follows our eyes and blanches. He reaches down quickly to pull the elastic waistband forward and check. The elastic snaps back and he sighs. The blood is from another of his wounds. As witnesses, we sigh with him, a nervous chuckle going around the stretcher.’ Photos are apposite, atmospheric and of good quality. All credit to the publisher here. Hooper has specialised in reporting and researching the less usual niche conflicts and the more esoteric aspects of modern warfare. This book should please his many fans and fellow SF Club members. Special Forces Club Newsletter __________________________________________________ Koevoet, by Jim Hooper, is a compelling account of a highly motivated and well equipped South African Police counter insurgency unit operating in Namibia and Angola in the 1980’s. Jim’s book describes in great detail the men both black and white, their highly specialised equipment, which included mine protected cross-country vehicles that were years ahead of anything in use by other western forces at the time, their dedicated helicopter support units and the techniques and methods used to bring an elusive guerrilla force to battle. Koevoet, is not just a cracking read but a thoroughly investigated account that raises questions. I watched, in horror, in Basra in 2003, British Army soldiers carrying out patrols standing on the backs of open Landrovers like targets waiting to be shot. That may have been a good technique for a low level insurgency in Ireland but not in Iraq. It took the British Army years to develop and equip itself with equipment that had already been developed and combat tested in Africa. Why is it that military commanders rarely learn from recent conflicts? Why is the military wheel constantly being re-invented? —Paul French Author – Shadows of a Forgotten Past To the Edge with the Rhodesian SAS and Selous Scouts _______________________________________________________________ As a member of 32 Battalion I never had much interest in the doings of Koevoet, the South African Police Counter insurgency Unit. I had bought the 1988 edition of Jim Hooper’s book about them and found it brilliantly written, but never had the inclination to re-read it – until we were introduced by publisher Steve Crump. The exchange of emails prompted me to dust off the early book and have another look. Then I ordered a copy of the new edition and was even more impressed. Unlike the original, Jim explains his early (and sometimes turbulent) life and his efforts to bring the true stories of Africa’s brutal wars to a Western audience. It made me understand why he was accepted by the Koevoet operatives as one of their own, and why I can easily connect to him. This expanded edition is a skilfully woven mosaic of personal accounts from those involved and what he experienced during combat with Koevoet. The use of new material from those he rode with lays bare the realities of war, the fears and emotions that ebb and flow in the heat of combat, and the courage one finds to bring the battle to the enemy. He captures the chaos of contact; the bitter pain of losing friends; the contradicting emotions of elation at having survived. Jim writes about the character of the Koevoet operatives, black and white, making one realize that, even during the peak of the apartheid years, they did not see colour as an issue: they were Brothers in Arms. —Piet Nortje Author 32 Battalion ___________________________________________________ From a US Army mechanized infantry battalion commander: Jim, first let me say that your book is excellent. Not only is the subject riveting but your writing is fantastic. Your experience and your description of the emotions we all feel once we’ve been shot at and been part of a team like that are something every combat veteran can relate to. Everything from the smug feeling you get when you see Soldiers who haven’t seen what you’ve seen to the surreal feeling you get when you leave a hot LZ and land in a safe clean spot with folks carrying on with their daily lives. As to the broader theme of COIN, there are so many other similarities to what we’re observing now that it’s hard to know where to begin…Your book, and books ranging from Caesar’s Conquest of Gaul to Trinquier’s Modern Warfare make it clear that insurgencies and the fights against them are timeless. I really wince when I hear the term “conventional warfare,” or really any attempt to categorize the organized violence that is war. It defies categorization, and like your book, has to be appreciated for the incredibly unique context of itself. Sure, some commonalities exist, but the lessons can’t be cut and pasted into some kind of cookie shape! The second similarity is the inevitable abandonment of the indigenous supporters of COIN. The Iraqis who worked for us paid a dear price, and those in the security forces now can’t sleep with both eyes shut, and I don’t envy the fate of those Afghans who’ve thrown in their lot with us. Although the South Africans made an effort (as we all have), the majority of the Ovambo spoorsnyers appear to have suffered. Another point is that despite tactical success, and it is evident that Koevoet were masters of the art, the broader effort failed. I’m not familiar with what the rest of South Africa’s strategy was in regards to Namibia, but it appears that stopping a large number of infiltrators was a success that wasn’t reinforced by much other work – kind of like Afghanistan. We are killing the Taliban like flies, but our broader strategy, addled by a mish-mash of philosophical principles rather than reality-based outcomes will doom what are otherwise huge tactical successes. Can’t thank you enough for sending me the book, truly, truly enjoyed it and gave me a great deal to think about. ¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬¬_____________________________________________________________________ http://ffchips.wordpress.com/ Mention the word “Koevoet” to most people who have heard of The Angolan War (1966 to 1989) and you will hear answers ranging from awed whispers, to howls of outrage about the so-called savage white oppressors who mercilessly defended the hated South African apartheid regime…. and so on… depending upon their media source of choice. Mindful of the dearth of balanced reportage from inside South Africa, Jim Hooper set about getting some first hand experience. The word Koevoet is the Afrikaans word for “crowbar”, which describes, with classic understatement, this maligned, but unique counterinsurgency unit of the South African Police. Koevoet was one of the most effective forces in the Operational Area during the war. Their unconventional but devastatingly successful tactics caused sufficient upheaval within SWAPO’s hierarchy, that they and their Communist backers were forced to embark upon disgracefully fabricated media campaigns to bolster flagging internal morale and garner international support. When I first picked up the book, I sceptically expected it to be yet another damning diatribe from yet another arrogantly asinine individual, regurgitating fashionable vitriol against South Africa. What I found was patently, refreshingly and captivatingly different. Hooper’s book, ‘Koevoet’, is a totally compelling, eminently readable, on-the-ground document of his experiences with the unit as well as encounters with various luminaries and worthies on both sides in southern Africa. The book is mercifully not a self-absorbed military analysis of the conflict, but his succinct, self-deprecating, almost easy-going style, liberally laced with humour, portrays a very human side of the members of this august group of men. Using his position as the ‘first foreign journalist ever to have been granted unrestricted access to Operation Area’ in general and Koevoet in particular, Hooper’s penetrative accounts debunk myth after myth concerning racial segregation, oppression and the South African Nationalist Cause; but at the same time it does not pull punches on the faults of the Nationalist government. It also provides an illuminating exposé of the savagery of the multitude of Communist-backed SWAPO and FAPLA atrocities – the elephant in the room which the world is so desperately keen to ignore. When it was first published in 1988, Hooper’s courageous viewpoints ran contrary to the opinions of many prominent news people and editorial staff – people who had had their opinions formed for them by incomplete or oversimplified reporting, and the lure of increased circulations. However, this reviewer is of the opinion that Jim Hooper’s ‘Koevoet’ has helped to provide motivation to the ever growing number of authors to add their own stories of the Angolan Conflict, hopefully letting another, most pertinent, side of the truth be known. After reading over 40 books on African conflicts, I rate Jim Hooper’s ‘Koevoet’ among the easiest of reads and definitely one of the most difficult to put down. I highly recommend it. —Alan Largue A soft cover book that was first published back in 1988, at a time when South Africa was on the world stage in politics and the question of aperteid and majority rule in South Africa. Koevoet (which translates as ‘Crowbar’) were Police units working ont he South African frontier, crossing borders into their neighbours to track down guerillas even when publicly such incursions were denied. In 1987, American Jim Hooper had given up his role of running a very successful sky diving school in the US, one which had even just held the World Championships, and sold up to live his dream of being a journalist. This is his story, including some quite honest moments where he suffered for his own inexperience and naivity. One way and another however, and with a bit of help from South African friends he had made through the Sky Diving competitions, he managed to be allowed access to this little publicised police unit (not army or special forces) who used some of the early mine protected armoured patrol vehicles (such as the Casspir) to patrol the bush and border areas. Mixed with them were native trackers, and they would often dismount and resort to traditional tracking methods to follow the trails of guerrillas as they moved through the bush, and often then returned quickly to safe havens in neighbouring states. Not quite so safe then when the Koevoet teams followed them anyway. This tells the story of Jim’s own development through experience, as the teams got used to this American journalistprise at him even being allowed to stay with them for a significant period of time. His story tells the story of this mixed group of police, both white and black, who found themselves in the middle of this bush war around their country. With tales of SWAPO, of Communist support for terrorists and deadly encounters with their enemies. Jim himself was wounded more than once, and the last time seriously enough that he had to leave them. I found this a fascinating read, a text which has been updated for this latest edition, and it also contains a selection of colour photos from his time with the Koevoet teams. He clearly learnt a lot from his experience, and got a very different view from an aspect that few journalists were able to do. The original publication of the book was a bit of a hot potato though now it is an interesting angle on this aspect of South African history, and one which covered times that will be in many of our memories. Very different, well written, and a book I found to be a fascinating read. —Robin Buckland Military Modeling _______________________________________________________________ Amazon Customer Reviews – US 5.0 out of 5 stars Jim Hooper’s Koevoet- the book I didn’t want to end!, August 11, 2014 By Barend J. Kruger “Ben Kruger” (USA) From the high of being the first ever foreign reporter to be embedded with Koevoet, officially ops K, to the disappointment of going on patrol with no action, to the first contact. The author managed to paint a picture of his experiences so vivid that one can see the dust, feel the shock waves from exploding mortars, rifle grenades, hear the staccato of small arms firing on full auto interspersed with the sounds of heavy machine guns and the odd 20mm cannon. Twice wounded during his embedded time, the author displays a unique ability to retain his objectivity and report the truth as he experienced it. Never caving to political correctness or sugar coating the realities of combat. In that little known war, people fought, got wounded and died. Friendships were shaped and bonds forged. Throughout the book the author tells his story with a self deprecating humor that causes the reader to laugh with him, not at him. This is a must read for any aficionado of war tales and specifically anyone with an interest in Africa with it’s bloody history. The follow up describing what happened to some of the warriors after the war ended is a measure of depth of how deeply the author got involved. His commitment and ability to tell his story rates right up there with Hemmingway. Written by someone who was there, this book is a great read and will take a proud place on any bookshelf. Buy it! 5.0 out of 5 stars Who dares, wins., August 4, 2014 By L. Alexander (Montana) A simply incredible book. I was having a hard time at the beginning of the book trying to see where we were going. I’m glad I held on, as you will become immersed in that world, and you will feel an emotional attachment to the players. You will also check your moral compass several times, as good works should compel you to do. I fully recommend this book to anyone, regardless of your interests. 5.0 out of 5 stars Great read on a little known conflict, March 12, 2014 By Timothy M. Lavelle – Great introduction for me on a conflict I know very little about. I enjoyed Hooper’s style of writing, comments from the books characters and follow up on the participants after the war. I will be looking for other books by Jim Hooper and on that conflict and would recommend this one. 5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Read, March 2, 2014 By RatherBeReading1000 “Loves to read” (SF Bay Area, Ca. USA) As I started this book, I found that my life experiences and education had me poorly prepared for what I found inside. I have never been to South Africa, am not very familiar with the history or politics, am not a male, and have never been in a combat situation. However, it was such an intriguing story, that I kept reading, and the author soon had me up to speed on the history, culture, and the “players”. I came away appreciating not only the fact that it was written from an imbedded point of view (vs general media released info), but I had a real empathy and respect for the brave members of the units, as well as the author himself. I really liked the way the author let the men tell their own versions of what they experienced, as the incidents were related. I do recommend this book, especially to anyone who wants to know the true, boots-on-the-ground story of the South African Bush War. 5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling and Eye-Opening Piece of History, February 10, 2014 By Michael Jones – I bought Koevoet! after an acquaintance from South Africa mentioned his military service in Southwest Africa (now Namibia) during the ‘Bush War’. Before reading the book, I considered myself a fairly well-informed student of Cold War History, but this work showed me that there was a ‘Southern Front’ in the Cold War which most of us in the USA were completely unaware of. Jim Hooper’s work tells a compelling story of brave people fighting to defend their homes and families against a Soviet/Cuban/East German/Chinese-sponsored insurgency, whether those family members were a few miles away in Southwest Africa or a few hundred miles away in South Africa. This book also tells a story that is in many ways at odds with the picture of South Africa that was painted for Westerners in the 1980’s by celebrities, media outlets, and movie studios. I would encourage anyone interested in either the history of the Cold War or of Africa in general to read this book with an open mind and to form your own conclusions about a group of people who have been much maligned in the global press. I have read a lot of military history and this may be the very best example of the genre ever to pass through my hands. 5.0 out of 5 stars Koevoet, December 31, 2013 By stuart keele Brilliant book, extremely well written journal about South Africa’s bush war, Jim Hooper really does take you there…………loved it, highly recommended 5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, June 23, 2013 By Pappajoes A wonderful read and interesting part of South African history. This book is much better than other books on this subject. 4.0 out of 5 stars True but no P C, June 18, 2013 By Pen Name A great read. Enjoying this book (so far not finished). A lot will find this book not politically correct, but you have to read from the stand point of the police not the freedom fighter 5.0 out of 5 stars Koevoet – The way real stories should be told……, March 24, 2013 By M. L. Wilson-ward (London, United Kingdom) What a read. The real story of the men who fought in the bush war. Not written by some self serving author to make his name in the PC camp. Sometimes it takes nuts to write the truth……This is one author who will not have trouble sleeping at night, like so many must. 5.0 out of 5 stars Combat Journalist & the Crowbar, May 12, 2012 By T.A.L. Dozer “Professional Warrior” (NC, USA) This book “Koevoet: Experiencing South Africa’s Deadly Bush War” by Jim Hooper an American journalist/combat correspondent given access to cover Koevoets combat operations in the bushveld of the northern portion of the then South West Africa (now Namibia) and Angola. This unit is officially known as the South West Africa Police Counter-Insurgency Unit, which operated predominantly in South-West Africa. This outfit was the most effective paramilitary unit deployed against South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) fighters, during the South African Border War and is accredited with more SWAPO kills then the South African Defense Force. This book does an excellent and unbiased job at describing the horrors of this guerrilla war, with a particular interest toward the savage tactics used against each other by both sides of the conflict. These graphic details compounded with the human side of the story intertwining patriotism, heroism, brotherhood, honor and the dedication of these men in combat make this book an all-around great military read for all. Additionally, there are many lessons to be learned from this text on counterinsurgency tactics, techniques and procedures that are just as relevant today in the current global war on terrorism that military personnel will find enlightenment. I will also state that if you have read the first edition South African release “Koevoet!” and/or the United States released edition (2nd edition) “Beneath the Visiting Moon: Images of Combat in Southern Africa” that this current title truly is an updated and expanded edition. I personally have all three editions, and went back and looked at them side-by-side and there is significant changes to this edition. I also found this edition has much more personal information on many of the topics discussed in the book, as well as extensive background information on Jim Hooper. Overall, anyone interested in the South African bush wars, counterinsurgency and military history in general on this book of interest. 5.0 out of 5 stars Had to experience it first hand to write this deadly bush war of S. Africa, April 15, 2012 By Edgar D. Clement “Doc” (Miami, Fla) Never knew much about the Bush War’s of South Africa but Jim Hooper brought it all too vivid and exciting. You can tell from his writing that it was first hand experience that keeps you in the loop the whole book. Jim’s professionalism had a lot to do with fitting in with the Koevoet and staying with them for months at a time in the bush and experience what they experienced that brought him accepted into their tight group of the best Bush Fighting experts in Africa. He tells the story thru his and their eyes that only they could tell by interwoven the words of the Koevoet Bush Fighters and their quotes all thru the book, an excellent job! Buy the book and be informed of what went on in that part of South Africa history it is an eye opener! 5.0 out of 5 stars A true reflection of what really happened., April 12, 2012 By PJM – ZT – Ops “K” Jim Hooper’s newest book about Koevoet is a very accurate, gripping recollection of what happened in a deadly conflict that is not very well publisized. Jim tells it the way it really happened. You can almost smell Ovamboland in the 1980’s – sweat, tears, blood, fear, death, diesel and gunpowder. It is the best publication on South Africa’s Deadly Bush War that I have read (I have read most everyone published up to now). From the viewpoint of a former Ops “K” operator (ZT – 1982/82) I relived the war the way I experienced it. It brought back lots of memories (from 30 years ago). In the end it felt like I was in that mortar attack with you guys – could only be written by somebody who experienced it, tasted it and who was really part of it. ______________________________________________________________________ Amazon Customer Reviews – UK 5.0 out of 5 stars just read it!, 9 May 2014 By SGT I have been reading various titles regarding the bush war, all have been great, but this has been top of the pile. could not put it down. an outsider giving you an honest portrayal of an unforgiving war. a must have for any enthusiast of this war. 5.0 out of 5 stars Koevoet! A testament of courage and survival during the SA Bush War, 20 April 2012 By Amazon Customer Jim Hooper’s “Koevoet” is a gritty and honest portrayal of the crucible of combat. The book places the reader directly on the ground and into the heavy emotional trial of men living and fighting in a deadly complex war. Page after page the reader will be thrown into the unpredictable confusion of uncensored combat and then witness how these men decompressed and prepared for the next “CONTACT!” The book’s pictures taken by Jim Hooper add the images needed to complete this vivid account of events. The fact that Jim Hooper embedded with “Koevoet” for such an extended time enables this book to transcend from historic record to becoming a priceless first person narrative of the true humanity found in individuals who serve in times of war. Being a combat vet, the book continually struck up my own memories of OEF and OIF. In my opinion no matter the war or the time the experiences found in war are the same for those that fight. This book captures this sentiment by illustrating the lifetime bond forged among brothers in arms, and the devotion they have towards each other. In this current edition the addition of Koevoet veteran current reflections about the unit and the author adds an incredible new insight. “Koevoet” is a must read for anyone trying to understand and gain a first person perspective of the men who fought day after day in South Africa’s Bush War. 5.0 out of 5 stars Courage and honesty, 7 Jun 2012 By Martin Windrow I was much impressed when the first edition of this book appeared 20 years ago, and I am delighted with this revised edition, with much expanded eye-witness testimony and illustrations. Jim Hooper’s account of the five months in 1987 that he spent embedded with a (mainly black) South West African Police counter-insurgency unit in the Namibian bush war was about the most unpopular kind of testimony imaginable in the climate of the late 1980s. The difference between ‘acceptable’ truths and ‘unacceptable’ truths is one of timing. When a story is breaking the media can’t handle the complexities of real life; they make a choice as to who are the guys in the white hats – a choice that is not always dishonest, but is ALWAYS partial. Choosing to tell the truths of the men he rode with – sympathetically, but with complete honesty, based solely upon what he had seen and heard – opened Hooper to unjust, even slanderous criticism. Hooper is a careful reporter, but also a born writer; his vivid word-pictures drag you in and hold you. He skilfully conveys his initially unwelcoming reception by an operational unit; the long, frustrating grind of search operations in punishing terrain and climate; the extraordinary bush skills of the Ovambo policemen; the shock of sudden contact, and its aftermath. He didn’t just come in, get a few quotes and posed photos, taste the dust, and leave, to write up a glib piece in an air-conditioned hotel room. He stayed; and that enabled him to at least begin to understand the men whose lives he shared for months on end. Their trust in him was vindicated when he came back to them after being wounded the first time. His unflinching description of his reactions to the mortar attack in which he was wounded for the second time – and which cost the lives of men he had come to know – will stay with me. Like so much in this book, it could not be farther from the stereotyped tropes of some reporters. Its neglected subject, and the voice that the author has found to tell it, make this book something really unusual. Do yourself a favour, and read it. 5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable insight into the elite counter insurgency unit at the heart of the African bush war., 16 Mar 2014 By G. Geldenhuys (United Kingdom) My involvement with this story is rather personal; in the year that this was penned I was an Ops Medic at the military base of Eenhana when the author was casavaced to us after getting hit in the arm during an enemy contact. Things being what they were then, I did not really get a chance to speak with the “Mad foreign journalist” as we jokingly referred to him, but he left me with enough of an impression to want to read his take on things. Having missed the 1st edition print I was very glad to see Koevoet re-released 25 years later on. Snapping up a copy on Amazon I was immediately transported back to the heat and conflict of Okovangoland in 1987. It takes the astute observations of an outsider to expose a story like this with the complete objectivity it requires. It also took some balls to immerse himself into a proverbial nest of vipers – even more so getting it published. I felt the story was an accurate and unbiased portrayal of the situation and true reflection of a complicated war not fully understood even by those fighting it. If you were there this is a must read, if you were not, it will take you there and show you what it really was. 5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 3 Feb 2014 By Quinn Green – An awesome read and true reflection of what the “bushwar” was all about in the then South West Africa. Jim gives a blow by blow account of how it was and how it was done in a time of war operating with Koevoet. For those who were there and always imagined what it was like for the operators of Koevoet this is a must read. 5.0 out of 5 stars A very strong story about a forgotten war, 23 Jun 2013 By Johan L “johantheswede” – A strong story about the fight against SWAPO terrorist / freedomfighters (pick your viewpoint) and how they worked. No glamour and no excuses, but lots of broken promises. A must read for anyone who wants to know more about conflicts in southern Africa. 5.0 out of 5 stars Koevoet, a brilliant objective account of one of the world’s longest wars, 18 April 2012 By Suidwester op die eiland – See all my reviews Jim provides his readers with an honest documentary on his time with Koevoet, which is commendable considering all the warped sensation seeking reports written about this outfit and war. It is an easy read and provides readers with great insight into a war few knew about or understood. Don’t forget to visit Jim’s website for more photos! 5 of 5 stars Jim Hooper was incredibly brave to write this book in the 1980s, which was an honest account of the most effective fighting force deployed by South Africa against communist-backed SWAPO in Namibia and Angola. Hooper has revised the book significantly, and cleared up the record on a lot of matters that were shrouded in uncertainty for the first edition. He is not only one of the few journalists who could write about South Africa honestly; he is a master story-teller. —John Connolly – Goodreads 5 of 5 stars Excellent account of what really happened. A book that can not be put down. Jim Hooper is a master writer. Hooper has done such a fearless work with this book that the men, the real soldiers he speaks about, respect him even to today. My respect for this man is equal to none especially if it is taken into account when this book was written and that the topic that is STILL today a shunned one. —Stefan Le – Goodreads _______________________________________________________________ What was said about the first edition of Koevoet – The Inside Story by American Journalist Jim Hooper (Southern Books, Johannesburg, 1988) Koevoet! is in a class of its own as a very well-written and illustrated military history. This book is for those interested in warfare, African macro-politics – or those looking for a very exciting read. Be warned, though, that sections of the book and some of the photographs are not for the faint-hearted. —SA Financial Mail …this is no ordinary war book nor an ordinary wander through a war zone. It is probably as close to the real thing as you can get without leaving one’s comfortable armchair. —European Freedom Review 5.0 out of 5 stars Koevoet, March 14, 2000 By Marc Pienaar (South Africa) – See all my reviews This review is from: Koevoet! The Inside Story (Hardcover) “‘Contact!’ …the Casspir’s engine bellowed …our car was veering hard left ..a blur of hands grabbing for wepons and the arrythmic ripple of shh-klacks as blots came back and fell on chambered rounds …I saw the ground erupting zipper-like under the impact of the .50 calibre bullets racing towards the watering hole, tree limbs splintering …Jim was yelling ‘under the bush, under ther bush!’ ..I realised the firing had stopped, replaced by the hard gasping laughter and high-pitched gigles of adrenalin-stoked exitement. “‘The bodies are over here,’…” When American journalist Jim Hooper, was first given permission to accompany Koevoet on operations in the bushwar, nothing had prepared him for the vicous guerilla war raging in the dence bush of northern S.W.A/Namibia and Angola, for the bloody tactics used by both sides, for seeing new-found friends die next to him. Courage, despiration, comradeship, exhilaration, horror,all are here in one riveting package, told in eminently readable style by a master storyteller. 5.0 out of 5 stars been there – got the t-shirt, July 13, 2004 By “suretrace” (South Africa) This review is from: Koevoet! The Inside Story (Hardcover) Hi Jim, I hope you are doing well. Claassie is still hobbling around and Apie is also fine. We all send our regards and thx a mil for your courage to ride with us and capture great material. This book has a special place in our hearts. Regards Toit, ZU 5.0 out of 5 stars Skoums, March 29, 2006 By Skoums This review is from: Koevoet! The Inside Story (Hardcover) Some parts of this took me back so completely that I could even smell the fear, sweat, diesel and guns. Adrenaline levels depleted- I’ll leave it at that 5.0 out of 5 stars Can toit or jim help me out?, July 30, 2005 By lis (uk) – This review is from: Koevoet! The Inside Story (Hardcover) I was once married to a person who featured in this book. Unfortunately he is no longer with us, but I would do anything to try and get hold of a copy of Koevoet. He was very proud to have been mentioned and pictured in such a groundbreaking, informative book and I have tried time and again to get hold of a copy. If anyone can help me I would be very grateful to have such a personal reminder of someone who made a huge impact on my life, and whom I think of everyday. 4.0 out of 5 stars book price, 23 Jun 2008 By Nailoke (Aas, Norway) – This review is from: Koevoet! (Hardcover) I read this book from a friend and now would like to buy my own a copy. It is very good and learnt so much from it. I don t understand why the price is so high. Do you really mean £180 or £18? I started reading this book last night and I am already 1/3rd into it. It’s really a great book. It’s also good to see Mr Hooper’s transition from subjective international journalist to sympathetic writer of the truth about this police unit’s experiences in the bushwar and the armed forces as a whole on the cutline. —Super Sakkie whitesmoke.co.za Journalist Jim Hooper took time to be accepted by this elite group. When they learned to trust him, he gained a unique insight into the bush war. He writes openly and movingly of the hot pursuits, the “contacts”, the kills, the failures and the successes. He tells of seeing men who had become part of his life suddenly wasted by a piece of shrapnel, a bullet, a landmine, a “strim” rocket. He describes how, wounded himself, he watched as a comrade’s fight for life ended with the heart monitor straightlining. —The Star [Translated from Afrikaans] As the name suggests, the book deals about the famous (infamous) police unit that for the past few years achieved the biggest successes of all security forces against SWAPO terrorists. In the genre of I-was-there stories, the book is full of introspective musings and personal feelings that make it more than a piece of macho story-telling. …when you finally put down book, even the critical reader cannot help having respect for Hooper. Not only because he put his life at risk, but also because he shines the spotlight on a topic that is neither popular nor fashionable, especially abroad. —Die Burger The book is the product of four months’ field study and analysis of the everyday activities, dangers and endeavours of the men of SWAPOL-COIN in the bush of northern SWA/Namibia and Angola. Between the lines of this excellently written book, one is also given an insight into the devotion and dedication with which the author has undertaken this project, subjecting himself to the same dangers and hardships the men of Koevoet have, over the years, learned to live with. Among the pages giving vivid accounts of death and destruction are those telling of human endeavour and comradeship. —Servamus [Translated from French] Jim is the only foreigner to have spent time with this unit. In the 230 pages, all in English, the author tells with humor and sensitivity the life and missions of these men. More than 90% black, it was one of the most successful units in Namibia, seldom leaving the SWAPO terrorist to survive. A unique testimony “nourished” by combats in which Jim was wounded himself. Illustrated by forty photos, a book written with the author’s guts, almost literally! —RAIDS [Koevoet] covers Hooper’s time with a tough but little-known South African Police anti-terrorist unit. It operated very effectively in the 1980s on the Namibian/Angolan border against men of the South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) who attempted to destabilize the country with ambush and assassination. Hooper’s book is in part a history of this conflict and as such a useful English language reference. It is also a personal odyssey. —The Campaigner [It is]…a sympathetic book…written by an American journalist who was given the unprecedented facility of living and patrolling with the unit for six months. The author, Jim Hooper…describing them as “hunter-killer teams”, says, “they very much fit the mold and psychological profile of other elite special warfare units – extremely aggressive and thriving on adrenaline highs. The fact is, most of them love and need the constant stimulation of combat.” —The Guardian Hooper has produced an exciting, disturbing and though-provoking story. He evokes much of the loneliness, beauty and tragedy of southern Africa in the quieter moments, which are sprinkled between sections of breathless and gruesome action. —The Herald The vicious war on the border is brought home in Hooper’s text in the most extraordinarily graphic way. It is about as objective as any journalist’s account can get…the glimpse he gives of what motivates this extraordinary unit is gut-wrenchingly real. On any level, it’s an amazing story. —Edgars Magazine What was said about the American edition titled Beneath the Visiting Moon – Images of Combat in Southern Africa. (Lexington Press, 1990, Issues in Low-Intensity Conflict Series) Correspondent Jim Hooper took a slug in his right arm during a firefight on 17 January 1987. Less than two months later he took a sizeable mortar fragment in his left arm. Neither kept him from pounding out a fiercely human war book. Hooper has captured the exquisite terror and tenderness of battle that will touch both combat veterans and those who could, until now, only imagine the gritty fascination of war. —Don Sider Time magazine (retired) former Vietnam correspondent 5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the hunt!, June 1, 2000 By A Customer This review is from: Beneath the Visiting Moon: Images of Combat in Southern Africa (Hardcover) I found this book many moons ago in a used book rack. Having recently re-read the volume I am again impressed by seeing a view of South Africa’s efforts to halt communism in SW Africa/Namibia. Now that apartheid has ended officially, we the rest of the world can see the other side of life in the southern tip of Africa. Mr. Hooper’s description of his time with Koevoet is both exciting and in-depth in his examination of the people conducting counter-insurgency against the communist supported SWAPO. A good, fast read that can allow the reader a chance to expand their knowledge of what atrocities were committed by forces in the name of “global marxism.” Balance this work with recently released histories on American work against communism. You the reader can now decide with a more balanced view. Not just a war history but a look at why men fight for seemingly unjust causes. 4.0 out of 5 stars A highly personal account of a forgotten conflict, May 28, 2011 By Russell Hunter This review is from: Beneath the Visiting Moon: Images of Combat in Southern Africa (Hardcover) Beneath the Visiting Moon is a highly personal and riveting account of an often forgotten African conflict. Often dismissed as thugs of the apartheid regime, Jim Hooper tells the story of the men who made up the South African Koevoet unit with a keen and observant outside eye. Along the way you can smell the diesel and the sweat and feel the tension as he rides along with the men of Koevoet on a terrible venture called war. 5.0 out of 5 stars BENEATH THE VISITING MOON, December 31, 2011 By Johnny W. Mosley “JohnnyW” (Florida) This review is from: Beneath the Visiting Moon: Images of Combat in Southern Africa (Hardcover) I am a former jump student of Jim’s, and he is the REAL DEAL, you can’t put down any of his books. 5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended, November 3, 2011 By Hawk This review is from: Beneath the Visiting Moon: Images of Combat in Southern Africa (Hardcover) I have had the pleasure of spending some time in the country now called Namibia. I have been very fortunate to make good friends there. In the course of many long conversations around a camp fire the subject of the bush war will inevitably arise. A former member of Koevoet told me that Jim Hooper was the real deal. What more needs to be said about the author or this book. Anyone trying to understand the struggle that shaped this fascinating part of the world would do well to read Beneath the Visiting Moon. July 10th, 2008, 7:20 am Just finished “Beneath the Visiting Moon” by Jim Hooper (got it from Amazon). If you are interested in the “Bush Wars” in Southern Africa, this is a good one. Story is one American journalist who was able to “embed” himself in “Koevoet” a South West African Police COIN unit fighting against SWAPO in Nambia in the 80’s…an interesting book about a little know-known unit in brutal little war that didn’t get much attention. I worked with a Koevoet vet in 04 and he had some interesting stories and was very squared away. The other SA vets also held him and Koevoet in high regard. —LRS Guy professionalsoldier.com The tough comradeship within Koevoet, which made distinctions of colour or race meaningless, is captured by Hooper and by the end of the book we share with him the sense of personal loss as he makes his way back to his home in rural England. Koevoet combines information and reflection with adventure, humour and tragedy. He is a gifted photographer and craftsman with the written word. —Defence Magazine …a finely tuned and taut look at a war that few in the media ever bothered to report. Hooper spent months with Koevoet…coming to know the men – both black and white – who endlessly scoured harsh bushveldt for SWAPO terrorists. More often than not they found them, and Koevoet racked up the highest kill ratio of any security force element in the AO. Hooper is one of the finest combat correspondents to report from the SWA/Angola theatre, and this book reflects the best of that breed of journalism and journalist. Namibia’s war may be over now, but Hooper never let’s us forget that good men fought – and all too often died – in it. —Soldier of Fortune I don’t pretend to be a literary critic or book reviewer. But, as a newspaper columnist and reader, I can tell you that Hooper’s book is gripping, well-written and deals with his time in the field with Koevoet, an elite South African counter-insurgency unit. Whether you read it as a necessary work about a little-known aspect of that part of the world…or as a book by a guy who has spent as much time living his dreams as he has contemplating them, you could find worse ways of spending a chilly fall weekend. —St Petersburg Times [It] is a brutal tale and compulsory reading for anyone interested in modern guerrilla warfare. —Combat and Survival Hooper explores the mystique of an elite unit and gives insight into the personalities and motivations of men who thrive on war. He comes across as an honest reporter with a keen eye for detail, and has crafted a superb account of the black and white comrades-in-arms who make up a unique unit already a legend in counterinsurgency warfare. —Zephyrhills News In Hooper’s own words, “it is an account of people caught up in a little-known war in an even less-known part of the world.” What makes this book particularly exciting – and it is – is that the author voluntarily gave up jumping out of perfectly good airplanes for taking real risks, the likes of which none of us normal skydivers would ever consider. —BJ Worth Skydiving Magazine
Piet, thank you for pointing that fact out! I, myself spend countless hours of researching and drawing and designing and planning content for War In Angola and it is indeed sad to see others try and make a profit out of others’ hard work. I must confess though that I also use Wikipedia often to obtain information and specifications, but I do try and make a point of acknowledging them and their hard work. Where would we be if it wasn’t for Wikipedia? I made a small donation towards their cause the other day and regret that I could not make a larger contribution. They are a non-profit organisation and if anyone deserves to be getting some funding, its them. I have been carrying the War In Angola project out of my own personal pocket since 2007 and I know how it drains your time and resources. I can’t even manage to collect 5% of the monthly costs of running this service through PREMIUM MEMBER subscriptions! Neither does any local business show any inclination towards sponsoring or even paying for some advertising. Its only my passion towards military history, wargaming, and specifically the Border War and all things SADF that motivate me and carry me through every month. Its gratifying to see members enjoying the content and commenting on it. I know its not quite Facebook and NOT as easy to use as all that but I am working continually on making the 10-year old software interface better. I appreciate all suggestions and recommendations and thank all the WIA members for their support.
This book is a follow-up to the successful Bush War, which provided, for the first time, personal, first-hand accounts of the military conflict and civil war in Angola, as told by Soviet advisers to the Angolan army. This volume concentrates on the climax of this conflict, the months-long battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987/8, the largest military engagement on African soil since the Second World War. Here South African forces came to blows with Angolan FAPLA troops and their Cuban allies in a battle whose outcome is still hotly debated. The Soviet soldiers’ experience of the war and their views and assessment of their South African enemies as well as their Cuban and Angolan allies will surprise and fascinate South African readers. At the same time they offer new insights into the conflict. About the editor Dr Gennady Shubin is a senior researcher for the Institute for African Studies in the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He has published 17 books (nine of them are co-authored) including three books on modern South Africa’s history, six books on the Anglo-Boer War 1899–1902, two books on South Africa’s army and military industry, and six books of memoirs about the Angolan war (one of them in English and one in Russo-English). Editor: Gennady Shubin ISBN: 978-1-4314-0963-1 E-book ISBN: 978-1-4314-0964-8 d-PDF 978-1-4314-0965-5 ePUB 978-1-4314-0966-2 mobi file Size (mm): 210x148mm Pages: 208pp Format: Paperback Colour: Black and White with colour section Rights: World Language: English Publication Date: April 2014 Availability: in stock Source: http://www.jacana.co.za/
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Post brought across from his Facebook posting on the Angolan, Mozambican and African WAR RELICS group, by Johan Bezuidenhout (who was one of the Squadron Commanders of the RPS tanks during this battle: ” It has been 26 years and I can’t always recall actual names or callsigns, but here are the facts of which tanks were damaged during Tumpo 3. There were no other tanks damaged. Three tanks were left in the Tumpo area. These are the ones that you have photos of. I think that Anton Le Roux is spot on in his interpretation and his allocation of the photographs to the various vehicles. Events in rough chronological order: Callsign T13 (I think) commanded by Lt JJ Pietersen hit a mine during the approach at the first minefield. It blew off a bogie and the track. This tank was recovered successfully and later repaired by the crew and tiffies in our laager area. It was not short tracked, because the suspension was blown away. It was dragged back by the A Sqn ARV. Callsign T23 (aka 52) commanded by 2Lt Oosthuizen hit a huge boosted mine at the second minefield, which, BTW we were not aware of, and lost suspension parts and track. This happened on our second jump after breaching minefield one. The recovery by the ARV and Gerrie Louw’s tank was unsuccessful and the tank was abandoned and its crew transferred to the other tanks for evacuation. This tank was still in minefield two when it was left behind. Callsign T12A, commanded by SSgt ???, was a mine roller tank. This tank suffered suspension damage and a lost track and was hooked up to (I think) three of A Sqdn’s tanks. It was moved, but at a glacial pace. When I last observed it, it was crossing our path and moving somewhat parallel to the minefield. It was impossible to direct this contraption and was eventually cut loose from the kinetic ropes by co-ax fire and abandoned. It was left between the two minefields. Callsign T2xA or T2xB (aka 53), unknown commander, lost a track during the withdrawal when it made too sharp a turn in the loose sand. It was subsequently abandoned and the crew evacuated in other tanks. Its location at the time was between the two minefields. The Ratel that is mentioned as damaged in the minefield was the sapper’s vehicle which hit some AP mines as they went forward to detonate the misfired plofadder. This was recovered with no problems at all.”
From Anthony Turton’s post on Facebook: The unit was given to the Israeli intelligence service to reverse engineer. This was then given to NATO and played a role in the First Gulf War, it being the first of its kind to ever be captured so it was of great importance to NATO forces. There is a connection to 53 as well, because the turret of that tank was removed and sent back to Russia. The reason for this was the technology in it from Israel, so it too was reverse engineered. So in effect we repaid the Israeli’s for their tank technology by giving them this surface to air system. The reason for all of the above was the fact that the Americans refused to give us Stinger missiles. It was the Stinger that changed the outcome of the Russo-Afghanistan War when the Mujahadin suddenly were able to shoot down Russian attack helicopters, so had we been given that equipment, then we would have changed the air superiority equation in Angola. The Yanks gave the Stinger to UNITA, but they were ot that good at using it. The Americans had also broken an agreement regarding support to SA covert operations in the early phase of the transition from the Angolan War of Liberation to the Angolan Civil War. It all came down to servicing a strategic relationship with the Israeli’s who were more reliable. My two cents worth.