Pseudo Ops and Counterinsurgency in Africa (Rhodesia and South Africa)

Discussion in 'Southern Africa' started by tjposhea, Aug 3, 2012.

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  1. Hi everyone I am a university student who is going to undertake my dissertation with the hope of joining the Army after attaining my degree. My dissertation subject is centred around counterinsurgency and I hope to focus on why the west/major nations fail to succeed in thes conflicts. I am looking to make the question more concise and focus on pseudo ops.

    With Rhodesia being the archetypal example of pseudo ops I thought I would ask if anyone could reccomend texts to help me or if anyone on the forum actually took part in the Rhodesian bush war or the conflicts that south Africa and the old Portuguese colonies were involved in. I am lucky that my girlfriend is south African and her mum Rhodesian. Her uncle worked in special branch and worked closely with the selous scouts, he managed to overcome bad lung problems when he was a child to go and work in the bush for weeks on ends with some of those turned. Their family were also neighbours with Ian smith.

    Any help would be very grateful, also if anyone has any books they are willing to sell I would be interested. I have bought the Barbara cole book on the sas and the selous scout top secret war at great expense, so if you have any available for a reasonable price I would be more than happy to buy them.

    Ps, wrote this on my phone so I apologise for some of the awful grammar.
  2. I have the same problem when I talk on the phone.
  3. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    Read Only my friends call me Crouks by Dennis Croukamp - he was probably the most experienced Selous Scout operator who wrote about the war - also Fireforce by Chris Cocks as well as Out of Action also by Cocks - it wasn't all beer and sunshine.

    All on Kindle or on Amazon
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  4. There is a Rhodesian Museum (RLI) in Bedford, lots of useful info covering the period 1965 to 1980.

    Well worth a visit.
  5. In more than 30 years in the Army I can't remember hearing the term 'pseudo ops'. Wiki tells me it can mean use of a false flag - is that what you mean? If so then something like deception operations might be a better term. Seems a strange choice of dissertation subject given all the other options.

    I'd be wary of citing your girlfriend or her mum as authorities because they come from Southern Africa - it doesn't really have an academic ring about it!
  6. Thank you all for you replies, it looks like some good texts are available and if time permits a visit to Bedford will have to be arranged.

    I can firstly assure you my girlfriend and her mum wont find themselves in my bibliography, although if i could go to south africa her uncle would be amongst the many sources I intend to accumulate.
    False flag is another term for pseudo ops, 14 intelligence unit had a similar role in northern ireland. Essentially captured enemy fighters are turned, this being down to financial incentive or a loss in faith with the organization they fight for. They are then sent back out to their former comrades with handlers and gather intelligence and sew false information. In rhodesia pseudo ops accounted for roughly 70% of enemy kills. Like Algeria it was international pressure which led to defeat, even though the insurgent was defeated militarily. If Afghanistan had a stronger police force pseudo ops could be a real possibility. Most counterinsurgency operations that have been won by the west/major powers have involved pseudo ops, in most cases being the key to the victory over the aggressor.

    Explanation of pseudo ops:

    An explanation of its use in Rhodesia:

    Securing and Holding Rural Territory | Small Wars Journal

    And its possible use in Afghanistan:

    The Use of Pseudo-Operations in the AFPAK Theater | Small Wars Journal
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  7. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I haven't come across the term 'psuedo-ops' before. A quick google suggested its what I would have called ops under a false flag. Is it a common term or was it specific to the Rhodesian insurgency?

    Edited to add: Donny I wrote this just after the OP posted. I was called away to answer the phone before I posted. I then settled down to watch some Olympics. Came into switch the 'puter off. Found my unposted post and pressed 'send'.

    Great minds often think alike and all that.
  8. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    I had lots of family in Rhodesia and would go up to visit during school holidays as a teenager from 1975 to 1980 during the war - it was a very very weird society where everything seemed about circa 1950 - I did get a G3 to blat cans with in case nastiness developed around Umtali.

    I then did 10 years running around southern Angola with PW Botha and sons - for a flavour of that try 19 with a Bullet written by a para at on the Angola fighting.

    There are some video's from the era but not a lot...
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  9. Read pamwe chete by maj Ron Reid daly it outlines the processes and operations that the selous scouts were involved in. Skuzapo

  10. To be honest fellas, I wouldn't feel too speshul cos with your time in green, not to have heard of the term 'Psuedo Ops' tells me that you weren't too clued up. Maybe you just wasn't Inf?

    I would have thought that most of us Inf Bods who served from the 70's onwards would have read at least one book about modern African conflicts/known someone who had done some time with RLI/SADF/BSAP/etc.

    What about the term COIN/Counter Gang/Doughbag? ;-)
  11. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    You're making the basic mistake of assuming that because you know something it's common knowledge.

    I'd never heard the term before, or if I had it didn't stick in my mind.

    Coincidently I've just started reading Kitson's 'Bunch of Fives'. In it he describes how the concept of 'pseudo gangs' was born during the Mau Mau uprising in mid-50's Kenya.

    I'm surprised you didn't mention this. Or perhaps your grasp of military history is shallower than you'd have us believe.
  12. "why the west/major nations fail to succeed in these conflicts."

    Well for the British, The Malayan Emergency is considered a success. Many other nations have also had successes in counter insurgency operations. Just depends what your measure of that success is! Not that I have ever written a dissertation, but are they supposed to maintain objectivity or does the writer have it already mapped out with the point they wish to make? Not trying to be a dick, just a point to note.
  13. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    What is of course interesting is the amount of casualties suffered at the hands of Afghan police/army on Nato forces compared to the very low number of times that pseudo operations ex guerilla's turned on Rhodesian or South African forces.

  14. Oooh, Handbags and a retort that made you sound like a stroppy 14 yeard old.......'Bunch of fives' written by one of the most famous men in my Regt mucka.....yeah, think that I may have heard of it, and didn't mention it as I thought that it would have way over you head especially as you're only just reading it now, even though, it was passed around and read by a lot of us during the 70's/80's.......try the Rain Godess, Fire Force and Firepower next.

    My point was that if you were an Inf Bod you were likely to have been familar with the term and it possibly would have been common knowledge for those that had been in during a certain time frame - the one you mentioned - possibly due to knowing people who had some experience of those conflicts. That's all.... I even gave you a cheeky wink and the end to defuse the sentence, but your over sensitive ego and outrage seemed not to have grasped that.

    I never served with dropshorts/RE or other Corps but, within my time,and via attending various courses and talking to others, I picked up some knowledge and understanding of how they did their thing and bothered my arrse to read up a few books written by people who had also done other things in the Forces.

    Notice that you didn't say who you were with in the mob?...go on, for a laugh say Int/slime/ seem to be thin skinned enough and not able to take some ribbing so I wouldn't be suprised.

    30 years service has to have been a SNCO at least, yet can't handle a little bit of flack?.....

    Please be an ACF AI too. you sound like someone who's not used to being around people you consider your equal, hence the dummy spitting re a harmless comment.