The Silent War. South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994

The Silent War. South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994: South Africa’s special forces during the apartheid years.
Stiff, Peter
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Titel: The Silent War
Subtitle: South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994
Author: Peter Stiff
Publisher: Galago
1st edition. Cape Town, South Africa 1999
ISBN 0620243007 / ISBN 0-62-024300-7
ISBN 9780620243001 / ISBN 978-0-62-024300-1
Original hardcover and dustjackte, 17 x 24 cm, 608 pages, many bw- and colour photos


Good. Minor traces of usage.
Rare first hardcover edition.

About: The Silent War. South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994

The Silent War: South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994 was conceived in 1987 when the author Peter Stiff (1933-2016) was invited by the then Chief SADF to write a history of the Recces. Peter Stiff was unwilling to involve himself in a propaganda exercise, so it was agreed he would be given what amounted to an unprecedented access to official documents relating to operations and allowed to interview operators of all ranks for research purposes. The cost of research, except for flights on routine SAAF "milk runs", would be at the author's expense. Effectively he was given a carte blanche, but on the understanding that an outline would be prepared when the research was completed. He agreed to reconsider and delete anything considered as likely to affect the security of the state after a round table conference. The author found himself in a unique position. On a need-to-know basis Recce operations were compartmentalised, with only those involved and a few senior officers knowing anything about them.

Little was committed to paper. Peter Stiff was an outsider, but from his research and contact with operators, he gained an unprecedented overview shared by few others. The outsider became an insider. After two years of research an outline was submitted to the SADF. There was no response to this, only silence. No round table meeting ever took place. It seems he had discovered far more about secret operations than had been the intention. Specifically, he heard on the grapevine, the National Intelligence Service was furious he had discovered how in 1971 a hundred Zambian dissidents under training by the Recces in the Caprivi under the code name Operation Dingo, had been hurriedly forced across the Zambezi River by BOSS, their predecessor organisation headed by General Hendrik van den Bergh. The 5th Zambian Rifles, who were awaiting the dissidents on the Zambian bank, annihilated them without mercy. This was apparently in the name of Prime Minister John Vorster's detente exercise with Zambia.

The impression was that the NIS had not known about it, but having heard of it they demanded it be re-hushed up. The book project was not suspended officially, but nothing was said, presumably in the hope the whole thing would just go away. After the 1994 elections the author contacted the then Chief SANDF, through the Commander Special Forces, and advised him the book was going ahead. He was told the Chief SANDF, wished it was not, but realised that with changing times there was nothing he could do to prevent it. In the intervening years, through established contacts, the author continued his research into South African secret operations, including several months spent with Koevoet in 1989, the police counter-insurgency unit in Namibia, until he had gathered sufficient material for three books. There will never be anything better researched and definitive on South African secret operations than the trilogy by late Peter Stiff. The Silent War: South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994 was the first.

Content: The Silent War. South African Recce operations 1969 to 1994

Picture Credits
List of illustrations
How it Began
Intervention in Biafra
Reconnaissance Commando formed: Operations Commence
Commando Raid on Dar-es-Salaam, 1972
The Settling down Years: 1973-74
Reconnaissance (Citizen Force) Commando formed
The Fox Street Siege: 29 April 1975
In Aid of Portugal: Mozambique: 1970-1974
South African Intervention in Angola: Operation Savannah
Rise of Resistance in Mocambique: The Rhodesian Question
Angola: Aluta Continua: 1976-1979
Reorganisation of the Recces: 1976-1978
Anti-SWAPO strikes in Zambia: 1976-1978
With UNITA 1977-1979
War in Rhodesia: Fight Against ZANLA: 1978
Rhodesia to Zimbabwe: 1980
Rhodesians Join the Recces: 1980
Fighting the ANC: Operation Beanbag - the Matola Raid: 1981
Reorganisations and Changes
4-Recce: Move to Langebaan
Angola: War Continues: 1980-1984
Operation Altar: South African assistance to RENAMO: To Nkomati and Beyond
Operations in Mocambique: 1981-1983
Lesotho and South Africa: 1960-1982
Special Forces: Recruiting, Selection and Training
Operation Argon: Cabinda Raid: May 1985
Operation Plexi: First Gaborone Raid: June 1985
MK infiltrations into South Africa: 1885-1989
Raids on Harare, Gaborone, Lusaka: May 1986
Operation Rolio: Livingstone Raid: May 1987
Angola: A kind of War: A kind of Peace
How it Ended
Roll of Honour: Special Forces