Thursday, 8 March 2012

Task Force Orange

The third South African Task Force in our campaign is Task Force Orange. Like Zulu and Foxbat, TF Orange crossed the Namibian border on 15 October and by 25 October was driving on the airstrip at Menongue.

To date the advance has proceeded relatively smoothly over 380 km or so, the biggest challenge has been mines and ensuring the column well supplied.

Portuguese FNLA Mercenaries serving with TF Orange

Like the other two southern task forces Orange comprised an FNLA motorised infantry battalion, albeit with a greater proportion of Portuguese mercenaries, and two SADF motorised infantry battalions together with  an armoured reconnaissance element and engineering and artillery support.

Early in the morning of 25 October a company from 1 Para was parachuted in and, after a short pause to get organised, had seized the airfield.

Orange's task now was to rendezvous with the paras and secure a base at Menongue. An airlift of fuel, rations and ammunition would then re-supply the column before the drive on Luanda would resume.

The lack of resistance to date has prompted the SADF command to make Orange the priority column. It was still over a 1000 km from Luanda but air reconnaissance indicated that significant opposition was unlikely and there were still two and a half weeks to independence day on 11 November.

TF Orange was operating in relatively remote territory but the MPLA and its Cuban advisers were aware of its presence by 25 October.

The question was what, if anything, could they do about it?

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