Saturday, 30 June 2012

The Truimphant March of Socialism?

Mid November 1975. The FNLA offensive on Luanda in the north has been halted. The South African led forces  on the southern front have started to retreat towards Benguela. The MPLA's grip on Luanda becomes more secure as each day goes by. Soviet Anatov transport aircraft fly Cuban troops into Luanda round the clock. The Cubans are supplied with heavy equipment from freighters docked in Luanda's harbour. One of the freighters is 'The Carlotta', the same name that has been given by Fidel Castro to the operation that is sending thousands of Cubans to Africa. Carlotta was a the leader of a slave revolt. For Fidel and the Cuban leadership Angola represents their revolutionary destiny - more slaves came from this part of Africa than anywhere else, many of them were shipped to the Caribbean, now their descendants are coming home to liberate Angola from the Imperialists.

At least that's the official version. The Soviets have swallowed bile and are providing arms and transport to their 'tropical socialist' allies. The MPLA is now trying to secure the approaches to Luanda to the north and south using recently recruited Cuban led troops kitted out with Soviet supplied weapons and transport.

But where is the front? Comrade Farrusco, fighting near Lubango for the MPLA , told Ryszard Kapuscinki:

'In Europe they taught me that a front is trenches and barbed wire, which form a distinct and visible line...on a river, along a road, or from village to village. You can trace it on a map with a the front is everywhere and nowhere...there is too much land and too few people for a front to the front doesn't consist of a line but points, and moving points at that...Every unit is a front, and a potential front. If our unit runs into an enemy unit , those two poteial fronts turn into a real front. A battle occurs.'

'This is a war of ambushes. On any road, at any place, there can be a front.'

'You can travel the whole country and come back alive, or you can die a metre from where you're standing. There are no principles, no methods.'

'This war is a real mess. Nobody knows just where they stand.'

Jean Langarotti and Kurt Semmler know where they stand. They're holed up in a small township at a crossroads about 100 km east of Luanda. Since the defeat at Caxito and the death of their leader Carlo Shannon, the two mercenaries have been retreating into the interior. Their transport has all broken down or run out of gasoline. They have one Toyota pick up truck that is a runner, and mounts a 50 cal machine gun. The South African Jan Dupree and the Briton Gary Watson, together with two Portuguese, are the only other trained and experienced men they have. There are thirteen Angolans with them, all of them FNLA, poorly trained conscripts. Between them they have a couple each of PK LMGs and RPG 7s, half a dozen G3 rifles, and seven Kalashnikovs.

They know they have to move, and move soon. The trouble is there is a dust cloud on the horizon and that can only mean one thing. The MPLA have caught up with them.

Langorotti softly whistles 'Spanish Harlem' and makes is dispositions.

The battle that followed was fought using an adapted version of Cold War 83 rules by Wessex Games. Full AAR in a couple of days.

No comments:

Post a Comment