Tag Archives: Rhodesia

Africa Lost: Rhodesia’s COIN Killing Machine

Africa LostBuy it on Amazon!

Today I wanted to turn my readers on to a new e-book released today from my buddy and fellow writer, Dan Tharp.  Dan has written at a great history of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, Selous Scouts, and Rhodesian Special Air Service in about 60 pages which will help those interested researchers get up to speed on the Rhodesian approach to Counter-Insurgency.  This is a great book and comes at a time as more and more people are getting interested in Rhodesia and some of the success stories they had in battling communist insurgents in the 1970’s.  This truly is the lost chapter of Special Operations history.

The Lost Chapter of Special Operations History: Rhodesia.

Some of the most explosive combat in Special Operations history is almost completely unknown to the Western World. Everyone knows about Navy SEALs and Green Berets but nobody knows about the deep recce, sabotage, and direct action missions conducted by the Rhodesian SAS. The Rhodesian Light Infantry was a killing machine, participating in combat jumps every night during the heat of the Bush War. The Selous Scouts were perhaps the most innovative and daring unconventional warfare unit in history which would pair white soldiers with turncoat black “former” terrorists who would then infiltrate enemy camps.

US military veteran and historian Dan Tharp covers each of these three units in depth in Africa Lost.

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PROMIS: Rhodesia, now .99 cents!

PROMIS2medres

Buy it on Amazon for .99 cents!

In addition to my novels and non-fiction work I also write a historical fiction series called PROMIS.  The books are about a MACV-SOG veteran who becomes a mercenary and takes the reader through little known conflicts and operations that actually happened in the 1980’s.  Public perception is that Grenada and Panama happened in the 80’s and not much else so there is plenty of fertile material for someone like me to work with that has not been done to death in this genre.  The first is the series is PROMIS: Vietnam about the protagonist, Sean Deckard, fighting with SOG in the Vietnam War.  The sequel is novella length and takes Sean Deckard to the Rhodesian SAS during the height of the bush war.  Since I first released the novella it has sold very well, especially with UK readers, but I have gone ahead and lowered the price to .99 cents like the first PROMIS installment in hopes of grabbing up some new readers!  If you enjoy it, remember that #3 in the series, PROMIS: South Africa is also available.

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What’s happening in Special Operations this week:

Check out the hostage rescue track record for the British SAS and SBS.

Read about the history of Special Forces, as written by Jim Morris, to help understand the present.

Check out my article on SOFREP to read about the ultra-secret branch of the SAS called E-Squadron that conducts covert operations with MI6.

Take a look at part 1 of my 2-part series on the Special Forces Weapons Sergeant Course.

A veteran of the Rhodesian Bush War hooked me up with some great pictures and information about the Mini-Claymore mine.

Read up on the Selous Scouts, this uniquely Rhodesian counter-insurgency unit.

Part two of my experiences in Special Forces Weapons Sergeant course.

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Auddis Ward, an American Selous Scout

Big news today!  I’ve got a interview up with Auddis Ward.  Auddis served with 173rd in the Vietnam War before traveling to Rhodesia and becoming a Selous Scout.  Here is a portion of the interview:

Tell us a little bit about your experiences in the Vietnam War. What types of operations were you involved in during the war?

 

My MOS was 11B, Infantry, and I served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which I am very proud of. My first two months in country were in a place called the An Do valley. We were on pacification, protecting the rice farmers in that valley from the VC/NVA. The only problem was that this valley was an R&R center for the VC, and most of the valley was controlled by them as well. This is the place where I went on my first of many daytime and nighttime patrols and ambushes. I also was involved in a covert operation in the mountains overlooking the valley. This is where I first had my experience of meeting a real live spook, a black CIA agent who arrived in an unmarked black Huey helicopter and gave us intel on what was going on in the valley. The South Vietnamese local militia that we were working with had been infiltrated with VC, boy that made us feel good!
I was also involved in snatch and grab ops which never came off because of the betrayal of the local militia. A few times we were left by ourselves, the indigs we worked with would cut and run as soon as they heard gunfire, early in the morning in a VC controlled village and we were sent running for our lives.
All this experience would come back to play in Rhodesia and on the streets of Memphis as a Police Officer.

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The Selous Scouts, a uniquely Rhodesian solution to counter-insurgency

Lasting from the mid-1960′s to 1980, the bush war in Rhodesia saw this tiny land locked nation surrounded by communist backed insurgents operating from the adjacent nations of Mozambique, Zambia, and Botswana. Robert Mugabe’s ZANU was supported by Red China while Joshua Nkomo’s ZAPU was a primarily a Soviet sponsored insurgency. With guerrilla fighters pouring across the borders, Rhodesia’s military fought tooth and nail, especially as the war heated up around 1976. Fighting the war on a shoe string to a point difficult to compare to today’s War on Terror, the Rhodesian forces conducted lightening fast raids and parachute jumps behind enemy lines.

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Preview PROMIS: Rhodesia

Here is a preview from my latest novella, PROMIS: Rhodesia.  In this scene our protagonist has been temporarily exiled to a Selous Scouts training program called dark phase.  The Selous Scouts were an amazing Special Forces type unit that specialized in so-called pseudo-operations.  Take a look:

Sean stood eyeball to eyeball with the terrorist gang leader, his face illuminated by flickers of light from the camp fire.

The terrorist was naked, a bottle of whiskey in his hand. True to form, once his gang rolled into the village they had demanded everything the poverty stricken Africans had, specifically their alcohol and their women. The gang leader had just emerged from one of the thatch huts having been the first to partake in the wares of the village prostitute.

Taking a swig of whiskey, he set the bottle down, retrieved his AK-47 and fired a celebratory burst of gunfire into the air. Hot brass glinted through the night as the fire reflected off each piece sent spinning from the ejection port.

Deckard held his ground as the gang leader motioned him forward, imploring him to hop in the queue with his men. The .45 tucked into the waist band of his OD green uniform felt entirely too far away for Deckard’s taste. The communist uniform and black is beautiful face paint might have fooled the drunken terrorist from a distance, but his disguise wouldn’t stand under scrutiny for long.

Jerusalem stood by the fire, chuckling at Sean’s extremely dangerous predicament.

A live pseudo-operation would be considered his final exam, proving that he had learned what he was supposed to in Dark Phase, and god willing, earn him another shot in the SAS. He’d been holed up in a clandestine observation post with another white operator, an experienced Selous Scout, while Jerusalem infiltrated a local village that had come under control of a terrorist gang. After gaining their trust, he told the terrorists that he had a friend he wanted them to meet, a terrorist named Sean Deckard as it turned out.

Cutting loose with another burst, Sean held his breath. What the idiot didn’t realize was that those bullets had to come down somewhere, hopefully not on their heads.

Motioning Sean forward again, the gang leader held his erection in his other hand to help make his point. Sean already understood all to well.

Jerusalem spoke something in his native language, Shona, to the gang leader. Laughing, the terrorist waved his hand dismissively and went back to his whiskey bottle.

His former instructor swaggered up to Sean, playing the part like the experienced professional that he was.

“He was getting suspicious so I told him that an RLI call sign shot your penis off last year.”

“Thanks for that,” Sean remarked dryly.

“I’ve been listening to them for two days now. They plan on laying in a ambush tomorrow night on a nearby road. The gang wants to kill some soft targets, farmers, civilians, whoever, they don’t care. Afterwords they will run across the border into Zambia before the RLI can catch up with them. So this is your final test white man. What do you want to do?”

Sean reached inside his cargo pocket and pulled out a curved piece of plastic housing with extendable metal legs. This side towards enemy, was written in English on one side. Grabbing a spool of wire from his other pocket, Sean popped the shipping cap off the end of the wire with his thumb and attached a trigger mechanism. The other end of the wire ended in a blasting cap that went into the plastic device.

“Give this to the gang leader.”

“Then what?” Jerusalem asked.

“Tell him it is a radio. Robert Mugabe has a special message for him.”

“As you say white man, but you wait until I am back here with you before you do anything.”

“I’d never do you wrong, hoss.”

With a smile, the former terrorist walked back to the camp fire as Sean unwound the wire from the spool. Giving the gang leader the Claymore mine, Jerusalem spoke to him before hurrying back to Sean’s position.

Laying down in the dirt, the two pseudo operators looked at each other for a moment as the terrorist spoke into the side of the anti-personnel mine, waiting for his great leader to respond. Flicking the safety off the squeeze mechanism, Sean detonated the mine, the blast washing over their heads in the hail of metal ball bearings.

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PROMIS: Rhodesia, available now!

Sean Deckard is an American refugee, trapped between his experiences in the Vietnam War and whatever was supposed to come next. Bouncing out of the Spanish Foreign Legion, he finds more than he bargained for in the Rhodesian Special Air Service just as the Bush War begins to heat up.

Teamed up with a young Rhodesian who could have gotten a deferment and an Australian veteran soldier with a dark past, they conduct one cross border mission after the next, escaping the clutches of death by the skin of their teeth. As Rhodesia heads into a full blown conflagration, these soldiers refuse to acknowledge that their tactical victories could possibly result in a strategic defeat.

Novella/Approx. 90 pages

Get it at Amazon!

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PROMIS: Rhodesia cover

A huge thanks to re-enactor Michel for the picture!  Hopefully this bad boy will be ready to go tomorrow.

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PROMIS: Rhodesia is in the bag

The novella is finished and I’ve recruited a few beta-readers to give it a test run before publishing.  Meanwhile, the hunt for a cover image continues.  I’ve put out some feelers but nothing solid yet.  If you have any suggestions, I’m all ears!

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Book Review: Three Sips of Gin, An African Adventure

“Three Sips of Gin” is many things.  Not simply a collection of war stories or the usual memoir, Tim Bax’s recounting of his own personal history reminded me more of James Corbett’s “Man Eaters of the Kumaon” or to some extent even Henning-Haslund Christensen’s “In Secret Mongolia”.  This book was a pleasant surprise that, although taking place in contemporary times, reminded me of some of my favorite yarns written by the gentlemen adventurers of the past.  Perhaps that is because of Tim’s unique background, his dry humor, or maybe it is his sense of the absurd.

Born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in 1949, Tim Bax was born into a life of adventure in many ways.  In the opening chapters he recounts an early affinity for Africa and doesn’t spare much detail recounting the decadence of the British colonists of the time.  One thing you will notice is that Tim is rarely sober during many of his adventures, if you hadn’t guessed from the title of the book.  Failing horribly at formal schooling, his mother eventually finds him a job as a lumberjack while living in Canada.  Being a lumberjack seems to give Tim some sense of purpose but he knows that his future lays else where, yearning to return to Africa.

After initially traveling to find a job in South Africa, it is only quite my mistake and happenstance that Tim is recruited into the Rhodesian Light Infantry.  The RLI was something of a killing machine in it’s heyday, culling terrorists from surrounding nations, sometimes conducting four call outs a night.  Combat parachute jumps were a regular occurrence.  Although it seems as something of a mystery to the author, he is selected to attend the Officer Candidate Course and is soon commissioned as a lieutenant.

Posted back to the RLI, Tim leads his troops in cross-border operations before being asked by Colonel Ron-Reid Daly to attended the Selous Scouts selection course.  The Scouts were a military unit completely unique to Rhodesia.  Trojan horse type attacks have been practiced throughout history but no army professionalized or implemented the concept of pseudo-operations as well as the Selous Scouts did.  During this time we begin to learn where the three sips of gin comes into play.  Tim is viciously wounded during numerous contacts with terrorist forces, each time utilizing the medicinal qualities to be found in copious amounts of gin.

However, this book isn’t the typical war memoir, it is much more than that.  The author maintains a self deprecating and humorous attitude through out, poking fun at himself and the military, all through some very dangerous situations!  More time is spent lamenting about the good times had with friends.  Officers past out drunk outside the formal dinning hall, riding his motor cycle through the mess, detonating a flash bang in a bar as a distraction to steal someone else’s beer and much more is included.  Tim perfectly captures what it is like to be a young man in the military, working hard, and playing harder.

Three Sips of Gin isn’t without it’s historical insights, some details are to be gleaned as to why the Rhodesian Bush War ended in defeat.  Like many former Rhodesian soldiers, he is very suspicious of Ken Flower, the head of the Central Intelligence Office.  One memorable moment takes place when the legendary Col. Daly stands up in a COMOPS meeting (the equivalent of America’s joint chiefs) and calls his fellow officers a bunch of gobshites who aren’t serious about winning the war.  Good luck finding an American officer with that kind of brutal honesty!

Finding employment in South Africa’s Defense Forces in 1980, Tim describes how and why the South Africans failed to incorporate the former Selous Scouts into their ranks.  When his contract is up at the end of the year he bolts to the private sector.  The remainder of the book talks about the author’s experience working in the private security industry (and other ventures) and the drunken mishaps that happen throughout.  I particularly liked one tactic he used during union negotiations!

There is much, much more in “Three Sips of Gin”, far to much to cover in a single book review, and besides, why would I want too?  Tim tells the whole story exceptionally well in this unique memoir.  “Three Sips of Gin” can be bought through Tim’s website at www.timothybax.com where the author can send out autographed editions with your choice of personal inscription if desired.  I had a slight hiccup when ordering my copy but Tim contacted me personally and the issue was quickly resolved.  I can recommend Mr. Bax’s service with full confidence and hope that those with interests in Africa, the Bush War, or true life adventure tales will order a copy of this amazing autobiography.

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