It seems a long time ago, but many South African mothers’ sons, husbands and brothers spent a significant part of their lives in the former South African Defence Force (SADF). One of their best-loved commanders, a soldiers’ soldier, was Jannie Geldenhuys – General Johannes (“Jannie”) Geldenhuys, SSAS, SD, SOE, SM, GCIH, ORB, who served as Chief of the South African Defence Force between 1985 and 1990.
He describes the South African Border War from the perspective of a modest and intelligent professional. His descriptions of the encounters at Cuito Cuanavale ring more true than the subsequent attempts by politicians to rewrite history.
He demonstrates that, in warfare, advances and retreats often owe more to the political machinations of great powers than to the military power balance or common humanity. Architects of “wars on terror” can learn a great deal from the South African Border War experience, and particularly from this General’s experiences and insights.