What to call people? (One man's terrorist is very much another man's freedom fighter). The Rhodesians, and many of the supportive documents, have no hesitation in talking of terrorists, usually when connected to atrocities carried out against innocent civilians (both black and white). On the other side of the coin, various sources talk of "freedom fighters", or "liberators". I will tend to stick to the more unbiased "guerrilla" . Equally, the historical purist in me will use the correct names for towns and cities as they were at the time of the incident described. Thus, Gwelo was as such until mid-1982, whilst Gweru is where the sabotage of Zimbabwean aircraft took place. 

All links lead to pages with further information.


Air Force Main page, quick links to all other RhAF pages. 

C Squadron, Rhodesian SAS The first of the overseas SAS regiments; in 1978 became 1 (Rhodesian) Special Air Service Regiment; when it was eventually disbanded in 1980, the British SAS sent a congratulatory telegram to the unit, noting that C Squadron remained vacant in the SAS orbat.

D Squadron, SAS A South African creation.

Greys Scouts A battalion of mounted riflemen - reintroducing cavalry to the 20th century

RAR Rhodesian African Rifles six independent companies A white officered 'askari' regiment. The first African officers were appointed only in 1979, when the tide of battle was turning, and there was too much pressure on the ever stretched Rhodesians to continue with solely white-officered units.

Rhodesia Regiment

Rhodesia Defence Regiment

RLI  Rhodesian Light Infantry All white. Initially caused friction in their behaviour - an unsuspecting Rhodesian public in Bulawayo were not accustomed to regular white soldiers; Peter Godwin mentions an incident where their actions against civilians caused him to realise why there was a widespread refusal to collaborate with Rhodesian forces.

Security Force Auxiliaries (SFA) Brought in in 1978 as a final attempt to Africanise the war. Largely a failure - too little, too late, and when the recruitment efforts turned from using captured guerillas to conscripted Africans, it was clear that the concept, as being used, was a failure. 

Selous Scouts Named after Frederick Courteney Selous, a British explorer in Africa who may have inspired Rider Haggard to create the Allan Quartermain character. Created - and commanded by - LtCol R F Reid-Daly. Responsible for the majority of guerrilla casualties in the war - either directly, or through acting as a call-sign for other units. Interpreted as either the most effective, elite fighting-unit on the African continent, or as an undisciplined, overly aggressive rabble, with little respect for the regular Rhodesian forces. 

Internal Affairs



AK-47 (Avtomat Kalashnikov) Russian designed assault rifle, produced all over the Eastern bloc and still used as standard equipment by many armies today. Due to its rugged, simple construction and ease of battlefield maintenance it was a standard weapon used by guerillas. Used most notably in Rhodesian hands by the Selous Scouts, Rhodesian SAS and Security Force Auxiliaries.

FN Used as standard equipment; a Belgian 5.56 mm air-cooled light machine gun. FN (FAL) (R-1) 7.62mm

G-3 7.62x51mm (German)

RPG-7 Eastern bloc rocket-propelled grenade used by the RSF after capture. 

Land-mines Captured land mines usually of much higher quality than Rhodesian equipment, which generally dated back to Second World War.

Captured weapons were initially traded with the SADF, until South African battles resulted in the procurement of sufficient examples of their own to make this unnecessary. 

MAG machine gun

SKS Carbine 7.62x39mm (Russian)

AKM 7.62x39mm (Russian)

Lee Enfield .303 rifle (Britain) not used by front echelon troops

M-16A1 5.56mm (USA) used only by special forces (in very limited numbers) towards end of war





Fireforce   A tactic of vertical envelopment developed by the RLI and later the RAR - once an enemy sighting had been made, troops were rushed - usually by helicopter, when they were available - to the spot. Later in the war, to make three contacts a day was not unusual. (Click here for details on Fireforce, by Chris Cocks) 

External Raids With the growing number of guerrilla camps outside Rhodesia - both training, and refugee camps - especially after the Portuguese decolonisation of Angola (November 11, 1975) and Mozambique (June 25, 1975) Rhodesian security planners decided the most productive response was to take the fight to the camps, rather than waiting for incursions. Perhaps the most famous external was the "Green Leader" raid, on Westlands Farm, Zambia. 


Assembly Points With the ceasefire coming into effect in December 1979, the guerrilla forces were supposed to be transferred into Assembly Points, where they could be easily monitored and kept away from any fighting. It seems that ZANLA, and to a lesser extent ZIPRA mistrusted the security of having their cadres within those camps - perhaps wisely, with Op Quartz then being planned by the Rhodesians, ZANU forces in particular seem to have sent a number of "mujibas" into the camps to make up numbers - the guerillas being instructed to disperse into the community.  

BMATT British Military Advisory and Training Team personnel appointed to aid the post-war merger

casevac - Casualty evacuation, usually by helicopter

COIN (Counter Insurgency)

JOCs (Joint Operations Centres) and subJOCs - JOCs saw daily Situation Report being read, while the location of individual incidents was noted. Discussion then followed on the incidents and on any action that was necessary from a combined services point of view. Discussion of military tactics and planning was not held at these meetings but was the subject, for reasons of security, of meetings by the armed services concerned.

Mujiba Mujibas were unarmed African children, more boys than girls, who often acted as useful intelligence sources for the guerillas, indicating movement and location of Rhodesian forces; a large number were to be killed 'in cross-fire'. 

NIBMAR No Independence Before Majority Rule - principle established January 25 1966 - (announced in British parliament 20 December 1966).  

Operational Areas The most efficient way of combating an increasingly nation-wide struggle. Rhodesia was eventually divided into eight areas, including one for Salisbury and the area surrounding.