The USA and the Rhodesian war

Horne, Gerald From the Barrel of Gun The United States and the war against Zimbabwe, 1965-1980 (click for Amazon link) This book, the first to focus solely on American involvement in the Rhodesian war, demonstrates how American support - both financially and with the tacit acceptance of large numbers of mercenary troops - helped the war to continue. 

Book review here


One of the more interesting American characters in Rhodesia was Robin Moore (who also wrote, amongst others, the film "The Green Berets", a hugely pro-American Vietnam war film starring John Wayne, which has to be seen to be believed). His work on American mercenaries who fought in Rhodesia, "The Crippled Eagles" (click link for external link to more information on them) did not appear for a number of years, due to its (correctly) perceived political-incorrectness. However, whilst in Rhodesia, Moore was instrumental in establishing an unofficial embassy for the American mercenaries, the "crippled eagles" fighting in the country (like other countries excepting South Africa, embassies had been removed from Rhodesia). He also co-wrote "Major Mike" with ex-US Army Major Mike Williams. 

A key part of one side of US involvement in the Rhodesian war (the political involvement will be dealt with separately) was through Soldier of Fortune magazine. (For a recent example of SOF reporting, click here for details of the movement of the RLI "Troopie" statue). Soldier of Fortune magazine, "The Journal of Professional Adventurers" was established by a retired US Lieutenant Colonel, Robert K Brown. The 

magazine was to claim responsibility for the majority of American mercenaries in Rhodesia, although Rhodesian recruitment efforts were always at pains to explain that "mercenaries" were not recruited, and often noted that due to the relatively low rate of pay offered there would be little financial incentive for fighting; rather, that it was the political beliefs that were to inspire the mercenaries to fight.

Essentially, America waited both until Britain had clearly failed to resolve the situation, and when it was becoming increasingly apparent that either Russian or Chinese surrogate forces were likely to win the struggle. With awareness of the natural resources within Rhodesia and the conclusion that Rhodesia alongside apartheid South Africa offered the best defence against the Eastern Bloc, it seemed for a time that the more moderate African leaders would be "adopted" to become willing future allies - their decision being motivated through the support given. However, with Smith opting for an internal solution, and apparently little practical support forthcoming from the West, it was only with the monitoring of the cease-fire, and airborne transport of men and materiel that America once more became properly involved.