Created: 10/1/1985

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Soviet Military Support to Angola: Intentions and Prospects



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InforaiMMn nalliUe a*ctoberwed in ibe prepaiilrtn of Ihi. EMlmile. -Iiieli wai

anpnoed bv the Kiiioml Foreien InleUiBence tbunt




The foBovring intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of thc Estimate:

The Ccor.ol lofelf.gence Agency, ft* Oefense Intefcgeoc* Agency, (he Nortoooi Seeur.ty Agency, and the mfeftgence oegoniiofion ol (he Deportment of State.

Aho Participating:

The Awilonl OWf of StoH (or Irtefcgewe. Depcetewnl o< the Army The DtVecloc of Naval iMeftgenee. Deportment ol (he Novy The Auiitanl Chief ol Staff, Intotligenee. Oeportmont ol therte Tho Oiroclof of Intelligence, Heodqworlcrt,Corpi





The Soviets and

Moscow's longstanding

A Militury Turning


The Soviet Role in lhe

Soviet Relations With the

The South African

Outlook: Sis to 12

Hold. Consolidate, and Prepare for the Next


Implications of Future FA PL A

Prospects for

Implications for thc United


Further FAPLA

Future UNITA

ANNEX- The Soviet Military Advisory Croup in


Thc recent offensive in Angola by thc MPLA regime against the UNITA insurgents attained some notable success. This Estimate will examine whether the improvement in the MPLA military'sis attributable to increased Soviet material suppori and greater involvement by Soviet military advisers. It will assess prospects for combat over the nextonths and examine likely outcomes and thc Soviet military role. Thc possibilityoviet-South African military confrontation will be examined in these scenarios.



We believe thai ibe improved performance of the Angolan Army against UNITA insurgents this year probably reflects in part an increased Soviet role in the planning and direction of tbe recent offensive as well as tbe effects of large amounts of Soviet arms deliveredlthough comprehensive evidence is lacking to substantiate UNITA and Soulb African allegations of this expanded role in lhe recent offensive, we believe that this upgrade in Soviet military activity ts logical on the basis of the failure of the Angolan Armed Forces (FAPLA) to perform credibly in offensives over tbe last nine years.

Tbc probable increase in Soviet military involvement in the Angolan war should be kept in perspective. We believe it represents;

A logical expansion of thc long-established advisory role played byoviet military advisers in

^The inciease probably amounts to greater involvement of Soviet advisers in planning operations as well as more demanding supervision of FAPLA-executed combat and logistic operations.

A sense of impatience with Cuban and MPLA surrogates and clients, who for nine years have failed toerious reverse on UNITA. which until recently had been increasinglyin (lie field.

A Soviet judgment that thc risks and costs of an increased role in the planning and direction of lhc offensive were low.

The determination of thc present Soviet leadership to coniinue lo prolecl tbe Soviet invcslment in Angola's Marxist-Leninist resjimc.

Thc enhanced Soviet role does noi represent, in ourakeover of tbe direction of thc counter insurgency effort, nor is il intended lo gain some short-term advantage in Enst-West negotiations. Wc do not believe allegations of actualparticipation in combatossible episodic occurrence^

Dining the recent offensive, the Angolan Army was able lo penetraie insurgent-held territory, overcome UNITA forces in baltlcs, and take positions defended byit had largely failed to achieve in previous offensives. The Angobn Army attacks were hatted by UNITA counterattacks and unprecedented South African airstrikes. Angolan Army miliiary gains, however, do not presage the demise ofis far fromthey wil! improve theforces' morale and heighten Luanda's confidence (bat it can, over the long run, handle the UNITA challenge.

Although the chancesoviet-South African confrontation rose during the offensive, wc do not believe the Soviets attempted lo inlerdicl South African aircraft. The Soviets seem to havePretoria's willingness to use its aitpowcr lo halt the Angolan advance. They apparently chose not to cliallcnge thc South Africans, judging thai perhaps they did not Itave air supremacy.

FAPLA will probably use the next few months to consolidate its gains, rest its troops, and prepare for next year's operations. Tbe Soviets will assist them in assessing -the results of the recent offensive,necessary changes, and improving training and recruitment. Moscow is also likely to replace weapons lost by Luanda, provide additional arms aid. including air defense weapons intended lo deter South Africa from future activity over Angola, and may provide additional advisers.

The political relations between Moscow and Luanda are not likely to constrain current or projected Soviet military assistance. While differences exist between the MPLA leadership and tbe USSR and periodically flare up, we have not seen these differences affect the military relationship The MPLA is likely to continue to pursue the miliiary option against UNITA over thc nextonths, thereby enhancing this relationship.

Wc believe Ihe preferred Soviet counter to South African air involvement willouthward and eastward expansion of the integrated air defense line running from Namibc to Menongue. This combination of modern surface-to-air missiles, antiaircraft artillery, radars,i fields with high-performance lighters has alreadyeterrent effect on Soulh African opeiations.esult, we expect to see continued improvements around Cuito Cuanavale in southeastern Angola as this area is incorporated into the air defense network, perhaps to include the permanent assignment of advanced fighter aircraft there.

We believe the extensive Soviet advisory involvement will continue as Luanda renews ils offensive againsi UNITA inpring or summer6 Luanda may well again target Mavinga. and it may also

attempt to retake UNITA-held areas of Moxico Province. Moscow, which believes its essential interests are served by Luanda's continuing military dependence on thc USSR, will probably perceive no need todirectly in the conflict andider war. as long as FAPLA is doing reasonably well, and it may counsel the Angolans to forgo operations near the Namibian border to avoid provoking South Africa.

If the government forces do directly threatenurvival, the South Africans are likely to respond with airstrikes and possibly commit some of their unconventional or reconnaissance forces. Angolan pressure on Moscow for more direct assistance would be certain to increase. We believe the USSR would prefer to avoid directwith South Africa, but the Soviets would considerorerole in operations if they believed thc South Africans posed an immediate threat to the viability of major FAPLA units. We believe the Soviets would countenance use of Cuban-flown combat aircraft to defend against expanded South African air operations. Beyond episodic actions, however, we do not believe Moscow would allow Soviet pilots to become regularly engaged in combat operations

UNITA could abandon semiconventional warfare and rely more on guerrilla tactics, as the South Africans are advising. Such actions could at least reduce the effectiveness of FAPLA's next offensive and might set the stageNITA reversal of this year'sore active Cuban role in air and ground operations and increased Soviet advisory involvement in coordinating counterinsurgency operations wouldmore likely in this eventuality.

The Soviets will seek to gain propaganda advantage from Luanda's military successes and will continue their efforts to discredit UNITAuppet of South Africa and imperialism. Moscow is likely to seek to isolate Angola from substantive discussions in East-West diplomacy, repealing its assertion that the United States and the USSR have no vital interesls there and ihat southern African questions should not be allowed to complicate more important issues in lhe bilateral relationship





oscow has been the primary source of ealernal support fo* the Popular Movemenl for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) since the. when it began tunneling arms to the MPLA for actions against the Portuguese Since Angolan independenceS. the Soviet Bloc has supplied Angola with over S1 billion in military aid, along withdvisers0 Cuban military personnel (see figuren addition, Ihe Soviets have provided, by Iheir ownigh level of economic aid and have cilrnded eitensive political support to lhe MPLA. In return, Moscow hai gained access to military facilities,eliable supporter of Soviet positions in international forums, andhird World oc model of Soviet-style "sociallsl oriented" dcvclopmcnl.



UK 77 71 79 fo tl 12 8J


1 This generally dose relationship has not been without strains issues such at the client and Quality of Soviet development assistance, tbe terms of repayment of Angolan financial obligations to tlie USSR, the need to open Angola to greater Western aid and investment, and the advisability of participating in US brokered regional negotiation! have produced tensionsihe MPLAneed for continued military sup-port and Moscow's intention loole in southern Africa have underpinned the relationthip and prevent -ed these tensions from developing Into more serious

Military Turning Point

3 In spite of substantial Soviet Bloc aid sinceofir defenses and helping Luan-

lhe assignment of Sovietefensive line along the southern rad-

J Angolan miliiaryAl lhe same time, the Angolan Armed Forces

have not enjoyed great success in recent yeanstill had serious difficulties in countering the in South African forces stagedUnion for lhe Total IrioVpertoVnce of Angola

incursions inlo Angola againsi Southwest2NITA. with South

pie's Organization (SWAPO) guerrillas and heldassistance, greatly eipaftded lhe territory it

"bulfer Tone" of Angolan territoryn southeastern Angola Inn it

he Soviets responded by initialing alhe FAPLA garrison al Cangarnba and

panded its guerrilla operations in the central and northeastern regions ol Angola. UNITAgains and its threats to carry the battle to urban areas shook the MPLA governmcni. which looked to the Soviets for help. Angolan President dos Santos visited Moscow inigh-level military delegationin September. We believe that expanded Soviet military aid was at the top of the agenda in both cases.


4 The Soviets apparently agreed during these visits lo increase arms assistance lo Luanda lo reverse lhe deteriorating situation on the ground Miliiarytotaling more thanillion were signed insee figureoscow's decision was probably based on ils evaluation of lhe growing UNITA challenge and lhe threat that it posed lo longstanding Soviet obseclives In Angola, which include.

the pro-Soviel character of the MPI.A


Preserving access lo Angolan military facilities

Preventing any Namibian selllemenl lhalthe security of the MPLA regime in Luanda and <loes not result inoming to power in Namibia

UNITA's threat to lhe MPLA also challengedcrcdibdiiyeliable supporter ol its major African clients, all of whom faced insurgent threats

5 Soviet arms deliveries lo Angola rose sharply in3 and continued al relatively hath levels4 Included in lhe Soviet-supplied equipment were-

Initial deliveries ofnd SU-XS fighter-bombers, as well asighters andtiack helicopters.

Substantial quantities of antiaircraft equipment, (or example.ndurface-to-air missile systems.

Large number' of tanks, armored personnel car i nd artillery piecei

Moreover, Cuba addedombat Iroops In bring its comf military personnel loariety of reporting indicates ihat ihcem selveseries of steps lo improve command and control ol their farces and coordination of military andum ices in lhe

counterimurgencv elfort as well ai to cariand the lire

of lhe Armysee (able)

Angola: Major Soriei Equipment Deliveries








H-nd Mil Hip


Hind MM


Forces (mmcrcl












meet and overcome UK ITA forces in battle, and take positions defended by the insurgents deipile sustaining heavy casualties. We believe that the results of5 offensive, after several years of reverses, will improve FAPLA morale aad heighten MPLA confidence thai il can. over the long run. handle the UNITA challenge FAPLAs improved performancein our view, ailnliuublcumber of factors, including improved tiaining. organisation, andof Soviet-supplied arms: belter use of tacliral airpowcr; and possible Cuban parlicipalion In combat.

The Soviet Rolo in the Offensive

c believe ihat Ihe improved performance of tbc Angolan Army against UNITA insurgents this year mobably reflects in part an increased Soviet role an the planning and direction of the recent offensive as well as lhe effects of laige amounU of Soviet arms deliv cred3 Although comprehensive evidence is lacking to substantiate UNITA and South African allegations of this expanded role in the teccnlwr believe lhal this upgrade in Soviel military activity is logical on lhe basis of FAPLA failure to perform credibly tn iiest offensives over the last nine years

he probable Increase in Soviet militaryin the Angolan war should be kept in perspective. We believe il represents:

A Icapcal eigaansion of (be longrote played byoviet military advisers in Angolaf"

The increase probably amounts la greaterof Soviet advisers In planning opeia-tions as well at moie demanding supervision ol FAPLA-executed combat and logistic operations.

A sense of impatience wiih Cuban and MPLA surrogates and cheats, who for nine yean have faded toerious reverse on UNITA. which until recently had been trier easi nclrin Ihe field

A Soviet ludgmenl that thc risks and costs of an increased role in lhe planning and direction of lire offensive were

The delrrminahon of lhe nrcscnl Soviet Icadcr-slup tocnii'imrc lo prolccl tlie Soviel investment in Arranb'iinisi regime


However, Soviet udvisers appear lo haveSoulh Africa's willingness to use ttsairpower to counter FAPLA's drive on

hile the

Soulh African airslrikes raised lhe specterirect confrontation between the Soviets and the SouthMoscow apparently was not inclined al this lime to lake on South African aircraft, despite sufficient opportunities. As far as we know.nterceptors based at Mcnongue did not challenge lbc Soulhstrikes. Moscow may have fudged that ill prospects for successfully engaging Soulh African Mirages in an area outside effective ground-controlled Inlerceptcoverage were unfavorable.

he near-term possibilily of Soviet-Southconflict has dropped off suhslantially now Ihat the Angolan offensive has comealt and lhe South Africans have moved most of ihrir fighter aircraft away from southern Angola But the Soviets ate certain lo factor South Africa's response to this year's offensive itilo planning for futute Angolan operations

Outlook: Si* toonths

Hold, Consolidate, ond Prepare for lhe Neil Round

IS We believe lhal FAPLA is unlikely loew atiack during the rainy season (November-March) As kwig as il is able to lesupply and defend its forward positions,s likely to spend (hefew months consolidating ils hold on Carombo anduanavale Alternatively, if FAPLA considers lis forward position untenable, it may decide lo pull back lo its main garrisons at Luena and Menongue In any event, FAPLA will probably uie the nest several months lo rest its troops, refurbish ils equipment, and prepare for new offensive operations nert veat For its part, UNITA can be expected lo conduct harassment operations and lo prevent FAPLA Irom enhancing ils forward positions.

rom Moscow's standpoint, either of lheservos to promote continued Angolanon ibe USSR for equipment andwhile limiting, for the moment,ion wiih South Africa During IheIhe Soviets are certain lo assist FAPLAthis year's offensive, implementingin logistics and tactics, and improvingrecruit men Ireiilace ireaponibv

FAPLA. and may provide additional incicurenls ol adiisriiim aid. particularly aircraft and heli-

copiers lhal have Droved so useful in theIn addition. Ihe Soviet* will probablyexpanding and improving Angolan air defenses Into deter South Africa from future airAngolan territory. Soviet efforts willon improving radar coverage of southerncontinuing pilol training, and. possibly, willthe installationround controlin the

6 Offensive

is coolideoce buoyed by the results of this year's operation. FAPLA probably believes lhat its performance can be repealed, and we believe thai (he Angolans are likely to renew offensive operations in tlie spring or summer6 Tbcy may move againsi targets similar to those attacked ihis year, perhaps In the direction of UNITA headquarters al Jambaihey might concentrate oo otber areas lhat appear vulnerable where the chance of directwith South Africa appears lower. For example, Luanda may try lo retake more UN IT Aareas in Moaicoegion brought largely under UNITA control in2 and

he Soviets will continue lo provide arms and advisory support for Luanda. Direct Soviet adviioiy involvement In planning and directing Angolanoperations is also likely to continue neat year. However, ai long as strategic MPLA/Cubanmay change during the course of lhenot in immediate danger of falling. Moscow ii unlikely lo intervene more directly in the conflict andider war. Indeed, lhe Soviets may counsel the Angolan military to avoid action near lhe Namib ian border il ihey believe that it wouldarsh military response from Pretoria

Irrigations of future FAPIA Success

ossible thai the absorption of additional Soviet-supplied weapon', further training on existing systems, integration of the lessons learned in this year's offensive, and continued Soviet advisory support will enable FAPLA to scoie lurthcr gainsyear,if UNITA chooses to engage FAPLA inUrge-scale conventional actions The implication ol any such advances for opanded outitde involvement and escalation depend on lhc extent lo which Pretoria believes thev threaten UNITA'i viabilitv as an ellcc-live fackting force and deems it necessary to eipand its (Mil roleie conflict IInrieentratei ils

efforts In the Ca/ombo and Morteo regions, thethreat to UNITA will be relatively limited, andnlikely lo commit Ils air assets to the battle, especially in areasoviet-supplied air defense network is effective. If the governmeni forces move toward UNITA headquarters at Jamba, howcv-er. and defeat significant concent rations of UNITA troops. Southgain likely lo use its air assets and Increase material support to UNITA to reverse the tide of lhe offensive, and may involve its battalion of black eipatriatesd "Bulfalo" Battalion)

hould the South Africans inflict seriouson FAPLA. Angolan pressure on the Soviets and Cubans for expanded involvement In air-to-ground and air-to-air operations would almost certainly grow. We believe Moscow would prefer lo avoid direct confrontation with South African -piloted aircraft,the limitations of Angola's radar net in thepart of the country. However, we cannot ruleore direct Soviet combat role in air operations if Moscow believes thai South African activityirect threat to Ihe viability of FAPLA as an effective fighling lorce. Ifhreat does not materialize, the Soviets arc not likely to eipand their involvement lo include direct participation In combat actions, eicept in isolated instances where leadership of Cu-ban-FAPLA forces ii desirable and risks are judged small

Prospects for UNITA

nlikely io remain passive during the current rainy season and may be able to inflict losses on government force! in Cazombo and lhe southeast, especially if il avoids further large-scale conventional engagemenl with FAPLA formations In addition. UNITA could intensify ils guerrilla activities through-out notlhern and cenlral Angola UNITA leader Jonas Savimm could adopt strategic and lacttcal changes, which wc believe his South African supporters are likely to urge on Mm. such as cutting back on semicon-lentionalspecially above theionfavor of guerrilla luetics, hitting FAPLA login ic lines, and giving ground riilher than taking on FAPLA in maior pitched battles UNITA may also step up labotage operations, probably with South African help Such actions could al least reduce the effective lie vs of FAl'LAs neil offensive and might sci lhc stageNITA reversal of this year's lasses, especially if FAPLA'i recently heightened morale suffers

II UNITAAPLA springoulheaslern Angola without dirnl South Aliican sup-


pOft, lheenim of lhewould be limited, as neithei Moscow nor Pretoria wouldirect throat to the side each Is backing. In the less likely event thai UNITA not only blunts FAPLA attacks but thiealens key FAPLA base areas, wc believe lhe Soviets wouldore active Cuban role in air and (round operations and might increase their own involvement in coordinatingoperations Wc do not believe that oilierlhal might provoke substantially increased diicct participation by Ihe Soviets in air and groundSouth African offensiveagainst FAPLA basesirect UNITA threat to MPLA control oflikely to occur In the span of this Estimate.

Implications for the Unitod States5 Offensive

he liming of this year's offensive was not. in our ludgment. directly connected to consider at mm of East-West diplomacy. This year's actiontanding pattern of dry-season offensives, andfor Ihc operation appears lo have begun ai leasl as early as last year.

he Soviets do stand lo gam some 'sidein (lie inter national arena. We would expect ihe Soviets to use the next few months to play up the Soulh African involvement in the fighting as "proof" that UNITA is no moreoulh African puppet Perceived Angolan gains could contribute lo Outside in.pressiom of momentum for Moscow's policy in Africa and Improve Moscow's imageeliable backer of ils clients Abo, Moscow and Luanda mighi believe lhaletbacks will make il appear less attractive Iu some potential outside supporters. The relative success of Ihis offensive will almcni certainly strengthen thr/hand of those In lhe MPLA leadeiship who oppose negotiations wllh UNITA War strategygenda item at thr upcormnc MPLA Congress in December



We see no disincentives, suchgmlicanl riserisks or cost* in the short lerm. that would make lhe Soviets receptivehange in their policy of extensive military support lo thc MPLA.

eporting from several sources Indicates that Soviel officials have been more confident in recent months Ihatmore militarily dependent on the Soviets thannot Ukely to pursueegotiated agreement with South Africa that could Jeopardise Soviet Interests in Angola. The prospect of an MPLA regime more confident of its ability to deal with UNITA. yet still dependent on Ihe USSR for nilbtary support, is probably sufficient lo limit Soviet concern on these questions. If Luanda renews its participation in regional negotiations,wiK repeat its warnings to Angola on the dangers of any deal with Soulh Africa and its alleged US bickers

he continued buildup of Soviet-supplied arms in Angola will help further Moscow's long-termofoviet role in southern Africa The Angolan buildup, especially ol air defense systems, could also, over thc long lerm. hamper South Africa's

capacity lo carry out military opcralions againsi

SWAPO and on behalf of UNITA.

Further FA PIA Goins

hould FAPLA make substantial militarynext year, certainly UNITA and possibly Soulh Africa will call for Western help, calls that will intensify if Soviet /Cuban-South African clashesossibility Zaire may attempt lo exploit the Angolan Ihreal to obtain Western military aid

or their pari, the Soviets would probably intensify their campaign to castigate UNITA as* "tool ofhile drumming up Eastern Bloc and nonaligned support for Luanda'* campaign against "Soulh African-backed bandits" and warning against any outside attempt! to "inteifere" in Angola.Wtenrow would probably took lo reanurceighbors of Luanda's in lent ions, and reassert to lhe West il* claim thai southern Africa should not be an arena ol East-West conflict If the Soviet* wereconcerned about (lie prospect of an undcsircd escalation involving themselves and South Africa, lliev miglu attempt Io communicate mth !

Future UNIIA Gain*

inor UNITA gains are nnl likely touch ihrni-tcrm imparl on Soviet rotations with Angola a*

ill other clienlianda will have little alteroa-live to continued rallilary dependence oa tbe USSR, and Soviet relations wiih its other cttcnls will not be affected significantly by the military and poliiical exigencies in Angola.

ustained improved UNITA performance mblht lead Luanda to show more active interest in the US-sponsored regional negotiating process if only at a

means lo gain some diplomatic insurance againsi expanded outside aid to UNITA. Intensified UNITA pressure noiwiihstanding. however, it is unlikely thai during the span of this Estimate the Angolanwill abandon ils preferenceilitary solution to thc UNITA insurgency in favor of negotiations wiih Savimbi. or be willing to forgo the protection of most ol the Cuban troops currently stationed in Angola.

-Jon Wi.l



In-Country Responsibilities

oviet advisory involvement in Angola isby the Militaiy Advisory Croup (MAC) in Luanda, which includes, weoviet personnel headedhree-star general and at least sia other general officers, Soviet advisers^

"Hare assumed to virtually all command and staff office? within the Angolanof Defense, to at least the five most threatened of Angola'silitary districts, and to Angolan brigades and apparently some battalions. T

^al least eight tooviets have been assigned to individual Angolan brigades Since al least

oviet advisory responsibilities inaver the full range of Angolan militaiy activity: fromtraining, and political indoctrination through administrative and quartermaster functions andof sophisticalcd equipment lo planning and conducting combat'operations Day-today dulicsQ

ith the Angolan Minister of Defense to the detailing of Soviet mechanic* loire on an Angolan armored personnelough lhein general, are careful to observe protocol in dealing with Angolan officials, we believe apparent frustration wiih Angolan ineiperienre has led the Soviet advisers on occasion lo Intrude directly in whai Id appear lo be Angolan responsibilities.


Moscow's Control


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