Created: 3/1/1977

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

Intelligence Memorandum

Soviet and Cuban Intervention in the Angolan Civil War

NATIONAL SECURJJJWHTORMATION Unauthorizedto Criminal Sanctions


NOFORN- Not Roleaiabio to Foreign NotionoU NOCONTRACT- Not Releosable to Contractor! or

ullon-Proprietary Information Involved

Departments Only

and Extraction of Information

Controllednformation ha> been Authorized for






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Top SocryjegKBRA


Thii memorandum is being cfiwemina'ed outside the originating officehe following

Thome and Robert Potior, latin American and African Affairs Col William Odon. Robert Hunter

Gem, Director, Politico-Military Affairs

Paul Cook, Director, Bureau of Intelligence Reieorch/Soviet Union and East Europe

Harvey Swmm, Director, Bureau of Intelligence Research/American Republic! C. Thomas Thocne,irector. Bureau of Intelligence Research/Africa Anthony lake. Director. Policy Planning Staff

Glitmon. Deputy Aiiiitant Secretory for European and NATO Attain, ISA Leslie Janko, Deputy Aulitont Secretary for Near Eastern, African and South Asian Affairs, ISA

Richard Cavaioi, Director. Inter-American Region, ISA

Dr. Lynn Davis, Deputy Auiitant Secretary for Policy Plant and Notional Security CouncilSA, Attention: Ron Stiver*


E. H. Knoeho, Acting Director

Sayre Stevens, Deputy Director for Intelligence

John Whitman, NIO for USSR and Eaitern Europe

William Parmenter, NIO for Africa

Robert riopkim. Acting NIO for latin Amerko



This Memorandumetrospective examination of Soviet Angola, I

Cuba, intervenedarge scale in that country's civil waror almostears following the outbreak of the anti-Portuguese insurgency in Angolaoviet, and later Cuban, involvement had been modttl That involvement increased gradually in the last quarterose steeply during the spring and summernd reached massive proportions in the fall of lhat year, when Soviet arms and Cuban soldiers arrived in large numbers

Why was the Kremlin Milling to invest so much in its attempt toosition of special influence in southern Africa through military intervention? This paper tries to answer that question by identifying the major decision points and by explaining the various interacting forces und factors behind Moscow's venture in Angola. It pays particular attention to the related question of whether the escalation of the Soviet-Cuban intervention in5 was defensive or preemptive.

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i. The Soviet Union and

Relations with the MPLA4

Portuguese Revolution and Moscow's Initial

Involvement in

Angolan Civil War

Initial Soviet Build-Up:5

Anti-MPLA Forces Rally:5

C Soviet Cuban Decision-Making in the Summer5

Timing of the Decision To Send Cuban Troops

Reasons for the Decision

The Soviet-Cuban Connection

Cuban Intervention:5

Soviet-Cuban Escalation: Late October/Early


Failure of Diplomacy:5 to



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The Soviel Union had provided the Marxist-oriented Popular Movement lut the IJbcretion of Angolaith anro. money, and training forean prior lo ibe outbreak of tbe Angolan dvtl war5 Cuban support began in thehroughout ihii period aid from both countries was kept at modest levels and served limited objectives. Not enough was given either in weapons or in training to enable the MPLA toerious challenge lo the dominance of Portuguese military forces in Angola. Periodic disputes within Ihe MPIA leadership impeded (lie development of strong lies between (he Angolan Manltli and Moscow.esult of ihereak-up into three contentious wings, the Soviets cut back or suspended cnlircly their military assistance to NHo and shifted their support to one ofchallengers, ChipencLa.2 lo the fall

arrived at the FNI-A's main training camp in Zaire, and in Sep!em! TneChiriew- delivered lo ihe FN LA | nd medical supplies 1

Other facton influencing the Soviet decision to increase Involvement in Angola were (a) Neto's perceptible Increase in strength within the MPLA, which convinced the Soviets lhat he could provide effective leadership; {b) pro-Neto and pro-MPLA sentiments among (he radicals and Communist! in Lisbon, sentiments lhat became widespread after the September ouster of SpirtoU. who hadro-Western solution in AngoU and had sought to eliminate Neto from negotiations concerning the country's future

The officers' revolt in LLsbon in4 provided the catalyst for (heIn Angola that ultimately resulted in civil war and foreign intervention.Immediate aftermath of (he Portuguese coup, Moscow look atoward Angola while carefully monitoring events there. Tbe firstinvolvement following the coup was the shipment of small arms loin the latter part4 This aid was In part designed to counteractmaterial support for tbe MPLA's chief rival for power, the KMIna contingent of Chinese mililary"


1 Sun-lic MKLA hat been directed by Dr Agartinho Nein The nlher two nations) liberation movements that challenged the MPLA lor control olAngola were the National front for the Liberationed by HoWen Roberto, and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UN1TA1 headed by (oral Savimbl


From March loecond major phase in Soviet involvement occurred Moscow supplied large amounts of aid. including heavieryhortly after full-scale civil war erupted, the MPLA, thanks to Soviet support, was able lo drive the FN LA and UNITA. the third major liberation organization, out of Luanda It advanced steadily against the positions held by the FNLA and UNITA. and threatened to elimlnale them from the competition for power.

During thb period, the Soviet Union was trying to capitalize on the unfolding situation in Angola both toominant position for the MPLAis the FNLA and to blunt China's bid to extend its influence in southern Africa. Moscow may well have believed that its prospects for success were greatly Increased by the pro-Soviet and pro-MPLA attitude of the Conceives government in Lisbon and the ascendancy of the Portuguese Communist Party within its ranks. Specifically, the Soviets may have believed that the Portuguese would scuttle elections called for in the Alvornd hand over all power to Neto's group.

LA's gains during the early summertrong response from the US and China. As early as April. Zaire and Zambia had turned to (he US for assistance in preventing Moscow fromovernment of its own choice on Angola, but the first major US investment in Angola did not come untilillion in arms aid for the FNLA was approved. (In0 had been granted to the FNLA on an incremental basis, but no military supplies werehe first American plane carrying arms for the FNLA arrived in Zaire oningle shipload of military supplies departedore than five months after the Soviets began sending substantial quantities of arms by sea and air.





in tne arm givenA by Ihe US, China, and Zaire enabled it to hold its own and then strike back at tho MPLA. OnNLA Iroops took the town of Quito, an Important jumping-off point for an assault on Luanda, now the MPl-A's main stronghold.

Against this background. Ihe first discussions between Moscow and(he djspa^ch_cTCuban troops to AngplapjJ^pjJJJJJJJtook place In latejointly reached



tho final decision and fully coordinated their actions. Other data inferentlally support

this conclusion

and Cuban collahoiation in Angolaecade-long process o( itn; alignment between the two countries.

personnel were matched with sophisticated Soviet weaponry which the MPLA cadre *as incapable of operating

uring the denouement of the civil war. Moscow provided

Havana with long-range civil aircraft capable ol flying non-stop ucross Ihe Atlantic.

pickedarge pari of the Cuban lab by increasing military shipments to Havana lo replace arms and equipment used In Angola

A ma for consideration in the decision to send Cuban troopsprobably the inability of MPLA troops to use sophisticated modem armaments effectively. Theorces also lacked tialning to use these weapons, and II was probably calculated (hut Cuban soldiers would therefore be Ihe MPl-A's trump card. Another (actor in the decision to send the Cubans was an estimate (hat there would be no appreciable or effectiveby the US, China. South Africa, or Zaire.

Thit was the first time lhat Cuba or any other Soviet ally had sent an expeditionary (orcc abroad to Intervene in another country's civil war. From Moscow's point of view, (he use of Cuban troops had several distinct advantages. First, because Ihe Hoops cameeveloping country ratheruperpower, they were more ideologically and politically acceptable lo African and other Third World opinion, and their presence In Angola was considerably less provocative to the West than If Soviet troops had been sent. Second, the other outside parties involved in Angola did not have at their disposal any suitable surrogate army, save the relatively ineffective Zairian troops and the South African forces, which proved toerious political liability. Third, the Cubans were familiar with and capable of operating the sophisticated weaponry supplied to the MPLA by the Soviets.

A major Soviet-Cuban build-up began In September and continued lo gain momentum through October with the introduction of heavier Soviet armaments, larger numbers of Soviet technician* and advisers, and ihe first contingent' of Cuban soldiers The first Cuban troopship left Havana tbe first week of September and arrived in Africa onh of the same month Onhe Cubans began aidifting troops. By mid-Octnber. there were atuban soldiers, and probably more, In Angola

rolltienl developments In Unban may explain the Soviet-Cuban push for an MPLA victory In Septcmbcr-Oetobei. Since mid-July, Communist influence in the ruling Junta -ami, therefore, (he chancesortuguese transfer of power to thebeen diminishing Seeing (he likelihoodon in Portugal and the poisfbility of one in Angola as well. Ihe Soviets may have decided to pursue more vigorously an offsetting victory In Angola

The momentum of events In October deepened the civil war and widened foreign intervention. In mid-October, FNLA and UNITA. stiffened by increased foreign suppoit,oordinated counter-offensive against Neto's forces And by

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outh African armored column of some sire (ultimately. South Africa committeden. and perhaps more) entered Angola and subsequently Joined up withorm toapid and successful drive up the southern coast of (he country. The South African Interventionerious ihieat to Iheilitary-political position on the eve ofndependence day.

Realizing lhat their Angolan policy might become quickly unraveled.Havana rapidly and radically escalated their Involvement in the civilhe fSSRajor airlift; between that date and the endmil,'^ transports dellvered|

JpJJJBJ am munition, tanks, and other heavy equipment. Ontroop airlift into high gear. Beginning in November. Cuban troop* for ihe

first lime conducted their own autonomous combat operations, and by mid-December the Cubans were bearing the brunt of Ihe fighting The Increased volume of heavier types of weapons delivered by (be Soviets and ihe direct role of Cuban troop*hift from guerrilla to conventional war

In this reaction lo South Africa's Intervention, however, (he Soviets and Cubans were not trying to restore the itofui quo ante, but were delivering to Angola what In their estimate was required to overwhelm Ihe potential of the South African-KNLA-UNITA alliance. Asain Communist build-up had been underwayearly as September, and by latePretoria's forces had entered ihe country In signtficunl number* there were atnd probably more Cuban soldiers in Angola. Furthermore, South Africa's Inlervenlion was llvlf essentially rruclivc. Pretoria hadieul deal of restraint untilorces, backed and encouraged by Moscow and Havana, threatened to drive UNITA out of ill traditional tribal area and destroy ihe buffer between ihe MPIA and ihe South West African border.

Moscow would undoubtedly have preferred to avokl such large-scale, overt Ins'olvemenI beforehe dale the Portuguese had set for Angolan independence The Soviets had undoubtedly hoped that by Novemberhe MPI-A. would be able to declare llself tbe government of Angola, and request Soviet aid on an official ttate-to-statc basis But the November escalation shows ihe lengths to which the Soviets were willing lo go and ihe risks they were willing to run to achieve theit basicimposllion of thr MPLA as the sole ruling group In Angola As al several other stages In the crisis, Moscow was not confrontedimple choice between military victory or defeat for Ushird option, which was preferred by the US. China, and many African states, was stillcoalition government representing all three liberation movements

SI no-Soviet competition wasrimary motive for the October-November escalation. China's decision lo wilhdraw from the field, however, greatly Increased thef an MPLA victory and anNITA defeat Chinese aid to theorces had all along been primarily defensive, and Peking had In fact fluctuated between providing material support to the anti MPLA forces exclusively and political support to all three factions equally By October, tbe imminent departure of the Chinese had been widely reported, and Ihe last advisers were withdrawn by about Novembereking was neverosition materially or logiMk'iilly to compete wilh Moscow.

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assistance Io ihe antl-MPLA force* was limited in scope and purpose, and did notajor provocation for the Sovlet-Cuoan escalation In all. ihc US5ons of military equipment valuedillion to he anti-MPLA forces, compared0 tons valued at0 million supplied lo Ihe MPLA by Moscow and Havana.

The primary US objectives were totalemate on the battlefield, Io provide leverage for diplomatic efforts to end all foreign Intervention, and toeaceful solution within the framework of ihc Organization of African Unity (OAU).

Beginning in October. US

objectives to Moscow so thai US intentions and actions would not be mweid. Throughout the Angolan crisis, the Soviets apparently believed that the US. having only very recently extricated itself from ihe Vietnam war. was not likely to get involved in southern Africaarge scale and certainly would not Intervene directly as il had In Southeast Asia.

The weight of Soviel aims and advisers and the Cuban expeditionary force tipped the scale of battle in December, when most of the effective fighting for the MPLA was being done by the Cubans It was clear that the USSR-Cuban-MPLA coalition hoped toecisive mililary victory on the eve of ihextraordinary summit held in Addis Ababa,he anti-MPLA alliance, however,emporary diplomatic success at this meeting when the MPLA failed to obtain enough votes for formal OAU recognition.

By this lime, however, the possibility of diplomatic and/or militarywas being eliminated by another round of Soviet-Cuban escalation. The Soviet-Cuban sea and airlifts continued apace during January The number of Cuban troops in Angola probablyigh0he USSR in late December and in January, moved in to consolidate its

January pulled most of

itsforccTou'tBy the end of January, ihe FN LA had been defcaled in the north, and UNorces in the south and central part of Angola had returned to Ihe bush" lo carry on guerrilla warfare, thus ending the period of conventional war.

Beyond the immediate goal of an MPLA victory, several broader political, diplomatic, ideological, strategic, and economic objectives have figured in ihe Soviet decision lo intervene in Angola. There Is insufflcteni evidence to prove that all ol these factors helped motivate Soviet policy, bul they can all logically be impuled to Soviet thinking.

AI leasl during Ihe Initial stages of Soviet involvement, ihc desire lo counter Chinese influence in Angola, southern Africa, and Africahole probablyarge role in Soviel decision-making.

Moscow was undoubtedly interested In reestablishing lis revolutionary credentials among African radical nationalist and revolutionary groups and in demonstrating it was better able than Peking to aidational liberation" movements.

Discouragederies of setbacks in Chile. Portugal, and ihe Middle East. Ihe Soviet leadership may have wanted to demonstrate that Moscow was

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to subordinate unilateral pursuit of its revolutionary interests to the exigencies of detente.

Angola's location in the South Atlantic mlghl provide the USSR with an opportunity to extend its maritime and air activities. Thai this may have played at least some role in Soviet thinking from the outset is suggested by

sum, ihe magnitude and character of the Soviet-Cuban intervention argue against the thesis that it wasesponse to the involvement of other outside powers. The flow of weapons, advisers, and troops was disproportionate to the direct military support provided to anli-MPLA forces by Zaire and South Africa and to the indirect military assistance rendered by China and the US Moscow-and Havana brought overwhelming force to bear on their primarydefeat of the FNLA-UNITA coalition and the creationovernment in Angola beholden to ihe Soviet Union.


A. Soviet Reloiions with tht) MPLA4

At the height of the Angolan crisis, Soviet policymakers and propagandisls alike contended lhat their government's intervention wasontinuation of apolicy of support for Angolan liberation. Soviel statements, however, exaggerated Ihe extent of Moscow's commitment to decolonization prior5 and also made no distinction between assisting the Angolans to achieve self-determination and direct interference in an internal power struggle to decide who would rule Angolaime when independence was already clearly in sight.

The Soviets first established links to the MPIA through the Portuguese Communist Party in, but until the anti-Portuguese insurgency broke out in Angolahe MPLA had received little more than propaganda support from Moscow. Despite the MPlXs Communist origins/ the Soviets hadto establish ties to the organization responsible for fomenting1 insurgency, the Angola People's Unionhe forerunner of the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA) and. like It, led by lloldcn Roberto. Having been rebuffed by Roberto's group in2 and* the Soviets turned to the smaller, weaker MPIA in an effort to build it upolitical and military organization capable of challenging ihe UPA for leadership of the Angolan liberation movement

' Alto. World WarommurWI Party eibted hrlelly In Angola butfavort-oup of naUooalU* onwntzation. wiilchorm tbe MPM6

*ganiratlonwti better bet than Ihr MPLA to win the lupporlajority ol Angolans and foreignoberto annouecvd the format ton of tbe FNLA and it* PiOvWihwI Government in &U>hich wB. recognimJ a* ihe legitimate government of Angola by Ihe OAU andMiddle Fastem couMrin3 to IH7I

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Sovietxclusive backing of theithundi, mid training dates only fromuban aid also began during the, when Havana tent military Instructors and advisers to the MPLA's training camps in Congo (Brazzaville) andrainees in Cuba as well.esult of Soviet and Cuban efforts, by thel^^HLHHHir MPLA Ihe beit armed, trained, and disciplined ot the Angolan liberationhe MCI Aenhanced reputation paid off when the Organisation of African Unity's Liberation Committee began lo provide II. us well as Roberto* FNLA, wilh material supporthe OAU withdrew Its recognition of the FN LA-dominated governnent-in-esile. reducing tbe FNLA to co-equal status wilh the MPLA

Soviet and Cuban assistance to the MPLA throughndat modest levels and served limited ob|ectlves. Enough funds and armstohannel of Influence and tooviet asset withinliberation movement. But no! enough was given either in the formor effective guerrilla training to enable theoerious ihrcalPortuguese mililarv forces In Angola The bulk of Soviet militaryof small arms and light


pear* nunareas, ana perhaps thousands, otupporters received Soviet-sponsored training In Eastern Europe, Cuba, and radical African stales. The decisive

loader. Holdan Roberto. 7





of Cuban soldiers in the Angolan conflict. however, testified to the absence of an effective MPLA fighting force.

Periodic disputes wlihin the MPLA. stemming from personal, racial, and Ideological differences,articularly deleterious effect on relations with Moscow. Internal divisions cameead3 with the formation of two splinter groups, both of which sought to democratize the organization and to replace Xeto.2 tooscow cut back its aid to the MPLAesult of this feuding andime abandoned Neto in favor of his main challenger. Daniel Ghipenda. But when it became dear that Chipenda's challenge had failed, the Soviets reversed themselves and managed to retrieve something of their earlier relationship with Neto by inviting him to Moscow

The Portuguaia Ravolution and Moscow's Initial Involvement in Angola

It was the catalytic effectuccessful coup d'etat in southern Europe, rather than the final triumph of the national liberation struggle in southern Africa, that set in motion the chain of events leading up lo Angolas independence. The radical officers of the Portuguese Armed Forces Movement (AKM) who overthrew Prime Minister Caetano's regime onere mostly concerned with extricating Portugal from the burden of its African colonial wars, which they believedajor cause of the nation's backwardness. The symbiotic relationship between revolution in Portugal and decolonization In Angola was apparent then and at several other critical junctures during the spring and fall

Under the leadership of President Antonio de Spinola. the post-coup ruling Junta formulated two different programs for decolonizing Portugal's African possessions, including Angola. Doth programs calledong, drawn-out disengagement that might have delayed Angola's independence for as long as three years and would have guaranteed Ihe rights of Ihe white minority.

Spinola's downfall on, had profound implications for Angola and Soviet Involvement there. First, it led to the installationovernment calling for Immediate decolonization as the only way lo cope with Portugal's national problems. Between4 andhe Junta, tho Provisional Government, and the newly established Decolonization Commission Joined Zambia. Zaire. Tanzania, and Congo (Brazzaville) to bring the MPLA. FN LA, and UN1TAommon front for independence negotiations. The culmination was the Alvor Accord, signed onhich sets the date forull independence. Second, the radicals and their Communist supporters In Lisbon were no longer restrained by Spinola's more moderate views from giving preferential treatment to Neto's faction of the MPLA. Spinola himself had refused to negotiate with Neto and had sought to keep him from participating in all talks on decolonization between Lisbon and Ihe liberation movements. Spinola's successor, Costa Gomes, reversed thai policy immediately upon taking office.

In the immediate aftermath of the Portuguese coup. Moscowait-and-see attitude toward Angola. As the shift to the left gathered momentum in

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hange in Soviet policy began to take shape, fairing the late summer and early fall, the main ihrust of Soviet media commentary was lo discredit the FNLA and UNITA and to single out the MPLA as the only "genuinely representative national organization" and the "leading force" in the Angolan independence movement.






competition In Africa wasey luctor into Increase support of the MPLA. Over the previous few years,had been steadily Increasing, whereas Soviet Influence hadIn Angola (hereear opportunity to demonstrate both toand lo black nationalist movements the superiority of Soviet over China**to refute Peking's chargesack of Soviet support for "wan ofChina, moreover, had made an early bidajor role InTaking advantage of the divisions In the MPLA. Peking began to increaselo the FNLA Immediately after (he Portuguese cou|


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compromises. The FN LA had also enhanced its prestige by demonstrating its acceptancehite minority presence inhe MPLA waseaker position, controlling less population and territory and having less popular and tribal appeal than either the FN LA or UNITA.

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clement In Moscow's calculations was the perceptible rise inwithin the MPLA and In Portugal.

<1wsioti to give Neto additional backing was predicated on several faclnrs.eto's stronger position within the MPLA leadership and the political defeat of his main competitor, Chipenda;he fact that Neto was the "most realistic partner" for Portugal and could command the support and sympathy of Lisbon. 1

in Neto's estimate itMPLA as the "main spokesman" for Angolan independence Furthermore,Governor-Ccncral inember of the Junta, was openlythe MPLA and helped lb cause in variousfor example,

the Portuguese agreed to let Neto's group opencouldcompete politically with the FN IAhad secured

an agreement from the Portuguese authorities utperrriiiTTTT^nroops In loianda Clearly, the tide in IJsbon and Luanda, as well as In neighboring African states, was turning in favor of the Neto wing. This development was accurately perceived and acted upon by Moscow

In sum, we have seen that as early as the fall and early winteroviel support.for the MPLA was already being Increased. This did not yet. however,ajor intervention In ihe developing situation In Angola.




Tha Initial Soviet Build-upi5

The Angolan cavil war as such may be said to have begun in5 That month saw the first major outbreak of hostilities between competing Angolan factions since the signing of the Alvor Accord It was also In Match that the Soviel Union first became involved in the Angolan conflictajor way by sending substantial amounts of military aid lo the faction ft favored.

H-.'M.planes carrying war materialBra/gaviHc. atn Angola.

signaled this escalation.

sortly afterwards, (the MPLA had announcedlhat tbe Soviet Union agreed In provide aid to Ihe MrLA During the spring5 the character as well as



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level of Soviet aidhange. Not only did the number ofto Angola increase, but the Soviets alsosupplv

tank* and large

Thb escalation of Soviet support does not appear to haveesponse to actions of foreign governments supplying anli-MPLA forces in Angola. Neither the US nor the Chinese had taken the kind of action in Angola in preceding months to lead to major retaliation by the Soviets. While the US had decided in5 to0 into the FNLA. this was not commensurate with what the Soviets had been doing, as we have seen, since the Lisbon coup I



Chinese evidence of a





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the Soviet escalation cannol be explainedounter to the actions of other great powers, neither can it be seenesponse to immediate battlefield needs of the MPLA. The increase beganime of relative calm; the flight of ther^ftovicl aircraft had taken place before fighting broke out onoraover. the increase of Soviet aid beganimeough balance obtained between the MPLA and the FNLA. and when UNITA had yet to establish itselfredible military force.

It Is true that In January and February the FNLA had taken an early lead in building its position in Angola. Continued aid from Zaire, as well as the defection to Ihe FNLA of Chipenda. Neto's chief rival within the MPLA. had strengthenedorces and his confidence. Inoberto was probably spoilingight. The evidenceeavier Soviel build-up mav have made Roberto eager to translate Ihe FNLA'j prevailing slight military edgeuick victory beforeaid could tip the scales in the other direction ^kmk^kWm Bit was the FNLA (hat initiated the hostilities which WoSoTfonffircTmost serious disorders since the Alvor Accord. When the Soviet escalation began, however, ihe FNLA had notlear military superiority. Plagued by serious problems of discipline, cadre motivation,nd leadership, the FNLA had gained no decided advantage over the MPLA. In any case, the Soviet aid was not of the sort toalance; instead, il destroyed the balance.

It appears, then, that the Soviet build-up In the spring5ecision by the Soviets lo try to give their faction in Angola the wherewithal to achieve military dominance, althoughot clear how far they were willing lo go al this time to ensure such an outcome. Surveying the situation after January, the Soviets

sM Ihan

I'utwgiod. lor ttgmple. (hr FNLAV lUlloo and l"

mull have realized (hat thrlone could notictory at the poll* inolitical settlement would necessitate the coalition of at least two of the three competingnder these circumstances, (he Soviets probably hoped that the government In Usbon could be persuadedcuttle thr elections and turn power over to the MPLA dlredly. It may not have been entirely coincidental that leftist influence became dominant In the Portuguese government at precisely the same lime (ha( Ihe Soviets began Io increase substantially (heir aid to the MPLA. Onhe failureighted coup in Usbon significantly strengthened the position of Prime Ministerand other pro MPIA leftists In ihc Armed Forces Movement Moscow may have believed lhat if thechieved military superiority.orces in ihe Portuguese Junta would be able loransfer of power to Ihe MPIA On the other hand, there litlle evidence lhat at thb stage the Soviets hadull-scale commitment; rather, they seemed to be testing the water*

The events of the summer5 suggest that the MPLA was Indeed bent on achieving military victory. From March until early June, while the MPLA forces were being built up by Soviet aid. no faction appeared loililary advantage. But during Ihe first days of June the MPLA look Ihe offensive andoncerted, well-organlced. and systematic effort to drive (he FN LA forces out of the capital. At tbe same time, on JunePLA forces attacked ihe Luanda headquarters of UNITA. which was trying hard to avoid being drawn Into the fighting, and which had succeeded In doing so until now. By ihe middle ol July, ihc MPLA had gained control of L



Tba Anti-MPLA Forwi Rally:3

The iharp upturn in the MPLA's military fortunes fedpeculation tha( (he basically pro-MPLA governmcn( in lisbon might turn the government In Angola over to the MPLA even before November, and drew the three major supporters of the FNthe US. anddeeper involvement afler mid-July.

On Julyin- US decided to make its first majorwhich In June had decided against aid lor UNITA. tivithoriml, aidhe FN LA and UNITA


(he Chines* reacted to Increased Soviet Intervention not by mereasing akl to the FN LA. buthow of sympathy toward all Angolan "freedomuring the spring and early summer5 the Chinese, who had never felt comfortable about choosing sides in Angola, evidently retreated somewhat from their support for the FN LA. The FN LA during this period reportedly expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of Chinese (raining, which emphasized political and ideological ImliH-trlnallon to the neglect of mililary training. Thai the Chinese were trying lo hedge ihelr bets was apparent In the reception of an MPLA delegation that visited Peking In late May-early June. In protocol terms, the MPLA delegation was



accorded quile as much respect at the UNITA delegation that had visited China in March, or the FN LA delegation that would travel to Peking In July The MPLA delegation met only with Vice Premier Chi Teng-kuei. while the UNITA and MPLA '4 representatives were both received by tbe higher ranking Teng Hiiao-ping But NCNA used tbe sameanddescribe all three

meetings. |





mid-July the Chinese evidently changed court* again Finding themselves unable to competeh the Soviet Union for MPLA favor and probably fearful In such circumslances of an Imminent MPLA victory. China apparently decided to increase Its -id lo thegain An FN LA mission arrived in Peklr Julywo-week vi

King in Angola Vice Premier Ku Mu. speakinganquet, blamed an unnamed "superpower" for trying to stir up "internal conflicts" In Angola for it* own hegemonic ends. This was the first time Peking had reported that hostilities had broken out in Angola after the ANot Accord Even now. Peking did not say specifically which liberation group Moscow supported, in fact, throughout thePeking neverar as to criticize the MPIA by name. Cleariy. however, the Chinese by mid-July had decided that the least unattractive of several unattractive courses was to increase limited aid to tbe FN LA to tbe exclusion of the MPIA.

in mid-July Zaire for

,he lint time supplied Iheiih relatively heavycart and ^tttankandommando company and an armored car squadronH

Angola Io assist the FN LA The battlefield fortunes of the FN LA soon reflected this shot In the arm. About Julyhe FN LArive toward Luanda, and on Julyhe FN LA look the city of Caiito. strategically Importantumping-off point for on assault on Luanda Itself.esult of this victory, momentum shifted temporarily to the FN LA. By early August there were reports that UNITA had decided to ally Itself with the FN LA

Soviat-Cubonn tha Summer3

E01imi.1lcMI<2IYn IUI

Timing of then Touban Troops

Although Cuban hoops did not arrive in Angola until September, there signs of increasing Cuban Interest in AngoU throughout the summer5 Probably Ihe first serious discussions about tending troops came after tbe revitalized



in Hilary equipment lirmi the Soviet Union; ihh was theie presence of any Cuban personnel beyond the small (mil beenmancmiyotted in Pointc Noire since. At least

foreign mil Kan ndtisrrs with theit the Iront iincs wrrr (iiImii

Al the Mime time, the Soviets were alto .getting into the actigger way. In July the Soviets for the first timeignificant number of military advisers

[to assist the

[the Soviets appeared to "haveecision to do whatever Is necessary to insure that Neto lakes power" Allhough (he introduction of additional personnel, both Cuban andmore than the increase in materialserious Implications for (he broadening of Ihe conflict, the numbers involved were as yet relatively small, and in and of themselves represented incremenlal escalation ratherajor new and qualitatively different commitment

ll was also In late July that Soviet press treatment of Angola began toardening of Ihe Soviet position. Onravda openly blamed Ihe FNLA for the latest outbreak of hostilities, and charged China wilh arming (lie FNLA and aiming al ihe "physical elimination" of thehis and other press articles published during Ihe month deviated from previous Soviet media treatment of (he Angola situation, which had merely blamed unidentified "opponents offor the fighting



evidence provided by the Cuban press comi-ming the movement ol seven top Cuban military officers in Augusl and September From mid-August on. there were indicalinns (hat changes were taking place in the Cuban high command And. In thessue of Gumma, the official Cuban Communist Party newspaper, in an otherwise routine listing of top-ranking officersilitaryew name appeared in Ihe position of Cuban first deputy armed forces minister and chief of staff. The former first deputy






evidence that the

Most likely, then, the Cuban decision to send troops came before September fi. by which time Casas wasfveo new duties related to planning and preparing for tbe Angolan expedition. Loading of the first Cuban military shipment which reached Pointe Noire hSeptember ^Hiould have had to have been undertaken more than three Jcets before Its tsenarlure. decision was made in August.

Determining the sire of the Intervention force planned by the Cubans and Soviets is more problematical The fact that ranking members of the Cuban military high command svere actively Involved in ihe Angolan campaign from an early date seems to Indicate that from the outset the Cubansajorountry does not send its military chief of staff toinor military expedition; Cuba, in all its adventures into third world areas in support of insurgency had never before sent its chief of staff to direct the operation

At tbe same time,uba nor the Soviet t'nion InltL

proportions it did in November .ml December

Reasons for the Decision

By late July II was probably clear lu the Soviets thai if victory were to be attained before Angolan independence came in November, the Introduction of troops wasey consideration in the Soviet decision may have been the realization that the availability of Cuban troops for service in Angola gave them an advantage which Ihe US and China could not easily match.

By this time. Soviet aid IoU had probablv greallv exceeded military aid to the FN LA from all sources Yet the MPIA had not attained tbe quick and cheap victory the Soviets may have hoped for when they increased their aid in March In


olhrw olhore,or* hy or*ttrir cu (ob, ui" ttMr thrm to particip.r- it. thr antolu.o,

f ttw* -rrcr<mnnumi. by tfc, cob.ii prem



m i

the FNLA had regained the Initiative In Angola, probably because,ertain point, equipmentthe trained men to useineffecti






the MPLA'* worsening position In July may have been the main factor touching off the discussion that ultimately led to the Soviet-Cuban decision, by the time tbe final decision was made In mtd August, the MPLA position had improved It was peobably in early August that the Katangans numberingoldiers, had been recruited by the MPLA: and onhey reportedly entered combat on the side of tbe MPLA for the first time Moreover, while tbe FNLA continued to hold its own and make tome advances in the north, tbe longtime base of FNLA power, its drive on Luanda had bogged down. Between2 tbe MPLA finally succeeded in driving the last FNLA forces out of Luanda, leaving then control of the capital city. In view of these developments, it would appear that the objectives of the SovleU and Cubans when they Intervened in the fall were more ambitious than merely tu counter Ihe aid reaching anti-MPLA forces from China and the US during the lummer months.

In weighing the pros and conssending Cuban troops, the Soviets may have believed that the introduction of troops horneveloping country, would be politically acceptable to African and third world opinion. More Important, they probably bdieved that they would be able lo carry out this Intervention without provoking an effective military response from Ihe US or China. Given Cuban troop Intervention, only the equlvalen! introduction of trained men on the side of tbeorces could tlave off anilitary victory The Soviets probably felt quite confident that neither the US nor China would tend combat troops of their own lo Angola, not that they could find comparable surrogates

The Soviets probablyeneral Idea of the level of US Involvementin mid-August. By lhat time US shipments approved in July had begunin Angola. As noted, the first US plane carrying military aid left the US onalthough the first (and only) US thlp carrying military aid did not departPresumably. Ihe Soviets were unaware of the US decision in August tomore In aid. lo add to tinIn July. Since the

Soviets had> concludedTpnTj^fflFioulci nol win the war, ihe amount of US aid was probably of Inlcrest lo them mainly for its relevance to Ihe question of whether the US attached lufftclenl Importance to Angola to send troops.

the Soviets' explanation for refuting toAngolaombat capacity, this

would almost certainly provoke the US lo intervene ako. They may have believed, on ihe other hand, that indirectthe uselient state's troops-would produce minimal risks The Soviet! probably believed lhat. after Vietnam, the

DOT llioi



US level of tolerance for Soviet activities in tbe third world had risen.

oviets probably thought It unlikely lhat the US woulu

intervene in an area in which It had no "historicfter all the US had not Intervened inact which had surprised the Soviets since, as Brezhnev put it, Portugal "belonged" lo the West.

The Soviets probably also had evidence of renewed Chinese involvement inby mid-August they probably had learned thai the Chinese were sending aUNITA to Dai es Salaam

| Bui the Chinese aid to the FNLA throughout? conlllctefensive character; the Chinese, fluctuating between giving verbal support to all factions simultaneously and providing military aid lo the anti-MPLA forces exclusively, clearly were not attempting to Inlwisify'the Angolan civil war They had limited resources to invest In Angola, and the Soviets probably believed that the introduction of Cuban troops would cause the Chinese lo withdraw from the game altogether rather lhan to raise their ante.

external threat

Aside from the US and China. Ihe only olher feasible sources for external troops were Zaire and South Africa.rfj rf^HIJjfJBJJJBJJJJJJJJJihr Cubans and the MPLA considered South

Ihey perceived came from Zaire.

The Soviets may have believed that South Africa would be reluctant to Intervene in Angola without strong and open Western support. By intervening with military force South Africa would place in jeopardy the peaceful cooperation with neighboring black African states which the South African government had painstakingly worked for years to build up. Detente wilh its neighbors hadoal of South Africa for some years, and the Soviets probably thought that Prime Minister Vorster would not Intervene in Angola to the detriment of that policy, unless herave threat to the security of his country.

If South Africa would be loath lo Intervene without US backing, ihe US would be even more reluctant to offer support to this pariah ol nations. Association with South Africa would create enormous difficulties for US diplomacy in black Africa and for Ihe US administration at home. In any event, the Soviets undoubtedly viewed ihe contingency of large-scale South African intervention with mixedthe fact that the militaryouth African invasion would cost the MPLA svould be at least partially offset by the political advanlages it offered them In terms of winning international support and of making the US appear to be in the same camp with South Africa. Indeed, the porfbihty that the Soviets actually welcomed South African Intervention cannot be dismissed.

Whatever the Soviet calculations, in mid-August there were no indications thai South Africa would Intervene militarily in the Angolan civil war. Southoivement al thai time was limited to defending the South African-financed hydroelectric^installaHons along the Cunene River, which forms ihe border between Angola arid South African controlled South West Africa, and which servesajor source of water and power for South West Africa. When these installations were originally built the Portuguese colonial government in Angola had charged the South Africans with ihe defense and control of ihe Cunene area. After the coup in Portugal.


the stui ii' of Ihe Cunene area became confuted, but tbe South Africans took theuntil Angolan independence was declared their continued presence in thiswas legitimate. ai the lighting in Angola moved farther southward inAfrica strengthened its forces in the Cunenc area toenfirst two weeks ofhese South African troops became involvedfighting in the dam area, hut acted only to protect theIn mid-August, the South African government had given no sigm thatplanning to send its force deeper into Angola. In sum, the very limitedpresence could be used for propaganda purposes by tbe MPLA. but in noitouth African decision to intervene militarily in the AngolanEven In the Cunenc area itself. South African forces engaged ingoli untilafter the Soviet-Cuban

decision In send in Cuban IroopTTaT^btTtwrtade

Zaire, on tbe other hand, had already provided Urge quantities of material aid to the FNLA and. perhaps more important, in eaHy August had sent two paiatroop companies Into Angola. This wasoken detachment, hut Indicated Mobutu's willingness to throw hU own men Into the conflict. |

^VThe Soviets probably realized, however, that Mobutu's troops^unnTe tnoseoiSouthbe no match for tV Cubans Thuv pjjbbjjjbj

both Zaire and South Africa had serious defkienc;Sout ft Africahe political problems lit Intervention would entail; Zaire because of the relative ineffectiveness of its troops. For this reason, Insofar as the Soviet* thought in terms of assessing the chancesilitary victory in Angola rather than In larger terms of ihe implications nf this victory for ihe structure of detente, the Soviets probably viewed the evidence of US and Chinese material aid to the antl-MPLA force*onsiderable degree of equanimity

A final factor In Ihe Soviets' thinking may have been (heir perception of the direction of events In Portugal. From abouthen anti-Communist riots broke out In northern Portugal, Communist strength in Portugal was on the decline, andSoviets* reappraisal of the Portuguese scene led them to ooncEJdMnaMn^tommunittt would probably lose out in Ihe power strugglehis perception may well have had Ihe effect of increasing their impulse to seek an MPLA victory inserveounter lo the "loss" of Portugal, and lo show that, even after Portugal, the Soviet* In an era of detente had not altogether adandoned revolutionary struggle. Even more Important, realization lhat Leftists In the Portuguese governmenl would no! be able toolitical solution in Angola favorable to the MPLA may have given impetus to the drive toilitary victory

3.Soviet-Cuban Connection




,be decisionUltra, the Cubans ntm wavered. In the final analysis, however, the convergence of Coban and Soviet interests in Angola wa>ore important factor than tbe pressure tbe superpower mav have put on its client at the outset. On the eve of the Angolan civil war the Soviet-Cuban relationship had become closer than at any time since the. The collaboration of the two countries In Angolaecade-long pneess of growing alignment."

.irdless ol wmcn parly was ine prime

in the end the decision ttatl lo be foinl for trie simple reason thai Moscow was unwilling to commit combat forces of Us own in Angola, while Cuba was probably bolh unwilling and unable tuajor Inlervention.

Ii is almost certain lhat Ihe Cubans would noi have undertaken an expeditionmagnitude had Moscow not agreed lo finance it. Tbe cost of thehaveevere strain on the Cuban economy, which wasfrom the decline of world sugar price, Even the initial deploymentsnot have been made had Cuba, which is almost completely dependentSoviet Union for military eq.npment. not been assured that its supplies would

SnSllvT * ^leUa mo" In

*ool plan.lut. ti> theJujl0.,

rvata. feth. whtrt..dUrMpMom al Ihe Latin Ammcar,linti bad IjMa rtnlnriS_h.


f -w- tk-rfa, U* BWr. McofaiM US

the Cubanhad failed.ed usM roue*


ton,o WW IhrW.ofSS

politscd itiwtm*


he rarly. ana Wh^ h7 3lLT isjt5 Cub- hridl>ad u.betime,hr Sm*.

" m-S







rS IT)

The Cuban Intervention)5

AjhSoughthe decision to intervene with troops probably came in mid-August,Cuban troops did not actually leavelanding at PointeMMcuban"^! wjthequipment forOctober.

On Septemberhe Cuban airlift to Angola began, withCuban planes carrying men and/or arms for Angola crossing the Atlantic beforeBy Ihe

1nd probabl> moreP' In

'r00pi,Scp<cn,befhe absence of any

nbou by external powers hostile to the MPLA. Even the Cuban

ShTl roops intervened except In the border area, and

l ?uanionhe bulk of the

volved, and Havana was ntanng no cttort to prepare more sKTpsontinuous sealiit.

In Angola, the only significant development between the Cuban decision of mid-August and the departure of the first Cuban troops from Havana In early September was the Invovement of South African forces in the Cunene areaomewhat larger encounter with the MPLA forces ,han had previously taken place. Aboutouth African and MPLA forces clashed at Pereira d'Eca. The MPLA billed this incident as ma or intervention by South Africa, and even the Portuguese High

ha,S "tfemeonlV "boutiles from Ihe South Wes African border, so the Soulh Africans had still not advanced out of the confined area in which their presence had previously been considered legitimate by he Portuguese. But for the first time South African forces had gone beyond defending the hydroelectric installations to take the offensive against the MP!.A. The Pereira incident, however, did not vetoncerted South African advance.

jSouth African forces attacked the MPLA-

etaliatory raid after thead shotouth African military helicoptereconnaissance mission in the area.

| during September the size of the South African foroehilneTorderarea meanwhile grew to as manyen.

rs IUI


rs II)

until mid-September didtheSouthAfricang^

mmmmm^mmagmam disturbed by the heightened activity of SWAPO Insurgent, along Ih^HaTuT^esl Africa border, and increasingly alarmed by the advance of the MPLA forces Into southern Angola-wbich they had hoped would remain under UNITA control-the South African government now deckled to provide Instructors and limited military aid to UNITA and FNLA. Initially, the South African intention was renoitedly to drive the MPLA forces outsouthern AngofaLncajopw^thei northward.

South Africa agreec

.c used only in the border area. Because Savimhi's main objectives were north of the area South African officials had In mind, no final decision





rs ITI


arms wai made; but onn

South Africansew men and "PJPJrriliaiTrTBuncher* to help UNITA repel anMP^Aattack. And onn airplane from South Africa arrived ^ft'i central Angola with arm* for UNITA. The South Africanroup ofnfantry Instructor* were also sen! to Silva Porto about ihi* time Although the South African involvement in September was still minor and almost entirely limited to the border area, the South Africans were now acting in collaboration wilh the FNLA and UNITA.

This South African aid to the anti-MPLA forces began after the first Cuban troopships left Cuba for Angola, but before the Cuban airlift began II is conceivable that the Cuban decision lo begin the airliftesponse to knowledge of South African assistance to FNLA and UNITA. hut II seems unlikely lhat Ihe Cubans had this Information The South African Involvement was not only slkll quite limited geographically and In an inaccessible region, but both UNITA end ihe South African governmentajor effort to keep the South African operation secret. The Soviets may have picked up the South African flight g

prcparatlotii the Cubans

rte^ubao airliftesponse to changed circumslanccs in Angola, il was probably not the South African presence to which the Cubans were reacting.

; to be In Ihe same i

The Chinese factor, however important as an underlying motive In Soviet intervention, in terms of immediate causallon probably did notarge role by this time By the end ol September there were further Indications thai Iheunable lo comnete on the scale of the Soviets, perhaps fearful of betnj


s Southeking


RC Vkr-Premier Li Hsien-nlen explicitly staled that ihe Chinese supported all three Angolan factions equally. In the past. Peking haduzzy formula, referring to support for "the juat struggle of the Angolunhe mention of all three factions indicated that Peking was one* again moving away from backing only the anti-MPLA forces In the UN onhe PBC Foreign Minister publicly signaled Peking's intention lo disengage from Angola While denouncing the Soviet role in Angola, he said that Pelting had stopped giving "new military aid" to Angola factions aftervor Accord. In fact, the Chinese military instructor* remained another month, and ihe PRC continued to send some supplies that had already been promised. "New aid" to Angola, however, was probably terminated at or about this date If the Soviet* ever had reason lo believe the Chinese wouldempi to provide effective military support to the anti-MPLAy the end of September there was no longer any basis for such an expectation. In fact, knowledge of the Chinese Intention to withdraw may have encouraged tbe Cubans and Soviets to increase their aid From this point. China wasactor In the equation

By ihe end of September, then, when Ihe Cubans presumablyinal decision to go ahead with their airlift, they probably had no evidence yet lhat South

rs IUI


had decided Io aid anti-MPLA forces in southern Angola, and they knew lhat Peking was Indicating its intention to withdraw from the conflict altogether. On the olher hand, the Cubans could also observe US aid becoming mote visible In September Onhe US ship with military equipment arrived in Zaire. On. Secretary Kissinger, "peakingashington dinner for African diplomats, issued tbe first public warning to the Soviet Union on lis policy tosvard Angola Nevertheless, controvefiy over the US role in Angolaalready beginning lo emerge in the United Stales, creating new reasons to doubt that this role could be long sustained

In the meantime, the battlefield situation In Angola had become critical for the MPI-A. largely due to thethe firstlarge numbers of Zalrian Iron pi

support from Zaire enabled the FX LA to begin counter-oltensive wmrti turned the situation around almost immediately. Onaiito changed hands again Thus, in late September the Cubans had mote incentive to Increase their aid hurriedly via an airlift, and saw few deterrents to doing so

A final com Hieratic* could have been the further decline of Communist influence in the Portuguese government after the fall of Goncalve* on September5 This event may have further Increased the Soviet desireompensatory victory in Angola.





The Soviet-Cubon Escalation, lata October/Early5

Ononth after tbe Cuban airlift began, the SovleU Inaugurated an airlift ol their own. in tbe neat month | ^Soviet planet,|

itary supplln toof January.transport* delivered

military equipment to Angola

Cubans, whose troops in Angola gavereater stake in an Ml Soviets probably acted after they learned of South African troop Intervention, but the Soviet and Cuban aid during tbe fall so Lit outstripped South African aid as lo suggest lhat the Soviets were continuing to think in terms of military victory rather than military itabtlimtion or political compi-mise

The airlift was significant In Iwo ways. First, It symbolized the Soviets' seriousness of purpose. Never before had the Soviel Unlontjndrrtaken^imllitary

i such long dislami'v 'I the Middle Fastul the distances then were not as great. Second, beyond the increase iii volume of material sent to Angola, the airplanes were able

n II)


rs III

a ddWnt type of material (heavy weapons,he airiifthange in quality as well as quantity of aid. and rrpreaenlrd-if it did notshift from guerrilla to conventional war in Angola Abo in early November, as the airiift got underway, tbe Soviets reportrdlv increased their contingent of military advisers with the MPLA toen. more thanthe previous number

The conclusion that the beginning of the Soviet airlift not onlv signified adetermination to achieve victory but alsooordinatedi, buttressed by the fact that, as the Soviet airlift got under way. thevolume of Cuban Involvement aUn

week after the Soviet airlift bevan Zuf, f-

use of ihe airlift raises lite possibility thai the decision to intervenerand scale may have been made fairly lale Cost considerations make shipping the preferred means of transport unless speed is of ihe essence The time factor favors planes, both because of the shorter lime spent in transit and because airports are better able than seaports lo accommodate heav, traffic without congestion









October. Ihe initiative on this question of reinforcement and rcsupply may well have shifted from the Soviets to the Cubans.!

OM-imru ai some point in the tall Once their troops arrived In Angola, the Cubansreater intern! than the Soviets in assuring thai they fared well.i bam suffered heavy losses in the earfv stage of the war

tlieSovlctsdIanot send them tufftrienl arms and supplies I

shortage of arms occurred because the Cubans sent morehan tl SoTum expectedhe first Cuban forces found thenseKes Ineing overwhelmed by drives from the north and from the smith, Castro was faced wilh the choice of withdrawal or increasing Ihe force already committed. He chute the latter course Although Moscow reportedly at first feared thai thbamounteduantum jump in Soviet and Cubandisturb the general contest of detente, the Cubans finally won Ihe Soviets over to their position. In Ihe end, Castro allegedly asked for. anduarantee from Ihe Soviet Union thai there would be no repetition of the "October crisis"hus guaranteeing there svould be no agreement on Angola between ihe superpowers which could place the Cuban governmentifficult situation.

rs IT1

'for the first lime thai Ihe South Africans were tbarklngajor intervention withown regulars

In northern Angola, ihe FNLA had recaptured Caxito In late September and by mid-October had advanced toew miles of Luanda In late October thisounter-ofleniive was stalledew- kilometers from tbe capital, but the FNLA presence so dose to the capital stillerious threat to the MPLA

The situation in southern Angola was even more hazardous for the MPLA. In

October, South African

is Joined in direct combat support

Byew South African soldiers were reportedly fighting alongside the FNLA as far north as Lobito. By Octoberouth African force of tome size (ultimately. South Africa probably committedruop* and perhaps more) formed an armored column and began marching northward Two days Later this armored column captured the town of Sa da Bandeira. OnNITA-FNLA. presumably wilh South African support, captured ihe southern port of Mocarnedcs. Angola's third largest port. This victory gave the UNITA-FN LA an important base of operations, which could servrhannel for South African aid and could support their advance on Lobito. the most important port in southern Angola

By thb time, al least, the Soviets knew of the South African involvement Onoscow media reported theharge thai South African troops were advancing on Sa da Bandeira Octoberas also the date given by both the Cuban and the Chinese media as marking the beginning of the South African





The dose timing of Ibe South AfricanIntervention and the beainnin,rj-nTivr of some causal

neededeek to get tbe airlift in

South Atncan attack on Sa da Bandeira and the departure of the first Soviet airplane

Onhe MPLA lost Lobito; it wa, during thl. battle that the first mator clad, of Cuban and South African troops took place Castro late, gaves Ihe date on -hich the Cubans decided lo send combat troops. In fact, at that time Cuban troops in Angola, already numbered atnd probably

i'helo send more men

and to semi them rapidly by plane.

,oped to avoid dispatching aid onarge and highly visible scale before November II. ihc scheduled date nf Angolan lnri.-pcnrif.ser leafier by recognbing Ihe MPLA as the official Angolan government, the USSR could represent its assistance to the MPU as state-tu-slatc aid rather than interventionivil war. But control of the capital city was essential;ould be difficult to win international acceptance of Ihe MPLA as the legitimate government, especially in view of the fact that it occupied probably no more thanercent of Angola's total territory. This consideration, a. well as knowledge of the South African movement northward, probably strongly influenced he Wis to proceed with the airlift in coordination with the Cuban troop airlift in mt (Mober and rarly November And it seems likely lhat without this irscreased .id the MPLA would have lost Luanda by November II In the event. Luanda was virtually the only Importaot dry tbeeld when the Portuguese wrthdrew

im NWn,b" ean be seenescue operation. MPM nulttary defeatistinct possibility had aid not been stepped up A. at other points in the escalation, however, in making their decision tbe Soviets wereaced with an either/or situation. Tbeot merely between military defeat or militaryhirdolitical settlement based on the lormationoalition government-was available lo them. Both of the two other great powers involved in the Angolan conflict -China and the US-would have accepted this compromise.






Top SjaffrUMBRA

dearly had (he backing of the OAU; the Chinese were in the process of trying lo cut their lawn by aligning their position with the OAU policy of supporting coalitionrs government (thus. China on November II would "lend "warm congratulations' to (0 alMngoUaire was Impotent in give significant aidraVaHHSHLvaHHW

South Africa, having entered the fray with the greatest reluctance.

womaiioubllrsi have been more than willing lo withdraw In exchange for Soviet/Cuban withdrawal

F. Tha Failure ofo6

The period from tale October/early November, when the Soviets decided lo go for broke in Angola, to earlyy which time thead essentially won tbe conventional war. it the period for which we have the moil Information, but the least need for it. Thit period basically constitutes an epilogue to our investigation of the origin* of Soviet/Cuban intervention In Angola It is difficult lo escape the conclusion that by November the crucial decision had ulready been made. Consequently, this period appearsuccession of Cuban/MPLA battlefield successesackdrop of (Mens* US diplomatic activity aimed at reaching some sort ol compromise In Angola

The record duringonth* it worth reviewing, however, because several events look place which lesled the Soviet resolve, and by doing to indicated the lengths lo which the Soviets were prepared to go In order to achieve their goal in Angola. Clearly, by lale October, ihe Soviet* had decided lo bring about anictory in Angola. But decisions can be unmade. If situations change or pressuresiven policy mount, a* happened, for example, during Ihe Cuban missile crisis. Aftet making the decision to pul Ihe MPLA in power in Luanda, the Soviets doubtlesseries ol later decisions to adhere to this original commitment

Two things happened during this period which the Soviets may not have expected. First, ihe US administration responded vigorously, even though there was some delay, lo Soviet/Cubanfirst by Irving to win Congressional approval for increased mililary aid to theorces; and. when this failed, by strenuous diplomacy aimed at rallying opposition to Soviet muchinations among black African and European states, and al convincing the Soviets ihemselve* of the grave consequences for bilateral relations which could ensue from Soviet Implacability In Angola Second, black African nations proved to be little enamored of Soviet meddling in their affairs. Because of the distaste with which many African leaders regarded Soviet Intervention, the OAU, meeting In January, decided not to censure Soulh African intervenlkm In Angola.

These Iwo developmenls may have given ihe Soviets pause and occasion lo reassess their commitment lo the MPlA By late January, however.ecame dear lhal the Soviet* had no Intention of hacking off Until January, the Soviets had sometimes defined their goalt in Angola In vague language, perhaps designed lo leave them an "out" should circumstance* cause them lo modify their policy Only in January did Sen-let propaganda unequivocally indicate that compromise was out of Ihe question

It was In November lhat the US began to accelerate Its diplomatic offensive against Soviet/Cuban InvolvementS administration request for more


H I. vr, (III



aid to Zaire was pending in Congress. Secretary Kissinger made clearress conference on Novemberhat the US regarded the Soviel intervention aserious matter not compatible with the relaxation of

r jtviiiuijajor speecn -the Angola situation threatened US-Soviel relations

Meanwhile, during November the OAU had reinforced the pressures for Soviet restraint by issuing an appeal that all foreign forces be withdrawn and all countries refrain frnm extending diplomatic recognition to any Angolan governmentettlement could be negotiated.

Soviet rigidity persisted in the face of these pressures. The Soviet response to the US direct complaints was apparently negative. As for the OAU appeal for noninterference, the Soviets, far from complying with it. moved to break relations with Uganda when Idi Amln. OAU President, refused to bow to Soviet pressure to recognise the MPLA government.

Soviet Inflexibility In late November was doubtless related to the fact that bv then the position of the MPLA had improved both politically and militarily Bv this time_ the MPLA hatl been recognized bytates, includingfrican states, in spite of the fad thai the OAU had resisted recognition. Nigerla-whose support was important because of its size and strength-had reportedly decided to reverse II. policy and recognize the MPLA government, repnrtedly because of the South African role In Angola. The Soviets probably expected other African states to follow suit In order to put distance between themselves and South Africa.

ains in early

? IT? ^Ja,eihc mon""Abouthc FNLA

ajor battle at Quifangando. on the outskirts of Uanda, and had fallen back

i 7 ' FNLAabandonedforces had stopped

ilrforces bynd losses of the

T,hf &ame an MPLA

reoeHed SZLS?inCT th* MPLA had^ t and south and hadounterattack. This claim

By November it was clear lhat the Chinese game in Angola was up. The Chinese evidently had decided lo .ake the long view. They wereut the rest of the war!ithholding diplomatic recognition^ ufT?"Soviel imperialism in the PRCess domineermg patron than the Soviet Union. Thus, on Novemberhinese Peoples Daily commentator attacked Soviet policy in Angola in slronger

h7w, STT?' Cdia-'hc ^

the Sov,et Union by name for lis role in Angola and doing so "in the name of the

not specifying which faction Moscow supported.


rs ITI


December the US administration's protest* against the Soviet role in Angola mounted. On December S. Sccretarv Kissinger told reporters the African situation would affect tbe SALT

ier US

Ambassador Moynihantrong attack on the Soviet Union in the UN, accusing the Sovietsrive to colonize all of Africa. The US administrallon had some success al this point in winning diplomaticin Europe, bul to some extent in Africa asits stand against Soviet Intervention On December the UN decided not to single out South Africa's intervention In Angola lor cnmire

>ecemt>er itf. however.

Mis came to an end as the decision was made In the United State* to ban further covert aid to any Angolan faction.

Meanwhile, the Soviet* sharply increased their aid to the MPLA Inand January.)


lw linprcwion that it* commitment toictory wai

1 "Til

sped7tTonar> Inter inltimately, the Cuban troops presence in Angola probablyeak of00 soldier* before6 )




4 M

ntloo daiquiri with Cuhon prima Mniftar fldat Cotl/o. 31

Top SacraptOMBRA


was also in late December, at the Cuban Patty Congress, that Castro for the first time publicly pledged Cuban support for the MPLA. In mid-January he acknowledged directly the presence of Cuban soldier* in Angola. Andanuaryress conference for foreign newsmen, accordingexican press agency. Castro went so far as to claim that "Cuba has hundreds of thousands of volunteers ready to fight int the same time. Castroery uncompromising stand regarding the future of Cuban-US relations, by going out of bis way to reiterate his insistence that unconditional lifting of the US economic blockadererequisite lo the opening of negotiations.

The Soviet resolve to continue their aid may have been related to the decisionin mid-December to provide mililary help to the MPLA. Throughoutthe Soviets had been anxious to give their intervention an "reminiscent of Soviet intervention in the Spanish civil war. Theyto create the impression that the Soviet Union was only one countryfightingust cause In Angola

perseverance may also have been related to the Decembernnouncement that Ihe OAU would hold an emergency summit on Angola on Januaryhe Soviets may have hoped lo clinch mililary victory before this meeting in order to secure the politically desirable recognition of the MPLA bv the OAU. Militarily. Ihe MPM's advance had slowed down In December. While the MPLA and ihe Cubans were still making progress In the north. anti-MPLA forces made gains in central Angola untiln December, however, there was also growing friction and even some fighting between UNITA and the FNLA. Had the Soviets wished lo reach an agreement with Savlmbl. and thus to explore the option of coalition government, the time was ripe. Instead, the Soviets continued to oplilitary solution.

And yet. even in early January, the Soviets continued to drop vague hintsegotiated settlement might yet be possible. While Soviet media continued to denounce the TOM and UNITA as "puppethey also continued lo call for an end to "foreign armednd to charge that it was the anti-MPLA torces which had earlier wrecked tbe chances for coalition government. The unstated implication was thai ihe Soviets might still acceptovernment.



Eca Secretaryisit, reiterated that the ideaoalition government had no"realbtlcnd explained that thH was because of the"anll-nallonalist" policies of ihe two lenders of "spllttlst groups" inore authoritative hvtsUa Observer article on Januaryaid lhat the Soviet Union welcomed ihe "consolidation in Angola of all Ihe patriotic forces working for genuine Independence: but since Roberto and Savlmbi had been branded "antl-nallonamt. they were presumably excluded from any suchhe article went on to dltringuhh between tbe "real Interference" of South Africa and its "imperialist patrons, and tbe "disinterested aid" of the Sovirl

Bv late January, then, it had become dear lhat tantallung statements calling for an end to "foreign mtervenfion" In Angolaconsolidation of patriotic forces there were merely servingmoke screen for continued Soviet intervention Whether these ambiguous phrases had earlier reflected an actual ambiguity in Soviet intentions, or whether they were used ai pariand-throwing exercise from Ihe outset, wc do not know. Il may be thai Ihe Soviets were attempting to conceal their desires until after the OAU conference, which met In mid-January, in the hopegaining OAU recognition of Ihe MPLA government and censure of Southlerventlon. After ihe OAU conference, which endedtalemate, the Soviets may have perceived no advantage In continuing lo hide their hand

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Kissinger announced that he wasrip to Africa in March or April

These diplomatic efforts also proved futile. Al this stage, the Sovietsless Influenced by diplomaticemanating from theEurope, orby the actions of the one outside powerMPLA that had an army in theAfrica After the US decision toaid to anti-MPLA forces, the South African government made clear thathad no intention of carryingone struggle by fighting "to the last man"South Africa in Januaryolding position, ready to pull outunless US diplomatic activitylowdown of Soviet aid. Theevidently considercdwithdrawlng before the OAU summit. Theyfor theby mid-January South African troops had

hased wIlMmwoOyTnccnd of January. South African intervention had effectively ended. By this time, the FN LA had been completely defeated in the north, and UNITA was losing in the south. The Smith African withdrawal clearly presaged the end of the conventional war in Angola and the reversion by UNITA to guerrilla tactics, as Savimbl vowed to continue the struggle by goingto the bush."

With dimishing opposition on the batilelleld. the Soviets evidently decidedreward so clearly within their grasp in Angola was worth the price ofstrain on relations with ihe US Some Soviet officials may have minimizedto bilateral relations, believing lhat the US furor over Angola would dietime.

/ now comereater _.

he mccat to bilateral relations, especially with regard to SALT. Whatever the earlier Soviet perception of how the US would react to Soviet intervention, by January the Soviets could not have been altogether unaware that the US considered Soviet policy towarderious matter, not in keeping with the spirit of detente. In the final analysis. Soviet actions there, at least in the last stage of the conflict, must be seen as taking place not in ignorance of the damage to detente, bul in spite of the damage


Since the MPLA victory in the civil war. the Soviets have worked tn consolidate their position in an independent Angola. They probably value Angola chieflvase from which to operate and to exert influence, both militarily and politically, in other areas of southern Africa.

Angola assistance in consolidating its defenseut the presence ol several high level Soviet military officials. Including air force and naval office, at the signing ceirmonies suggests that some measure of agreement was reached Any such agistments while probably falling short of gianting the Soviets permanent base rights, could pave the way for eventual Soviet use of Angolan facilities for long-range naval and air operations

During his October state visit to the USSR. Neloyear Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation which states, In part, thai both countries "will continue to develop cooperation in the militaryimilar treaty with Somalia, the Soviet-Angolan agreement dues not spell out the details of such military cooperation, saying only that it will take place "In ciinrspondingl Is conceivable lhat the Soviets could use these agreements lo increase the number of military technicians and advisers In Angola and thereby enhance Soviet Influence there

Over the last year Moscow has moved further toward formalizing lit lies to Angolaenuine allianceisit by the Angolan Prime Minister In Idle May and one by Netn himself In early October were used loeries of comprehensive agreements During Neto'san unprecedented development in Soviet relations wilh sult-Saharanear Treaty of Friendship andalready notedarty-to-party agreement between the MPLA and CPSU were signed.

f the friendship treaty is particularly Important because It calls for comultalions between Angola and Ihe USSR nol only on questions of bilateral relations bul also on International Issues that are the subject of multilateral conferences This lalter provision Is probably aimed at facilitating continuing Soviet efforts lo retain Angola's support for Moscow's forrlgn policies, particularly those relating to southern Africa.

Angola is particularly Important to the USSR In southern Africa because it has now joined the ranks of the "front-line" countries whose cooperation ta essential I" any negotiated settlement In Rhodesia and South West Africa. The Soviets have reportedly asked for. and received. Angola's support fot their attack on Anglo-American proposals for black mujority rule in Rhodesia and for strong support for other nalimialisl struggles, In particular in South West Africa.

Offsetting these signs of closer Soviet-Angolan cooperation is Neio't reputationragmatic leader, whose previous relations wilh the Soviets have beenedicated Marxist. Neto isadical nationalist who has proclaimed his commitment to nonalignment in foreign policy even while signing treaties with the Russians. Angola underule has become one of Ihe few black African stales with whleh the Soviet Union has close ties, but the strength of those lies remains largely untested.

Original document.

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