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June 23, 2015
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August 19, 2010
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April 20, 1978
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APPROVED FOR RELEASE^ DATE: 21-Jun-2010 (b)(1) (b)(3) CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY National Foreign Assessment Center INTELLIGENCE MEMORANDUM Angola:' UNITA's Situation and Prospects 20 April 1978 Because of Jonas Savimbi's effective leadership. UNITA now can field ,a force of about 18,000 trained quarrillas and 5,000 irrequlars (see table); the guerrillas move freely within and are supported by tribal kinsmen in an area of southern' Angola conpprisinq roughly one half of the country's territory., (See'map, Disposition of UNITA Forces in~'Angola.) Although Cuban and.Angolan troops'still move about in much ofithe region in, armed convoys, for the most part they have kept; to the major towns which have.remained under government control. .Since last summer, UNITA reportedly' has expanded its .:operations into parts of northern and eastern Angola and ; along portions of the southwestern coast. UNITA claims to 'have small units operating along the Zairian border, north central ' Angola; around Nova Gaia; and to control .a section of the coast north of Lobito. UNITA maintains that it enjoys the'support of most of the people in thesel'areas and that','! it has ,won' over many of,the traditional tribal leaders.. We are unable to verify, such' claims, but they suggest that Savimbi is making a serious attempt to broaden the ;base l~ of tribal 4nd popular , support, for his movement. Although previous large-scale operations have failed todislodge Savimbi~in the south,'Angolan and Cuban forces early last month began yet another major offensive against UNITA forces in 'southeastern Cuando'Cubango Provinces" `The .offensive probably had four objectives: received military supplies and equipment -SEGRLLT is --to encircle and neutralizea .that was preparing to attack in the.'region. --to isolate UNITA headquarters large UNITA force-' several major towns and capture Savimbi. --to deprive UNITAof airfields where it has recently flown infrom Zaire. --to free''some:southern border areas for use by guerrillas=operating into northern Namibia.* SWAPO Iavvimbi claims this was the most difficult offensive UNITA had experienced and that Cuban and Angolan forces, supported by'Cuban-piloted fighter aircraft and helicopters, almost accomplished ;the first two' objectives. UNITA} apparently avoided' serious reverses, and it now appears that Cuban and Angolan forces have, withdrawn to. the larger, towns in.1the region. The recent'~offensive probably was the major factor behind Savimbi'sdeparture for Kinshasa last week. He apparently hopes to expedite the delivery of already! promised military assistance,! and possibly to secure new aid commitments. Since. the Angolan civil war, UNITA'has'depended primarily on weapons and supplies that were'cached during the fighting andlequipment';that was subsequently captured from Cuban and Angolan forces. The expansion this year of UNITA's-area of operations and the marked increa^e in the number,of trained, guerrillas operating in the field,. together with critical food shortages in,manv rural areas, have forced UNITA to look' increasingly, to, foreign suppliers." *UNITA s activities in southern Angola have vrevented SWAPO querrillas,from'operating across !, much of Angola's southern border with Namibia. In addition, UNITA uji'ts in' northeastern''Angola have impaired the activities of anti-Mobutu SECRET Savimbi is particularly anxious to acquire anti-aircraft weapons to counter the growing use of Cuban-piloted heli- copters and fighter aircraft against his guerrilla forces. .'Although some guerrilla units in southern Angola recently 'acquired SA-7 anti-aircraft missiles, they are inoperable due to mishandling. if Savimbi''acquires the anti-aircraft weaponry he is seeking,, it will still take some t me before his forces can be trained to use iteffectively. a guerrilla movement that claims to represent t e Angolan people, they would have considerable difficulty justifying theirlsupport for a secessionist regi-:^ before government. While they may he willing to provide because they seeit''as a step toward establishing a secessionist undermining their morale and possibly creating pressures in reassess its military commitment. Savimbi'has often toyed with the idea of capturing and holding several key towns in southern Angola. His African supporters have strongly argued against'such action, however, .reason, UNITA's prime objective is to,inflict as manyi:. casualties onthe Cuban forces as possible-in the hope of fighter aircraft,'Cuban pilots will become reluctant:to engage his forces. Savimbi knows he cannot defeat the Neto regime militarily so long as Cuba maintains its strong presence. For this Savimbi hopes'the anti-aircraft weapons will not only provide protection for his guerrillas but give them an important psychological advantage,over'the Cubans. Savimbi doubts his forces could withstand ,a concerted air andtground. attack, but hopes that by downing;several helicoptersF'and SECRST the OAU's_longstanding position that all African borders are, inviolable. ' conventional level would cause similar problems for Savimbi's a decision to escalate the guerrilla struggle to the backers. Such a decision would We foresee a prolonged guerrilla struggle in Angla. which they probably would be reluctant to make.. require a greater and more visible commitment from them.. in so doing, he would not only-greatly increase his dependence on foreign supporters, but expose his forces'to the possibility would also pose major risks, to Savimbi.I In effect, Savimbi would be attempting'to beat the Cubans at their own game. An escalation of the fighting to the conventiona'level of a major battleriela aereat. so long as his base or operations continues to expand and the'Luanda beset by growing internal problems., Neto has long maintained that reconcilation with UNITA is possible,,but,that neither Savimbi nor his top military leaders are acceptable to the Luanda . regime. troops from Angola,,;,and he is unlikely to favor an accommodation at some point'be willing to discuss a political reconciliation, ; neither leader appears ready to accepting the other's conditions.- Savimbi,wants the withdrawal of all Cuban As.long as Cuban maintains its substantial military presence in Angola,..the'conflict will remain basically stalemated. .Although it is,conceivable that Neto and Savimbimight titularly if coupled with an enhanced air strike capability, 'could force Savimbi'into an extremely defensive posture. Even if the Cubans doubled their forces, however, it is highly unlikely UNITA's guerrilla forces could be effectively A substantial.increase in Cubantroop.levels, pair neutralized. Military Forces in Angola Estimated Force Major Combatants Acronym Strength Leader Comments Argolan Armed Forces. Agostinho Neto Formed from MPLA (Popular Move- ment for the Liberation of Angola) cadre. Cuban forces. @ 19,000-20,000 Brig. Gen. Menendez Mostly reservists. plus 5,000 civil- ian advisers Nationo1 Union for the Total 18,000 plus 5,000 Jonas Savimbi Operate in southern and eastern Independence of Angola. recruits Angola. National Front for the Liberation Holden Ro:.erto Operate in northern Angola. of Angola. Front for the Liberation of the FLEC @500 N'Zita Now strongly fragmented. Exclave of Cabinda. Other Liberation Forces in Angola: South-West Africa People's SWAPO 2,000-3,000 plus Sam Nujoma Fighting for liberation of Namibia; Organization. other forces in Zambia and Namibia. Notional Front for the Liberation FNLC @5,000 Nathaniel Mbumba Fighting for the overthrow of Zairian of the Congo. President Mobutu. Zimbabwe African. People's Union. ZAPU @2,000 Joshua Nkomo Fighting for the liberation of Rhode- sia; other forces in Zambia.