By Stephen L. Weigert (auth.)
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Extra info for Angola: A Modern Military History, 1961–2002
From 1969 to 1974, UNITA leaders focused on building a more elaborate organizational structure and the propagation of its message to potential supporters. ” Party branches and military zones likewise formed part of what several authors described as a “pyramidal” structure capped by a Central Committee and a Political Bureau. 40 Although internal opposition to Savimbi’s A s i a n S t r at e g i e s a n d A n g o l a n R e a l i t i e s ( 1 9 6 6 – 7 7 ) 3 9 leadership slowly subsided, UNITA nevertheless faced mounting challenges from fellow Angolan nationalists as well as Portuguese authorities.
Two of Savimbi’s Chinese-trained commanders committed several hundred combatants, perhaps a majority of the five hundred to one thousand armed insurgents available to UNITA at that time. 24 Some of UNITA’s early military operations resembled those undertaken by Mulele’s insurgents, who also were gunned down in large assaults on well-defended garrisons and towns. UNITA also struggled, in its first year, with the same challenge of adapting rather than compromising Mao’s guerrilla war precepts. Savimbi’s emphasis on independence, “revolution,” and anti-imperialism were tempered, in a sometimes awkward manner, by an accommodation of magico-religious traditions.
Most of the estimated four thousand to five thousand UPA participants in the March 1961 revolt were armed primarily with machetes. Some UPA insurgents also may have acquired a limited number of weapons from participants in Maria’s War. A modest number of weapons had been bought, stolen, or, in some instances, donated by members of the UN contingent deployed to neighboring Congo. Many UPA combatants reportedly went into battle believing that magic had made them bulletproof, a view that foreshadowed the Kwilu Rebellion as well as echoing earlier insurgencies in sub-Saharan Africa.
Angola: A Modern Military History, 1961–2002 by Stephen L. Weigert (auth.)