Combined Operations - Brothers in Arms
The security forces of Rhodesia consisted of the Army, Air Force, BSA Police, Intaf and Guard Force. One could even consider the Prisons Service and the Rhodesia Railways Security Unit as members too. The very nature of the war required that each of the security forces work in a combined effort to combat the enemy. Therefore, it became essential to establish an organisation known as Combined Operations in Salisbury to co-ordinate the efforts of each service.
The army took the senior role in Combined Operations and Lieutenant General Peter Walls was appointed as the overall commander. He reported to the Minister of Combined Operations, Mr Roger Hawkins. The Minister was directly responsible to the Prime Minister, Ian Smith. Combined Operations was responsible for the conduct of all operations both inside and outside Rhodesia. The organisation gave direction and ensured that a concerted and united effort was maintained against the enemy.
Combined Operations consisted of representatives from the Army, Air Force, BSAP, Internal Affairs and Intelligence (the Central Intelligence Organisation). No new posts were created and members were seconded from their parent organisations. General Walls appointed Air Marshall M.J. McLaren as his deputy. The last representative of Intaf was Provincial Commissioner Lewis Walter who was appointed on the 1st July 1979.
Combined Operations had direct command over the Joint Operational Centres (JOCs) deployed throughout the country in each of the Operational Areas. There was a JOC per Operational Area. The operational areas were known as:
Op Hurricane – North east border
Op Thrasher – Eastern border
Op Repulse – South east border
Op Tangent – Matabeleland
Op Grapple – Midlands
Op Splinter – Kariba
Salops – Operations in and around Salisbury
Each service had specific responsibilities. Intaf was responsible for all internal governmental affairs. This included the administration of the Tribal Trust Lands, African Purchase Areas (land specifically set aside for African farmers to own and use for agricultural purposes) as well as for the establishment and protection of all Protected Villages. Guard Force was established later under the auspices of Intaf to take over the role of protection of the Protected Villages but this role was soon expanded to more conventional infantry tasks. Intaf also had an intelligence role to play in conjunction with the BSAP.
The BSAP were the first line of defence in Rhodesia had the specific responsibility of maintaining law and order in the country. For this to take place, the BSAP conducted patrols from the various police stations situated throughout the country. The BSAP Support Unit was an offensive arm of the BSAP and consisted of A to N Troops and included an HQ Troop. M Troop was a mounted troop. Special Branch operated throughout the country and they were directly responsible for providing all intelligence for operations. This was done in conjunction with the Ground Coverage capability of the police stations and Intaf Ground Coverage. Covert intelligence operations were conducted by Special Branch and were done in conjunction with the Central Intelligence Organisation who had a similar responsibility.
The army structure was conventional and based directly on the British army. In fact, the Rhodesian army was considered an extension of the British army and had been designated Central Africa Command from the days of World War Two. Army HQ was in Salisbury at King George VI Barracks and commanded over four infantry brigades and later an HQ Special Forces, with various training schools and supporting units. Numbers 1,2, and 3 Brigade were established in 1964 and 4 Brigade later during the bush war in 1978. They were deployed with HQs as follows -
1 Bde – Bulawayo with area of responsibility in Matabeleland
2 Bde – Salisbury with area of responsibility in Mashonaland
3 Bde – Umtali with area of responsibility in Manicaland
4 Bde – Fort Victoria with area of responsibility in Victoria province
Each brigade was responsible for training and participation in military assistance to the civil power of the country, internal security operations (both urban and rural), counter insurgency operations (coin ops) and conventional war operations. Each operational area had its own emblem which was depicted on a copper shield.