In This Review

South Africa and Contemporary Counterinsurgency: Roots, Practices, Prospects (Irregular Or Guerrilla Forces)
South Africa and Contemporary Counterinsurgency: Roots, Practices, Prospects (Irregular Or Guerrilla Forces)
Edited by Deane-Peter Baker and Evert Jordaan
Double Storey Publishers, 2011, 288 pp
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As the South African army has played an increasingly important role in UN and African Union peacekeeping operations, it has had to come to grips with a politically inconvenient fact: during apartheid, the South African army gained substantial experience in nontraditional warfare and counterinsurgency, fighting against liberation movements across southern Africa. Following the transition to majority rule in the 1990s, official policy was to forget that experience, now viewed as a regrettable consequence of the apartheid regime’s deplorable policies. This remarkable collection of essays by members of the South African security establishment has the objective of legitimating anew their expertise in counterinsurgency, in order to draw lessons for the contemporary mission of the South African army. It turns out that the strategies and techniques that the apartheid-era army developed in, say, Namibia in the late 1970s remain highly instructive for peacekeeping in places such as the contemporary Democratic Republic of the Congo. The authors also cannot help but remark that the counterinsurgency doctrines developed by the American and British militaries in Afghanistan and Iraq bear no small resemblance to the South African army’s earlier efforts.