Saturday, December 12, 2009

John Alan Coey Pt. 2

Part 2
Coey arrived in South Africa and made his way to Salisbury swore into the Rhodesian Army. He was immediately put into the RLI's 19 week basic training that would introduce him to the Rhodesian Army and begin his journey. He was struck by the differences of the training and mostly the discipline that was a marked contrast to his time with the Marine Corps. He took to it well and understood it to be integral to the type of warfare that they were to be engaged in.

During that time he met many foreigners. In particular he met with another Marine who had deserted and fled to Rhodesia. He was none to impressed and felt he had enlisted for the wrong reasons and another Combat veteran of the Vietnam war whom he felt more synergy with.

The weeks passed and he performed well enough to be considered for SAS selection. He was excited at this prospect as he felt it would help him get to the sharp end of the spear and engage the enemy. 5 of the fifteen made it through his course and he then proceeded for the next six months on to specialist training. He was the third American to join the ranks and only two remained. The other having deserted back to the states.

At this time he had contact with a Mr. Brown , a journalist in South Africa. He submitted articles to him and was pleased that they were to be published starting with his 'Protest'. In many of the articles that were published he explained his world view on the reasons Rhodesia was fighting its war, those whom he felt were the true enemies of freedom and democracy and even some problems he felt the Rhodesian Government were not handling properly. Although this gave him some notoriety it didn't bode well overall for his standing in the army.

Foreigners were welcome to the cause but were also targets of suspicion. The Rhodesians were well aware of their precarious standing with the US and Britain since the declaration of independence as a British colony and the rising support of African nationalism in the halls of US power. Many instances of CIA incursions into the country didn't help the trust factor of Americans being brought into secretive units. He however finished his training and was a full member of the SAS.

In September of 1972, he found himself at a crossroads and began to express his disappointment on issues agreed upon by British Delegates and Ian Smith.
-Unimpeded progress of Black Majority rule
-Stationing of foreign troops
-An increase of parliamentary seats by nationalists
-Coupling the Rhodesian dollar to the Pound

He felt that these things were the exact opposite of the cause of independence and preservation of Western Civilization and that nationalism was simply a route for Communism to take over. His commitment vascillated but he pressed on in hopes of fighting off the Red Hoard.

When he was posted to his unit he found it hard to bond with the troopers. With front line units, it requires a certain mindset. Those living the lifestyle of possibly dying often live their lives on the edge in their free time to escape the stress. The old adage of 'you don't send choir boys to fight a war' rang especially true. Coey was a teetoaler and his mates might have taken his disinterest in the things young soldiers love as an afront.

He however did manage to perform well enough to go for Officer's Selection, which he was most excited about. His internal angst at a perfect ideology and an army that performed it caused some reluctance that was noted by the officers board. "You take life too seriously and you must project your personality and withdraw from your shell".

He continued on but was dismissed from the course for academic and temperament issues. He began to realize that some of his views were considered subversive to the morale of the Rhodesian Army. His articles had reached the ears of people in charge and it was deemed best not to have an officer making any contrary statements to official stances within its ranks. He was rotated back to the SAS and began aggressive patrols searching out terr camps. He determined he would not be deterred and not falter on his personal beliefs. He enjoyed this but was still not meshing with the men of the SAS.

Things came to a head in December of 1973 when his Major said he would no longer be going on patrols and his jump pay revoked. He stated that Coey ' just wasn't worth it '. It was a great humiliation that cause him to consider applying for a discharge but instead chose to go to the RLI.

Coey reassesed his purpose and goals and wrote this.
My purpose in coming to Rhodesia has been to fulfill my Christian duty of opposing Communism in two ways. First is to focus attention on the Conspiracy by refusing to be its pawn and by writing to expose it. The second is to actively fight Commuist inpsired terrorism in Africa by Military service.

Even though he had become a victim of his own ideology in the SAS and Officers course he was about to embark on what he felt to be his real mission and put actions behind his convictions.
More to come........

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Americans in Rhodesia Pt. 3

The 1960's and 70's was an era of tumult. A time when people questioned and rebelled against the government of the United States, in large part to the Vietnam conflict. Many of America's best and brightest were sent off to a place most couldn't point out on a map and could not conceive what national security threat it posed to the US. A multi faceted problem that started off directly after world war two and incrementally evolved into American involvement through Advisors, then to full fledged military commitment. The faithful continued to support our government and do their duty to stop the advance of communism. However a doctrine of containment left the military and political establishment in a quagmire. There was no clear objective that could be attained.

The seeds of discord began to grow among the people and especially in our universities. From student protests, burning of flags and draft cards to armed retaliation against student protesters at Kent State began to bring things to a roaring crescendo. The cold war was far from cold and was being contested in places seemingly irrelevant to national security in the minds of the average person. However, there were still many who believed that communism was indeed a worthy foe to be engaged and put down.
Most Cold Warriors believed that to allow communism to spread would eventually lead to the decline and disintegration of Western and Christian Civilization. And those men believed that our own Government were weak in its face and cared more for detente than aggressive protection and destruction of the opposition.

As the Vietnam war began to close shop those professional soldiers who were true believers found an outlet in many areas of the world to employ their trade and live according to their conscience. Here we find one of the first Americans to see Rhodesia as a place in which there was a true battle against Communism and Western civilization.

John Alan Coey was from Columbus, Ohio. Unlike many of the soldiers to follow the road to Rhodesia, Coey had not served in Vietnam. A devout Christian who made no bones about mixing his politics and religion was preparing to enter the Marine Corps. He was in the ROTC program and had spent the summer of his junior year at Quantico to set his career in motion. In 1971-2 he began to rethink his commitment to serve in the armed forces of the United States.

He saw the 'Vietnamization' of the war as a betrayal of the cause to which the US was committed to. His opinion was that the fighting men of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts were betrayed by politicians who lacked the will to engage and crush communism. He cited the dismissal of Douglas Macarthur and other famous military leaders as examples of a weak will to win and perserve Freedom, Democracy and Western Civilization.

In his journal which he kept from the day he left the United States to his death he details his ideology and the actions in which he participated in Rhodesia. He decided to ask for a dismissal from his commitment to the Marine Corps in what he calls a 'Soldiers Protest'. It outlined his reasons as follows.

-The deliberate prevention by the U.S. Goverment of victory over communist forces in Southeast Asia.
-The attempted overthrow of the Constitutional Republic of the United States by a revolutionary conspiracy of Internationalists, collectivists and communists in and out of the U.S. Government.
-The attempted destruction by Government Defense Officials of the fighting capabilites of the American Combat forces.

He was granted his request and after graduation in 1972 from Ohio State he set off for war elsewhere. These opinions are no doubt as controversial then as they would be now. It was his firmness of belief that prompted him to leave the US and find a place where his efforts would be spent in what he believed to be a true and unfettered battle against Communism.

These ideologies would allow him to persevere along with his deep Christian faith and would also hinder him and cause confusion and misunderstanding during his service in Rhodesia. He would find the enemy he was looking for and fight battles both in the bush as well as within his soul. The anvil of war would test his resolve and beliefs to the uttermost.

More to come...........

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Failing so far

I have done alot of research on the topic Ive been writing on and due to work and family commitments have not had the time to update this blog ( if anyone looks at it ) lol.

I have done quite a bit of research from the scant materials we have and will be bringing you some truly incredible stories of some gentleman and warriors who made Professional Soldiering for Freedom and True democracy their aim.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Americans in Rhodesia pt. 2

As the 1970's began, so did the sparks of revolution and quite frankly terrorsism. Rhodesia, known as the breadbasket of Africa hosted mineral wealth and a well oiled agricultural system. Hacked out of the primal lands of Africa, farms and ranches supplied Rhodesia and surrounding countries with staples of life. Like rural America, it became the backbone of its psyche and economic stability. The quality of life was among the best in Africa for both whites and blacks.

Thomas Blanding, a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam war began to organize private security for these outposts against increasingly violent terror attacks. Some were lured with the old romanticism of soldiers of fortune. Many took contracts and were disappointed that they did not become rich enough to retire to a fiefdom after a few months patrolling cattle tracks and manning observations posts at night. Sadly, those that came and went were not attatched to the country itself and proved of little use to fight the coming scourge.

Initially service in the Armed Forces of Rhodesia was not a first choice for many. Doing so could cause a loss of citizenship in the United States. Going back back to the strategic concepts of the United States during the Cold war, covert support of anti communist forces were common in Africa. The United States was heavily involved in the Congo after Belgum forfeited its colonial rule. When a gap in power appeared, Mobutu was courted heavily by the CIA. The ever grinding chess game with the Soviets was a top priority on the Continent. The US involvement in south east asia was predicated on the premise of stopping communism.

However, a changing political climate in the United States was emerging. The age old issue of racism was being dealt with in a major way. And rightly so. The Civil Rights movement put America on a tight rope of walking the talk at home and abroad.

The terrorist revolution taking hold in Rhodesia was predicated on Racism and Anti Colonialism. The rhetoric was made is such a way that forced countries to choose its side. Would they support European domination of Rhodesia or help the downtrodden African regain its land and wealth from Salisbury. The new America was in a state of indecision and decided to back the British its closest ally.

One might ponder from afar the merits of cutting off support from oppressive white regimes. But that is only one side of the story. Those on the ground away from the halls of power saw that the wars of liberation took the highest toll on those they were supposedly liberating. I find this blurb interesting and more accurate as the facts represent.

" That the terrorist war in the Zambezi salient represents a "national war of liberation" against the established government . That this is total rubbish can easily be proved by the fact that, as the Minister of Defence stated in a television interview on July 22, the largest number of atrocities have been committed against Africans (as was the case in Kenya during the Mau Mau emergency). In other words the people on whose behalf the "insurrection" has been instigated are proving to be its major victims. This fact underscores the basic tenet that the terrorist is essentially a criminal (seeking influence and power within a chosen area with the familiar instruments of the criminal - terror and intimidation), and certainly not a soldier. Hostile news media seeks to identify the former with the latter. This is reflected in the wilful and glib confusion of the two terms "guerrilla" and "terrorist". "

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Americans in Rhodesia

Americans in Rhodesia

In 1979, legendary mercenary Mad Mike Hoare stated his opinion on the Bush War that the basic problem(for Rhodesia ) is lack of manpower.. Some might say that this was obvious, yet it is echoed by all of the people who saw the war thru to its bitter end. Many have stated that there were no more than 1000 combat boots on the ground at any given time. Considering the geography and size of Rhodesia, roughly the size of Montana, it certainly is an undertatment. Yet for close to 15 years, Rhodesian Forces held the country and inflicted a disproportionate amount of casualties on the insurgents or terrs under incredible logistical and ideological stress. The only conclusion a person can reach is that the military tactics, intelligence and pure guts kept Rhodesia alive till Eastern powers with the acquiesence of the West let them drown.

With emigration of the white population, sanctions by the West and ever increasing support in material from the East, the choice was clear. Fight or give up your civilization. Yet, those that stayed on to fight the war had to resort to outsourcing. PMC's in the fashion we have today did not yet exist outside of Black paramilitary adventures of the CIA and the Kremlin. Caught between the Devil and the deep blue sea, they reached out for help. The internet didnt yet exist and news coverage was unfavorable to the countries ruling party so getting out the word was a challenge. Outside of word of mouth through the mostly Ex -Special Forces community, the only viable option to reach the targeted audience was a magazine, Soldier of Fortune. Much maligned in the world of journalism as lunatic, war mongering and white supremist, it certainly did the reporting no one else was willing to do. Get out in the bush and report from a foxhole.

Articles started appearing and the word got out that there was opportunity for the willing to come to Rhodesia and enlist to fight a war against communism. This struck a chord with many veterans of the Vietnam conflict who felt betrayed by their government and saw our retreat as a win for the Reds. That war left many professional soldiers with a feeling of loss. As if the US decided in the fourth quarter up by 10, to forfeit the game and put in the C string players and move on. Its debatable whether the US would have achieved success operating in set piece warefare. Those critics of the established rules of operation such as Col. David Hackworth, author of the Vietnam Primer, could see the end before it came. Much like Bernard Fall, who predicted this outcome in the early sixties based on his study of the French foray against the communists, American intervention without out G'n the G would end in tradgedy and waste.

Due to many influences of the SAS experience in Malaya and elsewhere, the Rhodesians sought to out guerilla the guerilla and had great success. Yet, the strains of manpower and embargoes on vital supplies put their backs to the wall.

more to come......

Friday, January 9, 2009

American Infantry needs to change

As a military buff I have greatly benefitted from the study of the Rhodesian bush war. Rather than get into the politics of it, which are horrendous and a black mark on Jimmy Carter and his ineptitude, the tactics and proficiency of the Rhodesian soldier is what we need in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Not since the days of ww 2 have we really operated on a conventional model of warefare. Desert Storm might be the exception but very few regimes are willing to have their army slaughtered. So we come to guerilla warefare. Fighting teenagers with an AK moving like jackrabbits and seemingly overcoming and harassing full scale high tech warriors.

The Rhodesian Light infantry, Selous Scouts in particular and the RAR were seriously outnumbered. They relied not on body armour or million dollar gadgets but bush craft and mobility. Their fire force operations were fast , agile, and deadly. Armed with grenades a FN FAL or sometimes AK's they hunted down the terrorists by movement and cunning. Out fighting the guerilla by better guerilla warefare.

The Selous Scouts, the craftiest of all, even went so far as to operate as psuedo terrorists. Using the language weapons , etc of their enemy. They accounted for the highest proportion of kills by their hunting down and stalking of the enemy.

Today, the US is encumbered by 60-80 pounds of gear, more possibly if you run a SAW and operate in 12 man teams. Grouped together making open security patrols , shaking hands, they become sitting ducks. Their basically trying to fight and hunt on foot carrying another person around on their body. They are unable to fire and manuever against an enemy who fires, breaks and moves. They cant hunt.

We have tried to solve this by producing more armor for our troops. No Marine leaves the wire without helmet, flak jacket, front/back SAPI (Small Arms Protective Inserts) plates, side SAPI's, gloves and eye protection. All of this on top of the infantry man's already enormous load. The Personal Protective Gear (PPE) Marines wear, alone weighs about 40 pounds. His armaments and accessories add more weight to his load.
The average Marine Rifleman carries an M16, 180 rounds, 2 hand grenades, Night Vision Goggles (NVG's), PEQ2, ACOG, bayonet, and enough water to last the patrol, typically 1-1.5 gallons for a four hour patrol. The average Fire Team Leader carries all of this plus a M203 grenade launcher and 6-9 40mm grenades. A typical SAW gunner carries the M249 SAW, 400 rounds, a spare barrel (which he will never change), a Kabar knife, his NVG's, one set for his weapon & one set for his Kevlar, and water. A squad Radio Operator carries a rifleman's load plus a radio, sometimes two radios, and spare batteries. The Marine with an AT-4 or LAAW rocket carries the same as a rifleman plus his rocket. And distributed throughout the squad are pyrotechnics for signaling and Escalation of Force procedures. The average Marine's combat load is well over 60 pounds. An average squad radio operator's load is over 70 pounds. And the average SAW gunner carries over 80 pounds in gear. "

One of the principles in patrols is dont bunch up and cover as much ground as possible. How can you do that on a 4 hour patrol and hope to engage the hunt when your main issue is staying ready to move and drag around this stuff ?

The Rhodesians for years adapted to the elements by wearing lighter shoes, t=shirts and even shorts till the final year of the war. Just as flushing a section of brush when a group of hunters want to score a deer, they move at a skirmish line and push the target into the stop group. Its hard to run down a terr when you are loaded down. Hence, straight up fire fights are rare and we are being beaten by IED's.

What is the answer ?