The South West Africa Territorial Force (SWATF) was an auxiliary arm of the South African Defence Force (SADF) and comprised the armed forces of South West Africa (now Namibia) from 1977 to 1989. It emerged as a product of South Africa's political control of the territory which was granted to the former as a League of Nations mandate following World War I.
|South West African Territorial Force|
|Country||South West Africa|
|Branch||South African Defence Force|
|Part of||Department of Defence for South West Africa|
|Garrison/HQ||Windhoek, South West Africa|
From 1966 until 1989, South African security forces waged a long and bitter counterinsurgency conflict against indigenous nationalists in what was then South West Africa, represented by the Marxist South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO) and its military wing, the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). As the guerrilla war intensified, however, it became clear that the local civilian police alone were not enough to cope with SWAPO/PLAN incursions and escalating unrest. Consequently, military units were deployed for the first time; 60,000 South African combat troops were engaged in South West Africa by the late 1970s.
As part of a general policy of military and social reform, Pretoria initiated the establishment of local defence and police agencies for its protectorate beginning in 1977.
A start was also made with the regrouping of existing units into four formations:
As regarding the latter, the South African Air Force would remain responsible for aerial operations although provision was made for an air commando squadron consisting of private and commercially qualified air crews. Their main function was to assist the South African Air Force in reconnaissance and communication flights and to provide operational officers for the operational service.
Operationally, the SWATF was further divided into a Permanent Force infantry component, logistic/administrative divisions, a training wing, and a Citizen Force, which included at least three motorised infantry battalions. The 'permanent force' comprised mostly volunteer auxiliaries and national servicemen, who formed eight battalions. A militia system was also developed for local security, including over twenty 'area protection units'.
By 1981, SWATF's total strength numbered some 10,100 men, organised into both tribal-based battalions (including separate units for Ovambo, Herero, and Coloured ethnic groups) and multiethnic units partially manned by at least 10,000 white South West African personnel.
By 1987, SWATF had an estimated 22,000 troops, including additional units of engineers, signals personnel, mounted troops, a parachute battalion, and a commando squadron.
A school cadet program similar to that in South Africa was developed for South West Africa.
Advanced training, NCOs and Officer development however occurred at the SWA Military School at Okhandja.
For all practical purposes, SWATF remained firmly integrated into existing SADF command structures. Its primary goal was protection of the territory of SWA from SWAPO incursions. The SWATF was placed under the control of the Department of Defence for South West Africa and was always headed by a SADF general. There was also a joint SWATF/SADF committee established for "planning, liaison, and coordination" efforts.
The first major step in the establishment of an independent territorial defence force in SWA was the introduction of a new nutria uniform on 6 September 1979 through which SWA units could be distinguished from SADF units.
The rank structure of the SWATF was identical to that of the SADF. The insignia however differed considerably.
|OF-10||OF-9||OF-8||OF-7||OF-6||OF-5||OF-4||OF-3||OF-2||OF-1||OF(D) and student officer|
| South West Africa
| South West Africa
|No equivalent||No insignia|
|Formation warrant officer
||Warrant officer class 1
||Warrant officer class 2
|№||Commander||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Ref|
|1980||9 November 1983||2–3 years|||
Georg Meiring SSA, SD, SM, MMM
|9 November 1983||23 January 1987||3 years, 75 days|||
|23 January 1987||1989||1–2 years|||
Although SWATF relied heavily on South Africa's special forces, over time it developed its own capability.
By 1979, South West Africa was subdivided into Operational Sectors. Three Frontline Sectors, 10, 20 and 70 fell under direct South African Army Command. Four additional Sectors, 30, 40, 50 and 60 covered the rest of South West Africa and was commanded directly by SWATF officers from 1980.
Frontline Sectors were used for the massing of forces in preparation for external operations into Angola, acting as a buffer with the rest of the territory and reaction to immediate threats.
Although theoretically under control of the Area Force, due to their proximity to Angola the vast majority of conventional forces was based in these areas and remained under the direct control of South West Africa Command, a SADF regional command.
(Kaokoland and Owambo) - HQ Oshakati
(Kavango and Western Caprivi) - HQ Rundu
These frontline Sectors also had immediate reaction forces (Special Service Companies) to deal with any attack and were primarily infantry company strength and fully motorised.
(Eastern Caprivi) - HQ Mpacha Encompassed the Eastern Caprivi covering the Zambian border from Cuado to the Zambezi River.
Apart from the Frontline Sectors, four additional Sectors existed. 26 Area Force Units, similar to the South African commando system, was established for these less vulnerable parts of the territory.
HQ Otjiwarongo (Citadel).
SWATF Otjiwarongo AME (Area Force Unit - Area Mag Eenheid), Outjo AME, Grootfontein AME, Tsumeb AME, Herreroland AME, Ethosa AME, Otavi AME, Damaraland AME and UIS PL. Its area of responsibility was likewise the Grootfontein, Tsumeb, Otavi, Outjo, Otjiwarongo, Hereroland and Damaraland regions.
SWATF Alte Feste AME, Khomas AME, Hochl AME, Okahandja AME, Omaruru AME, Swakopmund AME, Rehoboth AME, Katatura AME and Khomasdal AME.
Other Units in this Sector:
SWATF Aranos AME, Auob AME, Bo-Nossob AME, Aminius PL, Gobabis AME, Rietfont AME, Mariental AME and Maltahohe AME.
SWATF Karasburg AME, Keetmanshop AME, Hoop AME, Bethanien AME, Oranjemund AME, Luderitz AME and Namaland AME.
While the SWATF relied heavily on the South African Air Force for combat and heavy logistics transportation, it did have its own Air Wing, which consisted mainly of civilian aircraft.
1 SWA Commando Squadron was established as 112 Air Commando on 24 September 1963 in Windhoek. The unit was staffed by volunteer civilian aircraft. From 1968, control of 112 Commando squadron passed from the SA Army to the SAAF and it was transferred to Light Aircraft Command. In 1970, it was disbanded, but in 1980 it was re-established as part of the SWATF.
|Name||Type||Country of Origin||Notes|
|Beretta 92||Semi-automatic pistol||Italy|
|Star||Semi-Automatic Pistol||Spain||Model 1920, 1921, 1922.|
|Uzi||Submachine gun||Israel||Some of local manufacture.|
|AK-47||Assault Rifle||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|AKM||Assault Rifle||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|R1||Battle Rifle||Belgium||Belgian design|
|Heckler & Koch G3||Battle Rifle||West Germany||G3A3, received from Portugal.|
|R4||Assault Rifle||South Africa||Derived from the Galil|
|Bren||Light machine gun||United Kingdom||Mk 3.|
|Browning M2||Heavy machine gun||United States|
|Browning M1919||Medium machine gun||United States||Helicopter-mounted weapon.|
|FN MAG||General purpose machine gun||Belgium||MAG-58.|
|SS-77 machine gun||General purpose machine gun||South Africa|
|PKM||General purpose machine gun||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|RPD||Light machine gun||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|RPK||Light machine gun||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|FN Browning Auto-5||Shotgun||United States|
|Armsel Striker||Shotgun||South Africa|
|Dragunov||Sniper rifle||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|Armscor M963||Fragmentation grenade||South Africa||Made in South Africa,|
derived from INDEP's licence-made M26 grenade
|Armscor 42 Zulu||Anti-personnel rifle grenade||South Africa||Derived from the Belgian PRB 424|
|Armscor AP-65||Anti-personnel rifle grenade||South Africa||Successor to the 42 Zulu,|
utilising a M26 and resembling a Dilagrama m/65
|Mecar Energa||Anti-tank rifle grenade||Belgium||Made in South Africa|
|M18 Claymore||Anti-personnel mine||United States|
|Mine G.S. Mk V||Anti-tank mine||United Kingdom|
|M79 grenade launcher||Grenade Launcher||United States||Known as "snotneus"|
|Milkor MGL||Grenade Launcher||South Africa|
|M20 Super Bazooka||Anti-tank weapon||United States||3.5 inch rocket launcher.|
|STRIM 89mm rocket launcher||Anti-tank weapon||France||M20 replacement.|
|RPG-2||Anti-tank weapon||Soviet Union||Captured.|
|RPG-7||Anti-tank weapon||Soviet Union||Captured.|
A lot of effort was used to interdict insurgent groups that had crossed over the Angolan border. These Insurgents were on foot, but knew the land and moved fast. There have been stories of the insurgents moving incredible distances with little supplies, whilst being chased and if cornered putting up a good resistance to their followers. Adrenaline injections were found at some of the incident scenes after a fire fight.
These insurgents were normally stalked by using trained trackers, who directed the reaction force. In some instances a stopper group was choppered in to cut off the insurgents before they reached the border.
Under UN resolution 435, the United Nations Transition Assistance Group was mobilised, while SWATF was demobilised, its strength in the last years of operation was at about 22,000. Special arrangements were made for two San units of SWATF, as they originated from local tribal communities. They were thus allocated land near their previous bases.
All citizen force units were demobilised.
The SWATF was completely demobilised on 1 June 1989.
UN Resolution 435 additionally called on South Africa to reduce its forces in Namibia to 12,000 before the start of any peace process and finally to 1,500 by 1989. Several thousand former SWATF members, especially from the San people who feared reprisals or intimidation, left for South Africa with the retreating SADF.
32 Battalion, whose members to a large extent could not claim Namibian citizenship, also withdrew to South Africa completely.
911 Battalion patrol, the front soldier armed with an R4 rifle with an AP-65 (anti-personnel) rifle grenade.CS1 maint: others (link)
101 Battalion (pronounced as one-o-one Battalion) was a quick-reaction unit of the South West African Territorial Force, composed of black and white commissioned and enlisted personnel.101st Battalion
101st Battalion may refer to:
101 Battalion (Libya), a military insurgent unit
101 Battalion (South Africa), a unit of the South West Africa Territorial Force
101st Battalion (Winnipeg Light Infantry), CEF, a unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force
101st Engineer Battalion, a unit of the United States Army
101st Signal Battalion, a unit of the United States Army
Reserve Police Battalion 101, a Nazi German paramilitary formation of Ordnungspolizei34th Battalion
34th Battalion may refer to:
34th Battalion (Australia), 1st Australian Imperial Force
34th Battalion (New Zealand)
34th Battalion, CEF, Canadian Expeditionary Force
34 Battalion (SWATF), South West Africa Territorial Force
HDF 34th Bercsényi László Special Forces Battalion, Hungary
34th Battalion Virginia CavalryAlte Feste Commando
Alte Feste Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West Africa Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Bo-Nossob Commando
Bo-Nossob Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West African Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Citizen Force (South Africa)
The Citizen Force was a reserve component of the South African armed forces. It was established during the formation of the Union Defence Force (UDF) and reflected the UDF's mixed traditions, which drew on both the British model of a standing professional army as well as the Afrikaner model of a large citizen militia. The South African Defence Act (No. 13) of 1912 dictated that the UDF include a Permanent Force of career soldiers and a "Citizen Force" of volunteer reservists or conscripts mobilised during temporary crises.Prior to World War II, the Citizen Force consisted of a general manpower pool of white South African civilians who had received some military training in the past. They were periodically retrained for deployment in the event that they were mobilised for active service. The UDF had few professional career soldiers during the 1930s, so the bulk of its active manpower at any one time was vested in the Citizen Force. This was considered adequate for South Africa's defence requirements, as the country was far removed from potentially hostile forces in Europe and neighbouring territories represented no military threat.The Citizen Force was retained in the restructured South African Defence Force (SADF) after the UDF was disestablished in the late 1950s. White South Africans completing their national service were automatically enrolled in the Citizen Force for five years, being expected to serve at least nineteen days a year. In 1977 this was increased to thirty days a year for an eight year period. Thereafter they were considered part of the Citizen Force Reserve for another five years, and could still be called into military service if their skills were needed.The Citizen Force was made up wholly of white South African men until 1978, at which time Coloured South Africans who had previously served in the Cape Corps were enlisted in the Citizen Force as well. The first Coloured Citizen Force officers were commissioned in October 1978.By the late 1980s, the Citizen Force accounted for 68% of the SADF's total manpower. No black South Africans were enlisted in the Citizen Force, as the majority of the SADF's black recruits were professional soldiers and they lacked the part-time military tradition of the country's white community. In 1988 the racial composition of the Citizen Force was 96.3% white and 3.7% Coloured.The South African military establishment underwent another major restructuring process in 1994 with the formation of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). The retention of preexisting Citizen Force units was favoured by the SANDF because they worked well with the new force design and structure placing an emphasis on domestic defence. Additionally, as a reserve formation the Citizen Force was seen as cost-effective. It was renamed the SANDF Conventional Reserve at some point between 1994 and 2003.Etosha Commando
Etosha Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West Africa Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Georg Meiring
General Georg Meiring (born 18 October 1939) was a South African military commander. He served as Chief of the Army (1990–93) and Chief of the South African National Defence Force (1993–98).Grootfontein Commando
Grootfontein Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West African Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Johannes Geldenhuys
General Johannes Jacobus Geldenhuys, (5 February 1935 – 10 September 2018) was a South African military commander who served as Chief of the South African Defence Force from 1985 to 1990.Keetmanshoop Commando
Keetmanshoop Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West Africa Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Maltahohe Commando
Maltahohe Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West Africa Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Mariental Commando
Mariental Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West Africa Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Operation Boswilger
Operation Boswilger (English: Operation Bush Willow) was a military operation executed by the South West Africa Territorial Force in June 1985 during the South African Border War and Angolan Civil War. The SADF soldiers pursued SWAPO's, PLAN insurgents, who had attacked infrastructure, out of South West Africa/Namibia across the border into Angola.Otjiwarongo Commando
Otjiwarongo Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West Africa Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Outjo Commando
Outjo Commando was a light infantry regiment of the South West African Territorial Force. It formed part of the Area Force Units as well as the Territorial Reserve.Permanent Force
The Permanent Force was an integral part of both the South African Defence Force and the South West Africa Territorial Force and other British Commonwealth militaries. It consisted of all the full-time volunteers, volunteers of Auxiliaries and national servicemen.South West Africa Command
South West Africa Command was a command of the South African Army.United Nations Security Council Resolution 643
United Nations Security Council resolution 643, adopted unanimously on 31 October 1989, after reaffirming resolutions 435 (1978) and 629 (1989), 632 (1989) and 640 (1989), as well as noting a report by the Secretary-General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the Council expressed its full intention to implement Resolution 435 of 29 September 1978 regarding the situation in Namibia (South West Africa).
The Council went on to reaffirm its legal responsibility over Namibia until its independence, urging all parties to co-operate with the resolution. It also again demanded the disbandment of the Koevoet and the South West Africa Territorial Force, and the replacement of the South African Defence Force in the territory.
The resolution also demanded the repeal of all remaining restrictive and discriminatory laws in Namibia that would inhibit the elections taking place, mandating the Secretary-General to ensure all arrangements are in place, including the support for the Constituent Assembly. It called on Member States and international organisations to provide financial, material and technical support to Namibia.
Adopted by all members of the Council, it was the last resolution the Council adopted relating to the independence of Namibia.
South African Army Units
|Divisions and Brigades|
|Armoured Formation (SAAAF)|
|Infantry Formation (SAAIF)|
|Air Defence Artillery Formation|
|Disbanded or Amalgamated Units|