OPERATION ZERO/ THE BATTLE OF ENTUMBANE

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Operation Zero

The ZIPRA planned armoured thrust into Rhodesia.

ZIPRA were training a number of armoured units for this proposed thrust. The RhSAS bridge blowing in 1979 and cease fire and Independence pre-empted this

There has been a lot of debate on war gamers sites, about the ability of the Rhodesian forces to cope with such a thrust.

It was in February 1981 that 1RAR (Rhodesian African Africans) who were still intact as a unit and had not integrated with the Zimbabwe National Army units, proved the point.

The unit did not even blink when confronted with the armoured threat  of ZIPRA armoured units in camps in Entumbane, Essexvale and Gwaai River Mine.

With the support of 4 Elands (AML 90s) these forces were swiftly dealt with destroying x3  BTR 152S and capturing  10 T-34s at Essexvale. The RAR although it had lost its 106mm Recoilless Guns (returned to South Africa)  it had replaced these with captured Chinese 75mm Recoilless Guns. The RAR also had trained up teams of Tank Hunting Teams made up of sticks of 4 men with x2 RPG7S deployed forward, by helicopter, to ambush any armoured forces advancing towards Bulawayo.

Once Bulawayo was safe and the ZIPRA and ZANLA forces had been made to surrender, the RAR set its sites on Gwaai River Mine where 6000 ZIPRA troops were dug in Soviet Style, plus BDRM2s, BTR 152s, D30 artillery AA Artillery of all kinds and various other equipment.

For this task x4 T54s and a troop of x4 25pdr artillery were attached to the 1 RAR Battle Group. The 1 RAR Battle Group was now ready to strike. ZIPRA were informed and promptly surrendered.

Let it be known that the Rhodesian Army was a potent force, with the RhAF, Rhodesian Artillery, Rhodesian Armoured Cars with exceptionally mobile Rhodesian Army units, Operation Zero would have come to zero. Excuse the pun!

It does give one thought for a ‘What if scenario’.

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