INTRODUCTION: Rhodesian security forces announced on Monday (28 March) that since the war with black Rhodesian nationalists began in 1972, over 2,500 guerillas have been killed for a loss of 272 government security personnel.
MV Rhodesian and Rhodesian Air Force flags flying, Mtoko, Rhodesia.
GV AND MV Rhodesian Light Infantry 'Fire Force' troops waiting for airlift. (2 shots)
MVs Troops in helicopter checking equipment.
GV Dakota aircraft on airstrip tarmac.
MV Fire Force troops putting on full battle-dress.
MVs Helicopter rotors begin turning and troops embark.(2 shots)
MV AND SVs Helicopter taxing for take-off past waiting troops on ground. (3 shots)
MVs Helicopter taking off. (3 shots)
MVs AND SVs Troops embarking on Dakota. (5 shots)
GV Dakota taxing for take-off.
Initials VS 17.00
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: INTRODUCTION: Rhodesian security forces announced on Monday (28 March) that since the war with black Rhodesian nationalists began in 1972, over 2,500 guerillas have been killed for a loss of 272 government security personnel. For both sides, many of the losses have come in clashes in the major operational area along the Mozambique frontier. Here's a report on life at the front line.
SYNOPSIS: From the Mtoko Forward Air Base 60 miles (96 kilometres) from the frontier, members of the Rhodesian Light Infantry's special 'Fire Force' regularly fly out on anti-guerrilla operations. The men are as elite unit used in the fore-front of the anti-guerrilla operation.
The unit remains on permanent alert at Mtoko for warning of guerrilla activity. When a positive contact is made the men are flown in by helicopter or parachuted from Dakota aircraft to where guerrillas are sighted by reconnaissance teams. The security forces claim the 'fire force" concept is an outstanding success, with the so-called "kill ratio" between security forces and guerrillas proving its effectiveness.
However, some guerrillas are still getting through the security cordon to raid deep into Rhodesia. And in spite to their losses, nationalist spokesmen claim to have been mounting as increasing number of attacks. They say they can afford to suffer much greater losses, with six million Rhodesian blacks to quarter of a million whites. Meanwhile, the Rhodesian Government has openly expressed concern about the dwindling pool of white manpower it can draw on for recruitment. Its own monthly figures reveal a regular drop in the white population. While much of the combined forces 50,000 personal is made up of black units, nationalist guerrillas claim they won't remain loyal to Prime Minister Ian Smith's government once the nationalists are seen to be winning. The major nationalist guerrilla movement - the Patriotic Front - now claims time is on its side in the increasingly bloody conflict. Mr. Smith, meanwhile, has once again repeated that his farces will fight on.