Operation Protea

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Operation Protea was a military operation during the South African Border War and Angolan Civil War in which South African Defence Forces (SADF) destroyed a number SWAPO bases in Angola. During the operation, which took place from August 23 to September 4, 1981, up to 5,000 SADF soldiers occupied Cunene province, Angola.


Operation Protea was launched on 23 August 1981. Its objectives were to destroy the South-West Africa People's Organisations (SWAPO) command and training center at Xangongo as well as to destroy its logistic bases at Xangongo and Ongiva.

Xangongo, located at was the headquarters of SWAPO's "north-western front" from where it directed SWAPO units operating primarily in the Kaokoland and in western and central Ovamboland. There were also other SWAPO bases, which were used as supply depots and training bases for SWAPO recruits, sited to the south and southeast of the town.

Ongiva, a town located less than fifty kilometers north of the Angola-South-West Africa border at , was an important SWAPO logistical and personnel centre which supported operations in central and eastern Ovamboland and in the Kavangoland.

Both Xangongo and Ongiva were key bases in supporting SWAPO's war effort in South-West Africa, because of their location close to its border. Their destruction would undermine SWAPO's ability to conduct operations in their “north-western front” and also have a psychological impact by reinforcing the...
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