In 1961 the Portuguese had 79,000 in arms – 58,000 in the Army, 8,500 in the Navy and 12,500 in the Air force (Cann, 1997). These numbers grew quickly. By the end of the conflict in 1974 the total in the armed forces had risen to 217,000.
Portuguese Colonial War
Portugal was the first European country to arrive in Africa and the last to leave. Between 1961 and 1974 Portugal conducted three simultaneous campaigns in Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique – collectively called the Portuguese Colonial War (Guerra Colonial) or Overseas War (Guerra do Ultramar). It was Portugal’s first major war since World War I. The Colonial War was small scale and involved the Portuguese manning and supplying fortified posts whilst trying to locate and destroy small guerrilla bands with intervention units (unidades de intervenço). The war is sometime described, particularly by Portuguese participants, as the Vietnam in Africa.
Portuguese Equipment in the Colonial War
The Portuguese used a variety of equipment, both foreign and local made, during the Portuguese Colonial War.
MPLA Order of Battle during the Portuguese Colonial War
The MPLA (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola) was a group of radical Marxist intellectuals formed in Angola in 1956 (Abbott & Rodrigues, 1998; Cann, 1997). Initially they had only 250 – 300 trained men, organised into small units, and equipped largely with ex Second World War kit. Following a meeting with Che Guevara in 1965 the MPLA began to receive Cuban instructors and Soviet and East German supplies. They had about 4,700 men from 1966 until 1974. During their ‘Eastern Offensive’ they set up two bases (‘Hanoi II’ and ‘Ho Chi Minh’). The ‘Agostinho Neto Trail’ kept them supplied from Tanzania and Zambia. After 1970 they started to get heavier Chinese supplies. MPLA men were trained in Algeria, Cuba, Russia and China (Morris, 1974).
PAIGC Order of Battle during the Portuguese Colonial War
The Marxist PAIGC (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde) formed in 1956 under Amilcar Cabral (Abbott & Rodrigues, 1998; Cann, 1997). The ‘Pidjiguiti Massacre’ of 3 Aug 1959 turned the PAIGC militant. They commenced sabotage operations in 1961 and guerrilla warfare in 1963.
FRELIMO Order of Battle during the Portuguese Colonial War
FRELIMO (Frente Libertação de Moçambique) was created in 1962 from the combination of three existing liberation movements (Abbott & Rodrigues, 1998).
Orders of Battle for the Portuguese Colonial War
During the Colonial War Portugal faced 27,000 insurgents spread across three theatres (Cann, 1997; and see my Protagonists of the Portuguese Colonial War section). The insurgents represented a wide range of, and often conflicting, liberation movements. I’ve only listed those that had armed forces in the field. Generally they fought in small groups; a force of 200 insurgents gathered in one place was rare.
COREMO Order of Battle during the Portuguese Colonial War
COREMO were a Chinese supported splinter group of FRELIMO formed in mid-1965 in Lusaka in Zambia (Abbott & Rodrigues, 1998; Morris, 1974). COREMO were big enough to put guerrilla forces into the field. Their bases were in Zambia; the main training base being Chipata. Their chosen area of operations was the Tete area and they had several staging posts along with Zambia-Mozambique border. They had 500 trained men of which 250-300 were in Mozambique at any one time.
Ghosts as Blinds / Hidden Movement Markers for Wargaming
Some rule sets use a system of hidden movement markers to allow hidden movement without the aid of an umpire. These markers can represent both real and dummy troops – thus achieving some kind of fog of war. Different games have different names for these markers but examples are “Dummies”, “Blinds” and “PEF”.
Hidden Movement in Crossfire (“Ghosts”)
Crossfire doesn’t have hidden movement only hidden deployment. Some rule sets use a system of hidden movement markers, representing both real and dummy troops, to allow hidden movement without the aid of an umpire. These are my thoughts on how this might work in Crossfire. The ideas are largely based on the concept of Blinds from “I Ain’t Been Shot Mum” (IABSM). I’m tempted to use the wargame dummies suggested on the MinatureZone for my hidden movement markers and given their appearance I’ll call the units “Ghosts” rather than blinds.
Assault Rifles in Crossfire
Converting from AK47 Republic to Crossfire
Aircraft and Air Superiority in Crossfire
Some musing on Aircraft and Air Superiority in Crossfire. Standard Crossfire doesn’t cover this. I borrowed the main idea from the official Crossfire site tweaked and added some mechanisms from Rapid Fire.