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Angola External Support
Sources: The Library of Congress Country Studies; CIA World Factbook
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    Jonas Savimbi, the leader of the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola
    Courtesy Free Angola Information Service


    UNITA troops atop a Soviet-built BTR-60 captured in Mavinga in 1987
    Courtesy Free Angola Information Service

    FALA, like FAPLA, would not have been able to expand its size, capabilities, and range of operations without extensive external assistance. By supplying UNITA with US$80 million worth of assistance annually during the 1980s, Pretoria remained the group's principal source of arms, training, logistical, and intelligence support. The SAAF made regular air drops of weapons, ammunition, medicine, food, and equipment, sometimes at night to avoid interception, and was reported occasionally to have ferried FALA troops. South African instructors provided training in both Namibia and UNITA-controlled areas of southern Angola. The largest training center in Namibia was at Rundu, where intensive three-month training courses were conducted. In late 1988, amidst regional peace negotiations, there were reports that UNITA was planning to relocate its main external logistical supply lines from South Africa to Zaire and was moving its headquarters and forces into Namibia's Caprivi Strip before the anticipated arrival of a UN peacekeeping force.

    In addition to aid from South Africa, UNITA received support in varying degrees from numerous black African and North African states. Zaire provided sanctuary and allowed its territory to be used by others to train and resupply UNITA forces, and Zambia and Malawi were suspected of granting clandestine overflight and landing privileges. During the 1970s, UNITA troops were trained in Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, and other African countries. Subsequently, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal, Somalia, and Tunisia also furnished financial and military aid. Morocco, which had supplied arms to the MPLA during the liberation struggle, switched sides and became a major source of military training for FALA, especially for officers, paratroops, and artillery personnel. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other Arab states furnished financial support valued at US$60 million to US$70 million annually. Israel was also reported to have provided military aid and training to UNITA soldiers at Kamina in Zaire. Although Savimbi denied that UNITA had ever employed foreign mercenaries or advisers, there had been reports of South African, French, Israeli, and Portuguese combatants among his forces.

    Beginning in 1986, the United States had supplied UNITA with US$15 million to US$20 million annually in "covert" military aid funded out of the budget of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The first acknowledged shipments of United States aid consisted of nonlethal items such as trucks, medical equipment, and uniforms, but antitank and air defense weapons soon followed. The bulk of this matériel was reportedly airlifted through Kamina airbase in Zaire's Shaba Province, where a UNITA liaison detachment was stationed and CIA operatives were believed by Luanda to have trained 3,000 UNITA guerrillas. The remainder was thought to have been delivered through South Africa, Gabon, and Central African Republic.

    Data as of February 1989

    NOTE: The information regarding Angola on this page is re-published from The Library of Congress Country Studies and the CIA World Factbook. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Angola External Support information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Angola External Support should be addressed to the Library of Congress and the CIA.

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Revised 10-Nov-04
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