Special forces for counter revolutionary warfare: The South African case

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Special Forces have long formed a central part of counter-revolutionary warfare. In the South African case, between 1974 and 1990, these were central to Pretoria's regional strategies. Serving as the primary tool for inflicting punishment on any Frontline State that allowed the ANC and its allies basing rights, the Special Forces conducted sabotage, raids, bombings and assassinations throughout the Frontline States, alongside the Special Tasks contra-mobilization programmes throughout the region and internally. When these tools proved insufficient - especially internally - the security forces turned to the medical Special Forces, who were at the centre of South Africa's chemical and biological warfare programme, for assistance in incapacitating and killing the state's opponents. Overall, these units worked under the banner of the state's 'Total Counter-Revolutionary Strategy' and in co-operation with the more covert elements of the security forces (such as the Civil Co-operation Bureau, the SAP's Koevoet and C1 counter-intelligence units, and the Directorate of Covert Collection) involved in the direct-targeting of the state's opponents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-109
Number of pages31
JournalSmall Wars and Insurgencies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2001

Cite this