London journalist Max Hastings, just back from a three week visit to North East Rhodesia, says men of the Rhodesian Light Infantry have joined the Rhodesian Special Air Service in anti-guerrilla sweeps inside Mozambique.
MV Visnews Correspondent William Ward interviewing journalist Max Hastings (silent)
HASTINGS: "Militarily the Rhodesian Army has got the terrorists licked. They have killed more than eighty of them, captured more than double that number and only thirty white security forces and civilians have been killed. But the Rhodesians basic problem is that in order to contain terrorism they have to mobilize the country on a scale that I think will be very difficult to maintain indefinitely. There are only some 250,000 whites against some five million Africans and at the moment the territorials are having to be called up regularly. There is only about 1,000 white regular front line. troops, nine battalions of territorials, 30,000 odd police reservists. It's a very slender force to cover the ground that they have got to over and to contain any escalation of terrorism."
WARD: "What's the morale of white civilians in the area - people like farmers and their families? How's it affecting their lives and their work?
HASTINGS: "It's affecting their lives I think profoundly in that the great majority in the North East have had to build ten foot security fences around their houses, their wives have been taught to shoot. They are going to shoot with automatic rifles which they keep in their bedrooms, their children are taught to throw themselves flat on the floor as soon as they are ordered. There is very much an atmosphere of readiness for the worst. But at the same time I think they are absolutely determined at the moment to see ti through."
WARD: "Is there any evidence of Rhodesian forces being deployed across the border in Mozambique?"
HASTINGS: "Very much so. I think that in the last few months - one has to remember that in the 1960's the terrorists were coming across from Zambia in not very great numbers and the Rhodesians liked to think they were just a bunch of outsiders who had come across the Zambesi and could be dealt with without much trouble. But his year's campaign has been largely mounted from Mozambique. They are coming across in far larger numbers. They seem to be better trained and very well equipped. Although some of them still throw down their arms as soon as they see a helicopter they are stiffened by a hard core of terrorists some of whom have been trained in Moscow, others by Chinese instructors in Tanzania and once the Rhodesians got the measure of this, and they were taken by surprise when this campaign first begun - they were taken by surprise by the scale and the size of the threat they were dealing with. Once they got the measure of it they realised that their only chance was to attempt to wipe out the guerrilla bases in Mozambique and to begin with only their Special Air Service squadron was sent in. But new there's no doubt that everything that they can put in there is being sent in to carry out swops at the guerrilla bases in Mozambique with the assistance and co-operation of the Portuguese authorities. I met an N.C.O. in the Rhodesian Light Infantry who talked to me very casually and in some detail about their co-operation with the Portuguese and how the Rhodesians had very little respect for the Portuguese because the N.C.O. I talked to said they just crashed through the bush singing and shouting because they don't want to make contact with the enemy. But the Rhodesians captured a document from one of the guerrilla camps in which the guerrillas described the Rhodesian Army as the ghosts."
WARD: "How do you yourself see the final outcome. Will guerrilla activity bring about the independence it's bring employed for?
HASTINGS: "Certainly not tomorrow or the day after. But I think that the campaign that began last December has brought home to white Rhodesians how vulnerable they are. Two hundred and fifty thousand of them against not only the five million Africans inside Rhodesia but against all the independent African States around them."
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Background: London journalist Max Hastings, just back from a three week visit to North East Rhodesia, says men of the Rhodesian Light Infantry have joined the Rhodesian Special Air Service in anti-guerrilla sweeps inside Mozambique.
The Rhodesian troops are lifted in by helicopter for two or three week operations, he says.
The reporter also said he heard suggestions that there are now as many as 2,000 South African "police" supporting local security forces in North East Rhodesia.
Max Hastings was interviewed on Tuesday (August 21) in London by Visnews Africa Editor William Ward)