Operation Reindeer, which began on 4 May 1978, was South Africa's second major military operation in Angola, carried out under the Apartheid regime, the first being Operation Savannah.

The South African operation consisted of an assault by 2 South African Infantry Battalion on two South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) base complexes, Chetequera and Dombondola, near to the then-South West Africa/Angola border; an assault by the elite 32 Battalion on SWAPO's Omepepa-Namuidi-Henhombe base complex around 20 km east of Chetequera.

This AAR is a Chetequera playtest and refight put on ay Historicon 2010 by Mark Kinsey and friends.

The Playtest

In preparation for Hisoricon, Jon and I played through enough of the scenario to find a few things that need to be fixed. But then that's the point of playtesting. We used M'Baso/IABSM for the rules. Here's some eye candy from the game.

The latest iteration of the terrain setup.

This area represents just a small corner of a SWAPO base containing several hundred defenders with recoilless rifles, 14.5mm AA, and 60mm mortars. It was assaulted by by a combat Team with fourteen Ratel-20's and four Eland-90's. A second Combat team with four additional Eland-90's and three Support Troops in Buffels held stopping positions at a nearby crossroads and set up an 81mm mortar in a nearby Kraal. Many of the Ratels were held up in the thick brush and only six made the final assault. Of the four Eland-90's, two were knocked out by recoilless rifle positions.

The Canberra preps the base with bombs

Buccaneer does the same with rocket fire

Air support prior to the assault consisted of four Canberras, and two Buccaneers. Additionally, two K-Cars with 20mm guns were on hand for close air support during the assault, mostly to fire on SWAPO attempting to flee the assault. Since this is just a small portion of the base, an attack by a single Canberra and one Buccaneer should be adequate. Historically the communication between the SAAF and SADF was poor, and as a result there was 30 minutes between the air assault and ground assault. More than enough time to remove any pin or suppression effects.

The K-car is shot down by a ZPU-2 as the Eland-90's trade shots with the SWAPO recoilless rifle teams

What I'm going to attempt is to have the scenario give a "feel" for the period and the assault. So while being inspired by the events at Chetequera, it is not a strict simulation of the events. A simulation of the actual events would be boring and frustrating for any SWAPO player, and perhaps a bit dull for any SADF player. 

The Ratel-20's storm the trenches. It gets ugly fast. Lesson learned, don't close assault unpinned troops in trenches.

The Ratel on the left was disabled (engine damage) by a recoilless rifle team. I like the balance between the recoilless rifle team and Ratel armor. No huge brew ups, just vehicles disabled through various means. SWAPO teams armed with just AK's can't do much except force morale checks, but often that's enough.

Chetequera at Historicon 2010

Below is a view of the Northern edge of the camp seen from West (North is to the left in the photo). The South Africans start the game a bombardment from a Canberra and Buccaneer and then assault down the road with two Eland-90's a K-Car helicopter gunship. On turn 3 they receive four Ratel-20's evenly spaced 9" from the trench line.

The aerial bombardment is mostly ineffective (need to change that up a bit next time), and then as predicted the Eland armoured cars are hung up by the Recoiless Rifle team in the bunker. When the Ratel's show up the fight is still going on with no knock out blows by either side.

The armoured car commander musters his courage, charges to the edge of the barbed wire and rolls a 17! In the IABSM system this magic number destroys any crewed weapon. The damage also killed the Big Man crewing the gun.

Rest in Peace Big Man. Long live Little Big Man!

The Ratel commander realizes time is against him and rushes the trenches after two turns of little movement. It comes as a cost though. The SWAPO second in command, nicknamed "Little Big Man" mans a recoiless rifle, turns it and attacks a Ratel in the rear as it rushes by rolling an 11 on 2D6.

Things are fast and furious near the end with a second Ratel being knocked out by more great shooting. The South African player pushes forward to the board edge as Ratel's are recycled for a second wave of attack. Several gun crews are killed and infantry rush forward along the trench line to take their place (this is something that happened in the actual attack). I give them an 8+ on 2D6 to man the gun and then it can be used on the following turn. One Ratel gets stuck on the trench line (1 on a D6), but manages to free itself on the following turn (50% chance). With this and some great movement die rolls the South African player manages to get six Ratels off the board by the end of the game, narrowly eking out a win.

I messed up the rules a bit and things were chaotic at times, but everyone had a really great time. 

Mark Kinsey