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THE TWILIGHT CONFLICT: OPERATIONS IN THE RADFAN, MAY - JUNE 1964

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Author(s): S. Monick

Journal: Scientia Militaria : South African Journal of Military Studies
ISSN 2224-0020

Volume: 8;
Issue: 4;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: The operations in the Radfan mountains | North West Frontier | tribesman of the Aden | National Liberation Front (NLF) | People's Republic of Southern Yemen

ABSTRACT
The operations in the Radfan mountains, within the hinterland of Aden, which occurred during May and June 1964, possess a curious, multi-faceted appeal, which is embodied in the term 'twilight' contained within the title. It was a twilight conflict in so far as it represents the very last active military role which Brtain adopted east of Suez; in a very real sense it embodies the dusk of Empire. The terrain of the Radfan mountains, and the nature of the primitive tribal opponents, endows the operations with echoes of the North West Frontier. However, the conflict was cast within a very different global context, that characterized by the eclipse of Empire, and in which the term 'red on the map' points to the paramountcy of a very different power. This absence of the assurance which underlay Britain's military role during the last quarter of the nineteenth century has an important bearing on the facet of the operations which relates to the press and politics. For the military response to the recalcitrant tribesman of the Aden hinterland was effected within a context of 'public opinion' (represented by the news medial - both in Britain and elsewhere - which was essentially hostile to any connotations of Britain's traditional imperial role. Within another, more specifically military, context, it represents the twilight of purely landbased operations; the Radfan theatre of conflict illustrates the necessity for co-ordinated air and land operations and thereby exemplifies the process whereby the soldier moves into the three dimensional sphere; pivoting upon the tactical role of helicopters. It is intended to analyse the conflict within the context of the lessons to be derived from it - in terms of global strategy, intelligence, the role of helicopters, and administration/ organization.

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