The Story of South Africa’s 32-Battalion: 1975-1993
Colonel Jan Breytenbach,
Few soldiers anywhere have had the privilege of forming a fighting military unit, but he formed three for the South African Army. He was the founding commander of 1-Reconnaissance Commando - the forerunner of the present Special Forces Regiments of the SANDF and the equivalent of the British SAS. 32-Battalion itself which he forged in battle from FNLA guerrilla forces during the South African intervention in Angola in 1975 and 44-Parachute Brigade. While commanding 44-Para Brigade he led the successful 1978 assault on SWAPO's main base at Cassinga in Angola. It was believed to be one of the largest airborne assaults anywhere since World War-2. Another first was his formation of the South African Army's Guerrilla School which he commanded until his retirement in 1987. Since hanging up his uniform he has pursued a career as a full-time author.
32-Battalion was forged from guerrilla irregulars during the South African military intervention in Angola in 1975 under the code name Operation Savannah. The author, Colonel Jan Breytenbach, was its founding commander. Because of the secrecy surrounding it, 32-Battalion not only became one of the finest fighting units in the South African Army, it also became the most controversial.
This is its story.