Russian Military Interpreter in Angola

Submitted by Second Lieutenant (Junior Lieutenant) Oleg Alainis , Soviet Army on May 27, 2009 07:55

1. Introduction

Oleg is my first name ( it is Russian), Alainis is my second name (it is Latvian, although in Russian transcription it looses “-is” at the end ) and I was known under second name Alain there.

I went to Angola when I was 17 as a Second Lieutenant – as military interpreter to Soviet military advisers. Of course, I had initial military training before and I spent a year learning Portuguese language in a Military Institute in Moscow.

Since childhood I wanted to have a military career, so I entered a Suvorov Military School when I was as young as 14. Two years there – like an initial military training together with secondary school or better college course and after that – a Military Institute of Foreign Languages – a dream of every little connoisseur of Soviet Military help abroad.

In Angola I was stationed in Chibemba Huila as a military interpreter for advisers of FAPLA artillery brigade and sonic reconnaissance within the Cuban tactical group from February 1987 till October 1987.

This period was quite low on our front, because Cuito took all the load. I remember going fishing and climbing Tonga-Tonga mountain nearby (Cubans had there anti aerial post).

2. Help to fight imperialism and apartheid

We were convinced that we helped to fight imperialism, apartheid and we are securing freedom and progress all over the world.

3. First months in Angola

Anyway, I spent first 5 months in Negage – on air base in the North, translating aerodynamic lessons for second pilots of MI-8 helicopters that were trained to be the first pilots. After that ( I was already 18 years old) I was transferred to 5th military region to the small team of Military advisers for Artillery brigade and battery of sonic (acoustic) reconnaissance. We were sitting within the Cuban tactical group in Chibemba.

If you look on the map the road leading from Ondjiva to the north goes through Cahama and then further to the north it has a crossroad to Chibia. Near that crossroad was our location.

4. We had some knowledge of the SADF

We had some knowledge of SADF before, about Ratels, Olifants and Impalas etc. We even knew the availability of Namibian Territorial Army serving the occupants from South Africa!

5. Operation Protea

We remembered Protea due to the fact that we had our losses in Ondjiva – dead and taken prisoner (it was not spoken loud about prisoner because Soviet Union had a policy of non-recognition of the involvement and we had a clear understanding that if this happens we would probably be on our own. We even wear uniform without grades and carried no documents at all! (those were left in our HQ in Luanda).

So we had our counts on you! But when I was stationed during 7 months in the South – we had no big hostilities at all.

6. Interaction with SWAPO

I had also contacts with SWAPO and still have their uniform with me. They were quite good fellows. The only thing we as Soviet advisers criticized was a subversion: we told that to explode the electrical net is not a heroic deed, because ordinary people would suffer, but to explode a military hangar or equipment is another thing.

What I also disliked that some of their actions were only against whites and I hate apartheid whether it is white or black. I hate also nationalism that we all experienced after collapse of the Soviet Union. Nationalism leads to nepotism and total destruction of an economy and a free market. It is worse than socialism with its planning system I would say.

7. Motivation

Actually, our motivation was similar: menace from Imperialism – Capitalism or Communism in your case. Nothing special. All over is the same.

8. My life after the military

I quit from my military career in 1994 after collapse of the Soviet Union in a rank of first lieutenant and came home to Latvia. There, I firstly entered the University (Latvian) for professional degree in Foreign Economic Affairs and later on I won a grant for Master in Banking and Finance in Bocconi, Milan, Italy. Ironically I had to study in Italian!

After that I had 10 years of banking career and now joined the real estate development from the other side.