Combat Group Juliet

General Constand Viljoen, Chief of the Army, formulated a plan in 1978 to introduce a mechanized combat group to Ovamboland to conduct operations against SWAPO.

Combat Group Juliet was then formed under the command of Commandant Frank Bestbier to launch an attack on SWAPO’s Western Front headquarters and logistics base, at Chetequera, 15km north of the South West African border, with a mechanized assault force. This attack formed part of Operation Reindeer during which the paratroopers attacked a separate target at Cassinga, some 300 km into Angola.

After Operation Reindeer it was decided to establish a permanent conventional mechanized combat unit in the operational area and Commandant Johann Dippenaar was appointed to set up this unit.

Chief Army Opso 1/79

In terms of Chief Army Opso 1/79 dated 6 February 1979 61 Mechanised Battalion Group was tasked to execute conventional and counter insurgency operations in the following manner:
  • Conventional operations:
    • Pre-emptive strikes against SWAPO concentrations outside the borders of South West Africa.
    • Offensive operations against any conventional force threatening the integrity of the South West Africa Command or interfering with any external operations against SWAPO outside of the South West Africa border.
    • Act as a tangible deterrent in South West Africa in order to discourage offensive operations by opposing conventional forces.
    • Execute deterrent operations.
    • Operations to promote show of force.
    • Operations to mislead opposing forces.
  • Counter Insurgency Operations:
    • Execute any Counter Insurgency operations in all the sectors in South West Africa.
    • Conducting operations to curb infiltration to the white farming communities.
    • To create a well managed, proud, motivated, well disciplined unit.
    • Stability by means of maintaining a military presence in the districts of Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otavi.

Headquarters of 61 Mech

A tactical headquarters for 61 Mech was initially established at Otavi but during April 1979 these tactical quarters were moved to Tsumeb.

61 Mech was eventually established at Omuthiya, with the base headquarters in Tsumeb.

History of 61 Mech further recorded in the years and operations

From this foundation a remarkable military reputation was built and the rest of the history of 61 Mechs is recorded against the year and operation pages on this website.