The Selous Scouts
Selous Scouts Motto: Pamwe Chete (Together Only)
The original Selous Scouts was an Armour unit in the former Central African Federation Army. However this unit is in no way associated with the elite Selous Scouts. The more modern Selous Scouts were formed from the Tracker Combat Unit. The Selous Scouts were formed in 1972 and named after a famous Big Game hunter (
kind of appropriate actually
). The Scouts were formed for one main reason. The ongoing war in Rhodesia was not going well. The terrorists (
in this case the ZANLA and ZIRPA gurrialls headed by Mugabe and Nkomo
) were striking the Rhodesians and fading into the bush. The Terrorists (
like many terrorists
) struck military and civilian people, killing men, women, children, and in some cases even targeting missionaries and needed to be stopped. Small groups of soldiers and policemen were pioneering this task by tracking the terrorists back to there bases and then neutralizing them by either capturing or killing them if nessecary.
The Rhodesian Government turned to Captain Ron Reid Daly to form and train this new unit. Daly had served with the British Special Air Service , before returning to Rhodesia to serve in the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI). The Selous Scouts was an integrated unit, in fact a majority were black. In an interview with SpecWarNet , Captain David Scott-Donelan told me that:
"Blacks fought for Rhodesia because they saw themselves as Rhodesians and their country was threatened. The black members of the Selous Scouts were all volunteers and came from the army, police, airforce and most were surrendered terrorists. The Selous Scouts racial ratio was 90% black and 10% white. The Rhodesian army was 90% black and the police force 85% black and all served Rhodesia with pride, many of them being 3rd or 4th generation army/police families. We had both black and white officers."
The purpose of the Scouts was to be able to track the terrorists back to a "base" where the Scouts could then surprise them. Sometimes the Scouts led white members of the unit into a camp pretending to be terrorist. When they got in they could then surprise the occupants, catching them off guard easily. The Scouts also found targets for the Fire Forces (the RLI) to assault. The Scouts served with pride, earning more than 80 awards for bravery. The Rhodesian Government stated that 85% of the terrorist casualties were from the Scouts, while the Scouts themselves only suffered some 40% casualties.
Selection for the Selous Scouts was, and still is, considered one of the toughest in the world. The training area was known as Wafa Wafa which, funny enough, translates into If I Die. The area was located near Lake Kariba. The initial training lasted for 18 days. Everybody on the courses were volunteers. The recruits were forced to live off the land colloecting food and water as they went along. Everbody was required to learn at least one African language as well. Just a few of the courses which students had to complete included:
The Selection Course weeded out many recruits. Living off of next to nothing to eat and small amounts of water ( gathered usually from Lake Kariba ) took an effect on recruits. Very few ever passed, however the recruits were free to try again if they seemed fit by the instructors to do so. "Selection pass rate was less than 10%, probably closer to 6%. On my course 150 started and 12 finished which was a good course." stated Captain Scott-Donelan. Captain David Scott-Donelan would later later went on to be the Training Officer for the Selous Scouts.
After Selection was over the recruits were sent to be parachute trained. Some went on to complete Free Fall training as well. The recruits who had passed were finally allowed to wear the brown beret and green belts, worn by the Selous Scouts. On his beret is the Ospery, a bird of prey.
The Scouts changed the war. It brought the war into the terrorists backyard. No longer did the terrorists own the bush, they made it unsafe for the terrorists to operate freely or move around. However Rhodesia was doomed, the Communists were taking over quickly.
"The driving force for all Rhodesians, black and white, was that we were fighting Communism which threatened our country and ALL races living there."
In 1978, Bishop Abel Muzorewa was elected as Prime Minister. However after only a short pierod of time in office, he was replaced by the communist leader Robert Mugabe. This was to prove to be the down fall of the Selous Scouts. Many Scouts had actually gone on operations targeting Mugabe.
In 1980 the Selous Scouts werwe ordered to disband. There was no race for border, which has often been wrote. The Rhodesian Army units were the backbone for the Zimbabwe Army. The Selous Scouts became the 1st Parachute Battalion. A small number, 50-60, left for South Africa to join the Recce Commandos. The Selous Scouts formed 7 Recce Commando which was later changed to 3 Recce Commando, and then later to 5 Recce Commando. Many did leave the Recce soon after because of the Afrikaner attitude to English speaking people. Only about 5% of 5 Recce Commando was actually Rhodesians, mant were Angolan, Namibian, and in later years, from Mozambique. Another myth that should be cleared up was the fact that black Rhodesian soldiers were treated well and performed with distinction.
SpecWarNet would like to thank David Scott-Donelan for his time and help with this page. Without him this project would not have taken off the ground. THANK YOU. He now lives in the USA and runs a tracking school for military and police personnel. His courses are well worth it.