FIGHTING FORCE - 61 MECH BN GP
61 MECHANISED Battalion Group is probably the only unit in the SADF that has been publicly praised by the Cubans. At the recent peace negotiations a member of the Cuban delegation said that the guys of 61 Mech were "really proffessional". This compliment probably stems from the fact that in the last 18 months the combined Cuban and FAPLA forces received a bloody nose from this unit.
61 Mech was established in 1978 as Battle Group Juliet. It was was established in order to counter any conventional attack from Angola. The unit took part in Operation Reindeer which destroyd the Swapo base Vietnam. On 2 January 1979 the unit was established as 61 Mech and since then the unit has grown in strength and successes.
The unit is a fully operational fighting group. In fact, it is possibly the only unit of its type in the SADF. It has the capability to counter any threat of conventional nature against SWA. The impressive factor is that the Group's strength is mobile to strike anywhere it is needed.
In the last eighteen months the unit has added to it's already enviable operational record. As part of a task force in Operations Modular, Hooper, Exite and Hilti 95 enemy tanks were destroyd. Approximately 7000 FAPLA and Cuban soldiers were killed. The OC of the unit, Cmdt Mike Muller, ascribes the successes to superior training, careful planning, good leadership and high morale. Morale is especially important, as a guy with low morale does not have much will to fight. For that reason Cmdt. Muller looks after his men and the pride all the members of 61 Mech have in their unit has to be seen to be believed. The unit really does manage the man and not the number.
61 Mech is always where the action is. It has taken part in all the major operations, including Smokeshell, Protea, Daisy, Askari, Modular and Hooper. The unit is also now ten years old, and its achievements are nothing short of phenomenal. The confidence of the local population in the unit was illustrated by the unit being awarded the freedom of Tsumeb.
As far as Swapo and FAPLA are concerned 61 Mech is the poisened arrowhead of the SADF. The unit has never been defeated and the price of this has been the death of only a few in action. However the cost for the enemy has been infinately higher. As Col. E. van Lill, a former OC of 61 Mech remarked, "If you were in 61 Mech, you were there."
Published: 20 June 2003.
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