image of the book cover of African Wars: A Defense Intelligence Perspective

African Wars: A Defense Intelligence Perspective

William Thom

$34.95 CAD / $39.95 USD (T)

275 pages, 18 illustrations

6 x 9 Inches

Hardback: 1552382737

Paperback: 978-1-55238-273-8

February 2010

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A lively and informative memoir that traces the life and work of a professional U.S. intelligence officer through seventeen different conflicts, providing piercing insight into four decades of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.

During the past forty years, Africa south of the Sahara has been the most conflict-prone region of the world. In spite of its geopolitical importance, it remains one of the least understood. African Wars provides a concise summary of four decades of warfare in sub–Saharan Africa with expert commentary by William Thom, an experienced and highly respected senior U.S. intelligence officer. As a defense analyst and senior Africa specialist in the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, William Thom acquired unique in-depth knowledge of conflict in this vast and troubled region. In African Wars, he shares this knowledge.

Ranging from postcolonial insurgency in Rhodesia to ongoing strife in the Horn of Africa, from the horrors of Rwanda and the Congo to devastating civil wars in Angola, Mozambique, and Liberia, African Wars tracks seventeen different conflicts, many of which have a continuing influence on the continent’s political-military affairs today. Thom complements his penetrating insights into and gripping accounts of specific wars with valuable wide–ranging impressions, in particular the often surprising adaptability of combatant groups to their material and political environments, and the frustrating marginalization of Africa within security circles during this period.

African Wars is not only an edifying account of conflict, but also a lively memoir. Thom brings a wealth of detail, personal insight, and wit to the story of his training and education as an intelligence officer, the difficulties and oddities of traveling in Africa, and his skirmishes with the intelligence bureaucracy. Anyone interested in African security issues, contemporary warfare, or military intelligence will find this book indispensable.

About the Author:

William G. Thom is a retired professional intelligence officer who spent thirty-five years with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. He was the Defense Intelligence Officer for Africa, the senior Africanist in the DIA, from 1987 to 2002.

William T. Stoakley
Prologue: The World of Defense Intelligence

Part One: Non–Combat realities

1. The Making of a Defense Intelligence Analyst
Growing Up in the 1950s
The Great Leap into Sub–Saharan Africa
Two Out of Three is Not Bad!

2. Assignment EUCOM J–2, 1977–1980
Hitting the Ground Running at EUCOM
The EUCOM Experience Pays Dividends
Generals Haig and Huyser and the Soft Underbelly of NATO
Traveling through Africa

3. The War for Resources—and Briefind VIP’s
Unfavourable Pairings
Out of Africa
Africa Just Doesn’t Make the Cut
“Something New Is Always Coming Out of Africa” —Pliny the Elder
What We Have Learned
Briefing People in High Places

4. Threats to International Security: Optimists versus Pessimists
The Optimists
The Pessimists
The Bottom Line
Domestic Analogies

Part Two: African Wars I Have Known

5. Counter–insurgency in Africa
Learning on the Job
Insurgency in Southern Rhodesia, 1965–1980
Lancaster House Marks a New Beginning

6. Civil War in Africa
The Angolan Civil War, Phase One, 1975–1976
The Angolan Civil War, Phase Two, 1980–1992
The Angolan Civil War, Phase Three, 199s–2002

7. South Africa; The White Redoubt
South Africa’s Evolving Defense Strategy, 1960s–1980s
Surprise in Angola
The Receding White Redoubt
South Africa’s Defense Industry
Apartheid South Africa: A Challenge for U.S. Intelligence

8. Mozambique: The RENAMO War, 1978–1992
RENAMO: From an Insurgent Seed, a Monster Grows
U.S. Policy Slightly Out of Tune
The War Winds Down: The Times They Were a–Changin’

Photo Gallery

9. Two Surprising East African Wars
The Ogaden War, 977–1991
Tanzania–Uganda War, 1978–1979

10. Two Antagonistic Regimes Collapse
Somalia’s Civil War, 1980s–1991
The Ethiopian Civil War: Collapse of the Mengistu Regime, 1988–1991

11. Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Sudan in the 1990s
UN and U.S. Intervention in Somalia, 1992–1995
The Ethiopia–Eritrea Border War, 1998–2000: All in the Family
War in Sudan: The Enigma on the Nile

12. Two Improbable Conflicts: Zaire (Congo) and Chad
The Shaba I and Shaba II Incursions into Zaire, 1977–1978
Chad’s "Toyota Wars" 1986–1987

13. The Great Lakes Crises: Rwanda, Burundi, and the Congo
Rwanda’s Civil War and Genocide Crisis, 1990&ndashl;1994
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Implodes, 1996–2002
Burundi’s Civil War, 1993–2001

14. Vicious Civil Conflicts in West Africa
Liberia’s Civil War, 1989–1997
Sierra Leone’s Civil War, 1991–2001

15. African Wars I Did Not Get to Know
The Congo Crisis
The Nigerian Civil War
Other African Conflicts
Other Wars Since Independence


Glossary of Acronyms

I have never read anything quite like it: it is original in that it provides historical accounts from the perspective of the military and what an American analyst would consider important events in African wars. Comparable books would not have access to the kind of data or information provided therein; hence it is a unique advancement of the literature on African wars.
—Erin Baines, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia