The Battle of Cuito Cuanavale in 1987/88 was an important episode in the Angolan Civil War (1975 to 2002). Between 9 September and 7 October 1987, the Angolan Army (FAPLA), in an attempt to finally subdue the Angolan insurgent movement UNITA in south-eastern Angola, was decisively repelled in a series of battles at the Lomba River by the South African Army (SADF), which had once more intervened on UNITA’s behalf. With FAPLA retreating to their starting point at Cuito Cuanavale, the SADF and UNITA went on the offensive and started the siege by shelling Cuito with long-range artillery on 14 October. A major battle ensued and Angola, fearing a defeat, requested help from Cuba. With Cuban reinforcements, Cuito was held and the South African advance ended after six unsuccessful attempts to overcome the FAPLA-Cuban defences between 13 January and 23 March 1988. The SADF withdrew but continued to shell Cuito from a distance.
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... In the aftermath of Cuito Cuanavale on the eve of the first round of peace talks in two years Castro ordered Cuban, FAPLA and SWAPO units under General Cintras Frías ... The remaining SADF forces at Cuito Cuanavale Combat Group 20 was left in place to construct minefields and carry out deception operations in order to prevent a FAPLA offensive ... Cuban advance and believing that a major battle "involved serious risks" withdrew ...
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“Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there.”
—George Orwell (19031950)