I started researching this book in 2005, once Mike had given the project his blessing. Even so, it was always a touchy subject with him as he does not like publicity. Nevertheless in 2006 he granted me five long interviews, and much of what he said is reflected in the pages of my book. Mike, for his part, never showed any interest in the biography and never read a word of the book prior to publication.
During the research process, I was helped by countless people. I was stunned at the kindness I was shown. People spontaneously sent me or gave me photographs, formerly top secret documents, archival material, and shared their own stories with me. One such was Yagil Henkin, an Israeli. Below I post a fuller version of what was printed in my book, for those with an interest in what happened in Rhodesia in the mid-70s.
Then, in the mid-1970s, after the Portuguese pulled out of Angola and Mozambique, the Rhodesian government and its military found itself increasingly exposed to communist-backed insurgents. Seeing an opportunity to assist the Rhodesian military in their civil or bush war, Mike tried to sell them the idea of what was essentially a mercenary force.
An outline of his proposal is contained in a five-page Rhodesian Ministry of Defence document dated 13 April 1976, and titled ‘Proposed International Brigade for Service in Rhodesia’. It is signed by Col AHG Munro, secretary of the Operations Co-ordinating Committee, for distribution to the prime minister, the minister of defence, and the commanders of the army, police, air force and intelligence.
It starts, ‘As a result of a letter from Col TMB Hoare to the Minister of Defence, the former was invited to meet the Operations Co-ordinating Committee on Friday, 19th March 1976, to discuss Col Hoare’s proposal for the raising of an International Brigade. At this meeting Col Hoare explained his proposal.’
In summary, Mike called for a force ‘to counter any threat by Cuban and Russian forces to Rhodesia’. In the style of the French Foreign Legion, and with the same mystique, the unit would be part of the Rhodesian Defence Force and ‘a symbol of resistance against Russian imperialism in Africa’. Its men would be ‘crusaders against the evil forces of communism’ and would be ‘bearing arms on behalf of the West’. It would be a multi-racial force drawn from a variety of nations, but not South Africa or Rhodesia. It would be called the International Brigade or perhaps the Rhodesian Foreign Legion, and would be based in a remote part of Rhodesia. Mike suggested the official language of the unit might be French.
An embryo force of 100 specialists would prepare a base. Worldwide publicity would assist with the recruitment of the main force, the proposed size of which is not mentioned. Mike had had ‘experience in raising, organising, training and leading this type of unit in action, and he would be available if required’.
However, the Central Intelligence Organisation, whose comments on the proposal are included, were concerned that ‘internationalising’ the conflict, by the introduction of such a force, would result in the enemy also involving foreign forces. They also said, ‘It would be preferable for the services of persons such as Col Hoare to be used in the recruiting of suitably motivated men for service in the regular Rhodesian forces rather than to create a separate force.’
Once again, Mike’s proposal did not find favour. However, an undated document summarising the ‘national military strategy for Rhodesia’ and entitled ‘Strategy: courses of action to be adopted until September 1978, draft’, says in part, ‘The employment of mercenaries to be examined along the lines proposed by Mike Hoare.’