The 'New Model' Armies of Africa?: The British Military Advisory and Training Team and the Creation of the Zimbabwe National Army
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The British Army provided military assistance missions for friendly nations throughout the 20th century. The majority deployed to Africa during the decolonization process. By 1980 London had thirty-five years of institutional knowledge on how to train armies in newly independent nations. Most notably in Kenya and Zambia, where the transition to independence was fraught with racial and economic difficulties. In 1979, after the conclusion of the Lancaster House Conference the British government was called upon to provide newly independent Zimbabwe with military training assistance. The British Military Advisory and Training Team helped combine three former belligerent armies into the Zimbabwe National Army. London intended to create a military force that reflected Britain’s own army and maintained a distance from domestic politics while serving as a bastion for Western military values and interests. While the British had both Kenya and Zambia to draw from as models, policymakers in London overestimated the cache of British power in a changing world. Rather than facilitating an effective transition to representative government in Zimbabwe, the British enabled the creation of a one-party state under Robert Mugabe. The fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence as to the expectations of developing nations and military assistance handicapped British policy goals in Southern Africa for the next two decades.
Security Force Assistance
Zimbabwe National Army
Whitaker, Blake (2014). The 'New Model' Armies of Africa?: The British Military Advisory and Training Team and the Creation of the Zimbabwe National Army. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from