The private military company providing aerial support to Mozambique’s armed forces in Cabo Delgado will have its contract with the Mozambique government extended to at least the end of this year and expanded to include a training element for Mozambique land forces.
Reports from Mozambique have it that the three month contract with Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) which ends this month (July) will be extended by another six months, reports Zitamar News.
DAG lost a helicopter to enemy fire in one of their first sorties but have since been credited with deterring an insurgent advance on Pemba and supporting government forces’ efforts to retake Macomia, at the end of May and Mocímboa da Praia, at the end of June. DAG lost another aircraft, a Bat Hawk microlight, which came down near Miangalewa in June with pilot Mark Tout still in a Johannesburg hospital.
DAG helicopter gunships are accused of civilian casualties, particularly in the battle for Macomia when helicopters reportedly shot at anything that moved. Their job was harder because insurgents often wear Mozambican military uniforms.
DAG’s operation is understood to have been a shoestring budget, with dated technology and pilots paid relatively low rates, due to financial constraints at the Ministry of the Interior which is the contracting party. Multiple sources have told Zitamar the contract is going to be extended — and the budget expanded — and will include a training element for Mozambique’s ground troops.
Zitamar sources differed on whether the contract would be extended to eight months or by eight months — either taking it through to December 2020 or to March 2021.
The effectiveness of DAG helicopters in the conflict so far is hampered by the need to refuel at Pemba south of the conflict zone and 185 km from Mocímboa da Praia.
Another refuelling option is the military base at Mueda, 94km from Mocímboa da Praia. The aerodrome at Macomia, roughly halfway between Pemba and Mocímboa da Praia and 163 km from the LNG site at Afungi, is being converted into a forward airfield for refuelling helicopters. Conversion work started before the town was attacked by insurgents in May, a local source told Zitamar.
Another source told Zitamar the extended contract will include DAG providing training to Mozambican troops to act more effectively in conjunction with aerial firepower. The tactic, the source said, is modelled on the ‘Fireforce’ tactic developed by the Rhodesian army, in which Dyck was an officer during the Rhodesian Bush War in the 1970s. The South African military used similar tactics in southern Angola and Namibia.
For the tactic to work, DAG or the Mozambican air force will need troop-carrying helicopters to speedily bring reinforcements when contact is made with the enemy. Another source told Zitamar DAG is currently procuring such an aircraft.
DAG’s continued involvement remains complicated in the light of South African legislation outlawing South African companies from providing private military services abroad without explicit government permission, Zitamar said. Turning a blind eye to DAG violation of that law may be simpler for South Africa than becoming officially involved through its state military.