Fireforce is the compelling, brutal but true account of Chris Cocks' service in 3 Commando, The Rhodesian Light Infantry, during Zimbabwe's bitter civil war of the '70s-a war that came to be known almost innocuously as `the bush war'. `Fireforce', a tactic of total airborne envelopment, was developed and perfected by the RLI, together with the Selous Scouts and the Rhodesian Air Force, becoming the principal strike weapon of the beleaguered Rhodesian forces in their struggle against the overwhelming tide of the Communist trained and equipped ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas.
The combat strain on a fighting soldier was almost unbelievable, for the Rhodesians, who were always desperately short of ground troops, were sometimes obliged to parachute the same men into action into as many as three enemy contacts a day. While estimates of enemy casualties vary, there seems little doubt that the RLI accounted for at least 12,000 ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas-but not without cost.
Fireforce is not for the squeamish. Although it has been written with unforgettable pathos and humour, it tells of face-to-face combat in the bush and death at point-blank range. It is a book which does nothing to glorify or glamorise war, for as Chris Cocks found at such a young age, war is merely a catalogue of suffering, destruction and death.
About the Author
Living in Johannesburg, Chris Cocks is a partner in the South African Publishing house, 30 DegreesSouth Publishers. Cocks is also the author of Out of Action and co-author of The Saints-The Rhodesian Light Infantry.
Chris Cocks was born in Salisbury, Rhodesia in 1957 and served three years and 28 days as a combat NCO with 3 Commando, the Rhodesian Light Infantry (the RLI, an airborne/airmobile unit), from 1976 to 1979. He was then offered a farming job in the country's Lowveld; however, the army refused to countenance a waiver of call-ups, so he attested into the British South Africa Police and spent the remaining 14 months of the bush war as a PATU (Police Anti-Terrorist Unit) stick leader and avoiding the Military Police. He moved to Johannesburg in 1996 and stumbled into a publishing career, specializing in southern African military history. He has written four books: the bestselling Fireforce: One Man's War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry, its sequel Out of Action, a steamy novel Cyclone Blues, and co-wrote The Saints, the RLI's history. He is the historian for The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental Association and edits its magazine, The Cheetah.