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The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental
Assocation of Australasia
The Rhodesian Light Infantry
The late 1950's and early 60's saw the emergence throughout Africa of a number of wars of
independence against the Colonial powers of the time.
The advent of Communist Chinese and Russian sponsorship of Guerilla movements heralded a new
sophistication in both weaponry, training and methodology for insurgents.
This new capability effected mainly Rhodesia, the South African protectorates and the Portuguese
colonies of Southern Africa.
While other colonial countries maintained substantial conventional standing Armies in Africa it was in
fact the Rhodesians that developed a small mobile, extremely efficient and diverse fighting machine to
combat this new level of threat both internally and externally.
Their methods were to benchmark Anti Guerilla Warfare worldwide for some time to come and at the
forefront of this effort stood the Rhodesian Light Infantry.
Nicknamed 'The Saints' or 'The Incredibles', The 1st Battalion The Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) was
formed on 1 February 1961, and in its short 19-year existence, this commando airborne unit carved for
itself a reputation as one of the world's foremost proponents of counter-insurgency warfare, through
internal 'Fireforce' operations and daring pre-emptive strikes against the overwhelming tide of the
communist-backed guerrillas of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo based in Mozambique and Zambia.
For these reasons, Charles D. Melson of the USMC has described the RLI as "The Killing Machine".
The Rhodesian "bush war" reached its bloody climax in 1980 and the country became Zimbabwe. The
men of the RLI had won all their battles, but had lost the war ... and their country ... and the weary
veterans drifted away. An 'international' regiment in the true sense, with foreign volunteers from North
America, UK, Europe, Australasia and South Africa, RLI veterans can today, through the newly formed
RLI Regimental Association, stand up with pride and say "I served in the RLI."