Alternative History
Invasion of Zimbabwe
Operation Democratic Change 2009 Map
Map of the CODAMIZ operation against the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.
Date April 15 - May 4th, 2009
Location Zimbabwe
Result Decisive Coalition victory

  • Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF Party Government toppled.
  • Robert Tsvangirai installed as President of Zimbabwe.
  • Establishment of new government.
Small Logo of the COD (President McCain) CODAMIZ:*US flag 51 stars United States

Flag of the Movement for Democratic Change Supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai

Flag of Zimbabwe Republic of Zimbabwe
Flag of ZANU-PF ZANU-PF loyalists

Political leadership:
Small Logo of the COD (President McCain) John McCain
(Secretary-General of the COD)
Flag of the African Union Jakaya Kikwete
(Head of the African Union)
US flag 51 stars George W. Bush
(US President)
Flag of the United Kingdom Tony Blair
(Prime Minister of the United Kingdom)
Flag of South Africa Kgalema Motlanthe
(President of South Africa)
Flag of France Nicolas Sarkozy
(President of France)
Flag of Zimbabwe Morgan Tsvangirai
(Exiled Prime Minister of Zimbabwe)

Military leadership:
US flag 51 stars Gen. William E. Ward
(Head of AFRICOM)
Flag of South Africa Lt. Gen. Solly Z. Shoke
(Chief of Army of South Africa)
Political leadership:
Flag of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe
(President and Supreme Commander of the Zimbabwean Army)
Flag of Zimbabwe Emmerson D. Mnangagwa White flag
(Minister of Defence)
Flag of Zimbabwe Trust Kenneth Maposa
(Secretary for Defence)
Flag of Zimbabwe Dr. Sydney Sekeramayi White flag
(Minister of National Security)

Military leadership:
Flag of Zimbabwe Gen. Constantine Chiwenga
(Commander of the Defence Forces)
Flag of Zimbabwe Lt.Gen. Phillip Velario Sibanda White flag
(CO of Zimbabwe National Army)
Flag of Zimbabwe Air Marshal Perrance Shiri
(CO of the Zimbabwean Air Force)
Flag of Zimbabwe Happyton Bonyongwe
(Dir. Gen., Central Intelligence Organisation)
US flag 51 stars Seven Brigade Combat Teams with support units of the 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division, totalling 34,000 troops.
Flag of the United Kingdom Elements of the 7th Armoured Brigade, 19th Light Brigade and the 16th Air Assault Brigade, totalling 15,000 troops.
Flag of South Africa Three infantry battalions, one tank regiment and support units, totalling 8400 troops.
Flag of France 5eme Regiment Interarmes d'Outre Mer and 2e Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes, totalling 4000 men.
Small Logo of the COD (President McCain) Troop contingents from other COD or AU member states, totalling 13,430 troops.

In total: 74,830
Flag of the Zimbabwe National Army 12 infantry battalions, one mechanised brigade, one artillery regiment and support units.
Zimbabwe Republic Police Badge Unknown number of Zimbabwe Republic Police loyal to Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.
Flag of ZANU-PF Around 10,000 paramilitary fighters of Mugabe's ZANU-PF party.

In total: 52,000

Casualties and losses
Military casualties:
103 killed in action
763 wounded in action

Military casualties:
5000 killed in action
8000 wounded in action
15,000 captured

Civilian casualties:
125 killed
318 wounded

The Invasion of Zimbabwe, codenamed Operation Democratic Change, was a military conflict between Zimbabwe and a coalition force from 27 nations under a joint COD-African Union mandate commissioned with removing Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from power following years of human rights abuses and economic mismanagment leading to hyperinflation and impoverishment and following Mugabe's refusal to step down following the result of the presidential election in 2008.

The deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe had resulted in economic sanctions against Zimbabwe by some members of the UN, EU and the Concert of Democracies, and with immediate preparation for war by the United States of America and the United Kingdom following escalation in January 2009. The invasion of Zimbabwe began in March 2009 and was a decisive victory for the coalition forces, which removed Robert Mugabe from power and installed Morgan Tsvangirai as the new President of Zimbabwe.


Situation in Zimbabwe prior to 2009[]

Following the chaotic implementation of the land reform by President Rubert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF Party, Zimbabwe experienced a sharp decline in agricultural exports, traditionally the country's leading export producing sector. As a result, Zimbabwe experienced a severe hard-currency shortage, which has led to hyperinflation and chronic shortages in imported fuel and consumer goods. In 2002, Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth of Nations on charges of human rights abuses during the land redistribution and of election tampering. Life expectancy at birth for males in Zimbabwe has dramatically declined since 1990 from 60 to 37, among the lowest in the world. Life expectancy for females is even lower at 34 years. Concurrently, the infant mortality rate has climbed from 53 to 81 deaths per 1,000 live births in the same period. Currently, 1.8 million Zimbabweans live with HIV. By July 2008, the hyperinflation was as high as 231,000,000% while continuing to grow.

As a result, popular support for Morgan Tsvangirai and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change increased up to the 2008 presidential elections. In the first round of the presidential election on March 29, Tsvangirai and his MDC won 47.9% and Mugabe's ZANU-PF 43.2%, thereby necessitating a run-off, which was to be held on June 27, 2008. Despite Tsvangirai's continuing claims to have won a first round majority, he initially decided to participate in the second round. The period following the first round was marked by serious political violence. ZANU-PF and the MDC each blamed the other's supporters for perpetrating this violence; Western governments and prominent Western organizations have blamed ZANU-PF for the violence. On 22 June 22, 2008, Tsvangirai announced that he was withdrawing from the run-off, describing it as a "violent sham" and saying that his supporters risked being killed if they voted for him. The second round nevertheless went ahead as planned with Mugabe as the only actively participating candidate, although Tsvangirai's name remained on the ballot. Mugabe won the second round by an overwhelming margin and was sworn in for another term as President on June 29. However, Mugabe retained control and has not conceded the election results that would otherwise put him out of power.

Zimbabwe Cholera

People suffering from cholera at a Zimbabwean hospital in 2009.

Zimbabwe Dissidents Starvation

Political dissidents suffering from malnutrition and starvation in a Zimbabwean prison in 2008.

The international reaction to the second round have varied. The United States and states of the European Union have called for increased sanctions. On 11 July, the United Nations Security Council considered imposing sanctions on the Zimbabwe. The sanctions were vetoed by Russia and China. The African Union has called for a "government of national unity."

Preliminary talks to set up conditions for official negotiations began between leading negotiators from both parties on 10 July, and on 22 July, the three party leaders met for the first time in Harare to express their support for a negotiated settlement of disputes arising out of the presidential and parliamentary elections. Negotiations between the parties officially began on 25 July and are currently proceeding with very few details released from the negotiation teams in Pretoria, as coverage by the media is barred from the premises where the negotiations are taking place. The talks were mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. A provisional deal was reached on September 11th, 2008, involving Tsvangirai chairing the Council of Ministers and Mugabe chairing a new national security council. By the following January it remained unimplemented due to ongoing disputes between the parties. The results of this election were withheld for several weeks, following which it was generally acknowledged that the MDC had achieved a significant majority of seats.

By January 30, 2009, the situation in Zimbabwe continued to deteriorate. Inflation was at 231,000,000%, and the unemployment rate was at 94% according to the United Nations. There was an excess of 60,000 reported cases of cholera, of whom over 3,000 died. Despite pressure from SADC, the EU and COD to organize a Coalition cabinet consisting of ZAN, U-PF and MDC, President Robert Mugabe announced that he would organize a cabinet consisting of his own party (ZANU-PF) with or without support from Tsvangirai. On February 1st, the international community demanded that the UN acts to stopped further spreading of Cholera in Zimbabwe.

Inflation Zimbabwe

By January 30, 2009 the Inflation was at 231,000,000%.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga once again condemned Mugabe, saying that his government is responsible for not taking any actions in preventing the outbreak, while Reverend Desmond Tutu says that he will support a military intervention should the UN or the Zimbabwean government itself fail to act. The Zimbabwean government declares the outbreak a national emergency and requests international aid, but announces that they will form a cabinet without Tsvangirai's MDC Party, and that they will solve the crisis themselves.

However, following pressure from the African Union, the COD and the United States and the United Kingdom, Mugabe agreed to a power sharing deal with Tsvangirai, and on February 28 they signed a deal to end the violent political crisis. As provided, Robert Mugabe will remain president, Morgan Tsvangirai will become prime minister, the MDC will control the police, Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) will command the Army, and Arthur Mutambara becomes deputy prime minister.

Situation deteriorates further[]

Morgan Tsvangirai oath PM 2009

Morgan Tsvangirai, left, leader of the main opposition party in Zimbabwe takes the oath of Prime Minster, in front of President Robert Mugabe, right, at the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 6, 2009.

On March 3rd, 2009, Tsvangirai announced that he would do as the leaders across Africa had insisted and join a coalition government as prime minister with his nemesis, President Robert Mugabe. March 6th, 2009 Tsvangirai was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. However, the political and the humanitarian situation deteriorated, and following the swearing-in of the unity government, his announced nominee for deputy agriculture minister, Roy Bennett, was arrested and charged with treason, which was later reduced to a charge of possessing weapons for the destabilization of the government; Tsvangirai's government has exhibited little ability to rescind the charges. Furthermore, farmland invasions by the war veterans have continued, with Mugabe maintaining the land reform policy despite the protests of the opposition.

On 11 March 2009, Tsvangirai was injured and his wife, Susan Tsvangirai, was killed in a car accident near Harare; the driver of the lorry with which Tsvangirai's car had collided was allegedly asleep at the wheel, and the MDC-T stated that there was no outstanding evidence of foul play in the accident. The truck belonged to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). According to news reports, Tsvangirai was hospitalized with minor head and neck injuries. The next day, MDC officials disclosed that Tsvangirai believes the truck driver "deliberately" drove toward his car, and Tom McDonald, the former United States Ambassador to Zimbabwe, suggested that Robert Mugabe was responsible, bringing up several past unexplained "accidents" in which opposition figures in Zimbabwe were killed on the road. The MDC is reportedly to commission its own private investigation of the wreck. However, following the crash ZANU-PF members again began assaulting members of the MDC, and reports indicated that in the following days, 17 MDC members had been killed. On 13 March 2009, in a departure from previous reports, Prime Minister Tsvangirai said that he believed foul play was the cause of the collision.

File:Zimbabwe Harare protests.png

Police on the streets of Harare on March 28, 2009.

Following the assassination attempts on Tsvangirai on March 11, Secretary-General of the COD John McCain followed up on Tsvangirai's request and urged the UN Security Council to vote in favour of increased sanction or, in a worst-case scenario, a military solution to remove Mugabe. When Russia and China voted against this on March 15, he stated that "once again the Russians and the Chinese are unwilling to show their solidarity with the Zimbabwean people. We will on a meeting on Wednesday decide whether or not to intervene in Zimbabwe. I sincerely urge Mugabe to stop the massacre of the democratic powers in Zimbabwe and cede power to Prime Minister Tsvangirai".

Meanwhile, Mugabe and the security forces under the control of ZANU-PF continued persecuting political opponents, including Prime Minister Tsvangirai's own party. By March 25, over 20 members of MDC-T had been killed while thousands had been imprisoned. The international community condemned the Mugabe regime, and their accusations were further reinforced by video evidence of the extremely poor conditions in the Zimbabwean prisons. By then, the reports of cases of cholera had risen to 89,000 while over 4,500 had died.

Escalation and government crackdown[]

On March 30 Tsvangirai was almost killed in a drive-by shooting in Harare that killed three people, including his grandchild Sean, the son of Tsvangirai's son Garikai and his wife Lilian residing in Canada. This occurred only two days after he declared that he would investigate Mugabe's land reforms in the late 1990s. open clashes between ZANU-PF and the military on one hand and the MDC-T on the other occcured, while Tsvangirai and his family was fled to South Africa by airplane. From here he continued to condemn the Mugabe regime, and urged the Western world and the Concert of Democracies to intervene.

Following the second assassination attempt, clashes broke out between members of the MDC-T and ZANU-PF supported by the police and the military. While the initial protests arranged by MDC-T were largely peaceful, they became increasingly violent as they got attacked by ZANU-PF and the police. During the first two days of protests, police forces attacked protesters with tear gas and batons, as protesters began throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the police. On April 2nd, protesters stormed a party headquarters of the ZANU-PF, lighting it on fire.

The demonstrations grew bigger and more heated for every day, and Al Jazeera English described the situation as the "biggest unrest since 1980." It also reported that protests seemed spontaneous without any formal organization. Thousands of people protested outside Zimbabwe's embassies in London, Paris, Washington DC, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen in support of the demonstrators in Zimbabwe. Both in and outside Zimbabwe demonstrators chanted phrases such as "Down with the dictator", "Death to the dictator", and "Give us democracy". Tsvangirai urged for calm and asked that his supporters refrain from acts of violence.

As a result, President Robert Mugabe declared martial law at 7:00 PM on April 5th, saying that "any treacherous protesters supporting the imperialists who decide to break the curfew will be killed". However, protesters announced that 3000 Zimbabweans would participate in a peaceful demonstration in Harare the next day. During the morning on April 6th, over 3000 demonstrators gathered in the centre of Harare, chanting phrases like "Death to the dictator", "Tsvangirai, Tsvangirai" and "Give us democracy" while waving Zimbabwean and MDC-T flags and banners.

At about 1:00 PM, the army finally reached the demonstration and waited for orders from the government. The soldiers had been told not to open fire, but they had also been told that they must clear the square by 4:00 PM - with no exceptions or delays. They made a final offer of amnesty if the demonstrators would leave. About 3:00 PM, the local MDC-T leaders put the matter to a vote: Leave the square, or stay and face the consequences.

At 3:30 PM, without having heard any reply from the protesters to the ultimatum, the army began firing on the gathered crowd. As Zimbabwean soldiers fired Type 68, AKM and FN-FAL assault rifles and RPK machine guns into the crowd, Type 59 tanks and Type 63 armoured personnel carriers shelled the crowd with 105 mm cannons and heavy machine guns. At 3:50 PN Type 59 tanks smashed into the square, crushing vehicles and people with their tank treads. By 5:40 PM on April 4th, the square had been cleared. Over 319 protesters had been killed, with over 1000 had been wounded.

The news of the crackdown, which was shown live on news channels like CNN, BCC World, Al Jazeera and several others, was received in the international community with shock and disgust. International reaction denounced the Zimbabwean government's response, particularly by Western governments and media. Criticism came from both Western and Eastern Europe, North America, Australia and some east Asian and Latin American countries. Notably, both China, Russia, Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and other countries supporting Zimbabwe remained silent throughout the protests. Overseas Chinese students demonstrated in many cities in Europe, America, the Middle East and Asia.

US President George W. Bush condemned the crackdown, expressing "utter revulsion and outrage", and was "appalled by the indiscriminate shooting of unarmed people." French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the "completely unacceptable crackdown of peaceful protesters", and criticized China and Russia for refusing to intervene to end the political crisis. Exiled Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai condemned the "massacre carried out on peaceful demonstrators by the Mugabe regime, and called for international pressure to force him from power". Other African leaders also criticized Mugabe, including South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who called upon the international community to end what was increasingly growing to what they meant looked like a civil war.

UN security council Zimbabwe

The UN Security Council votes on whether to increase sanction or use military force to remove Mugabe, April 2, 2009.

After the crackdown in Harare on April 4th, protests continued in much of Zimbabwe for several days. There were large protests in Redcliff, where people again wore black in protest. There were protests in Rusape, and large-scale protests in Masvingo with a general strike.

On the same day, US President George W. Bush called upon the UN Security Council to prepare for increased sanctions and the authorization of all necessary means to uphold and implement peace and security in Zimbabwe. On April 5th, the UN Security Council voted on Resolution 1870, authorizing “all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 1870,” a diplomatic formulation authorizing the use of force to remove Mugabe. The resolution was blocked by China on April 2nd, which was met by outrage in the international community. As a result, the Concert of Democracies declared that the United Nations had failed in intervening in the increasingly deteriorating Zimbabwe, and it was not up to the COD to solve the crisis.

Last negotiations with Zimbabwe[]

On April 8th a Western politician was allowed entrance to Zimbabwe for the first time in many years, when the Norwegian politician Erik Solheim along with a team of journalists of the Norwegian television channel TV2 visited Zimbabwe, where Solheim discussed the political and humanitarian situation with the Zimbabwean leadership. Once again Mugabe told the international leaders, and McCain, Bush and Blair in particular, that "they could go hang [themselves]".

Recruiting a coalition[]

John McCain COD Zimbabwe

John McCain at the Democratic Council summit in Geneva on April 5, 2009.

Following the failure of the United Nations in solving the crisis in Zimbabwe, the Concert of Democracies declared that they call for a emergency summit at the Democratic Council in Geneva to discuss whether the Concert of Democracies should intervene. On April 5th, the Democratic Council passed with over a two-third majority in favour of a resolution, which declared that:

"The United Nations has failed in pressuring the Mugabe regime in accepting international laws as well as democratic rights, and thus the Concert of Democracies issues an ultimatum to the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe. Due to the breach of international law and democratic rights, Robert Mugabe must give in and accept democratic rights by stopping persecution of political opponents and accept Tsvangirai as Prime Minister, or resign as President of Zimbabwe. If he does not give in to the ultimatum, the Concert of Democracies will be obliged to function independently to go to action pursuant to article four and consistent with the purposes of the United Nations by military force as according to Chapter 6 of the The Charter for a Concert of Democracies."

The Concert of Democracies, especially CODs Secretary-General John McCain, US President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, assembled a coalition supported by the African Union to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from power and bring stability to Zimbabwe until a democratically elected government can take power. It was designated The Concert of Democracies - African Union Military Operation in Zimbabwe (CODAMIZ), consisting of forces from 27 countries: Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Norway, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, Zambia, the United Kingdom and the United States itself. Although they did not contribute any forces, Japan, Spain and Germany made financial contributions totaling $10 billion, $4.2 billion and $6.6 billion respectively. US troops represented 43% of the coalition’s 70,830 troops in Zimbabwe. Some of the coalition forces were reluctant to join; some felt that the war was an internal African affair, or did not want to increase US or British influence in the Middle East. In the end, many nations were persuaded by the deteriorating political, economic and humanitarian situation inside Zimbabwe and some of the member's wish to join the COD itself.


US Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division is boarding a C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft headed for South Africa, April 6, 2009.

On April 6th, the first US troops were deployed in the theatre, when the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush reached the territorial waters of Mozambique. The same day, the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division was flown in by transport aircraft to Mozambique. Over the next week 25,000 US soldiers with equipment were deployed in South Africa and Mozambique along their borders with Zimbabwe. The 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st Infantry Division was deployed in South Africa along the Zimbabwean border, while the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams of the 3rd Infantry Division were deployed in Mozambique and Zambia, respectively. Meanwhile, the US also assisted in the deployment of other CODAMIZ contingents, especially in the other African contingents.

Between April 7th and 12th the British contingent was deployed to the theatre, while the French, Norwegian, Swedish and Danish contingents were deployed between April 10 and 13. The British contingent were deployed in South Africa, while the other European contingents were deployed in Botswana and Mozambique. At the same time, the Egyptian and Jordanian contingents were deployed in Mozambique and Zambia. On April 10, CODAMIZ was reinforced by contingents from Ireland, Indonesia and Bangladesh. The Irish contingent were deployed along with the other European troops, while the Indonesian and Bangladeshi were deployed along with the Egyptian and Jordanian contingents.

Decision to invade[]

George W

US President George W. Bush during his Address to the Nation on April 13, 2009.

The CODAMIZ coalition continued preparing for the invasion of Zimbabwe, with a host of public relations, and military moves. In his April 13, 2009 address to the nation, US President George W. Bush issued Robert Mugabe a 48-hour ultimatum to surrender power to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai or face military action from the Council of Democracies.

The next day, in a defiant speech before the Zimbabwean parliament, Mugabe stated that "The great people of Zimbabwe will never surrender to the imperialist ways of the United States, Britain or any of the other colonial powers trying to subvert the world's free peoples. If they do not recognize the territorial integrity of Zimbabwe, they can all go hang."

Robert Mugabe April 13 2009

Robert Mugabe holds his defiant speech condemning the West in Harare on April 14, 2009.

Following the speech, members and supporters of ZANU-PF began systematically looting the offices of MDC-T and attack its members and people sympathising with Prime Minister Tsvangirai following orders by Mugabe and Minister of National Security Dr. Sydney Sekeramayi. A decree of full mobilisation was ordered, and Minister of Defence Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa along with Chief of Army Gen. Constantine Chiwenga declared that the "Imperialist will face their humiliating defeat in Zimbabwe. We are prepared for them."

Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe S. Mumbengegwi demanded that the United Nations should take full measures to stop the United States and their "Imperialist allies in the Concert of Democracies". In the evening the embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom were attacked by unknown protesters, which were later connected to ZANU-PF.

US President George W. Bush said that if Russia and China agreed to support the rest of the international community in resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe, the COD operation would be cancelled. However, the UN Security Council again failed to show results, again due to the refusal by China to vote against sanctions on Zimbabwe. As a result of this, the Concert of Democracies decided to go forward with the operation. Later that afternoon, Gen. William E. Ward and the military leadership of CODAMIZ set the H-Hour for "Operation Democratic Change", the Invasion and liberation of Zimbabwe, to begin at 3:33 AM local time on April 15, 2009.

CODAMIZ involvement[]

The Concert of Democracies - African Union Military Operation in Zimbabwe (CODAMIZ) is a joint Concert of Democracies and African Union peacemaking mission approved by the Concert of Democracies on April 5th, 2009 to remove Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe from power and bring stability to Zimbabwe until a democratically elected government can take power. Members of the CODAMIZ included Bangladesh, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Ireland, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Norway, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States and Zambia. While most nations contributed with military units and humanitarian support, nations bordering Zimbabwe, like Mozambique and Zambia mainly allowed military access to CODAMIZ forces. The supreme commander of the CODAMIZ forces was Gen. William E. Ward of the US Army. He was the head of United States African Command (AFRICOM in short).

United States[]

The largest contingent of the CODAMIZ was sent by the United States. Between April 6th and April 12th, five Brigade Combat Teams with armoured vehicles were deployed in the South African theatre. The 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st Infantry Division was deployed in South Africa along the Zimbabwean border, while the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams of the 3rd Infantry Division were deployed in Mozambique and Zambia, respectively. The 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division and the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment were also deployed in Mozambique, and had the objective to cut off the roads leading northward from the capital Zimbabwe.

A total of 300 aircraft (mainly F-16s, F/A-18s, F-22s, A-10 attack aircraft and B-1 bombers) of the United States Air Force were mobilised to the theatre, along with the aircraft carriers. Close air support were provided by AH-64 Apache combat helicopters, while UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters were also deployed, mainly for assisting the 101st Airborne Division's operations in northern Zimbabwe. Around 1500 armoured vehicles (mainly HMMWVs, M1A2 Abrams and M2A3 Bradleys) 30,000 troops were shipped for action.

The USAF also assisted in the deployment of other CODAMIZ contingents, especially in the other African contingents. In the same week the US soldiers were deployed, they assisted in transporting men and equipment for other African as well as European countries.

United Kingdom[]

The United Kingdom sent the largest contingent of any European nation participating in combat operations during the war. British Army regiments (mainly with the British 1st Armoured Division) and Royal Air Force squadrons were mobilised to the theatre. The Royal Air Force, using various aircraft (though mostly Tornado GR4, which were used in attack missions), operated from air bases in South Africa. Almost 500 armoured vehicles (mainly FV107 Scimitars, FV510 Warriors, but also a few Challenger 2 main battle tanks) and 15,000 troops were shipped for action.

South Africa[]

The third largest contingent came from South Africa. Under the command of Lt.Gen. Solly Z. Shoke, the Chief of the Army of South Africa, the South African Army deployed three infantry battalions, one tank regiment and support units for the operation against Zimbabwe, totaling 8,400 troops. These were supported by Olifant Mk II battle tanks, heavy artillery and close air support helicopters.


France deployed a 4000-men strong expeditionary unit, which consisted of the 5eme Regiment Interarmes d'Outre Mer, the 2e Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes, as well as support units, including engineers, medical personnel and logistic units. The 5em RIOM also deployed a number of armoured vehicles. They were in command of the European contribution to the CODAMIZ operation.

Other nations[]

The remaining 13,430 troops were deployed by other COD or AU members. Most of these units were engineers, medical and logistics personnel, but some nations did contribute with substantial combat units. Both Italy, Denmark and Sweden contributed with larger forces, including combat units and engineers, medical and logistical support, while the Czech Republic largest contribution was chemical units. Other European countries also contributed indirectly by providing humanitarian support.

Among leading African contingents were Kenya, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana, and Liberia also contributed with a large force considering its political situation. However, the leading non-Western troop contingents came from Ethiopia (2200), Indonesia (1400), Egypt (1200), Jordan (1000) and Bangladesh (900).

Coalition military personnel deployment[]

CODAMIZ military contingent

Map of CODAMIZ countries (Green & Blue levels) and Zimbabwe (Orange).

William E

General William E. Ward, the head of the United States African Command (USAFRICOM), and the military commander of the CODAMIZ operation.

Kenyan Soldiers transport with USAF C-17

Soldiers of the Kenyan Army's contingent to CODAMIZ is boarding a C-17 Globemaster III of the United States Air Force at Moi Air Base in Nairobi, Kenya on April 9, 2009.

List of Coalition forces by number of military personnel
  Country     Number of personnel     Comments  
US flag 51 stars United States 34,000

1st Infantry Division 1st Infantry Division

  • 1st Brigade Combat Team (Heavy) "Devil Brigade"
  • 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Heavy) "Dagger Brigade"
  • 3rd Brigade Combat Team (Infantry) "Duke Brigade"

3rd Infantry Division 3rd Infantry Division

  • 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Spartan"
  • 3rd Brigade Combat Team "Sledgehammer"
  • 4th Brigade Combat Team (Light) "Vanguard"

101st Airborne Division 101st Airborne Division

  • 4th Brigade Combat Team ("Currahee")(♠)

75th Ranger Regiment 75th Ranger Regiment

  • 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom     15,000 7th Armoured Brigade 7th Armoured Brigade
  • The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys)
  • The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • The 9/12th Lancers
  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment
  • 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery

19th Light Brigade 19th Light Brigade

  • The Queen's Royal Lancers
  • 1st Battalion Welsh Guards
  • The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland
  • 2nd Battalion, The Rifles
  • 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment (Worcesters and Foresters)

16th Air Assault Brigade 16th Air Assault Brigade

  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment
Flag of South Africa South Africa 8,400 South African Armoured Corps
  • 1 SA Tk Regt Badge 1st South African Tank Regiment

South African Infantry Corps

  • 4 SAI Bn Badge 4th South African Infantry Battalion
  • 7 SAI Bn Badge 7th South African Infantry Battalion
  • 15th South African Infantry Battalion

South African Artillery

  • 14 SA Art Regt Badge 4th Artillery Regiment
Flag of France France 4,000 French Expeditionary Unit:
  • 5e RIAOM logo 5eme Regiment Interarmes d'Outre Mer
  • 2e REP logo 2e Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes
  • Support units
Flag of Ethiopia Ethiopia 2,200 Combat troops and logistical units
Flag of Indonesia Indonesia 1,400
Flag of Egypt Egypt 1,200 Combat troops, medical and logistical units
Flag of Jordan Jordan 1,000 Combat troops, medical and logistical units
Flag of Bangladesh Bangladesh 900
Flag of Burkina Faso Burkina Faso 800
Flag of Cameroon Cameroon 800
Flag of Kenya Kenya 800 Combat troops and logistical units
Flag of Botswana Botswana 680 Combat troops and logistical units
Flag of Ghana Ghana 600
Flag of Nigeria Nigeria 600
Flag of Senegal Senegal 600
Flag of Liberia Liberia 300
Flag of Italy Italy 280 Battalion consisting of combat troops, logistical, engineers, medical
and communication units
Flag of Denmark Denmark 250 Battalion consisting of combat troops, engineers and communication units  
Flag of Sweden Sweden 220 Battalion consisting of engineers, medical and communication units
Flag of the Czech Republic Czech Republic 220 Battalion consisting of engineers, chemical and medical units
Flag of Djibouti Djibouti 100
Flag of Ireland Ireland 100 Logistics and engineers units
Flag of Mozambique Mozambique 100 Logistics and medical units
Flag of Tanzania Tanzania 100 Logistics and military police units
Flag of Zambia Zambia 100 Logistics and medical units
Flag of Rwanda Rwanda 80 Logistics and medical units

The Armed Forces of Zimbabwe[]

The armed forces of Zimbabwe are composed of an army (ZNA) and an air force (AFZ). The most senior commander of Zimbabwe's army is currently General Constantine Chiwenga. As a landlocked country, Zimbabwe has no navy.

The Zimbabwe Defence Force has an official authorised strength of 40,000 but there are thought to be only 34,000 troops currently serving. 30,000 men and women serve in the ZNA, which has an authorised strength of 42,000, and 4000 serve in the AFZ. Financial constraints saw the army reduced to 30,000 from the previous 46,000 in 2006. A major recruitment drive was, however, planned for 2007 to replace retiring personnel. There is only a small unit of naval soldiers, the 40-strong Boat Squadron, which is an engineering sub-unit of the ZNA. In July 1994 the combined Zimbabwe Defence Forces Headquarters was created. The branches are Zimbabwe National Army, Air Force of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Republic Police (includes Police Support Unit, Paramilitary Police).

The government has been accused by the MDC of politicising the security forces. ZANU-PF loyalists from the liberation war dominate the senior echelons of the Zimbabwe Defence Force (ZDF) and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and have vested interests in perpetuating ZANU-PF's political dominance, if not Mugabe's own presidency. There are concerns whether hardliners among the security forces and among ruling party supporters would accept any regime change. In March 2008 the army threatened to overturn the constitutional order if President Robert Mugabe lost the election later in the month. Soldiers were being mobilised by Mugabe ahead of the run-off election between him and Morgan Tsvangirai the following June, from which the latter subsequently withdrew following escalating violence against Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) members.

The danger of ageing within the ZDF has been a cause for concern for personnel planners, whilst HIV/AIDS is also likely to take a massive toll on military personnel and potential recruits. Recent reports have stated that the army is struggling to adequately feed many of its troops due to severe shortages of funds. Despite a 231 percent increase in salaries in 2006, some members continue to resign or desert. Meanwhile, the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) lacks a coherent future direction having lost much of its effectiveness since 1999.

Title Name
Political leadership
   Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces:       President Robert Gabriel Mugabe   
   Minister of Defence:       Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa   
   Secretary for Defence:       Trust Kenneth Maposa   
   Minister of National Security:       Dr. Sydney Sekeramayi   
   Director General, Central Intelligence Organisation:       Brigadier General (ret.) Happyton Bonyongwe   
Military leadership
   Commander of the Defence Forces:       General Constantine Guveya Chiwenga   
   Commander, Zimbabwe National Army:       Lieutenant General Phillip Velario Sibanda   
   Commander, Air Force of Zimbabwe:       Air Marshal Perrance Shiri   
   Inspector General of the Home Guard:       Major General Bernt Brovold   
   Chief of Joint Operational Headquarters:       Vice Admiral Jan Reksten   


The Zimbabwe National Army is formally committed to reducing the number of serving personnel to 25,000, although the authorised strength will remain at 42,000. Involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) up to 2002 and the continuing political crisis has severely affected plans to reorganise the army. The army has already redistributed members of 6th Brigade, an infantry formation that was never properly constituted. A brigade headquarters and six battalions have so far been disbanded. The last phase of the reorganisation will see three more battalions disbanded, resulting in five brigade headquarters, all with two attached battalions, and support units such as engineers available to them on request. The intention is to reduce the Parachute Group, the Commando Group and the Presidential Guards into regimental-size formations, although it is understood that the Presidential Guard will probably ultimately consist of a two-battalion strength formation. The ZNA is currently divided into five brigade headquarters, four of which are based on geographical areas; the fifth is the elite presidential guard unit based in Harare.

The operational order of battle comprises:

  • One armoured regiment; organised in accordance with Chinese practices
  • One field artillery regiment; equipped with Chinese weapons and including two air defence batteries tasked with protecting armour and artillery *on the move. The air defence forces are equipped with guns and shoulder-launched missiles only
  • 12 infantry battalions
  • Five motorised battalions
  • One mechanised battalion
  • One armoured vehicle mounted battalion
  • Three guards battalions
  • One commando battalion
  • One parachute battalion
  • Two Presidential Guard battalions
  • One Special Air Service (ZimbSAS) regiment

Although intervention in the DRC conflict was unpopular amongst Zimbabwe's population and many military personnel, the reward of part payment in US dollars of wages and allowances soon had many soldiers hoping to be deployed to the DRC. Press reports that soldiers were mutinying and refusing to go to the DRC and of their subsequent court martials, while correct, were never anywhere on the scale hinted at by the independent press. Fewer than 20 soldiers from different ranks refused to go out of the eventual 11,000 deployed. This ratio of malcontents is acceptable in any army.

Nonetheless, the Mugabe regime's use of the army over the past five years or more as an oppressive tool against Zimbabweans and frequent non-payment of wages has led to increasing reports of desertions among both the rank and file and mid-level officers. For example, Jane's Defence Weekly reported in January 2006 that 2136 junior officers were believed to have submitted their resignations since October 2005. While the army is unlikely to have accepted the bulk of these resignations, it clearly shows growing unease among army personnel with the country's downward spiral. This was demonstrated most profoundly in June 2007 when the Mugabe government announced that seven current and former military officers were arrested for allegedly plotting a coup; the plotters claim they were only organising a new political party. In late June 2007, one of the plotters, Brigadier General Ambrose Gunda (former commander of the Presidential Guard), was killed in what the government said was a road accident.

Air Force[]

In regional terms the Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) was, for a considerable time, perceived to be a capable and competent force. Since 1999, however, much of this air arm's effectiveness has been lost. Worrisome developments include the lack of a coherent future direction for the force. For the AFZ, an increase in flying time, timely supply of spare parts and realistic tasking orders and procedures would enhance capabilities.

While the arms embargoes imposed by the EU, UK and US are significant factors, it is the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy that has been most responsible for the effective grounding of the AFZ from 1999-2000 onward. Other factors contributing to the lack of flying include the near wholesale promotion of pilots to desk job positions in late 1999 before replacements had fully worked through the system and acquired sufficient proficiency. The scale of unwarranted promotions raised concerns over the morale and motivation of AFZ pilots, for it was only after intelligence reports from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) indicated (falsely) that the Rwandan Air Wing had purchased aircraft equipped with air-to-air missiles that the movement of flight personnel to desk positions occurred. By mid-2002, AFZ losses in the DRC resulting from enemy action were confirmed as three Hawks, two Mi-35 'Hinds', two Alouette IIIs, one FTB 337G and one SF 260. In view of recent reports of wide scale disaffection and desertions from the army because of non-payment, the situation for the air force may well deteriorate further, quite probably compounded by the world's highest inflation rate that in August 2008 reaching an official rate of 11.2 million per cent.


On April 10, 2009 at approximately at 3:33 AM local time, explosions were heard in Harare as the missiles of the US and British bomber aircraft and US cruiser missiles hit military installations and governmental offices. Twenty minutes later Coalition aircraft also attacked army barracks, military installations and supply depots around Zimbabwe, taking the Zimbabwean Army completely by surprise. Special operations commandos from the CIA's Special Activities Division from the Northern Zimbabwe Liaison Element and the British Defence Intelligence Staff infiltrated throughout Zimbabwe and called in the early air strikes. At 02:15 UTC, or 9:15 PM EST, US President George W. Bush announced that the CODAMIZ operation had been initiated to "remove President Mugabe from power and install Tsvangirai as the head of government.

At 4:10 AM Coalition aircraft attacked the Zimbabwean air base at Thornhill, at which the Zimbabwean Air Force was located. They were taken by complete surprise, and along with 20 levelled hangars while destroying several aircraft on the ground, including five F-7 IIN fighter jets, eight FTB 337G counter insurgency aircraft and three Mi-35 Hind combat helicopters.

Following the destruction of the Zimbabwean Air Force, the Coalition air power returned to targeting military and governmental installations and offices, while imposing a blockade on the Harare International Airport in order to prevent Mugabe and his government from escaping, while continuing targeting military installations and army units.

Air campaign[]

Ground campaign[]

Two hours later, at 5:40 AM the Coalition troops launched the ground assault on Zimbabwe. The American, British and South African planners intended to fully exploit Zimbabwes long border and its landlocked location. CODAMIZ units were to invade Zimbabwe from four directions:

  • A main attack over the South African-Zimbabwean border. This was to be carried out by CODAMIZ-SOUTH, consisting of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st US Infantry Division, the British 7th Armoured Brigade and 19th Light Brigade, and the 4th, 7th and 15th South African Infantry Battalions and the 1st South African Tank Regiment. The US troops would cross the border at Beitbridge at the Western flank after which they would advance on Rutenga, Gwanda, Zvishavane, Masvingo, Gweru, Redcliff and then Harare. The British and South Africans would cross the border at Sengwe on the Eastern flank and then advance on Rutenga, Birchenough Bridge, Masvingo, Chivhu, Chitungwiza and then Harare.
  • A second route of attack over the Mozambiquean-Zimbabwean border. This was to be carried out by CODAMIZ-EAST, which consisted of US, French and other CODAMIZ nations. To the north, the 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams of the 3rd US Infantry Division, supported by troop contingents from Ethiopia, Liberia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Ireland, would cross the border and then advance on Mutoko and then Harare. In the middle, the French 5eme Regiment Interarmes d'Outre Mer and 2e Régiment Étranger de Parachutistes supported by Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Djiboutian troop contingents, would cross the border at Murare and then advance on Nyazure, Rusape and then on Harare. To the south, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Egyptian and Jordanian troops would cross the border at and then advance southward through Hot Springs toward Birchenough Bridge, where they would join up with the British and South African elements of CODAMIZ-SOUTH.
  • To the north, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd US Infantry Division (CODAMIZ-NORTH) would cross the border at Chirundu and Kariba and then advance southward through Makuti toward Karoi, in order to prevent the Zimbabwean leadership to escape northward and to distract any Zimbabwean military forces there. Then the advance should continue through Chinhoyi toward Harare.
  • Meanwhile, the 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division would be dropped by helicopters into the fields around the towns of Bindura and Kildonan, with the objective to seize and control the surrounding area in order to prevent the Zimbabwean leadership to escape northward and to distract any Zimbabwean military forces there. Later they would be joined by the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
  • To the west, a mixed contingent of Botswanan, Nigerian, Senegalese, Ghanaian, Cameroonian and Zambian forces (totaling), supported by 4000 US soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, made up the bulk of the CODAMIZ-WEST. Their objectives were to cross the Zimbabwean border from Botswana and Zambia and seize Victoria Falls and Hwange, and then continue southeastward along the Gwayi River toward Dahlia and Lupane, and then rendezvous with the British and Botswanan forces advancing into Zimbabwe farther to the south.
  • A smaller detachment subordinated to CODAMIZ-WEST consited of British and Botswanan forces. the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment of the 16th Air Assault Brigade would be dropped behind enemy lines by helicopters outside of Bulawayo, while Botswanan forces crossed the Zimbabwean border at Plumtree and advanced toward Bulawayo. The The Royal Irish Regiment would seize the airport at Bulawayo and then engage and eliminate the Zimbabwean resistance in the Bulawayo area. When this had been completed, they would advance northward and join up with the main bulk of CODAMIZ-WEST.

The US forces' southern offensive[]


US soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, advance along a road toward Gwanda on April 17, 2009.

The southern offensive began at 5:40 AM when elements of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta (Delta Force) crossed the South African-Zimbabwean border and seized the border crossings at Beitbrirdge. After one-half hour of engaging, the 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st US Infantry Division began pouring into Zimbabwe.

The first objective of the 1st US Infantry Division was to capture the border town of Beitbrirdge. Shortly after the US forces had crossed the border they ran into elements of two companies of the Zimbabwean Army, having been deployed at the border the week before. Consisting of 350 men, they were only equipped with small arms and a few RPG-7 anti-tank weapons, their ammunition supplies were low, and morale was insufficient. However, through fierce house-to-house close combat the US forces had to advance slowly through the streets of the border town. After eight hours of fighting the Zimbabwean soldier's ammunition supplies had run out, as the armoured elements of the 1st Brigade Combat Team had advanced around the town's flanks and rendezvoused at the town's airfield 2 km north of the town. Subsequently the remaining Zimbabwean soldiers capitulated to the Americans. The battle had cost the lives of 147 Zimbabwean soldiers while the US had suffered 15 killed and 67 wounded.

After regrouping the 1st US Infantry Division began the advance northward into Zimbabwe. Without meeting any resistance, they advanced over 70 km withing a day, and in the night of April 16-17 they were around 10 km outside of the settlement of Makado, where another Zimbabwean infantry company had assembled to put up some resistance against the advancing US forces. In preparation of the assault on the settlement five AH-64D combat helicopters were dispatched to soften the Zimbabwean positions at 10:00 AM, and the air assault took the Zimbabweans completely surprise, who lacked any heavy weapons to engage the helicopters. At noon the US forces initiated a pincer-movement, where US soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team engaged the Zimbabwean positions head-on by machine gun and mortar fire while M1A2 Abrams tanks of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team flanked the Zimbabwean and rendezvoused five km northwest of Makado, where they began engaging the Zimbabwean soldiers from the rear. Seeing that further resistance was futile, the Zimbabwean soldiers capitulated after one hour, having suffered 61 casualties with no US losses.

The US advance continued later that afternoon, pursuing the retreating Zimbabwean soldiers to West Nicholson. Here they again attempted setting up defensive positions against the advancing forces, but before they had had any chance of preparations they were engaged by the forward elements of the 1st Brigade Combat Team at 8:00 PM After 20 minutes of fighting and 36 killed they had to withdraw westward to Gwanda, where the remaining 203 soldiers joined up with 300 ZANU-PF loyalists to set up a line of defences around the town and the road leading northward to Esigodini.


US soldiers from 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team engages Zimbabwean soldiers outside of Esigodini on April 20, 2009.

At 8:00 AM on April 18 the 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams began the assault on Gwanda, supported by AH-64D combat helicopters and A-10 Thunderbolt II close support aircraft. While the air force destroyed any transport vehicles and heavy equipment on the ground, the M1A2 tanks of the 1st Brigade Combat Team engaged the Zimbabwean soldiers while the 3rd Brigade Combat Team advanced northward to circumvent the town and attack it from the north. However, while the infantry company's positions were overrun and began retreating northward after one hour of fighting, the 300 ZANU-PF loyalists continued the fight, and after two hours of additionl fighting over 250 of them had been killed; the remaining had retreated northward. Again, the US forces had suffered only light casualites in form of 34 wounded.

The advance then continued, and by the evening of April 19 they had advanced over 80 km and were now outside of Esigodini. Here the remaining 50 ZANU-PF militiamen along with 73 army soldiers were preparing for a final stance against the US forces. Their ammunition supplies were almost depleted, the morale among the soldiers were low (however they were pushed to fight by the ZANU-PF), and lacked heavy equipment. As a result, they had to prepare Molotov cocktails and booby trap buildings.

The next morning the US forces launched the assault on the settlement. Resistance was fierce, and after three hours og heavy fighting they cut of the Zimbabwean soldier's route of retreat in a pincer movement. After an additional hour of fighting they had lost 87 men; the remaining 36 capitulated to the Americans. While the US soldiers only suffered 20 wounded in the assault, five soldiers were killed when they entered a booby trapped building. As a result, they interrogated all of the ZANU-PF loyalists to name all of the buildings that had been booby trapped.

Later that evening, they continued the advance northward, and at 4:00 PM on April 20 they rendezvoused with the elements having advanced from the west through Bulawayo, thus linking the western and southern invasion forces before continuing toward Gweru.

Battle of Bulawayo[]
Battle of Masvingo[]
Battle of Birchenough Bridge[]
Battles of Redcliff and Kwe Kwe[]
Zimbabwean Type 59 in Kwe Kwe

A Zimbabwean Type 59 main battle tank takes up position in Kwe Kwe on April 23, 2009.

Destroyed Zimbabwean Type 59 I

A destroyed Zimbabwean Type 59 main battle tank in Kwe Kwe on April 25, 2009.

Destroyed Zimbabwean Type 59 II

A destroyed Zimbabwean Type 59 main battle tank in Kwe Kwe on April 25, 2009.

The battle was a decisive victory for the CODAMIZ forces. During the battle, only two Abrams tanks were hit by direct fire and disabled; none were destroyed. On the other hand, the US forces managed to destroy 28 Zimbabwean tanks (mostly Type 69s and old, outdated Type 59s) and 109 armored vehicles (67 EE-9 Cascavels, 21 Type 63s and 21 BTR-50s) as well as several army trucks and artillery pieces (D-30s and Type 60s). Ten of the Zimbabwean tanks were eliminated by six US AH-64 Apaches from 5 km away at night and by US Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.

628 Zimbabwean soldiers had been killed during the battle while 1200 had been wounded. The 51st Infantry Battalion's strength had been reduced to 37%, while the 52nd Infantry Battalion had been reduced to 51% of its original strength. The Mechanized Brigade had lost over 80% of its operational strength. 38 US soldiers had been killed during the battle, while 127 had been wounded.

Battle of Chegutu[]

Western offensive[]

Eastern offensive[]

Battle of Mutoko[]
Battle of Rusape[]

Northern offensive[]

Operations of 101st Airborne Division[]
101st Airborne Division in Zimbabwe I

US soldiers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division outside of Bindura on April 15, 2009.

101st Airborne Division in Zimbabwe II

US soldiers from 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division are flown in by helicopter during the start of Operation Democratic Change on April 15, 2009, outside of Kildonan.

Western offensive[]

Battle of Harare[]

The Invasion was led by the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 1st US Infantry Division and the 2nd and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams of the 3rd US Infantry Division, supported by M1A2 Abrams tanks, M2 Bradley fighting vehicles and HMMWV armored vehicles. The invasion of the city commenced two days after CODAMIZ forces had secured the Harare airport.

On April 28, the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment and the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team supported by The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the 7th South African Infantry Battalion assaulted the Harare International Airport located south of the city. Here they encountered elements of the Presidential Guard and an infantry battalion supported by six entrenched Type 59 main battle tanks. Resistance was fierce, but after eight hours of fighting the overwhelming pressure broke the Zimbabwean defences. By the end of the day, all Type 59 tanks had been destroyed along with 238 soldiers killed. Coalition losses totalled eigthy dead, sixty wounded and a damaged M1A2 Abrams and Challenger II. As the Coalition forces searched the airport, US soldiers found the dead body of Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba, the commander of the 2nd Zimbabwean Brigade. He thus became the highest-ranking officer to be confirmed dead.

The day after, the tanks of the 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment and 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment sent limited tank raids into the heart of Harare. Here Americansoldiers battled Zimbabwean forces in heavy street fights, and elements of the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards were sent in to support them. Meanwhile, the CODAMIZ coalition forces continued strengthening their grip on Harare while engaging random pockets of opposition, mainly by ZANU-PF loyalists and army elements. On May 1st, satellite channels broadcast the besieged Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe among cheering crowds, most of them ZANU-PF loyalists, as the US-led troops pushed the capital city. This impromptu walkabout was probably his last and his reasons for doing so are still unclear. It is possible that he wished to take what he thought might be his last opportunity to greet his people as their president. He was accompanied by bodyguards and other loyal supporters including his personal secretary, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga (Commander of the Defence Forces) and Emmerson D. Mnangagwa (Minister of Defence). To the crowd he declared that "The great people of Zimbabwe will never surrender to the imperialist devils nor the traitors of Tsvangirai. The world is on our side, and we will fight to the death to defend our independence." After the walkabout Mugabe returned to his residence.

On May 2nd the CODAMIZ forces continued the advance toward the city center of Harare. By noon, Coalition forces had secured vital complexes in Harare's CBD, and US and British forces were by 4:00 PM only 500 metres from the Zimbabwean Parliament. After heavy fighting, Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe and the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards had completely surrounded the Presidential Residence of Robert Mugabe by 7:00 PM, and were by 8:20 PM re-inforced by US soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

At 8:00 PM local time, President Bush issued Mugabe loyalist an ultimatum during a televised address, in which they could either "surrender or face death". If Mugabe and his leadership had not capitulated by noon on May 3rd, the CODAMIZ forces would eliminate all remaining elements of the Mugabe regime. However, when the deadline had expired without any response from the Mugabe regime, the forward elements of the CODAMIZ forces were given orders to seize the Zimbabwean Parliament and the Presidential Residence.

At 12:20 PM US, British and South African forces began the assault on the Zimbabwean Parliament. Participating in the assault was the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment and the 4th South African Infantry Battalion. The CODAMIZ soldiers fought a fierce four-hour battle as they came under fire from rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, heavy machine guns and assault rifles. Two US soldiers, two British and three South African soldiers were killed and more than 60 were wounded as they managed to seize control of the ground around the Parliament building. At the same time, they assaulted the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Organisation. Also here they encountered heavy resistance from ZANU-PF loyalists and other security forces, and only after two hours of clearing room for room, they had completely secured the complex. During the firefight, Happyton Bonyongwe, director general of the CIO, was killed by British soldiers, and 200 metres from the complex Dr. Sydney Sekeramayi, the Minister of National Security, was captured by US soldiers as he tried to escape the British soldiers.

At 4:00 PM 200 soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment and the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment entered the parliament building and cleared the complex room by room for ZANU-PF members and Zimbabwean soldiers fighting to their death. As they reached the main chamber they were met by heavy fire from assault rifles, but the room was cleared after tossing a hand grenade inside it. Within the room the US soldiers found the dead bodies of Trust Kenneth Maposa (Secretary for Defence) and Joseph Msika (Vice President of Zimbabwe). After one hour of heavy fighting the Parliament had thus been cleared for Mugabe loyalists.

The Presidential Residence, also called the State House, housing President Robert Mugabe as well as Minister of Defence Emmerson D. Mnangagwa and Gen. Constantine Chiwenga, was the final objective of the CODAMIZ forces. At a ceremony at the State House, Mugabe named Gen. Constantine Chiwenga as his successor.

At 7:00 PM, with gunfire and explosions clearly audible in the background, Mugabe gave his farewell speech to Zimbabweans on live radio and live television, speaking of his love for Zimbabwe and calling upon the downfall of Western Imperialism and Colonialism. He stated that his commitment to Zimbabwe did not allow him to take an easy way out and be used as a propaganda tool by those he called "traitors" (supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T), clearly implying he intended to fight to the end.


US soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment outside the State House in Harare, Zimbabwe, preparing to storm the building in the early hours of May 4, 2009.

At 11:00 PM on May 3rd, Lt.Col. Thorneloe personally led the assault on the State House, but as the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards and the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment attempted to sneak inside the State House they faced heavy resistance from soldiers of the Presidential Guard armed with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, heavy machine guns and assault rifles. During the assault on the compound itself five US soldiers and three British soldiers were killed, and by 3:30 AM they had secured the courtyard. Five minutes later the US Rangers stormed the building, followed by the British soldiers. The cleared the building room by room as they encountered fanatic Guardists. During the assault Lt. Col. Thorneloe was injuring in the shoulder and the leg by gunshots, but refused to withdraw from the fighting. At 3:43 AM Brig. Gen. Armstrong Gunda, the Head of the Presidential Guard, was shot and killed by British soldiers. As the Rangers continued through the building, they finally reached Mugabe's office, but were fired upon by Guardist guarding it. As the US Rangers entered the room, they found the dead body of Robert Mugabe with a gunshot on his right temple. According to initial observations by US Rangers and Lt.Col. Thorneloe, he had committed suicide by shooting himself with a golden Makarov PM semi-automatic pistol, which was found close to the body. This claim was later supported by non-partisan investigators later on. However, neither Mnangagwa nor Gen. Chiwenga were located at the State House.

Two hours later the news of Mugabe's death reached both the people of Zimbabwe and international news agencies, but there was still wide confusion in the early hours of May 4. At 9:20 AM Gen. Chiwenga, having succeeded Mugabe as president, announced that "our great leader, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, was killed last night while fighting off the Imperialist invaders. We will honour his legacy by fighting to the end."

While most remaining Zimbabwean soldiers now surrendered to CODAMIZ soldiers or to armed supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change — Tsvangirai, small pockets continued to fight the CODAMIZ forces. By late afternoon on May 4th the last shots were fired in resistance to the CODAMIZ forces in Harare. One American soldier was killed at noon while clearing a final ZANU-PF stronghold.


As the last ZANU-PF and military stronghold were being cleared by CODAMIZ forces in Harare, the final elements of the Mugabe regime were eliminated or captured. At 1:36 PM, Gen. Constantine Chiwenga was killed in a firefight between US soldiers and Zimbabwean soldiers at a checkpoint as he attempted to escape Harare. At 2:15 PM a joint delegation led by Minister of Defence Emmerson D. Mnangagwa and Lt. Gen. Phillip Velario Sibanda (CO of Zimbabwe National Army) met with the Supreme Commander of the CODAMIZ Operation, General William E. Ward, as well as the Commanders of the US, British, South African and French forces.

At 6:00 PM General Ward announced in a televised press conference that Robert Mugabe had committed suicide during a firefight with CODAMIZ forces, and that the Mugabe regime had capitulated to CODAMIZ forces.

International response[]

Protests against the intervention[]



Transfer of power[]

Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2009[]

Main article: Zimbabwean parliamentary election, 2009

See also[]