|Name Jan Breytenbach|
|Other work Author|
|Born 4 July 1933 (age 82) (1933-07-04) |
Allegiance Republic of South Africa United Kingdom
Years of service 1950–1955 South African Army1955–1961 Royal Navy1961–1987 South African Army
Awards Van Riebeeck Decoration (DVR) Southern Cross Decoration (SD) Southern Cross Medal (SM) Military Merit Medal (MMM)
Organizations founded 32 Battalion, South African Special Forces
Books The Buffalo Soldiers, Eden's exiles, Eagle Strike!: The Controver, The plunderers, They live by the sword
Jan Dirk Breytenbach DVR SD SM MMM (born 4 July 1933) was appointed by General Fritz Loots, the founder of the South African Special Forces Brigade, as the first commander of 1 Reconnaissance Commando, the first unit founded within the South African Special Forces. He was also appointed as the first commander of the 32 Battalion, known colloquially as "Buffalo Battalion", as well as 44 Parachute Brigade.
Breytenbach attended the Army Gymnasium in 1950, and was awarded the Sword of Peace in 1953 and joined the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm after serving in the Armoured Corps and saw service in the Suez Crisis in 1956. He rejoined the South African Defence Force in 1961 and soon after completed one of 1 Parachute Battalion's courses. He founded 1 Reconnaissance Commando in 1971.
He attended Staff College in 1977 and was promoted to colonel. In 1978, lead the SADF air assault on Cassinga, and has continued to the present day to contest opposing versions of the event in the press.
He became senior staff officer for operations at Northern Transvaal Command and commanded 44 Parachute Brigade from 24 September 1980 to 31 December 1982. He founded the SADF Guerilla school, which he commanded until his retirement.
Breytenbach retired from the military in 1987, and has written a number of books since then. He is the brother of South African poet and writer Breyten Breytenbach and of war correspondent/photographer Cloete Breytenbach. During the 1980s, Breyten and Jan Breytenbach held strongly opposing political viewpoints, so with his brother opting for a more left-wing approach, this influential family effectively covered the political spectrum.