The British involvement in Radfan began during the Aden Crisis, with rebels using the Dhala road to bringdown supplies for the terrorists in Aden. The British Army took the decision to deploy a garrison into the Radfan to limit the rebels supplies and thus the Radfan tribesmen's ability to blackmail the traders. The Radfan tribesmen were aided and supplied by the Yemenis, who themselves had received aid and supplies from the Egyptians, and soon had Dhala under daily attack.
According to the Commanding Officer of 45 Commando, Lt-Colonel Paddy Stevens, the tribesmen of the Radfan were 'a xenophobic lot, equipped from boyhood with rifles, who regarded the British arrival in their mountains as an opportunity for target practice'. The tribesmen mined the road from Aden and ambushed Army convoys, they made the position of the British and Federal garrison as difficult as possible. The usual method of aerial leaflet drops and bombings could not be employed following worldwide critical reaction against similar Egyptian tactics in the Yemen, so the task of counter-attacks was left to the infantry.