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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Friday, May 8, 2015

SUCCESSFUL COMBAT OPERATIONS


Whereas influences such as adherence to the principles, air superiority, relative strengths, selection, training, equipment, doctrine, communications, leadership, terrain, operational design, and so forth play a crucial role in determining the outcome of any combat operation, I believe the most important criterion for ground forces to attain victory on the battlefield are:
 
  1. Timing: The timing of any attack or strike is crucial to throwing an enemy off balance and seizing the initiative, especially if the enemy’s intentions and routine are known and the forces are able to conduct both day and night operations. Climatic conditions and variations, along with terrain, must be considered to enable the timing of the attack or strike to place the enemy at a distinct disadvantage. The timing for lifting stand-off bombardments and air delivered fire must enable the ground forces to close with the enemy and annihilate him. Timing can increase operational and tactical surprise and result in increased momentum and tempo.  
  2. Synchronicity: The manoeuvre of forces along with direct and indirect fire must be synchronised with close air support to achieve the best effect to degrade and destroy the enemy and his materiel. This requires the force to have good communications at all times. Similarly, swarm attacks must be synchronised to coincide with other operations in the enemy’s deployment area.
  3. Surprise: Surprise is a force-multiplier and is the result of agility, speed, shock action, operational security and deception. Its aim is to throw the enemy off balance, regain and maintain the initiative and momentum, and disrupt and exploit the enemy’s confusion. The enemy must be forced to defend over multiple fronts against both conventional and unconventional direct and indirect approaches. Surprise must always be exploited.
  4. Tempo: Tempo is the result of momentum combined with speed of action/reaction. Aimed at forcing the enemy into a defensive or reactive posture, it enables the attacking forces to increase momentum, pressure and shock action and thereby force the enemy into a disadvantage. High-tempo operations must give the enemy no respite but must be logistically sustainable.
  5. Manoeuvre: Horisontal and vertical envelopment/manoeuvre options are dictated by terrain and the manoeuvre assets a force has at its disposal. Rapid manoeuvre, ever-increasing momentum and tempo, and synchronised firepower is essential to annihilate the enemy.   
  6. Firepower: Focused firepower is required to overwhelm and annihilate the enemy. All direct, indirect and air-delivered fire must be coordinated and synchronised to achieve maximum effect. Uncoordinated firepower will not achieve a decisive result.
  7. Speed: Speed of action/reaction is required to disrupt the enemy’s intentions, increase momentum and tempo, place additional pressure on the enemy and buckle his defences or disrupt his intentions. Speed of action and reaction can seize the initiative from the enemy and surprise him. Manoeuvre assets add to speed.     
  8. Logistics: An efficient and functional logistical system is required to sustain operations. A failure in logistics will reduce momentum, tempo, manoeuvre, firepower and speed and thereby cede initiative to the enemy. A force lacking in logistics will lose momentum and become a vulnerable force that is unable to withstand enemy attacks.
However, the manner in which the armed forces are organised, structured, trained, equipped, and led will determine the manner in how they will fight to achieve victory—or flee the battlefield in disarray.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

THANK YOU RDDC!




It was a great honour and privilege to have been invited to Copenhagen, Denmark, to address interested parties and Masters-level students at the Royal Danish Defence College (RDDC) on “New Wars”.

Whereas my contribution to the seminar and the subsequent debate as well as the lectures on New Wars was miniscule at best, it was heartening to see the interest shown by those I engaged with regarding the many conflicts we experience – and will continue to experience – in Africa.

The visit to the RDDC also allowed us to discuss numerous issues such as politics in Africa, the development of conflict and war, why governments fail, the scourge of poaching and where they think Africa is possibly going wrong.

We also discussed issues such as the threats facing Africa, the role of foreign powers, the UN and PMCs and why many if not most of these interventions fail or deliver very little results – in many instances only escalating the already-existing tensions and conflicts. 

These discussions made me realize that the intent of those I spoke with at the RDDC have a genuine desire to see an improvement in Africa’s lot. To Africa, that can only be good.

My sincerest thanks to the Royal Danish Defence College as well as everyone who partook in our discussions and in particular to Professors Thomas Mandrup and Stig Jenson for the friendship and the opportunity given to me.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

FEEDING THE NARRATIVE


The recent activities of STTEP International Ltd in Nigeria have given rise to a multitude of comments from some in the media, much of it aimed at trying to discredit both the Nigerian Army (NA) and STTEP and create as much controversy as possible. The term "objectivity" does not appear to be applicable to these journalists. Apart from spewing disinformation, they appear to have a need to proclaim their great understanding of African politics, military strategy and operations—despite usually getting it very wrong.

The comments and "observations" some in the media made on STTEP's involvement in Nigeria bordered on the ridiculous but these comments are important to feed the perceptions they need to create and force a continuation of their false narrative. 

Of course, the media's version of the history of Executive Outcomes (EO) was also dug up and rehashed and likewise became a focus of their attention. (I was—and still am—amazed that some journalists still believe they know more about EO than I do and now it appears they know more about STTEP than I do).

In the days of EO, some of the journalists who led the media assault were paid intelligence agents of disinformation. I exposed several of them in my book in 2007.

I have been reliably informed that some of those who escaped my book are still around and writing. So it came as no great surprise to me that some of these are the same journalists who jumped on the Nigeria bandwagon. After all, they were part of the same group that ferociously attacked EO for helping African governments. Instead, they prefer writing about the chaos, suffering, murder and mayhem these terror groups bring. This is, after all, how they make their living—and then they refer to us as "mercenaries".

One only has to look at what is written and by who to determine their agendas, where their narrative is heading and sometimes who their shadow paymasters are.

Some of them are highly agitated that I did not give them exclusive interviews especially after my six-part interview with SOFREP (http://sofrep.com). Others are calling for my/STTEP's immediate arrest and prosecution for assisting a legitimate African government that is under attack by the terrorist group known as Boko Haram. I learnt during the EO days that giving an interview to some journalists only seemed to disrupt the false narrative they were spinning. When reality did not match their agendas, it was immediately discarded and replaced with their agendas.

Some journalists have written offering to assist me in reducing the "criminality of our actions". It appears that if South Africans are called on to assist an African government fight terrorism it is considered to be "criminal". When South Africans are contracted by a foreign PMC, then it is no longer criminal!

Problem in point: STTEP is not a South African company...

What is particularly upsetting to them is that an African-managed and staffed company can be successful in Africa. This goes against everything they stand for. Instead, they appear to think assistance to the NA should have come from a foreign PMC, little knowing that foreign armies and PMCs have spent considerable time in Nigeria where "window-dressing training" has been the order of the day. But look through the window, and the room is empty.

Then there are the famous Internet trolls who allege that STTEP used "exactly the same tactics" that they spoke about to someone a while ago.

Others claim that what STTEP achieved in Nigeria was "pure luck"—much as the media claimed about EO in Angola, Sierra Leone and Indonesia. I would love to see them achieve what STTEP's training team achieved in 3 months—under exceptionally difficult and trying conditions.

Others allege that I, in person, do not do enough to condemn South Africa's politics to African governments for fear we will not get or lose contracts.

I do not need to discuss South Africa's politics with African governments—they discuss it with me. I, on the other hand, do not join in as I am a South African and regardless of what our government does or does not do, I do not hang out our dirty washing in public, nor am I in any position to change it. I am a militarist, not a politician. I leave political decisions and solutions to the politicians and only offer advice when they ask for it.

Some trolls have even expressed their disgust that STTEP has not taken up arms against the SA government! I choose to live in South Africa. Despite its challenges and problems, I remain patriotically South African and African—and will never take up arms against any legitimate government, least of all my own.

Others harp on the fact that STTEP uses "former black communist terrorists". They certainly know how to display their ignorance. STTEP will use and continue to use the right man for the job, regardless of his colour or his past political beliefs. Despite the fact that our black employees outnumbered us "palefaces" we are still regarded as "racists"—and geriatric ones at that.

Given all of the above, I am proud of what my "geriatric", "racist", "mercenary" group of trainers achieved in a very short space of time—and I am especially proud that the unit they established performed so well in action. I am equally proud that my training team and leader group were able to add value to the NA's fight against terrorism.

I suppose that is what upsets the desk-borne strategists and tacticians so much as it disrupts their false narrative...

Whenever the media embark on their agenda-driven reporting on myself and the men of STTEP, I am reminded of Hunter S Thompson's view of journalism, especially as he was a journalist:

"Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuck-offs and misfits—a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage."
(Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

CARVING-UP THE CONTINENT

Several folks have asked why I have not updated the blog and what the status of my book on warfare is.

Unfortunately – or fortunately – I have been otherwise occupied but will start updating some of the blog comments shortly.

For those who asked, the book is now complete and the artwork is being finalised. Once the artwork has been inserted, the manuscript must be edited and then only will it go to the printers.

Hereunder follows an extract from the book which is now almost 18 months behind schedule. The book is intended to be a textbook that focuses on warfare in Africa. The extract is taken from Chapter 6 (unedited) of the book:

…………………………………………………………………………………………

As a continent, Africa remains under the constant threat of destabilisation along with numerous internal, intractable crises aimed at fuelling suspicion and exploiting differences amongst the populace. These threats are aimed at creating fractious states that will be ripe for foreign intervention and ultimately the division of countries.

As a general guideline, the development of tensions along with destabilisation and revolution follows a predictable pattern in resource-rich countries:

1.     The build-up of hostilities: The ethnic, religious, political and tribal differences along with clan rivalries within a country are exploited and fuelled to increase historical tensions, political anger, dissent, disunity and hostility. The approach adopted by the sponsor-governments will be to ostensible promote “democracy”, “liberate the oppressed” and “remove a dictatorship”. Non-violent and violent protests and strikes will be encouraged by the sponsors of the hostilities. The hostilities will increase as attacks and bombings on government and private buildings and facilities along with essential infrastructure take place. Educational, emotional and symbolic targets such as schools, buses, places of worship, large outdoor congregations, sports stadiums, tourist hotels and groups and so forth will be targeted. Kidnappings of HVI’s and large groups of innocent and/or vulnerable people will occur. Provocative statements will be made on both mainstream and social media platforms to further add to tensions and suspicions. Agitators, armed militias, insurgent and even terrorist groups will be given or promised support and encouraged to conduct armed attacks against the government. The pattern of armed destabilisation will aim to fuel radical actions and thereby force the intelligence services, the law enforcement agencies and the armed forces to either overreact – in which case they will be condemned - or to operate over a wide front thereby stretching their abilities and resources. Ultimately, this will render the country weak, endanger the population, create both fear and an uncontrollable refugee problem and economically drain the country, thus rendering it vulnerable to foreign intervention and manipulation.

2.     Internationalising the hostilities: The escalating violence between contrasting ethnic, religious and/or tribal groups will result in international calls for the situation to be contained. The government will be faced with a growing insurgency supported by acts of terrorism. Calls will be made by foreign governments, international bankers, the United Nations and advocacy groups and NGOs for sanctions, humanitarian aid and assistance and even for armed foreign intervention to establish “democracy” and “stability”. Limited air attacks will be aimed at damaging the economy and destroying the infrastructure. Covert support by the sponsors, including arms, finances and moral support will be channelled to one or more of the clashing factions to ensure a continuation and an escalation of hostilities. Agitators, insurgent leaders and warlords will be the prime beneficiaries of this covert assistance and support. International think-tanks and crisis-resolution groups will be established to mediate the “problem” and envoys will be despatched to negotiate settlements and assist with the establishment of “democracy” and “security” or the “removal of a dictatorship”. Every attempt to bring the problem under the international spotlight will be propagated and exploited. However, the powers that created the destabilisation will be planning on how best to divide the country and gain strategic and economic advantages from such a division.

3.     Intervention and division: Resultant from the internationalisation of the destabilisation and the subsequent chaos and carnage, an increase in international debates will take place and methods devised on how best to contain and resolve the situation. The conflict will become commercialised and agreements made in lieu of assistance. Weapons, ammunition, vehicles and training will be given or sold to the side that can pay for them – and sometimes to both sides. Calls will be made for international peacekeeping forces to be deployed under the auspices of the UN or the AU to separate the warring factions. Foreign governments will despatch military advisors to “monitor” the situation and provide advice. Often, the advice will be aimed at increasing the problem as opposed to resolving the problem. Where training is given, it will be sub-standard and/or irrelevant as the government forces are set-up for failure. If necessary, air attacks will be intensified in order to destroy as much of the essential infrastructure as possible. Calls will be made for the country to be divided into two or more “new states” to bring about peace and stability and ensure “democracy” and “freedom” for the populace caught between the warring parties or factions. By engineering the division of countries and installing puppet or proxy governments that serve the interests of the sponsoring governments, the beneficiaries of the natural resources ie energy and minerals will be the powers that instigated the destabilisation. The newly-found pseudo-states will now (hopefully) serve the interests of their benefactors.


It is therefore important that governments do not merely label threats by the actions or the tactics they apply but instead determine the root cause of the problem and understand the aim and/or purpose of the threat’s actions and deeds along with its support.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

POLITICO-SECURITY ADVICE

Thanks to numerous high-level contacts on the continent, I have been able to accurately predict the current scenarios in Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, South Sudan and other African countries - prior to these problems manifesting themselves. 
  
I have now set-up a private consultancy to provide confidential advice to governments and corporations on political, security and investment climates in African countries.

This advice focuses on matters as diverse as national strategies and national security strategies, business strategies, market research, planning, management, market penetration and investment security.


Interested parties can contact me via my blog.

Monday, March 3, 2014

ANOTHER “EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES” SURFACES…

They seem to pop up all over the world so it was not too much of a surprise to find that another “Executive Outcomes” has surfaced  - this time in South Africa (again).

This lot call themselves the “Executive Outcomes Group” (http://www.eogroup.biz) and have even claimed the old EO logo for themselves.

I suppose I should be too surprised at this.

It is indeed strange how many folks out there are starting up companies and branding themselves as “Executive Outcomes” and either make use of the old “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” approach or simply just imply that they are “EO reborn”. I suspect this is done to claim a record and success and use the implication to get contracts.

I wish to place on record that this crowd – just like the rest of them out there – were never the real Executive Outcomes – despite using the company logo - and those who fall for their claims do so at their own peril.

What is it with these people who want to be wannabees – or do they simply not have the time to apply original thinking? EO may have closed down several years ago but I shall not allow them to pose as something they never were and are not. In fact, that is fraudulent representation.

Shame on them…

Friday, February 14, 2014

MISSING THE POINT WITH COUNTER INSURGENCY (COIN)

I thoroughly enjoy discussions on conflicts, insurgencies and wars and the countering of these actions, regardless if I agree with them or not. I know many criticise and do not agree with my viewpoints and view them as too simplistic. What I consider to be critical in the ending of a conflict, an insurgency or civil war has been very successfully applied in practise. Food for thought is, however, never bad food regardless of how it is served.

Insurgencies are not new, nor does fighting them require a “new” way of fighting. Nor do fighting insurgencies need to be long, protracted and costly affairs if the strategy is balanced. However, there seems to be a misguided belief that if we can define an insurgency precisely, we can defeat it. Whereas a definition holds value, its value is lost if the cause is not fully understood.

Ending an insurgency may not always be easy but it is certainly very possible. Contrary to the belief of some, an insurgency is not a spontaneous event but rather a threat that has been allowed to develop over a period of time. It is a political problem that has been brought about by dysfunctional or poor governance, a sense of political isolation and the suppression of hope along with a combination of anger, hatred and revenge that has impacted negatively on the populace and caused the populace immense distress. When the populace feel they have lost hope and have nothing more to lose by rising up against the government, they will do exactly that.

One of the strategic objectives of an insurgency may be to develop their planned armed struggle into a civil war to pit citizen against citizen and in so doing, collapse the Pillars of State and along with them, the established political order. This requires mobilising the quiet majority of the populace to disrupt government efforts through armed violence, civil disobedience, terrorism, violent crime, civil unrest and violent protests. Tribalism, religion, racial and ethnic tensions along with economic disparities are often used as motivators in the calls for the populace to rise up.  

If an under-threat government makes use of a foreign allied military force to assist it suppress the insurgency, the populace’s “silent majority” will generally accept this decision as long as the combined force does not target them. The foreign forces will, however, be closely watched in terms of their actions, discipline and attitude towards the populace. Uncontrolled behaviour, unlawful acts and/or attacks on civilians by the foreign forces will simply become a rallying call for the populace to join – or at the very least – support the insurgency.

Conversely, the populace may believe that the arrival of foreign forces allows them to take the law into their own hands and extract revenge against those insurgents and their supporters hiding in plain sight. Once this cycle of violence begins, it is very difficult to stop and its effects are usually long-lasting.

However, relying solely on foreign forces to ultimately defeat the armed insurgents will result in a hollow victory for the government forces as when the foreign forces leave, the insurgency will simply resurface and be characterised by more intense violence.

If a country has been invaded and occupied by a foreign force that shows little or no respect towards the government, the law enforcement agencies, the armed forces and the populace, their property, culture, traditions, political system and religion, the anger, discontent and humiliation of the subjugated will in all probability give rise to a rebellion or an insurgency in order to eject the occupiers. Added to this is the oft-imposed morality and ideology of the occupying forces that results in additional anger, confusion and discontent. It is this anger that will result in attacks on the occupying force by the populace and the local soldiers and policemen that have been “forced” to partner with the occupation forces – the so-called “green-on-blue” attacks.

The ability of an insurgent group to attack across numerous spheres of the state gives them a flexibility the government has allowed them to have – by creating a condition of dissatisfaction that can be exploited. This is in part due to a lack of a coherent realistic national strategy and a poor, unstructured and unaligned national security strategy and its various components, coupled to poor governance and neglect of the populace. Add to this a lack of credible intelligence and the means to act/react on intelligence and the insurgents are given the initiative whilst the security forces fall into the trap of becoming reactive.

By exploiting both the mainstream and social media for disinformation and propaganda purposes, insurgents create the perception that they are more successful and stronger than they really are. It also gives them an instrument for reaching other fence-sitting or neutral members of the populace. Every action and success is aimed at showing their determination and even minor tactical successes are proclaimed to be major tactical victories. This can, along with the collateral damage caused by the security forces, harness both local and international support and sympathy for their cause.

International support such as funding, weapons, training and sanctuaries and sympathy – along with unvetted NGOs and “charity organisations” -  especially when the insurgents are acting as a proxy force on behalf of a foreign government or sponsor whose intentions are the placement of a puppet government, can result in sanctions on an international level. These sanctions are aimed are weakening the government whilst strengthening the insurgents. Apart from the wholesale death and destruction of innocents and their property, the international support has a tendency to escalate out of control and bring additional governments into the conflict to support one side or the other.

The first-line of defence against an insurgency is – apart from good governance – aggressive, pro-active intelligence gathering coupled to coordinated law enforcement actions. Sadly, many governments choose to ignore the wall as the writing becomes more obvious, especially if it does not match their perception of reality.

When the armed forces are called on to provide counter insurgency support to the law enforcement agencies, it is usually an indication of failure by government and the intelligence and law enforcement agencies. The mission of the armed forces ought to be the creation of a climate in which government can govern and the law enforcement agencies can again begin enforcing the law.

When an insurgency or conflict has entered into the armed or military phase, the Trinity of Gravity needs to be identified, isolated, attacked and neutralised, allowing the government to regain control. 

I believe the concept of using the armed forces to establish control over the entire Trinity of Gravity is both flawed and wishful thinking as soldiers are neither trained to govern nor enforce the law – nor are they trained to be diplomats. The bottom line is that if the armed forces do not take effective control of the insurgents, the insurgents will simply take control of the populace – at the expense of everyone including the armed forces.


Preventing and/or defeating an insurgency, therefore, begins with the display of political will by the government coupled to ever-improving delivery of government services, the continued gathering of intelligence and the enforcement of law in all its facets – and not with the armed forces trying to play politics and govern.