About Me

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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. Until recently, I was a contributing editor 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, February 10, 2017

'INTO THE VORTEX' by TOM FULTON


I count myself fortunate that I was able to lay my hands on a copy of Tom Fulton’s book ‘Into the Vortex’. Despite the many books written about the wars and conflicts in Southern Africa, this book is worthy to stand on its own.

Perhaps it was inquisitiveness or perhaps I was trying to relive the days of growing up in a slow-boiling Africa through Tom’s eyes, or perhaps both. Regardless, Tom’s book did not disappoint me.

The book is a vivid and exciting glimpse into days long gone—days when boys were boys and were forced through circumstance, challenges and conflicting politics to grow up and stand tall as both men and soldiers called on to fight a dirty war.

Tom takes the reader into his home as a young boy growing up in a sometimes difficult environment, but there is no pity as that was how it was—instead he uses his humour to lighten the situations he and his brother frequently found themselves in.

His entry into the Rhodesian Army and the subsequent humour and oftentimes sorrow that followed is well written and intense.  Commissioned as an officer in the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR), he goes on to discuss the bonds made and shared as only men under fire can do. Readers who are unfamiliar with Africa and the closeness and comradeship of black and white men at war will do well to take note of the respect they had for one another.

The scenes of combat are well and intensely described along with the tension before triggers are pulled and the exhilaration of success and survival when the guns fell silent. At times, the fast pace of combat is softened with humour and the aftermath of a deployment where young men go about their social lives—social lives that were lived and enjoyed to the maximum.

Tom’s easy style of writing brings to life many sad and traumatic events, yet there is no trace of victimhood—the mark of a man and a soldier with character.

As clich├ęd as it might be, ‘Into the Vortex’ will stand on its own as a Rhodesian classic.

Well done Tom Fulton!   


For ordering information
The book can be ordered directly from Tom at:


Monday, February 6, 2017

THINK QUICK OR DIE...BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE


Note: This is not a verbal attack on the KDF and I will not entertain comments in that vein.



The very tragic events at El Adde (Somalia) surrounding the recent fall of the Kenyan Defence Force (KDF) base to Al Shabaab’s ‘Saleh al Nabhan Battalion’—al Qaeda’s East African affiliate—is a good example of how many things that are wrong with African armies came together in a perfect storm.

The video produced by the enemy is equally disturbing as it illustrates the unpreparedness of the KDF.

The video can be viewed here, but a warning: It contains graphic scenes that may be disturbing to some: https://www.funker530.com/brutal-al-shabaab-raid-wipes-entire-kenyan-army-unit/

Regretfully, African governments and their armies continue to ignore the warning signs that result in an inability to prepare and defend against the coming storm…it is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’ the storm will make landfall and increase the damage to their countries and their credibility.

Africa is both today and tomorrow’s battlefield and it is being shaped today through a series of secret or shadow wars, proxy forces, covert actions, diplomatic and economic pressures, and domestic and regional terrorism. Added to this is a failure of governance that many African states exhibit and that has given rise to populism—a movement that is increasingly turning to violence and armed actions.

More worrying though, our armed forces are failing to keep pace with the ever-increasing speed of conflict and war. The pace at which technology has enabled information, intelligence, instructions, and disinformation to be transmitted via cell phones, social media and radio messages, has dramatically increased the pace and tempo of operations. It has also increased and underlined the requirement for in-depth intelligence operations to distinguish between fact, fiction and deception.

Filming these attacks, and highlighting many KDF failures, merely adds to the enemy’s propaganda efforts, and motivates and inspires potential recruits, when indeed, it ought to be the other way around.  

Armies need to realise that we need to think quick, act and react with agility and speed—or die. If quick thinking and agility is discarded, our armies may as well call it a day.  

Instead, we try to stick to what we think we know—ill-equipped, unbalanced World War 2 organisations totally unsuited to cope with the demands and fluid actions on the modern African battlefield.  This has resulted in poorly planned and uncoordinated operations, a lack of balanced forces, a lack of operational sustainability, a lack of momentum and great sluggishness when tasked to move rapidly—to name but a few.

These outdated approaches are then taught to African armies by trainers that have no or very little experience of the continent and indeed, seldom if ever, understand the enemy. Oftentimes, a different agenda is at play and the conflict is encouraged to continue as long as possible.

All too often, people want to point fingers at how bad their armies are, and the politicians are quick to blame them for a lack of battlefield success. But, the reality is that soldiers can only do what they are trained and equipped to do—and if they have the leadership they require supported with political and military will.

To fulfil their missions, African armies need to do a very serious doctrinal rethink, reorganize themselves to be agile, have mobility and firepower, ensure they have clear and unambiguous missions and mandates, and ensure the leadership group know how to lead—from the front.

The attack on El Adde ought to serve as a dire warning of what can happen to any armed force if we do not get our act together, sooner rather than later. Our armies need to be correctly trained, equipped, and postured, and not taught rubbish that is irrelevant.  

We need to start thinking very seriously before it is too late.



Note: For those interested in the developing situation in Kenya, more can be found by visiting Andrew Franklin’s Facebook pages at

https://www.facebook.com/andrew.franklin.5076?pnref=friends.search

Saturday, February 4, 2017

ROOIPLAAS PARATROOPERS COMMUNITY


I have never been a member of any SADF Veterans Organisation for numerous reasons. Many have asked me to join them but I have always declined and walked away. That is until my old Parachute Sappers (specifically by name of Chappies van Zyl) twisted my arm to the point that it almost broke.

I finally relented when the founder of ‘Rooiplaas’ (Nico Beneke) graciously—and without Chappie’s violence—convinced me to find a home with them.  

I therefore dedicate this short piece to the men of Rooiplaas…a great group of ex-paratroopers from 1 Parachute Battalion…A true paratroopers’ community (http://www.rooiplaas.co.za)



To my new ‘home’, here is a story I wish to share with you all:

My sapper section (at that time, very few sappers were jump qualified) and I arrived in a cool Bloemfontein in early September 1978.

Our mission was to support an exercise of 1 Parachute Battalion known as Exercise Caledon Downs, an operational training exercise in the Wepener area of the Orange Free State.

Having no clue what equipment was required for the training exercise, we left Bethlehem (22 Field Squadron) with an old Bedford truck laden with mines, mine detectors, assault boats, explosives, and a mobile water point (I need to emphasise that whoever came up with the name ‘mobile water point’ must have been delusional!)

On arrival, and while my men wandered around the battalion area like lost sheep—or rather lost sappers—I attended the Orders Group (O Gp) for the exercise. Amongst the paras, the rumour mill was already hard at work—this they said, was to be a rehearsal for a large scale airborne operation into Angola.

The battalion’s pathfinders were to freefall into the designated target area under cover of darkness, and mark a drop zone (DZ) for the incoming parachute assault early the following morning.

In my absence, the men found what appeared to be a deserted bungalow and they would seek me out later to give me a bed they had ‘scored’ for me.

In the meantime, I left the O Gp feeling rather dejected after receiving our orders. There would be no big demolition tasks, no clearing or laying of minefields, no assault river crossing…only a damn water point for the paratroopers.

Giving my orders to my sappers was akin to addressing a rugby team that had suffered its worst loss ever. They were utterly disgusted at what they were supposed to do to support the exercise.

Early the next morning, my sappers, under the capable command of my troop sergeant Cpl L Steyn, left feeling rather miserable for a grid reference somewhere in the eastern Free State.

The following day, I was to jump with (then) Major Anton van Graan’s HQ element while my sappers drove to a grid reference specified in the O Gp.

Being a well-trained sapper officer, I snivelled around for the rest of the day, fearful I would be given a task I was unable to do—that is, until a Major Grundling found me hiding in a deserted bungalow. After giving me a severe dressing down, he finally told me where to report to the next morning.  

Due to the nature of the exercise, we were not going to jump with Personal Weapons Containers (PWCs). Instead the parachutes would simply be strapped over our battle order equipment.

On the road to the airport, there was great excitement. On arrival, we kitted-up and waited…Soon we were all shuffling off to board the C-130s.

I was part of the second wave and was to jump second in Major van Graan’s stick on that fateful day of 7 September 1978.

After the usual “Stand up! Hook up!…” the door opened and out we went.

The green canopy billowed…Phew! But there was no time to admire the view.

I recall two things very vividly: (1) We were very low and (2) I saw a barbed wire fence and a large anthill next to it…I knew I was going to meet the one or the other.

And I did.

No amount of pulling on the risers or trying to climb up the canopy worked. It all happened too fast.  

After a very hard landing and what I thought was a broken foot, I limped off to find my company commander, Major van Graan. I was certainly not going to show the paratroopers that I had been hurt. Sapper pride took hold.

It was then that I came across Captain Blaauw (I think it was David but I am not too sure anymore!) looking rather forlorn and visibly upset. On asking if he was okay, he told me that Major Grundling had landed in a farm dam and drowned. I was shocked but also realised that had any of us landed in a dam, the weight of our equipment would have dragged us down. Plus, as it was still early morning, the water was freezing and those brave troops who tried to rescue him were simply unable to do so.

In addition, several other paratroopers had been hurt when they went off the edge of some high ground.

Needless to say, and despite the great loss to the battalion, objectives had to be assaulted, captured and consolidated before we could move on to the main objective which was a farm house some distance away.

And so I hobbled across the Wepener fields, humping my equipment and trying to keep my pose as best I could.

After a river crossing (I thought we were supposed to do that with the boats we brought from Bethlehem!), my sappers finally arrived later that afternoon to collect me and ferry me across to the water point where we spent the rest of the entire exercise—purifying water for the paratroopers.  

I had not broken my foot but instead, had very badly bruised the sole of my foot. To this day, I have an aversion to anthills.

After the exercise, we made the long trip back to Bethlehem.

We never did deploy for the great air assault operation that was rumoured to be in the offing…but we all went to war.

And now, almost 39 years later, I have become a member of the Rooiplaas Paratroopers’ Community—a long time to find a home amongst men who share common values. I am still a sapper at heart but also feel at home with the paratroopers of Rooiplaas.  

Thank you Nico, Chappies and all other members of ‘Rooiplaas’ for welcoming me into your community. .


Friday, January 27, 2017

THE MESSAGE AS A WEAPON OF CONFLICT AND WAR


Lately, there appears to be an increase in using the media as a medium through which to generate and distribute so-called ‘fake news’ to drive specific agendas. One must therefore investigate the origin or source of the 'fake news' as that will determine the agenda(s).

The ability to sell a lie and deceive people through ‘controlled media’ is nothing new. By trying to force the people to believe and think only what the media wants them believe and think, has long been the hallmark of the mainstream media. But, people are beginning to question the validity of the ‘news’ as opposed to suffering from media hypnosis.

The media needs to question why it has willingly allowed itself to be used as a conduit for the dissemination of disinformation and propaganda. But, strengthened with the advent of social media networks, both disinformation and propaganda have received new impetus. Indeed, social media is currently being used to provide credibility to numerous disinformation and propaganda messages that appear in the mainstream media and visa versa.

Both techniques are used to alter, shape and manipulate perceptions, promote sectarian and political interests, and entrench and exploit attitudes and further conflict, divisive politics, and war between opposing groups. They differ in the manner in which they are developed and applied. However, both techniques are used to influence people, and the side that dominates the informational environment is the side most likely to achieve the best end result.

As an influence technique, disinformation is a planned and purposeful act of deception. It is essentially a lie that is intentionally injected into the daily lives of people. Its aim is to mislead and alter attitudes and perceptions, evoke anger, create fear, encourage resistance and violence, and vilify an enemy or threat sufficiently to justify action.  Extensive use is made of all controlled mainstream and social media assets and platforms. Paid social media platforms are increasingly harnessed to further disseminate false and misleading information or give it credibility. 

Disinformation uses a variety of methods to achieve its aim. One of them is dress up a lie so it appears as the truth. Another method to intertwine valid information with false information but in such a manner that it is not obvious. Covert influence campaigns utilising well-developed disinformation can result in acceptance as opposed to doubt. The end-product is then be disseminated via real and false news media outlets, and fake documents, books, photographs, posters, and malicious and dangerous rumours and innuendo. Its ability to become believable lays in continually repeating the lie to make it become the reality of people.

To disguise its origins and intentions, it is often attributed to ‘sensitive’ or ‘unnamed’ sources or even the names of non-existent people.

Political disinformation is aimed at provoking scaremongering, discrediting political opponents, distorting the messages of political opponents, exploiting divisive politics, and influencing opposition voter support. Used extensively during political speeches and rallies, where it is intertwined with propaganda, it has the potential to generate immense anger, fear, hatred, and uncertainty. It is often reinforced with flags, marches, songs, T-shirts and food to distract and confuse voters.

Propaganda is the deliberate propagation of messages, information, ideas, concepts, rumours, and thoughts to influence, strengthen and support a specific cause, and to unify people. It is also applied to counter opposing information and thoughts where elements of disinformation are used. It is used primarily to reinforce a cause or damage an opposing cause. It is sometimes based on twisting the message of an opponent and using it to appeal to people’s fears, and self-interest and evoke emotions. It hopes to subtly force people to think and act in a manner they would not generally have considered.

Like disinformation, propaganda makes use of media platforms, marches, flags, posters, songs and so forth to entrench the message.

To underpin these deceptive messages, words such as ‘deterrence’, ‘threat to our values’, ‘foreign aggression’, ‘our stability’, ‘creators of poverty’, ‘inequality’, and so forth are used.

Polluted information presented as ‘fact’ can result in misguided strategies, and distrust, increased antagonism, diplomatic, political and economic sanction, marginalisation, increased racial, tribal, and ethnic disdain, an increase in political tensions, and criminal actions.

An unintended (or possibly intended) consequence can result in mass demonstrations, civil war or indeed even a regional conflict or war. Indeed, the Cold War was a perfect example of both sides using both disinformation and propaganda to unify their citizens whilst vilifying those of the opposing side.

Disinformation and propaganda are entrenched via repetition of the messages. It is, however, the first communicated message that carries the most weight, especially if it is continually disseminated via the mainstream and social media. To rectify the damage is often impossible.

Disinformation and propaganda can destroy national unity, create regional tensions, and cause irreparable damage a country and its citizens. These messages become increasingly dangerous when military force is threatened, projected, or used. 

It is increasingly evident that both disinformation and propaganda are being used on a massive scale, and on a daily basis by politicians and political organisations and supporters alike.

Misleading people with false news or disinformation and then reinforcing it with propaganda (and visa versa) can have very serious implications—implications that can last for generations.

It is of great importance that we start looking more closely at what is published and said—and why—and start connecting the dots. If not, we will continue to be manipulated and exploited to act in a manner we never considered.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A MERRY CHRISTMAS ALL AND A GREAT 2017!


I would like to wish each and every visitor to the blog a blessed and merry festive season. To those who celebrate the meaning of Christmas, I wish you and your families a blessed, happy and joyous festive season.

To those who do not celebrate Christmas for whatever reason I wish you all a time of happiness and peace with your families and friends.

I would also like to wish each and every one of you – and your loved ones - a great 2017. May the coming year be filled with good health, happiness and safety.

Thank you to everyone who read and contributed to the blog throughout the year. Your comments are always appreciated and highly valued as they give me insight and allow me to broaden my own knowledge base.

To everyone who is far from home at this time, and to those who are deployed in the conflict zones around the world, beit as soldiers, sailors, airmen, law enforcement officers, spooks or PMC contractors, keep your heads down, your eyes peeled, your weapons close at hand, stay safe and be ready to do what needs to be done.

Let us also remember those who will not be able to be share this time with those they hold dear as well as those who have lost friends and loved ones. They should never be forgotten. Nor should the sacrifices they have made ever be forgotten.

A very merry Christmas season to all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

THANK YOU BUSH WAR BOOKS AND OTHERS…


When Piet Fourie and Johan Jonker of Bush War Books (www.warbooks.co.za) asked if I would be willing to visit several MOTH shellholes in and around Cape Town, I was happy to oblige.

Not only was I afforded the opportunity to discuss my book (Composite Warfare) but I was also able to meet some old friends, make new friends, and also have the great pleasure of seeing some of my old parachute sappers from way back when.

Piet and Johan organised talks at three different shellholes as well as at Bargain Books in Canal Walk.

I would like to express my thanks to the Old Bills, Deon vd Berg, Mark Bester, and Phillip McLachlan of the Blaauwberg Cuca Shellhole, the Old Red Barn Shellhole, and the Marshall Smuts Shellhole respectively, for hosting me.

My thanks also to all of the MOTH’s and their families and friends who came to support me and who gave me their friendship and hospitality. 

It was fun and interesting to discuss the changes we are witnessing in not only our own country, but across Africa and the world.

Thanks too must go to Bargain Books in Canal Walk for allowing their shop to be used at very short notice. It was here that I also met several Facebook friends and was able to spend a few minutes chatting to them. Thanks guys for your support as well.  

My sincerest thanks to Piet Fourie and Johan Jonker of Bush War Books for their friendship, organisational skills, and support. It is indeed a pleasure to work with you both!

Monday, November 21, 2016

SOME MORE REVIEWS...


I have been asked if there are currently any reviews of Composite Warfare available on the web.

The short answer…”Yes”.

I was able to ‘steal’ these reviews off Piet Fourie’s site Bush War Books.  (www.warbooks.co.za). Fortunately, they are all good but I am sure the less good ones will still come…

Incidentally, Piet also sells the book so if there are any of you who are unable to find it in the bookstores—local and abroad—he will be able to assist you as he ships military books all over the world.

Here they are sequenced from the most recent to the first…




A military masterpiece!

Frans van Niekerk on Nov 11, 2016

The book is a military masterpiece and showcases a portion of one of the most reputable strategic military minds. The book was written purely for a soldier, from a General to a Junior leader - to equip them for the battlefield. Eeben used his knowledge and vast experience on the subject matter to create a textbook that is not only an easy read but is composed of factual information and is easily referenced. Given the impressive history of Eeben’s military career and the many successes he has achieved all over Africa, the book is not just an academic book but a testament to tried and trusted methodologies that have yielded success in the field and has simplified many complex military manoeuvres. Perusing this book will empower military leaders to lead their armies to victory and allows for fundamental and complex principles of warfare to be properly addressed. The strategic nature of this book will also enrich corporate leaders. As it explains the importance of strategy and the implementation thereof in an operational environment, as well as the importance of taking a holistic view to addressing a problem. Naturally, because there is no room for error and the stakes are always high in any military strategy, the development of a good corporate strategy can be developed from military principals. The reader can see the importance of all forces at play and develop an understanding of the objectives and the impact it has on winning the fight, and ultimately the war.

An amazing book!

Hansie Prinsloo on Nov 09, 2016

A monumental piece of work delivered by a living legend who is deeply respected by both friend and foe alike. I recently had the privilege of meeting one of Picasso’s last living students. As Picasso’s fingerprints are left in modern art, this book will leave its fingerprints on generations to come in Africa. Knowing the author is a humbling experience. By virtue of knowing him as a person, I surmise that one of his objectives was not only how to handle conflicts in the African context, but for future generations to learn from the lessons of the past in order to manage conflict and prevent war raging in a current and future Africa. Salute!

A must read for any professional soldier hoping to survive Africa

Hein M. on Nov 07, 2016

This is one of the most complete guides for any professional soldier. A very practical look at the Art of War in an African context with practical explanations of the intricacies of war. It creates an almost complete view of anything you might encounter be it as a foot soldier, battle commander or intelligence operative/SOF soldier. I would recommend this book as a must have for all who have chosen the military as a career. Eeben Barlow is one of the best teachers and commanders a soldier can ever hope to serve under and his practical experience and ability to transfer this knowledge will stay with you forever.

Incredibly detailed and thoroughly researched

Hannes Wessels on Nov 05, 2016

Surely the seminal work on the subject. Incredibly detailed and thoroughly researched by a man who has both the empirical and theoretical knowledge to tackle a very complicated subject. Only through the sort of exposure that Eeben has experienced can one write about the unusual nuances pertaining to conflict situations in Africa and that shows. Too many soldiers ignore or are unaware of the political dynamics pertaining in their theater of operations. This can be a costly mistake which the author does not make. Anybody looking to fight a war in Africa need look no further for guidance.

A classic appraisal of modern day warfare

Patrick Ricketts on Nov 05, 2016

The book Composite Warfare is a classic appraisal of modern day warfare internationally and not only in Africa. It should be valued for its understanding and appraisal of modern military conflicts and the valuable development of strategic, operational and tactic perspectives applicable to modern armed conflicts. As the author had risen from the ranks, having gone through a soldier’s harsh realities, he displays an intense understanding of the relationship between the state and its armed formations and the role and responsibilities of armed formations within society and on the battlefield. The author further describes the basic tendencies in the modern art of warfare, the courses and progress of armed conflict and the perfection of operational and tactical skills of officers and men in an armed conflict that results in military victory. Thank you very much for this excellent piece of work, though the content may pose a challenge to certain international power blocks who it may be viewed as a challenge their expansionist policies in their strive for control of material resources



COMPOSITE WARFARE

Roy Marais on Nov 01, 2016

This is one of the best, if not the best Warfare Manuals for ANY Person who lives and works in Africa being that Military, Government or any other entity who is involved in Africa, to understand the complexity of Africa. The author has through this developed the way forward for training the new breed of soldiers in Africa. Excellent book and a must for any student of the Art of War. In time to come this book will be rated at the same level as Mobile Warfare of Roland de Vries.
In years to come this book will become as relevant as “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu only that this manual focuses on Africa and how future warfare should be planned and conducted within the African Battle space.

New one for Military scholars

Phillip on Oct 17, 2016

This book is definitely going to be a best seller for the year!! This is a excellent guide for waging a modern military campaign not just in Africa, but around the world. The structure of the information is easy to read and digest, even for non- military men like me. I think there will be a lot of soldiers around the world walking around with this book as a guide. Keeping this one next to Mobile Warfare of Roland de Vries.
Thanks Piet for the signed copy. Was a nice surprise!!!