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.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Every military unit and every nation has its own heroes who stand steadfast even when the chips were down.
These are men who, faced with possible death, refuse to acknowledge its presence. In times of exhaustion, extreme danger, hunger, and great anxiety, they are able to control their fear and harness it to rally or save their colleagues, and in some instances, even save their countries. Yet, despite their exploits of immense personal courage, dedication and fortitude, these heroes inevitably find themselves abandoned and betrayed by their politicians and generals.
A Handful of Hard Men by Hannes Wessels must rank as one of the most riveting books on contemporary African military history that I have read. It is also a book that lays bare the many misconceptions about Rhodesia’s war for survival and exposes some of the great betrayals these soldiers have been forced to live with. Yet, even when they realised they were being sold out by the very politicians who sent them to war, these men continued to fight on and carry out their orders, not for the politicians or even their generals, but for one another and the unit they held dearly.
The Rhodesian Special Air Service (SAS) produced men of such exceptional calibre.
Hannes Wessels has captured the essence of true combat by this handful of very hard men—the Rhodesian SAS—who, despite adversity and hardship, still found time to treasure small things most civilians take for granted.

Soldiers who, on a daily basis, live a stone’s throw from death, develop their own sense of humour—a sense of humour those who have never been under fire find difficult to grasp. Oftentimes, they speak a language others do not understand but it is a language they have learned through circumstance, hardship, and the ever present spectre of death. These hard men of the Rhodesian SAS were no different.
A Handful of Hard Men looks into the soul of soldiers who, many years ago, were fighting a forgotten war in southern Africa—not as some would like to claim between the black and white people of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)—but between two very different ideologies. Ultimately, these soldiers were to face the betrayal of the West, the very civilisation they believed they were defending from an encroaching ideology based on communism and state collapse. In their defence of ‘western civilisation’, they deployed and fought wherever they could find their enemy. Meanwhile, ensconced in their ivory towers, the politicians of the West were plotting the demise of Rhodesia.
Through his pen, the author weaves a narrative that focusses on one man in particular—Darrell Watt—and the brave men who, under his leadership, stood beside him, regardless. The support they received from an ill-equipped air force (due to international sanctions) is worthy of a book on its own.
A Handful of Hard Men spans several years of Darrell Watt’s life—from recruitment, to training, to reconnaissance, to operational and tactical deception, to deep penetration raids and operations, and the ultimate standing down of the Rhodesian SAS. The operations these few men conducted were intense, breath-taking in magnitude, and vividly described, and yet even under the ever-present threat of death, humour presented itself.
Interwoven in the narrative is the developing political situation and the behind-the-doors negotiations and political duplicity to collapse one ideology and replace it with another.
After reading of the operations the Rhodesian SAS conducted, I was left breathless and it was as though I could smell the cordite and taste the blood in my mouth.  
I would highly recommend this magnificent book at any serious student of contemporary African warfare and history.
For ordering information, as well as other news and stories on Africa, visit Hannes’s blog www.africaunauthorised.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


As Africa drags itself ever closer to the abyss, one would think that governments would be paying a lot more attention to strategic intelligence, and the current and developing strategic threats, along with strategic forecasting. This sadly appears not to be the case as it is evident that erroneous intelligence impacts greatly on current thinking and strategies—especially when the initiative has been lost and the tipping point is approaching.

If governments continue to base their strategic predications on thumb-sucking, misinformed media articles and ‘opinion pieces’, ill-informed advisors, and incorrect narrative-driven assumptions, instead of verified and credible strategic intelligence, tragedy awaits them as they place their national and vital interests at risk. The richer they are in resources, the greater the risk and the subsequent looming tragedy.

The rise of armed anti-government forces, radical religious terror groups, proxy forces, domestic and transnational organised crime, planned regime-change actions, mass perception shaping programmes via the mainstream media and so forth, is evident that intelligence failures at the strategic level are increasing. The continued lack of intelligence is costing—and will still cost—African governments dearly in the future as they will be unable to prepare and posture themselves correctly to meet the threats. Nor will they be able to develop a coherent strategic intent as the threat and its intentions will be unknown…let alone safeguard their interests.

The integrity and survival of the state along with the longevity of government requires a reliable, robust, and continuous strategic intelligence input. This is essential to enable the development and adjustment of the National Strategy. The National Strategy, in turn, must give the government direction and guidance on how it intends to position itself on the national, regional, continental, and international stages. It is also essential to give forewarning of real, potential and predicted violent and non-violent threats against the state—and the obstacles it will face along the way in countering the threats.

The National Security Strategy is similarly guided by strategic intelligence and strategic forecasting and/or predictions, and its impact is felt across all pillars of the state. However, threats against the state are not only of a military or armed nature. They include planned non-violent attacks such as economic sabotage, political blackmail, coercive diplomacy, perception manipulation, international criminal court threats, trade embargos, resource and state capture, and so forth. These threats are diverse, multi-dimensional and very seldom, if ever, appear as a singular threat. They develop over time and are never spontaneous.

Without strategic intelligence, the state will have no pre-warning of the approaching threats—or their intentions—that will attack it on numerous fronts. Nor will it understand—or be likely to withstand—foreign-backed and sponsored regime change actions through violent and non-violent means. These attacks all have only one aim: the installation, by any and all means possible, of a government that will be sympathetic to the regime change sponsors and that will surrender its resources as a token of thanks.

Countries such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Central African Republic, S Sudan, DRC, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Mali to name a few have all found themselves under sustained attack without having had any home-grown intelligence pre-warning. Despite several of the aforementioned countries being cautioned prior to the attacks, they chose instead to be blind and discard the dangers in the misguided belief that they may not be targeted or that the intelligence was wrong. In some instances, they were advised by ‘allies’ that the intelligence was false. Several other countries are also on the target list but are not currently viewed as priorities—yet. However, in every case, the developing intentions were and are—if anyone was or is willing to look—as clear as daylight, yet they were and are seemingly unable to connect the dots.

Reliance on the media, ill-intentioned ‘allies’, misinformed advisors, and public perceptions does not constitute intelligence at any dimension or level. The misguided belief that these sources will provide accurate and objective intelligence is a myth governments should dispel with absolute haste as these sources are usually coloured with disinformation. Instead, they must develop their own sources of intelligence and take responsibility for their own intelligence collection efforts and their intelligence failures.

Just because the intelligence does not match their ethnic, financial, racial, religious, or xenophobic narrative, it does not mean that it is wrong or false or even non-existent. 

Unless African governments realise the true value of strategic intelligence and critical role it plays in guiding and shaping their national and security strategies and defending their national and vital interests, they will continue to lead themselves—and their people—down the path of self-destruction.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


My book ‘Composite Warfare: The conduct of successful ground force operations in Africa’ has just been added to the publisher’s website. Please visit http://www.30degreessouth.co.za/composite_warfare.htm

Interested parties are urged to contact the publishers directly as I do not carry stock of the book. The publishers will, in turn, advise on points of sale, shipping and so forth.

My sincerest thanks to all for your patience and interest.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


Every so often, somebody who calls him or herself a ‘researcher’ or a ‘journalist’ tries to link me to one or other unsolved political assassination.

Just yesterday again, I received communication from one such person—a Swedish aid worker nonetheless—who had been brought under the impression—or who had brought himself under the impression—that I held the answer, or had in-depth, secret knowledge of yet another such covert and dastardly deed. The reasoning appears to be that if anything happened in Africa, and I live and work in Africa, then I am either involved or have in-depth knowledge of whatever it is I am to be blamed for.

Still, that forced me to wrack my brains to recall my whereabouts on 18 September 1961, the day of the mysterious plane crash death of the Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskj√∂ld in Zambia—then Northern Rhodesia.

Luckily it was not too difficult. Since I was five years old at the time, I was in Botswana (then known as Bechuanaland) probably hunting birds with a pellet gun or playing in a pool of mud. Thus, I am fairly satisfied that—despite my tendency to wander about unsupervised by my parents—I would not have made it across the two different borders and shot his plane out of the sky without anybody noticing.

But somebody must think I have unresolved anger issues with Swedes as he is not the only Swede I have been accused of sending to his Maker prematurely.

Over the past 20 years, there have been persistent attempts to link me to the assassination of former Swedish Premier Olof Palme. That was in Stockholm on 28 February 1986.

My alibi for the above assassination is so boring that I will just pretend that I was at a top secret location in Switzerland having my fingerprints burnt-off after having been falsely accused of the 1983 suicide bombing of the US embassy in Beirut.

However, I must confess publicly, that unfortunately I do not have an alibi for the poisoning of Alexander the Great. But with the way the insinuations are flying, I shall have to make an urgent appointment with a hypnotherapist and have myself regressed to a previous life in 323 B.C. so that I can cobble together another defence.

Meanwhile, if any of you have any knowledge of my whereabouts at the time of any other unsolved assassinations or downing of aircraft, please forward the details to me. It will save me much time and effort.

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Many thanks for the overwhelming interest shown in the publication and launch of my book “Composite Warfare”.

I have been inundated with emails and Facebook messages regarding the book along with many, many questions that I, unfortunately, am unable to answer.

As previously mentioned, the publication is expected to be around end-September/early-October. Also, I do not yet have any information on where exactly the book will be for sale—locally and/or internationally—and if there will be a book launch or not.

I spoke to my publishers this morning in an attempt to get answers for you.

The publishers (http://www.30degreessouth.co.za/) will obviously have all of the answers to the many questions I have been asked.

I was told that the book, once it has been published, will appear on their website, and will be able to be purchased off their website. Also, it will be in certain stores.

I would suggest that any questions regarding publication, launch and sales be addressed directly to Aulette Goliath at email office@30degreessouth.co.za She is a very helpful lady and will be able to provide much more information than I can.

Again, my sincerest thanks to all.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


For some time now, I have been under pressure from numerous folks to activate my Facebook page.
I finally relented and due to ‘popular demand’ I am now on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/eeben.barlow.7
My Facebook pages will not be replacing the blog as my blog will continue to be maintained as and when I have time to write something or when I wish to address a military or other security-related topic.