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.

Monday, April 23, 2018


It is very evident that there are people—and civil leaders—from across the political spectrum that are intent on ensuring that divisive politics, crime, militancy, and racial and religious tensions are fuelled, and anger and dissent encouraged. Social media platforms and some mainstream media outlets are increasingly being abused, used, and exploited, to convey disinformation, lies, and hate speech.
Social media abounds with official looking documents, along with dated photographs and video clips (often ‘posed’), sometimes accompanied by voice notes, and is being used by opposites across the political spectrum to further the aims, agendas, intentions, and false narratives of those who are sowing the seeds of panic and calling for an armed uprising in South Africa.
Perhaps they believe that our country would be better off if it ended up looking like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, or Yemen?  Perhaps they ought to read the story of agent ‘Curveball’ and how his disinformation, lies, and fake intelligence resulted mass damage, death, and destruction in Iraq? Elsewhere, the story is much the same…Is this the ends they are working for?
Many of those who continue to call for confrontation, conflict, and war, probably have very little to no clue what an armed uprising and civil war truly involves. ‘Opinion makers’ should desist from hoping and wishing for conflict and civil war—they might just discover too late that their hopes and wishes have become reality as every action has an (often unequal) opposite reaction: this calls for thinking before speaking or writing.
People should be wary who they accept their ‘news’ from. Blind acceptance of what we hear or read makes us mere sheep in the eyes of those driving the destructive agendas and narratives.
Even more surprisingly is that some people believe that some ‘foreign ally’ will rush in to save the country when it is burning. It is time to seriously readjust that thinking as it is both foolish and delusionary—especially as some of these ‘foreign allies’ are aiding and abetting the growth of conflict in our country.
It is perfectly understandable that not all of us share the same political, racial, or religious ideals, or view life through the same prism. We all have our own unique views regarding ethnicity, language, race, religion, politics, and so forth—after all, that is what makes us who we are.
To merely watch and wring one’s hands, and allow the problems to take their (usually) criminal and destructive course is to transform evil and hooliganism into a ‘legitimate’ worse. It is equally irresponsible and criminal to fuel the flames of these lies, and feed the destructive narrative.
Taking up arms may be one way of resolving the many problems we face but it is the most devastating option of all—and many of us have witnessed first-hand the devastation this brings. But, there are other options available—if only we are willing to look for them.
Many mainstream and armchair journalists seldom disseminate ‘real news’. Instead, they create lies or ‘fake news’ to create negativism, demoralise people, fuel anger and hatred, and impart (or rather try to force) their warped opinions, views, and beliefs on others. After all, they need to protect the narrative they propagate.
Many others swallow these deceptions and lies, and pass it on to anyone who is willing to read or listen to them—after adding their own spin, opinions and views to increase the fakeness under the guise of ‘truth’.
Fanning the flames of conflict and war by blaming everyone else for our woes, and blaming the past for our present failures, is nothing short of refusing to take responsibility for our current position.
It is said that when lies become the truth, there can be no turning back.
We only have one country and we all have a responsibility to ensure that we do not go down the path of conflict and war.
I would rather be part of an imperfect solution than part of the massive and destructive problem—where there will be no winner.

Friday, April 13, 2018


The book ‘Executive Outcomes: Against all Odds’ was finally signed off this morning and is due to go to print.
Revising and updating the book was a bumpy and at times, a painful journey. However, a great editor and an understanding publisher made it easier to finally reach the end of the road. I am happy with the final result, and I hope the men who served the company so loyally will also be pleased with the end result. Obviously, it was not possible to mention everyone by name who served in the company, but those who served know who they are. They can be justly proud of what they achieved.
The book (770 pages) contains a lot of new information and photographs. It not only covers the contracts EO engaged in, but also a lot of new information on the devious role played by elements of Military Intelligence, and their lackeys—including some very unethical journalists who used their poison-pens to further their own personal agendas. The double-dealing of our politicians of that time, and their efforts to deceive the South African public, is also discussed.  
The cover of the book was changed as the publisher felt it necessary to break from previous covers—including a book written by someone else that used virtually the same cover.
My thanks to everyone who encouraged and supported me in getting to the end of this road. My thanks too to the Military Intelligence officers who found the courage to come clean and finally speak to me.
I truly hope that the book will finally lay to rest the many ghosts of the past and expose the false and misleading ‘intelligence’ and ‘news’ for the lies they were.

Friday, January 19, 2018


My sincere thanks to everyone for the interest shown in the Executive Outcomes reprint as well as the encouragement I got to complete it, and despite numerous set-backs, it was finally done.
I recently signed off on the preliminary cover for the EO book which was done by Anthony Cuerden of Flying Ant Designs (www.flyingant.co.za). Although there are one or two smallish changes that need to be made, the cover will pretty much look as shown hereunder. I think Anthony did an excellent job.
The reprint is very different from the first publication by Galago as a lot more information—such as recently surfaced MI and DFA lies and deception, the duplicity of the South African government at that time and its desire to support a Maoist organisation at the cost of young South African lives, the use of state funds for private gain, and more—has been added.
The book was also extensively reedited by Marisa Robson (https://www.facebook.com/marisa.cronje), who did an excellent job fixing, questioning, reading and rereading the draft, and making sure things read right.
If all goes well, the book should be available in bookstores around the end of February, early March 2018.

I am told that there has been great interest in the hardcover books (100 with a commemorative EO coin and 100 without the commemorative coin). Obviously, the hardcover books, all numbered and signed, will be more costly that the soft cover books. The hardcover books will only be available through Piet Fourie’s Bush War Books site (www.warbooks.co.za). 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


In the aftermath of 9/11, the bread and butter of the defense industry shifted in many ways from focusing on big-ticket Cold War items like tanks and fighter jets to the world of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. With this new paradigm came waves and waves of self-appointed experts, clueless academics, and hucksters trying to sell crap to the Department of Defense. This trend continues to this day, although it has been shifting into the even more nebulous area of cybersecurity, which is even better for contractors given that the 60-year-old men who run the Pentagon don’t know anything about computers. The situation is so bad in the Department of Defense that when you come across an “expert” who dubs themselves a COINista, you should run, not walk, away. These folks are the reason why we are fighting the same war today that we were fighting in Afghanistan 16 years ago.

One person who I always appreciated for having an actual track record of success is Eeben Barlow. Having served in the South African Defense Forces as a sapper in the Infantry and Special Operations, Barlow went on to found a private military company called Executive Outcomes. EO beat back UNITA in Angola for the democratically elected government before driving the barbarous Revolutionary United Front to their knees in Sierra Leone. Today, Barlow serves as the chairman of STTEP, a PMC that took the fight directly to Boko Haram. Oddly, the United States government puts pressure on the host governments to remove Barlow’s people just as they begin experiencing success in defeating anti-government forces.

Using his background in counterinsurgency and irregular warfare, Barlow has recently written a book titled “Composite Warfare,” and it is the go-to manual for warfare in Africa, written by a man who has experienced it. Barlow emphasizes an Africa-centric approach that eschews the over-philosophizing of political scientists, doctrine writers, and alleged COIN experts. Barlow wrote the book to pertain specifically to war on the African continent, but in this reader’s opinion, Barlow’s stripped-down language and no-nonsense approach to what is a normally convoluted subject in military literature makes this book worthwhile for any student of military history.

As Barlow writes in his book, “Part of the dilemma African armies face is the continued creation of new words, terms, and phrases to describe the same action or phenomena. This has led to a large amount of confusion for commanders and leader in the field.” Using graphics, bullet points, and written explanations, the author leads the reader to an understanding about the boots-on-the-ground tactical approach, from movement techniques and types of operations to the big picture that supports the pillars of government. “Composite Warfare” ties them together and demonstrates how a military campaign has to function as a mutually supporting effort that supports the state rather than undermines it.

Comprehensive in nature, “Composite Warfare” examines appropriate force structures, air power, reconnaissance, maneuvers, mobility, air power, intelligence, retrograde operations, developing military strategies, and plenty more. Barlow treats warfare in Africa with a cultural appreciation, as opposed to a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach frequently employed by U.S. Special Forces, who simply mirror our own force structure in the host nation counterparts they train. This is why the United States often trains foreign troops with tactics straight out of the Ranger Handbook, tactics that don’t work for indigenous forces.

In a past SOFREP interview with Barlow, he said that “poor training, bad advice, a lack of strategy, vastly different tribal affiliations, ethnicity, religion, languages, cultures, not understanding the conflict and enemy,” were hallmarks of Western training provided to African armies. “Much of this training is focused on window-dressing, but when you look through the window, the room is empty,” he concluded.

“Composite Warfare” is recommended reading for students of military history and strategy, including active-duty Special Forces soldiers charged with conducting Foreign Internal Defense (FID). Although the book will prove especially helpful to those serving in African militaries, “Composite Warfare” will no doubt became a seminal work on modern warfare in Africa, one practitioners and academics alike will reference well into the decades to come. Let us hope that Barlow’s lessons are learned and internalized, lest we repeat the same mistakes in Africa for another half-century.

Monday, April 17, 2017


My book, ‘Executive Outcomes: Against all Odds’ will undergo a revision, a re-edit and then be republished sometime later this year. The book will also be updated with new material.

The book was initially published by Galago. However, since Peter Stiff’s untimely passing, the rights to the book reverted back to me.

Peter was the only publisher (both locally and abroad) that was prepared to publish the book as too many considered it ‘inopportune’ or ‘not politically correct’. I will forever remain grateful to him for his publishing courage.

Some wanted me to remove the names of their journalist friends I named as disinformation agents and outright liars—or of the duplicity of the then South African government. Other publishing houses informed me that the book ‘was not in the public interest’. Some simply ignored my initial manuscript.

Several book stores steadfastly refused to carry it on their shelves once it was published.

At that time, it was apparent to me that the book simply did not match the narrative that had been so successfully, albeit nefariously driven by several local and foreign intelligence services and media houses. For that reason, it had to be stopped.

Efforts to stop publication of the book bordered on the ridiculous. Threats of violence against me should I continue writing the book, as well as the burglary at my home where only my computer was stolen, were, I suspected at that time, part of the efforts to stop the publication of the book.   

Having gone through numerous reprints, there have, to date, been no revisions to the book.

Finally, I have an opportunity to revise the book, have it re-edited and also include new information as well as some information that was initially cut out in the final print editions.

The new edition will be a collaboration between my current publisher and Bush War Books (www.warbooks.co.za). There will also be a limited and numbered hardcover edition (most probably only 50 copies) which will each include an Executive Outcomes commemorative coin.   


An Artist’s rendition of the EO Commemorative Coin

The hardcover books with commemorative coins will only be available through Bush War Books. For anyone interested in the numbered hardcover copies, please contact Bush War Books directly as they will be the exclusive outlet for those copies once the revised edition is published.

My thanks to everyone who encouraged me to revisit the book and requested that it be updated and re-released again.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


As a young officer, I had little to no clue what our doctrine was or indeed even what ‘doctrine’ really entailed. I viewed it as one of those grey areas. I know it was taught but obviously, my mind was elsewhere at that time. Instead, I hid my ignorance by saying stupid things like “Doctrine can be really boring…”

Later on in my career, I finally understood that doctrine is merely a guide to activity and action. It sets out a way for us how to do things in certain situations but does not prescribe what we must do. I would later discover that ‘guide’ is the operative word.

However, I often found that many of my colleagues believed that our doctrine was written in stone…”Because ‘the book’ says so…” No deviation from the doctrine was allowed or, at times, even tolerated.

I had no compunction in deviating from ‘the book’ if I thought my actions and orders would save lives and result in success. I could always face the music later—and I often did. But, I fear we have become so caught up by what ‘the book’ says, that we set ourselves up for failure time and again. This strict adherence to ‘the book’ gives us a very blinkered and rigid approach to conflict and war.

Guided by ‘the book’, we consistently repeat the same mistakes until they become ‘muscle memory’—and simply the way we do things. In the process, we have become dogmatic, and predictable, thus denying ourselves agility, balance, flexibility, initiative, surprise, and speed of action/reaction when we need it most. Yet, despite the casualties, we seem determined to grasp defeat from the jaws of victory.

For decades now, African armies have been using outdated Western and Eastern doctrines and this is marked by a record of very little success on the continent.

Whereas these doctrines were, at a time relevant, I fear they no longer are.

The doctrines ascribed to by many Africa armies are unaligned, and have become stagnant and in many instances, irrelevant. Of course, certain elements may retain relevance but the time has come for African armed forces to revisit their doctrines and, with a very sharp knife, cut out what is no longer applicable or relevant—and replace it with doctrine that is applicable, realistic, and relevant. We need to shake off the outdated doctrinal shackles of World War II, some of it unconnected with todays’ high tempo, technology-driven warfare that is shrouded in uncertainty. Yet, these antiquated doctrines remain in use and remain unrevised despite many important lessons having being learned. And so, we continue to fail the National Security Strategy and ultimately, the National Strategy.

When assessing the inability of many African armies to perform effectively in the field, it becomes clear that there are numerous doctrinal failures and mismatches. There is nothing wrong with the quality of manpower, as long as they are trained, equipped and well led. Despite a measure of training, victory remains elusive as tactical successes are seldom, if ever, translated into operational or strategic successes.

Currently, the doctrines in use by many African armies are not aligned with the National Security Strategy, nor with the National Military Strategy and the subsequent campaign strategies make no allowance for complex AOs, have little regard for the environmental impact on operations, incorrectly assume all troops are trained to a high level, do not make allowances for a lack of equipment, take no cognisance of the threat or enemy, and so forth.

Being fortunate to be given latitude by some African armies, I have come to realise that doctrine needs to be simplified, made relevant and realistic, and then imprinted on the minds of soldiers as soon as possible.

Simplifying doctrine and teaching it to troops at a very early stage of their training has numerous advantages. Most importantly, it teaches them how planned combat operations will unfold, and how forces are integrated into a unified units and sub-units, and how and why their actions will support the combat operations to achieve the commander’s intent, and so forth.

Understanding a simplified doctrine that is devoid of ‘management’ terms, outdated and unconnected approaches, cumbersome, and irrelevant information has, in my experience, had a marked difference in how troops approach their missions and how they fight. I have witnessed that when doctrine is explained to them, a visible understanding occurs—and it then shows in how they approach combat operations.

But, we remain self-deluded with our doctrine, believing it is written in stone and therefore not subject to adaption, discussion or change.

As long as we do what the outdated ‘book’ says, we will remain victims of our doctrine as we will become what we want the enemy to become—confused and predictive.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017


The current crisis in command many African armies are faced with can be traced back to the manner in which current and future commanders are identified and prepared for their missions and roles. Commanding and leading soldiers—including airmen and sailors—in both peacetime and conflict is not a game to be played for personal gain.

When it comes to the national security of a country, difficult choices need to be made. When it comes to appointing those who are charged with maintaining the security of the state, even more difficult choices are called for.

The old adage ‘There are no bad soldiers, only bad commanders’ certainly holds true for many African armed forces. Soldiers can only do what they are trained and equipped to do—if they are correctly commanded and led. When command and leadership is lacking, soldiers become confused and lacking in direction and discipline, morale is negatively impacted, orders are questioned and disobeyed, and the combat efficiency of the armed forces rapidly deteriorates.

But command leadership is not ‘business management’.

Whereas ‘command’ ought to be emphasized in the armed forces, I have met commanders who are, sadly, unable to exercise effective command. Not because they don’t have the ability or personality to do so but rather because they have been appointed by a system that is failing them, the armed forces and the country. Their inability is then amplified by being taught ‘management techniques’ and thereby softening the already failing approach to command. This ‘business’ approach to military operations has resulted in some spectacular failures across the continent. It has also added to a deepening sense of self-delusion that needs to be exposed.

 On-going education remains important at all times

The armed forces cannot be equated to a business enterprise where management techniques hold relevance. Commanders are faced with vastly different situations and decisions than managers of business enterprises.

Whereas ‘command’ gives those who are entrusted with it the opportunity to use power for the good of the state, many use this as an opportunity to abuse power for personal gain and satisfaction. Abuse of power thus becomes entrenched and junior officers and NCOs follow the example and trend of abusing their power while ignoring their responsibilities.

Commanders need to realise that they command at the behest of the state and not for themselves. Commanding for themselves has resulted in numerous moral failures that include personal enrichment, corruption, and the misuse of state assets, to name but a few. This immoral view of command permeates through to the lower ranks encouraging moral failures amongst junior officers and NCOs. After all, this is the example their senior commanders are setting for them.

Command has also increasingly become synonymous with bullying.

Impacting severely on the current crisis in command many African armed forces face is the lack of selection, training, further education, and competence of commanders. To rectify this troubling situation, more promotions take place adding to an already top-heavy command structure. As and when the command structure, ie the officer corps, exceeds more than 10% of the force level, command problems are dramatically increased. (This has historical been proven on numerous occasions).

Whereas promotions ought to serve as an incentive based on competence and results, command positions are instead given to political appointees where tribal, race, language, religious or ethnic considerations are valued over competence. Thus when defence cuts are implemented, or budgets constrained, the command element remains in position, at all costs and instead, troop levels are cut, training neglected or critical equipment left to rot. Budget cuts also often see the command element increasing at the expense of combat readiness.

Without effective, disciplined command that follows the National Military Strategy and for the good of the nation and its people, an armed force has the potential to become a leaderless group of armed men. 

This, in itself, poses numerous grave dangers to the state and its citizens.

Regardless of thoughts to the contrary, African armed forces are currently facing a crisis in command that needs to be rapidly rectified. If not, our armies will continue to remain at a disadvantage.