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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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

HAPPY NEW YEAR

As 2008 reaches its end and the New Year is about to begin, I somehow suspect that we will all be in for a rough ride in the next 12 months. Wars, talks of wars and an escalation in crime is something we shall all have to live with. Africa will continue to be plagued by dissent and conflicts, fuelled by whoever has something to gain from them.

The UN will carry on talking, formulate new resolutions, pay itself handsomely and continue to do nothing. It will call for ceasefires and thus win time for rebel forces to rearm themselves before they continue their actions. It will condemn any PMC who is contracted by a legitimate government to bring about an end to a conflict. After all, peace is a bad thing for the UN, especially in these times of a global economic meltdown.

Over the past month-and-a-half, this blog has covered some controversial issues and some topical issues. I shall continue with the same in 2009, despite some criticism.

I hope that the coming year will be a good year for all of my followers and visitors alike. May the path you walk be free from crime, conflict and war – and of the UN.

I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and receiving your comments.

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

MISUNDERSTANDING THE ENEMY WITH VIAGRA

I wasn’t going to post anything before January 2009 but as I am so shocked at what the CIA is doing, I felt that I had to make this posting. I believe that any true soldier that respects women will share my concerns…

When I read that the CIA is now offering Viagra to Afghan warlords, I finally realised just how little the CIA’s operatives understood about their enemy. The claim that this is offered “to win over Afghan warlords in the US-led war against Taliban insurgents” (http://www.news24.com/News24/World/News/0,,2-10-1462_2445933,00.html) is a perfect example of how the CIA continually gets it wrong. (I posted the original report on this method of payment as an addition to “The Lost Art of Intelligence Tradecraft”).

Whereas an intelligence agency is expected to resort to whatever measures are necessary to gather information, there is a fine line between controlling agents and in bribing them so that they can "put them back in an authoritative position" over their wives. Afghanistan is a country where women are raped and beaten by their husbands as a matter of course. Here women are known have set themselves ablaze to escape the brutality of their husbands. Many of these wives were sold to their husbands and given half a chance would most probably have chosen differently. Girls as young as 5-years old are sold into sex slavery and young boys raped.

While the rest of the world wonders why the Afghan men treat their women like prostitutes and their daughters as barter-goods, the CIA is helping to increase the sexual stamina of these men. With intelligence techniques such as this, no wonder the CIA has failed so dismally in Iraq and Afghanistan. As long as these warlords need their sexual stamina to be increased, they will have something to tell the CIA - regardless whether it is true or not - as long as they get paid…But there is also a difference in getting the information you need and want and being given what the sources believe you want.

Grand strategy gives rise to policies that are carried out by a nation’s foreign policy directives. If the Viagra gifts being handed out by the CIA are part of the overall foreign policy direction the US is taking, they are in serious trouble. Handing out Viagra in essence endorses marital and extra-marital rape because that is what is going to happen. Implementing a foreign policy that encourages forced sexual-gratification as a consequence cannot be wise. Indeed, the US can airlift in plane loads of Viagra to Afghanistan and the results will be little in terms of winning the war. But, the sexual torture they are encouraging will no doubt increase. I hope that someone, somewhere in the CIA, will feel a deep sense of shame about that.

Unfortunately, the US’s foreign policy has – as Africa can testify - been based on a lack of understanding of foreign cultures. They charge into countries and try to force the locals to agree and side with them, with no idea of the consequences of what they are doing. When their opinion is disregarded, the government is undermined and overthrown.

The ripple effects the Afghanistan Viagra gifts will have on those who determine the sensibility of this policy will be felt for some time to come. Women who have often been sold into marriage will now have to “grin and bear it” as a warlord recovers his lost virility.

Sun Tzu’s Art of War gives a valuable bit of advice to strategists and planners: Know your enemy. Knowing the enemy requires intelligence. The recruitment and running of agents requires detailed planning – including methods of payment. If Viagra has become an agent-currency in Afghanistan, no wonder there is so little success.

Added on 2 January 2009: It seems as though the Taliban are not only taking the CIA’s Viagra to heart, they are now going one step further: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/264395#tab=&sc=&local=

Sunday, December 21, 2008

THE BLOG AND CHRISTMAS

My sincere thanks to everyone who supported my blog over the past month.

I welcome everyone’s comments to the postings as I find them insightful and in the process, I also learn from you. You may not always agree with me and I am fine with that. The flip-side is that I may not always agree with you as my frame of reference may be different from yours. As life has given us all different experiences and points-of-view, this is understandable – as long as we can debate and discuss issues in an adult-like manner.

This is not a political blog (there are many very good ones around) and I therefore ask all visitors to refrain from asking me to engage in party-political discussions. As I do not have sufficient knowledge on the party-politics of the world, I feel I am not qualified to discuss them.

Several people have also written and asked if they could use some of my blog entries for their own research, lectures, blogs and so forth. My answer is “Yes” but on condition that it is remembered that what I write are my thoughts and secondly, that I am given credit for wherever the entries are used.

In 2009, I shall be taking a look at issues such as terrorism, organised crime, the principles of war, intelligence, PMCs, strategy, new weapon systems, African conflicts, narco-wars and so on.

Finally, I would like to wish all followers of and visitors to my blog a very blessed Christmas season. Those visitors from the troubled areas around the world, I wish you a peaceful and safe festive season.

May the coming year bring you all good health and happiness.

Merry Christmas all.

Added on 23 December 2008: A brief note to let you all know that I shall only resume posting on 1 January 2009. The next posting will take a look at terrorism.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

THE UN FINALLY ADMITS ITS INEPTITUDE IN DRC

I still recall the arrogance of the UN’s peacekeepers when they arrived in Angola as part of UNAVEM. The “peace” they brought with them led to that country’s return to conflict.

They miraculously achieved the same in Sierra Leone. They arrived after EO had virtually destroyed the rebels. They replaced EO’s 250 men with more than 17 000 men and then watched the country slide back into chaos. At a cost of more than US$ 600 million a year (2001), they applauded their “success” as the most successful UN mission ever. Never mind that the rebels were able to re-arm and butcher, eat, rape, torture and destroy whatever was in their path – the UN saw their mission in that country (UNAMSIL) as a great success.

Then of course, there was their brave and heroic stand in Rwanda where they spent approx another US$ 600 million within 6 months – and then fled the genocide with their tails between their legs. That was their idea of peacekeeping.

Some time ago (2008), I said to a UN general that their lies, deception and bluster will one day be exposed for what it is. I also stated that when success is measured by the amount of money spent and the amount of civilian casualties caused, then something is very seriously wrong.

Whereas the DRC must rank alongside the greatest “military” blunders ever undertaken by the UN, someone has finally had the courage to speak out. But, it has taken so long to admit their ineptitude. In the process, hundreds of thousands of people have died and been made homeless. (See http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-12-18-un-official-casts-doubt-on-drc-peacekeepers)

The great tragedy is that their presence in eastern DRC has only made the problem worse for the civilians in that area. Their departure will now only make it worse. That is a tragedy the UN should be held responsible for. The millions of casualties in that conflict should be on their conscience.

Will they be held accountable? Most unlikely.

Will they be shut down? Never.

Will they contract a reputable PMC to resolve the mess they have caused? Definitely not! They will rather flee and watch the entire region implode and then explode. Perhaps they will also hail this mess as another of their successes.

In the meantime, they may now set their sights on creating an environment where piracy off the East African coast can really flourish.

A CONTINUATION OF DISINFORMATION

An article published on the website Africa Crisis on 17 December 2008 (http://www.africancrisis.co.za/Article.php?ID=40085&) was sent to me by one of the followers of this blog. The article was submitted by a person using the pseudonym of “Fox”, who currently resides in Germany. “Fox” has for sometime been a person who has decided to leave no stone unturned in an attempt to continue the disinformation campaign against both myself and Executive Outcomes.

Whereas I have no problem with someone who does not like me (being disliked by such people causes me no loss of sleep), I have a problem with the lies these people have made up, perpetuated and regurgitated.

I have also, in the meantime, learnt the identity of “Fox”, who, upon deeper investigation, was apparently very closely tied-in to the old SA Military Intelligence (MI).

Whereas the article (dated 2006) contained at lot of regurgitated misinformation, it also had some new “elements” added to it. What struck me about the article was that the author, one Dr. Alexander von Paleske, stated his profession as “Ex-Barrister-at-Law, High Court Frankfurt (M)”. One would have hoped that as a barrister, he would at least get some historical facts correct. As he is a legal man, I am sure Dr von Paleske will gladly accept my challenge to prove his allegation that either EO or myself are linked/were linked, found guilty of anything illegal or of associating with criminal elements, or being linked to the “global spider web of crooks, arms dealers…” and so forth as he claims.

Given the fact that he felt he had to include both myself and EO in his article (see my earlier posting “CHOSING TO DISINFORM”), I wonder what Dr von Paleske’s real agenda is? Whereas I will most probably never know unless I choose to investigate the good doctor, I am grateful to him for showing that he too is just another purveyor of disinformation.

My very special thanks also to “Fox” for exposing the relationship with MI.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

THE DEMISE OF AN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE

I have just completed reading a book titled “Really inside BOSS – A tale of South Africa’s late Intelligence Service (And something about the CIA)”. Self-published by Pieter Swanepoel, the book provides a brief history of the Bureau for State Security, (BFSS) or BOSS as it came to be known, and its successor, the National Intelligence (NI).

Although English is not Swanepoel’s first language, he has done a good job in describing, amongst others, the origins of the service, the Smit murders, the assassination of Dr Verwoerd and the role played by the CIA in destabilising the National Party government. He also covers some of the difficulties and frustrations an intelligence officer experiences in the course of his duties. He even relates particulars of a “dirty trick” perpetrated by himself in Namibia in the 1960’s.

The main purpose of the book was to discuss some of the allegations made by BOSS informer, Gordon Winter, after he fled South Africa and published a book called “Inside BOSS” in 1981. The acclaimed British historian, Dr. James Sanders, referred to a number of these allegations in his book about South Africa’s intelligence services, Apartheid’s Friends, and this apparently annoyed Swanepoel and led him to provide another view of these events. Although I have not read Winter’s book, I would be prone to accepting Swanepoel’s version as he cross-references to many documents to prove his writing. Additionally, he spent 32-years in that organisation so he knows what he is writing about. In a recent copy of the magazine, Molotov Cocktail, Dr. Sanders described Really Inside Boss as “a fascinating book” and promised to return to it in a later edition of that magazine.

Readers ought however to take note: the book does not cover intelligence tradecraft and can be heavy reading at times. It nevertheless remains an important account on the history of BOSS.

This book is not available at bookstores. Anyone interested in obtaining a copy can order directly from the author at pietswanepoel@gmail.com

Saturday, December 13, 2008

HAS AFRICOM FINALLY GOT A FOOT-HOLD?

It appears as though AFRICOM has finally managed to get a foot-hold on the African continent.

This follows the recent US military exercise in Mali, part of a far-ranging programme to train African armies in counter-terrorism aimed at locating and defeating Al Qaeda-inspired militants. Accordingly, a five-year, US$ 500 million agreement has been entered into between the US DoD and Algeria, Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. Libya is apparently close to joining this partnership.

This programme will apparently include both offensive and passive actions.

Members of the US 10th Special Forces Group which is based in Germany, accompanied by German and Dutch military instructors, are already in Mali busy with training.

It appears as though the strategy is to contain Al Qaeda in North Africa. Whereas this is a positive step forward for AFRICOM, it ought to be realised that this is a process that will take several years to yield fruits.

USAID has also spent approximately US$ 9 million on counter-terrorism measures in the area to support the planned military operations.

Whereas this is a positive step forward, it is hoped that this will not become another case of a “help-and-betray” policy and that this training will not produce another Bin Laden in the ranks of the recruits.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

THE GREAT LAKES CATASTROPHE

Having been falsely accused in the 90s by the SA Department of Foreign Affairs and some of the “intelligence fabricators” of Military Intelligence as well as the media reporting on Executive Outcomes’ alleged involvement in the Great Lakes area – and in particular in Rwanda and Burundi – it is only natural that I take a good, hard look at what is unfolding in that area. (In case ex-Director-General Rusty Evans and his merry MI and media friends wish to deny or dispute this, I shall gladly post their false and fabricated “secret” and not-so-secret reports on the internet).

Africa’s Great Lakes area’s riches are also its curse. This area consists of eleven countries but it is generally considered to comprise Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and is rich in natural resources such as gold, copper, oil, coltran, diamonds, water, uranium, cobalt and more. Many of the resources in this area are considered to be strategic in nature. However, the area is also characterised by acute shortages of power, widespread poverty, corruption, poorly maintained infrastructure – and political power struggles, tribal antagonism and corruption.

The DRC, the largest owner of these resources, is the stage that is being used to play out the catastrophe the world is currently witnessing – a catastrophe brought about by an abundance of resources instead of a shortage of them – and a desire by outside parties to gain control over the resources. Added to this mix is the clandestine foreign aid, mainly from the US and the UK, being channelled through Rwanda to the rebel CNDP of Laurent Nkunda.

The wars that are currently raging in that area are not focussed on gaining military victories but rather in wresting control over resources. This is in part because in Africa – unlike as in the West - politics drive the economies and not visa versa.

Stability in the Great Lakes region is hampered by numerous factors, many if not all of them, being driven by outside forces. In essence, these factors are mainly greed and power and these two factors are being used to fuel the tribal and ethnic tensions in the region. The resultant spill-over effect is bound to have serious repercussions on all neighbouring states and even beyond, and is likely to plunge the area into even deeper chaos and poverty. The migration of huge numbers of refugees will add additional financial and social strains on the states neighbouring the conflict area.

But, when looking (simplistically) at what is happening, the following can be noted:

1. The US Special Forces are actively involved in training the Rwandan armed forces.
2. The Rwandan army is accused of aiding and abetting the rebels of Nkunda’s CNDP. There are also allegations that serving Rwandan soldiers are fighting alongside the CNDP in the DRC. (Were they trained by the US army?)
3. Rwanda is additionally supplying child-soldiers to the rebels in DRC.
4. In violation of the UN arms embargo, Rwanda is also supplying arms and ammunition to the rebel forces of the CNDP.
5. The United Kingdom is pumping a huge amount of money in the direction of Rwanda. Much of this is being used for actions in the DRC to support Nkunda’s rebels. Perhaps President Kagame’s recent, under-the-radar visit to the UK was to get more money for his actions in the DRC?
6. The head of Anglo American’s Brenthurst Foundation, Dr Greg Mills, was appointed as “Special Advisor to the President” and is part of the Strategy and Policy Unit of the Rwandan President. The official announcement was made on 31 October 2007. Mills was also an advisor to General Richards and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
7. Barely a year after Mills was appointed, heavy fighting resumed between the FARDC (DRC armed forces) and the CNDP. One wonders what advice was given.
8. The CNDP has called for a condition of any ceasefire the review of all resource mining and exploration contracts awarded to the Chinese - so that they can go to…who knows?
9. South Africa supplies weapons to Rwanda.
10. South African weapons are also being used by the CNDP.

I wonder if all of this is pure coincidence. I also wonder why the UN, with its many thousands of men on the ground, are unable to figure this out?

Given the apathy of the West and in particular the UN, who have for a long time stood idly by and watched the civilians in that region to suffer the horrors they are faced with, their reason for being there needs to be seriously questioned. With the UN’s superior firepower they remain ineffectual and unable or unwilling to stop the fighting. (See http://www.africancrisis.co.za/Article.php?ID=39573&) With a peacekeeping force of 17 000 men and approval for an additional 3 000 men, they are surely the most useless peacekeeping force the world has ever known.

Many of the failed states in Africa are the result of overt and covert interference by foreign governments and companies. This interference takes the form of poor advice, misguided policies and giving credibility and empowerment to those that abuse their powers – all aimed at gaining control over resources and influence over the governments. Yes, there is tribalism, power struggles and corruption at work as well but there is corruption all over the world. The recent economic meltdown in the West was surely not caused by honest and responsible business practices.

However in Africa, the fuelling of corruption leads to an escalation in power-grabbing and the resultant ethnic and tribal strife we witness. African governments at war mean large profits, regardless of the collateral fall-out. I suspect that the parties involved in fuelling the conflict have caused more harm to the local population than the warring parties have caused to the opposing sides.

The benefits that many foreign governments, the UN, several NGOs, as well as numerous multi-nationals derive from the Great Lakes conflict are astronomical. Yet the great irony remains – one of the most resource-rich areas in the world is also one of the poorest. Thousands of people have been killed in this conflict and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Yet, the catastrophe does not feature high on anyone’s agenda. Had this situation occurred anywhere in the West, the great powers would have stepped in and put a stop to it. But this is Africa. Here deaths, white or black, don’t matter.

Perhaps the time has come that the situation in the Great Lakes area is exposed for what it is - an attempt by Rwanda and its foreign allies to grab the resources in the DRC.

Added on 13 December: Here is an interesting follow-on article on the DRC:
http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_2441811,00.html

Added on 14 December: This article from the New York Times is indicative of the utter uselessness of the UN’s peacekeeping mission in the DRC. The excuses offered as to why and how the massacre happened defy belief. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/world/africa/11congo.html?_r=1

Added on 16 December 2008: Another interesting article on the massive wastage and incompetence that reigns supreme in the UN. To think that they can even point a finger at corrupt governments…It is about time that this organisation is exposed for what it is. http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htun/articles/20081214.aspx

Monday, December 8, 2008

THE LOST ART OF INTELLIGENCE TRADECRAFT

The survival and longevity of the state is dependent on the acquisition of reliable information and intelligence that will allow analysts to predict the future intentions of the aggressor. Whereas information can be gained from overt sources, the reliability of this information needs to be tested against other known intelligence available – and must therefore be subject to the intelligence process, a process that ought to be objective. Good intelligence acquisition is, additionally, a responsibility a government has towards its citizens.

Overt sources are, however, prone to flying disinformation and information that is subjective and therefore biased. Furthermore, such overt information can often be used to deliberately mislead the analysts and thus lead to a misinterpretation of the threat a state is facing.

Although covert or secret sources account for a relatively small percentage of the overall intelligence picture, the lack of this type of information can lead to misunderstanding and misjudging the aggressor. The knock-on effect from this lapse in information gathering and subsequent analysis can cost a state dearly.

Electronic espionage, satellite surveillance, communications intercepts and other high-tech systems can all help build up the picture of the enemy, but even these high-tech sources are prone to deception, especially when dealing with a sophisticated aggressor.

In order to enter the mind-set and determine the intentions of the enemy, the state’s intelligence gathering apparatus requires agents that are able to access the required information. The essential elements of information that emanate from the analysts can usually only be gleaned from infiltration and penetration agents – something the West has discarded in favour of high-tech espionage. In the process, “intelligence tradecraft” or “espionage tradecraft” has sadly been neglected. Recent examples of the folly of this neglect are the short but ill-fated Bosnian war, the recent Israeli incursion into Lebanon, the war on Iraq, the Mumbai attack and so on.

But, agents too can be “turned” or “dangled” by the enemy or even report what they think their handlers want to know. This can, additionally, lead to an inflow of disinformation aimed at confusing the analysts – or even an intelligence overload which can result in information and intelligence becoming lost in the intelligence machine.

When this purposeful reporting of disinformation is aimed at achieving a specific strategic intent – and is missed by the analysts as being part of a larger agenda – the resultant actions that stem from it can cause massive embarrassment to a government and even lead to its demise.

Case officers or agent handlers ought to be trained in the various methods of agent identification, agent recruitment, methods of establishing cover, agent communications, false flag recruitments and operations, access exploitation and so forth. But more importantly, they need to be trained to identify deception and alternate agendas on the part of their agents – and know how to act once such deception has been identified.

Additionally, case officer selection remains an important criterion. A case officer who does not know how the enemy operates, what the application of the enemy’s weapon systems are, doesn’t understand the strategy and tactics of the enemy, has no real experience of war or conflict and so on will be easily deceived by the agent. Once an agent discovers that the deception is accepted due to a lack of experience, understanding and knowledge, it can be expected that he/she will continue to deceive or even fabricate information.

Apart from understanding and applying good tradecraft, the case officer should realise that he is the agent’s manipulator, psychologist, “friend”, paymaster and mentor. He must be able to motivate, direct and manage the agent in such a manner that the agent feels that there is professionalism attached to his handling.

Agents also need to be trained to survive the environment they are expected to operate in. A danger exists, however, when the agent is over-trained and acts in a manner that draws attention to his/her covert activities. Such actions can lead to the compromise of the agent, the case officer and intelligence operation – usually with severe international repercussions. Over-training an agent can also lead to a finger pointing at the state trying to conduct the espionage operation as tradecraft can be unique in its application.

The apparent lack of ability to plan the career path of an agent is also a factor that hampers covert intelligence gathering operations. Agents need to know that they play an important role but this role should never be over-emphasised. That said, the agent needs to know where he is supposedly going and how he will get there.

Long-term planning to gain the access required, infiltrate and/or penetrate aggressor organisations and monitor what the enemy is planning in the short-, medium- and long-term becomes vitally important to the safeguarding of the state and its citizens.

But, in an age of high-tech gadgetry, many governments have neglected the art of classical espionage and in the process have lost the intelligence advantage and are rapidly losing the intelligence war – a war that is vital to their survival.

My next posting will take a look at the catastrophe unfolding in the so-called Great Lakes region.

Added on 14 December 2008: See the following link for an admission by the US that it lacks intelligence on the pirates:
http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_2441944,00.html


Added on 26 December 2008: I must admit that I found this totally stupid. Has any thought been given to how many women and young boys will now be raped? I simply cannot accept the reasoning behind this latest bit of idiocy. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1101874/U-S-hands-Viagra-pills-Afghan-warlords-return-vital-Taliban-intelligence.htm

Friday, December 5, 2008

DO CEASEFIRES PROLONG WARS IN AFRICA?

War is an ugly, brutal and bloody business – as any soldier can testify. Despite the ugliness and destruction a war causes – along with the collateral damage - it does have a desirable outcome: it ultimately leads to the resolution of an armed conflict and thus, in due course, brings about peace.

But, war is simply a continuation of politics, albeit politics that have gone very wrong. However, when the situation deteriorates to the extent that a nation enters into a war, beit cross-border or localised, it ought to have one final aim: the complete and total destruction of the enemy. This defeat can be brought about either through total exhaustion of the opposing forces or their total destruction on the battlefield. To achieve this, the political leaders and the government need determination and courage to see the conflict through to its final conclusion.

By prematurely interrupting a war with a ceasefire (and the usual follow-on of UN peacekeepers) only gives the opposing force an opportunity to recover its losses, re-arm, re-strategise and then simply continue the war again. (Examples of such occurrences are Angola, Sierra Leone, DRC and such). Furthermore, an internationally imposed ceasefire does not allow the antagonised government to negotiate from a position of strength – a position that is vital to secure a lasting peace. It merely puts a lid on the pot and allows it to continue simmering, usually with tragic results.

The ceasefire also gives credibility to the opposing forces as they are formally recognised and given a sympathy they do not always deserve. Therefore, a ceasefire invariably prolongs the conflict instead of ending it. Peace, on the other hand, can only take root once a war has run its course and been finalised by one of the warring parties. (Hence the comment I made back in 1994 - there can be no peacekeeping if there is no peace).

For that simple reason, the foremost principle of war is “the selection and maintenance of the aim”. The primary aim of war is to achieve a decisive victory over the opposing force - militarily, economically and politically. The opposing force cannot be allowed to believe that they may just win the conflict and therefore its will to fight must be destroyed as well. But when the aim is poorly formulated or selected to be politically correct, disaster is inevitable. Without achieving the aim, the government is unable to negotiate a sustained peace. But, when politicians meddle with the plans of battle and dictate military strategy and tactics, the commanders are usually unable to achieve the aim.

For a government’s military machine to achieve the aim requires – apart from a well-trained, disciplined and well-led force - lightning-strikes on enemy rear-areas and logistical supply lines, destruction of enemy training bases, decisive battlefield confrontations on ground of its choosing, maximum use of the air weapon, skilful propaganda, good intelligence and more. For all of the criticisms levelled at governments engaged in armed conflict, the truth is that they do want to end it as soon as possible, for a host of reasons, but often don’t have skills or the resources. But, war is good for some corporations and organisations, especially some of those involved in resource exploitation and “humanitarian” work. In Africa, wars are often started due to international meddling and corporate greed.

When a ceasefire is imposed by outside parties such as the UN, EU, AU and so forth, it prevents the government that is protecting its territorial and political integrity from achieving its aim. A ceasefire, additionally, merely protects the opposing side from the consequences of its action of starting the conflict. It furthermore gives breathing space to the opposing force and thereby legitimises its actions. Taken a step further, it gives major corporations access to areas where profit maximisation can take place – as instability allows them to buy products/resources cheaply and sell those products/resources at grossly inflated profit margins with minimum input costs.

Africa is littered with examples where ceasefires have simply prolonged the conflicts and added to the misery of those caught up in the conflict. Along with the ceasefire usually comes a large, ineffective, money-eating UN peacekeeping force. Their book of success in especially Africa is very, very slim indeed.

The arrival of so-called peacekeepers simply compounds the problem as the local population develop a false sense of security – and instead of fleeing the combat zone, they actually remain there, believing the peacekeepers will protect them… a big mistake as witnessed in Rwanda, Bosnia, DRC and elsewhere. Furthermore, the ability of the UN’s peacekeepers to switch support from one side to another in order to refrain from having to take any decisive action leads to the local population’s distrust and dislike towards them. The frequent stoning of UN convoys by the locals in the DRC is illustrative of this statement.

A too early ceasefire not only creates uncertainty and it invariably leads to a rapid escalation in crime – usually violent in nature. With no effective policing in place, this leads to the brutalisation of the local population who are mainly innocent bystanders. But the ceasefire is also a source for fresh fighters. In Africa, this has resulted in the forced recruitment of children as young as 8-years old to take sides with the warring parties. The trauma of these child-soldiers is not something that will disappear within a year or two.

Trailing behind the peacekeepers are some (not all) NGOs whose sole aim is to perpetuate themselves by using the media to give their organisations credibility and visibility and thus attract donations and other forms of funding. (Despite the claims, I have yet to meet a member of an NGO who worked for no salary). The camps these NGOs establish for the refugees fleeing the area are very often strategically placed to ensure maximum media access and coverage to ensure that the world is kept abreast of their good work. But more than often these camps are a breeding ground for resentment and hatred – and thus become a ready source for more fighters, to say nothing of anger, disease and squalor.

Many NGOs have also been known to provide support to the warring factions on both sides, thus again simply prolonging the conflict. Their reason for serving both sides is often the claim that they cannot be singled out by one side as favouring another. Thus, all are welcome at their table. Whereas their support to the displaced persons is indeed noble to the uninitiated, their too-early insertion into a conflict zone serves no positive role and indeed becomes another cog in the logistical supply line of the warring parties.

But the truth is that some NGOs benefit from war and benefit even more from ceasefires. In fact, they call for ceasefires in order to fill their financial coffers – as does the UN and its peacekeepers. Without ceasefires, the UN’s peacekeepers would have no cause for existence. In fact, they won’t make money. The longer the ceasefire continues, the more money the peacekeepers make. Small wonder they want ceasefires to continue for years. The media “strategists” are of course keen to propagate the ceasefire and thus aid and abet the opposing force, sometimes unwittingly and so, invariably, the media reporting becomes subjective - even more so when the media becomes the mouthpiece of the rebel forces.

Ceasefires are good for business. If there were no ceasefires, there would be no need for the massive but ineffectual UN peacekeeping efforts and the billions of dollars required to sustain them. Nor would there be a requirement for some of the NGOs that trail in their wake. Likewise, several corporations would be denied access to “cheap” resources.

Whereas ceasefires may be good for business, they are bad for governments engaged in wars as the government is denied the opportunity to achieve the fundamental aim of war. Instead, the problem simply continues to simmer and boil below the surface until it eventually erupts into war again.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

CHOOSING TO DISINFORM

It is unfair to the many ethical, honourable, hard-working, nose-in-the-muck journalists and researchers to include them in this posting, so this posting, although generalising to a large extent, does not cover their good work. Instead, it is aimed at those who have a responsibility to inform but instead chose to rather specialise in misinforming – and they know exactly who they are. They alone give the media and institutes the bad reputation they sometimes do not deserve. It gets worse when these journalists and researchers view themselves as armchair strategists and want to, through the written word, dictate military and security strategies and tactics. The resultant damage and chaos that is born from their drivel is enormous.

The media does not only comprise journalists who write for the daily newspapers, but also those who work for radio stations, journals, television, credible research organisations, bloggers and the like. It also includes researchers whose work is often transmitted via the media. Deeply embedded in the fabric of the media are small groupings who strive to misinform wherever possible. Only they can explain their actions.

By fabrication, innuendo, fantasy, grey propaganda, black agents (not skin colour) and regurgitation they weave and twist their lies into an almost believable truth. Those targets that are aware of what they are doing are not hoodwinked but, by and large, the majority of the population swallow their fabrications as “truth”.

Words such as “an unnamed source”, “it is assumed that”, “allegedly”, “intelligence sources believe”, “reportedly” and such like are used to blur their lines between fact and fiction, truth and lies and achieve the impact that they hope for. The impact is even greater when some of them feed this to their secret masters who classify it as “secret” and then distribute it to a select policy-making audience.

Again, and no doubt very tediously, I make my statements based on my experience and the manner in which EO was tarnished in the media by these so-called journalists and researchers. Yet, as I recently discovered, there is great unhappiness when someone is caught out and is then quick to point the finger at others whose “work” was used in the “research” without checking the facts – something that shows that some are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. They claim “freedom of speech” as a democratic right only they are apparently entitled to. They and they alone reserve the right to pass judgement without any facts at hand. I recall trying to give them my side of the story – along with evidence to back up what I was saying – but I was told that what I had to say was “not in the public interest”.

Of course, it is well known that a journalist is only as good as his/her sources. But when their sources are the actual people/organisations that may be paying them a secret second salary in order to achieve a strategic aim, they become a danger to society. They are the very ones who, instead of honouring their profession and informing the people, fall into the trap of disseminating propaganda, lies and disinformation. Unfortunately, several respectable authors have used this disinformation in their books, thus helping to spread fiction dressed as fact.

All government agencies use journalists to get their message out to the public in a surreptitious manner. The media is also used extensively to counter political opposition and proclaim a government’s holy agenda. This use of the media is well known and has become almost acceptable. But, when government–, semi-state departments and multi-national corporations use these agents-of-influence (witting or unwitting) to negate/counter/smear a private company in order to protect themselves and their illegal activities, the situation begins to change somewhat. When these misinformers start claiming that a company is about to conduct murder, assassinations, are part of a neo-colonising advance guard, are planning coups, are being paid in mineral concessions, imply burglaries of government offices and the like, they deserve to be exposed. Don’t you agree De Wet Potgieter, Stephan Laufer, Anthony Lobaido, Khareen Pech, Ingo Capraro, Jakkie Cilliers, David Beresford, Talif Deen, Bruce Venter, Sean Cleary and your multitude of similar-ilk friends? (To list them all would be a mission impossible – but many of them inhabit the internet and are easily found there).

Ironically, when the misinformers are caught out they act with indignation…

Then of course, there is a despicable little man known as Riaan Stander, an ex-policeman turned National Intelligence agent. Stander penned his now famous “secret reports” which were sent directly to then-President Nelson Mandela and later Thabo Mbeki. Not only were they pure fabrications but they also included the telling comment: “Checked and verified by the analyst”. (For details, see http://cryptome.org/za-disrupt.htm). These fabricated reports were nothing other than a deceptive attempt to prove an undying loyalty to the “new” South African government.

This is the same Stander who found himself irresistibly drawn to secret government funds – of which millions went missing in the process. His secret documents were leaked to selected members of the media who lapped it up – again without checking anything. From there, these documents migrated to the internet. Stander and his documents have subsequently been exposed as frauds – but the damage was already done. These documents have subsequently been taken up by a “historian” in Kwa-Zulu Natal who has almost made it his mission in life to prove them correct.

Apart from maliciously causing companies irreparable damage and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue, their misinformation is used by scholars who write their theses based mainly on mistruths and disinformation. The value of these scholarly works is a big zero, yet in academic circles, they continue to tout their (lack of) knowledge and express their (lack of) understanding on military matters. Some even get awarded international prizes for their “work”. Never mind that a lot of it is made up and cannot even be remotely confirmed…

Some even get appointed to “respected” institutes such as the Institute of Security Studies (in South Africa) where they continue to - under the guise of “researchers” - spurt forth their self-constructed stories. This time their “sources” are people who act as advisors to rebel groups, disgruntled intelligence officers and mining corporations – something that to them is quite acceptable. Yet, these same “knowledgeable” people are not prepared to write about matters of international importance or security as they know that their poisoned pens will be exposed for what they are. Nor are they prepared to write about similar companies operating in areas where the values of resources are higher but where their paymasters have no interests.

When one reads the papers, reports, blogs and books, there appears to have been an entire group working only on EO to generate false stories – or, they were receiving much of their (dis)information from the intelligence services. This “information” was then further shared with their other friends in the media who would publish the story in the mainstream media, quoting from “unnamed intelligence sources”. Once published, a process known as “blow-back” allowed them to re-write their stories and now quote it from the media – the very people they had fed the story to in the first place. Some selected pieces were then also fed to bloggers to help spread the story. Of course, they are also keen to assist authors who are writing on the subject of PMCs and again, this “information” is passed on as fact.

More frightening is the possibility that their misinformation can, regurgitated enough times, become entrenched in the minds of people as “fact”. When these quasi-facts are used to substantiate intelligence they become extremely dangerous and embarrassing, as the US can testify with its invasion of Iraq.

Today, there are still some journalists who generate stories on PMCs based on lies, speculation and political and other agendas. They are the ones who give credibility to rebel and terrorist movements and often champion their causes. Yet, when these journalists find themselves in troubles they are unable to cope with, they expect to be rescued – then even a PMC they have slated will do.

To some journalists and researchers, it appears as though their only aim is to underwhelm the public with information and overwhelm them with propaganda. They are the ones that should be held accountable for the lies and disinformation they spread and the chaos that results from their actions. Their shameful manipulation of information should be stopped by the media bosses.

But, despite these misinformers, there are still honourable journalists and researchers out there who are big enough to admit that they had been hoodwinked. I realised this when I read the full-page apology given to both EO and I in the Star newspaper of 5 November 2007. Others apologised to me in person. But, by then, the damage had well and truly been done.

Added on 7 December: Here is an interesting article on Wars That Matter, That You Hardly Ever Hear About by James Dunnigan:
http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/200812701441.asp (see Point #4)

Monday, December 1, 2008

PIRACY HAS NO “QUICK-FIX” SOLUTION

The problem of piracy cannot be solved with a “quick-fix” solution. The root cause extends further than just the failed state of Somalia. But, unless drastic, hard-hitting action is taken on both land and sea, the pirates will continue to flourish off the East African coastline and continue to intimidate and capture ships and their cargoes and crews. While the world watches and responds with shock and words, and does nothing, these simple operations by the pirates are simply fuelling more crime and filling the pirates’ coffers.

For some very strange reason the shipping companies believe that a few men armed with a water cannon and a noise-generating device can actually stop an armed assault on a ship. This attempt to stop armed crime with a quick-fix solution is both irresponsible and stupid. But, it is probably considered “humane” and unlikely to interfere with the pirates’ human rights.

I recently wrote a counter-piracy document for a very large shipping company. The gist was to stop the pirates before they even got close to the ship they were targeting. Whereas any such plan is only a temporary solution to a growing but more complex problem, the ideal plan will be to take the war to the land bases the pirates occupy and destroy them on the ground. But, no government or organisation has currently got the courage to do this. Besides, the UN would most probably condemn it and call for sanctions to be put in force on the “aggressors”.

My plan was also not what the shipping company was looking for as they apparently felt the plan was “too forceful” and besides, why harm these poor men who are simply trying to create a livelihood? Although this wasn’t directly said, it was clearly implied. Plus, they only want a very small group of between 3 and 4 men to protect their ship, the crews and the cargoes.

The Times of 29 November 2008 ran an article on the “British and Irish anti-piracy experts” who were forced to jump ship – the very ship they were contracted to protect. Whereas the article (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/africa/article5253731.ece) pointed out that the men had, for 40 minutes, held the pirates at bay before jumping overboard, it does highlight some of the problems associated with a “quick-fix” solution. It also illustrates very clearly that 3 unarmed men aboard a ship cannot fend off an armed enemy. But, good money was paid by the shipping company and no positive result was forthcoming as the guards abandoned the ship - the Liberian-flagged tanker, Biscaglia with its cargo of palm oil - and its 27-member crew.

The Biscaglia is the 97th vessel to be attacked this year in the waters off Somalia. At least 15 ships, and more than 300 crew members, are currently being held for ransom. This will most certainly not be the last vessel to be captured by the pirates.

As the situation off the Somali coastline steadily develops into a high-risk zone, more and more PMCs (some with very little or no experience) are vying for contracts to protect ships sailing those waters. Some are trying to “economize” on manpower and maximise on profits. Others are looking at other “non-lethal” methods of stopping this high-sea crime. In many ways, this is akin to taking a knife to a gunfight – they are bound to lose. But, cheap solutions usually deliver cheap results – or in this instance, gave the shipping company a false sense of security but will cost, in the long run, a lot more than they bargained for.

A counter-piracy team must be able to give more to a shipping company than simply a warm, fuzzy feeling. These men need to be armed with real weapons, with real bullets and take every action possible to prevent the pirates even approaching the ship they are supposed to be protecting.

The concern that a trained guard will accidentally fire his weapon into some hazardous cargo does not hold much water. Real soldiers are used to carrying weapons on aircraft, submarines, inside vehicles, next to ammunition and so forth. Fire discipline is something every good soldier is taught. But, how many of these guards are well trained and sufficiently dedicated to honour their contracts?

International customs laws, in an effort to contain the illegal movement of arms and ammunition, provide an obstacle some shipping companies simply do not want to challenge or overcome. But, if a ship is not allowed to take whatever measures it needs to take to protect itself, then international law needs to be revisited and reviewed.

Well-trained, well-armed security teams on a ship must make life so unbearably dangerous to the pirates that they prefer to stay on land. Failure to respond to the IFF protocol should lead to an immediate sinking of the pirate vessel with no time being wasted on saving them for a court appearance. But, of course there are groups that will argue that such actions will infringe on the human rights of the pirates and that furthermore, such actions will be politically incorrect.

It is because of always trying to be politically correct that the world finds itself in the position it is in. Crime is rampant and will continue to flourish as long as everyone allows criminals such as these to operate with impunity.

Piracy can be stopped but it will require more than just words and water cannons.

Added on 3 December: Here is an interesting article on piracy for those who wish to read it: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/12/piratemerc-late.html#more Also see http://feraljundi.com/ for Blackwater's approach to solving this mess.

Another update on 3 December 2008, 1500B: Finally, they have woken up….The United Nations Security Council has approved a law that allows countries to enter the troubled Somalia sea waters and use military force against the dangerous pirates who are hijacking commercial ships off the coast of the Horn of Africa.

The Security Council newly adopted resolution gives authority to any country to attack the pirates. The European Union says in six days time it will be there in Somalia with a massive air and naval offensive against the pirates. The Council's authorization of a military solution against piracy in Somalia will be for a period of one year.