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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.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

THE PRIVATE MILITARY HERALD AND THE BLOODHOUND 1

My previous posting on the media and PMCs drew a lot of very interesting comments and suggestions by the visitors to the blog. It also elicited a couple of emails accusing me of “ranting and raving” against the media. It appears to me that some in the media don’t like being challenged about their agendas, lack of objectivity and sloppy research.

But there is some good news for PMCs. I found a site that is currently being developed and it seems to me that the Private Military Herald (www.privatemilitaryherald.com) will be an excellent place for PMCs/PSCs to air their views on a host of related topics and issues. Correctly used, it will also afford companies an opportunity to expose bad reporting, media agendas, and a lack of truth. I hope that PMCs and PSCs will use this tool to set their records straight and become a voice for those companies that work ethically and honourably. (I note that it even has an article from my blog on it).

I believe that this is a giant step forward in favour of PMCs/PSCs and I truly hope that they use the Private Military Herald (PMH) to the advantage of the industry.

So those who wish to take a read or make a meaningful contribution to the PMH, please go to www.privatemilitaryherald.com

Changing the subject: The latest generation Combat Vehicle Command-and-Control System is a newly-developed South African innovation aimed at allowing commanders of motorised and mechanised forces to keep real-time control over their numerous fighting- and support vehicles.

Developed by ComSpace and designated as “Bloodhound 1”, the system provides commanders with numerous advantages on the highly-mobile, modern battlefield:

1. Simplified manoeuvre of forces
2. Logistical resupply
3. Elimination of “friendly fire” incidents
4. Artillery fire support
5. Forward Artillery Observation
6. Close air support
7. Reinforcements
8. Logistical resupply
9. Medevac and so forth.

The Bloodhound 1 gives commanders a real-time location of where their IFVs, ICVs and other armoured vehicles may be and additionally allows the timely adjustment of tactics to terrain and enemy positions and weapon systems.

The Bloodhound 1 utilises state-of-the-art satellite tracking-and-display and the movement of reconnaissance, combat and logistical vehicles can be viewed from within the command vehicle from a ruggedized laptop computer.

The Bloodhound 1 will additionally allow commanders to correctly position their vehicles in terms of time-past-point (TPP) in order to prevent vehicles from closing up and presenting larger targets during on-road movement. Such targets are ideal ambush targets and can severely hamper any motorised and mechanised movement.

The Bloodhound 1 will, furthermore, prevent mobile units from being cut-off and destroyed piecemeal by the enemy.

All in all, I believe that the Bloodhound 1 will become a command-and-control system that will shape the future battlefield.

Anyone wanting more information on this system, please visit Peet at www.companis.co.za

24 comments:

userdude said...

Hi Eeben,

That's a great idea; I wish I had had it! Oh well.

Thanks!
Jared

Philip said...

I have been a reader on your blog for some time, but have never commented. Regarding Bloodhound 1, its great to see that this is in development. It sounds a lot like Blue Force Tracker that we used in the US Army., which certainly made command and control a lot easier for us. Its great to see that this type of system is in development in South Africa.

Robby said...

Eeben...re:I hope that PMCs and PSCs will use this tool to set their records straight and become a voice for those companies that work ethically and honorably .

Heres the rub brother as I see it PMC's and PSC's will only achieve acceptance when it is seen and proves it is ethically and honorably thanks to Bush and the questionable tactics of Blackwater in Iraq they have given PMC's a very black eye I don't think I'm far off base when I say PMC's today are seen as out of control former special forces who sell their services to the highest bidder...ethics and honour be dammed.

Disproving a negative is tough in today's world it's results that count ....I know you hate it but you are getting into a political thing here....don't get me started :-)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is a great idea, Jared, but now maybe you can submit something to them?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for commenting, Phillip. The system is somewhat different from Blue Force Tracker but as I am pretty dumb with electronics, I cannot actually give a sensible distinction between the two. I hope the SANDF will take a good look at this piece of equipment but given their past track record, they probably won’t…sadly.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is thou who walketh the road to politicking, Robby. I doubt the PMH will concern itself with that facet of human frailty. But, you are very correct – positive results are what count and unfortunately, many PMCs/PSCs get awarded contracts and then only start to scramble around for people.

I suspect a lot of what is written about PMCs/PSCs is incorrect. Now, at the very least, they can set the record straight on the PMH. If they lie, that will come out but then it is on record that they are liars. I think that too is good for the industry.

Rgds,

Eeben

Grumbleguts said...

...appears to me that some in the media don’t like being challenged about their agendas, lack of objectivity and sloppy research...

Hi Eeben,
The MSM have become experts at swaying the minds of the masses, and the PMC's have been no exception. As they have their own agendas, un-objective reporting has become the order of the day.
It's always tough for them to be confronted by the facts

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Facts seem to detract from – and spoil – some of their stories, Grumbleguts. But that does not mean that we should all roll over and accept the lies and falsehoods. That said, PMCs/PSCs have some responsibility in all of this. Poor performance, lack of control and so forth is something the industry needs to sort out itself and thus remove some of the whips the MSM can use against them.

Perhaps PMCs/PSCs need to use the PMH to expose these attempts by the media to sway the masses.

Rgds,

Eeben

Monkey Spawn said...

Call me a cynic, but the Private Military Herald (PMH) is unlikely to present an unbiased view given that it's an industry publication. Only in theoretical mathematics can a negative extreme reach balance by adding a similarly extreme positive.

While the PMH is a start; what is needed is a broad-based approach to informing, educating and involving the existing popular media to get them understand PM/SCs. Until the PMH becomes an household media name, its impact is limited.

The reality is that they are not different to the general public in the belief that PM/SCs operate like 1960s (and occasional 1980s) mercenaries, running around for dubious leaders, executing coups in third world countries.

Let's hope the PM/SCs allocate their media & PR resources appropriately.

On the Bloodhound 1, South African companies have often come up with world-class product and servies. But, with very few exceptions, they lack the knowledge of how to market their offerings effectively internationally. Given that it's Easter, perhaps an opportunity exists for EO to ressurect as a military and security marketing business (only half joking).

Robby said...

Eeben re It is thou who walketh the road to politicking....can't help it brother ... logic says that if major shipping companies employed PMC's and it did solve the Somalia crises it would go a long way in improving it's image and acceptance ....then again (not saying it is) I wonder who is giving the Somalis the intel and training?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your maths is probably correct, Monkey Spawn but I think it is a step in the right direction. It is therefore important that PMCs/PSCs use PMH and advise their friends and colleagues about it.

Sadly, the responsibility of much of the bad publicity still lies with the PMCs/PSCs themselves as some wish to portray themselves as Rambo’s brother in dress and actions – and their oft unwillingness to stand up against negative publicity.

Yes, a lot of world-class equipment has come from SA but for some strange reason it is never recognised – until it is sold off and bought back a several times the original price. But, as the saying goes “There are no tablets for stupidity”.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Major shipping companies aren’t too interested in resolving the problem, Robby. Insurance is a valuable commodity when it pays out.

Having spoken to the pirates, much of their intelligence comes from the UK and Dubai. Their training is seat-of-the-pants stuff and is not coordinated and structured – when that happens, perhaps some will regret not having taken action.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

I guess it,as usual,comes down to risk and reward for insurance companies and with that being the case expect attacks to continue...

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Of course it will continue, Robby, especially in light of the fact that the Dutch Commandos were forced to release the pirates they captured because the pirates were not "Dutch citizens".

It is actions such as these that give the pirates even more moral courage to continue with their actions.That, and of course, the rich pickings everyone is keen to pay them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Sigurdur said...

In your opinion, what is the smallest maneuver unit which should be allowed and expected to operate with a high degree of initiative? Will the bloodhound increase, or decrease the ability of poor officers to stifle the initiative of their maneuver forces?

sugarmaple said...

Hello Eeben,

Journalists who choose to misinform society should expect "encouragement" to clean up their act. Bad reporting by the few ruins the reputation of the whole industry.

I'm currently researching the field of humanitarian intervention. Obviously EO provided a valuable contribution to this field.

While the media almost universally criticizes the U.N. for it's failure in Rwanda, the media appear receptive to the U.N. response that no member governments wanted to send troops, therefore nothing could have been done, and that's all there is to it. No 2nd option is ever mentioned.

When I first learned of the EO option I was very surprised. Do you know why the EO alternative was never picked up by the major news sources? Instead articles regularly appear on CNN and the BBC enforcing some type of collective international guilt for not supporting the U.N. with more troops.

How effective could the EO alternative have been? If people knew this option actually existed in 1994, I believe this could be a very convincing case study to the general public that there is a place for PMC's.

Thanks, Charles

matt said...

If used correctly, the PMH can certainly be beneficial. For example, why would a company release media stuff to CNN first, if they could release it to PMH first, and have all of the news networks go to PMH if they want to distribute the story? Then when ever a news group gives credit to the story, it goes to PMH and it isn't some AP deal. That would be constant advertisement for every story, complete with a link(hopefully), back to the PMH site.

That is the power of new media, and if companies want to support PMH, they can do so with a simple action of hooking PMH with that information first. Or they could release it to those news groups that could care less about the industry, and are just hungry for content.

PMH is also a cool place for those that like to write, and want a industry specific readership. Hell, guys like David Isenberg could continue his Dogs of War column at PMH. Writers from all over the military/law enforcement/contractor spectrum could be drawn in to contribute.

For the Bloodhound 1, I too would be curious to see how it stacks up against the Blue Force Tracker. Cool deal.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It all depends on the threat, Sigurdur. In some theatres – if we are looking at more conventional forces - it can be a troop/platoon and in others a regiment/battalion. Also influencing unit size is the terrain and weapons systems facing the forces.

I think that no amount of equipment can “improve” poor leadership. The Bloodhound will however allow poor leaders to at least know where their own forces are.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree entirely that the many good journalists have their entire industry’s reputation tarnished by a few unscrupulous people, Charles – much like the PMC/PSC industry.

The media was critical of the UN re Rwanda, and quite rightly so. But for the UN to claim nothing could have been done is a lie and they know it. Not only did a UN commander in Rwanda warn Kofi Annan and the UN of the pending slaughter, all intelligence pointed to it coming. So even with prior warning, the UN sat by watching.

Whereas EO was not the only option available to them, it was an option that could have intervened. If I recall correctly, there were some smaller media outlets that did mention that EO was approached but turned down. But I doubt that the UN want/wanted the EO option to be too widely publicised.

How effective could EO have been? I don’t know but I do know we could have saved thousands of lives.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree wholeheartedly, Matt. PMH can play a valuable role but as Monkey Spawn commented, it will need to “establish” itself first as a source of good, accurate reporting and your comment could lead to that.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

In regards to Sugar Maple, the solution to your question, is for new media to promote the story if MSM won't do it. And the funny thing is, if blogs and other sites promote these types of stories, MSM grab on to them sometimes, just because it is all the rage of the blogosphere. So that is why it is excellent that this continues to be discussed by all of us, and the word gets out.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That sounds like a sensible approach, Matt. But perhaps PMH should, as soon as they post something new, also notify the MSM of it. If the MSM does not wish to pick it up/follow it up, it becomes their problem but at least it will be on record.

Rgds,

Eeben

mger27 said...

I have a question. If what PMH does is support the existance of PMC, how does publishing disfavorable news helps?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As I have nothing to do with PMH, I cannot truly answer that question, mger27. But, I would assume that the aim is to report even the bad about PMCs and expose the ones who give the good companies a bad name. Balance and self-criticism is needed and I surmise that PMH is working at achieving that.

Rgds,

Eeben