About Me

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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. Until recently, I was a contributing editor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

UNDERSTANDING “INTELLIGENCE”

The term “intelligence” is both misunderstood - and abused - by many. Essentially, in the military sense, it is an in-depth knowledge of the enemy that allows the prediction of the future based on current, sound and credible source-information. It is this foreknowledge that allows the prediction of the enemy’s intentions that will enable a force to adopt the correct mission profile and posture, manoeuvre its forces correctly and be at the correct place and time to overwhelm the enemy with fire.

Of course, the silly old joke that military intelligence is a misnomer is due to the fact that many who work in the field of military intelligence have no idea what they are supposed to be doing and no clue how to achieve it. Instead, they conjure up incredible source-information and make predictions from this nonsense and thus arrive at incorrect conclusions and the resultant incorrect predictions.

This leads to mission failure and a loss of credibility to the fighting forces, something we seem to be witnessing on an almost daily basis in conflicts around the world.

The ability to gather credible information is based on the ability to “see into the heart of the enemy”, know where to find the information required and to identify and utilise every available source that can gain access to the information required. The value of human sources is often sacrificed in this regard, instead making maximum use of technical or electronic collection, despite it being easily misled.

An inability to analyse where the required information can be found leads to the collection of “history” and not “intelligence”.

In order to ensure the correct process is followed in this attempt at gaining access to classified enemy material, a simple cycle, known as the “Intelligence Cycle” is followed. This cycle consists of the following basic actions:

1. Determining WHAT information is required ie defining the Intelligence Problem
2. Determining WHERE to find the information, ie what access is required and how to exploit that access. This is known as the Intelligence Appreciation
3. Collecting the information by means of sources and agents
4. Processing the gathered information by means of the Intelligence Process. This is where the information gathered is evaluated, collated and interpreted. It is at this stage that the information is transformed into intelligence
5. Disseminating the intelligence, ie giving it to those people/units that need to know the available intelligence in order to plan their operations.
6. The situation is again subject to the Intelligence Appreciation in order to locate WHERE additional information may be found and the cycle begins anew.

This process remains an on-going cycle in order to continually update the information on the enemy. It is this information and ultimately the subsequent intelligence derived from there that allows commanders to apply flexibility in their planning and adapt to changing battlefield scenarios. Intelligence is also a vitally important component to ensure that forces will not be surprised and overwhelmed by the enemy.

The main problem with many intelligence operations (apart from incompetence) is that mistakes are made during the initial phases of the Intelligence Cycle, thus resulting in the wrong intelligence targets being identified. The problem is further compounded when intelligence officers taint the collected information with their own bias instead of cold-and-clinical reporting of information. Additionally, many analysts “bend” the collected information in order to suit their beliefs and previous assessments.

By knowing and understanding the forces that oppose them, the analysts, commanders and planners will be able to make accurate Intelligence Predictions.

Poorly selected sources, the lack of human agents, agents with limited access, incorrect exploitation of sources, over-reliance on electronic or technical sources and so forth simply continue to compound the problem, leading to the incorrect evaluation and interpretation of the information. It is this flawed process that leads to poor battle plans, the loss of life and ultimately victory to the enemy. When these poorly conceived plans are implemented, no amount of battlefield bravery can rectify the damage done due to a lack of intelligence – or poor intelligence.

Intelligence ought to be one of the prime sub-actions a PMC carries out once it enters a hostile or conflict area. Without intelligence, it will not know what to expect in the area, which locals are hostile, what the language/religious distribution of the population is and so forth. Nor will it know the local customs and traditions of the peoples in the area – something that can cost it dearly.

The PMC that uses intelligence wisely will be successful in its mission but it needs to first understand the process – and application - of Intelligence in all of its facets.

74 comments:

TCO said...

Exccellent subject Eeben. Good intel is a real force multiplier.

One thing that I see often overlooked is the rich source of intel contained in the LNs (Local Nationals) which are increasingly being used by PSCs in Iraq and the Stan.

I recall a time in Iraq when a compound not far from our own was being attacked by local one of the local militia. It was clear, even after the first few minutes, that the attack was not directed at us. We stood to and watched the proceeedings intently as the proximity was such that we were all within range of errant fire from small arms and RPGs. A number of our local national began receiving phone calls and text messages as the minutes turned to an hour or more. The messages were coming from friends and family some with direct contacts within the militia.

Having humint almost in real-time was invaluable in terms of our planning both on that day and in the future.

The sources of intel are infinite and generally only closed off by ourselves due to ignorance or unwillingness to do the work required to retrieve it.

Jake

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Intelligence seems to usually come as an afterthought, Jake. But, good intelligence requires hard work, careful planning and the ability to hit the window at the right time. Sadly, because it is such hard work, few seem willing to attempt to do it correctly. Because of that, we become our own biggest obstacle in the quest to provide a good intelligence product.

Rgds,

Eeben

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Robby said...

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.....Bill Watterson

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No disrespect taken, Andrea. I believe that wars should be ended as soon as possible as I have seen some of the scars they cause if left to simply simmer on. Africa is a good example of that.

The sources of war are numerous – perhaps one day I shall cover that.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An interesting point, Robby.

Rgds,

Eeben

simon said...

My suspicion is that this was the most faulty operational area in the Iraq war. Thinking about the post before I saw TCO comment was that the locals are THE intelligence. I might liken it to my little town being invaded and cells, and texts start flying. Teenagers are getting carpal tunnel from texting so much in the US. That and the people we all know and have drunk fests with at the pub. We would all know exactly what was happening.

So, I think the 'master key' of the surge was simply building an intelligence network and adding biometric technology to hitting key personnel. When you have a system gutted by over a decade of ripping HUMINT from your arsenal, a couple years should be expected. Plus, nothing makes innovation more important than being in a war as history shows.

Im no expert on the SWAPO situations but im sure there were alot of Knock and Talks going on for years.

Wars are the pivot points in history. Probably the most virulent true anti war people are those who experienced it up close. But putting aside the timidity and fear, there is a certain class of people who act as guard dogs for the rest of us to be able to say whatever we want. Even spit on our own flag. Guess what, that right was earned through the barrel of a gun.

Prolonged 'peace keeping' has done nothing but extend warefare and kept civilization in the swamp.

Thank God for men whose profession is to walk point and drop those who seek to cut our throats and dance over our dead bodies.

Alan said...

Eeben and esteemed contributors:

Excellent cmnts all! I would submit however, that war is our business vs our religion. And business appears to be rather brisk of late. I would add that sound military intelligence must also provide expert knowledge of the key terrain. Others could certainly be found, but General Buller's hard time at Spion Kop might serve as a historical example.

Human Intelligence (HUMINT) is indeed a critical enabler in COIN operations. Unfortunately, on this side of the pond there has been a general reluctance to dirty our hands with source operations. The prohibitive cost, political risk (not to be done on my watch), and very long-term nature of HUMINT development had pretty well placed it in the too-hard-to-do box until 9/11. As Jake correctly said in closing, we've suffered for many years from an "ignorance or unwillingness to do the work required."

The PMC and it's seasoned veterans are idealing suited to many tasks in COIN operations. One PMC strong point has been, and will continue to be it's contribution to intelligence collection and predictive analysis. Time honored axim applies:

"Old age and cunning will triumph over youth and enthusiasm every time." anon

Grey Beards rule!

Cheers, Alan

borr1945 said...

Eeben,

So, Iraq didn't really have wmd's?
Who screwed up on that piece of
intelligence? Enough sarcasm, another good topic eeben. The last
10 years have been filled with plenty of examples of both good and
bad examples of intelligence gathering and useage. One can only
hope the intelligence communtiy can
learn from the mistakes.

regards ken

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

We would do well to remember one of Mao’s maxims, Simon – the enemy move like fish through water…The locals will always remain a most valued source for information but you need to have them on your side. This is not done by shooting them and raping their daughters. Nor is it done with midnight raids kicking in their doors. As Jake mentioned – it requires hard work.

In my opinion, Iraq is a classic case of bending information to suit a planned intention. That is a folly in the extreme.

I have made my thoughts on “peacekeeping” and “ceasefires” very clear. I think they simply prolong any conflict and are aimed at doing just that so that others can benefit.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As you well know Alan, terrain dictates tactics. Without good intelligence, we cannot even begin to make feasible plans – much less exploit the terrain. Spionkop, Majuba and so on are something my British forefathers would prefer to forget. If I may bend someone’s quote a bit: Going to war without intelligence is like going deer hunting without a rifle”.

We have become the victims of our own laziness. Running agents can hold a political risk but if done smartly, that risk is eliminated to a large degree. As for costs – it is much cheaper than the electronic means we want to apply all of the time but it is hard work. We do not really need to plan that much if we opt the electronic route. So, being lazy, we prefer the easy route – and end up asking why we continually fail.

Your quote on old age is a truism. Pity people tend to forget it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Iraq’s case of WMDs is a classic case of “creative intelligence” gone wrong, Ken. If one lesson needs to be remembered for future conflicts, it is the human cost to own forces that result due to incorrect intelligence.

Rgds,

Eeben

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Alan said...

Ken:

In regard to your very good question regarding WMD in Iraq. If Saddam had no interest, or inventory of WMD then it must surely follow that the Cuban Christian missionary effort to the MPLA in Angola in the 1980's was also unfairly targeted.

The IDF air strike in 1980 on the nuclear facility at Osirak Iraq slowed Saddam's nuclear efforts and bought the west much needed time. During the 1990's, the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) had clearly made the case for WMD and Saddam's intent via scores of on-site inspections and chemical munitions destruction missions. I could go on and on about the internal Baghdad Canal Hotel wars between UNSCOM and the UN Food for Peace vermin who inhabited adjacent office spaces, but I'll spare you that unrelated piece.

Like Iran's Ahmadinejad, Saddam desperately wanted a nuclear capability. Were there irroneous or flawed intelligence reporting? Indeed there was. Was there a liberal media campaign designed to discredit any coalition effort to include the initial justification for the conflict in Iraq, indeed there is. Mind the liberal media. Die Nile is also a river in Africa.

As an aside, the only voluntary dismantling of a nuclear capability in the known world was conducted at Pelindaba. Time will only tell if that was a wise move.

Regards, Alan

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Whereas everyone is entitled to their opinions, I can understand where you are coming from, Lara. However, I disagree with your summation. The “peace” that the Western world believes it experiences is due to the men at arms who see their calling as defending that peace. Were it not for them, there would be no Western world, no demonstrations against whatever, no freedom to voice concerns, etc. However, as someone who has experienced first-hand the betrayal of the West, I view some of their motives with an extremely jaundiced eye. But the fact of the matter is that men have throughout the ages sacrificed their lives (not always voluntarily) to ensure that others can endure those freedoms.

It is ironic that calls for war are not made by the military but by the politicians – who make a point of ensuring that they are nowhere near the danger zone. It is usually the soldiers who get the rear end of the stick when all they were doing was carrying out their respective government’s foreign policy. And when those foreign policies are flawed, the military gets the blame.

I have had the sad experience of witnessing first-hand incompetence in “Military Intelligence” but I have also witnessed the result when that intelligence has been correct. Although I criticise, I do so with the hopes that someone will read what I and others have to say and work at making the Military Intelligence Community more effective. This will not only often prevent conflict but if that conflict is inevitable, it will save lives.

Rgds,

Eeben

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think very few people were actually aware of why a war was being fought in Angola, Alan. The average South African soldier certainly had no idea why he was there and even to this day, is not sure why he was sent there. Yes, there was the propaganda about stopping the Red Bear but that is, in my opinion, what it was – propaganda. That propaganda was aimed at creating the belief that we were fighting for the safety of the “West” – and the West we were supposedly defending, was one of those (along with our politicians) that stabbed the dagger deep in our backs.

The major beneficiaries of the Angolan war were the industrialists and the mining companies. Weapons and resources. It had nothing to do with stopping the Red Bear, although that is what many still chose to believe. South Africa meant nothing on the world political stage and even then, during that war, plans were already in place to ensure that there was a change in government.

As many of us saw ourselves as beyond politics, we were still an instrument of those policies. And, regardless of what government was in place, we would still have been in the military as that was what we felt we were called to do. In hindsight, we can wonder why we never saw the bigger picture but then, even if we had, we most probably would still have been there.

All of this takes me back to a government’s foreign policy. Flawed or not, it is not the politicians who are sent to make sacrifices. Indeed, when the guns fall silent, they turn on those who were prepared to carry out their plans. We will, no doubt, see that happen to the US military as well when the dust in Iraq and Afghanistan finally settles.

As for the UN and its related agencies, I have made my thoughts known.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Oh, dear…I never said that my interpretation was “absolutely correct”, Lara. But if you chose to make your own assumptions about what I assume, then so be it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Robby said...

Lara....Not wanting to assume anything may I ask you a few questions before I respond to your post?

1) What country are you from?
2) Being anti-war can come from either wing of the political spectrum care to say which wing you associate yourself with?

The reason for the last question was your use of the term "peacenik" which can mean many things ie dove
disarmer, pacificist etc

Regards
Robby

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Lara, by saying I know where you are coming from, I referred to having read your blog and your thoughts on matters. What I disagreed with is your comment referring to “your MilSec religious slave and cannon fodder breeding waraddicted community…”

I do not see myself (I cannot speak for others) as being addicted to war. But, I believe that all wars are caused by the implementation of foreign and economical policies. Those policies are based on inputs from the intelligence community, beit military, political, strategic, economical and so forth.

Indeed, my posting concerns the farce about ace manner in which especially the Military Intelligence community often approach matters. Often the analysis and interpretation of information is bent to suit their bias.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No problem with the multiple links, Lara. Thanks for posting them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Andrea Murrhteyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No problem, Lara.

As regards the blog, I guess those who visit it will make their own conclusions as to whether it is worthless or not. The blog does, however, give me a chance to have my say regarding certain matters I believe to be important, if only to myself.

Rgds,

Eeben

simon said...

Not to carry on with the difference between peacenick or absolutism..Because you do make some interesting points. But....

When Civil War finally rears its ugly head in SA and headless bodies are being stung behind bicycles and drug down the street by 12 year olds, I'd keep Barlow's number. He and his fellow parishoners may be the only salvation that nation has.

Robby said...

Lara Thanks for your info,you have issues that would take someone much smarter than me to figure out.I suspect it had something to do with your childhood ...nothing personal!

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
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Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for that, Drug.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Again I do not agree with your comments on mercenaries, Lara. Who would you wish to call on when the chips are down – the SANDF, the AU, the UN??

I recall the Angolans and the sierra Leoneans and the Indonesians exhausting all of their options…who ended those problems? It is not a matter so much as “calling in mercenaries” but calling in people who have the will to resolve the problems. Those problems were accurately assessed, the root causes were addressed and firm action was taken. I would hardly call that applying a band-aid to a brain tumour.

As for re-establishing the commandos – who will command them? Will the commanders be competent and able to do what they need to do when called upon? The success of this needs to be seen first before many will even contemplate volunteering their services.

By the way, who is more mercenary – the soldier who gives his all to a government that pays him or the journalist that gets paid for writing and pushing disinformation?

Rgds,

Eeben

simon said...

Wow, this thread is veering off course. I dont want to add to much more to it. First, I do work in an element of national security however tedious my work is. Id prefer not to say what my job is as its unethical to divulge everything I do at this point. My days of military service are far past me and yes I did serve but didn't experience combat. Peacetime military. I really dont need to know anything about you because its outside the scope of this blog's intent.

No true student of warefare is ignorant of causes outside of propoganda and agenda's of goverment big whigs. As Eeben has pointed out a soldier performs his duty based on political decisions outside his control.

I once asked a very marxist college economics professor ( who I thought was very enlightening however much I disagreed with him ) a simple question. Sir, where in history can I find a marxist government that is successful ? He stood stunned and said, There are none......BUT there could be one. I said thank you and sat down.

I ask you, what country on the continent of africa is stable and progressing towards first world standards of healthcare, crime, economics, and a representative democracy ? There are none.

You see glimpses of what can be for the Innocent people who want to herd their goats or grow their maize living in peace when a 'mercenary' force has put down the rebels under the authority of a standing government. If the country cannot provide a standing army, and want the blood to stop flowing, they should certainly not call the UN. PMC's with ethical foundations are trending to be the answer.

Sometimes to get to heaven you got to go thru hell.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It has veered way off course, Simon. Thanks for your comment which will hopefully refocus us on the subject itself.

From your previous comments, I have an idea what you do and I respect anyone who works in the type of environment you do. I can imagine its frustrations as well. Suffice to say, it is a very important task that can greatly influence the security of your country.

Rgds,

Eeben

Andrea Murrhteyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robby said...

FYI....

Lessons Learned from a New Combatant Command - AFRICOM

FPC Briefing
Ambassador Mary C. Yates

MODERATOR: Good morning. I’d like to welcome you to our briefing on the AFRICOM, the Command for Africa, by the deputy director of the civil-military affairs --

AMBASSADOR YATES: Activities.

MODERATOR: Yes. Ambassador Yates.

AMBASSADOR YATES: Thank you very much. Thank you, Diana and thank you all for coming this morning. I hope this is going to be an interactive exchange, because I think some of you know about the new Africa Command.

We still find that there’s a lot of learning that’s going on, and I truly feel privileged to have been asked to serve as the first civilian in a military command in a senior position like this. Nothing about it has been easy, but it’s been very rewarding, especially now that we’ve gotten to the October 1, 2008 time period and we are functioning as a unified command, just as the other geographic combatant commands function.

http://fpc.state.gov/123292.htm

Alan said...

Eeben:

While we're on the intelligence thread, I thought I forward a bit from Open Source reporting on a lovely banquet in Pyongyang. Be sure to click the date link for an entire listing of events. This one sort of takes the "African solutions for Africa" completely off the field.

Regards, Alan

http://www.kcna.co.jp/item/2009/200905/news12/20090512-23ee.html

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Very interesting, Alan. No wonder his country is where it is…one can only hope that with the inclusion of the MDC there may (at some point in the distant future) be an improvement.

From an intelligence point of view, the North Koreans have been active there for some time. As have so many others. Everyone has their own best interests at heart and the hell with anyone else.

Thanks for the link.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Hi Eeben

This is a very interesting piece and interesting comments from the readers.
I don’t want to veer off the topic here so I hope my piece of useless information will count for something.
I agree with your explanation on the process of intelligence gathering and the intelligence cycle. It is a big topic with many facets.
I have a little experience in one of the facets, and that is physical target reconnaissance of an area (road, enemy route etc.) or specific target. I do belief that this is one of the facts of intelligence gathering and an important consideration to probe for enemy weaknesses.
I also think that militaries, especially the West (from my experience) don’t invest enough time to this important subject in training and execution. I have listened to US soldiers stories on how they handle agents etc. and it’s really scary to think they send these guys out on mission with zero training in this field. Or probably instructors with zero experience to teach these subjects.
I have finished a book “Kill Bin Laden” by Dalton Fury, about the Delta Force hunt for Bin Laden shortly after 9/11.
I wasn’t there so I can’t say much, but he describe how they “sat for hours” looking at drone footage on the area and seeing if they can “pick anything up”.
I do belief it is nice to have that ability, but I would suggest that special forces operators rather spend their time doing physical reconnaissance on those areas and leave the other type intelligence for agencies other than special forces to look at.
Of course the same for the PMC’s. I think if better intelligence gathering has been done before certain missions, and in other cases, lessons learned from intelligence mistakes, fewer guys would have paid with their lives in Iraq.
Now off the point a bit to Lara – the mercenary thing… what do you call the US army? I know they went to Iraq because they firstly had no say in the matter in any case. But keep in mind that a sovereign country was attacked by a government who preach democracy, bombed Iraq to pieces after 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers where Saudis. That sounds a bit “mercenary” to me. And then still sell billions of dollars worth of military hardware to the Saudis!!!
Re – establishing the commandos – who do you think will do that in the first place? That person will immediately be investigated as rightwing and a threat to the government. What about the strict, nearly impossible to get guns licenses in SA?
The SA government has disbanded the commandos and special police units for a few reasons (according to me).
They have no intention in stopping crime. Crime is the most important reason whites are leaving SA, and that works for the government.
They don’t need special units to investigate them for all the crimes they commit.
The security industry brings over ZAR 500 million in taxes to the government – so crime pays well.
Some ANC officials have a direct interest in big security companies, and in organized crime.
Commando units were effective in combating farm attacks, to re- establish them wont work. Over 20 000 farmers have stopped farming commercially after 1994, this works for the government. Just in Kwazulu Natal over 700 farmers were killed since 1994.
Well Eeben, I hope this isn’t too political, as this wasn’t my intention with my comment. I just think it’s necessary to point certain things out that are facts and not fiction.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Robby. There are some downright scary statements/comments in this briefing. It can only make me shake my head and wonder why no-one has ever really done their homework. At this rate, we will become the next Iraq-type – albeit in the context of a continent.

I do, however, know that some governments are becoming increasingly agitated with this command. It remains to be seen what it does – and how it does it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

My son speaks Mandarin, Lara, and he knows how to pronounce it correctly – with the correct intonation. I don’t.

Thanks for the links. They substantiate many things I have been saying for years…

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A good comment, John. You are very correct as regards training. Again, I believe that many regard gadgetry as a substitute for good, hard training. Having been on both sides of the hot and cold war, I recall how we were drilled in training by highly competent men who had “been there, done that”. But today, many laugh off training believing that technology will take its place. This sadly will happen and as you mention, lives are lost.

TO me part of the problem was that in the hot war, we were subject to a selection process. This was (very sadly) not done in the cold war. Many intelligence officers were there because of “family ties” and would never have survived a day in combat.

I read Lara’s comments with interest but we are not living in an ideal world.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Lara ...All wars by and large are based on control of resources however if you think this guy Stephen Mumford is correct you are sadly mistaken just another dumb statement by a Bush Admin apologist

"This report concludes that the root cause of terrorism is overpopulation"

In Americas case ...9/11 was due to years/decades of American involvement in the Middle East blaming "terrorism" on overpopulation is naive .... it also illustrates the mindset of those who in America are blinded by the concept of American exceptionalism

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I confess I missed that part of overpopulation being the root cause of terrorism, Robby…

As far as terrorism is concerned, I recall some US govts encouraging terrorism against SA and Rhodesia. Pity the people who placed them there were not aware of what their govt was doing at times. But, as the saying goes: “what you sow you will reap”. The same happened to the Russians.

I view this as incorrect intelligence predictions as the analysts who worked at the down-fall of pro-Western governments ought to have realised that these things can come back to haunt you – after all, history has a way of repeating itself.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

All of Americas wars were based on manufactured intelligence outside the war of 1812 and the Revolution of 1776 to the best of my knowledge

I find it hard to understand why they to this day do not understand that the current adventures in Afghanistan will have a bad outcome as the Chinese said "Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires" seems US Intelligence either has a death wish,or it has been filled with agents who have another agenda

I may now go where some fear to tread but US Intelligence is a quasi Mossard operation if not directly greatly influenced by Israel,a honest look at the middle east and the reason the US does not have the power to reach some sort of peace accord is because the Arab world sees the US as a dishonest broker beholden to Israeli interests

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish the above mentioned US "Intelligence" agents reading this a very Merry Christmas.

alanh2 said...

Hi Eeben,

It was not my intent to knock those covert operators and recce units on the ground who did sterling work with very little recognition and/or thanks. It is how that information was utilised and acted upon by headquarters which forms the basis of my 'beef'.

Reading 'Executive Outcomes - Against all Odds' (authored by yourself) and other references only reinforces my belief with respect to their general incompetence and I can only wonder what the face of Africa would currently look like if our intelligence services had kept their eye on the ball.

Although one would be naive to think that one can divorce politics and the military, the politicalisation of our 'generals' and the disinformation spread by our own agencies was difficult to swallow. Everybody seemed to have their own agendas which appeared to have nothing to do with the general betterment of the country for all its citizens (both black and white and whatever colour in between).

All this is taken in the context of a CF member of the SADF. To be quite blunt it was your profession and the PF was paid to take the cr**p. We were not.

Athough not part of the the current theme I would be interested in your viewpoint with respect to the use of conscript forces in the modern military environment - as there appears to be some rumblings in the States with respect to the re-introduction of the draft.

In my opinion, this would be political suicide for most Western governments unless the said country was under direct military attack.

Regards,
Alan H.

matt said...

Eeben, interesting discussion. Going back to intelligence for PMC's, what was your intelligence methodology for some of your company's famous contracts? ( I understand if this is asking too much)

Did you have to insure the contract was written to have fund specifically for intelligence, or was it just part of a general operations funds cost? Also, did you ever invest your own money into intelligence collection before taking contracts, and how involved would you get if you did?

The reason I ask, is that good intel can be expensive to do well, if you are having to pay for sources and travel and communications and gifts, bribes, etc...Or did you just make some phone calls in the beginning? I am sure situation dictates, and if you are hearing about a possible contracts popping up in certain regions, it would pay to have the upper hand in negotiations. But everything costs money and I was wondering how you navigated that?

Also, how much effort did you invest into collecting intel after the contract? Would you just throw it in a file, or would you actively keep tabs on any outcomes and interesting developments? Cool deal, and thanks for another well written post.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Lara, due to obscenities in your comment, I have removed it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your final paragraph reflects it all, Robby. It is indeed disconcerting when the direction and safety of a nation is influenced by people who have their own interests at heart and not those they are supposedly out to serve and protect

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The manner in which intelligence and information was utilised was indeed scary at times, Alanh2, so I can fully appreciate your beef. Had it been correctly utilised, there may well have been a significant change in the Africa we know today. But, it is also a fact that some (totally) incompetent politicians saw themselves as generals and did their damndest to influence operations. You and I, like so many others, had to live through it. And much of it had to do with the betterment of their financial lives and not of the country.

The manner in which disinformation was spread far and wide – especially about anyone who dared voice an opinion about the State - was equally disconcerting. And I am not talking of those who opposed the State with terrorism but rather those who merely expressed concern.

As regular soldiers, it was our job to take it all. As soldiers, a vast majority of us saw our duty as upholding the Constitution of South Africa, beit in a local or foreign context and not as supporters of a specific political party. But that too started to change towards the end of the 1980s when mainly headquarters staff preferred to be “yes-men” and not soldiers.

Insofar as conscription is concerned, I look back in wonderment at what the National Servicemen actually achieved and the very important role they played. Of course, there were also those who objected to it but given the fact that they were thrown into the fray, they did remarkably well. I often think back out my sappers I commanded and still feel a large amount of pride in what they did and how they conducted themselves.

Conscription can have its advantages and disadvantages. I see very many ex-NSM who are great business leaders and most, if not all, admit that they learnt about themselves during their period of conscription and learnt self-discipline and drive. But, as you know, there are also many cases of the opposite.

When a country is really under siege, it will require every able-bodied citizen to defend it. In that sense, conscription is the only manner in which to prepare and train the men folk to ensure that that defence is done in a correct and coordinated manner. But, in my opinion, it needs to be a planned effort and not a willy-nilly call up of CF members as often happened during the war.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As you know, good intelligence drives successful operations, Matt.

In EO, intelligence operations were factored into our budget as an aside to the operation itself. It was a bitter lesson we learnt after the 1993 Soyo contract where we were very blind, having to rely on incorrect intelligence – and in the process lost three good men. It therefore became the backbone of everything we did.

Good intelligence is expensive but we could not afford to lose men or fail in our missions. To get our intelligence we exploited every possible source we could. This included ELINT, POWs, agents, media, reconnaissance, aerial reconnaissance, etc. It was the starting point of any new contract.

Our men on the ground ran their own operations using mainly COMOPS via the locals, air, ground etc. We also ran a system of infiltration and penetration agents to get into the heart of the enemy. It all paid off in the end. We invested as much time and money as we could to ensure success and nothing was kept hidden away as regarded every snippet of importance.

Rgds,

Eeben

alanh2 said...

Hi Eeben,

No attempt at 'brown nosing' here but I believe you offer a much needed, informative and balanced blog.

Don't know you manage to find the time to maintain all your various themes, plus dealing (rationally)with the 'Laras' of this world. Must be all that past intelligence training!

Keep up the good work.
Alan H

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Alan H. No attempt at brown nosing identified.

Time can sometimes be in short supply but I want to have the blog grow and attempt to give people something to think about. Of course, not everyone will agree with me but that is what makes it exciting as we can all learn all of the time.

Please keep visiting.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

:-)....somewhere in Virginia this is a very popular blog...free intel.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A very interesting comment, Robby. I don’t suppose they read much in it that they don’t already know…or do they?

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Not so much as what they know rather its keeping tabs on those unlike them who can actually think outside of the box and who they now regard as the enemy....problem with this monster they created is they now are trying to justifying their own reason to exist...as I pointed out before returning vets are now seen as "risk"..few years ago the collective wisdom was returning "vets" were hero's for defending liberty ....only other explanation..they drinking bad water in Virginia

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A sad reflection on them, Robby. But, if they feel so strongly about hiding incompetence, it may surface one day where they least expect it. As for the vets, my heart bleeds for them but then some of these intelligence types have always betrayed those who were willing to actually do something instead of trying to hide it behind an obscure analysis based on tier own lies.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Not sure if you seen this...here is the latest report in GQ magazine about "intelligence" briefing documents seen only by a few of the top Bush Admin officials leading up to and during the Iraq war....these guys can't be this stupid...can they?

http://men.style.com/gq/features/topsecret

Alan said...

Eeben:

Evidently we're not nearly busy enough looking after other people's business in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the threat in Iran, AFRICOM, etc. I just have to krap my kop.

Regards, Alan

US Admits Training Palestinian Armed Forces While PA Negotiates With Hamas

By David Bedein, Middle East Correspondent Monday, May 18, 2009
Jerusalem — The American military now openly admits providing military training to Palestinian military forces.

A U.S. military official, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton, assigned by the United States to be a “security coordinator,” has been appointed to train 1,500 Palestinian military personnel. They will be available for “immediate deployment” in the area between Jenin and Nablus, less than an hour from Israel’s populated coastal plain.

He discussed his mission at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies last week.

Lt. Gen. Dayton said: “We also have something in our pocket called the West Bank Training Initiative where we have plans to continue a series of courses in the West Bank on logistics, leadership, first aid, maintenance, English language, battalion staff training and driver education. These are led by our British and Turkish officers with an eye to eventually turning this over to the Palestinians themselves.”

The premise behind American military aid to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) military forces is the hope the American-trained Palestinian personnel will fight Hamas.

However, the training of Palestinian military units by U.S. advisers is taking place at the same time the PA is negotiating to join forces with the Hamas terrorist organization, which rules Gaza.

All indications show the PA is making every effort to co-opt and include Hamas in its military forces for joint operations against Israel.

Were that to happen, American military advisers and their Palestinian trainees would be placed into direct confrontation with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and with the Israeli population.

Despite assurances to the contrary, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the parent organization of the PA, remains in a state of war with Israel.

To reassure the Washington Institute, Lt. Gen. Dayton downplayed the dangers of the training that the Americans are providing the Palestinians, by saying that “Our equipping is all nonlethal ...”

David Bedein can be reached at bedein@thebulletin.us

M in Africa.

http://thebulletin.us/articles/2009/05/18/top_stories/bullet_points/doc4a10e52a0159e661107634.txt

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A pretty scary piece, isn’t it, Robby? One can only shake the head and wonder…

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A truly astonishing article, Alan. And this is going to ensure peace and stability in the region? IN the correct hands, even a non-lethal weapon can be lethal. As the saying foes” “with friends like these, who needs enemies?”

Rgds,

Eeben

alanh2 said...

Hi Eeben,

Previously you have made mention of the fact that the Johannesburg Star newspaper published an appology regarding yourself and EO.

Have tried to access the article (dated 5th November 2007) but you have to be a (Star) subscriber to view the article.

Any way of viewing the article without locking oneself into a contract to purchase unwanted newspaper copy for the next six months (or worse)?

I was under the (obviously false) impression that articles such as these formed part of the public domain and, as such, were readily accessible to the general public - subject (at worse) to a small handling fee.

Thanks,
Alan H.

alanh2 said...

Hi Eeben,

Having viewed Robby's link to the GQ slideshow I can only say...."the mind she boggles".

Can't remember whether it was the second or third crusades (or both) that the so-called 'christian' forces were annihilated. Hope this is not a portent of days to come.

Alan H.

simon said...

Well, going hand in hand with with intelligence gathering and people working in those vocations...I finally found a copy I could afford from SA of Executive Outcomes. This whole story is becoming clearer and clearer. Ive read everything I could besides the book. Some guy out there is asking over 100 us bucks on amazon.( not that your not worth it lol ) I paid fair price New. So chuck one in the bank Echo Bravo for a book sale.

In reading the first chapter, alot of holes in 32 batallion narratives are becoming clear, and absences of people. Not to go there but they are all a nice complement to a yankee learning about SA.

In the intelligence/special forces community I wonder if a backlash will occur with true patriots who shed their blood and risk it all after things wind down, especially if it goes bad in Afghanistan.

we have a new political scandal of epic hypocrisy with the third most powerful person arguably in the world denying she was ever briefed by the CIA on interrogation techniques. So far the left leaning president and Cia director are letting her burn her bridges. What will happen to the x/y generation who serve years in a foreign land after there isnt the hotbed of action.

After world war 2, we didnt really have anything derogatory for the soldiers to come home to. They came home to alot of wives and a booming economy. Not so now.....We may have a replication of some past historic events if things dont go well.

Btw, I think Im going to have a tshirt made that says, 'If I die, you can have my walkman.'

thanks for the good read and best wishes . Simon

simon said...

In regards to Robby's post I have to dissent slightly. Im no fool. Its obvious there are more than 'righteous' motives in our invasion of Iraq. However, those slides, assuming they are real and not disinformation from the hordes of people now wanting to try soldiers and intelligence operatives acting under orders, are no different than in world war two.

If you ever get a chance, youtube has alot of video of 'why we fight' videos shown to recruits. Different time, an enemy who's politics is their extremist religion. A little Odd, yeah, but if they are real, it would be a rallying cry to motivate troops. History alone will judge the actions. I wasnt a fan of invading iraq but once the hand is on the plow.....

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I will try to post it, Alan H. I have had many people and organisations wanting to see it and being a total techno-idiot, I need someone to help me convert it form Pdf format.

Somehow, to read the article one needs to enter into a subscription agreement. I will see what I can do – with some help.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It certainly is astonishing, Alan H. But, one also needs to read these things with somewhat of a jaundiced eye. Nevertheless, I cannot believe the entire article to be wrong. But, even if some of it is wrong, it is still reason to be concerned.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for taking the time to read it. Simon. I am pleased if it could shed some light on your African studies.

I do wonder what will happen to the US forces when the Middle East conflicts scale down. I can only hope that they are not subject to the same harshness we were.

Politicians tend to be slippery instead of honest. What you comment on is nothing new but it still amazes us every time they do it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I understand your point, Simon. YouTube has a lot of stuff on it, some good and some bad. It is however always dependant on who posted it and what their motives were/are. I think that many people take what they see on YouTube or television to be gospel.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Simon...First let me say I'm a Christian however it is no secret that during the past 8 years of the Bush admin "Evangelical" christians played a major role in shaping US foreign policy below is a video that proves that point

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVGmbzDLq5c

Irrespective of ones religious views soldiers and intelligence operatives have no excuse when it comes doing the right thing and if that means refusing orders so be it...Nuremberg proved that

simon said...

Robby, my post on 'why we fight' was related to the films produced in ww2.
I did watch that link and I disagree with proselytizing by Military Personnel. Even though many of the enemies motivation for fighting is purely religious, trying to convert an islamic country is ludicrous. Within its own ranks, I think that voluntary religious activities are part of American Values, I dont like facilitating and encouraging Soliders to be Christian missionaries.

Again, within its own ranks, pairing motivations with our main religion is fine and part of the chaplains function.

The war in afghanistan is not going to be won by christianity, its going to be won (hopefully) by eliminating everyone who fights under the Taliban and Al Q umbrella. I think what was in that video is probably isolated. Meaning, this isnt happening wide scale. If my memory serves me correct when serving, practicing christians were a minority. Simon

Robby said...

Simon There is a old saying that you won't find a atheist in a fox hole that being said what has always given western military forces it's moral authority on the battle field is a case of doing whats right for the right reason over the Bush doctrine of good verses evil a return to the crusades if you will.

This fact is not lost on those who fight for the cause of religion and exploit this to their benefit.

The war in Afghanistan will not be won by America as the Chinese say "Afghanistan is the grave yard of empires" from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan and the great Mughal emperors all who have attempted have failed it took the Russians ten years to accept that fact,Americas war will end sooner rather than later not for any other than what stopped the Russian's and British....the American Empire is broke as Obama said this morning on C-Span

President Obama boldly told Americans: “We are out of money.”

http://www.tribbleagency.com/?p=5092

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Andrea Muhrrteyn said...

Copies also posted to:

BlackWaterChief: Video Interviews with Erik Prince: Lara Logan, CBS "60 Minutes," October 12, 2007: on June 21, 2014 at 9:15 AM.

Timothy Truthseeker: Blackwater changes it name to XE: on 21 June 2014: 11:19 HRS.