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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, September 2, 2009

IS IT JUST ME?

I read a recent posting on Jake’s very informative blog (www.privatemilitaryherald.com) that was titled “Misconduct by US embassy guards in Kabul alleged”. The article was written by David Alexander. To put it mildly, the allegations in the article were shocking and if I were the owners/directors of the said company, I would hang my head in shame.

Then I recalled reading on the same blog the alleged unfair treatment of security guards in Uganda – you guessed it, the same company that are acting out their Ramboesque dreams whilst getting paid for it in Afghanistan are treating their staff in Uganda as though they own Africa. Allegedly, they have now been taken over by another company.

Even more concerning is that it appears that the US State Department was aware of the despicable behaviour of these so-called “contractors” yet chose to continue giving them multi-million dollar contracts. Apart from making me want to ask some searching questions on how these clowns are awarded their contracts – and who has benefitted from the contracts, I have to wonder if this despicable behaviour is in line with US foreign policy. And is this the type of “contractor” that the US Department of Defence wants to protect its secure zones from enemy activity?

If PMCs are concerned at their image, they need to look no further than articles such as these. Not only does reporting such as this deepen the hole PMCs are digging for themselves, it also smacks of a multitude of problems in the industry.

Not only that, it points to massive problems within the said company. Starting with no direction and control, poor leadership, no code of conduct, a lack of discipline and inexcusable vetting practises – to name but a few.

When awarding contracts, does no one really care if the company that wins the contract is professional and able to comply with the given mission? Are there no guidelines to these companies? Are they allowed to do whatever they want? Is this type of behaviour condoned?

If it is accepted that men under pressure need to be allowed to let off steam, they should be taken away from the area they are deployed in. If they want to show their hooliganism, they should do it away from prying eyes. The type of behaviour this company has allowed to take place has given the locals in the area a very good reason to view them with distaste.

I am aware of similar practices by some companies working in East Africa and the locals are viewing them with increasing contempt. Maybe they are unaware of just how offending their behaviour has become, but it has not gone unnoticed. It is very possibly also proving to be a great recruiting campaign for the insurgents.

If PMCs want to ensure that they get decent and fair media coverage, they had better clean up their act. But, I believe that companies such as this (I do not believe they are worthy of the term “PMC”) have no place in the industry and even less place on the African continent.

But then again, maybe it is only me that feels this way.

52 comments:

bulletbunny said...

I think there should be Universal Code of Conduct for PMCs. Any company that does not subscribe to it, should be suspect. Perhaps, Barlow, as the founder of the modern-day private army, should draw up such a code. It would be interesting to see which PMCs are willing to adopt it and, more importantly, operate accordingly.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sure all companies have some form of Code of Conduct, Bulletbunny. The problem lies with them ensuring that the Code is adhered to. But when so-called professionals act like complete hooligans, one needs to ask by whose standards are they classed as professional. And if it is allowed to happen time and again, then surely the directors of the company condone such behaviour. In such a case, a Code of Conduct becomes worthless.

But, what these people do not seem to realise is that they are the very ones who are tarnishing the reputations of every real PMC out there – and making them targets of resentment and worse.

Rgds,

Eeben

Joe1172 said...

Hi Eeben,
I have been working as a contractor since 2002 (with 2 breaks) and I have seen unprofessional and embarrassing behavior in the contractor community more than once. You are right, companies do have codes of conduct, my current company has it as well, but rules have to be enforced. And that's were it lacks.

But not only companies have their rules, clients (US DoD/ State department in this particular case) place rules & regulations in the contracts as well. And as far as I know, US governemnt contracts in Afghanistan & Iraq are all "dry" contracts. Means no alcohol consum allowed by any conractor or soldier.
We have some DoD contracts as well and everyone who is employed on one of these contracts is not allowed to drink at any time in theatre. Some blokes were already sacked because of that. (just by finding beer cans in their backpacks) So I wonder that these blokes could have a big party like that in sight of their clients.

But the whole hiring process in this industry is mainly based on "who" you know, not so much about what you know and what your skills, experience, background or past performance is. I see it even in my company. In other words, the best mates of the company owner can do what they want, they never have to face any serious concequences. I could give loads of examples only from my nearer vicinity. Before this gets too long I finish here hoping that companies will work a bit more on their image and behavior.

Greets from the Sand Pit
Joe

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your comment came through twice so I deleted one of them, Joe.

We all make mistakes. I know that in EO, we went through a steep learning curve very quickly. But by now, PMCs ought to realise that they are under the looking glass and clean up their act.

I know that there is a lot of nepotism and brown-nosing that goes on and that should be no excuse for the behaviour of some. I still maintain that the company whose men acted in such a despicable manner should be kicked out of the industry as they are a disgrace to everything a professional stands for and believes in. But, it is actions such as these that alienate the locals and will lead to the loss of their confidence in the forces.

Take care in the sands.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

I was going to comment on your previous article but not wanting to offend I bit my lip.American PMC's are made up of wannabe Rambo's and religious nut's leading the field is the like's Eric Prince and Col. Oliver North.

It's no secret that Eric Prince recruited like-minded believers in his mission to kill Muslims, and that Prince and his merry band of dangerous fanatics used signs based on the ancient Christian crusaders, the Knights Templar.

I've mentioned this before Eeben your problem is that you are from the old the school where honour and integrity meant something.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe that there is a time to be ruthless and a time not to be, Robby. That is how we were “brought up” in the old SADF. I also suppose it has a lot to do with how one is brought up as a child and what constitutes “decency”.

I have no problem with guys under pressure taking time to let off steam. But then they should do it where no one can see them, must less report on their silliness. As I said in my post, although it was known that they behave in this manner, they were still given the contract extension! It boggles the mind.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

It should not boggle your mind those that reward contracts have the same ideological beliefs.

Americas military industrial complex has been taken over by a misguided evangelical movement. They teach this crap at all military colleges I would go so far as to say it is a supremacist mind set.

Here's a article from the NYT

Religion and Its Role Are in Dispute at the Service Academies

By NEELA BANERJEE
Published: June 25, 2008

Three years after a scandal at the Air Force Academy over the evangelizing of cadets by Christian staff and faculty members, students and staff at West Point and the Naval Academy are complaining that their schools, too, have pushed religion on cadets and midshipmen.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/25/us/25academies.html?_r=1

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Robby. I do recall reading a similar article some weeks ago and at that time wondered about it. Whereas I have nothing against religion, I think balance is important, regardless of what one believes in. I recall our days in the SADF – early morning “Let us read and pray” and Sunday church parades. I suspect to many of us that was sufficient. Besides, we were too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything, let alone listen to anything.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

It comes down to the "just war theory" any military conflict requires the ability of the grunt to do what he knows to be a unnatural (especially Christian grunts) and that is to kill.

Killing is easier if the enemy is portrayed as something worse than Hitler which the US Military machine has done a good job at by portraying all Muslims as members of the CIA created "al qaeda"

Unlike our military service where we had a legitimate enemy that was attacking the country Americans had to justify fighting a war thousands of miles from it's shores.So along comes the evangelical's to preach that killing Muslims has been sanctioned by God.

It is my personal feeling this is the reason for so many vet's
are committing suicide when they return home home and realize they were lied to.

matt said...

Excellent points Eeben and I couldn't agree more. To me, this is all about a total lack of leadership, both on the DoS's part, and on Armor Group's part. The rules and codes of conduct are in place, and it is all just a manner of enforcing them.

The other thing I wanted to say, is bravo to the whistle blowers for having the courage to step up and say something. The benefit of all of this, is that companies and the clients they work for, have to be smarter about writing up these contracts and continuing this practice of using contracts.

The government is learning that they must provide quality control measures and not manage this stuff from a desk in DC.

The companies are learning that investing in leadership and proper vetting is a necessity or they will lose their contracts. Leaders are the ones that keep guys in line, train them for the job, take care of them when they need care, and provide the example for everyone to follow. A poor leader in any organization is poison, and must be neutralized quick before it poisons other employees and destroys the operation.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It can be a folly to portray the opposition as sub-human, incompetent and such like, Robby. Throughout all my time, the opposition was simply the “enemy” – nothing more, nothing less. We were told never to view the enemy with emotion, as emotion clouds and influences judgement, especially if they have been portrayed as lesser humans. Maybe not all commanders followed this approach, but those I was fortunate and honoured to serve under, did.

War is all about killing. One is called on to take a life or lives and one ought to do so without demeaning the enemy or the locals. Our enemies were “the enemy”, regardless who was supporting them. When the war ended, they were no longer the enemy in the combat sense of the word and we could talk to them about the actions that took place without any negative emotions.

Whereas we believed our opposition to be legitimate, the world thought otherwise. Now though, the boot is on the other foot.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Rules and Codes remain worthless if they are not enforced, Matt. By not enforcing these, they have once again degraded the entire PMC industry and I believe they ought to be negated as a company. But, of course, this will never happen as there is too much at stake here. So, they continue with their despicable actions – and continue to get the contracts.

I agree that the whistleblowers deserve to be applauded. But, they will probably lose their jobs.

Surely the govt of all organisations should have known that they ought to provide quality control measures? Again, it boils down to who contracts are given to and who are the “chosen ones”.

I however don’t think companies should wait for govt – they ought to take the initiative and act according to their claims: professional. This is a steep learning curve to travel but worthwhile. It will sort out the professionals from the clowns.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

I know I'm preaching to the choir but you are so correct although the media stories said otherwise I never had a thought about the fact we were fighting blacks rather it was the enemy we had half a dozen trackers all black although not bosom buddies we did have mutual respect.Never thought about hating all blacks because of the sins of a few

You may not like what I'm about to say but I think,let me correct that,I know America's military and it's politics has been infiltrated by and controlled by the Mossard.I can connect the dots if you are interested

Your call if you want to to post this,I will understand if you don't,it's a very un-pc thing to say today... but facts are facts.

Peace brother

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think very few of us served because of some deep-seated hatred, Robby. In 32 Bn there were mainly black guys and to us who served there, they were our soldiers. Likewise the opposition always remained the enemy.

I am sure that a fair amount of manipulation goes on between the US and Israel. Ultimately, it all has to do with national interests. But, I have also read your point elsewhere. It may be a fascinating look at the dynamics of international politics.

The world is too full of people being “politically correct” – hence everyone ignores a problem until it has got out of hand – and then they blame someone else. I believe we should call a spade a spade and do so without concern about the correctness or not thereof. However, I tend to shy away from political and religious debates as I feel I am not well enough equipped to make a sensible comment.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alan said...

Eeben and mates:

Jake hit it spot on. US State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security is spread too thin, resulting in a lack of effective oversight and leadership. I also concur with the comment on "growing pains." Going it nearly alone does have it's downside.

Let me reassure you, we here in
the States have at long last begun to recognized our societal lag and those uniquely American shortcomings of prejudice, wanna-be-ism, good-ole-boy hiring preference, sexism, religiousity, intollerance, racism, lovers of strong drink, global domination, Fox Cable telly, lesbianism, and scores of others.

Believing diversity is key, and that change must start from the top, we've recently elected a nearly non-Anglo President with relatives in Africa and a strong Muslim upbringing and kinship. We've also recently crafted a dynamic new programe entitled "Brotherly Empowering Excellence" or BEE for short. We are moving swiftly forward with corrective action in many topical areas, evil PMC's-gone-mad being only one.

"Change" is at long last coming. We're on the mend! Please bear with us during our transition to global acceptance and sublimation.

Cheers, Alan
Siglilum Militum Xpisti

"Men of the ranks are cunning and devious, and bear close watching."
Gen George Washington

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry, Alan. How long does one need to identify “growing pains” and take action on them? I cannot comment on the US’s new direction but I am sure everyone will display the patience you called for.

Sad fact is that some of those clowns in Kabul are South Africans. More than anything else, they should be aware of how their behaviour can influence their lives. But, again, the company in question did nothing - apart from get more contracts. I suspect that the South Africans will find themselves in some deep water when they return. I wonder what their backgrounds are?

Maybe someone somewhere should start a PMC wall-of-shame (I recall someone suggesting it some time ago) and we can then plaster the names of these clowns on it to ensure that the NEVER get another opportunity to work in the industry again.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

I tend to shy away from political and religious debates

Funny on my first trip to Ireland I was given this advice "Ireland has wonderful people great food lousy weather you will have a good time just never talk about religion or politics especially in the pub's"

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

So do I, Robby, so do I. Nothing can ignite tempers as fast as those two subjects.

Yes, the Irish are a passionate people, especially when one offends them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

In America today debate on religion and politics has become a contact sport.

Alan said...

Eeben:

The numbers may vary, but I believe there are over 65,000 contractors from various nations serving in Afghanistan. Not to excuse inappropriate actions or stupidity, but with those numbers you're bound to have a few pissed up with their boerewors in their hands from time to time. Send them packing and the rest will gain much wisdom and quickly repair.

When PMC's take on the mantle of the "Religion of Peace" and begin conducting beheadings, honor killings, child rape, suicide bombing, dealing in weapons, dope, WMD, etc, ring me up. Until then the leftest press can bugger off.

Hat tip to South Africans serving in the War on Terror in any capacity in any country. You do so at much greater personal and professional risk which says a great deal. “Nemo Me Impune Lacessit”.

Respectfully, Alan

W.C.H. Miller said...

It is sad to say that this sort of behavior, certainly in published reports, is a serious problem in American PMCs. I hope I am not too wrong in saying that there is a certain level of machismo amongst those in the American industry. And that is fine, but in the privacy of a bar when you are not in a high-risk environment, and not at work. I worry about looking for work with American PMCs/defense contractors, because of this perceived image of firms being staffed by 'macho American cowboys', and not wanting to be considered the same. I am curious, Eeben, if you had issues with this during your time at the helm of EO, and if you think that this problem is existent in other, non-American PMCs?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree, Alan. But, despite numbers, a company that operates in a military environment and lays claim to be professional ought to structure itself in such a manner that it can exercise control. But, I agree fully with you: Fire them and the others will realise that there is a fine line one should never cross.

There are many very good South Africans serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan and so on. It is the small element of idiots – some of very doubtful military backgrounds – who embarrass those who give their best. It is those jerks who, boerewors or no boerewors, should be chased away forthwith.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think this type of problem can exist in any company, regardless of origin, where there is a lack of control, leadership and discipline, WCH. Unfortunately though, when these problems surface, the entire community, regardless of where they come from, is tainted. You will always find that the actions of a few disrupt the lives of many.

Yes, we had problems with alcohol abuse in EO and yes, we acted upon it when it was necessary. However, the men were allowed to have a blow-out when they were away from prying eyes. Again, these problems arose due to inadequate vetting procedures, something we had to rectify as quickly as possible.

Rgds,

Eeben

Patrick said...

Good Day Eeben,

Firstly I want to compliment you on your blog, I can assure you that I am impressed and can kick myself for only finding out of it today.

You are definitely not the only one feeling this way on this issue .This sort of article/actions will ruin AGNA’s reputation and will have a massive impact on all PMC's not only in Kabul but elsewhere. The negative business implications of the activities of a relatively small number of consultants on a single project can impact on the health of the company and the income of its entire staff.

We need to remember that it is illegal to consume/use alcohol in Afghanistan. The law was passed early in 2009 where the Afghanistan’s parliament has passed a tough new bill mandating harsh punishments for alcohol. Those who buy, sell, or consume alcohol can be fined, imprisoned, or given 60 lashes with a whip, all in accordance with Sharia law. Article 45 of the new law allows for the imprisonment of those who import or sell liquor, “from 10 days to 20 years, depending on the amount.” This however does not deter contractors to get their hands on alcohol and consume large amounts in front of supervisors on State Dept Contracts that is supposed to be dry.

Minutes ago I heard that AG just fired eight of the contractors involved in this incident.
Rgds

Patrick said...

Good Day Eeben,

Firstly I want to compliment you on your blog, I can assure you that I am impressed and can kick myself for only finding out of it today.

You are definitely not the only one feeling this way on this issue .This sort of article/actions will ruin AGNA’s reputation and will have a massive impact on all PMC's not only in Kabul but elsewhere. The negative business implications of the activities of a relatively small number of consultants on a single project can impact on the health of the company and the income of its entire staff.

We need to remember that it is illegal to consume/use alcohol in Afghanistan. The law was passed early in 2009 where the Afghanistan’s parliament has passed a tough new bill mandating harsh punishments for alcohol. Those who buy, sell, or consume alcohol can be fined, imprisoned, or given 60 lashes with a whip, all in accordance with Sharia law. Article 45 of the new law allows for the imprisonment of those who import or sell liquor, “from 10 days to 20 years, depending on the amount.” This however does not deter contractors to get their hands on alcohol and consume large amounts in front of supervisors on State Dept Contracts that is supposed to be dry.

Minutes ago I heard that AG just fired eight of the contractors involved in this incident.
Rgds

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for joining us, Patrick. It is really nice to have someone from the old 32 Bn Recce with us.

I am pleased to see that you are equally worried about these imbeciles. If you can get the names, especially the South Africans that were involved, please send them on to me. I would like to do everything I can to ensure they never again embarrass and shame us as they just did. In fact, I will warn everyone that approaches me to stay away from them.

So AG finally fired some of their staff. Pity AG isn’t fired from every contract they have. I cannot for the life of me see this happening if there was even a semblance of leadership.

Take care and please keep visiting.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Partying guard firings reach 14 in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Six contractors at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan were fired Saturday amid charges of drunken and lewd behavior, bringing the total to 14, officials said.

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry also told reporters the entire senior management team from ArmorGroup North America, which employed the private security guards, has been sacked will be replaced immediately, CNN reported.

U.S. State Department officials said Friday that eight ArmorGroup guards had been sacked.

"We've immediately taken several actions," Eikenberry told CNN. "First of all, 13 of the employees of ArmorGroup have been terminated from their contracts. That's a combination of some management and any of the individuals that were involved in this very disgusting behavior that occurred."

A 14th guard was fired soon after Eikenberry spoke to reporters in Kabul, the U.S. broadcaster said.

The guards are also reported to have brought prostitutes to the barracks, the New York Daily News reported.

The State Department has made no move to end its $189 million contract with the company, a subsidiary of Wackenhut Services Inc., the News said. A Wackenhut spokeswoman said the company is cooperating with the investigation.

The embassy said the dismissed guards were ordered to leave Afghanistan immediately.

There is another story from Israel via SABC

Two non-profit organisations have approached the National
Prosecuting Authority to take action against Israel for war crimes
committed in Gaza , and against South Africans who participated in
the war late last year.
Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils said at a press
briefing in Newtown , Johannesburg , on Wednesday: "The
request
appeals to the authorities to investigate and if appropriate
prosecute in South Africa individuals involved in war crimes and
crimes against humanity during Israel 's Operation Cast Lead."
The Palestinian Solidarity Alliance and the Media Review Network
are listed as complainants in an affidavit handed to the NPA.
Kasrils was speaking in support of the initiative at the
briefing hosted by the Media Review Network.

The two organisations are also calling for the immediate arrest
of Lieutenant David Benjamin, who is currently in South Africa .
The organisations' legal teams have already made three requests
to the NPA for the South African-born Israeli soldier's arrest.
Kasrils said the request to file charges was made in terms of
Section Five of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court Act.
It is supported by approximately 3500 pages of evidence,
including evidence by Human Rights Watch on the "brutal military
onslaught on Gaza by the Israeli Defence Force".
Around 70 South Africans are listed in the affidavit for
prosecution as they had served in the Israeli army. Their names
were withheld due to the fact that they were suspects.
"Evidence collected from eyewitnesses and those injured as well
as United Nations and other investigative reports... provide
compelling proof that suggests Israelis have committed war crimes
and crimes against humanity," Kasrils said.
He added that it was South Africans' duty and responsibility to
take actions against the
"apartheid state of Israel ". He said there
was sufficient evidence in the affidavit to the NPA to justify a
full and proper investigation into the perpetrators of alleged war
crimes.

simon said...

When this came out, I immediately went back to my recent reading of EB's book. I think the vetting process and oversight is a problem. EO had military discipline and structure. I know one contractor who is a decent guy and there is by his reporting, alot of indecent behaviour by contractors.

I think the buddy system is too entrenched to stamp it out. Im embarassed by it as an american. I did not vote for the current admin but I support any decision to censor and possibly sever their contracts. I would like to think its isolated because there are a ton of professionals in the game but I fear that it isnt. If we intend to get out of afghanistan with our heads held high more focus on finding the right people should be employed.

Jake said...

Eeben, well said and hopefully these types of incidents, as bad as they are for everyone, will actually trigger a fracture in the ranks of the PMC community. On the one hand you'll have those who run a disciplined outfit and then on the other hand you'll have everyone else. If we can just get the clients to understand who is who and have them purchase services from the former then the latter group will dry up and blow away due to lack of funding.

But as of now the U.S. govt is a prime enabler of this problem. They missed a big chance to send a signal through the industry by firing AG. Unfortunately when they re-newed the AG contract that also sends a signal that poor performance is not only acceptable but it is in fact rewarded.
Jake

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I would think it is a little too late to now only take action, Robby. But, it appears as though bad behaviour is often rewarded with these contracts. Pity, though, as my concern is that the damage is done.

I heard the story about the SA-born officer in the IDF being accused. But, in this instance, I don’t know enough to comment on it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

EO also had its problems at times, Simon, but I was never aware of such behaviour. Had I been, we most certainly would have acted rapidly and decisively.

You raise a very valid point as to why there are such problems out there and I suspect that this is the tip of the iceberg. There can never be disengagement with honour if this type of behaviour remains unchecked and poor quality people continue to be recruited. recruited.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Let’s hope that the PMCs start cleaning up their act, Jake. But for those who prefer to see themselves as Rambo incarnate, there should be some system of exposing them as the posers they are, hence my call for you to start a Wall of Shame on PMH.

Yes, it does seem as though bad behaviour is rewarded with contracts worth millions. At least, that is the message many are getting.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Maybe if PMC's introduced DB it would help enforce discipline it sure kept me on the straight and narrow after serving 7 days I speak from experience :-)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Maybe it will, Robby, but then again, men who hold themselves out to be professionals ought not to engage in such behaviour.

I was fortunate to never have visited the DB, so I bow to your knowledge. I heard that it was pretty grim though.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

All the stories you heard were true...not sure of the spelling but it cured what they called my "aragait" behaviour

eet kreef said...

Control of the behaviour of the PMC staff should rest with the hiring company - In Afghanistan this is currently the US Government. Either (i) it doesn't matter to them, or (ii) they're losing control of the situation or (iii)it is a way of shifting blame away from the US government when things go wrong and civilians get killed or (iv) they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel and can't find enough people to fight for them. I think it was the Economist that reported recently that there are now more contractors in Afghanistan than American troops.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You may be correct, Eet Kreef but I think that although the US is ultimately responsible for the entire debacle, the PMCs themselves ought to take both blame and responsibility for their actions, in this instance Armour Group.

However, given Armour Group’s track record in Afghanistan – and also in Uganda – Jake made a good point in PMH: Bad behaviour seems to be rewarded with big contracts.

I believe that there are many professionals working in PMCs and they too must be appalled by these idiots who have damaged the entire industry. And yes, to maximise profits, some of the PMCs are recruiting from beneath the bottom of the barrel.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Well, I count by blessings, Robby.

By the way, did you mean “harde gat” as in hard-arse?

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Yep...too fuuny.. to buck authority worked in civilian life in the 70's it sure did not in the military...you were beaten into submission :-)...I don't look back with any regret it taught me many life lessons

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

There is a HUGE difference between the old SADF and the new SANDF, Robby. In the new SANDF, mutiny is acceptable, ill discipline is the way of life and they have all but destroyed their living quarters. Then of course, let us now even venture down the path of combat readiness.

With the poor leadership we see, I can only imagine what would happen if real discipline, such as you experienced, was brought back.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alan said...

Eeben:

Please forgive me...totally unrelated, but nonethe less interesting. 'Game faces everyone.'

Regards, Alan

US and Australia invite China to war games

Admiral Timothy Keating, the head of the US Pacific Command, said the US and Australia had agreed to make the approach to the Chinese Ministry of Defence.

"We are anxious to engage with them at the earliest opportunity," he told the Sydney Morning Herald. "We want to understand much better than we do now China's intentions. We would say: 'Don't stand in isolation in the Pacific'. China does publish a [defence] white paper but we find it to be less than fulfilling," he said.

He said the exercises could begin with small naval and land activities, and then follow with personnel exchanges. He denied that building ties with China would upset the US's relationships with India, Japan or South Korea, its traditional allies.

More at the link:

http://nosint.blogspot.com/2009/09/us-and-australia-invite-china-to-war.html

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Not at all, Alan. Thanks for the link.

It does appear as though there is a lot of attempts to forge a closer working relationship with China. Let's see where this goes.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alan said...

Sad day for Marines as four die in ambush. "Hearts and minds" campaign failing....(again).

"GANJGAL, Afghanistan — We walked into a trap, a killing zone of relentless gunfire and rocket barrages from Afghan insurgents hidden in the mountainsides and in a fortress-like village where women and children were replenishing their ammunition."

Alan

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/staff/jonathan_landay/story/75036.html

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

This is indeed a sad and tragic story, Alan.

I know it is easy for me to sit thousands of miles away and criticise but I remain more convinced than ever that the entire strategy re Afghanistan and Iraq was seriously flawed from the start. Not only that, but the men on the ground were not prepared or equipped correctly for the mission.

Whereas “hearts-and-minds” has a definite role to play, there are several factors that can either make it work or make it fail. Ultimately, that failure lies with the politicians who refuse to accept responsibility for their errors and rather prefer to place the blame on young men who trust in them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alan said...

Eeben

Something tells me Downing Street could not have convinced a PMC to take on this contract. Evidently the release of PanAm bomber al Megrahi was not enough. Perfidious Albion at it again.

SAS trains Libyan troops
The SAS has been ordered by the Government to train Libyan special forces despite the country having armed the IRA, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/onthefrontline/6176808/SAS-trains-Libyan-troops.html

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Politics is indeed a strange business, Alan. I am sure PM Brown will find a lot of criticism over this.

Rgds,

Eeben

Tango said...

“There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”
Winston Churchill quote

Regads
Tango

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An excellent quote, Tango. Was he referring mainly to politicians?

Rgds,

Eeben

Tango said...

I think he was mainly referring to politicians.....

"A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen.
Winston Churchill Quote"

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Ah, thought so, Tango. Thanks for confirming it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Patrick said...

Good day Eeben,

News just in, seems that someone is not happy with the conduct.....some sense at last.

Termination of ArmorGroup Contract Considered


Location : Kabul

The State Department official responsible for overseeing private contracts said on Monday, 14 September that the government was seriously considering termination of its $189 million arrangement with ArmorGroup, US. It was because of recent disclosures of misbehavior by guards at the US Embassy in Afghanistan.

At a hearing before a federal commission investigating wartime spending, Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management, said ArmorGroup managers had failed to inform the government about parties in which drunken, half-naked guards had urinated on and groped one another.

In response to commission members' demands that the company be held accountable, Kennedy said, "We are seeing a very, very serious case being made for termination."

Assessment : The termination if carried out, will definitely send out a warning signal to others on similar duties that no misconduct will be tolerated and due consideration has to be given to local culture and tradition.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An interesting choice of words they use, Patrick.

“Seriously considering” should have been replaced with “will definitely”. These clowns have turned an entire industry into a perceived undisciplined rabble. They should never be allowed to work again, let alone get a contract.

To me the kicker is the assessment: “…due consideration has to be given to local culture and tradition.” Isn’t that basic common sense??

Rgds,

Eeben