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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, October 3, 2009

MANY THANKS…

Having finally arrived back home, I was somewhat surprised (pleasantly though) to switch on my computer and find so many messages from around the world wishing me good luck and a safe journey and return.

Additionally, my email inbox was – and still is – groaning under the load of mail that came in during my absence. This is one battle I am winning albeit somewhat slowly.

Whereas I truly appreciate everyone’s good wishes, I will not be posting all of the messages I received - not because they are of no value but because I view them as “private”.

My sincerest thanks to all of you who sent messages.

45 comments:

Tango said...

Great to see that you or on the air again and that you are back home.
looking forward to your postings again
Regards
Tango

eet kreef said...

Welcome back

tyhz1995 said...

I am curious sir.You are afterall something of a luminary.Naturally I do not want to offend but what of Niek Du Toit?And what about the explosion that preceded the genocide in Rwanda?Lastly (tipping my hand)could an EO sort of operation happen again or did what happened in EG spell an end to that sort of thing?I apologize if my questions are too pointed and mean no disrespect.I too enjoy learning about new things.The darkness in a nocturnal view of your continent suggests to me many possibilities.Perhaps I dream too much.-Tyler

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Tango. Its always good to be back home.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Eet Kreef.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think anyone who embarks on an operation aimed at overthrowing a government, regardless of who that government may be or stand for, in the unprofessional manner that the Simon Mann/EG operation took place, need to realise that they will have to suffer the consequences of their actions for a lack of professionalism, planning and leadership, Tyler. Whereas I feel sorry for the predicament they find themselves in, I cannot believe they even considered it feasible, giving how it was compromised months before they even started off. That in itself says it all.

I assume the explosion re Rwanda you refer to was the downing of the aircraft? Whereas that may have been the final catalyst that sparked the genocide, the signs were already visible of what was coming well before that incident. No-one cared or did anything to prevent it.

I don’t think the EG operation spelled the end of a future EO-type of operation. But, it is highly doubtful that an EO-type operation will ever be launched off SA soil. Nor will the West allow it to happen as too much is at stake to keep Africa in a state of conflict. As you may well be aware, the UN was very concerned about EO and the US was one of the largest shouters at stopping EO – so that EO’s contract in Angola could be handed to US companies. The Brits were a close second.

I don’t see any pointedness or disrespect in your questions. Besides, if we never question, we will never get answers. Additionally, if we don’t have dreams, we have nothing.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Eeben,

Welcome back, and glad all is well. Very interesting about Niek du Toit and EO, and thanks to the reader for bringing those questions up.
On that note, what are your thoughts Eeben on Lt. General Romeo Dallaire? Did he or any of his people ever make contact with you guys during that crisis, or was it just the UN? The reason I ask, is Dallaire is such a huge proponent of crisis intervention in Africa (especially after Rwanda), yet you never hear of him talk about PMC's and their potential use in ending conflict. Especially ending the genocide deals, and truly applying a Responsibility to Protect to the situation. Take care. -matt

Alex said...

Hey Eeben,

Good to have you back.

I've just started my next year at university and for one of my courses ('The Military in a Liberal Democracy') there is an essay title on whether states should ever use mercenaries (their term not mine) which I am definitely planning to have a go at.

It occurred to me immediately that you could probably fill several books on this topic yourself. Would you mind if I contacted you for your input at some point if it would help with my argument? Your opinion would be highly valued. It's not a dissertation or anything so I shouldn't take up much of your time but I appreciate you have a lot of things to fill your schedule already so I understand if you decline.

Again, welcome back to the blog. Looking forward to your next post.

Cheers

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Matt.

I think Lt. General Romeo Dallaire was one of the few generals who had the courage to publically stand up and criticise the UN at a critical time in Rwanda’s history. Of course, his warnings were simply laughed off but I admire him for making his point known. He never contacted us but I assume that he had to follow the UN’s channels of command, anyway, which meant that he would not have been allowed to contact us directly.

I have read about him making the point regarding PMCs but as you mention, he never refers to them. Perhaps he may feel uncomfortable with such a suggestion/comment?

But, several other senior UN military officials have confided in me that they are not up to tackling the conflicts they are in and would much prefer professional PMCs to take over and resolve the conflicts before they get deployed.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Alex – it is always good to be back home.

Please feel free to contact me – however, I can only give my own opinions and thoughts on such a matter.

Good luck with your coming year at university!

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Why was I expecting to read something about some sort of thing happening in Africa over the past few weeks ....call me crazy....good to see you back :-)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Robby…nice to know I can still make you wonder…but my trip was not as exciting as some would imagine it to have been and it was far from Africa’s shores. Maybe next time?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I didn't post your comment, Billy but I will be in touch sometime today.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Talking about bad intelligence thought you would find this of interest a interview Sunday with Scott Ritter...the only guy who got Iraq right

http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2009/10/04/HP/A/23927/Scott+Ritter+Fmr+UN+Weapons+Inspector+in+Iraq+199198.aspx

matt said...

Interesting stuff Eeben. Perhaps there will come a day, when PMC's will be looked at in a rational and reasonable way. That there is a place for them, and if they are used correctly, that they could do amazing things. If in fact we have a 'responsibility to protect', then why are we not using all and any means necessary to protect? Thanks again.

ian.nacke said...

Sir,

I am a cadet at the US Military Academy. I am writing a paper on why states use Private Military Organizations. I have to admit this is not my normal area of study and am not particularly knowledgeable on the subject. I just purchased your book and several others on the topic and hopefully they will give me a better general understanding of PMCs.

If you don't mind I would really appreciate your insights on the topic. My email is ian.nacke@usma.edu.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

Respectfully,
CDT Ian Nacke

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An astonishing interview, Robby. Thanks for posting it to us. When intelligence services serve to achieve a particular objective, danger signals out to be seen. The role of protecting the State seems to however be something very few are interested in lately and it all has to do with achieving someone’s aims. Makes one think.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You smacked the nail on the head, Matt.

My view on your question is that we can do whatever it takes to protect but when one PMC acts like total idiots, it tarnishes everyone. When that PMC is, after exposure, again awarded contracts, it makes everyone wonder why. Of course, the media will seize upon this and exploit it even further – usually in very negative terms. And so the circle goes.

I still think that either you or Jake should start a “Wall of Shame” so that those PMCs that are unprofessional, unethical and continually embarrassing the community are exposed.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Good luck with your studies, Ian. The future of your country is in the hands of men and women such as you.

Re PMCs: I would love to help you where I can but time is often an enemy that fights me like crazy. I would recommend that you read the books you have, post your questions on the blog and allow as many insights as possible to guide you. There are several military and PMC men/women who frequent this blog and I am sure that they will all be able to give you some very good feedback on any questions you may have.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Heres another one for you talk about being clueless after 8 years

McChrystal Admits: We Don't Understand the Afghans

One of the most shocking things about General Stan McChrystal's leaked "Commander's Initial Assessment" about the war in Afghanistan is how bluntly he admits that the US occupation authorities, ISAF (the NATO International Security Assistance Force), and Centcom know little about the country they've invaded.

You'd think that, as the war in Afghanistan enters its ninth year, we'd know a little about the place. But no. As McChrystal writes (page 2-4):

"ISAF has not sufficiently studied Afghanistan's peoples, whose needs, identities, and grievances vary from province to province and from valley to valley."

That's a stunner. ISAF has "not sufficiently studied" the very country its occupying? After eight years?

http://www.thenation.com/blogs/dreyfuss/481351/mcchrystal_admits_we_don_t_understand_the_afghans

Alan said...

Thanks for the posting Robby. Unfortunately however, most of his former colleagues at UNSCOM would agree he's infinately more qualified as a 'koffiemoffie' than an intelligence analyst. No love lost for Scotty boy on this side.

Cheers, Alan

matt said...

Eeben,

I have taken your suggestion, and started a category called 'Company Spotlight'. Actually this category is a couple months old, but it is an outcome from all the discussions here and elsewhere. It is not a total wall of shame, but it does allow me to cheer on or chastise companies.
In this category, I look at the various companies and their policies and acts, and try to make heads or tales out of it. I criticize and I also add solutions, and hope that someone is listening.
The other cool little deal I noticed the other day, was POGO's data base on misconduct in the defense industry. It is a wall of shame for sure, and the way it is set up is interesting. I am still not sure if that is the optimum set up for a 'wall of shame' type deal, but it is close.
My latest Company Spotlight story is on CSA Kuwait. Cheers. -matt

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have noticed your company spotlight, Matt – a nice idea and a good move. I shall visit POGO and take a look. Thanks for that info.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An interesting comment, Alan. For those who don’t know what a “koffiemoffie” is, it equates to “jam stealer” or “ration thief” ie, someone who is not directly in the firing line.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I saw this, Robby and must admit that it took me by surprise. Whereas I do not doubt the competence of the officers who planned and led this invasion, I do wonder if they forgot the old adage “know your enemy”? But, it is as always easy for me to sit here and cast a jaundiced eye at what is happening.

Rgds,

Eeben

compart said...

Dear Mr.Barlow,
in my blog at:
http://martincompart.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/gute-soldner-jenseits-von-blackwater/
I´ve published again my "review" on AGAINST ALL ODDS (you may have seen it at EVOLVER.AT two years ago). I´ve used your picture from your blog. I hope, that is okay with you.
All the best,
Martin Compart
Germany

curious said...

Hello
I would like to know a little bit about EO during the time it was in angola. But Particularly on one of the Employees that worked for EO but i would prefer to send you an E-mail pertaining to these topics.

inquisitively
curious.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

If you send me the questions you would like answered, along with your email address, I shall respond to you, Inquisitively Curious. As you may appreciate, I do not post my email address on the blog.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for republishing your review on the EO book, Martin. It is highly appreciated. I saw it on EVOLVER when Galago alerted me to it and thought it to be very good. My thanks on that score as well.

No problem with using that picture on your blog. My only regret is that I don’t read German very well but you seem to cover some interesting topics.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alex said...

I wondered if I could now take you up on your offer of an opinion to add some depth to my essay. In one of the articles given to us for reading I found a reference to EO in Sierra Leone on which your input would be very valuable. The article is written by Deborah Avant entitled 'Mercenaries' and discusses point by point various accusations, rumours and other bits of information which are thrown around with reference to the use of modern military contractors. The section I direct your attention to is as follows:

'"Contractors value profits more than peace"

Not always.

Although many critics argue that military contractors have an economic interest
in prolonging conflict rather than reducing it,
employees of private military companies rarely
have been accused of aggravating conflict inten-
tionally to keep profits flowing. Indeed, many
human rights advocates regard such organizations
as a way to hasten interventions that Western pow-
ers might otherwise avoid, such as the 1994 geno-
cide in Rwanda.
Yet contractors sometimes worsen the condi-
tions for long-term stability. In 1995, when British
security firm Executive Outcomes (eo) helped Sier-
ra Leone’s army defend its capital from rebels, the
contractors found the army undependable in retak-
ing the country’s diamond mines. The mines were
key to eo’s payment, and the mining companies
employed eo subsidiaries. Because eo’s stake in the
mines was so high, the firm turned instead to local
militias, inadvertently strengthening a parallel force.
Tensions between the local army and the militias
contributed to a coup, and the militias spoiled sev-
eral iterations of peace negotiations that followed.
Although eo helped with short-term security, its
activities did not enhance the conditions for long-
term peace. This example also demonstrates how
countries with natural resources or wealthy nonstate actors are privileged in the security market.'


To me this seems to tally with some of the things I've heard before both in your book and on the blog but also throws some other things into the mix, such as the same old accusation that EO had stakes in the diamond mines (the facts of which I'm afraid I can't remember from when I first read your book), and the use of militias. As you stated, you can only give me your own opinions and thoughts on these matters, but if you could address in some way the issues of the mines and the use of militias by EO stated in the article it would be hugely helpful to me.

As I've said I don't want to take up much of your time so please don't feel the need to write an essay of your own! However, simply having your thoughts as a counterpoint to the article's claims would add some real depth to my work. I'm sure these are the same sorts of statements you've dealt with for years from various commentators and media sources but I'd be both fascinated and grateful to get your take on them.

If you'd like the whole article to add context to the claims about EO I'd be happy to send you a copy.

Regards

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Alex, Deborah Avant’s article is about as factual as the WMDs of Iraq. She misses the point completely, a hallmark of poor to no research. EO never had a stake in any mine so Ms Avant does not only do no research, she lies under the guise of research. Nor was EO a British firm – poor Ms Avant...she couldn’t even get that right.

EO went to Sierra Leone when the West had turned its back on that country and the UN was cowering as far away from there as possible. Embassies had shut down and those that remained were likewise preparing to flee the country. EO’s contract was to win the war asap, restore peace and stability and train the army. As the rebels were getting their funding out of selling diamonds, illegally mined, the only sensible strategy was deny them their flow of finance and then destroy them. This would prevent them of being able to re-establish, re-arm and continue with their destruction. Ironically, the claim that EO was being paid in diamonds was something the diamond cartels punted around. Any logical thinking person will know that to run a company, you need cash – not diamonds of unknown value and quantity to try to sell.

Yet, although this very strategy was followed in Angola to defeat the rebels there (UNITA) and the same claims were made, we never had any stake in anything. Again, one simply needs to look at which diamond cartels were suddenly bleeding when the rebels lost control of that resource and then see where the origin of the rumour was. Again, you don’t need rocket science to work that out.

The militias she refers to are the Kamajors, a local tribe that lived in the remote jungles and close to the areas where the rebels were holed out. Any sensible soldier will realise that such people hold enormous value if trained and led correctly. To do this, we had to obtain permission for the SL government and military – something they gave.

Sadly, she conveniently forgot to mention that the tensions between the “militias” and the army that arose happened after EO left and the UN (finally) arrived. I wonder why?

Ironically, some people seem to want the conflicts to continue, the maiming and destruction to increase because then they have something to think up stories about.

At the end of the day, it is relatively easy to see who is lying and who is not. All Ms Avant has to do is bring me a single shred of proof of these “stakes” EO had in diamond (or any other) mines and I shall publically apologise for calling her a liar.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alex said...

Thank you so much for your response (and the speed with which you gave it). It will certainly add some interesting juxtaposition to my work. Although I intend to retain a more or less neutral tone in my essay (generally the safest path in undergrad academia) your statements certainly make more sense than anything else I've read, and of course the evidence, for anyone who cares to look for it, will back you up (of course you don't need telling that but it's certainly something I'll mention).

I had come across the Kamajors in my reading before, and I can well imagine what an asset they'd be (I remember you mentioning how terrified the RUF were of them in your book). Handy how the term 'militia' can be used to paint so many people with the same brush. I remember also reading of US Special Forces pursuing a similar strategy with the Montagnards of Vietnam and finding them to be a huge boost to their operations.

Anyway, thank you again for your assistance, I really do appreciate it. If I ever find an article or book that seems to address EO in a manner which tallies at all with what you say (i.e. what seems to have actually happened) then I'll let you know, it will be a novelty in my experience.

Regards

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A pleasure, Alex. Good luck with your studies.

If you find that book, please buy it for me and send it on.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alex said...

Hi Eeben,

Hope your latest trip went well. I'm still working on my essay, and recently came across this section from an article published in 'Foreign Policy' in 1998 by David Shearer. The wider article does reference EO in several places, but he also included this section specifically on the company which I thought may interest you, if only because it seems to me to take a less condemnatory tone than most of the stuff floating around out there. I'm sure there are things you would dispute with him but I'd be interested to hear your opinion, if you have one, on his version of events.

'Portrait of a Private Army'

In its promotional literature, Executive Outcomes (EO) describes itself as a company with a "solid history of success" thanks to the efforts of its "highly effective work force". This work force is essentially a demobilized army for hire. Based in South Africa, the company was established in 1989 by Eeben Barlow and is staffed almost exclusively by veterans from the former South African Defence Force. EO claims to be able to draw on over 2,000 personnel and forces, all of whom are assembled on a contract-by-contract basis and recruited chiefly by word-of-mouth, This policy has not only ensured quality control but a preexisting military hierarchy of highly experienced troops. EO personnel have distinguished themselves from other companies by entering into combat, claiming that accompanying the clients' troops increases their effectiveness and confidence.
EO's first major contract was in Angola in May 1993 to rescue the Soyo oil fields in the north from the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). The Angolan government then hired over 500 personnel from September 1993 to January 1996 for an estimated $40 million a year (including weaponry) to train nearly 5000 soldiers. EO's arrival, coinciding with the lifting of the arms embargo on Angola, helped reverse the course of the war, and UNITA suffered significant defeats. EO's second contract, this time for the Sierra Leonean government in May 1995, lasted 22 months and cost $35 million- about one-third of the country's defense budget. EO, working with local civilian militias, battered the Revolutionary United Front into submission. In February 1997, EO was subcontracted to the British military company, Sandline International, to train and plan military operations against the Bougainville Resistance Army in Papua New Guinea.
EO's military effectiveness testifies to its expertise in low-intensity conflict. It has planned its operations closely with government officials and uses government equipment, although it has arranged the purchase of weaponry. Its hallmark has been its highly mobile operations using MI-17 helicopter troop carriers, on occasion supported by MI-24 helicopter gunships and Soviet-made ground attack aircraft. But EO's biggest strength has been its use of intelligence capabilities, particularly through the cultivation of local populations, augmented with night-sighting and radio intercept devices. Casualties have remained relatively light: EO acknowledges that 11 of its personnel died in Angola, with seven still missing, and four killed in Sierra Leone. Two others died from accident and sickness.


Anyway, I hope this was of some interest. Not quite a whole book backing up your version of things but seemingly the closest I've found so far!

Regards

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for this, Alex. I do enjoy David’s work as he is very active in publishing articles. This one was probably the most objective account on EO I had ever seen.

Good luck with your essay.

Rgds,

Eeben

Sonny Cox said...

Hi Eeben
Welcome back for the second time now.
Re your comments dated 06 October 2009. I am only one phone call away.
Re Tango and "Make Love not War" He should learn to be prepared for both.
Perhaps he should read up on the Iluminati and Dan Brown's books.
I don't want to avocate "Conspiracy Theory" but here and there it makes sense who is the driving force behind war, money, Capitalism, Communism and now Muslim aggression!
The Chinese are the next force to reckon with in Africa.
Speak to you soon.
By the way, Tango will be at Bridge 14 with us......

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Sonny.

I often find that when one enters the realm of controversy, it is regarded as conspiratorial. I believe that one should take note and see if and when a pattern emerges.

The Chinese have definitely made a large impact on Africa and who knows, it may just get bigger.

I am looking forward to Bridge 14 and hopefully meeting some who came from my past.

Rgds,

Eeben

klein erre said...

good day,this is the first time using this blog and would like to speak about things,seeing myself wanting to follow my father/renier van der merwe s footsteps,who worked for executive outcomes.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your dad was a great guy, klein erre, and his loss was devastating to the company and to those of us who knew him. The media-hype when he went missing in Angola was a bitter pill for us (especially me) to swallow but we could not alter the fact that he and his two colleagues had been taken by UNITA.

I am truly sorry for your loss. However, he was an outstanding soldier doing what he wanted to do. You can be very proud of him.

I wish you well with the road you wish to follow.

Rgds,

Eeben

klein erre said...

thanx, I also joined the infantry corps,but recently left to seek greener grass in this field of work.iv been watching the executive outcomes video where they were all still there,and where you were playing guitar,singing songs of freedom,dogs of war,and nog n dubbel red heart rum.wish those days could still be here as for me wanting to be part of that.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The life of the infantryman is never easy, klein erre, but I can understand you leaving the SA Infantry Corps as it is sadly just a shadow of its former self.

I wish you well in your search for greener pastures. Just be careful of some PMCs out there. There are good and bad and you will have to decide which is which.

I still watch the old EO videos and still enjoy them. Some bring back good memories and some not so good.

Rgds,

Eeben

klein erre said...

thanx for your concern,and this is truely the road i want to follow,not only because my father did it,and it pays bills but because this is a passion. The main reason why i joined this blog,was to ask if you might be able to help me,or atleast give me a contact number of a trust worthy company wich i could apply for in the fight to achive this dream...

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am not personally in touch with any PMCs, klein erre, but I know that you will often find such companies advertising jobs on www.feraljundi.com and www.privatemilitaryherald.com Perhaps some of our friends on this blog may be able to help you out and give better advise.

I shall keep my ear to the ground and if anything comes up let you know.

Good luck and rgds,

Eeben

bathmate said...

Thank you for your fantastic posting


Bathmate

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Bathmate and please keep visiting the blog.

Rgds,

Eeben