About Me

My Photo
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.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

THE DANGER OF “MISSION CREEP”

One of the key principles of strategy is to “select and maintain the aim or objective”. This principle is furthermore found in the principles of war and in the principles of the offense.

This principle follows closely on the heels of another fundamental truth – Strategy must adhere to the political guidelines as contained in the political strategy. This is due to the fact that military strategy is simply an extension of the political strategy or a manifestation of a country’s foreign policy.

This principle is aimed at ensuring that commanders do not lose focus on their primary and secondary objectives but instead focus their forces on either destroying or neutralising those objectives. Additionally, this principle ensures that commanders are not side-tracked from their mission and that all possible deviations from the primary and secondary objectives have been carefully appreciated and planned.

The final military strategy is tested against the numerous principles of strategy and war.

Each operational plan is also tested against the principles of that particular phase(s) of warfare that is to be executed during the operation.

During the appreciation and plan, the Intelligence Officer (IO) represents the enemy commander and, based on his knowledge of the enemy, presents the enemy’s most likely and most dangerous courses of action. This allows the commander to ensure that his plan is both flexible and workable, that he never loses sight of the allocated objectives and that he is able to cope with any unexpected enemy actions.

In order to fulfil his task effectively, the IO needs “intelligence” if he is to advise his commander correctly. Without “intelligence”, commanders are blind as all strategies and tactical actions are intelligence driven.

However, a new word has crept into the military’s ever-expanding terminology - “mission creep”. Along with this comes “exit strategy” – something I regard as a “defeat and withdrawal with honour” – if there can be such a thing.

But of late, a lot has been said and written about “mission creep” and how important it is to counter this phenomenon.

Many will disagree with me but I believe that mission creep exists because strategists and planners have failed to strategise and plan. Alternatively, their strategies and plans were never intelligence-driven but instead were based on arrogance, guesstimates and best-case scenarios. Coupled to the lack of strategy and planning comes interference at political level, usually contrary to the initial guidelines supplied, which breaks the military focus and alters the objectives. This, in turn, forces commanders to adapt or change their unit’s mission profile and posture and alter their initial military objectives.

A lack of focus on the objective allows the commanders to become side-tracked with issues that are often unrelated to the objective and in order to cope with this deviation, more troops are called for. This is one of the reasons why “troop surge strategies” are implemented. But, I have had my say on what I perceive to be a misguided approach – unless of course, a war of attrition is being fought. But it is highly unlikely that modern society will adopt and execute a long-term war of attrition, especially in terms of casualties and costs.

I am therefore somewhat surprised when “mission creep” is mentioned as something that is inevitable. I believe it is due to a total intelligence failure and subsequent poor strategies and plans.

But, perhaps I am wrong?

76 comments:

tyhz1995 said...

Ah yes,another one of these "clever"terms.I believe a lot of raw Intel is categorically rejected depending on it's political ramifications.Or at least it is not followed by top brass as it once was.One need only remember the role scouts played in conquests of old.With regard to Afghanistan they are ignoring and have been ignoring Intel that could have ended that war years ago and more cleanly.Or it could have changed the focus.The war never should have been an occupation,but a small scale high intensity black op run on cold hard Intel.The thing that I learned many years ago.A rumor is not a rumor that doesn't die.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A lot of good intelligence is rejected, Tyler, but I sometimes wonder if it is not rejected because no-one knows what to do with it? But, sometimes I think people want to believe a rumour because it links up with their preconceived ideas. Sadly though, soldiers die because of this.

Rgds,

Eeben

tyhz1995 said...

Ah you're a wily one sir.I would love to take umbrage with something but you are very sharp and very skilled.Perhaps it is why you made Colonel and I failed to make Captain.I believe war is commonly a continuation of foreign policy by other means.But to hamstring a soldier with the the rules and vagaries that constrain a politician is unconscionable and unfair.Intel saves lives by allowing a force to take enemy lives.These new terms quite frankly make me angry.Terms that make things tidy and acceptable and hide the truth.Well trained and disciplined men are far more than a commodity and need to be treated and dispensed in a careful fashion.I also believe you are correct on attrition.It pains me to be civil sir and would far prefer to argue and fight,it is after all in my nature.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Maybe I only made the rank because they were scraping the barrel, Tyler? But, to be fair, there were many men better than I, but I had the great privilege of serving under and with some outstanding men.

The rules a soldier has are given in the guidelines to planning and in the orders he receives prior to the mission. To suddenly start changing these things can have a (negative) impact on the soldier and how he executes his mission. But, to execute his mission, he needs to know what to expect, where to expect it and how he is to conduct himself. But, knowing what to expect and where to expect it, is part of the intelligence picture. Without that view of “the other side”, soldiers are blind.

Rgds,

Eeben

tyhz1995 said...

Know your enemy.Truer words were never spoken.Yes changing objectives midstream is not at all wise and can most assuredly have an effect on the outcome.Please understand sir I do kid and josh a great deal.I mean not the slightest disrespect.I too served with some outstanding men and miss my captain.He was salt of the earth,an intelligence officer like me.Without good Intel and Command a situation can get as bad as it gets,devolve so to speak.Though of course it is far rarer than the liberal media alleges.There are other wars looming I believe but I have been wrong before.

Robby said...

For the record I made it to "Lance Corporal" status,I think they gave it to everyone for just showing up at the first camp...

When anything is decided on using a failed model then failure is sure to follow be it war,politics or finance,America's decision to go to war in Iraq was based on a flawed model...from today's Sunday Telegraph


Iraq report: Secret papers reveal blunders and concealment

The “appalling” errors that contributed to Britain’s failure in Iraq are disclosed in the most detailed and damning set of leaks to emerge on the conflict.

On the eve of the Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the 2003 invasion and its aftermath, The Sunday Telegraph has obtained hundreds of pages of secret Government reports on “lessons learnt” which shed new light on “significant shortcomings” at all levels.

They include full transcripts of extraordinarily frank classified interviews in which British Army commanders vent their frustration and anger with ministers and Whitehall officials.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/6625415/Iraq-report-Secret-papers-reveal-blunders-and-concealment.html

PS I've made the call (was not hard)... coming home next September going to live in Jeffries Bay...thanks for the help :-)

drew8ear said...

Hi Eeben,

Great post!

I was watching a documentary about a family who'd lost their son in Iraq and were trying understand their youngest son's desire to join the Marine Corps, and part of this topic came out.

The supposed "clear objective" for the Marines in this documentary was to "Win the Hearts and Minds" of the local citizens of Ramadi. They were told it was a "Civil Affairs" mission even though they were infantry.

The mood in Ramadi was light until well trained insurgents from Fallujah had moved in, and the Marine was sucked into an L-shaped ambush and killed along with the rest of the Marines in his vehicle.

The following issue came out while interviewing the Marines from his Company about the incident:

1. The Marine's were part of the "War in Iraq", but were trained and told they were conducting "Civil Affair" type missions or what the Pentagon calls "Military Operations Other than War" (Another phrase I'm sure you love). Since they are infantry this seems like a conflict of duties.

2. The Marine's from the platoon commander on down claimed to be unprepared to engage and handle a counter insurgency.

3. The Marine's were asked to patrol the same road, the same way which went against their regular infantry training. This issue was brought to the chain of command and no adjustments were made or no explanation was given for going against military best practices.

4. Other Marine units had flushed insurgents out of Fallujah, but there had been no effort to track their movement and direction. If there was an effort they didn't disseminate the information.

5. The mind set of the Marine's was "humanitarian", so they were supposed to be alert, but they were not mentally prepared for war.

6. It seemed they received little training in insurgency and didn't have Marines watching the town. Before the ambush few to no people were in the streets and all shops were closed on the day of the attack. They realized the town was empty in retrospect, but that was a little late. They Marines said they ended up not caring about the people and felt betrayed since they had given them money, soccer balls and chocolate. They received no warning of an attack, so they felt the people were "two faced".

Sadly this is the state of many units Army and Marine Corps now it seems. While infantry should not be running around killing everything that moves they definitely shouldn't be sent in like they are UNICEF. Additionally many regular infantry are not always prepared well for hard conflict because today we only use Special Forces, Scout Snipers, Force Recon, Navy SEALS, and Combat Controller to truly engage in war. This happens in police forces now also where only S.W.A.T. can deliver warrants. It kills military and police forces because only a few have an operational mind set, but everyone else is softened.

The US does not have a good objective. They supposedly want to bring democracy to everyone when they first need to establish security. Most of the politician's have little to no miliatry experience these days and love being "arm chair" generals and benevolent givers sowing chaos in the operational realm. The US really should be working for democracy in the Middle East until Middle Easterners start seeking themselves on their own.

I think you are right about mission creep being part of piss poor planning and that is what has happened. I think most planners thought Gulf War II would be a repeat of Gulf War I and that was stupid because in Gulf War I no one was seeking topple Saddam, but to force him back into containment. Gulf War II was to actually kill him and his leadership which changes the game completely. Too many planners are not military, but cultural specialists and historians. Too many military officers today don't have military mind sets anymore.


Andrew - PDX

borr1945 said...

I would have to agree with you sir.
For example, it is clear that the
Americans did not have a plan for when they won the fighting in Iraq
or Afghanistan. Likewise, they underestimated the resolve of islamic militant groups to mount an
insurgency. Even though, such groups have had a long history of doing so in Bosnia and Checenya.
It just makes you wonder how a supposedly second rate military like Russia can defeat a country in
a month and America can't defeat
these groups in 8 years.

regards,
ken

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Soldiers from across the world are taught the maxim “Know your enemy”, Tyler, but as long as they only pay lip service to it, they will pay a heavy price.

The same goes for “objectives”. Whereas one can understand that the objectives are part of the overall plan, one cannot make a plan and continue to change it without preparing the men who are supposed to carry out the operation. Even the best commanders will get confused when interference continues to alter missions and objectives.

No disrespect seen or taken.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your ideas on how to wage a war would be construed as “war crimes”, Private. For that reason, I have deleted your comment.

No offence intended.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Robby. Somehow I suspected that the entire political strategy was seriously flawed but did not realise just how flawed it was until I read this. But, when political plans are flawed and governments remain in denial, the military is sure to suffer. For the life of me I fail to understand how political leaders can get so caught up with their desires for power that they forget that history is littered with people such as them. But, I suppose, ultimate power...

Good on you for coming back home. Despite all of our problems, this is still a great country and it can get better.

I understand the surfing is good in Jeffries Bay...

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A truly sad story, Andrew.

I know I have hammered on this a lot but when political strategies are flawed, the military is bound to suffer. So much more when the politicians expect the military to change the mission midstream and become “diplomats” – something soldiers are not trained to do and even to do things they are totally unprepared for.

Winning hearts and minds is a very good sub-strategy but it is part of a larger strategy and can only be implemented when the other objectives of the strategy are met. That means winning the shooting war, restoring the faith of the local population in the military, providing the necessary security to the locals and so forth. Handing out soccer balls and chocolate is not “winning hearts and minds” – and never will be.

If mission profiles and postures are changed, the soldiers need to be trained and prepared for what is to come. What happened there was an example of soldiers being totally unprepared for their missions.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is clear that there was no coherent strategy – political or military – in place, Ken and that really makes me wonder what the powers that be were thinking, if they were thinking at all.

One must never underestimate an enemy, regardless of who or what that enemy is. In a situation such as Iraq or Afghanistan, the perceived enemy has time on his side – something occupying forces do not have. That in itself should be a warning that you have one chance and you better get it right.

Mission creep is an example of things going wrong in a bad way.

I wouldn’t rate the Russians as second rate, though. I also know their equipment is robust and good.

Rgds,

Eeben

borr1945 said...

My comment about the Russians being
second rate was a sentiment expressed here in America since I was a kid. Maybe it was just cold
war propaganda feed to us but I am
very glad that we never went toe to
toe with them. I like the sks and
the ak's that I own. I also think
that their training is tougher than
what we have here. Having german
relatives who fought against them
in two wars makes me one American
who wouldn't underestimate them.
I was just expressing the feelings
that most americans have of that
country.

regards ken

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I can understand that, Ken, but there was so much propaganda floating around that eventually things like that become entrenched in one’s mind. I always believe that one should never underestimate (or overestimate) one’s opposition. However, all armies have strong and weak points – it is intelligence that should find those points and allow commanders to exploit them.

Coming back to “mission creep”, it is something that concerns me and I really believe it is because strategists and planners and intelligence agencies never did their jobs. We see that phenomenon all over the world where these so-called small wars are fought and which eventually become long wars of attrition.

Perhaps we should replace “mission creep” with “strategy failure”?

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

This is where it all happens giving voice to Sen John McCain is scary in and of itself...classic case of where "Mission Creep" dreams are born

Realities Collide at Halifax "War Conference"
Anthony Fenton

HALIFAX, Canada, 22 Nov (IPS) - While the world's top military elites gather inside a fortified hotel to discuss NATO's future, protesters question the organisation's legitimacy, secrecy, and the lack of democratic debate about the increasingly unpopular war in Afghanistan.

An imposing 'United States of America'-emblazoned aircraft greeted visitors on the tarmac of Halifax International Airport Friday, as more than 250 of the Western world's top military leaders and their brain trust descended on the city for the inaugural Halifax International Security Forum.

Co-sponsored by the government of Canada and the U.S.-based German Marshall Fund think tank, over 60 percent of the attendees hailed from these host nations for what is being dubbed a World Economic Forum-style conference for militarists.

http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=2693

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Some things never change, Robby.

Thanks for the link.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I inadvertently posted your comment Private, but realising my error, immediately deleted it. My apologies for that.

I am sorry to have learnt of your loss. Things like that are never easy to get over, if ever. I wish you well with the other meeting you were going to attend.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I can understand your anger, Private. I am sorry you had to suffer the consequences of your well-intended actions. Betrayal by those one serves is never easy to get over. But, I am pleased to read that you have taken control of your life.

I trust most people until they prove otherwise.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

From the WTF file

Cargo plane crashes in Shanghai killing 3 U.S. crew

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - A Zimbabwean-registered cargo plane en route to Kyrgyzstan crashed on take-off in Shanghai on Saturday, killing three U.S. crew on board and triggering a fire, state media and a U.S. spokesman said.

The plane, which had seven people on board, left the runway and crashed into a storage building, China's national broadcaster, CCTV, reported, starting the fire and sending a large plume of black smoke over the airport.

The accident happened at Pudong airport. The plane, registered in Zimbabwe, was scheduled to fly to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, Xinhua news agency said.

Richard Buangan, deputy spokesman at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, said there were four Americans on board. "Three of them are confirmed dead, and one is injured," he said.

http://www.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUSTRE5AR0AA20091128?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews&rpc=22&sp=true

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A very sad story, Robbie. Thanks for the link.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jake said...

I can sympathize with drew8ear's comments but they do not represent the breadth of the Marines' experience in Al Anbar. It's dangerous to take one platoon's after-action report and try to paint an entire war with that set of experiences. Were some units unprepared, under trained or most likely retasked at the last minute for an op they have not spent much time on? Yes it happens. It's war and the only thing consistent in war is change. The Marines ran the full spectrum of operations in Anbar between 2003 and 2009. From all-out war to counter insurgency, to humanitarian support, training/advisory roles, you name it. You won't ever hear about the missions which went well because the training matched the op. You will only hear about the incidents where the opposite was true. The Marines pride ourselves on our adaptability and our performance in Anbar illustrates that time and again to a changing situation in the battlespace. Anyway this is another subject all together...

As for 'mission creep' this must be the most dangerous of all the execution failures. Afghanistan is a classic case in point. We used primarily special ops and light quick strike infantry units in conjunction with the Afghan Northern Alliance militias as early as Oct 2001 with the clear mission of capturing and killing AQ/Taliban forces. It would be hard to argue against the necessity of such a mission and that is due in no small part to its clarity of purpose and the direct connection that action had on our national security interest. After all it was these guys who planned, trained and executed the 9/11 attacks.

A laser focused mission with clear objectives and measurable results. But, what happened between then and now is one of histories biggest examples of mission creep. We are not chasing a virtually undefinable objective in the largest nation-building effort since the 2nd WW.

Even if the U.S. had the money to do it (which they don't) and even if they had the support of the American people (which they don't) and even if accomplishing it would have a measurable effect on AQ's ability to plan/execute (it likely does not because they could use any number of other places like Pakistan, Somalia, etc, etc..) Even if all this were in place it would only succeed if we had a willing, capable, non-corrupt Afgani political partner (which it most certainly does not have in Karzai). This is Vietnam all over again, we are now reduced to chasing ghosts. Time is always on the side of the insurgent. They never have to win. In fact winning is not even their immediate goal. Their goal is to stall for time. To bleed us out financially and emotionally (as a nation). They know that all of this pivots on our presidential election cycles. I view the Afganistan campaign as a linear series of missions creeping ever outward where the goal post are merely a mirage in the distant horizon. Sadly this all goes back to poor planning and ultimately it is our servicemen and women who will pay the price, as usual.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Very valid comments, Jake. I do however see where Andrew is coming from and the point he makes. But we all experience things so differently. I do think we are all in agreement on a few things such as time is on the side of the insurgent, mission creep is caused due to poor planning and the constant changing of goal posts, modern nations cannot afford to fight wars of attrition, and so forth.

I think we also all agree that the soldiers, sailors and airmen are the ultimate casualties of these poorly planned conflicts.

I am still of the opinion that mission creep is a synonym for “we-never-planned” and no matter how it is dressed up, it is indicative of a massive failure, due to numerous reasons which we have covered in these posts and comments. But, again I find that everyone’s point-of-view is reason to think of other aspects and hopefully, we will arrive at the answers we seek and ensure that when we plan, we do so correctly.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Sad yes but what the hell are Americans doing flying for Zim...?

drew8ear said...

I just wanted to clarify a few things after reading Jake's rebuttal.

1. This was from a documentary I was watching, and I was not part of the operation. I served USMC in peace time.

2. I don't believe any mission is perfect and you definately should be on alert. With that said, it seemed that Marine Corps infantry was retrained to be "civil affairs" so it seemed to go against the "agress through anything" mentality normally taught.

3. I agree that nation building is causing mission conflict and was tagged onto "hunt and kill Al Queda". Now I believe "hunt and kill Al Queda" has taken a back seat to nation building.

4. I believe the 2001 and 2002 objectives were probably well planned, but Iraq and nation building was the "Mission Creep" that has caused drawn out confusion.

Thanks,

Andrew - PDX

Jake said...

As the old adage goes "Failure to plan is planning to fail." Just to add a bit of levity to this string I am reminded of time years ago when a young officer friend of mine jokingly used to say. "I don't like to plan for anything...this way I am prepared for everything." Too bad it doesn't work like that.

I like the perspective that mission creep is synonymous with planning deficiencies. Though there is another variation on it and it has to do with possessing the discipline to stick to a plan. Often the plans are adequate, the execution is going well but the commanders (or civilian decision makers) over reach by adding objectives which are not necessary to meet the original objective. It is then up to the commanders to remind their masters that deviation from the plan is fraught with complications of both the known and unknown variety.

Great comments here by all.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I too was wondering about that Robby. Perhaps if someone out there knows it could be shared with us?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are so correct about every mission not being perfect, Andrew. But, part of the strategists/planners mission is to ensure that as many contingencies as possible have been covered and that the aim is clearly defined for all forces partaking in the mission. When these “add-ons” appear, commanders get side-tracked and should instead remind their “masters” of the aim of the mission. Once the mission is completed, one can then move on to the next phase.

I do question if the initial mission was well-planned ( I do believe that the strategy was not strong – and one cannot rectify a poor strategy with firepower) but as I am a sideline spectator, there are factors that I no doubt am unaware of.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree that failing to plan = mission creep, Jake. I think that commanders need the courage to speak out when they feel that political interference is too excessive – instead they don’t and thus accept all of the mission add-ons to the point where they can no longer actually cope with their allocated forces.

Nation-building is the latest catch phrase but it cannot be successfully achieved if the people do not have a safe and secure environment. To get there, military forces need to achieve their mission(s).

Rgds,

Eeben

Jake said...

I don't want to belabor this point because firstly I think Andrew and I are actually in agreement. However, the second point he makes regarding the 'agress through anything' mentality is not entirely accurate. That mentality, has been nuanced in the past 20 years considerably and for good reason. I would say it's more accurate to say the mentality of the modern Marine is one of 'adapt and overcome' (i.e. it's OK to use your brain to solve the problem and not just your shoulder). Tenacity can also be applied to intellectual problem solving and is not solely the realm of violence of action. In fact many units use the motto of 'No better friend, no worse enemy.' This implies being capable of flipping the switch when required from violence of action back to a lesser state of aggression.

This is all covered at both at the enlisted level at SOI (School of Infantry) and the officer level IOC (Infantry Officers Course) where all Marines are trained in the basics of MOOTW (military operations other than war). The METL (Mission Essential Task List) for accomplishing these ops is quite long.

Marines since the mid-1980's have been indoctrinated with German Wehrmacht style maneuver warfare which relies greatly on individual initiative and decision making at the lowest operational levels. This implies that all Marines are capable (indeed relied upon) to make decisions on the ground to achieve the Commander's Intent (CI). The difficulty in counter insurgency warfare is that the CI is changing on a daily basis. On Monday the CI is to kick in the door at 123 Dirtbag Street and capture or kill someone specific. On Tuesday it may be to roll down a section of highway and conduct an IED sweep or a route recon. Wednesday the op is a dismounted patrol through a neighborhood and a local market to interact with locals and gather intel. And so it goes, day after day. The CI is changing so the mission and the tactics change. Modern Marines are capable of adapting to this amount of variation even if on any given weekday they prefer to be doing what they did yesterday or will be doing tomorrow.

I'd be interested to see this documentary. It certainly would not be the first doco to negatively portray the military's level of preparedness for political purposes. I have no doubt that a journalist could find a unit or two somewhere who is tasked with doing something they don't prefer to do. All Marines, in their heart, want to storm the beach and plant the flag at the top of the hill. That's in our DNA. But the fact is they have all been trained to perform other less glamorous roles as well.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An interesting comment, Jake, but isn’t that part of the problem with the modern view of COIN – having to switch from one mission to a different mission on a day-by-day basis?

Whereas I fully accept that soldiers must be able to adapt to a host of different circumstances, the training prepares them for one priority aim – kill the enemy before he kills you. The commander wants to pacify his area of operations and influence – something he may able to do with his force level – and to do this, soldiers must execute their primary role. Once the shooting is over, the rest can follow.

Don’t you think that soldiers are being over-stretched in terms of their mission? After all, COIN wars have been on-going for decades. Which begs me to ask: Don’t you think that the planners tried to redesign the wheel and when it looked square instead of round, shrugged their shoulders and made it the commander’s problems?

I believe that priorities were not allocated and adhered to – ie select and maintain the aim. Instead, the priorities keep changing and it becomes very difficult for commanders to stay abreast with these changes. The only way they can do so is by having more troops to cope with the constant changes, hence mission creep.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jake said...

I guess I see this differently. The mission of the military is indeed to 'close with and destroy the enemy'. But in a COIN fight it's the 'closing with' that is the challenge, the killing bit is pretty strait forward.

In order to close with the enemy, the intelligence must be gathered. The intelligence comes in the largest degree from HUMINT gained from the population. The HUMINT presents itself only when the population views the military (the occupying and invading military in the cases of Iraq/Astan) as supporting their interests. So, the military must be BOTH the entity which builds rapport AND the one that does the wet work when required. I just don't see any way around that fact.

Is it a tough thing to ask a military to do? Certainly, on the scale of military complexity it must rank as one of the hardest to accomplish. That does not make it impossible as you well know, you achieved it.

The issue of troop numbers can certainly be tallied under planning failure and I suppose that leads to mission/scope creep at the strategic level but tactically speaking the tenets don't change for Battalion, companies, platoons and squads. Your point is we did not, in the case of Iraq, have enough of them. I agree. But even if we has all we needed a Monday mission would have differed from a Thursday mission for any given squad. One day it's play nice, gather intel, meet with tribal elders, the next day its house-to-house fighting.

Actually, I see this whole discussion in the cases of Iraq and the Stan as a red herring. All the COIN training in the world is useless without a local government partner who is trusted by the population. Once that key was slotted in Iraq many improvements came to be. Conversely this has not happened yet in the Stan where the Karzai government is not trusted by the people. Actually enough trust existed 6 years ago but the window of opportunity was lost.

Now, I think it's highly likely that comprehensive, what Patreus calls 'full spectrum', COIN may be beyond the capability of the United States and it has nothing to do with our military capability/limitations. Instead it has to do with our national political will to do what needs to be done for as long as it takes to do it. Americans are historically short sighted and want their problems wrapped up in conjunction with holidays (let's get the boys home before next Christmas) or they are more often tied to political campaigns/elections at home. Conflicts involving American troops are rarely seen through the clear lens of mission accomplishment first. Certainly not since WWII has the U.S. political/military machine worked with such singularity of purpose.

In summary, I don't view the 'complexity of the mission' for the troopers as the Achilles heel of these foreign policy actions. The weak point is the attention span of the American voter.

I keep coming back to your original conclusion that mission creep = planning failure. I suppose there is no argument against that conclusion but the problem for me is that I find that in the abstract as there is so many levels of planning required.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I actually think we are in agreement on most of these things, Jake.

But, the COIN conflict must not become so intense that we lose focus on the issues surrounding and supporting the conflict. All of these operations can only succeed if they are intelligence-driven. HUMINT does not necessarily require that the population views the military in a positive light. I recall instances where we had to recruit agents in very hostile, anti-us (not US!) environments. This goes back to basic tradecraft. Coupled to this is effective propaganda operations – not aimed at necessarily making the population pro-you but rather neutral to the whole conflict. Within the zone of neutrality, they will quickly make a more positive decision to support you.

I hate to harp on this issue but EO/FAA were forced to fight in a theatre that was and still is approx 1, 25 million square kilometres in size and that required several different types of warfare, including semi-conventional/mobile warfare and guerrilla warfare.

Given the size of the theatre, the FAA commanders were under the belief that they (FAA) controlled only 10% of the country. It took our senior in-country commander to make them realise that if they believed they only controlled 10% of the country that did not necessarily mean that the remaining 90% was under enemy control. In fact, the enemy was estimated by several Western intelligence agencies to comprise a force of between 60 – 80 000 men under arms. (Do not for a moment believe that they were poorly trained!). Put them into that 1, 25 million square kilometre theatre and one will then see that they cannot control the entire area.

The enemy was getting support from neighbouring Zaire (now DRC) as well as several North African, Western and Eastern countries. What made it possible for EO/FAA to win the war? The maximum exploitation of all intelligence assets and the aggressive use of that intelligence. With that exploitation, small victories become big victories – something that can be exploited with propaganda. Added to that was the strategy to bleed the enemy of his financial resources. Battlefield losses, the eroding of their image and an inability to sustain their war effort led to the internal collapse of the enemy. Isn’t that what it ought to be about?

In certain areas the population was positive and in others neutral – it is up the forces to make the population decide who serves their interests best and who will protect them. Most people want to get on with their lives in peace – we ought to help them do just that before we take bigger steps of trying to rebuild an entire national infrastructure. Besides, at that point, it should no longer be the exclusive responsibility of the military.

Yes, it is a tough mission but it can be done as long as it remains devoid of political interference. But, that said, the government (political partner) we had was well aware of what was at stake and therefore supported the entire mission from a political point-of-view. And I think therein lies the crux. That in turn will create the political will to see the conflict through to the end.

Rgds,

Eeben

drew8ear said...

I think that the lack of separation of duties weakens purpose and mental focus. I understand Marines should be given some guidance and basic training in dealing with the populace, but they shouldn't be shouldered with "civil affairs" duties if they are infantry. For example, all Marines are taught basic first aid, but they are never assigned to be corps men (medics).

I guess I'm saying that the infantry should be infantry and civil affairs should be civil affairs. I don't know if you can assign a specific unit to aggressive operations and another unit to community oriented operations, but I think it may help the morale and reduce confusion.

I posted the documentry link below. It is free on Hulu.

http://www.hulu.com/jerabek?c=News-and-Information/Documentary-and-Biography

Andrew - PDX

tyhz1995 said...

Hello,I also saw that blurb on Reuters.Were they military people?I also wondered myself.The Chinese are up to their elbows in Zimbabwe.Supposedly they built mugabe an enormous mansion.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree with your comment on separation of duties, Andrew, and know that it is often not entirely possibly to specialise to the extreme. But, by expecting soldiers to be able to conduct civil affairs in a country where many of them do not understand the various cultures, traditions and expectations – let alone tribal and religious differences – is, in my opinion, asking too much.

But again, this is something that I believe should have been assessed prior to the mission and allocations made as to who would be primarily responsible for what. Whereas this type of operation was obviously not going to be purely military in nature (history is well recorded) it should have been appreciated.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have no idea, Tyler. There has not been too much news at my end surrounding the crash.

Rgds,

Eeben

Michon said...

Completely off the topic, but I just wanted to let you know that I just finished reading your book and was completely enthralled by it. I am doing my honours thesis on private military companies and your book offered some very interesting insight into the topic, so thanks very much:-)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am very pleased that the book was of some help to you, Michon. Thanks for buying it and then taking the trouble to read it.

Good luck with your honours thesis.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

I guess I could just say "stuff happens"....update on China crash

Chanhassen pilot injured in cargo plane crash in China

Bill Johnson, 61, was in serious condition with lung injuries after a plane caught fire taking off in Shanghai.

By PAT DOYLE, Star Tribune

A pilot from Chanhassen was being treated Sunday in China for serious injuries after his cargo plane crashed on takeoff in Shanghai.

Bill Johnson, 61, suffered lung injuries from inhaling smoke after the crash, said Heather Johnson, his daughter-in-law.

"It was pretty much engulfed in flames," she said.

Three Americans were killed, and three crew members from Indonesia, Belgium and Zimbabwe also were injured, according to the English-language Shanghai Daily.

The plane was bound for Kyrgyzstan when it crashed about 8 a.m. Saturday at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. It reportedly caught fire shortly after lifting off the runway. Heather Johnson said she understood it hit a concrete barrier at the end of the runway.

The plane, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, was operated by Avient Aviation, based in Zimbabwe. It acquired the aircraft eight days before the crash, according to Airfleets.net, which tracks such transactions.

Avient is registered and fully trained to move most categories of dangerous goods, according to its website.

http://www.startribune.com/local/78107842.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUUF

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It seems to have been an extraordinary set of circumstances that led to this, Robby. Thanks for keeping us updated.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Your call if you want to post this

Andrew Smith, is a former British army officer who runs Avient.

I dug this from the Times Of London

Briton linked to Congo war crimes
Jon Swain

THE deadliest war in the world was raging and hundreds were dying every day when Graham Pelham, a former special forces operative in the French Foreign Legion, reported for duty in the Congo. He had been appointed country manager of Avient, an air cargo company run by Andrew Smith, a former British army officer.

What he discovered has led, seven years on, to moves in Britain to investigate Smith — a pillar of the community in the peaceful Wiltshire village where he lives — for possible war crimes.

The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), which had drawn in troops from six African nations, was of huge concern to the UN. By the time the war ended in 2003 more than 3m people had died. The civilian toll was the highest anywhere since the second world war.

Pelham, an Irishman, was acting as an undercover investigator for the UN security council. He had been sent to the Congo to find out about the activities of another company that was believed to be trafficking in illicit weapons and diamonds.

Instead he reported back to his controller on the activities of the company employing him.

Avient’s role was supposed to be logistical but Pelham says he was put in charge of helicopter gunships and civilian aircraft that had been converted to drop bombs and were being flown by Avient crews.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article634255.ece

Riaan said...

Also off topic somewhat, having finished reading your book I would like to know if there are any other books of the same style, genre or set in the same theater which you might suggest? They seem to be harder to find than one might think. Thanks in advance.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Robby. A most interesting article, but, given my jaundiced view of the media in general and some in specific, I wonder if this was followed up? Do you know? On DRC, I see that the UN have finally admitted their incompetence...it took them a while to realise that, didn’t it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am actually about to leave for the airport, Riaan, so I will not be able to give you a comprehensive list of books/publishers.

May I suggest you look at www.galago.co.za as they published my book and have a lot of books on the wars in SWA/Namibia and Angola. Please let me know if you find something of value on their site.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Thought you maybe interested ...crazy world brother....put China crash and this together and all kinds of conclusions are possible ...later.


Blackwater boss hits back after CIA 'outing'

The former US Navy SEAL who gained notoriety as head of disgraced private security firm Blackwater said he felt betrayed after being outed as part of a CIA covert assassination program.

Erik Prince told the US magazine Vanity Fair in an interview published Wednesday that he felt someone "threw him under the bus" in revealing his link to the program, which supposedly targeted top Al-Qaeda leaders.

"I put myself and my company at the CIA's disposal for some very risky missions," said Prince, who eschewed a role in his family's billion-dollar auto-parts firm to join the military.

"But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus."

Price's role in the apparent CIA program was widely reported after the head of the agency, Leon Panetta, briefed US lawmakers on its existence.

Prince, a Republican backer and father of seven, said the disclosure was politically motivated.

"I don't understand how a program this sensitive leaks," he told the magazine. "And to 'out' me on top of it?"

He was previously famous for the being a founder of Blackwater, now re-branded Xe, which has been the subject of multiple US investigations over its behavior under government contract.

In early 2009 Blackwater was banned from working in Iraq when an Iraqi investigation said the firm's security guards shot dead 17 Iraq civilians while escorting a US diplomatic envoy.

Prince compared his outing to that of Valerie Plame, a former CIA agent whose name was leaked when her diplomat husband rebutted Bush administration claims about Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions.

"The left complained about how Valerie Plame?s identity was compromised for political reasons... what happened to me was worse.

"People acting for political reasons disclosed not only the existence of a very sensitive program but my name along with it."

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.abd53d78e59f7fcdc66d97d5c358d985.1231&show_article=1&catnum=0

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The waters get muddier, Robby, although I can understand Prince's feelings. Nevertheless, very interesting stuff. Thanks for sending it along.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Yeah it's crazy when one can't figure out who the good guy's are although I have a few problems with Prince the CIA takes the cake...anything that needs to include intelligence in it's name you know it has none

Alan said...

Eeben:

I thought you and your mates might enjoy the following link. Appears at least one of our general officers...gets it. Even in retirement.

Cheers, Alan

http://www.rantburg.com/poparticle.php?ID=284818&D=2009-12-04&SO=&HC=1

tyhz1995 said...

Ah sir the water is always muddy surely you know.All the thrashing as creatures fight for wealth and survival.Prince didn't exactly do it for free now did he?And you cannot trust those people.I'd wager he does not regret his choice to start Blackwater.He is of course vastly wealthy.And take it from a recently pauperized ex soldier.Money is like a gun,It's always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.I would also agree that decidedly hostile foes can be turned with the right approach.The Russians are second rate barbarians.For proof read "Stalin and His Hangmen"by Donald Rayfield.That is all.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I hear what you say, Robby, but sometimes it is difficult to distinguish who is right and who is wrong in a case like this. That said, I believe serious mistakes were made and the end result is a blame-game.

As for intelligence, it is sometimes a misnomer. Yet it ought to play such a vital role in the development of strategies that I am often amazed that so little real effort is spent on it. When the strategies hit a brick wall, they blame the “lack of intelligence” when in fact it was a lack of foresightness and no intelligence.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Alan. A man who speaks his mind…something that is rare these days.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I take your point, Tyler – it is a fight for survival out there. But, people must do what they must do to stay afloat as long as it does not become something illegal. I am sure he does not regret starting Blackwater but he too became the victim of his own doing. I too have been down that road although our circumstances were vastly different.

Rgds,

Eeben

Riaan said...

Just reporting back... I've been to Galago and have spotted a few books which I plan on buying. First one being 'My Life with the SA Defence Force' by
Magnus Malan. Thanks very much.

I only wish that the books and stories in this category/genre would get more public awareness in the Republic. The amount of ignorance toward immediate history in this country is staggering. Basically, if you're not actively searching for it, you won't find it. You'll not even stumble upon it. It saddens me to think that one generation further from today, there'll be absolutely no incentive to gain knowledge or research in respect to the things mentioned in these books for the normal South African citizen. Also, because these books are so broad in terms of the things described and explained, it opens the door to other areas of interest which are not advertised to the public. Suddenly you have people going, "I didn't know that, no one told me. In-fact, if anybody knew, they were never planning on telling me." And then there are the life-stories/experiences of the authors in each of these books, which should be revered.

Apologies for cluttering your Mil Sec blog with my off-topic ramblings.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for “reporting back”, Riaan – and you are certainly not cluttering the blog. I am just pleased that you were able to find some books of interest.

It is indeed sad that people wish to remain so ignorant about our history. It is a rich and colourful history with good and bad in it, but that is what shapes us as a nation.

I told Jake last night (he of Private Military Herald) that some bookstores in SA still refuse to carry my book on their shelves. But that is our reality and we cannot change that.

Enjoy your reading.

Rgds,

Eeben

tyhz1995 said...

Greetings from the icy wastes.I believe malingerers and ne'erdowells concoct these sorts of terms to justify their existence and lack of performance.There is a thought that everything
is new because it is happening now.Not true,technology does indeed create new variables but fundamentals always apply.Friendly fire was a term that made me angry years ago because it prettifies an ugly mistake and sometimes an uglier deliberate act.On the earlier post on nation building it cannot even be implemented until the gunfire is gone from the air.It's far too loud to talk with automatic weapons fire.Frankly there is more that I would like to say but it would probably get me barred.Defeat without dishonor...don't make me laugh.There is nothing worse than a picked fight that is lost.Nabokov is of course exempt from my earlier post.Carry on.

Krijn said...

Dear Eeben,

Though I agree with your point I cannot avoid seeing a problem with your blog.

It is this: You say that the discussion between the IO (S2) and the CO is critical in the avoidance of mission creep. They need to set a viable strategy, plan contingencies and stick to it.

However, when does the CO of a battlegroup have a say in his choice of strategy? With the modern trend of micromanaging of military operations from the nations capital I have the idea that a mission, the means and the strategy are dropped onto the military staff from a great height!

Because the political involvement in operational affairs is so great, the political masters are the ones intentionally creating vague strategies and objectives and mission creep. In that sense your final alinea, where you wonder why mission creep is seen as unavoidable is answered. I may be cynical, but the political micromanagement of operational matters is the cause of mission creep. CO's, OC's and even subalterns and SNCO's know better. Politicians also do, but have different priorities than soldiers!

I think it all comes down to the backbone of field grade officers. Their job is to keep the civilians away from the operational staff.

Did the Dutch make a big mistake when they made a diplomat director (i.s.o. Commandin Officer) of the PRT in Uruzgan?

Alan said...

Eeben and lads:

The truth appears to finally be seeing the light of day with regard to the late Dr. Dave Kelly of UNSCOM. What many of us knew but had no ability to prove. I suppose however, a blind warthog eventually finds a nut now and then.

Regards, Alan

"Dr Kelly WAS murdered and there has to be a new inquest, say six top doctors" Mailonline, Monday, Dec 07 2009.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1233330/Dr-David-Kelly-Six-doctors-demand-inquest-death-weapons-expert-prove-murdered.html

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree Tyler but it also has much to do with being delightfully vague about mission outcomes and strategies. Whereas technology enhances capabilities, it does not become the only capability. But with the vagueness of mission and the increase in technology comes words aimed at further muddying the waters until we get to a point where no one understands what is wanted and no one takes responsibility.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I see where you are coming from, Krijn and perhaps you make a valid point that the battle group commander no longer has much of a say in the defining of his mission, let alone the strategy that accompanies it.

In my day, a battle group commander would be given the mission within the context of the broad operational design. He then became responsible for determining his own strategy to tie in with the operational design. As such, he pretty much had a free hand in developing his strategy and would, once developed, present it to the theatre commander to ensure that it would compliment the theatre commander’s aims.

In developing the strategy, he was assisted by the IO who, during all planning phases represented the “enemy”.

That said, political involvement was negligible and the politicians kept their noses out of military affairs – to some extent. When they did interfere, everything went pear-shaped.

Nowadays, I note that the military attempt to implement a military strategy developed by politicians. And in that sense, you are correct – the strategy is dropped onto them and they are expected to implement it to the political advantage of the ruling party. Again, you are correct in that the military staff should start standing up for their rights and not always attempt to appease the politicians. But until we get there, there will always be a problem and the mission may just creep out the back door.

I cannot comment on the appointment of a Dutch diplomat as a commander…

I think you are realistic and not cynical.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Alan. It will be most interesting to see how all of this develops.

Rgds,

Eeben

Riaan said...

Checking back once again. I borrowed the book by Magnus Malan and 'Ops Medic' from a friend who also shares my interest, before buying. Ops Medic I would highly recommend but the book by Magnus Malan... Not so much.

simon said...

I was reading about the contributions of the Australian SAS in afghanistan and the abject idiocy of the Americans in trying to put these guys on the sidelines. Their protocol was to recce a position 7-10 days eyeballs on target or trafficway. They did so on an operation and the americans put their intell aside and went in and got IED'd to death.

Apparently the US spec ops would go in for two days max and have to get out. The US paid for their mistake and caused things to go backwards as far as intell in that area goes.

The same thing happened in Vietnam. The Australians would often move and aggressively patrol in squad or platoon sized units and then have reinforcements come straightway instead of marching a battalion through the woods and getting shot to hell. Cutting off the nose to spite the face.

I think too much emphasis on shock and awe has been couter productive and prolonged the effort in afghanistan causing mission creep. Flexing and staring down instead of getting the job done right.

Btw, I have started to update my blog about Americans that served Honorably in Rhodesia. I will try to update it once a week. www.theagleswillgather.blogspot.com
(if thats OK EB. I welcome any input and correction from readers as its a project that should be of interest to military buffs of African wars )If not delete this part.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you very much, Private. I am indeed honoured.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks again for the feedback, Riaan. I had heard the same about Malan’s book but I did not mention it as I was concerned that my source may not have been entirely objective. I was also told that Ops Medic was a good read so I am pleased that you are checking these things out before buying.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Good to have you back again, Simon.

The Aussies have always had a good reputation in the field of military actions. Strange what happened. But, when a force is a “junior partner” in a coalition, it is usually the senior partner that calls the shots. However, what you describe is indeed not very smart.

Shock and awe has its role to play in a conventional conflict but I think it is misplaced in a COIN conflict – unless of course one can target it so accurately that the insurgent forces are destroyed almost before they can fire a shot. But that is highly unlikely.

I am pleased you are revisiting your blog. I will definitely visit it when I get back home and I am sure some of our visitors would love to read your assessments on the subject.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

If you believe I am a usurper, that is what you believe, Private. We all need to live with our demons and work at getting them under control.

I am not recruiting anyone at the moment and will probably not be doing so for some time to come. I understand your comment about being “ennobled”.

At the moment, I am out-of-country and not able to call anyone except home. Rules are rules and I too must abode by them.

The day will come when we talk and I have your number.

Good luck.

Rgds,

Eeben

Fabio Di Caro said...

Ciao Eeben,having moved around in the political scene for a while including the actual one here where I now live;temporarily;I've realized that mission creep is just like any other virus that gets set free when things are moving in the correct direction,moving in the correct direction means terminating a situation in a determined amount of time using a limited amount of resources whether human or mechanical makes no difference,that is when mission creep is let loose to operate and destabilize balances with uncorrect and even fake intelligence work and believe me in this country this is the name of the main game that is why I was courteously asked to move out of the ranks.I would however apreciate hearing from you,next year sometime I'll be back in ZA and sincerely I would like to make your aquaintance,you have been,you are and will be one of the important men of South Africa,I lost more than a friend during the border war,I am in debt with my friends.Reply to my name or part of it on your blog,even if you do not publish at least I know you've read it.Cheers broer.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I only arrive back home very late last night, Private. Having been somewhere where it was cold, it was great to wake up to early morning sunshine and know that I won’t be cold today.

I understand the loneliness part of being a soldier. When you feel that way, drop me a line.

With the rain we have been having, it is green and no longer so dusty and drab.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I suspect that mission creep is the result of poor planning based on exceptionally poor intelligence work, Fabio. But sadly, like death and taxes, mission creep will be with us until people actually do their jobs properly.

Let me know when you return to SA. It will be a pleasure to meet you.

Rgds,

Eeben

Riaan said...

You're absolutely right about reviews being objective. Especially these handling subjects which include politics mixed with military actions. Last thing I have to say, hoping a few people read this and it sinks in deeply, just because a book classified as an autobiography, it doesn't mean the author is faithful and not lying. Research should always be done.

Thanks Eeben, you have a great thing going here.

Your devoted reader,

Riaan.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Perhaps I mistakenly made you believe that all book reviews are objective, Riaan. Certain reviewers come agenda-laden with the aim of trying to prevent people from buying a specific book. This negates them from being objective and they enter the realm of highly subjective.

I agree with you that autobiographies can be misleading, but, as far as my effort is concerned, I can back up everything I wrote with documentation, covert videos/audio and so-called “Secret” SADF intelligence reports. I am still waiting for the SADF to sue me for making classified lies public.

Rgds,

Eeben

Riaan said...

Not at all, that was not the impression created. I apologize for any misunderstanding. I concede as I have from the beginning, objective reviews are increasingly hard to find as you have stated. I have met a fair amount of people who regard themselves 'professional' especially in the field of journalism, and through my experience with them, I turned away from such a career. I have not had firsthand encounters with the disinformation you have been plagued with, but what turned me was blatant arrogance. Mind, not all are of such caliber and as with all things there are degrees - but I can comprehend your distaste.

It was never my intension to discredit your book. It's a gold mine of information and definitely striking. Not that I am in any way qualified to give an opinion, but I have never doubted the veracity of your work.

The amount of respect I have for you is profuse considering what you've been through and how you've stayed righteous throughout your adversities.

Fascinating how keenly a person feels acquainted with someone after they've read his or her work. This has probably produced both pleasant and unpleasant encounters for you?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think that when it comes to reporting, some journalists/reviewers cannot spell the word “objective”, Riaan, let alone apply it. Sadly this unethical minority taints the entire journalistic profession – and will continue to do so. Of course, there are excellent journalists who work really hard but their hard work is undone by these pitiful, baggage-ridden posers.

While trying to find you another source of SA books, I came across the following: http://30degreessouth.co.za/index.php?nav=category&view=1 I think you may find additional books there of interest.

I must admit that I have met with some incredibly nice people since writing my book. I also think people have come to realise who they were misled over EO and now people want to know what actually happened. Of course, there will always be those that want us all to be living in an ideal world – and they, an absolute minority, were not too happy about the book.

Rgds,

Eeben

wesley said...

great blog. i couldn't agree with you more that mission creep is a result of poorly developed strategy. i also think that the amount of COIN a military is inversely proportional to the failure or success of your strategy.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks – and welcome to the blog, Wesley.

I agree with you on mission creep and COIN. As you know, there is an old saying that says ”A conventionally trained soldier can fight an unconventional war (COIN) but an unconventionally trained soldier will have problems in a conventional war”. I fully support that argument.

Rgds,

Eeben