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

Sunday, December 27, 2009

CAN PMCS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

It seems that the private military industry has become a prime target of negative media reporting and that many so-called “specialist journalists” have taken to writing (mainly negatively) about the PMCs that litter the industry.

Whereas one can certainly question the motives and agendas of these “specialists”, it is equally true that a lot of the negative reporting can be placed before the doors of the PMCs themselves. One reads of drunken parties, drug taking, wild shootings, ill discipline and more – can one then really blame the media for reporting on this type of hooliganism masquerading as professionals? I don’t think so.

Added to this is a complete inability of some of these PMCs to deliver the service they were contracted to deliver. However, when I refer to PMCs, I refer to professional, competent and experienced private military companies and not the host of “wannabes”, con-artists and clowns trying to masquerade as PMCs. But fortunately many of these “wannabes” are exposing themselves as nothing other than incompetent buffoons – and this includes some of the “big name” companies. Indeed, it seems as though many in the PowerPoint Brigade believe in the adage “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bull...”.

PMCs that act professionally and are more than just “briefcase” or “PowerPoint” companies can play a very important role in assisting governments engaged in conflicts. Furthermore, these PMCs can provide much needed protection and support to real humanitarian groups such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). In both Angola and Sierra Leone, EO helped the WFP get much needed supplies through to the locals although they were not willing to admit to that. When such organisations the lack moral fibre to admit that they received assistance from a private company that is something they have to live with.

The local population are the true victims of all of the conflicts we are witnessing today. Whether they are victims of excessive criminal activity, rebel actions or government retaliation against the rebels, or even the impotence of so-called peacekeepers, the fact is that much desperately needed aid is denied to them.

The role of the private sector in armed conflict is nothing new. Private contractors have been engaged in numerous wars in a variety of roles. Indeed, if one looks at the human agent, he/she is nothing other than a private contractor working for a government intelligence agency.

It is a fact of life that PMCs are here to stay. Instead of the constant barrage of articles aimed at vilifying PMCs, thought should rather be given to how PMCs can and ought to be used and what positive role they can play in resolving conflicts and in support of humanitarian operations.

The following are just some examples of the roles PMCs can play:

• In some instances, they can end conflicts faster and cheaper than some standing armies
• Establish a foundation for peacekeeping operations
• Project influence of the host government
• Act as an advance party to other forces
• Assist with insider knowledge of a country
• Project and ensure stability
• Safeguard foreign investments/assets in a conflict zone
• Provide protection to humanitarian groups
• Provide protection to the locals caught up in the conflict
• Provide support to the armed forces on and off the battlefield
• Assist governments with strategy and doctrine development
• Provide training in specialist fields
• Advice on tactics and deployments
• Intelligence gathering operations in high-risk areas
• Deniable operations
• Counter Terrorist operations
• Counter Piracy operations
• Countering crime and narco-terrorism
• Reconnaissance of targets
• Communications
• Logistical support
• Medical support
• Protection of national key points and so forth.

I am not in any way advocating that PMCs even try to take over the role of the Armed Forces. But, given the loss of experienced manpower that leave the military, the armed forces can find a ready pool of trained soldiers to assist and support them without maintaining a large standing force at massive cost to the taxpayers. But then, the taxpayers will expect the PMCs to act in a disciplined and professional manner and in no way bring embarrassment to their government.

There have been numerous arguments for and against this approach but when governments find themselves under siege and their calls for assistance fall on deaf ears, a dedicated and professional PMC can make the different between the survival of the government or its collapse.

40 comments:

matt said...

Outstanding list Eeben. Perhaps one day, the true potential of PMC's will be realized. As the world becomes more dangerous, resources become more scarce, and the world becomes more equalized by globalization, then maybe we might actually see more acceptance of the PMC's various uses?

One question I have is what are your thoughts on Max Weber's definition of the state? The one that states:

Max Weber said in Politics as a Vocation that a necessary condition for an entity to be a state is that it retains such a monopoly. His definition was that something is "a 'state' if and insofar as its administrative staff successfully upholds a claim on the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence in the enforcement of its order."

According to Weber, the state was to be the source of legitimacy for any use of violence: if the police and the military were its main instruments, this did not mean only public force could be used. Private forces (as in private security) could be used, but their legitimacy derived from the state.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monopoly_on_violence#Max_Weber.27s_theory

I know we discussed this before, but for the uninitiated reader, I thought it would be cool to bring it up again. This theory was also brought up in the CNAS report, and it is brought up in every intellectual argument regarding the PMC and it's various uses outside of the basic realm of private security.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe that there are many more roles PMCs can play if they get their act together, Matt. However, I am not sure this is something that will happen in the short term. My concern and question is what happens when China deploys its PMCs into Africa? Will we witness “Western PMCs” doing battle with “Eastern PMCs” in attempts to take and hold control over resources?

Yes, it is ALL about resources but with the West so caught up in Iraq/Afghanistan, I don’t see how the West will be able to secure its resources in Africa. I guess that is a discussion for another day.

I recall my studies in Politics way back (I am no political scientist!) and the discussions we had on the “state”. At that time, we essentially looked at how Machiavelli, Hobbs, Bodin and Hegel defined the “state”. However, I suspect that even today, there is no commonly accepted definition of the “state”. Ultimately, the definition was seen as a core concept that encompassed an association of people aimed at governing through a legally elected organisation within a particular territory. In essence, this gave the concept of state legal authority over the use of violence to protect itself and those it governed. To protect itself, this “thing” called the “state” could call on its legally constituted armed forces and law enforcement agencies to uphold its safety, security, territorial integrity and law and order. As such, the state holds the monopoly over violence towards aggressors that threaten it. In such an instance, it can call on the assistance of PMCs but I believe that when a nation is threatened due to a threat towards the state, most able-bodied men will rally around the flag as members of the armed forces.

The situation changes somewhat when the “state” wishes to either support its forces in the field or project influence in a method other than outright war. A government sanctioned PMC can be legally contracted to protect its government’s interests in a third country if the deployment of its armed forces will evoke feelings of being invaded.

When I look at the concept of a state in Africa, I view it as a group of people, elected to rule as a government within a defined territory and implementing a defined constitution. Whether or not we view that constitution as “good” or “bad” does not detract from the fact that that grouping of people govern those who reside in that territory. Now, when that group of people (the government) find themselves under siege or threat and their territorial integrity is being violated, it becomes their right to call on whatever forces they wish to assist them in negating any such threat.

If these calls for help have been rejected by other “states”, then it becomes their right to call on a PMC to assist them defeat the aggressor.

Did I just fall off the wagon?

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

I think you are completely on the wagon. lol Hell, I am right there with you.

You know, one of these days, I would like to see some Political Science professors or other similar academia come onto this blog and discuss such things. Max Webber and his theories are not sacred cows, and if sound, should be able to stand the test of scrutiny and debate.

I am just tired of the theories being used as a reason why we shouldn't have PMC's. It is ridiculous, and yet this very theory continues to find it's way into the fabric of some very important publications about PMC's and their uses. What are you guys afraid of?

You brought up the PMC versus PMC thing here.

"My concern and question is what happens when China deploys its PMCs into Africa? Will we witness “Western PMCs” doing battle with “Eastern PMCs” in attempts to take and hold control over resources?

Yes, it is ALL about resources but with the West so caught up in Iraq/Afghanistan, I don’t see how the West will be able to secure its resources in Africa. I guess that is a discussion for another day."

That is a topic worth it's weight in gold. Did EO ever find itself in this position? Because the PMC fighting the PMC thing is an incredibly interesting area of study. It was common way back when, but for that to resurface in modern times, is the stuff movies are made out of.

Matter of fact, even video games are simulating this very concept. MAG is one of them. I have also seen a surge of PMCs in movies too.

I also think it is great that you brought up the fact that EO protected WFP convoys in Sierra Leone and Angola. Ha! That is awesome and that little factoid needs to be paraded around. You know, David Isenberg has a blog at the Huffington Post now, and he could reach an entire audience of lefty liberal types that would crap nickels if they read that little tidbit. lol I would like to see what the WFP would have to say to such an article?

Thanks Eeben, and this is an excellent topic.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I do believe that a lot of the Political Science academia would take me to task re my definition of the “state” Matt, but that is how I view it, especially in Africa.

The many theories bandied about re the use of PMCs are far removed from reality. In fact, I think one also needs to look very closely at those who are so adamantly opposed to the use of PMCs. I know that several of those in SA who were so vehemently opposed to EO have been exposed as to what they really were/are. I also doubt whether anyone who is far removed from a country, has never visited it and has no real clue as to what is happening there is in any manner or form qualified to criticise what is happening there, especially if that criticism is aimed at altering public perceptions. I know of so-called intellectual geniuses who did not know the difference between Luanda and Rwanda yet they felt adequately equipped to write about the conflicts there.

I believe that a valid concern re PMCs is accountability. But, when operating on a contract to a government, the PMC is accountable to the government that contracted it. It is really as simple as that.

Although EO never had to fight another PMC, it had to fight rebels who masqueraded as “freedom fighters” but who were closer to being armed criminal gangs. But, in a small town in Northern Angola, the men shot quite a few Moroccan Special Forces guys, some Congolese army troops and similar types fighting alongside the rebels. I think this is what makes some of the areas unique in Africa in that the “rebels” are at times not a single force but a grouping of different criminals and thugs who wish to take over governments by violent actions. The LRA in Uganda are one such group of thugs who will stoop to the lowest possible levels to commit their atrocities against the locals – and when done, flee back into the DRC and under the protection of certain “agencies”, albeit that that protection is simply turning a blind eye.

The men of EO assisted several NGOs in Angola and Sierra Leone. Those who willingly accepted our assistance and protection never had the courage to admit it. It was much the same in Indonesia when EO rescued the hostages in Irian Jaya along with Kopassos. Initially heralded by everyone as a great operation by “western special forces”, the reporting quickly changed when it became known that EO did it. There are some things in life that simply cannot be negotiated and those who like to shout the loudest are usually the first to run or call for someone to rescue them. But that too is life.

But African government can be realists and often realise that a professional PMC can assist them with certain tasks. After all, if they make that choice, it is their choice and they need not apologise to anyone for asking for help.

Maybe we should one day look at doing an article about PMC vs PMC.

Rgds,

Eeben

greendemon said...

Hallo Eeben,

I would be very interested in hearing opinions and analyses of PMC vs PMC, especially in the "West vs East" context. Some points I'm wondering about:
- Do Asian corporations in Africa tend to outsource security work, or "DIY"?
- If outsourcing, is it to Asian PMCs or to Western PMCs? What role does cultural ties/influences/loyalties play in their choice?
- Proxy warfare via PMC between Competition between companies from various countries is common, and often the companies are sponsored and protected by both regular and clandestine forces of their "patrons". When the PMC takes over some of these protection functions, do they assume the same immunity as their patron's forces? - Does a PMC which is culturally strongly aligned with its patron country ever gain any benefits from effectively serving as its ambassador and representative?

All the best,
GD

matt said...

The modern PMC versus a modern PMC is a white paper that would cause some stir in the think tank community. RAND or Chatham, eat your heart out. And believe me, I have looked long and hard for any modern publications about the concept, and it just isn't out there.

Another white paper I would like to see is a serious treatment of the Letter of Marque and Reprisal and it's use in modern times. If countries caught on to the concept of the LoM, and everyone just backed out of the Declaration of Paris, then that would also add a very interesting element to the whole PMC thing. We could very well see an emergence of pre-Westphalia practices on the modern stage.

Fabio Di Caro said...

PMC's have allways made the difference,only recently have the networks concentrated on pulling the bull on them,regardless of their efforts and achievements,but then again we all know that newspapers concentrate on quantity not quality,if one of these companies fail a mission or cause civilian deaths or damages,all together in the pot for crappy headlines that guarantee top sales.Just a question Eeben,have you ever taken a drive to Pomfret,is somebody helping those guys there.God bless you brother,because in the brotherhood we trust,may 2010 be an extremely generous year for you.Ciao.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I shall attempt to give my views on this matter within the coming months, GreenDemon as I believe it is something that warrants a serious look at.

Whereas I admit to not being too sure of the answers to your questions, I shall ask around and see what answers I can get. I do suspect though that the Asian companies outsource some security work but I also think that they use their own people wherever possible.

But I think the time is nigh that Chinese companies will begin to use their own PMCs to protect their interests due to many reasons including those you mentioned.

As regards the immunity part of your question: I can only speak from my experience and that was as a contracted party to a government without a sponsor. In that instance, we fell under the legal system of the governments we worked for and had no general immunity. I believe that there are others out there who would be better placed to answer that part of your question. But in terms of benefits from their sponsor(s), there are numerous I can think of.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I will see what I can come up with, Matt. However, perhaps we should approach David Isenberg to take a look at this issue?

I know you have done a lot of work on your Letter of Marque topic on your blog, something I have certainly had a long, hard look at. You are correct that this issue needs to be revisited. The LoM combined with the PMC would certainly spark an interesting debate.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are correct that private companies and contractors have made a contribution, Fabio. In some instances, that contribution has been good and in some it has been questionable. The media do however like to generalise and when one PMC makes a hash of things, everyone is seen through the same lens.

Yes, I have visited Pomfret. It was a long time ago and heartbreaking to say the least. There are some good people who are working hard to bring some order into the disorder but truth be told, I have tried to help in a small way – help that was not readily received. So I changed my approach and tried to help those men gain some employment elsewhere.

I wish you a great year ahead as well.

Rgds,

Eeben

Monkey Spawn said...

The question is not whether PMCs can make a difference, but how the industry can convince governments and other constituents of the value of PMCs. We've seen proof of concept, we've seen successful mission completion and application in multiple roles (not just firepower), yet the industry continues to struggle with acceptance as a legitimate "tool".

Mercenary activity in Africa in the sixties and seventies didn't imbue confidence in private military activity. However, on a national level there is acceptance: the French use the Legion and the British and Singaporeans use Ghurkhas.

It's the notion of control that creates the fear and rejection. How the industry deals with this perception is the key to success.

Kaye said...

Another thoughtprovoking article and a good one to end 2009 on, Eeben.

Back in the 16th and 17th century, when the Netherlands were fighting to end Spanish hegemony and become independent, there was a saying: No Money, No Swiss. Our independence was won -among other things- by Swiss mercenary carré's. From what I remember the 'modern' army as seen by Von Clausewitz has only been around since halfway through the 19th century and has only late in the 20th and then mostly in the West become mainly professional, instead of manned by conscription. It seems to me that our collective memories, when viewing PMC's are quite short. Not very long ago they were the norm.
I think there is a connection between the Cold War navies disappearing from the high seas and the resurgence of piracy. There might also be a connection between the disappearance of Cold War armies and the resurgence of PMC's. Let's face it: a mercenary getting shot raises less political -read: electoral and someones' job- fallout then a regular soldier. And then there is off course the cost issue.

You mention accountibillity as a prime issue. But how does that relate to jurisdiction? State armies usually arrange MOU's with the government on who's soil they're operating. This means that the organic Provost/RMP/Marechaussee will handle affairs. Can a PMC get such a MOU? I can imagine applicants raising an eyebrow when they find out that they'll be operating under the jurisdiction of the government of Siera Leone or Southern Ossetia, to name a few. (Who is 'the law' in Southern Ossetia, by the way?)

One last thing: When you and other discussed Chinese PMC's my neck hairs reacted. Does the Chinese Communist Party allow such entrepeneurs? Or are these companies some sort of well armed Quango?

Kaye said...

Something else came to my mind. So another post from me.

Both you and Matt discussed the legitimacy of governments and how an elected representation related to that.
Call me cynical, but I have a different perspective on that. I've seen elections being protected by legitimate (our) force in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Afghanistan. None of those countries are functional democracies, though all have had 'elections.'

During WWII, Hitler was an elected head of state, so was Mussolini. Churchill and Stalin weren't and Truman wasn't elected, he inherited his position. Never mind DeGaulle.

I think this goes to show that elections and democracy do not have to come together. No one in his right mind will challenge the legality of the government of the UK during that time, or that of Trumans administration. Just as the democratic state of Stalin's; Hitler's and Mussolini's governments. I still don't know about DeGaulle, though.

I think a lot of prospective clients will have debatable democratic qualities. If you want to work in that market you have to be willing to deal with that.

So in short, in my view Democracy does not equal elections and none of those need to have influence on the souvereignty of the nation. Whoever is in power will have to be dealt with. I think it is one of the Wests great weaknesses that we seem to want to have witnessed the theatre of elections before we're willing to deal with who comes into power. Karzai's a nice example...

Lord Vito 9 said...

Good evening Mr Barlow
Another excellent article,i found very interesting and enlightening.Having been a fan of this blog,i typed your name into wikipedia.org and read the page.I wonder if you have done that,and if so is it accurate and balanced? I also searched EO into wikipedia and found it appallingly biased,which disgusted me,but reminded me to always question my sources!.

You have mentioned before that there are "groups" that masquerade as legitimate pmcs,when in practice they are otherwise.What can be done,if anything can be done,to limit or stop this?

And a final point-i greatly enjoy this blog,and was wondering if you recommend any blogs that you enjoy?

Thank you for your time,and may god bless you and your family.

Lordvito9

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are quite correct, Monkey Spawn. I too have been saying that a lot of the negativity surrounding PMCs can be traced to their own doorsteps. More than anything, it is this lack of professionalism that leads to questions re accountability and acceptance.

Many governments are already convinced of their value and are employing them to support their armed forces in the field in a host of different roles. It has even been said that if the PMCs are withdrawn from Iraq/Afghanistan, the Coalition Forces will fall down hard.

The mercenary forces of the 60s and 70s led to huge controversy despite many of them actually doing some good. But at that time, they were not organised as they are today. At national level, mercenaries are accepted into foreign armies and will continue to be accepted. However, they need to accept the discipline and control of their hosts. This is where many PMCs fall down as their actions show they are not able to project themselves as professional, responsible and accountable.

Control, or the lack thereof, is as you alluded to something that causes obvious concern. But again, I maintain that PMCs ought to act professionally and by doing so, they will police themselves and weed out the riff-raff.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You raise a very valid and interesting point re the role of private armies in days-gone-by, Kaye. We do have short memories, especially when it suits us. Many people tend to forget that private armies enriched many nations and won their freedom.

The end of the Cold War certainly heralded the arrival of PMCs. A long time ago I said that the vacuum created by the collapse of the Cold War allowed conflict that was simmering to boil over – especially in Africa. It was in these conflicts that erupted that EO came to the fore, despite the fact that it was operating under the radar long before that. However, with these conflicts came “failed states” as they no longer had a sponsor to prop them up. As you know, these failed states became perfect breeding grounds for crimes including narco-terrorism, terrorism and piracy. But, as long as we dilly-dally around these issues, the bad guys get entrenched, stronger and gain more influence eventually adding a sense of legitimacy to their actions. These are issues that cannot be “negotiated” away or tackled with the human rights of the bad guys getting preference.

I disagree somewhat with your comment re state armies getting an MOU before operating on the soil of another country. I doubt that the forces that went into Iraq and Afghanistan had such agreements in place? But, I also suppose that one can at times raise the question “who is in charge/the law?” To us in EO it was very simple: We were subject to the jurisdiction of those countries we worked in and whose governments were internationally recognised. They contracted us and we had to abide by their laws. Those who chose not to do so and were caught were given their just rewards by either EO or the government where we were operating. Again, it also comes down to PMCs policing their own.

I think the Chinese are realists and will do whatever needs doing to protect their interests in Africa and elsewhere. There are already rumours of a Chinese PMC being established.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Another interesting point, Kaye.

I think that we have put the term “democracy” in jeopardy by trying to enforce it upon groups of people to whom it is a foreign concept and even at times, culturally unacceptable. To those people, attempting to bomb them into democracy causes more harm than good. But when we have tried this and forced elections on them, we witness election fraud, pre-election intimidation, election violence and so forth in order to create an appearance of free elections. The end result is a government that has no credibility with its own people and this in itself leads to resentment and a desire to replace it with something else.

But simply because two states proclaim to be democratic does not remove any potential animosity between them. Also, because a state does not adhere to what we perceive to be democratic values and principles, does not make them unable to govern. However, EO/my philosophy was that if a government was recognised by the international community, then it had the necessary legitimacy to rule and take whatever actions it required necessary to quell rebel or terrorist forces. If they are doing so for the good of the people they govern, then we would assist them.

The West has at times a strange way of viewing and dealing with these issues. At the end of the day, it all revolves around national interests and how those governments can be exploited to advance another’s national interest. Hence we find governments that are totally undemocratic yet accepted albeit at times covertly.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Lord Vito 9. I wish the same to you and yours.

Yes, I have been referred to Wikipedia and have found quite a lot of nonsense on it. Some of my friends have tried to add corrections but have not been very successful. That type of thing used to bother me but I no longer have the time to get mad at it as those who wish to talk to me do so, regardless of what Wikipedia has to say. I agree: one should always question one’s sources.

There are several followers of this blog who have their own blogs. I often log onto them and read them as I find several of them very good and interesting. Unfortunately though, I don’t always have time to comment on them but you will find some excellent postings on their blogs.

Rgds,

Eeben

jlrmotoring said...

I Mr.Barlow iam a Portuguese born in Angola in 1970 my femaly like so many others left AFRICA because of the war my question is is there any HOPE for AFRICA ?

BEST REGARDS

J.C.ROSA

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I know of and have met so many Portuguese families who left Africa and especially Angola during many of its turbulent times, JC Rosa.

Despite all of its problems, I am still optimistic for Africa, and will probably die being hopeful for Africa. Angola is now booming and has a thriving economy. When I last visited Angola some time ago, it was a different Angola I saw when we went there as EO. There is still work to be done but I suspect that the government is doing as much as it can to restore the country to its rightful place in Africa. I do not for one moment regret the role EO played in helping to achieve an end to the war there.

Many other examples in Africa are coming to the fore, not necessarily through media coverage but by what they are trying to do. As I am very fortunate to speak to many leaders/senior army officers in Africa, I am detecting a common thread of wanting to make Africa succeed. If I can play a small role in helping to achieve some success somewhere, I will do so.

Africa’s curse is sadly its richness in resources. This opens it up to conflict and subsequently political and economical manipulation/blackmail. But, I suspect that within time we will start seeing a shift. So, to answer your question: I have hope for Africa.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

CAN PMCS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

CAN POLITICS MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

CAN RELIGION MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

Knowing how you feel about religion and politics let me make this observation all three have a common thread... within these three groups there exists moral and ethical groups however all three have been compromised by a small yet influintional group of radicals up to until they are exposed for who they are no progress can be made...and yes I hold the so called "media"responsible for not exposing them.

medical said...

Yes, PMCs WILL make a difference! Once word of their effectiveness spreads, the troubles will cease. After working with a PMC (among other military units) for many years, I've witnessed what a few ultra-well trained soldiers are capable of. This five video series shows my former base of operations and my first commander, Mitchell WerBell III, one of the finest and most capable individuals who ever lived. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrtrmeITQNk&feature=PlayList&p=597E6C6083F5E146&index=0&playnext=1

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A very true observation, Robby. Sadly, those who compromise the groups will continue to do so until they are exposed. Whereas the media can play a role in this, we ought to also accept some responsibility in exposing them. I have been calling on Matt and Jake to start a “Wall of Shame” on their blogs as they give good coverage to these issues, especially where PMCs are involved.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Medical, thank you for your comment but due to some political undertones, I have decided not to place it. However, I take note of your comment and can understand your feelings. I do however think your daughter was wise beyond her years.

Many of us realise and will never forget the betrayal by the West but we also need to knuckle down and get on with making the best of what we can.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Medical – a most interesting piece of history especially as I have read a lot about Mitch WerBell III and his approach to warfare. I think you must feel very proud to have worked alongside someone as effective as he was.

I agree that PMCs will make a difference and those that prove to be effective will discover how much needed their services can be.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Eeben,

I was curious. What direction would you like to see this industry go? Or better yet, where do you see this industry going? Do you think we will see more usage of PMC's in world conflicts? Do you see a day where a company would operate like EO operated in it's hey day, in the future? -matt

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

He certainly sounds like an interesting fellow, Robby. Thanks for the info...

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That’s a tricky question to answer, Matt. I suppose many of us view this entire subject with a large amount of subjectivity.

I would like to see the industry clean up its act, start taking responsibility for its actions, earn their contracts and not be handed them on a silver platter simply because some senior person in the company or allied to it is able to send a contract their way, live up to their undertakings and fulfil their contracts with honour, expose the imposter PMCs and those that bring dishonour on the industry and start showing that they have a very definite role to play in conflicts and conflict resolution.

I think a company that operates as EO did can also play a major role in numerous different types of operations, especially where a sponsor does not wish to get involved directly with its armed forces. Here I think specifically of COIN ops, counter-narcotics ops, counter-terrorism, covert/deniable operations, counter-piracy and so forth. But, such a company will need to operate with the full, albeit covert sanction, of its sponsor.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Update...

US judge dismisses all charges against Blackwater guards involved in deadly Baghdad shooting

WASHINGTON — A U.S. judge has dismissed all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards charged in a deadly Baghdad shooting.

U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina said Thursday the Justice Department overstepped its bounds and wrongly used evidence it was not allowed to see. He said the government's explanations have been contradictory and unbelievable.

Blackwater contractors were hired to guard State Department diplomats in Iraq. Prosecutors say the guards fired on unarmed civilians in a busy intersection in 2007, killing innocent people.

After the shooting, the guards gave statements to State Department investigators. Prosecutors were not allowed to use those statements in the case.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jQe3dmXSkh_-5_KWq-yy8Cwgl0qQ

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for the update and link, Robby.

Rgds,

Eeben

Fabio Di Caro said...

Hopefully one day I'll be able to meet you,maybe I'll be over to ZA for the world cup , just maybe , as far as I'm concerned you should let us know your in deep ideas for future envolvements , hell I refuse to give up like this , I saw the black people of ZA protesting against the actual situation , I believe they are asking for help just like all the others

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sure we will meet one day, Fabio.

As far as the future goes – who knows what lies ahead of us? We are living in turbulent times and I believe we must, where possible, do what we can to save our continent. I get comments from visitors who express their thoughts very openly and although I can understand where they are coming from, I perhaps view things differently.

What I do know is that when governments ask me for help, I will give it gladly.

Rgds,

Eeben

Fabio Di Caro said...

You'll never walk alone , of this I can assure you , keep strong , healthy and tough my friend , the winds of change are blowing in all directions and God willing ,somehow , someday we'll become part of these winds giving them enough strength to blow away all the debris that this negative capitalism has deposited on our beloved soil.Just for interest , my site is http://www.highpowerenterprises.eu , nothing compared to E.O. obviously , but enough for me to keep up my soul alive in awaitance of a miraculous happening. Kind regards Eeben , all the best for this 2010 for you and your family.Ciao.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Fabio. I really am positive about Africa and I think that one day, we (all of us) will take responsibility for our continent and all its resources. Till then, we just have to keep working at it.

I like your site – there is nothing wrong with it. I suppose like all of these things we do, it remains a “work-in-progress”. Just keep at it and remember, that everything happens at the right time.

Thank you for your wishes and a great and prosperous New Year to you and your family as well.

Rgds,

Eeben

Kaye said...

A question concerning this blog entry arose to me. It is about the Haiti situation.
The US recently decided to increase the number of men they deploy to the island. Because they need more coverage and increased security for their logistical and medical units in place.

I wonder; can PMC's ever deploy enough men and equipment to make a dent in both OOTW and in combat / security missions? Or do they run the risk of being a drop on a glowing plate? How many men did you deploy and how did you make sure you still got results? I know you had good men, but what if a PMC cannot tap from sources like SA airborne and RLI like units?

andreea zugravu said...

Mr. Eeben,

I couldn't help noticing that the list you compiled about the roles PMCs can play does not include nation-building activities. What is your opinion on that? Are these softer skills something PMCs can do? If so, should they?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A good question, Kaye but I think most true PMCs will avoid trying to enter the zone of humanitarian operations as they are simply not trained and equipped to deal with these situations in a correct manner. When it comes to securing such operations, I believe PMCs can make a difference on that issue. But, given the amount of PMCs that have tried to access Haiti, it may also lead to some problems in terms of command and control.

I think we have seen many PMCs who simply play the numbers game without considering the quality of men they recruit. This has led to a lot of negative publicity for the industry.

EO deployed just over 500 men in Angola and 250 in Sierra Leone. In Angola, EO made up a small combat team that was integrated into the FAA’s 16 Bde. The remainder of the men were involved in training and support tasks. In Sierra Leone, the majority of men became involved in hunting the RUF. Training, discipline and good command and control can play a decisive role in success. The results EO achieved in these two countries shows that a PMC can make a huge difference.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Usually, if a PMC involves itself in such a mission, it will form part of a Joint Humanitarian Command, Andreea. But in such an instance, it will be called upon to liaise with several non-military entities and will then be more in a supporting role, if anything.

I suppose PMCs can make a contribution in such roles but I do not see them playing a lead role. But, I am sure that if co-opted to such a command, they can make a contribution on the security side of things.

Rgds,

Eeben

Wesley-Mark Jonsson said...

Hi Mr Barlow,

I am interested in becoming involved in the PMC Industry and was hoping you could provide guidance and assistance in this regard.

I do not have any military or law enforcement training. I am however studying an MBA at Wits and have Project Management experience (5 years) with an Industrial Engineering B Tech Degree.

I am considering doing an PDM in Security Management and possibly a Masters in Security Management to obtain a relevant qualification in order to gain entry into the Industry.

Is there anything else that I should obtain in order to make me more eligible for the Industry? What would you recommend for me to do to take this further?

Your assistance will greatly be appreciated

Regards
Wesley-Mark Jonsson

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Wesley-Mark, unfortunately, there is no quick way into a professional company. You will need, at a very minimum, either law enforcement or military experience. However, doing your Masters in Security Management may open the doors into academia for you. From there you can possible enter the market as an advisor to governments.
All of our employees went the route of either military or police.
Rgds,
Eeben