About Me

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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. 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, April 26, 2009

THE COMING BATTLE FOR AFRICA

Living in South Africa, I watch with morbid fascination at how the US and China are racing to recapture Africa – the US with AFRICOM and China with business development and investment. Africa, despite its many problems, is increasingly becoming of more strategic interest and importance to both the US and China.

Whereas the approaches these two nations are following differ vastly, their ultimate aim is the same: control over Africa’s strategic resources – especially oil reserves.

The U.S Africa Command (AFRICOM), established in October 2007, is described as being a Unified Combatant Command of the US Department of Defence and is responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations. This overtly aggressive entrance into Africa has been criticised by many African governments.

The Chinese on the other hand are following a much more passive approach with business development and investment. This approach, too, has been subject to much criticism as some view it as the Chinese colonisation of Africa. Several African governments reject this allegation, claiming that the Chinese have never betrayed or destabilised African countries as the US has – and African governments have long memories.

Additionally, many African governments feel that the Chinese have been open about their desires: control over and exploitation of resources for the ever-hungry Chinese economy. On the other hand, the US is using the route of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) as their entrance key into Africa but underlying this is the need to control Africa’s oil.

To achieve this, the US African Crisis Response Initiative (ACRI) was transformed into a new programme called the African Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA). ACOTA’s aim is to “train military trainers and equip African national militaries to conduct peace support operations and humanitarian relief”. To achieve this, ACOTA is contracting US PMCs, some with little or no knowledge of Africa. This, in turn, is going to cause the US more problems in the long run than solutions or influence. But this approach is seen by others to attempt to detract from the US’s plans to militarise their foreign policy.

The Chinese, on the other hand, have financialised their foreign policy with regard to Africa. This includes the identification, procurement and exploitation of resources and strategic commodities. Included in this financial-driven foreign policy are massive credit lines, infrastructure development, export-development and so forth. The latest Chinese export to Africa is the massive Chinese weapons market.

As the war in Iraq winds down, more US PMCs are vying for a stake in ACOTA/AFRICOM. Whereas there is nothing wrong with such a shift in business development, the problem arises when some of these PMCs have no knowledge or experience of the continent. To illustrate this point, I mention some questions I have recently received from US PMCs:

1. Can I help them find someone who speaks “African”? Africa does not have a common language but literally hundreds of languages and dialects.
2. Can I introduce them to someone who has a licence to “carry and use arms” in Africa as they would like to “piggy-back” on such a licence? Africa is a continent with many countries, each with their own laws and regulations – there is no common licence to carry arms.
3. Can I suggest some “good” Third-Country nationals they can use in Africa? We who live in Africa take exception to being referred to as third-world nationals on our own continent…

Whereas questions such as these are very serious cause for concern, they also illustrate a complete lack of even basic geographical and linguistic knowledge of Africa. Furthermore, this is akin to a company with no engineering background or skills tendering for a massive engineering contract and then scrambling to find people who will carry out the contract if they are awarded it.

Whereas I understand something of business, I also understand something of Africa. It is PMCs such as these that will, more than likely, undermine the efficiency of African militaries as opposed to enhancing them. They will bring with them more chance of conflict than of peace and stability. Then of course, there is the concern that these PMCs will train African troops poorly – in case they ever have to face them on the battlefield.

These issues are not unknown to the Chinese who will, no doubt, exploit them to the hilt when the time comes. They suspect that AFRICOM and ACOTA will eventually create additional chaos and destabilisation and that this will give them free rein in Africa. Added to this volatile mix is the knowledge that the US military’s adventures in Africa have not been very successful.

Africa, however, ought to realise that it is the creator of many of its own problems and that these problems have given foreign governments an influence and power they ought never to have had.

But, whether we like it or not, the battle lines between the US and China have been drawn across the sand in Africa. We who live here must now just wait for the final battle for Africa to begin.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

THE PRIVATE MILITARY HERALD AND THE BLOODHOUND 1

My previous posting on the media and PMCs drew a lot of very interesting comments and suggestions by the visitors to the blog. It also elicited a couple of emails accusing me of “ranting and raving” against the media. It appears to me that some in the media don’t like being challenged about their agendas, lack of objectivity and sloppy research.

But there is some good news for PMCs. I found a site that is currently being developed and it seems to me that the Private Military Herald (www.privatemilitaryherald.com) will be an excellent place for PMCs/PSCs to air their views on a host of related topics and issues. Correctly used, it will also afford companies an opportunity to expose bad reporting, media agendas, and a lack of truth. I hope that PMCs and PSCs will use this tool to set their records straight and become a voice for those companies that work ethically and honourably. (I note that it even has an article from my blog on it).

I believe that this is a giant step forward in favour of PMCs/PSCs and I truly hope that they use the Private Military Herald (PMH) to the advantage of the industry.

So those who wish to take a read or make a meaningful contribution to the PMH, please go to www.privatemilitaryherald.com

Changing the subject: The latest generation Combat Vehicle Command-and-Control System is a newly-developed South African innovation aimed at allowing commanders of motorised and mechanised forces to keep real-time control over their numerous fighting- and support vehicles.

Developed by ComSpace and designated as “Bloodhound 1”, the system provides commanders with numerous advantages on the highly-mobile, modern battlefield:

1. Simplified manoeuvre of forces
2. Logistical resupply
3. Elimination of “friendly fire” incidents
4. Artillery fire support
5. Forward Artillery Observation
6. Close air support
7. Reinforcements
8. Logistical resupply
9. Medevac and so forth.

The Bloodhound 1 gives commanders a real-time location of where their IFVs, ICVs and other armoured vehicles may be and additionally allows the timely adjustment of tactics to terrain and enemy positions and weapon systems.

The Bloodhound 1 utilises state-of-the-art satellite tracking-and-display and the movement of reconnaissance, combat and logistical vehicles can be viewed from within the command vehicle from a ruggedized laptop computer.

The Bloodhound 1 will additionally allow commanders to correctly position their vehicles in terms of time-past-point (TPP) in order to prevent vehicles from closing up and presenting larger targets during on-road movement. Such targets are ideal ambush targets and can severely hamper any motorised and mechanised movement.

The Bloodhound 1 will, furthermore, prevent mobile units from being cut-off and destroyed piecemeal by the enemy.

All in all, I believe that the Bloodhound 1 will become a command-and-control system that will shape the future battlefield.

Anyone wanting more information on this system, please visit Peet at www.companis.co.za

Friday, April 10, 2009

THE MEDIA AND THE PMC

The Private Military Company (PMC) will always find itself under attack from certain segments of the media. Whereas some of the attacks will be focussed on the fact that an under-siege government dared to use a PMC to assist them - instead of another agenda-driven government’s armed forces - a large amount of the attacks will be launched simply to discredit the PMC. But sadly, some of the media reports will be justified.

The fact of the matter is that some journalists are unable to cope with their responsibility of informing the public on what is happening. Instead, they prefer to focus on misinforming the public and thereby boost their own fragile egos. Fortunately, these journalists are in the minority but they taint everyone’s view of the PMC, regardless if it is deserved or not. Their actions overshadow those of the hard-working, ethical reporters of news. Furthermore, as they are quite prepared to accept money to write their false reports, they are the true mercenaries of the world.

From my own experience with a segment of the media that made it their mission to falsely discredit Executive Outcomes and myself on behalf of other paymasters, I discovered that to these “journalists” false reporting was, in essence, what gave them their raison d’ĂȘtre. Astonishingly, some were so-called intellectuals who wrote opinion pieces for which they were paid handsomely. In my mind, that constitutes fraud to the extreme.

Reading comments such as an “ex-apartheid soldier” or “ex-EO operative” or “ex-soldier” or “ex-policeman” simply entrenches my belief that some journalists cannot report objectively on matters that are of public interest. Yet, for some strange reason, they do not refer to “ex-Bush soldiers” or “ex-Blair” soldiers. Could this be part of their hypocritical make-up as far as South Africa is concerned?

These are the very people that give the media its bad name – something the hard-working, honest and ethical journalists ought to take action on – and take responsibility for. If not, the media will continue its slide into subjective reporting and promotion of agendas.

This does, however, not exonerate the PMC from any blame or make the PMC’s efforts any easier. These types of companies will always come under attack by misguided and irresponsible journalists and it remains the duty of the companies to keep their noses clean. But it remains a problem when journalists use insinuations and innuendo in their reporting – these grey areas are almost impossible to counter or even defend.

It is also the responsibility of the PMCs to ensure that the industry cleans up its act and gets rid of the wannabe-Rambos and their irresponsible actions. The military and law enforcement contracting industry has no place for ill-disciplined, alcohol and steroid-fuelled, untrained, disrespectful and poorly led men wearing too tight T-shirts and dark glasses. It is time that PMCs realise that they are guests in the contracting country and ought to behave in accordance to the laws of that country where they may be working. These companies should furthermore realise that the conduct of one can influence the entire company and even jeopardise a contract.

But, just like death and taxes, the media and the PMCs are here to stay. Both the media and these companies ought to accept that fact.

Whereas the relationship between the media and the PMC will always be a rocky one, there are some things that the PMC can do to smooth the road or at least ensure that it gets a fair press.

1. Appoint a designated media spokesperson who understands the media
2. Do not let other employees speak to the media
3. Find and work with ethical, responsible journalists – they do exist
4. When journalists colour their reporting with insinuations and innuendo, make every effort to determine who is paying them to do this – and expose them publicly – even if they are working for an intelligence service
5. Be pre-emptive with press releases
6. Do not employ people who will cause embarrassment to the company and whose past actions will continue to be used against the company
7. Strictly vet every employee, prior to employing him/her
8. Be as transparent as possible without divulging any client-sensitive information
9. When the media gets it wrong, make every effort to rectify the false perceptions that may be caused
10. Don’t lie or try to white-wash over serious events
11. Make sure all press releases are distributed to all media outlets
12. Do not give unnecessary interviews
13. When giving interviews, refrain from boasting
14. Be prepared for every interview – know as much as you can about the journalist who is about to interview you – even those things he/she does not want anyone to know about
15. Stick to the facts.

But, many of the “stories” fed to the media originate from within the intelligence services. It would serve the PMCs well to develop their contacts within the intelligence services to determine planned agendas and disinformation operations against them – and then to act pre-emptively. If necessary, these players within the intelligence services should also be exposed publicly. Whereas there exists an official secrets act in all nations, the acts are to safeguard the secrets of the state and not hide the nefarious actions of some of its members.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A (VERY) BRIEF LOOK AT PHYSICAL SECURITY

In a world where unemployment is on the rise, financial institutions are in melt-down and an ever-decreasing ability of law enforcement agencies to curb crime, it is obvious that crime will escalate. Coupled to these contributors to crime are marches, protests and riots that use a mass of normally law-abiding citizens as a cover to establish a base for anarchy to flourish. The recent actions witnessed at the G20 and NATO meetings reflect this growing problem. This, in turn, creates a viable base for terrorist actions to be implemented.

Physical security is usually defined as the protection of buildings, personnel, hardware, programmes, networks, other assets and data from violent and non-violent physical actions that can cause loss (of life) or damage to a facility, company, enterprise, agency or an institution. Such violent and non-violent actions include pilfering, theft, burglary, sabotage, fire, vandalism and terrorism. But, breaching the physical security of a building or facility in order to carry out acts such as smuggling contraband, planting of false evidence, laying a bomb and so on create additional challenges to physical security.

It is in this world of growing lawlessness that Private Security Companies (PSCs) that specialise in Physical Security can play a very important role. What can be somewhat disconcerting is that there are PSCs who have no knowledge of - or experience in – providing a professional physical security service and instead rely on exploiting a potential client’s concerns.

The aim of physical security is to protect the client’s (a person, company, institution and so on) home, vehicles, buildings, offices, facilities or such like against violent and non-violent actions, including additional activities such as industrial espionage.

Unfortunately, there are those that view physical security as an irritation that needs to be implemented in order to simply “go through the motions”. Even more unfortunate is the fact that some PSCs view physical security as simply “guarding” – and the cheaper the guards, the more profit the PSC accrues.

Physical security is much like a military defensive position where every effort is made to prevent a breach into the defensive area. This requires detailed planning and is not simply a matter of guards, gates and locks, although these assets do play an invaluable role.

Developing a physical security plan for a client requires the PSC to look beyond the box and not only focus on the obvious. This can include breaking down the potential target into three distinct yet interrelated areas, all mutually-supporting, and include the:

· Area of Responsibility
· Area of Influence
· Area of Interest.

The Area of Responsibility requires the setting up of obstacles to hamper/deny and prevent any attacker from physically breaching the facility or system in order to carry out their attack. This hardening of the facility or site can include walls and electrified fences, gates and access control systems, multiple locks, restricted areas, computer programmes, trained static and roaming guards, fireproof safes, covert cameras with day/night abilities, alarms and so on.

The Area of Influence is the second line of defence of the facility or installation. This area is usually seen as covering any potential threats or access routes to the facility that lie beyond the perimeter and can include heat and motion detectors and sensors, lighting, dogs, intrusion detectors and alarms, low-light cameras, access monitoring on approaches to the facility or installation, roaming guards and so forth.

The Area of Interest lies beyond the facility or installation and requires monitoring by means of cameras or information gathering in order to provide prior warning of a pending attack.

Interlinked with this layered approach must be a method to swiftly apprehend attackers before they can succeed in their aims. This is usually done by means of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that can rapidly respond with the necessary means and force. This is another contribution a professional PSC can make to protect a client.

The aim of physical security is to both deter attackers and convince attackers that the likely threat of detection and apprehension exceeds the risk of even making the attack.

Hardening and securing a facility, home, building or area is expensive. But, if the physical security plan is professionally developed, the costs are well worth the effort. Not only does such a plan give peace of mind to the client, it adds to the overall safety and security of the work environment.