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.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NO POSTS FOR AT LEAST TWO WEEKS

I wish to advise all followers and visitors to my blog that I shall not be posting for at least two weeks. This is due to business commitments I need to fulfil which will prohibit me from any writing and posting.

As I shall be unavailable over the period 18 September 2009 to 1 October 2009, it will not be possible for me to respond to your comments, which I appreciate and value.

I also wish to ask if anyone has a specific subject/area of interest that they want my two-cents worth on, please let me know.

Upon my return, I shall post all comments that may have been received.

However, please do not stop visiting the blog and commenting.

Till then, everything of the best to you all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

UPDATE ON THE PUMA M26-15

When I recently got the opportunity to revisit the Puma and go on a test drive, I gladly accepted it. Apart from being very impressed with what I experienced, I also got a lot of new information on this very versatile vehicle.

The Puma offers a very viable and cost-effective alternative to the ageing Casspir and Mamba APC’s. Not only does the Puma offer mine/blast protection equal to that of the Mamba, it offers superior ballistic protection over both the Casspir and the Mamba.

The Puma M26 MPV is an evolutionary development of the Puma 4x2 MPV that is in service in Iraq where it proved its crew survivability during Improvised Explosive Device (IED) incidents.

As an MPV/MRAP, Puma is designed to carry a section of 8 plus a driver and vehicle commander (total of 10 occupants). The modular interior layout can, at additional costs, be changed to re-configure the vehicle for any one of the following roles:

1. Command and control vehicle
2. Tactical ambulance with one stretcher or four sitting patients plus first line/tactical medical equipment
3. A 6-seater tactical patrol vehicle
4. A tactical fire-support vehicle with 60mm mortar and 40mm AGL/heavy machinegun.


Some basic technical specifications on the Puma are as follows:

1. Crew: 10 (2+8)
2. Maximum Gross Vehicle Mass: 8 000 kg
3. Drive: Selectable 4x4
4. Steering wheel orientation: Right hand drive. Left Hand drive is available at no additional cost
5. Ballistic protection: 7,62 x 51mm NATO Ball and 5,56 x 45mm NATO Ball (B6+/ STANAG Level 1)
6. Mine protection: 8kg TNT anywhere under the vehicle and 10kg TNT under any wheel
7. Entrance doors: One rear plus two side doors in driver’s compartment
8. Roof hatches: 2 on the rear part of the roof. The hatch doors open to the outside of the roof and can be locked in the closed, vertical or horizontal positions
9. Gunner’s hatch: A round gunner’s hatch with optional 3600 cupola ring with (optional) NATO type fitting for a pintle mounted light (or medium) machine gun is fitted on the roof
10. Firing ports. A total of 11 firing ports are fitted in the hull
11. Radio fitments. Universal racks and fitments for two radios are fitted
12. Rifle brackets. Two OTT designed universal rifle brackets are fitted in the driver’s compartment
13. Wheels: Total of 5 (4 plus 1 spare)
14. Air conditioner. High capacity air conditioner is fitted as standard.

Armies who face the threat of IEDs and landmines on a daily basis or who find their vehicle movement under constant ambush will do well to consider the Puma.

Personally, I believe that this vehicle will make a massive impact on the battlefield and aid in troop-survivability.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON COUNTERING AN INSURGENCY (Part 2)

An insurgency is the result of an ideology that violently opposes a government’s policies with a vastly different politico-ideology set. That ideology will only grow stronger if the security forces act in a manner that alienates – or has the potential to alienate - the local population. This includes acting as “conquerors” towards the local population and/or offending their traditions and customs.

However, there is a fine balance between acting decisively in terms of military action and winning the “hearts and minds” of the local population. Too much focus on one action will simply weaken the other, especially when this focus is haphazard and uncoordinated. But, the adage that a COIN conflict requires a mere 20% input as opposed to an 80% political input can be misleading as the military operations are 100% operations aimed at locating and destroying the insurgents wherever they may be.

To succeed, COIN forces require an exceptionally high standard of leadership and combat discipline. Good intelligence leads to good planning. Gathering intelligence requires the maximum use of all intelligence sources including the deployment of aggressive reconnaissance teams who can call for the rapid deployment of assault troops/fire force elements. Leadership and purpose will provide the COIN forces with flexibility and also allow the application of deception measures. Good fire discipline will prevent unnecessary collateral damage amongst the local population. However, once the locals regard the security forces as part of the problem, the tipping point has been reached.

There are various scenarios at play during any counter insurgency campaign, but those scenarios are dependent on whether the insurgency is being fought in one’s own country or beyond one’s own borders. Also to consider is whether an outside force is used to assist an under-siege government in its fight against an insurgency. Additionally, the waters become more muddied when the insurgent is supported from a third- or even fourth-country than the one he is operating in. In the latter, cross-border pre-emptive strikes will be called for – but this requires accurate intelligence in order to conduct pin-point strikes.

The situation becomes even more complex when deploying into a country that contains several diverse ethnic or population groups, speaking different languages, with different customs and beliefs and who live by their own rules. The end result is that such fragmented societies are seldom, if ever, able to act as a unified nation. This can present the COIN force with the challenge of deciding which group it will support and how will it control the country once the insurgents have been defeated. Simply having “boots on the ground” will not necessarily lead to acceptance of the COIN force and legitimacy in the eyes of the different factions or groups.

Whereas the COIN forces may claim a “just cause” and legitimacy, it is the local population who will ultimately give that legitimacy and legitimacy is an essential requirement for success. But, it is the regional and international populations/communities that will restrict the COIN forces from often responding with the appropriate ruthlessness against the insurgent, subsequently bringing the legitimacy into question. In turn, a lack of ruthlessness will present the COIN forces as “weak” in the eyes of the local population. But, appropriate ruthlessness against anyone but the insurgent will be sure to intensify both operational and legitimacy problems as well as breed resentment from the locals. The end result is that both the security forces and the government will lose credibility with the local population. This in itself implies a doomed strategy.

Inappropriately equipped and poorly supported COIN forces will find themselves restricted to predictable and routine road-bound actions that will make them easy targets for insurgent fire and IEDs/landmines. Likewise, inadequately planned and prepared Civic Action Groups that are under-equipped, understaffed and under-financed will not be able to play the role they are supposed to play thus given the insurgent an additional advantage.

All civic action plans need to be coordinated with the operational plan to ensure focus of effort under a unified command. This can only be achieved by militarily driving insurgents out of an area and then developing/rebuilding the community in that area. Failure to do this will lead to failed development programmes and, additionally, create numerous power vacuums which the insurgent can and will exploit to his advantage. This advantage will give the insurgent continued initiative and prevent the COIN forces from gaining any momentum in their operations.

When politicians ignore the realities of the conflict they have committed troops to, a disaster is imminent. This lack of understanding will not only demoralise and weaken the COIN forces but will, additionally, give the insurgents a sense of victory.

Countries that want to get involved in a COIN conflict beyond their borders, regardless of how noble this may seem at the time, need to question whether such involvement will serve the interests of their National and Foreign Policy. They also need to carefully consider the political, economical, human and material fall-out that may result from such involvement. These considerations need to be juxtaposed with their strategic abilities and capabilities and carefully assessed. Failure to do so will seriously hamper the entire COIN effort and progress and make a believable and credible exit strategy even more problematic and difficult.

When COIN forces are committed, they need to be correctly equipped, provided with the necessary resources and the political and military will to see the conflict through to the end. As insurgencies tend to be protracted campaigns, there are no short-cuts to victory. Such misguided beliefs will lead to ultimate resistance to the campaign by the citizenry, whilst stimulating the drive of the insurgents.

From a military point-of, winning the insurgency may prove an easy task but ultimately, poor strategies, a lack of planning, poor coordination of effort, inadequate equipment, a shortage of resources, misguided political interference, poor leadership, a lack of flexibility, ineffective tactics and a misunderstanding of the insurgent and his ideology will give victory to the insurgent.

Coupled to a lack of credibility and resentment from the local population, the COIN forces may just as well pack their bags and head home.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

IS IT JUST ME?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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