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, 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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A BLESSED FESTIVE SEASON TO ALL

I would like to wish all followers and visitors to my blog a very blessed Christmas season. To those who do not celebrate Christmas for whatever reason, I wish you a peaceful festive period. To those serving in troubled areas, and to those who are trapped in the numerous conflicts around the world, I hope that you will know peace during these times and be kept safe.

My sincere thanks to everyone that contributed to this blog throughout the year. Your comments have been highly valued and have allowed me to broaden my own knowledge base. I have also been able to get to know some very good people through this blog, something I am very grateful for.

To all of those who have written letters of encouragement re this blog – my thanks to you. To those who write “private” mails to me, I hope that you will be able to get rid of the ghosts that haunt your lives.

Finally, I would also like to wish each and every one of you a great 2010. May the coming year be filled with good health, happiness and safety.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A DISCUSSION ON THE PRIVATISATION OF WAR AT DE BALIE

I was recently invited to partake in a discussion on the Privatisation of War at De Balie in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This discussion was the culmination of a series of talks on the battlefield that had been held at De Balie.

Prior to my departure, I was warned by several people to be wary of such a discussion. I must admit that my own thoughts on the matter also warned me that I was about to walk into an “ambush”. But, having done my appreciation of the situation, I packed my bags and duly flew out of Johannesburg to Amsterdam.

The day I left South Africa, temperatures at my home were in the mid-30 degrees Celsius and it was raining. When I arrived in Amsterdam, it was 2 degrees C – and it was raining.

I had hardly checked into the hotel when Jacob Derkx of De Balie arrived and the rest of my day was taken with media interviews. I must admit that the end result of these interviews was pleasantly surprising. I was even more surprised to be met on the street by strangers who wanted to shake my hand and congratulate me on the work EO did.

Jake Allen who runs the very popular The Combat Operator (http://combatoperator.com) and Private Military Herald (www.privatemilitaryherald.com) arrived the following day to meet me and we had a good time together. Not only was it great to finally Jake in person, we also had time to cover some important ground of mutual interest. Sadly though, it was very limited time but I am extremely grateful to Jake for making the trip from Norway just to meet and talk to me.

The discussion at De Balie, chaired by a very professional and competent Wilbur Perlot (the entire series of talks was also his brainchild) was indeed refreshing and fun. Not only was there a genuine desire to learn about Executive Outcomes and its work as a PMC but it was, in my opinion, very objectively handled. The audience was equally interested in the role of the PMC in support of operations and many very good and relevant questions were put to me. This was followed by a panel discussion which included Prof Avril Mcdonald who lectures on International Humanitarian Law and Dutch journalist Arnold Karskens, a war reporter.

Prof Mcdonald gave some extremely valuable input into the role of PMCs and she is of the belief that PMCs are here to stay but that there needs to be accountability – something I fully agree with.



Later, mingling with the audience, I was struck at just how very interested everyone was in EO and the work the men of that company did. This was confirmed by Adrian Miskelly, the creative director of Plug Creative (www.plugcreative.co.uk) who had flown in from the UK to film the discussion.

Wilbur then took me to The Hague where I addressed an audience of the Dutch Foreign Ministry and members of the Defence Ministry. Also in attendance was a journalist who had written his fair share of misinformation on both me and EO. His question was aimed at determining the “secret shareholding link” EO apparently had with multi-nationals – it appears that no time and effort will be spared at proving a lie to be fact. But, Dr Roel van der Veen who chaired this discussion was likewise professional and objective and there was great interest from the real audience in EO’s work in Africa and some very relevant questions were put to me on EO, PMCs and Africa. (By the way, Roel has written a contemporary history book on Africa titled: “What went wrong with Africa” and he gave me a signed copy of his work).

I left The Netherlands with the realisation that De Balie is certainly on the cutting-edge when it comes to discussing PMCs and their role on the modern battlefield. I commend Wilbur and his team and thank them for the opportunity to give my views on this highly controversial subject. They were very professional in their actions and treated me incredibly well during my brief visit.

Whereas it will be impossible to thank everyone by name, I would like to make special mention of De Balie’s staff - Wilbur Perlot, Jacob Derkx, Jenneke den Bol and Dieuwertje Scheringa. Also to Prof Avril Mcdonald and Roel van der Veen (MFA), Jake Allen and Adrian Miskelly as well as the numerous people who attended my discussions and spoke to me afterwards. Please accept my sincerest thanks.

When I left The Netherlands, it was raining and the temperature was – cold. On arrival back home, it was also raining...

It is good to be back in Africa, even if I came back with a severe bout of flu.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

BOOKS I RECOMMEND

I have had countless mails from numerous visitors asking for books I would recommend on military, intelligence and other related issues.

Whereas I do not want to simply write pages of book titles, I have decided to give some of my most valuable books on these issues. Obviously, there are many, many more good books on these subjects. Please note that these books are not listed in any order of preference or importance.

Military:

1. War and our world – John Keegan
2. On War – Carl von Clausewitz
3. On the German Art of War – Bruce Condell and David T. Zabecki
4. Understanding Modern Warfare – David Jordan et al
5. The Art of War – Sun Tsu
6. War of the Flea – Richard Taber
7. Mobiele Oorlogvoering (Mobile Warfare) – Col Roland de Vries
8. The Bear went over the Mountain – Lester W Grau
9. Men against fire – SLA Marshall
10. Seven Pillars of Wisdom - T.E. Lawrence
11. Battle tactics of Napoleon and his Enemies – Brent Nosworthy
12. European Armies and the Conduct of War – Hew Strachan
13. Terrorism – Barry Davies (BEM)
14. War in Peace – (Numerous contributors) Orbis Publishing
15. From the Danube to the Yalu – Gen Mark Clark

Intelligence:

1. Aquarium – Victor Suvorov
2. By way of deception – Victor Ostrovsky
3. The Puppet Masters – John Hughes-Wilson
4. Veil – Bob Woodward
5. Memoirs of a Spy Master – Markus Wolf
6. The World of Espionage – Bruce Norman
7. Legacy of Ashes – Tim Weiner
8. Spy Master – Oleg Kalugin
9. Gideon’s Spies – Gordon Thomas
10. The Double Cross System – J C Masterman
11. Hit Team – David Tinnin
12. I was Stalin’s Agent – W G Krivitsky
13. Secrets of German Espionage – Bernard Newman
14. The Truth about Dirty Tricks – Chapman Pincher
15. The Intelligence War (Numerous contributors) Salamander Book

General:

1. The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli
2. The Art of the Samurai – Yamamoto Tsunetomo
3. The Coming Anarchy – Robert D Kaplan
4. The Seven Military Classics of ancient China – Ralph D Sawyer
5. Power: The 48 Laws – Robert Greene
6. The Quotable Soldier – Lamar Underwood
7. Victory Secrets of Attila the Hun – Wes Roberts, PhD
8. The Master Strategist – Ketan J Patel
9. Battle – R G Grant
10. The 36 Secret Strategies of the Martial Arts – Hiroshi Moriya
11. Oxford guide to Battles – Richard Holmes & Martin Marix Evans
12. The Chinese Martial Code – A L Sadler
13. Confessions of a Political Hitman – Stephen Marks
14. Military Power – Salamander Books
15. The Warrior’s Honor – Michael Ignatieff

African Military History:

1. Total Defence – Neil Orpen
2. Buffalo Soldiers - Col Jan Breytenbach
3. The Silent War – Reg Shay & Chris Vermaak
4. Commando – Deneys Reitz
5. To the bitter end – Emanoel Lee
6. South Africa’s Border War – Willem Steenkamp
7. Continent Ablaze – John W Turner
8. Trekking on – Deneys Reitz
9. Umkhunto We Sizwe - Thula Bopela and Daluxolo Luthuli
10. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, Pretoria - Piero Gleijeses
11. 32 Battalion – Piet Nortje
12. Warfare by Other Means – Peter Stiff
13. Africa’s Superpower – Paul Moorcraft
14. Images of War – Peter Badcock
15. Flying Cheetahs in Korea – Dermot Moore & Peter Bagshawe

I trust that these books may serve you as well as they have served me.