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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, February 7, 2010

PROGRESS IS SLOW...

I have had numerous calls, mails and posts asking about the progress of my planned book on strategy and tactics.

Unfortunately, I have not had the time I would have wanted in order to continue with my writing simply due to work-related pressure. Added to this is pressure from my publisher to pull my finger out of my ear...

However, I recently made a change of direction with the content as I have realised that many African armies are using NATO/US/UK/old USSR approaches to strategy. Whereas many elements of these approaches remain relevant, they cannot be used as a template in African operational theatres.

This follows that many subsequent doctrines are in many instances also irrelevant to Africa. This can be attributed to many reasons which I shall not expound on here. Additionally, they have fallen into the trap of using buzz-words and catch-phrases that tend to create their own confusion – and do not contribute to resolving conflicts or wars.

Therefore, the focus of the book has now changed to strategic military operations in specifically Africa. The book will, however, also be of interest to military commanders and students studying conflicts and wars elsewhere across the world.

On the positive side, there is already interest in printing the book in Arabic, Spanish and Chinese. Also, I have been approached by two African Command and Staff Colleges who wish to use the book as a textbook.

I will try to keep you all updated on the progress.

71 comments:

eet kreef said...

Good stuff - I'll be standing in line for a copy

Robert said...

Glad to hear about the book. Hopefully you'll continue blogging. I haven't seen a book focused solely on African military ops, so this could be THE standard text. I look forward to buying it.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am giving it my very best shot to make it something of value to African armies, Eet Kreef. Hopefully, it will be just that. The interest in it is however been quite phenomenal.

I look forward to seeing you in that line...

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I intend to continue blogging for as long as people continue reading the blog, Robert.

I certainly hope that it will be the standard text to guide armies in Africa – and beyond.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

I have long felt that anyone who solves the problem in the Congo will solve many of Africa's other disputes ......you have taken on a noble cause good luck brother

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Robby. Sadly though, the conflict in the Congo could have been solved a long time ago but the interests at play don’t want it solved. One of the worst blunders ever in terms of so-called conflict resolution was to send the UN’s peacekeeping forces there. That in itself was an indication that the problem needs to remain simmering and boiling.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Eeben,

Boy, I can't even imagine the complexity, time or organization it requires to produce a sound book on military strategy for Africa. Not to mention the gauntlet of military strategy experts pouring over the material and nitpicking every little thing. That is a tough crowd to please.

I am also fascinated with the idea of publishing the book in arabic, chinese, and spanish. I have no doubt that you would get some serious interest from the chinese market with this book. It would be cool to see an e-book version too.

Here is a question. How much of the book will you be dedicating to the subject of PMC's in Africa? Or is this purely military strategy, as applied to standing armies? Of course I don't want to ruin any surprises, or make your publisher mad. Take care. -matt

Jake said...

Eeben,
Sounds like a great area to focus on. I know we both agree that the coming century will put Africa and her resources in the cross-hairs between Eastern and Western powers. (Even more so than they already are.) Look forward to reading your book.

Jake

Fabio Di Caro said...

The peace keeping forces are nothing else but one of the systems ;one of the many ;to allow governments to recycle cash coming in through "external" activities , sending a peace keeping force is not intended as a final or effective solution , it's only principal goal is to justify the movement of large sums of money , we see in tremendous evidence that the commanders of these forces have no knowledge whatsoever of what or with who they are dealing with nor do they have a final destination , operationally intended as result of their presence , this causes losses and fodder for insurgents through kidnappings and ransom.Ciao Eeben - Regards , Fabio .PS-do not forget about my request , asseblief.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am expecting a lot of serious criticism on the book Matt, but my attitude is that those military strategy experts who wish to criticise should first show me where they have won a war (not just a firefight) and then I shall take note of what they say. War, as you know, is not purely a theoretical exercise. Despite what the media and the UN say, EO actually won 2 wars in Africa but the peace accords collapsed because of the UN and other Western involvements. Also, I am not writing the book to please the scholars and intellectuals who think they know about strategy, doctrine and tactics, I am writing it to help African armies shed a lot of the nonsense they have been taught.

The interest in other languages has taken me by surprise and I am mulling on the idea. The publisher wants to print only 1000 “collector’s copies”, leather-bound, A4 size, etc. The Command and Staff College editions will be specially printed for them and will be smaller with their emblems inside, etc.

Whereas the focus is mainly on standing armies, there will be a bit about PMCs in there.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are correct, Jake – it is something we discussed when we met and we both agreed on. I am very concerned at what I see on the ground and hear through the grapevine. Hopefully, the book will help some armies to overcome the current and future problems.

I hope your project is doing well?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I suspect you might be correct, Fabio. I have yet to encounter a “peacekeeping force” that was driven to ensure peace. Instead, their involvement has simply added to the misery of those caught up in the conflicts – especially in Africa. As for the commanders...I know that some of them have their hands tied behind their backs but yet they remain in position without uttering too much protest. It truly boggles the mind.

I haven’t forgotten your request – I will still get there.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Yes, it has occurred to me, Private. As yet, nothing is cast in stone and I still have to complete the book. As for the book helping the Chinese conquest of Africa – this is already happening. It is just that no one has wanted to admit it. As for the others you mention: your point is taken but as I mentioned, nothing is cast in stone yet.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

You know, on the whole Chinese thing, I have been trying to find out information about any PMC's they have, that are operating in Africa? Or maybe they call them something else?

I have read about arms deals that the Chinese have been doing, in places like the Sudan, but as far as actual companies on the ground, and providing armed security services, I have not been able to find out about. Do you know of any companies off the top of your head Eeben? Or if any of the commenters have stuff, I would love to check that out.

One thing I have heard of, is the Chinese using a country's standing army or police as protection, as part of some development or oil deal. Maybe that is all they are into. I found that stuff out of a book on the subject of China's involvement in Africa called 'China Safari'.
http://www.amazon.com/China-Safari-Beijings-Expansion-Africa/dp/1568584261

clarisse said...

Hi Eeben, that's a real great idea…
and seems to me you're the only one able to write this book –and the only one with a true legitimity, as you understand and/or worked on (almost) every bright and dark sides of African wars.

I was reading this article last week:
http://tinyurl.com/ygvvtaj (in French). Interesting ideas in "Awélé" and "the traditional African village as an ancient view of our modern times global-earth-village".

By the way, regarding foreign publications of the book, don't forget about India…

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am not aware of any Chinese PMCs operating in Africa at the moment, Matt. However, I am aware that they are looking at establishing a PMC to deploy in Africa to protect Chinese interests. Currently they rely on the country where they are working to provide the necessary security but there are also Chinese troops deployed assisting those forces.

Of course, the weapons industry in Africa continues to flourish – and not only Chinese. I will see if I can find out more.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I hope you are correct, Clarisse but I am afraid that only time will tell.

If I recall correctly, a British newspaper printed a similar article a while ago. (Thanks for giving us the link). Yes, there are many similarities between the ancient world and the modern one – much like warfare I suppose.

I haven’t forgotten about the Indian market – but that is all in the hands of the publisher. I would however love to publish there...

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Interesting - I look forward to another enjoyable read with time for good clear thought. Executive Outcomes is almost complete from my end and if your next writing is of the same caliber I'll join the others in line (remotely of course)for a copy.

John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, John. I hope you have enjoyed the EO book? I was not too happy with the editing though but not being a publisher, I don’t know much about that function.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alan said...

Eeben:

Great, great stuff! I hope you are able to integrate a bit of the history of the Portuguese Colonial War as well as the French experience in Africa. If I can be of assistance on this side, drop me a line.

Regards, Alan

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for your kind offer to assist, Alan. It is very much appreciated. Yes, I shall look at those wars but obviously not in great depth – rather in terms of strategy, doctrine and tactics and where things could have been done to improve the overall efforts.

Ideally though, I would like both senior officers and young officers and NCOs reading it and saying ”Oh, that is what we ought to be looking at in terms of....” Given my experiences, the desire to learn is there but often the resources offering the learning had other intentions.

As Matt rightly pointed out, I am sure to get a lot of flak on how I see things from the armchair generals and strategists. However, when they can tell me where they won a war, I shall certainly take heed of their comments. Till then, I shall just plod on...

Rgds,

Eeben

Kaye said...

Sounds like something I'll want to read! But please hurry up. I've got a feeling we'll be ending up in Africa sometime soon.
We're already doing lots of training there and with more and more European countries pulling out of Afghanistan it'll be: Next Stop Africa.
We'll need a fresh look at our STANAG doctrines and their applicabillity under African circumstances.

John said...

Eeben,

I have very much enjoyed EO. This is a very serious work and a great resource for those interested in the modern PMC. I am just wondering where and how I post my full thoughts since it may not fit into any of your latest blog posts.

John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I work at it whenever I get a moment, Kaye, which isn’t too much! I realise that more and more armies are training in Africa as I suspect it is the next big battleground. But, I can tell you that many doctrines are not applicable at all to Africa. If I only had time....

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks, Alan. I read it a while ago but it always helps to refresh the little grey cells!

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am very pleased to know that, John. Please send your thoughts to the blog. If I feel it is totally irrelevant, I will contact you by alternate means.

Rgds,

Eeben

james said...

Eeben,

I sended you an message by e-mail but i dont know if it is arrived. Would you please let me know if you had mine message

James
Amsterdam

graycladunits said...

Dear Eeben:

Is it proper to draw the conclusion that because so many different strategy and tactical playbooks have been used that none of the armies in Afria have any clue as to what they are doing or are supposed to be doing? Or, are they all just a little off base with strategy and tactics?

Also, it's off topic, but what's your favorite rock group?

Curiously, GCU

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

My apologies James. I have had numerous problems with emails going astray and am almost at wits end.

Can you please resend?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I don’t perceive it as that, GCU. Instead, if one looks at the West’s approach to strategy and tactics, use is made of Clausewitz, Jomini, Liddell Hart and so forth, using historical and more recent trends in European warfare. This has created a certain element of stagnation I believe. Africa is a very different operational environment that presents challenges that Europe doesn’t have. Likewise, Afghanistan and Iraq present challenges that have some similarities with Africa.

Too many strategists want to work off a template and in the process neglect critical elements of influence. By doing this, it appears as though the Centre of Gravity is “assumed” instead of “confirmed”.

Many African officers I know have attended military colleges in Europe and the US and quite frankly, I think that they were given the short end of the stick. Of course, added to this is the mixture of influences from the East – all impacting on their views. This doesn’t make them off base at all but rather in doubt.

My band: The Rolling Stones.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It seems as though you have had a torrid time, Private. Added to that is a weather pattern that would kill most of us down here.

As for being shadowy – I don’t think I am that – more private and selective to who I see and don’t. Also, no ridgebacks to protect us, although the increase in farm murders and crime is of great concern to most of us. But we all remain hopeful and try to do our little bit to make a change.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Blackwater is really screwing up in the "integrity of PMC's" dept.


Blackwater accused of defrauding US government

Private security firm accused of charging US government for payments to prostitute

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/11/blackwater-employees-us-fraud-accusations

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As I have mentioned before, Robby, when a PMC has to earn its contract as opposed to being given its contract, we enter a totally different field of approach. I know if NO PMC that was given the silver plate who has delivered on everything they undertook to do. Operating in that environment also creates a very bumpy and uneven playing field. (Thanks for the link)

I hate to say that it was bound to happen that false invoicing would occur – but false invoicing seems to be occurring...

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Well,

I would hold judgement on Blackwater (Xe). The media has been very harsh in their criticism - familiar grounds it seems. It may or may not be deserved - only history will really tell the story, which must include the truth from other PMC working the field.
The modern media is not to be trusted at all.

Eeben - I should have comments on EO this weekend (very pertinent to this current thread)

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You do have a point, John. I however still maintain that there is a vast difference between earning a contract and being given one. I do understand your comment re the media as I too have been down that road. Having said that, I also acknowledge that within any PMC – as within an army – there are good and bad apples (I admit that in EO we had them as well).

I look forward to your comments re the EO book – thanks for taking the time to write them up.

Rgds,

Eeben

james said...

The Chinese are way interested in the inner workings of Africa because of the natural resources there. And they know that the instability there is a major fiscal threat if they spend millions improving infrastructure to support their operations in Africa.

That’s why you see so many Chinese folks from the Chinese embassy (who also speak Arabic) in Iraq and every other oil producing country in the Middle East. Every time I fly 1st class in the 3rd world I could throw a tennis ball and hit 3 Chinese guys drinking Dom Perignon.

The Chinese also have a pretty decent sized educated middle class that would read a book like Eeben Barlow’s just because it is interesting.


~James G
www.deathvalleymag.com

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Yes, you are correct, James G. The Chinese are interested in Africa but so is the US, Europe and India. Everyone is falling over themselves to get a piece of the action and in the process, trouble looms on the horizon. We all know AFRICOM was established to counter Chinese influence in Africa but its approach has been somewhat dismal to say the least. In contrast, the Chinese are getting stronger by the day in Africa, the West weaker and the people poorer.

Since we sold the majority our weapons industry to the UK and Europe, our abilities in that field have gone so far downhill that we will never recover from it. I see African armies being lied to by the West’s “training teams” and being given equipment by the Chinese. It is not for me to decide who is right and who is wrong but I take note of these things and fear for Africa.

Rgds,

Eeben

PS: I like your site – I will be sure to punt it where I can.

Robby said...

Eeben ...
"I hate to say that it was bound to happen that false invoicing would occur – but false invoicing seems to be occurring..."

And that's my beef with Eric Prince and America's PMC's.They no doubt used EO and other's like Sandline etc as the model only problem they left out a few things morality and integrity.

I'm sure you know about Princes background rich kid with access to millions brought up in a very religious family where I have no doubt "morality and integrity" was something that he was very aware of from a young age I give him credit for becoming a Navy Seal however somewhere along the line he gave short shift to these things and now PMC's have to deal with a really bad PR problem.

I understand why you don't do religion and politics Prince on the other hand exploited both for what reason I can't explain ...he sure did not do it for the money his daddy's business sold for... 1.5 billlion dollars after his death

james said...

Yes the US now has an interest in Africa for various financial reasons (natural resources are at the top of the list) but in my opinion there are several reasons why the US will never get a solid foothold financially in Africa.

1. Foreign Earned Income Taxation on Americans working overseas, to include property, wages, capital gains, cash savings, ect…

For those of you that don’t know; all income and assets that Americans earn or possess overseas is taxed weather or not it is repatriated. Starting at around 84K USD the US government taxes the wages of Americans who work overseas at close to the highest rate possible.

Additionally if an American owns property, stocks, investments or any revenue producing venture it is taxed regardless of its value. This also includes any housing or living expenses an American would receive from their company.

Most of the in-country African based jobs that an American company would hire US citizens for would be Engineers, high level management and executives. These are all high paying positions filled by middle-age married people (and generally speaking Male) already making 6-figure salaries in the US.

Why would thousands of top-tier engineers, managers and executives leave their current 6-figure salary jobs and family behind to work in what they would consider a hostile environment (especially compared to working in an office in the US)?

3 to 10 times their salary is why – that is the only way a company can recruit top-tier personnel for jobs in Africa. Plus they have to add in attractive fringe benefits to retain their employees like 1st class travel and luxury expat housing. That is the same thing companies are currently doing in Iraq to recruit Engineers, paying them 300K a year or more – I know some IT engineers in Iraq that make 500K a year.

Spending over 12 million just in salaries, another 12 mil in fringe benefits and maybe another 6 mil in medical, K&R and life insurance for a lousy 50 employees (a total of 30 Million a year) in Africa just isn’t fiscally responsible for a US based company.

And don’t even expect smaller (less than 10 mil annually) US based businesses and entrepreneurs to even consider Africa. And this group would be the most valuable to rebuilding the business environment in a 3rd world country

No one can start a small profitable business with minimal capital, employing dozens of locally hired employees and starting from scratch faster than an American entrepreneur (and small businesses are the backbone of any thriving country).

So outside of the 1 or 2 American multi-billion dollar corporations that secure defense contracts with the US military - And maybe 2 other non-defense corporations that my drill for oil if they can even get a contract because of the restrictive US laws on how they conduct business overseas (see below) - no other corporations in the US will touch Africa with a ten foot Kerrie.

james said...

2. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

This is one of Americas “Moral” laws pass way back in 1977 (back when beating your wife was legal in the US) that basically says a US corporation or individual can not give a financial reward (bribe) to any foreign government or person for the purposes of obtaining businesses.

To out it simply you can not give Minister Wong Lee 20 grand to get a contract selling feminine hinge products to the Democratic Republic of Coupeverytwoyearsanistan.

This law has mostly killed off non-defense business for US based corporations that wish to operate profitably overseas. Quite frankly you have to hand out bribes in the 3rd and developing world if you expect to win contracts, conduct business, acquire long term business visas for your expat employees or use the bathroom in a public toilet.

The Asians and Indians have no problem with throwing a few bucks to some local MP so they can get a multi-million dollar highly profitable contract. Bribes are a common business practice in 80% of the world, so like any intelligent business they adapt to the local market. The US does not.

If a US based corporation would do the same thing – it is a serious federal crime. Some US based corporations try to get around this by hiring local business “consultants” or going through non-US corporations that they have set us to handle the bribing, but this is also illegal according to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and can and does come back on them sometimes.

So most US corporations just can’t compete overseas with foreign corporations that are willing to pay a bribe to secure contracts or operate in a 3rd world country – so they don’t.

Over 30 years ago the US was the “it” country when it came to foreign experts, materials and construction projects - now we are probably close to the last choice.

This is the reason why you hardly see any US corporations with contracts in Southeast Asia, you only see S. Korean and Japanese companies building roads and skyscrapers. Almost all of the oil workers I know that from Texas who are working in Indonesia work for Chinese drilling companies.

In a region like Africa it would only be naive for the US to assume they can do any business at all without violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Having a lightly regulated anarcho-capitalist business environment is not only historically normal for a country trying to establish itself financially - after a generation or two it turns into a friendly rule of law business environment.

Look at the US during the ‘wild wild west’ western expansion (the US is now the wealthiest country in the world) or Singapore after British Colonization (now the only place in Southeast Asia that has rule of law in its financial sectors) and even China today. All of those countries went through a “only the strongest and cleverest business survive by any means” phase.

But the US feels it is better to have silly moral laws that have absolutely nothing to do with today’s real world business environment in the 3rd and developing world. And that is one of the main reasons why US based businesses will be nothing more than a speck on the African business radar.

james said...

3. The past will come back to haunt the US

The US has had less than a stellar record on the Dark Continent, pretty much after uranium was found in Australia the US turned its back on Africa. And after that, all the US did there was support every tin pot dictator and AK toting a-hole that was anti-commie.

People don’t forget these things no matter how poor they are.

The Africans know as soon as oil drops back down to 50 bucks a barrel they will no longer exist in the eyes of the US government. Our track record speaks for itself; the Hmong in Southeast Asia, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and even as far back as the genocide of the Native American tribes after the American revolution.

I suspect the people making decisions in Africa about who does business there would rather just take a fat bribe from a Chinese, S. Korean or Indian corporation that is upfront that their intention is to make money period – not stick their nose in local politicks, hand out nasty freeze dried crackers under the guise of caring and then pop-smoke.

4. Using the US Military to create a US presence in Africa before US corporations move in first

No one from a country that has been war torn for 500 years wants to see more white foreign solders in tanks in their streets. That hardly creates a “do business with the USA!” message to the local population.

I swear to god I think the people in the US that make foreign policies have never read a history book.

Well that is my African/US business rant…

Glad you like my blog man


~James G
www.deathvalleymag.com

userdude said...

I will be looking forward to this, Eeben.

- What will be the approach to organizing your work? In other words, will it be a framework, or a collection of guidelines, principles and situational analysis? (Maybe, both).

- Do you anticipate discussing philosophical and theoretical underpinnings, or will it be primarily a handbook for operations (strategy vs tactics)?

I'm just wondering how your approaching the material. It doesn't really matter the details, but I'm interested none the less.

Thanks!
Jared

John said...

Hello Eeben,

I wanted to drop over my thoughts on your work - Executive Outcomes, Against All Odds.

First I do want to set up how I look at things in life. I am not a veteran and have never served my country in the military. What I am is a systems engineer - I think in parallel paths whenever I study a problem or research a topic that I am interested in. This will likely give me a unique perspective on your writing.

First and foremost - I enjoyed the book. For anyone who wants to tackle it though they have to beware. The writing style jumps back and forth through time so a linear thinker will not be able to handle it, to truly glean the meaning of your work the reader has to finish it and collate all of what they have read.
I had to pull our Corporate Warriors and War Dog to bat chapters against each other while I read.

In the early sections it does flow well though - when I started I had no idea at all how extensive the EO network had to be to be successful. My assumption truly was you called up your old associates and trotted out to take on those foolish enough to challenge the vaunted veterans of the SADF - like an amateur boxing event - bad assumptions. I truly appreciate the bit of your history as you progressed from your military career through the intelligence world and final "retirement". I dropped all my assumptions and decided to explore the possibilities. What I found was EO to be a complete, self contained package, able to provide technical expertise, intelligence and logistics in an economical package. Your cost comparisons to the follow-up "efforts" by the UN and others in Angola and Sierra Leone, plus non efforts in Rwanda by the international community lead me to believe there is a lot more behind the scenes as EO was destroyed in the world media. I have a feeling that the UN needs to have Africa suffer to perpetuate its "power" while the entertainment industry has to have sob stories about Rwanda and Sierra Leone to get Oscars and money from an audience that is unwilling, or unable, to see more than what is spoon fed to them. Why is this important - the world governance people who will use any excuse, global climate change, humanitarian disasters, financial meltdowns, always come back to state that "your defense is socialized, why not everything else in your life (job, health, food supply, cars (or in some instances run as fascist entities))" - bunk. The current conflicts all over the world are being led mainly by national militaries, but they could not do their jobs without the vital cog of the PMC. If we talk PMC we have to get back in modern times to Executive Outcomes. The early formation of EO in the book seemed to just be an afterthought that grew into something huge (and recouped your CCB wages/expenses). I liked the style you used of jumping back and forth from the action in country to your issues keeping things running back in SA - though I had to pull out my other references texts (yes I even have Bloodsong though it seems you do not think highly of Mr. Hooper, his earlier works were better reads. I could see him running for his life for EO protection based on the style of writing in Bloodsong) to keep track of the story. I will be reading EO again with all my library/internet resources readily at hand to make sure I understand where everything is going. The segues over to post EO Angola and Sierra Leone were very disturbing for the lost peace brought humanitarian disasters. Rwanda is just plain disgusting - the UN needs to relocate in the Congo, maybe they would be interested in peace then.
Second thought to follow...

John said...

Continuing my previous thread
I very much enjoyed your jumps over to your logistics crew (who could have imagined running a war at a greater distance that your national military from your house) and a quick leap over to the classic RWC match delaying an offensive by a day (I have that match someplace in my archives - you saw it. An amazing grinding game for sure, Stransky was brilliant) Your last 10 chapters or so moved very quickly and I wonder if they may have been folded into your earlier chapters in a more linear flow - this part of the book was tough. It seems like there at least 200 more pages in this story that ended up on the publishers floor. I would definitely like to see more details on the remaining operations from Appendix A. I was also shocked by your afterword - I hope you don't leave your continent to burn in misery - EO, by all credible accounts I have read, ran an honorable business. This book could easily become a multi-volume text for use in war colleges.

Thoughts that have rattled around in my head ever since I finished:
The media could not lose the old meme of "mercenary bad' they used to successfully discredit paid fighters in the Congo in the 60's. They actually transferred their disinformation over to EO instead of looking at EO as an entire system intelligence, technical advice and logistics support. The old guard media is dying off due to its continual lies - now is the time to put them out of their misery. In that way maybe EO died to serve a greater cause. A simple supporting and refuting evidence argument can show the lies of the media in everything they touch. A free people have to have a truthful media to decide our own fates and not leave the decisions to those who are our superiors (in their minds) and frequently devolve into brutal dictatorships. In that way EO folds into the great struggle of free people against those who would oppress us.

How applicable is EO to the Iraq/Afghanistan experience. EO works for only legit governments yet gets pillaged, Blackwater is the current whipping boy for the media, being discredited just as EO was (some of it can be well deserved). Are the media lies perpetuated successfully on EO being also used to hammer Blackwater. This is the same game plan used on CIA ops in SE Asia (re: Air America, Hmong, Montagnard fighters etc.) with even the UN now equating paid technical security/intelligence experts (in their words mercenaries) to terrorists - pathetic. The UN, with their dogs in the fawning media, only wants power over free people. Will E. Prince write a similar extensive history of his firm such as you have? Only time will tell...

I do hope I have not rambled too much - my brain has been rattling around thoughts for days now. I think eventually some more cogent thoughts will come out but this is where I stand for the moment.

Thanks Again for taking the time to write this work.

John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks, Private – I am going to have to start numbering the “Private’s” soon. Keep well and good luck.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

False invoicing is always a problem, Robby but it is not restricted to the PMCs. However, if companies have a “blank cheque” to operate with, there will always be people who will exploit it.

As I have stated before, if companies earn their contracts as opposed to being given them – and they go through the procedure of quoting on a specific task, it becomes difficult to do this. There is no blank cheque to work with and an end result must be delivered at the quoted price.

Yes, I have read EP’s story. But, I also know that he has been a target for some time and in that sense I can sympathise with him. If the latest stories are true, then my concern simply rises re the PR for the industry.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

False invoicing is always a problem, Robby but it is not restricted to the PMCs. However, if companies have a “blank cheque” to operate with, there will always be people who will exploit it.

As I have stated before, if companies earn their contracts as opposed to being given them – and they go through the procedure of quoting on a specific task, it becomes difficult to do this. There is no blank cheque to work with and an end result must be delivered at the quoted price.

Yes, I have read EP’s story. But, I also know that he has been a target for some time and in that sense I can sympathise with him. If the latest stories are true, then my concern simply rises re the PR for the industry.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Whereas you list several reasons why the US will encounter problems in Africa, James, but you also need to remember that as a whole Africa has been let down many times. I do however agree with your points but also need to add that AFRICOM was established primarily to assist with influence in Africa. Doing business in Africa isn’t just about paying bribes – that was something the West (yes, the West) developed in Africa and the East has simply exploited it to the hilt. In part, this is what the resource race is now about – who will out-bribe the next...instead of showing what benefits will be forthcoming.

There are numerous smaller US companies doing successful business in Africa and I think that as the “resource war” hots up, more will try to enter to stake their claims. But of course, they need to ensure that their investments are protected. But, we also see a situation where the bad guys are getting good publicity and this in itself creates numerous problems.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act I cannot comment but I am aware of its existence. Your points are this issue are well taken.

Your part3: Yes, the US believed (rightly so) that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” but this got out of hand. In fact, it is this very reason that led to what we saw in Zaire and elsewhere – using the US as an intimidation factor to those who did not agree with them. When those governments toppled, they dragged the US into their mess – and as you say, people don’t forget.

Thanks for your summation – it was very good.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am trying to give some guidance in the book Jared but it will examine numerous factors in Africa that lead to war and how such wars can be successfully countered. I do however see it more as a text/guidebook on how to conduct operations in Africa.

I do briefly discuss the views of some of the classical strategists as they apply to Africa. I feel that these views do have a role to play but are not all important.

It is still early days for me but I am progressing well – in my mind, at least!

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks to you for taking the time to write such a critical analysis of the book, John. I am truly grateful. In my pitiful self-defence, remember that I am not a writer so my style – if one can even call it that – is not that of a classical writer. In fact, I only learnt how to use a computer when I started writing the book. Before that, I didn’t even know where the “On” button was.


EO went through a very steep learning curve – and we had to do it rather quickly as we were bound by accepted contracts in terms of finances against end-goals and couldn’t return with hat-in-hand stating we had run out of money.


Your feelings and mine coincide exactly on the UN. I have had the great misfortune of seeing them in several places – and witnessed their incompetence. Rwanda was a disgrace to say the least. DRC is beyond that at the moment yet still they continue. But no one seems to really take note of what is happening or even care.


The old men who ran our logistics were truly the unsung heroes. They worked tirelessly to support the men in the field and did an outstanding job, especially given how few they were and how much they had to do. But, many other people who were not mentioned in the book did equally well.


The Rugby World Cup delaying a strategic operation was indeed amusing to me when I was told that the advance would be delayed. But, I know then that the morale was good and after the historic win (Yes, Stransky was brilliant!) I just knew that the men would be successful.


Many pages did end up on the editor’s floor but I could do nothing to stop that. I know put it down to “Lessons Learnt”.


When I left EO – and even whilst writing the book – I had no intention of ever trying to help Africa resolve its problems. But, shortly after the book was published, I got a few calls asking me to help. These came from East, West and Central Africa. So, I swallowed my words, made peace with my undertakings and went back to help where I can.


The media (as you know) finally apologised in a full page article in the SA paper The Star. Too bad for us that they only realised years after they had led the disinformation campaign against us that they had been misled by those with vested interests. Whereas Blackwater may possibly deserve criticism (as EO did) the media are again leading the campaign. I hope Erik Prince will one day expose those who worked with false agendas. Regardless of the apology, I have no sympathy for the old guard media and they are now reaping what they sowed.

My sincere thanks to you for your comments.


Rgds,


Eeben

John said...

Eeben,

Great thread going here - will Erik Prince write an in depth account of Blackwater like EO?

I'll hold judgement until his in- depth explanation of his company comes out. There has to be alot more there than what he has agreed to release.

John

John said...

Eeben,

You are more than welcome - your book is a fabulous work and has been one of few that have affected me so much (China Pilot and Flying through Midnight are two others in the non-fiction world that have really made me pause for thought)that I had to write such a lengthy review.

This world, and why we are in constant conflict, is very complex and single line thinking will never solve anything - Africa's misery will unfortunately continue for decades until everyone comes to their senses. You have taken a very complex situation and written about it as well as anyone could have - and as a neophyte writer. That says something about your adaptability - probably why EO was a success.

I look forward to your next work

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I can appreciate that Erik Prince will not be able to write everything he would like to write about, John, as I am sure that he will be bound by secrecy agreements – that I can understand and fully support. However, where he has been purposely maligned – he should expose those things – as well as name those involved.

There have been some really good comments from our friends here.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am still gobsmacked by your review, John. But, I need to hastily point out that EO was a success because of the men in the company. I simply sat in the tiger’s saddle.

I love Africa despite its many problems. I have always been treated extremely well wherever I have gone and I have made many, many very good friends in African armies and governments. What I do know is that they are constantly lied to, deceived and cheated. If I can play a positive role in helping them resolve these conflicts, I will do it.

Thanks again.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

I do hope pleasantly surprised - that was my intent.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

More than just pleasantly, John. My wife says I now need a bigger hat!

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Now that is worth a chuckle! My wife performs that vital task for me as well as many others - Thank God.

I do look forward to your next work.

Thanks again,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I hope to have it up soon, JOhn.

Rgds,

Eeben

userdude said...

I'm sure that whatever the book will be, it will be worth consuming and understanding. I look forward to it's release - much to learn.

Thanks!
Jared

Lalie said...

Hallo Eeben,

Do I miss something? For what reason would you give away knowledge to the world on how to make war in Africa and act thus against your own nation’s interest... Money? War is fought with information technology today, yet you mentioned limited knowledge in this regard. I did not read any of your books yet but will soon try to do so. It sound very interesting but alarming for reasons mentioned above.
About the security business.
In South Africa today, we experience the population being motivated to imprison themselves with security in mind. Yet this security never seems to protect a sole but actually assist with monitoring and restricting residents movements. Thus empowering the criminals to make informed decisions, buy enough time, and operate uninterrupted? It reminds me of warnings during my school days, early 80’s. Somehow our prescribed book of those days “Ons wag op die Kaptein” also relate to this issue.
With regards to the facebook Identity fraud, I would say that it is least of your problems. Since 2004 I stumbled on publications which seem to relate to you. At first I could not help smiling at the obvious lies born out of jealousy. The latest one though… claims Executive Outcomes is a private military company ….responsible for Afrikaner genocide.
It is a so-called top secret documents but traceable by anyone who google your name or use other search engines like Highbeam.
The potential EXECUTIVE OUTCOME of such betrayal situation maybe the best seller of all times and I guess someone else is already busy writing such a book . Sure will overshadow both Shapiro and Siener v Rensburg's capabilities.

fatfox9 said...

Good luck with the book Eeben. I have also started to put my recollections of 30 years military service on record. Not always easy as time fades the memory.

Please have a look at my blog and I intend to link to you if you dont mind.
http://fatfox9.wordpress.com/

Although I never served with you in EO I have fond and sometimes painful memeories of our time together at 32 Bn Recce Wing.

Take care and hang in there.

Mike Charlie (Romeo 3)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Jared. I can only try my best...

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Some interesting – if totally misguided comments, Lalie.

I hardly see anyone making money with 1000 books as that is what will be printed for the commercial market. However, there have been MANY books written on war and conflict in Africa as well as numerous other books on strategy and tactics. Also, I am not acting against the interest of my own nation – what a silly comment. If that is what you know, then you seem to know more about me – as do many others - than I do. Of course, judging by your comments you seem to also know a lot more about the conflicts and wars in Africa than I do but the reality is that ALL armies in Africa, regardless of where they are, have ways in which they do things. As for information technology, I am no technology wizard but I do understand “intelligence” and “intelligence gathering”. I also understand that EO had to be stopped as we started exposing crimes involving senior (old SA) government officials – and that has been documented.

As for the current security situation in SA: As I don’t work in SA, I don’t feel I am qualified to answer your concerns. However, take a look at Europe and elsewhere – crime is on the rise and SA is no exception.

As for EO being responsible for Afrikaner genocide – I have never heard of such rubbish, unless of course you are referring to a certain “journalist” making comments on his blog, something he got from a South African intelligence operation. Ironically, I have been accused of many things and the basis thereof has always been “unnamed sources”. Do you for one moment think that the Afrikaners who served in EO would act against their own? If that is what you believe, then you know your own even less than I do. However, the document you refer to is not a “new” one but was a deliberate operation executed by a certain Mr Stander and sold to the same Intelligence service he worked for. It has been in circulation for several years. The last I heard of him was that he was charged with fraud on numerous other issues unrelated to EO.

I would strongly suggest you make very sure of your facts before levelling accusations that are based on falsehoods. At least, the media had the courage to admit that they had been duped about EO. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see the entire continent in chaos with no regard for the results thereof.

So, to answer your first question: Yes, you are missing something.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am thrilled that you are writing a book on your recollections, fatfox9. I believe that we should document history as we saw it and not as others would want the world to see it. It is very difficult as times does have a way of making things disappear.

I really enjoyed visiting and reading your blog and think it is very good reading. Thanks for passing your link to us.

I am intrigued. I am wracking my brain – Mike Charlie??? Were we in 32 Recce at the same time? Please put me out of my misery.

Rgds,

Eeben

fatfox9 said...

It's Mark Eeben.....you owe me one

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Mark, you old devil! I recall us once ambushing a FAPLA anti-aircraft team – being chased by their forces for several hours and then having no choice to charge headlong into a SWAPO base. You raced in to “extract” us after we did some extreme damage there – and then everyone was suddenly chasing us. We had to build an improvised pontoon to get our Buffels across the Cunene.

Many years later, I actually met the FAPLA and SWAPO commanders who we whacked and we had a good talk over what happened.

Yes, I do owe you and I really want you to write that book.

Rgds,

Eeben

Lalie said...

Hallo Eeben

Thanks for your reply although most of it is angry. Guess I had it coming. Unfortunately I still do not get it.

Since when can any country's special force personnel sell their war strategies to foreigners? If this is happening in Africa as you say, I am very worried.

Crime is flaming up all over the world yes, South Africa is just the Crime Capital and statistics now available by street corner.

Maybe you should give the SA public access to your books, it will give them an equal opportunity.

Did you say your company exposed Apartheid Gov Officials? To whom, jail birds? and for which crime, having a backbone to actually act in the interest of it's citizens?

The Stander name you mentioned, sound to be a Boer. The docoment I refered to is hosted on Austrian server and written in afrikaans by a SA local but defenitaly not a Boer. Futher to this I do not think EO as company name was mentioned this time (sorry), only your name along with other afrikaners. Will try to trace it again and send the link.

Glad to hear the media fixed their wrong doings. Hope they publish it as eager a they did before. Never compare me with the media, I may ask a question which boils down to an unfair accusation, but I do it when concerned and maybe angry, not when out for a kill.

Lalie

fatfox9 said...

Good to be in contact with you Eeben. Yes the incident/s you recalled were rather fun weren't they?...lets stay in touch as you have just opened a closed file in my somewhat dormant brain.

Cheers and good luck,

Mark

PS: I am still in Beirut so I will be updating you on the next punch-up which is sure to start one day soon.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The document you refer to has been on the internet for years, Lalie, it is nothing new. In fact, it is on more than just on an Austrian server.

The Special Forces soldiers you refer to are not selling strategies. A strategy is something which is planned at government level and they are training a unit and sub-unit level. Besides, they are ex-SF members and ex-SADF members. After they were so viciously betrayed by the old government, would you rather they joined the ranks of organised crime? I think that would push our crime levels beyond anything possible at the moment.

As for EO exposing crime – I am not going to go into details but read the real history – stock-theft on Lesotho border, diamond smuggling into SA, illegal shipments organised form SA to Angola, etc, etc.

I have no problem with anyone’s accusations re me and EO. All they have to do is provide substance to back up their allegations. Having been the subject of many police investigations based on misinformation, I am not sure what else I can be accused of.

Of course I am still angry. Some men in EO lost their lives because of people trying to hide agendas and even passing on information on EO to the rebels. Who wouldn’t be angry?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Well, I needed to go through a lot of stuff to unlock parts of my dormant brain, Mark.

Beirut? I am sure it has changed somewhat since I was there many years ago. A lovely but dodgy place.

Keep your head down and good luck – and keep writing your book.

Rgds,

Eeben

fatfox9 said...

Roger....will do.

Take care and I will be in touch,

Mark