About Me

My Photo
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.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TRYING TO HELP OUT

I am very pleased to have contact with so many students who, as part of their studies, are (hopefully) looking at positive PMC involvement in conflict areas with different eyes, especially given the spectacular failures of the UN – an organisation I have made my thoughts and feelings very clear on.

However, due to travel and work-related issues, I am not able to always respond immediately as some expect and want me to do. When I am engaged to assist a client, that engagement takes precedence over everything else I do. It is, after all, very unethical to use time that has been paid for by a client to do something else. That does, in my simple way of thinking, amount to both fraud and theft.

Added to this, I am sometimes in places where I do not have internet access and only receive the requests several days after they were sent to me.

I appreciate how important the studies and research papers are but it is very frustrating to have students ask me to repeat what I wrote about in my book because they “don’t have the time” to read it. It is equally frustrating – and time consuming – to have students ask me to respond as quickly as possible to their questions as they are facing a deadline re their research papers.

Whereas I am happy to help out wherever I can, I cannot drop everything to accommodate the many students who are busy with their research and studies – at last count, there were more than 100 students asking for my assistance.

I will continue trying to help out where I can but it is not always possible to do so as quickly as expected. After all, I too have other obligations to attend to – and those obligations will always receive priority.

31 comments:

Jesus said...

Hello Mr. Barlow
I'm an Student of Political Sciences in Colombia, I'm working in my paper about the case of EO in Sierra Leone from the State-bulding theories. I want to ask you if there is a resource or a place where I can take a look on the text of the contract between EO and Sierra Leona's government?

Burro said...

There were more than 100 students asking for my assistance.

Wow. You have definitely achieved a rockstar status. Some guys in the academic world are gonna be jealous...

Regards

Choco

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Your time is very much appreciated - I feel your answers are both forthright and telling. We, as students, have to be cognizant of your career as well.

We will always be learning as we go forward and I look forward to your next large work - I will spend the funds to purchase...

Regards,
John

P.S. More thoughts to come on Hank Wharton and Methanol fuel (I hope for the end of OPEC)

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As strange as this may sound Jesus, there was never a formal contract in place between us (EO) and any government. Everything was agreed upon with a handshake. Our word was as good as any contract.

It was only the Angolans who approached me later with a simple 1-page contract as they had to reconcile the expenditure of funds with their Finance Ministry.

A lot is made of “nation/state building” but the harsh reality is that no smart political theory can be applied unless there is security. To achieve security in a state on the brink of failure does not call for a “cease fire” but rather offensive action aimed at destroying those who wish to destabilise.

Good luck with your studies.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is sometimes tough to be the unpaid crutch many students wish to use, Choco. But, I understand how important their studies are to them, hence trying to help where I can, albeit that at times my responses are slow due to other factors.

When I was at college, I had visions of being a rock star but they fizzled out when I realised that some dreams require a lot of talent to achieve.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am happy if my answers are of some value, John, but I wish I didn’t have to work for a living. I would much rather spend my time doing things I want to do such as completing my book. But, one day maybe...

I look forward to your thoughts on Hank and Methanol.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

Had to chuckle just a bit on rockstar status - I believe the Stones are planning a final, final tour or something. There is always hope if one can just get past those pesky expenses for living...

Though I have to admit some of us do have rather exciting occupations but eventually it would feel good to sit back, relax and write for a living (see expenses above).

As always - Best Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Although I am more of a fading has-been, I would still love to watch the Stones as they were, to me, true rockstars, John. Sadly, my ambitions to be one were lost rather quickly...I think it had to do with those living expenses.

Like many, I am fortunate to have an exciting occupation but one day, it too will pass. While it is still there, we need to do the best we can.

Rgds,

Eeben

grant said...

Eeben,

What do you make of today's signing in Geneva of the world's first ever International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers

http://www.ombwatch.org/node/11347

Grant

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think it is a very good move, Grant – it is just a pity that some PMCs went out and used (abused) their contracts to empower themselves to act like hooligans. It is an even greater pity that these PMCs did not implement their own code of conduct and instead, allowed a few to taint many good ones.

Ironically, some of the signatories to this Code of Conduct are the very ones who used their contracts to become involved in all sorts of human violations such as child prostitution, trafficking and so on.

Rgds,

Eeben

Piers said...

Hello Mr Barlow

I'm looking at the new code of conduct and would like to talk to you about it if you could perhaps spare a few minutes. Would you mind dropping me an email - piers.scholfield@bbc.co.uk

regards
Piers

userdude said...

Hello Eeben,

I am sorry to see you feeling you need to make such a statement. Students are not very good about thinking about anything but their own demands; working at a university, this is something I sometimes come across. The pushy under/postgrad. It also seems like these are the ones wanting the most out of doing the least. In other words, the ones you would be least likely to help, especially "in a pinch".

Maybe if others think about their requests before they send it out, they might consider the imposition implied in successfully completing that request, and how someone would feel if the same were asked of them. If the requester could not imagine dropping everything to put in the time, maybe it is wise to not make the request, or make some type of proposal instead.

However, I can't see them all going away. At some point, you have to draw a clear line in the sand, but at least you have the honor of warning others this might happen. So kudos for your honest.

Hope your family is well,
Jared

graycladunits said...

Dear Eeben:

I must admit, I assumed you were a multi-millionaire despite the fact that Sierra Leone never fully paid what they owed EO. I figured you really enjoyed working or were a workaholic. Sorry about that. I feel for you with regards to music too. I, too, wanted to be a rock star off and on back in my college years.

As for utilizing these college kids, you might try turning their research and analytical skills into a resource for a future business endeavor. I would move to your country to work for you.

GCU

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your mail, Piers.

I have no desire to enter into discussions on this issue as I have made my view known on numerous occasions.

If you wish, you can send me your questions and I shall answer them on this blog.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I do not mind helping out where I can, Jared. I understand that their studies are very important to them and would dearly like to help but there are times when I have other priorities that need to be taken care of.

I am pleased that some are (hopefully) starting to see what EO really was and the role it played in ending two major conflicts in Africa as well as the work it did elsewhere.

I also realise that not everyone can get their hands on my book and that they are forced to use the internet. But, with so many asking for help, it is virtually impossible for me to give them the time they feel they deserve. Had I been a full-time lecturer, maybe it would have been possible.

Thanks for your thoughts on my family. They are always well.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Reading some of the stuff about myself on the internet, I too would have thought I ought to be rolling in money, GCU. Sadly, that is not the case. Like many others, I too have to work to earn my daily shilling – and I do enjoy my work as I find it consuming, exciting and liberating. Plus, I get to meet some really good folks – and some less good.

As a (unsuccessful) student, I played guitar for my supper, but I don’t think any talent spotters ever came back for a second meal. A tough life, isn’t it?

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I have a had little time to put my thoughts together on methanol for the Hunter and it looks to be the ideal state is to be able to run on anything combustible - petroleum products are at the moment readily at hand but geopolitically the price is going up - stealthily. This means that countries of lesser means will begin to be strained heavily - if the warrior in the field is hurting for energy things will not go well. If the vehicles in a fleet can be made to run on anything from kerosene to pure alcohol the men in the field can bring along their own fuel source with a simple still - have it in your base camp working with whatever biomass is available. If you have readily available diesel/gasoline so be it.
The biggest advantage is the flexibility of fuel sources. If the military is a major user of energy in a country the use of biofuels will release the country from their oil dependency as a great political move. The death of OPEC would be a beneficial fringe benefit from all this.
Very similar to Churchill's decision in the early 20th century to switch the Royal Navy from coal to oil - just an energy source transition.
Vertically integrate the energy supply in a country and they become much more free.

Just some thought for the morning.

Regards,
John

P.S. Really am a little more of a Who fan than the Stones. Floyd to AC/DC for weird moments in work but hard to beat the Russian masters for classical if that is my mood....

userdude said...

Hi Eeben,

Well, I can commiserate on the hassle of getting ahold of your book. While worth the effort and cost, it wasn't easy to get here in the States, and I'm guessing it's not easy to get elsewhere that's not close to SA. It took three months and $70 for me to get it. For a lot of students, that's out of reach (mainly due to the $40 shipping).

Maybe if there were an alternative way to get it, like on a Kindle, that could help with requests for information. Anything that would make it easier to get.

Thanks!
Jared

Alex said...

Hello Eeben,

I must admit that, as one of the (evidently many) students pestering you it never occurred to me that you had so many others to deal with. I am very grateful of the help you continue to give me when I write, and I've never found your responses to be anything but extremely quick.

As for asking for repeats of what you've already addressed in your book, I have a terrible feeling I am probably guilty of this in the past, but as I have it in my room among my other research items rest assured it won't happen again!

Anyway, I continue to be very grateful for your time (as I'm sure, or at least hope, your other academic followers are as well). Just being able to reference some personal contact in a paper with someone like yourself is a huge boost to a student as I'm sure you're aware, and since reading your blog was what first got me interested in EO, PMCs in general and ultimately writing my dissertation on the subject it seemed natural to request some of your time. Unfortunately I had no idea so many others had the same notion so I'll try to be more circumspect in my future communications with you!

All the best with your other commitments, and thanks again. Your thoughts and insights are of tremendous value and apparently I'm not the only one with that opinion. Hopefully you'll take it as a compliment!

Regards
Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You raise some very good points on methanol, John, not least being an ability to achieve independence from excessively high petroleum prices. I will ask OTT about their thoughts on this and see where it leads but I will give you their thoughts on the matter.

The Who? Not bad at all as I recall the “Pinball Wizard” days...but I much prefer Mozart to the Russian masters as I find them a bit heavy at times.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No finger was pointed at you, Private. I am always pleased to see that you are around and getting stronger. Keep it up.

We will have to see where all the issues you raised leads us to. Only time will tell.

Take care and keep your chin up.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I do understand the predicament Jared and as I have mentioned, I do not mind trying to help out where I can. It is however when I get told that an answer is needed within the next day or 2 as a project needs to be submitted that I shake my head as I cannot always oblige. Whereas time is important in all studies – and I try to respond as soon as I can – it is not always possible for me to do so.

I do not know if the publisher has any Kindle plans. I must however say that I doubt it.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I do take it as a compliment, Alex – thanks!

I will continually try to give time to students but as mentioned before, it is sometimes impossible to keep to their deadlines due to my own activities.

Good luck with your studies.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am in entire agreement with your summation of how some people wish to combat poaching and how others really do it effectively, Andy.

I am afraid that I am not able to give you the best advice on the matter you raised as I have never worked in that particular field. I would recommend that you make direct contact with the national parks boards of some African countries. I am sure they will respond to you.

Let us know if you were able to get some guidance from them.

Good luck.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I do wish OTT much success in this. Unfortunately my expertise is very slanted towards the solids end of combustion and detonation, not the liquid end for internal combustion engines. I do know that the best multi-fuel process is the turbine - not exactly easy to maintain in the field, nor inexpensive. But they are amazing in the power to weight ratio.

Systematically though as we all go forward fighting evil (its current incarnation is terrorism, be it muslim fundamentalists or the green ecoterrrorists) energy will be the key. Right now OPEC holds all of us hostage to oil's whims on price - and our money goes back to the terrorists they fund. The eco-terrorists hold us under the sway of political correctness - wanting everyone to be green, no carbon based fuels, no nuclear power etc (their real goal is mass genocide by starvation returning the planet to ~ 500 million occupants). That does not bode well for any nation that is not energy independent.

Regards,
John

P.S. Great thoughts on music - I definitely do not have enough Mozart, I tended to pick up Bach for the earlier classical works.

P.P.S - Kindle would be great for your next work. Pretty low infrastructure on your end for publication and easy for your students to carry.

P.P.P.S - Fascinating cultural shift here. The Expendables comes out on DVD Tuesday. Interesting thought that a movie about a group of "mercenaries" (foul use by the press) taking on evil does very well in the theaters - the elites heads must be exploding, always good fun tweaking them....

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sure we would all like to see less dependence on oils and fuels, John.

I too am not very familiar with the issue you raise – my best is stopping at the pump to fill up the car’s tank. However, I am sure the guys at OTT will have more insight into this than I would ever hope to have so I shall take it up with them shortly.

I somehow suspect that political correctness coupled to large doses of hypocrisy will damage us severely if we do not begin to make a stand against it and counter those aspects that are purely aimed at disadvantaging us all.

A good dose of classical guitar is always fun to add to the mix.

I enjoyed The Expendables as it was true bubblegum for the mind – but highly entertaining. I can just imagine the horror some must have that it is popular.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are very welcome, Private.

Take care of yourself.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jonpre said...

Greetings sir.

I have been looking for a while for a manner to contact you and this seems as good a spot as any.

I am not quite a student, as I'm on a gap year (unfortunately forced by a medical situation during my final matrix examinations) and I'm in the process of trying to choose a course of study at university (history or politics and economics or something), but I have a huge interest in military conflict, past and present and all it entails. I would even love to eventually find myself working with in a position in some way related to this.

Having read your book on Executive Outcomes earlier this year, I have a great deal of respect for you as a person and as such I respect your opinion, so I was wondering if you might be able to suggest some good reading materials that might help me to further my knowledge and understanding of all aspects of conflict?

Many thanks.

P.S. my apologies for commenting on such an old string but it seemed a good place to do so. should you prefer to email me rather than comment here, my email address is nexo39@gmail.com. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated however I do understand that you are a busy man and that spending your free time with family is always more pleasant than responding to some pesky would-be student So if you do find this comment, please reply only at your leisure..
Again,
Many thanks.

Jon Pretorius

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for visiting the blog, Jon.

It seems as though you have got your head firmly placed on your shoulders with your plans for the future. Gap year is a great time to get your life’s plans assessed and implemented. Whereas I cannot tell you what to study, I can tell you that wars and conflicts, especially in Africa, are the result of ideologies, religions and resources.

Some good books to read (see my posting on some good reads...) will largely depend on what direction you take. The security environment differs vastly from the military environment.

Added to the book list I have posted on the blog, you may want to also look at the field of intelligence as it is intelligence that drives strategies.

If you can’t find the list, let me know and I will repost it for you.

Good luck and rgds,

Eeben

Jonpre said...

Hi Eeben,

I hope that you are well.

I must apologise once again for essentially reviving an ancient comment string.

Your comment that resources, ideologies and religions are the source of most conflicts especially in Africa, definitely appear most valid.
I would love to study these things through the viewpoint of history and then use that understanding to study and understand the present and immediate future.
Unfortunately I'm still not entirely sure what I actually want to do with my self in my future, but I'd love to follow my studies of history and use them to form the basis of some future in intelligence. I do however, believe that that's a dream that I'm unlikely to fulfil.

I have been looking for your suggested reading list, but haven't yet succeeded in finding it. Can you tell me how far back in your posts I should be looking for it?

Many thanks for your earlier reply.
Kind regards
Jon Pretorius

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

My apologies for taking a while to get back to you, Jon.

It is great that you wish to pursue your dream using history as a foundation. Do not let that stop you despite your concern that you are unlikely to fulfil your dream. Keep going for it. You are the only person who can stop you.

As for the reading list, look at: http://eebenbarlowsmilitaryandsecurityblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/books-i-recommend.html

Good luck!

Rgds,

Eeben