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, January 24, 2010

HAS COIN MADE US LOSE FOCUS?

Counter Insurgency (COIN) is a topic that is currently the subject of hot debate. Its leap to prominence stems from the hard lessons currently being learnt by the forces engaged in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, DRC, Yemen and so forth. Ironically, we seem to be continually thinking up new names, phrases and terms to ascribe to this not-so-new method of doing battle.

Although no universally accepted definition of an insurgency exists, it is commonly accepted that it is a movement with a specific political aim. In achieving its aim, the insurgent movement can resort to violence or to non-violence. But ultimately, the movement is dedicated to using either subversion (active or passive) or armed actions to overthrow a constituted government with the aim of replacing it with their own form of government – with the support of the local population. Guerrilla warfare and acts of terror and intimidation are simply two of the methods the insurgents will regularly adopt to achieve their aim.

There is however nothing new about an insurgency, apart from the weapons availability and technological ability of some insurgents. From my own limited experience, Angola, Sierra Leone and Indonesia were examples of insurgencies where violent actions were employed by the insurgents to overthrow or pressure those governments. But it appears as though a whole new cult-following has been established when it comes to countering insurgency and no cognisance is given to the lessons that have already been learnt and are clear to see. These lessons very clearly point out that an insurgency can be defeated.

Effectively countering the insurgency does not require a dedicated COIN army. It requires a conventionally-trained army doing conventional warfare correctly. This training, with its discipline and fire control, allows for flexible operation plans and an easy adaption to different tactics, techniques and procedures and adds operational flexibility. The army, however, needs core competencies in counterinsurgency (COIN) operations as well as in counter-terror (CT) operations. But it does not need to change its entire posture.

The success of the army will depend on:

• Its ability to gather intelligence. This requires focussed HUMINT operations and not massive technological operations. The HUMINT targets include operational plans of the insurgents, bases and hide-outs, their logistical supply lines, where IEDs/landmines are being manufactured, etc. These critical factors will not be identified using technical means. However, to get to successful HUMINT operations requires sound intelligence strategies and thorough planning.
• Its understanding that the spoils of the conflict are the minds of the local population. A lack of cultural respect and tradition, heavy-handed tactics against innocents, collateral damage and so forth will simply increase the flow of recruits to the insurgents.
• Combined arms competencies to allow for effective operations
• Its ability to influence the local population by means of operations other than war.

An insurgency is however a progression phase of the conflict and is not the main conflict. As such the insurgency lays the groundwork for a future phase of war.

Following the development of conflict, especially in the African context, it can develop in the following phases:

• The mobilisation of the people against real or perceived oppression
• A phase of armed struggle utilising the operational environment – both the political environment and natural terrain. This is usually in the form of guerrilla warfare and may include acts of terrorism. However, soft targets are of primary importance to show results and get mass media attention. It is this phase of war that is referred to as an insurgency and the fight against it as counter-insurgency. Engagements are of short duration and the insurgent will then melt away into the bush and blend into local population concentrations
• Mobile warfare aimed primarily at rear areas with the aim of cutting supply lines and capturing arms and ammunition. This is not a phase where AFVs are employed but should rather be viewed as a phase in which the insurgents mount large-scale operations. Vehicles may be used to deliver them to close proximity of their targets.
• Conventional warfare – a phase where mass support from the people has been given to the insurgent movement – a phase where numbers and anger will tell .

There are many very valuable lessons pertaining to the effective neutralisation of insurgencies. But, one of the most important issues to take note of is that ultimately, the armed forces will find themselves caught in a clash of cultures. Failure to understand, plan and effectively utilise this factor to their advantage will lead to a long, hard war-of-attrition – and allow the insurgents to realise their strategy.

Perhaps it is time we revisited the lessons we have already learnt and somehow forgotten about.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

GONE FOR A FEW DAYS

As I am about to go away for a couple of days, I shall unfortunately not be able to respond to any new comments posted on the blog. However, I shall not be gone for too long and all things being equal, I shall be back on or about 16/17 January.

Please do not stop visiting and/or commenting...I shall respond to every comment upon my return.

Best regards to you all.

Eeben

Monday, January 4, 2010

A FRAUD ON FACEBOOK

Normally, I tend to ignore imposters as I have personally met several people over the years impersonating me or claiming to have started Executive Outcomes or even to have commanded it, managed it or planned its actions.

However, I was recently alerted to my apparent Facebook page. The person impersonating me on Facebook is using both my name and the company logo of Executive Outcomes.

I have tried to contact Facebook to report this issue of “identity theft” but have not been successful. Additionally, many people who visit this blog have written and asked me why I don’t respond to them on Facebook. The answer is quite simply: I have never had a Facebook profile.

To those of you who have tried to contact me on Facebook, I am sorry that someone has been using my name and EO’s logo to bait you. This lurker and identity thief must have a very devious and nefarious reason for doing this.

But, given my inability to have Facebook take action against this waster, I have decided to do so myself and expose this dishrag as both a fraud and an imposter. Added to that is his apparent attempt to use the name of a once-great company to either gather intelligence or generate business for himself. One can sink no lower than that, especially as I doubt if he would have had the moral fibre to have been part of EO.

Due to my own self-imposed blog policy (to refuse the use of foul language), I am forced to only tell this fraud to stop using my name and the logo and name of Executive Outcomes and to get a life.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

NARCO-TERRORISM CAN BE STOPPED...

Despite the controversy over the term, the phrase “narco-terrorism” is increasingly used to refer to known (and unknown) terrorist organisations that use the illicit drug trade to fund their operations, entice followers and buy expertise, weapons and explosives.

What initially started off as attacks against counter-narcotics agencies in South America – and particularly in Peru – has become a methodology used by illegal drug traders and traffickers to build up forces and attempt to influence the policies of governments and societies by means of violence, intimidation and terrorism.

Whereas the destruction of their crops is a good start, it cannot - and should not - end there. There are many other targets that can be attacked over a wide front to destroy this enemy and no stone should be left unturned in eradicating this scourge. Indeed, those who prefer this path should be attacked with aggression and cunning and given no moment of respite.

Yet the West seems to be afraid of infringing on the human rights of the drug traffickers, syndicates and cartels despite its calls for these activities to be stopped. Ironically, when drug traffickers/mules are sentenced to death in the East, European governments protest loudly and call for clemency, claiming the convicted suffer from some incurable mental disease. However, this “mental disease” seems to surface only once the perpetrators are caught. Will we witness a similar pattern when these governments are dealing with narco-terrorists? Do these traffickers and dealers have any mercy on those they have dragged into the murky world of drug addiction? When their ill-gotten gains are used to purchase weapons, explosives and know-how, do they for a moment stop to consider being merciful towards those they are about to kill? I doubt it.

That most basic law of economics – the law of supply and demand – needs to be readdressed, reanalysed and the situation re-appreciated. Part of this problem is that the purity, along with the demand, of many of these illegal substances has risen while the prices have dropped. This has widened the market and increased sales. This in turn empowers the criminal syndicates and cartels, damages the legitimate economy, creates additional strain on law enforcement agencies and adds to a climate that breeds terrorism.

According to Interpol, the illicit drug trade is a major source in funding terrorism. Apparently it is a US$ 400 billion business annually, taking about 8 percent of the world’s trade – and growing. This implies that the organisations running this global empire have sufficient funds to source and buy whatever they need to expand their empire. Stopping them will require more than simple crop-burning.

Narco-terrorism needs to be attacked over a wide front, utilising overt, clandestine and covert methods – with no regard to the human rights of these criminals. Failure to do so will simply increase the revenue stream to the terrorists. Additionally, the underlying issues of addiction and prevention should be addressed in order to reduce the market size and demand.

Taking the fight to the narco-terror networks should be Priority #1. This requires an intensified effort to infiltrate/penetrate the cartels and syndicates, direct hard action against the villas, haciendas and other hideouts and laboratories, intercept mail and telephone calls to identify and target accomplices, freeze bank accounts (these funds can be used against them), show no mercy when applying the law against them, sanction governments that provide succour to the narco-terrorists, disrupt them in their own areas, identify and attack High Value Targets and so forth.

The financial gains the narco-traders and narco-terrorists make from their crimes stem from the host of buyers, sellers, traders and traffickers. This grouping should be likewise targeted without mercy. Prison sentences in cushy jails should not even be a consideration. Instead, they should receive hard labour sentences where they are given no respite. Let them build roads with picks and shovels – even in areas where no roads are needed.

The west coast of Africa is increasingly becoming a hub for the illegal drugs trade and trafficking from especially South America. What was once known as the Gold Coast is rapidly becoming known the Coke Coast. If no action is taken, this volatile area may soon become a focal point from which not only increased drug trafficking is launched into Europe, but very possibly narco-terrorism. But, the longer this serious issue is ignored, the more time the narco-terrorists are given to entrench themselves and their followers, build their networks and wreak havoc. But this volatile area in Africa is also starting to produce its own drugs – the implications can be imagined. Likewise, East Africa is also becoming a hub for narco-terrorism.

Despite the noises made about narco-terrorism, it is unlikely that much real effort will go into stopping this very lucrative and dangerous criminal endeavour. Where efforts are made, they fall far short of denting the narco networks. Throwing money at a problem will not make it go away. Only a decent aggressive strategy will do that.