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.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

JUST HOW “PRIVATE” ARE PMCs?

I have, of late, been wondering if the debate about PMCs is not superfluous.

I ask this question because I wonder just how “private” the majority of PMCs out there are?

To understand the concept of a Private Military Company, I believe that one should evaluate it against certain criteria. After all, the operative word is “private”.

As a basic set of criteria to measure PMCs against, I think the following questions ought to be asked:

1. Were they founded at the behest of, and/or with support from a host government?
2. Were they founded to assist a host government with specific military or foreign policy aims?
3. Are they independently funded or are they sustained by host government contracts?
4. Are they operating to further the foreign policy of their host government?
5. Were they awarded contracts based on recognition of prior work or were they handed their contracts, regardless?
6. Are their contracts awarded by their host government or by the client government?
7. Do they operate as an extension of their host government’s armed forces?
8. Have they (really) produced measurable results?

If these questions cannot be answered satisfactorily, then surely they are not “private” military companies but rather parastatal military companies.

Let me be clear on this score: I don’t mind them being parastatal military companies at all. In fact, good for them. However, it irks me that they are advertised as “private” as that is what many of them certainly are not.

Some claim to have modelled themselves on “company X” or “company Y” but in fact, that is simply a smokescreen. I suspect that this is done to distance themselves from their host governments and make them appear “private”. But this perception actually prevents the real Private Military Companies from entering the market as they cannot compete on the same level as Parastatal Military Companies – simply because they do not have the financial backing of a government behind them.

I also know that some of these PMCs boast at being non-profit PMCs. But, I am told (rather reliably) that there is at least one PMC that has (very quietly) set up an “independent” PMC, in parallel with itself that it then subcontracts. In my book, this hardly makes it a non-profit PMC. Actually, I suspect that there is an element of fraud in this if the claim is true.

So, while the debate rages on about Private Military Companies I have to wonder just how “private” many of them really are.

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.