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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.

Monday, February 28, 2011

DEBUNKING ANOTHER MYTH

I continue to remain amused at how some self-proclaimed “experts” on Executive Outcomes continue to regurgitate their story that the company fell victim to South Africa’s laws on military assistance.

It seems this gem of disinformation was initially fed to a journalist working under control of South Africa’s Military Intelligence Division (MID), that paragon of truth (I know because I spent time there), and was subsequently picked up by numerous other “experts” who spun the lie enough times for it to become a “fact” in their feeble minds.

Members of the foreign media were equally keen to grasp at these mistruths. Whether it was because of a lack of integrity or to also earn money on side, only they can tell.

At the time that EO was operating, numerous other “Executive Outcomes” also appeared on the scene, all posers and some actually being run by MID, all in an attempt to smear the real EO and the many good men who worked in that company. It was this more than anything else that led to my comment to the media that EO would welcome legislation regarding companies operating in the military field.

EO was subsequently invited to attend South African government meetings on the planned legislation and numerous inputs given by the company were eventually contained in what became the Bill that was finally passed.

In their attempts to earn their extramural salaries from MID and the other services, they had to continually perpetuate the lie. Even the UN, that shining light of competency and integrity, jumped onto the bandwagon although I suspect their agenda had more to do with covering up their incompetence than anything else.

To this, they had to add that EO was paid in mineral concessions; something that even today remains laughable. But, these mistruths were quickly swallowed by a gullible readership. Despite having challenged numerous journalists, and even the UN, to produce evidence to substantiate their claims - even today they cannot do so because it is difficult to prove a lie – especially one of such gargantuan proportions.

These lies, along with numerous others, have even made their way into “intellectual papers” and are contained in numerous theses on PMCs and Executive Outcomes. This really does bring into question the validity and standard of many “intellectual” works.

But the great shining lie was the so-called “fact” that EO was closed due to SA government legislation. The story in short claims that EO never had a government licence to operate and was therefore, by implication, operating illegally.

The bad news for these habitual liars (intelligence whores would be a more appropriate title for them) is that EO did indeed have a permit to operate.

This may come as a shock to many but it was issued on 24 October 1997 and the permit number was 6-97-00006. To those who continue to make these false claims, a copy of the original permit is shown below.


I hope that those who continue to write about EO will have the courage and journalistic integrity to rectify their previous “errors” and stop perpetuating disinformation.

20 comments:

michael b said...

It seems that these days it has become almost impossible to figure out who is more unethical, stupid, untrustworthy and dishonourable.... The press, politicians or the UN.... They all hold hands together and spin huge webs of deceit. None of them must be trusted. Lets face it, the UN are nothing short of limp at best. Why the hell do they bother arming them if they dont have the mandate to enforce? Just look at bosnia, somalia etc etc. Wally's in fashionable blue berets thats it. The press are glory hunters who will not hesitate to bend the realms of reality to make their stories "juicy". The truth just doesnt sell articles so they embellish and thumb suck. The politicians are all just corrupt and are starting to feel the pressure from gatvol masses. Eg. Egypt, libya, bahrain, yemen etc. ITS HIGH TIME.

graycladunits said...

Dear Sir:

I have been away awhile, but I still read your posts. A long time ago, I wrote a position paper on the differences between PMC/PSC workers and mercenaries. I am 99% sure everything is accurate; but as a matter of accountability to a knowledgable first hand source, I would like to submit it to you just to see if you agree with everything said in it with regards to factual accuracy.


Would you like me to submit it to the blog as a giant comment or should I send it to an email address as an attachment? It is six pages typed and double-spaced in length. You may even feel free to publish it on your blog or just parts of it if you feel it is good enough. Please give credit to David Hensley or graycladunits if you do since I wrote it. I think you will enjoy the paper. I wrote it to defend guys like you from the attacks of American liberalism.

David Hensley

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Very true, Michael B. I do however lay a large portion of the blame before the door of the media and the UN as they use their positions of trust to sow distrust and spread disinformation. If the impact was positive, one might forgive them a bit but positive it certainly isn’t.

Perhaps it is better that the UN does not have a mandate – given all the horror stories one stumbles across regarding the UN, can you imagine the chaos they would cause if they were given a mandate to use force? Those I have come across should preferably be unarmed and even better, should rather leave Africa for good.

Yes, the truth is boring and boring does not sell the media product. Instead, lies are written as fact and eventually people have no real facts to base decisions on.

I often wonder where all those “experts” on EO have disappeared to as I seldom see their names in the media. Those I do see have not ceased their duplicity and continue to spin their lies and deceit. Sadly their editors do not seem to have the desire or the drive to check their stories.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I would like to read it, GCU, thank you.

Please send me your email address (to the blog) and I shall respond by return mail. I shall not publish your email address.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

You have to be be doing something right - the liars and cheats keep coming out to smear you and the reputation of EO. Anybody with 1/2 a brain knows the media is really just a 5th column now and is not to be believed at all.

It is interesting that I ran into a rather good piece on the effectiveness of EO that did perpetuate this very myth though. I'll dig it up and send it over if I can find it again - kicked myself that I did not bookmark it.

We are living in interesting times to be sure - the "media" (meh)are making hay on "mercenaries" propping up the Libyan govt. - likely worth more thought soon as well.

I do hope all is well with your current endeavors.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I look forward to receiving the piece on EO, John, thanks.

I believe that the media should be held accountable – just as they call for everyone else to be held accountable. The day that happens, I think the media will finally play the role it ought to play – informing citizens – not misinforming them.

As we witness the MENA countries explode into chaos, it will be interesting to see how the West reacts to this and who they actually side with this time round. It is indeed interesting times.

Time remains an enemy and I constantly battle that enemy but things are going well – but slow.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I have yet to get back through my historical reads to find the article I wanted - but I can truly see why you have to defend yourself and EO so vehemently. There is a massive amount of garbage out there ripping into EO.

I did find a palate cleanser though - if the reader can step past "mercenary" as the initial derogatory word.

http://townhall.com/columnists/jeffjacoby/2011/01/31/the_case_for_mercenaries_in_somalia

I think it will be a rougher road in the media now considering what is getting reported out of Libya.

The rot runs deep in the media - God help us if the UN gets more control.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

No problem at all, John – thank you for the effort.

The garbage on EO will sadly remain on the web forever. Some of those who penned the disinformation were exposed in my book. Others tried to hide but I am slowly, with the help of others, finding the rubbish they wrote and I will continue to expose them as liars, no matter how long it takes.

I enjoyed the link you sent but I also enjoyed reading the comments. In fact, I marvel at how everyone wants to talk about a “problem” but no one seems to have the guts to resolve it.

Libya is going to present an interesting case study on UN effectiveness. But there seems to be not much haste in getting their peacekeepers there.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

I'll continue to dig for the article - it has to be on my phone someplace. Which reminds me I still have Hank Wharton thoughts to fling out as well...

The links and comments are interesting to be sure.

What I am really finding fascinating are that a good number of conservative blogs are calling for "hiring Executive Outcomes" to go solve these issues - passing the buck for "someone" to solve their own problems..but recognizing that yes, EO was effective.

These times will be interesting for certain.

I was wondering - since EO is out of business did your liscence pass as well - or could someone grab it and use it illegally? Not that I am espousing that one.

As for the UN - meh. Your next post says it all. I will continue to push my political representative to defund them.

Any thoughts on strategies/philosophies you would think on for removing Ghadafi - supplies up the coast, LRDG etc.
He has money for now - and arms. Starving him out may not be a good solution for stability there. In the end though it does have to be solved by the people he is effecting - I am just a kibitzer from over the pond...

Sorry for the rambling...

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sure you will one day find the article John, thanks for your efforts.

As EO no longer exists, the licence is no longer valid. However, to restart a similar company will be rather quick as many of the men are asking for me to restart it or something similar. But, as the licence no longer exists, no one can illegally use it – besides, if they tried, I would very quickly know about it.

I watch all of these problems in Africa with an eagle eye and look at ways to bring them to an end. Libya is a complex situation with many options but it is not unsolvable – in fact, many times the more complex the problem, the simpler the solution is. As I am deeply concerned at what is happening in Africa, I often look at approaches and strategies to end these conflicts – Libya is no different.

Total isolation of a problem often does more harm than good.

What I do find interesting is the lack of UN urgency to dispatch a “peacekeeping” force coupled to talk about “no-fly zones”. It is one thing to talk of a no-fly zone, a different matter to impose it. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out. Stopping UN funding will certainly not be a catastrophe.

Rgds,

Eeben

Alex said...

That made me smile.

I kept coming across allegations of EO being shut down 'due to government legislation' when I was researching this for my dissertation, and tried to gather all the evidence I could to disprove it, but this takes the biscuit.

Let's see them continuing to spin that particular lie now. No doubt they will accuse you of forgery or something...

Regards,

Alex

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That lie was started in the media in SA with input from MI, Alex. Then it just kept feeding itself as the journalists here were simply too lazy to check the facts and too dazzled by MI. Of course, it became a matter of blow-back of foreign journalists jumped onto the bandwagon.

I am sure they will try to find some method of justifying their lies...

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

You must be feeling a bit like Cincinnatus by now with all the calls to re-constitute EO. With North Africa and the Horn dissolving into chaos the calls will only become larger.

Add to that the mess unfolding in Japan the usefulness of the PMC can only be heightened. Quick effective reaction power will be the new calling card.

Also, my representative did get back to me regarding the faux EO out there....we shall see. He seems to be a trustworthy sort and the squeaky wheel gets the oil in my district. He is on the House Armed Services committee which controls some of the purse strings in this area.

Next item to add to pursuit is de-funding the UN.

Regards,
John

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

It looks like the "UN" finally decided to "authorize" a no-fly zone. And the US promptly tossed out 112 Tomahawks as the first offering (we'll see how our congress steps in on this one). Now for easy math let's say each one costs $1M US - what could an EO style corporation - let's call it the Cincinattus Corp - do with $112M seed money as a loan to start ops? This would only be a starting solution.

But I believe this goes against your founding precepts as EO did not do work against the legitimate governments of a country - imagine the irony CC working for the UN to remove an "illegitimate" government." The Blue helmets are more likely to wander in and botch the job.

Libya will be fascinating to watch unfold - will it follow the western desert mode of runs up and down the coast? Include this with many of the comments on the Hunter looking like the next generation LRDG vehicle and the coincidences are building up. Of course the backdrop will be death and destruction in all the local populations - they all can not be the oceans the rebels/government will swim in.

I will have my popcorn whipped up to watch the media twist themselves into knots legitimizing this after so much blather about "blood for oil" in Iraq. I want to know who is the puppet-master pulling the strings on the media propaganda ops.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As we see, the chaos is increasing, John.

What happened in Japan was simply horrifying and one cannot even really find words to describe the terrible times the Japanese must be going through. I wanted to do a posting on that but alas never got around to it. Too much work, too little time. My heart bleeds for those who suffered through that catastrophe. It is going to take a long time for Japan to stand up again.

You are very fortunate to have your political representative to get back to you. Sadly, ours couldn’t really be bothered...It will, however, be very interesting to see what he comes up with.

Thank you for taking action at your end of the world.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Yes, the UN has called for action John, and the West has responded with gusto. As I mentioned to another visitor, I wonder where the Arab League is as they were behind the calls. Unless I missed it, they are nowhere to be seen. It will also be interesting to see how “democracy” is going to be implemented. My concern is that the West may be replacing one dictator with another. Better the devil you know...

Good point on the cost of missiles versus a PMC’s seed money. But, acting against a legitimate government, despite who they are and what they do, is a domain no PMC should enter.

Libya is certainly going to be an interesting scenario to observe. Don’t you think it is going to encourage others to rise up if they don’t like their own government? Surely a precedent has now been set. What if regime change leads to a more evil regime? What if a regime change is violently anti-West? Or am I misreading the situation?

The news indicates that Tripoli is arming more than 1 million civilians to counter the western aggression. How will that upset the balance?

It is however interesting to note that countries where governments have been - or are much more violent towards their populations - have not seen the West race to their aid. Here I think of Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Yemen, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, etc, etc. I believe that the current action will upset the balance of power in the MENA countries but will also raised many questions. But, only time will tell.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

You are spot on for your assessment - Ghaddafi (sic) is the devil we all know - what is happening in the Middle East now is truly frightening. A democracy there would only be for one election cycle (see Mugabe) and the west would be begging at the feet of true insanity for oil. Mob rule will be the norm I fear. Saudi Arabia will be the one to watch.

As for far worse regimes I have can not agree more - Zimbabwe and The Congo have got to be the worst situations going yet we sit back and watch them burn. The record of the west, and the USA, is pretty poor. Rwanda has to take the cake as we actively worked against EO and 800k souls paid for it at a higher rate of murder than the holocaust. Western media just loves a sob story ("The Killing Fields") but does not abide by people taking care of themselves. That attitude is changing via the internet though.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Sorry for the late response John but I have been on the road again.

I agree with your assessment on how democracy would pan out in the ME but hopefully history will prove us wrong. Given the past we have witnessed, I don’t think we can expect Western-styled democracy to take hold as there are many factors at play there. Only time will tell.

Sadly, Zimbabwe and DRC are but a few of the places where no one has paid too much notice. Likewise, Rwanda was indeed a sad case of lack of interest and ineptitude. One can only hope it never repeats itself. When pressurised to act, the UN certainly acted rapidly on Libya. One has to ask why?

Although the internet remains riddled with a lot of disinformation, it is enabling many to get their messages out and to counter some of the disinformation. To me, that is great.

Rgds,

Eeben

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi James,

Please see my previous response your request.

This is nothing personal – I am just no longer prepared to help students.

Good luck and rgds,

Eeben