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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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

CONTROLLING THE AREA OF OPERATIONS

We cannot dominate the battlefield if we cannot control it.

The Area of Operations (AO) is greatly influenced by the terrain and the prevailing climatic conditions in which the operations take place. Exploiting and gaining control over the Area of Operations with surprise, speed and firepower ought to be a priority for own forces commanders.

The Operating Environment, also referred to as the Operational Environment (OE), is a combination of circumstances and influences that impact greatly AO and, in turn, on the decisions of commanders and subsequently, the deployment of forces and assets.

As Own Forces control over the AO/OE will place the enemy at a disadvantage and allow commanders to dictate the flow and tempo of battle or operations, the enemy will use every means possible to prevent this control and thereby attempt to impede Own Forces’ momentum and deny Own Forces the initiative.

To gain and maintain control over both the AO, the enemy or insurgent forces must be denied the ability to:

1. Prevent Own Forces access to the AO: The enemy will achieve this by denying, delaying and disrupting own forces that wish to enter the AO. These actions will be strengthened by propaganda, mines, IEDs, ambushes, stand-off bombardments, selective demolitions or a combination of these actions. Access routes and logistical lines will become prime targets to prevent effective deployment and sustainment of own forces within the Area of Operations.

2. Influence the local population: Regardless of the type of operation, the enemy will make maximum use of influencing the local population to his advantage. This advantage can include the gathering of intelligence on Own Forces entering or in the AO, assist the enemy in channelling forces into preplanned killing grounds (this can be done with simple methods such as using children or even livestock to block a specific route) and so forth. If the local population realise that Own Forces will withdraw soon after the operation, they will support the enemy to prevent retaliation after these forces have withdrawn.

3. Disperse forces: The enemy will attempt to divert the focus of Own Forces commanders in order to preserve his combat forces. This will be achieved by deploying his forces over a wide area/front whilst exploiting terrain of strategic and tactical importance to stage smaller actions aimed at inflicting casualties and confusing commanders. These actions may induce commanders to attack enemy forces at a time and place favourable to the enemy, thus causing casualties amongst the local population and unnecessary collateral damage. This will turn the local population against the attacking forces. Dispersion will, furthermore, prevent Own Forces commanders from accurately determining the enemy’s Trinity of Gravity

4. Impede momentum: The enemy will exploit every weakness in the advancing or attacking forces thrust in order to slow down the momentum. Ambushes, nuisance minefields, IEDs and such will prolong the conflict whilst drawing forces into terrain that is favourable to the enemy. By impeding momentum and thus prolonging the conflict, the enemy will attempt to survive tactically in order to achieve a strategic victory over the advancing or attacking forces. Logistical supply lines - along with static forward bases - will become prime enemy targets, being subject to assaults, raids, stand-off bombardments and even suicide bombers. These actions do not only lead to Own Forces casualties but may deprive commanders of the initiative.

5. Neutralise strengths: The enemy will attempt to neutralise the attacking forces by occupying villages, towns and other complex areas in order to divide the forces and attack them at a time and place of their choosing. Using villages to shield their actions, the enemy will be able to inflict casualties and even achieve small tactical successes. As the enemy will often know the AO better than the attacking forces, he will use the terrain to his advantage and strike high-visibility targets to gain a propaganda and psychological advantage. Retaliation by the armed forces may result in excessive collateral damage, resulting in increased local support to the enemy and the resultant propaganda proclaiming the enemy is “everywhere”

6. Deny safe areas: The enemy will make every attempt to deny safe and secure areas to the attacking forces during all phases of the operation. Using indirect and direct fire, landmines, IEDs and so forth, the enemy will target laager areas, temporary bases from positions that prevent Own Forces retaliation, such as villages, towns and so forth

7. Achieve surprise: As the enemy will in many instances be more familiar with the AO than the attacking forces, he will use every advantage he has in order to gain a strategic or tactical surprise. This may include the use of deception, feints, raids, stand-off bombardments and other actions to confuse the Own Forces commanders.

8. Gather intelligence: Good OPSEC measures as well as counter intelligence techniques must be used to prevent the enemy from gaining a clear understanding of Own Forces’ strengths, weaknesses and TTPs. Avoiding routine, alternating routes, night operations and so forth can be used effectively to confuse the enemy and deny his understanding of how Own Forces operate.

Climatic variations, although having a significant impact on operations within the AO, are beyond the control of both Own Forces and the enemy. Like terrain, it favours the one who “reads” it correctly, and uses and exploits it.

Whereas air power is crucial to achieving air superiority, conducting aerial reconnaissance and providing Close Air Support, air power loses much of its utility when the enemy make use of towns and villages to shield his activities.

Controlling the AO should therefore not rely exclusively on air power but rather rely on soldiers who are correctly trained, equipped and deployed to ensure domination of the area.

39 comments:

michael b said...

sun tzu`s Art of war immediately springs to mind. the americans seem to have totally ignored the wisdom of this 2000 year old tactician. they blunder forward with massive numbers. discretion can be far more effective than big brash action like we see in chuck norris flicks which i fear may be more true to life than people may think. i own a small abridged pocket version of the art of war. it makes sense.
mike

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I don’t think junior commanders and even middle-ranking commanders are to blame for what we see happening, Mike.

Nowadays, there is a lot of philosophising about war and conflict and hard learnt lessons are being discarded to make way for philosophy and unproven theories. These forgotten hard learnt lessons ought to be taught – but are not. Basic infantry skills are lacking as is initiative, leadership, daring – and even basic map reading has been replaced with GPS coordinates. The end result is that men are deployed without being properly trained. (I have seen African troops that have been trained for foreign training staff and have been shocked at what I have seen).

But where does the problem lie? Is it with the inadequately trained troops that are used to train others – or does the problem lie higher up the chain? I believe it lies higher up the chain.

The Art of War is indeed a very good guide but I think it would be a folly to attempt to implement it as is. Many of the tactical lessons therein hold validity but need to be analysed in terms of our equipment of today.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

I concur. Basic soldiering skills have been lost to technology and rear echelon command is to blame for FUBARS encountered in country. It would be erroneous to believe that sun tzu's art of war is a definitive manual. It is just a handy how to manual with nifty ideas that can be used in modern theatres. Naturally it is a bit dated and cannot be followed verbatim as if it were "scripture". To be used as an outline and approach. Mike.

Herbert said...

Mr Barlow,
My best regards to you for another insightful, pragmatic posting. Your model with 8 elements, although not the one I would have come up with, makes a lot of sense after I considered the elements one at a time.
Regarding your closing comments on airpower, you are spot on. My good friend, a former accomplished aviator who literally saved my life as a beliegered infantryman in combat, and I both know that there is no substitute for a well-trained, tough, never-quit infantryman who can defeat his counterpart on the battlefield.
If you will indulge me, I will close by saying that I felt you were perhaps a bit hasty in your response to commenter Michael, as I feel he is on to something. I spent 4 years on the faculty of a US service war college, and I found that the more useful Sun Tzu got short shrift compared to the constant pressure to worship at the alter of Carl Clausewitz. All this is no doubt the subject of another day.
Best Regards,
Herbert

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is probably one of the most handy manuals around Mike yet it seems to be discarded by many. I am not sure which translation you have but the modern Chinese interpretation by Gen Tao Hanzhang is a very interesting take on the Art of War.

I only have a problem when folks want to apply it to the letter without giving cognisance to the fact that it was written in a certain period with a specific mind-set. Its value as a guide and inspiration to thought is most certainly outstanding.

Rgds,

Eeben

Steve Tongue said...

In the modern age of GPS, laser range finders and bunker busting bombs the art of basic infantry skills and and general warfare knowledge have been lost. SOP's, terrain knowledge and general good soldiering have been discarded for the quick fix and glory.

Any good commander will base his tactics on a foundation of good well rehearsed SOP's and fresh ground intelligence.These simple standards have been used by many well trained disciplined forces all over the world and should always be constant in the mind of any battle commander.

5RR

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As I enjoy getting the comments of others Herbert, I would ask that you please add to the elements I wrote. The more we can learn from one another, the better for us.

Many of us would not be around were it not for some very brave pilots who flew into dangerous situations to get us out. I shall always be grateful to them. But they too would agree with your comment that “there is no substitute for a well-trained, tough, never-quit infantryman who can defeat his counterpart on the battlefield”.

Both Clausewitz and Sun Tzu were men who wrote from a specific frame of reference and both alluded to different types of warfare. This does not in any way detract from their incredible insights – rather, we should use what applies to us and re-evaluate that which does not necessarily apply to us. I have however noticed that there is a very strong movement that favours Clausewitz and that his works are seen as all authoritative often at the expense of others.

Michael certainly made valid comments re Sun Tzu and I did not mean to dismiss his comments. My response was aimed at cautioning against the potential danger in accepting one writer’s views as all-true.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Points taken, Steve.

Given the propensity to minimise casualties, I think many of the gadgets – despite having an enormous role to play – have actually become “the strategy”. This in turn has led to a break-down in good, solid soldiering skills – and has in its own way – actually increased casualties.

The use of hi-tech weaponry makes for good television viewing but I remain unconvinced that it is the best way to wage war. Ultimately, when politicians decide to commence hostilities, first and foremost on their minds will be casualties. Of course, own casualties should be minimised whilst inflicting maximum casualties on the enemy. I believe this is only done with well trained and led men, with the correct firepower – and fire discipline – overwhelming the enemy.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

Eeben you are ultimately right. We must adapt our strategies and mindset to fit our current area of operations. Tactics must be updated for the new battlefield and soldiers need to be able to think independantly when the need arises but must be an absolute team player. A soldier that isnt adaptable will not make muster in today's volatile arena. You cannot fight an unconventional war by conventional methods. This is where the U S A are lacking. They are engaged in guerilla warfare (afghanistan, iraq) but are using the wrong rules of engagement. The first thing wrong with their operating procedures and what they dont seem to grasp or understand is that their foe are guerilla's with no standard operating procedures other than kill.! Smaller teams of adaptable specialist teams would probably enjoy more success than a sea of soldiers posturing and parading around. In my previous comment i mentioned the word "scripture" to illustrate the outdatedness of written words being followed to the T many eons later when those words and mindsets no longer apply to our world now. In simple terms. You cannot use a 1963 vw beetle manual to repair a 2003 vw beetle. The same goes for tactician manuals. Sun tzu's manual contains very pertinent points which are still the same today as they were 2000 years ago. Spying, not over extending your resources far from home base, hearts and minds. These three points in particular have been flouted by the U S in the last 60years since the end of world war 2. I dont know what manual the yanks are using but it aint working too great.. To win a datsun, name the last conflict the yanks won? And not with the help of a zillion allies.... I think we will have to get hold of marty mc fly and his 1.21 jiggawatt time travelling de lorean and venture back to the future to the american war of independance to get the answer of my question.
In conclusion. Every war or conflict is different in its dynamics , tactics and attitude and military leaders must adapt to those areas of operations. Use guerilla tactics on guerilla's or suffer losses. Think back to rows of red coats with white "webbing" marching in line accross open veld into the kahki clad boers ambush during the boer war. The brits had to quicky adapt their approach to stop a turkey shoot approach to warfare..
I thoroughly enjoy your blog and its insights and once again say that i am proud to have worked for Executive Outcomes, even though i was only in a support role with the airwing. (refueller).
Mike book#32.

paul said...

Hello Eeben
I always enjoy your articles, and am almost finished your book, which I have found to be a great read. I would be really keen to hear your views on what is currently happening in the Ivory Coast. Off message perhaps for this post, but as a complete outsider (I'm from Ireland and have no military connections whatsoever) I find it so depressing to see the same constant cycle of horror strike African countries and their civilians, seemingly one after another, with vacuous responses from the likes of the UN and the African Union.

http://nyti.ms/hs0dfG

All best,

Paul

Herbert said...

Mr Barlow,
In my previous comment I should have suggested an additional element to your 8 good ones. Thank you for the invitation to do so. I will call my suggestion Control of the Information Environment.
You somewhat cover part of it in your intelligence and "influence the local population" element; however, I believe it warrants a category of its own.
I refer to the proven capability and proclivity of some enemies to intelligently put out propaganda, downright lies, and carefully crafted stories that claim enemy success even when, especially when, the polar opposite is true. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of media that will propagate the lies and even more people who will be all too happy to believe it. Your hard-fought success will have counted for naught.
The antidote is an aggressive information ops program (both inside and outside the AO). on't get caught just counter-punching; you will lose. Get ahead of the cycle.
I'll wager you have been victim of this inside-out game.

Best Rgds,
Herbert

Elliott Cheresh said...

Eeben,

The section of this post on influencing the local population rings very true for me and this seems to be one of the most critical elements of modern counterinsurgency operations. As you said, "If the local population realise that Own Forces will withdraw soon after the operation, they will support the enemy to prevent retaliation after these forces have withdrawn".

Therefore it seems that it is necessary to stage near-constant shows of force so as to reassure the local population. However, this seems to conflict with the need to remain hidden to the enemy and prevent it from acquiring knowledge about one's forces and operations, as you discuss in section 8.

It seems as if regularity, routine, and daytime operations are the things that would most reassure the local population of Own Forces' ability to provide security and continued presence. I'm very curious as to how you would suggest that one balance the two.

Best,

Elliott

reflexivefire said...

Thanks for this post Eeben, you put words to something I have been trying to express for a long time. "Technology instead of tactics" is a blight that has taken a serious toll on the light infantry.

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Excellent post - buckets of good insight that is unfortunately going unheeded in the old western desert battlefields. History is truly repeating itself as the opposing forces run back and forth to "the wire" with "NATO" rushing through the skies fully denying that boots will be on the ground soon. I don't believe that has ever worked historically. The propaganda out here in the US in the media is thick and full of mush.

I did have a couple thoughts that you may be able to clear up for me. You mentioned the enemy, and own forces using many devices (mines, IED, unexploded ordnance etc) to deny access or funnel forces into the grounds of their choosing. In your experiences, after the conflict has ended do the leftovers tend to destroy the local populations? Or - alternately, does the level of propaganda used to deny own forces access, or yield access, cause a backlash against the eventual winners leading to at best benevolent dictatorships or worse.

Regards,
John

P.S. We are just commentors at a good soapbox. I sincerely hope that a few very good posts and replies back to us mean that you are extremely busy. With the world spiraling out of control at the moment I imagine your expertise has to be in high demand.

Wynne Lewis said...

Very exciting
http://militarypictures.blogspot.com/

Julian Loxley said...

Slightly off-topic, but from one South African to another - What's your take on recent developments in South Africa over the past year or so with regards to the racial tension etc.? I know this is a loaded question, but it's something I thought I would ask nonetheless :)

Kind Regards,
Julian

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the kind comment as well as for buying and reading the book, Paul.

I think what we see happening – and what has happened - in Ivory Coast will still come back to haunt many. There have been many conflicting stories about the situation there and I am not so sure that objective reporting is or has taken place. I know from people I have spoken to, and granted that they will be subjective, the Ivory Coast will not become the peaceful democracy as some claim it will be. I hope I am wrong but there is still a long difficult path that needs to be walked there.

Africa’s resources remain its curse. However, when a country with no resources spins out of control, empty words are uttered and no action is taken. The horror stories about Africa are many but few get any media coverage. The AU, regardless of its noble intentions, in not able to resolve these problems and will continue to pay lip service to conflicts and wars as it lacks the financial resources as well as the armed force to effectively intervene anywhere.

As for the UN, my thoughts on its performance in Africa are well known.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for your addition to the posting, Herbert.

You are absolutely correct in that the information environment needs to be tightly controlled and any enemy propaganda immediately countered. It is after all, this element that changes perceptions whether they are right or wrong. So, whoever controls that environment has the greatest chance to influence the locals.

As you mention, being reactive serves no purpose and indeed may serve to actually strengthen the enemy’s propaganda. Remaining behind the cycle is a dangerous place to be.

Yes, I have been there...and then even the truth serves no purpose.

Thanks again for an important addition.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link, Wynne.

It is certainly being hotly debated there but one must remember that it was not the foreign soldiers who decided to intervene but their governments. The troops are merely doing what they were ordered to do.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Showing force or at the very least some form of presence is very important, Elliot.

The locals are always the victims during these types of operations and they will, through necessity, side with the force that maintains its profile and presence in their area. One cannot blame them as all they want is to be left alone and not further victimised.

In theory, it may seem contradictory but in practise, own forces elements maintain an offensive posture even if only through listening posts, reconnaissance patrols and ambushes. These types of operations remain unseen by the local population (if they are carried out correctly) whilst other elements of own forces show their presence by means of medical teams, construction teams, visiting village elders, etc – of course, always with protection.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am pleased to hear things are well at your end, Private.

Ivory Coast has certainly come into the media in a big way but I am sure the end is nowhere near. Only time will tell if it was the correct decision taken by the UN.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Strategy is the foundation of the game plan and it is implemented with sound tactics, refelxivefire. When we substitute both strategy and tactics with technology, I cannot see us achieving the outcome we were hoping for.

Technology ought to compliment our tactics as a force multiplier but not over-ride it. It concerns me as we are creating false expectations and this in itself will eventually impact negatively on our national will as technology itself cannot win wars.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Mines, IEDs etc are used with control, John and as such ought to be mapped in terms of position so that they can be rendered safe at the end of hostilities. At least, that is what I was taught. They should never be left in situ due to the casualties they can create amongst the local population. However, the tendency nowadays seems to be to “lay and forget” – especially as far as the opposing forces are concerned.

Propaganda with a measure of truth, when used against own forces can cause enormous damage on our ability to influence in a positive manner. Herbert added a good comment on that ability in terms of the informational environment.

My slowness in responding has been due to a few factors but I cannot lay the blame purely on work-related matters. Burning the candle at both ends has its disadvantages.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Wow, very cool Eeben. The current conflict in Libya is a prime example of the rules of controlling the Area of Operations. Both sides are fighting for territory, and it is very interesting to see what works and what does not. CJ Chivers has some great reportage on it.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/world/africa/17misurata.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

A very loaded question indeed, Julian.

I refrain from discussing politics on my blog as there are very good blogs on politics – and politics falls outside of my domain.

What I do know is that there are some that are purposely fuelling racial tension with the hopes of exploiting it to the hilt. This does not bode well for anyone.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link Matt.

This is a good example of controlling the AO albeit at a relatively small scale. But, as Herbert also pointed out, control over the informational environment is important and here we witness both sides in a battle vying for this control. Ultimately, one side will win this battle.

However, a small pocket of resistance cannot hold position for too long nor become the deciding factor of the current conflict. Control over that position can be negated relatively easily. When that happens, the information environment will change drastically.

I suspect that this current exercise in effecting regime change is going to provide more questions than answers.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Thank you for the good reminder on proper training with sleeping weapons. As they become more destructive and readily available to those without the proper basics it looks like the AO will be very deadly in most modern conflicts for decades to come.

The points on information flow here are also key. When the US decided to go after Libya the public claim was "days not weeks" - now it has been weeks, we are fighting an unconstitutional war and the information battlefield here is very quiet - almost like the media is denying anything is happening.

It is looking like it will be a nasty event there after all:

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/mounting-evidence-of-rebel-atrocities-in-libya/

I still can not figure out what our foreign policy is - there is no open info here on the AO in any of its various forms.

Regards,
John

P.S. Been reading with interest the events in the Ivory Coast.. - unsure if this may be a very bad precedent.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Libya and Ivory Coast are proving just how dangerous and unpredictable the AO can become John. It will be a matter of time before the rebels – or in case of Ivory Coast – turn on one another and then I would like to see how the UN mediates that. Barbaric attacks on civilians will probably increase and internally displaced people will have nowhere to turn to.

Information flow in both countries is key but as long as it is subjective information reporting taking place, everyone will be kept in the dark. I still however believe that these conflicts will be exploited by forces bent on destruction of any form of governance.

Both countries will find that it will take a long time for any semblance of peace to establish itself and perhaps those who view these approaches to regime-change as good, will need to rethink how to go about it. I suspect that criminal forces in both countries are having a field day - and when confronted with their actions – will say they are doing it for “democracy”.

But, both countries have resources and somehow I think the first real shots in the resources wars have now been fired.

Thanks for the link. Very interesting indeed but not surprising.

Rgds,

Eeben

Simon said...

Dear Colonel Barlow,

I am contacting you through this post as I cannot find an email address on your site.

My name is Simon Akam, and I am a British journalist based in Sierra Leone, where I work as a correspondent for Reuters. I also contribute to publications including the New York Times, the Economist and the Guardian.

I am currently working on a substantial profile of Sierra Leone's former ruler Valentine Strasser for the British magazine the New Statesman. I understand that you are the right person to talk to regarding the involvement of Executive Outcomes in the country, and was wondering if it would be possible to speak to you on the telephone?

My email address is simon.akam@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Simon

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your visit to the blog, Simon.

However, given the subjectivity of the media, I no longer enter into any dialogue with the media. Although I can understand that you are trying to do your job, I have too often found myself purposely misquoted – or even attributed words I never uttered - by your fellow colleagues.

My book covers a significant portion on Sierra Leone and you may wish to visit the relevant chapters. What I wrote there has been undisputed, albeit grudgingly, by the media. The reality is that I can prove what I wrote.

So I would ask that before you write anything on EO, you first make sure your facts are correct.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eebrn,

Sorry to go way off topic - I realize your aversion to the media - well justified - but here is an interesting event I received in my e-mail this morning. Would like to be a fly on the wall but no plans to be in the UK this year.

From: Helion and Company Limited
Date: Friday, April 22, 2011
Subject: Book signing 'In conversation with Al Venter',

In partnership with 30 Degrees South UK, you are warmly invited to this book signing event that will see Al Venter in conversation with journalist John Coster, discussing his experiences of modern African conflicts.War correspondent, documentary filmmaker, and author of more than forty books, of which War Dogs and Barrel of a Gun are bestsellers, Al served as African and Middle East correspondent for Jane's International Defence
Review.He has reported on a number of Africa's bloodiest wars including the Nigerian Civil War, the Ugandan conflict, Rhodesia, the Sudan, Angola, the South African Border War, the Congo as well as Portuguese Guinea and Sierra Leone. In addition he has undertaken three military
assignments with Executive Outcomes and a Joint-STAR mission with the United States Air Force over Kosovo.

This is a rare and unprecedented opportunity to hear Al speak; expect a searching and revealing evening that will cover blood diamonds, al-Qaeda and the Islamic quest for nuclear weapons. Al will also be talking about his pending new work Neal Ellis - Helicopter Pilot: Mercenary shortly to be published by Casemate.The Frontline Club
13 Norfolk Place
London
W2 1QJBooking Essential - RSVP:steve@30degreessouth.co.

I'll get back to more serious thoughts over the weekend.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Al Venter has been filming/writing for years about wars and conflicts in Africa, John, and has done well for himself. The comment that he “has undertaken three military assignments with Executive Outcomes” is however a bit off mark as he reported on EO but certainly was never part of an assault team.

He has, nevertheless, carved out quite a reputation for himself and continues to cover a lot of these happenings in especially Africa.

30 Degrees South has a very good reputation with their authors and it does not surprise me to see them punting their publications. So good on them and good for Venter. He is fortunate to have a publisher like that.

Neal Ellis – what a great gunship pilot. What else can I say?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You are taking a bit of a chance, recruitmentagency. This blog does not do free advertising for any ex-soldiers or recruitment agencies.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I agree that we need to show more adaptability and flexibility during operations, Mike. However, the soldier on the ground is expected to follow doctrine and here lies the problem. Despite many armies constantly “updating” their doctrine, I suspect that it is not always done with due recognition of the AO and the threat. Also, many updated doctrines do not contain much new apart from rehashing what has already been written and adding new terms to define old actions.

Terrain dictates tactics and I feel that many commanders do not fully appreciate how terrain can alter even the best plans. Add a wily enemy to that who has no respect for life and one is bound to encounter challenges. Being adaptable and flexible will allow us to assess the situation, adapt our approaches, take the fight to the enemy and thus gain the initiative and the momentum needed.

Yes, you are correct: wars differ in terms of dynamics, tactics and attitude and although the principles of war are dated, they remain effective and important. We need be however be able to modify them to suit our needs.

Thanks for your continued presence on the blog. I remain grateful to you for your role in EO.

Rgds,

Eeben

PS: I am not sure how this happened as your comment was dated 2 April – it only just arrived on the blog!

bushcraftercz said...

Very interesting blog Sir... is here any chance to get your book (Executive Outcomes) for less than 100 USD?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I never knew it was that expensive, bushcraftercz.

Perhaps you should try to order directly from the publisher? See www.galago.co.za

Thanks for your interest in the book.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

It is good to have your back commenting - though your fingers must be sore from all the new comments..

I noted that some folks are looking for your book. I have personally held three copies in my hand that were priced at $55US here in the states. If OK by you only (don't want to act like a cheap salesman), I can drop a note here on the bookstore that has them. My personal copy was a good bit more than that and worth every cent.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks John – and yes, I am not the world’s fastest typist!

That’s good news re the cost of the book. I was really concerned to hear it cost that much as my publisher does not tell me what the books sell for elsewhere.

You are very welcome to post the info of the bookstore – I am sure many will appreciate that , as will I.

Rgds,

Eeben

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