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.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

REVISITING THE PHASES OF WAR DURING OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS

Whether we like to admit it or not, Africa is in a state of perpetual war.

Most countries view their neighbours as either threats or potential threats. The political situation is fluid and subject to dramatic changes that have the potential to erupt into armed conflict. Foreign policy is viewed through the lens of power and this may entail supporting – or being part of - proxy or insurgent forces to destabilise a neighbouring country and gain a position of “one-upmanship” in the region.

Governments are forced to choose regional and international allies often at great cost to the political, social, military and economical well-being of the country.

The military strategies are often flawed and based on optimistic assessments and an over-estimation of the abilities of the armed forces. Intelligence collection plans are not always carefully thought out, nor are they correctly executed. This results, in part, to flawed military strategies. The armed forces are required to conduct tasks and missions they are not always trained, equipped and prepared for.

Planning for war and conflict is, for many reasons, not always done with vision and the resultant effect is often being caught by surprise when a potential threat suddenly becomes reality.

To overcome this disadvantage, African countries need to revisit the phases of war and understand that those of Western and Eastern powers cannot simply be used as templates with which to conduct offensive operations. African governments should reassess their entire approach to both the offense and the defence and in doing so they will create a situation where they are not caught off-guard by an “unexpected” threat.

As Africa remains in a state of perpetual war, I believe that the phases of conventional offensive war need to be readjusted as follows:

Intelligence Gathering: All strategies are intelligence driven. Without this critical prerequisite, it will be impossible to know and understand the potential threat(s), where, when and how the enemy will react to an attack, strike or incursion, what weapons and weapon systems the enemy will deploy and how, and so forth. This activity or phase remains ongoing throughout the duration of all offensive and defensive operations. Without this intelligence, it will not be possible to develop a viable military strategy.

Sound intelligence will, furthermore, give commanders an indication of how the enemy will react to an offensive operation. Knowledge of these enemy operational counter-plans are imperative to enable own forces to devise operational plans that will surprise and overwhelm the enemy’s forces and reduce the enemy’s reactions.

Simultaneously with the gathering of intelligence is the screening of own intentions to prevent the enemy from knowing what is being planned, how, where and when. This is achieved by applying Operational Security (OPSEC), deception, ruses, counter espionage actions and so forth to confuse the enemy.

Reconnaissance: Intelligence can change dramatically and within a short space of time. To allow commanders to rapidly readjust plans and thereby maintain the initiative, the deployment of reconnaissance teams is imperative.

Whereas the initial aim of the reconnaissance teams will be to verify the intelligence on the ground, these teams can be deployed in several different ways.

It is possible that within a single theatre of operations, different types of reconnaissance teams and units can be deployed simultaneously or in conjunction with one another.

Although reconnaissance teams and units deploy with stealth and guile, they must nevertheless able to fight if necessary.

Advance: With the necessary intelligence and the associated ground truths gleaned from reconnaissance, the advance can be planned in detail and executed to best achieve the aim – the aim being to move into enemy-held territory or to make contact with the enemy or to follow up a retreating enemy force.

The advance is an offensive manoeuvre aimed at moving the advancing forces to just beyond the range of enemy fire or to follow up a deliberate enemy withdrawal.

During the advance, continued reconnaissance of the front and flanks is maintained to provide early warning of unexpected enemy movements or actions.

Air superiority is critical to ensure the advance maintains momentum and speed.

Advance to contact: Beyond the range of enemy indirect fire systems such as artillery, mortars and heavy machine guns, the units manoeuvre into an attack formation in order to be correctly postured to follow through with an attack or counter an enemy attack. These positions will have been identified by the reconnaissance teams/units.

Utilising momentum and speed, the advance to contact is used as a method of establishing final contact with the enemy or re-establishing lost contact with the enemy.

Control of air space remains critical to provide aerial reconnaissance and provide close air support to ensure momentum and speed.

Contact/Attack: Contact, by means of fire-and-manoeuvre/movement, is made with the enemy positions that are to be attacked.

The attack is the most important phase of offensive warfare as it is this action that will bring about the defeat of the enemy – or the failure of the commander’s plans. It furthermore requires the skilful application of fire and movement – and coordination - of all direct and indirect weapons onto the enemy and his positions. It also requires commanders to act with audacity.

Consolidate: As each objective is overrun, seized or captured, the commanders will immediately alter the attacking forces’ posture in order to defeat an enemy counter attack.

Exploit: An attack does not end on the objective. The enemy is kept under fire, even in the withdrawal or retreat and must be pursued in order to inflict maximum casualties and loss of equipment.

Known as the exploitation forces or the follow-up forces, these forces are assembled and deployed prior to the attack and are tasked to maintain contact with the enemy and drive home the attack. Mobile reserve forces are particularly well suited as exploitation forces.

The limit of exploitation, determined prior to the attack, is usually conducted to a tactical bound beyond the objective.

Defend, hold and dominate: Upon the follow-up forces reaching the laid down limit of exploitation, the attacking forces move forward to take possession of this position. The aim is to occupy, defend, hold and dominate the ground that has been gained from the preceding actions or phases.

During this phase, reconnaissance elements are redeployed to the front in order to obtain ground truths, thus allowing the commander to readjust his plans where necessary and continue the advance.

The above phases of war presuppose that the armed forces are correctly trained, correctly equipped, correctly postured and correctly sustained during operations.

I shall soon be giving my thoughts on the phases of defensive warfare and unconventional warfare.

49 comments:

mike da silva said...

intel and OPSEC are always lacking in african theatres. possibly due to lack of effective training and or abuse of substance. i dont say this flippantly. the use of "khat" in north western africa and east africa is rife. anyone who knows an iota of info pertaining to an operation or movement of men and materiel is easily divulged by undisciplined hooligans running around.i suppose the best thing to do here is spread massive disinformation among the troops and set traps for the enemy that way. i just dont have faith in the local gentry to keep sensitive info secret or restricted at best. nothing in africa is hush hush. for a beer most will sell there own mothers out. this is what quite a few of EO`s personnel feared in angola in 1993. a fumour made its way around that unita had placed a 10000dollar ransom on our heads. we were not so worried about being plucked up by unita as being sold out by members of the FAA. till today i still dont know how true that whole reward story was but it sure made us a tad more vigialant at the beach!

once again a great article.thanks Eeben.
mike da silva (bk nr 32)

Gatvol said...

Interesting piece. One thing that always sticks in my mind is historically some great Generals have fallen into the moment when all is going well and therefore they continue to march. The problem comes back to bite them when advancing beyond logistical support. If the enemy does not catch this, OK, if they do it can change a victory into a disaster. WWII comes to mind. Ironically this is also posting on a Historical day. 6 June

Herbert said...

Mr. Barlow,

Another excellent posting. I was glad to see you holding intelligence and reconnaissance as separate categories. Obviously the two overlap, but I believe there is s tendency by some to substitute reconnaissance for a thorough intelligence program.

Although you mention deception, let me just say that I have come to believe that one cannot place too much emphasis on it. I suggest that every operation plan should have a separate and parallel deception plan that looks like and is supported like the intended operation plan. It also dovetails nicely with your counterintelligence plan. I would list it as a separate category.

It occurs to me that this day, the anniversary of the WWII Normandy invasion, is an appropriate time to make this point. The operation had perhaps the most elaborate and successful deception operation we have ever seen.

Regards,
Herbert

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I don’t think one should blame non-adherence to doctrine on substance abuse, Mike, as I know of several Western armies that allow and indeed even encourage their troops to use steroids, also a substance.

Discipline and training are, in my opinion, key to an efficient army. But the foundation of it all lies with the military strategy and the doctrine to execute the strategy correctly, at the correct time and place.

Every major operation ought to have a credible deception operation running in parallel to it, as was witnessed during the Normandy invasion in 1944. It ensures that the enemy is kept guessing and that own forces cannot divulge true intentions.

I think the concerns some EO men had were largely self-generated and not founded in reality. In fact, this was exploited by MI who began the rumour of the $ 10 000 reward for each EO member as they (MI) desperately wanted us out of Angola.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Out-running one’s logistical supply capability can be a very costly exercise, Gatvol and as you rightly mention, it can change a pending victory into defeat. In turn, this boils down to planning and sticking to the plan and not needlessly taking on opportunity targets (unless they pose a real threat). Being caught up in a moment of euphoria needs to be tempered with caution.

There were certainly some very good examples from WWII on this score but there have also been some modern examples of what can happen. Uncontrolled audacity can lead to a moment in time being simply too great for a commander.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I believe that reconnaissance and intelligence remain on-going throughout the entire operation Herbert. Yes, they do overlap but are also complementary to one another.

A point well made on deception. Whereas we should be deceiving the enemy, I suspect many commanders deceive themselves and ultimately this costs lives and material. As regards CI, I also feel that we don’t always take this as seriously as possible and thus we create gaps in our OPSEC the enemy can – and will – exploit.

A parallel deception plan that looks and feels like the real operation is a necessity. Part of this can be achieved at the tactical level by advancing along one or more routes. However, I have found that in Africa, launching a credible deception plan at the operational level is often hampered by a lack of equipment, something that armies need to address. If not overtly, then utilising other means to disguise their true intentions.

Operation Overlord was indeed a magnificent piece of deception, especially when we look back on it and the many challenges the allies were faced with.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

i figured as much that the rumour mill was rife. it is fascinating to read your book and see all the "hardships" endured by the company back here in south africa while we were blissfully unaware of all the politics back home. we recieved our salaries like clockwork never for one moment considering the difficulties you were facing. MI sure tried all the tricks in the disinformation handbook it seems. once again it becomes evident that i am but a mere beginner and you the master in matters military. i am just glad to have done my bit for the company. thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and comments. mike

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

We all had our roles to play in EO, Mike – even MI who was trying every trick in the book to get UNITA and the RUF to attack us and create casualties. One consolation I have is that those who were making up intelligence as they went along and passing it on to the media are now mostly without work.

I am grateful to everyone who served in EO and who did their best.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Excellent post Eeben. I especially like to look at this stuff from a PMC point of view and I really appreciate the EO commentary here. Your company is an excellent reference for study in the realm of offensive operations and private industry.

One of the things that have really stood out for me as a disadvantage with today's companies, is the lack of discipline and training. Or a better term would be unit cohesion. With EO, you guys had unit cohesion already built in, because your folks came from 32 Bat.

Today's companies are filled with contractors from all over the place, and because guys cycle in and out of companies, there really isn't any unit cohesion there. Some contracts might have that going on, but it is a rarity.

I think this current unit cohesion dilemma in the companies leads to many problems out in the field. But for the defense, those problems are worked through for the most part. It still is an issue that leaders have to contend with. Especially when a contractor gets a three day overseas contractor spin up course, and then is sent out to the contract in whatever war zone.

On the flip side though, you have the WPS contract that DoS is funding, and those contractors have to go through a month and half long course of training. It is arguably a 'boot camp' for security contractors. But the unit cohesion part is still an issue, because you never know if a group of WPS contractors will be with one another for any length of time.

It is my belief that for offensive operations, a PMC must absolutely focus on unit cohesion, unit discipline, and training in order to be successful. Or to draw specifically from a unit that has already conducted training and warfighting together, much like EO did with 32 Bat.

I posted a deal on the cartels and their lack of discipline in an ambush recently. The cartels are PMC's of a sort, and each are free to do whatever it takes to create an offensive and defensive fighting force. So I like studying them to find out which forces do well, and which ones do poorly, and what are the contributors to success and failure.

If you go through your phases of war, and compare that to a basic cartel raid, you can definitely see the contributors of success and failures. A lack of discipline, training and unit cohesion are huge contributors. So is substance abuse.

Finally, I found a great book that talked about other contributing factors to the success of an operation. William H. McRaven, the brains behind the Usama Bin Laden raid, wrote an excellent book back in the nineties called
"Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice" McRaven goes into a little bit of the phases of war, but he also discusses the factors of a successful operation through the history of special operations. Very interesting stuff and I am thoroughly enjoying the book.

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Very good posting - lots of interesting thoughts going through my head but first...
Recon - in African conflicts what is the best mix of men, vehicles, and air assets to be effective? It seems the Saints mix with 4 man sticks (do I have that correct?) was extremely effective, highly mobile and very much able to defend themselves at contact. Is that your initial thoughts or does it really depend on the situation?

Regards,
John

P.S. On the Normandy theme it seems highly mobile armor was the answer - break through with massive air interdiction and get out of close country, let the modern cavalry run free and exploit all weaknesses.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Is there is no discipline and no standardised doctrine/training, there can be no unit cohesion, Matt. In turn, that tends to breed loyalty, something I see lacking today.

Whereas we had to learn very quickly as we went along – and many mistakes were made - we also had our fair share of problems. But, all coming from the SADF helped a lot but we also had members of the ANC’s MK who joined us and had to be brought up to speed, either by themselves or by others in EO.

I do however believe that those in PMCs who do not believe in what they are doing pose a massive danger to everyone around them. A lack of belief and a lack of loyalty are breeding grounds for problems.

I find your postings on the cartels refreshing and educational. One can ALWAYS learn from the enemy, even if it is what NOT to do.

Thanks for the advice on the book by WH McRaven. I will certainly keep a look out for it as I too love reading whatever I can lay my hands on.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Whereas the situation determines composition, the terrain determines tactics, John.

Obviously, we took a lot from the Rhodesians and built on that. Whereas 32 Recce often deployed 4-man teams, our Special Forces also deployed 2-man teams. Infiltration was usually by foot, on river (small boat) or sea – although 32 Recce didn’t deploy by sea. As SA was under sanctions for fighting terror, we had very little assets in terms of air support and we were lucky if we could call in air strikes. But, a lot of emphasis was laid on initiative, audacity, daring and team work. Many a time we had to walk in to targets and they could be up to 100 km away from own troops, do our job and walk out. Vehicles were not that frequently used.

In the latter stages of our war, mechanised infantry supported by armoured units, deployed armoured reconnaissance of platoon to company-strength to locate and probe enemy positions.

In conventional warfare, such as Normandy, armour for its shock effect and air support to take out targets or give close air support to break through an enemy’s position is crucial. Armoured vehicles with supporting infantry, well coordinated and applying effective fire, will be able to deliver a massive blow to an enemy force. Mobile armoured reserves can then exploit and follow up all weaknesses.

Rgds,

Eeben

sir 47 said...

hello sir barlow
i read a book about Viktor Bout "merchant of death".Really interesting for the trade of arms in Angola UNITA,RUF in Sierra Leone and Charles Taylor during your contract in Angola and Sierra Leone.He buy weapons at your ennemies and commanded attack of one mine in end 90's.If it can inform you about one of your hidden ennemy.Sorry for my english.

Sir 47

Julian Loxley said...

This chap makes some interesting comments about EO in his book. Thought you might be interested:

http://www.wnd.com/index.php/index.php?pageId=8900#ixzz1PBT5pVEr

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

I have re-read your posting and it truly looks that the most important item you are looking at really is rock-solid recon and tight execution. With the continent in continual conflict do you have an opinion as to what countries exist on the continent that could execute, or come close to, executing your ideas on offensive operations? Is that one of the reasons EO was able to effectively deal with it's opponents in the field with such limited resources in men and equipment?

Most of the postings directly poke at a lack of the required discipline and training. A nation that steps up and gets their basics down would dominate all neighbors and impose their will at least locally.

As for logistics I first thought of the inability of the British to exploit the initial exploits at Cambrai in November, 1917 - of course they went well beyond their original mandate and violated one of your rules.

Regards,
John

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I totally forgot to express my kudos at your notes on insertion - 100 km on foot, each way, in potentially hostile territory? That brings a new twist to "persistence hunting."

Regards,
John

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I do hope this day finds you well.

I have been thinking your premises through even more now as the "Nato" hostiliites in Libya stretch from days to weeks to months...

Besides being blatantly illegal in US law I don't see us following any of your proper phases of offensive warfare. And the costs to the US taxpayer keeping growing in leaps and bounds - if this is truly an honorable mission to get rid of Ghadaffi (sic) the PMC route seems far better suited. I have yet to see much difference between the government "forces" and the rebel "forces" in their methodology - the citizenry look to be the ultimate losers.

Hope your book is coming along well.

Regards,
John

Blog said...

I suppose that due to all of the information and security online needs to improve. You really said it well with "This is achieved by applying Operational Security (OPSEC), deception, ruses, counter espionage actions and so forth to confuse the enemy." and now with activclient online security can be made easier with this software.

jon said...

Hello Eeben,

....We were jammed up in Eastern Africa in '93/'94...

.. The impromptu S&D little op in Angola by EO personnel--- well, to me that should be mandated review/training material for any serious military organisation...

I wonder... Your thoughts on warfare in the Middle East..?

Yes, broad subject... But, general, bare-bones observations?

Best regards,
Jon

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your comment, Sir47.

We were aware of Victor Bout’s activities in Angola and Sierra Leone. We were also aware of the fact that he had very close liaison with some of our previous government’s ministers as well as with some western governments. Had we stayed longer in any of these places, we may have considered blowing him out of the sky. But, fortunately for him, it never got to that point.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Lobaido is a sad, pathetic man who I had the displeasure of meeting in the mid-1990s, Julian. He was at that time associated with 2 different intelligence services who had a great interest in seeing UNITA win the war in Angola. In fact, his one handler couldn’t wait to get to Angola to work there after the end of the war. Such is hypocrisy.

I am not surprised at his desire to use his pen to misinform whoever he can. Had I taken up offers to pay people, or favours offered by female reporters to write “positive” articles about EO/myself, we may have had better publicity.

I did make mention of him in my book and his silly little attempts to add to the disinformation on EO.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many armies in Africa are at a disadvantage, John. They are offered training by foreign governments – sadly training that is of the lowest order. I know this as I have met soldiers who had been trained by foreign armies/PMCs and the standard and quality of that training is shocking to say the least. There is nothing wrong with the man material but the training leaves a lot to be desired.

I have always believed that without intelligence and its confirmation on the ground (reconnaissance), plans are incomplete. If we approach an enemy with an incomplete plan, we set ourselves up for failure.

We were fortunate in EO, especially in the latter stages of our involvement in Angola/SL, to be able to exploit our capabilities and therefore wrest initiative from the rebels/insurgents.

Without a decent foundation in basic soldiering, the soldier becomes lost when he is faced with a well trained and disciplined enemy.

WW1 gives many examples of the dangers of attrition warfare. If it cannot be logistically sustained, the forces are in for a rough time.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Those were tough days John. However, some of our Special Forces were called on to walk even further with packs in excess of 150 lbs weight.

But, as the saying goes:” If it doesn’t kill you, it builds character”.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think the current actions in Libya are somewhat complicated, John.

However, air power without ground forces to exploit successes will not win a war. It may destroy infrastructure and vehicles, but the collateral damage may just not be worth it in the end.

I think the initial timeline to ensure regime change was somewhat optimistic. This optimism also would have calculated an optimistic financial cost, something that continues to escalate.

I think we need to consider that this is about oil and not necessarily about getting rid of one man. In that case, perhaps the thinking is that the oil will compensate for the financial expenditure.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Good attempt at airing your ad, Blog. Good luck.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I haven’t heard about or from Willem in years, Private, so I am afraid that I cannot answer your question.

What I can say is that, in my opinion, he was one of the best.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Forgive me Jon but I cannot remember meeting you as I wasn’t in East Africa in 93/94. Please enlighten me.

Soyo was probably the worst of times for many. We had a lot of bad days and some good there. As for others reading it, I can’t see that happening as we were portrayed as the “bad guys” for helping a government instead of helping rebels and terrorists.

I am not well versed with the situation in the ME apart from what I read so I cannot really comment on it. I have no current first-hand experience on what is happening there so it would be wrong of me to voice an opinion.

However, from what I read I suspect that intelligence and strategy are not what they ought to be.

Rgds,

Eeben

jon said...

Yes Eeben, we wouldn't have met, as I was in Somalia with conventional forces..... A disaster...

I find the overlapping of dates interesting, on a personal note only, of course... When I learned of EO's exploits in that part of the world, I couldn't but contemplate on the geographical/time coincidences.

Sure, I see your point, but the kind of folks who had those kinds of things to say about EO in those days, frankly, don't much matter to those like me... I'm a strong proponent of the notion that if one has never faced certain real-time critical situations, one should very well keep their counsel.

If anything, to me, Soyo represents what a serious, professional mil outfit ought to do in certain situations. War is what it is, and when you are in it to fight it, fight it! The fact a group of pro's would find themselves on the same page a priori, & then track, S&D a bunch of murderers who deserved nothing else... Well, that's what being a soldier is all about.

Broader tactical & logistical issues not-withstanding, the foot soldier fights his fight @ the unit's level... Company level.. Team's level.

EO were, & remain, pro's in my book!

I look forward to your book, & thank you for responding to my question.

Best regards,
Jon


PS My apologies if the above comments do not necessarily spell PC, but some of us entertain little time and patience for PC. ;-)

jon said...

...'However, from what I read I suspect that intelligence and strategy are not what they ought to be...."

Food for thought ;-) & one can just imagine the Intel gathering side of the equation there..

And the implementation of whatever strategy, upon whatever viable Intel obtained, becomes yet another question... Although young, I remember that things , by the early nineties, had changed, & kept changing faster, as war pretty much had by then assumed the face of.. oh what.. Warfare(?)

The issue was then (Somalia), & it is now in the ME, in my view, that of reconciling the tactical "mandates" induced by the enemy's stance with our own: @ the risk of being redundant (but, what is not redundant in mil ops? ;-)), how do we deal with counterinsurgencies ops when the ROE's for us are those of a Police Force, as opposed to those of a military unit engaged in open warfare?

My apologies for not having been clearer earlier, I was just wondering what your thoughts would be as far as counterinsurgencies operations in the current ME theaters.. Truly, you could probably write entire essays about it.....

Be well,
J

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Ah, that makes sense, Jon. Somalia was not a walk in the park and despite us warning people, our concerns were laughed off.

Insofar as the media is concerned: I have had my say and expressed my disgust that so-called “responsible journalists” prefer to see murder, rape and other crimes happening instead of seeing it stopped. There is a huge difference between “free press” and “misleading press”.

Soyo was not without its problems but the men who persevered were the true heroes of the day. Unfortunately, too many senior commanders believe they ought to negotiate with the enemy – even when the enemy is attacking. This gross stupidity makes my stomach turn. One can only negotiate successfully from a position of strength – and never when one is on the defensive, unless of course, one wishes to throw in the towel and accept defeat.

Personally, I believe that due to the changing nature of war, we ought to revisit our principles. We are no longer engaged in large conventional conflicts and this change ought to dictate new strategies, doctrines and tactics.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Intelligence ought to be our guiding light, Jon. Good intelligence will warn of a shift in the enemy’s approach, TTPs and so on to prevent us being caught off-guard. Sadly though, the warning signs were there to see several years ago but no one paid heed.

War is ever-evolving and what was construed as methodology yesterday may be irrelevant today. Hence we ought to be flexible and adapt rapidly to changes in the AO, OE and so forth.

Unfortunately, our political leaders have become so politically correct that all hopes of gaining the initiative are lost and handed to the enemy on a silver plate. Add to that, RoE that purposely put soldiers’ lives at risk, poor strategies and an inability to rapidly alter posture and TTPs, corruption in the defence industry, a lack of political will and feeble attempts to solve military matters over cups of tea.

When governments decide to commit their troops to wars or conflicts, they ought to allow the military to do what it was trained to do – something the politicians were NOT trained to do and something most journalists have no clue about. Government ought to support its armed forces but the passive betrayal we witness of both the intelligence services and armed forces by governments is not only appalling, it is destroying the very fabric of national defence.

That is not what being a soldier is about.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

Good day Eeben. My time spent in the employ of your company was a life altering event that i am proud to have been part. We had many laughs and did make nonsense from time to time. We were a military unit and operated day to day just like a standard unit. My task was nothing fantastic and sometimes people feel let down when i say that i was the refueller and daily took the garbage out and dumped it on the far side of the base in what we were told by the FAA was sporadically mined. People hear PMC / mercenary and they get mental pictures of rambo, chuck norris and dolph lundgren. The reality it seems sometimes disappoints and thus leads to utter thumb sucked crap being written to make for a more sensational read. Eo had some mean operators with all the experience to boot and then there were the non operational staff who did the humdrum tasks, like me. None the less i am proud to have worked for your company. This lobaido character is a tosser at best. I googled him and after a few minutes felt suitably annoyed and wont waste another second of my life worrying about an over the hill hack(in my eyes). Many thanks once again for the positive impact your company had in my life. Mike (bk nr 32).employ of your company was a life altering event that i am proud to have been part. We had many laughs and did make nonsense from time to time. We were a military unit and operated day to day just like a standard unit. My task was nothing fantastic and sometimes people feel let down when i say that i was the refueller and daily took the garbage out and dumped it on the far side of the base in what we were told by the FAA was sporadically mined. People hear PMC / mercenary and they get mental pictures of rambo, chuck norris and dolph lundgren. The reality it seems sometimes disappoints and thus leads to utter thumb sucked crap being written to make for a more sensational read. Eo had some mean operators with all the experience to boot and then there were the non operational staff who did the humdrum tasks, like me. None the less i am proud to have worked for your company. This lobaido character is a tosser at best. I googled him and after a few minutes felt suitably annoyed and wont waste another second of my life worrying about an over the hill hack(in my eyes). Many thanks once again for the positive impact your company had in my life. Mike (bk nr 32).

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Everyone’s role was important as it contributed to the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the company, Mike.

I think the perception people have of PMCs is the one painted by certain members of the media who would prefer terror and conflict to prevail. If it is not there, then they simply make it up as they go along. Sadly, many of them are nothing other than “useful idiots” yet consider themselves masters of strategy and tactics.

As for Lobaido, a sad sad charater indeed.

Rgds,

Eeben

jon said...

Hello Eeben,

I can't help but Copy below a few of your observations, as, taken together, they pretty much summarize not only your ideas on the matter, but also & importantly what I think is , has been, & will remain, the "Tactical & Strategic Approaches" undertaken by the current decision-making Body-Politik Apparatus: Quite aptly, you said it!

The last 25 years or so have demonstrated that the political agendas of some have undermined an Army's ability to wage effective warfare, and since, again, I can only speak thru personal experience, @ the level of folks such as I all of that means that Governments are betraying their own soldiers... As you have Justly observed!
I find the fact that you sustain such notion quite "balancing" (for an immediate lack of another form of expression on my part): A true leader not only carries the heavy responsibility of Leadership: He also is and remains aware throughout of the immeasurable value of his fighters, and whatever stances, @ whatever levels, to be assumed in order to effectively accomplish the mission, even as troop welfare is factored in...

One Alexander of Times of Old, after all, was reputed to know 100,000 of the names of his foot soldiers! ;-)

Best regards,
Until next time,

Jon.

PS Over a cup of Coffee, black...


"...too many senior commanders believe they ought to negotiate with the enemy – even when the enemy is attacking. This gross stupidity makes my stomach turn..."

" ...Sadly though, the warning signs were there to see several years ago but no one paid heed. "

.."our political leaders have become so politically correct that all hopes of gaining the initiative are lost and handed to the enemy on a silver plate. Add to that, RoE that purposely put soldiers’ lives at risk, poor strategies and an inability to rapidly alter posture and TTPs, corruption in the defence industry, a lack of political will and feeble attempts to solve military matters over cups of tea."

michael b said...

hi Eeben. i just wanted to post a link to possibly the funniest video i have seen in a long time. it is from west africa and is priceless.
http://youtu.be/GhxqIITtTtU
it can also be found by typing in ape with ak47 on youtube. it is a hoot. figure that you may find it amusing. mike

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I believe you have hit the Libyan adventure spot on - if there was no oil there we would not give a rip about who, what, where, why etc. for the leader's activities there. The US is quickly approaching costs of $1B US in our illegal involvement. Can you imagine having that amount of cash in your coffers with EO? Your record was incredible enough with troubles getting paid (contrary to media distortions).

I remember you commenting at other times that if a country finds mineral wealth within its borders beware the west...sad of me to say that but our record has not been good in that regard. The bystanders in Libya will be the ones who pay.

I hope all is well.
Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It is a sad situation indeed Jon. Those who ought to be concerned with their welfare of the people, seem more concerned with the human rights of those who wish to destroy and kill. This stupid attempt at political correctness has eroded the military’s ability to wage war.

I can only shake my head at what I read and see.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for sending it across Mike. It is very funny indeed.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It really worries me a lot John.

We apply certain standards to one government and not the next one. Whereas we can argue the pros and cons against this methodology, one has to ask the question: why does it only apply to some?

As the West has now officially recognised the rebels in Libya, it does make somewhat of a mockery of “democracy”. Don’t get me wrong – I am not implying Ghadaffi was the “good guy”. I just question certain actions and the timings thereof.

Rgds,

Eeben

jon said...

Hello Eeben,

Good to see you're back, however briefly.
Your observations are dead on! No way I could express such concerns better. And they really are momentous concerns as far as I see it.

Lybia. Interestingly enough, I feel (maybe incorrectly), its current situation is being somewhat overshadowed by much other that's going on internationally.
One cannot help but wonder at the random coincidence of it, or not. I, for one, am not a big proponent of coincidences; but, just the same...

I choose to put it somewhat briefly and bluntly:
Gadhaffi was good for 40 years or so, and not much was done about it until... "Now"... Whatever that entails.

In fact, in my view, not much was being done about him, period, even when most Western Gov'ts agreed that overlapping Intel spoke in regards to him and his gov't of being supporters of one specific Terrorist Organization--- or at least of a group which was listed, and internationally recognized, as being such.

One has to ask: What's changed? For whom? Cui bono? Who benefited then?

Although we recognize that political alliances shift over time, as such is the nature of international relations, I still get sick to my stomach when I see heads of gov'ts shaking hands with someone, working towards reciprocally advantageous economic agreements, and then turn right around within six months or so, and officially declare that same "someone" a perpetrator of war crimes... Be that as it may...

So what's the point?

Point is, how are military personnel supposed to ... do what's mandated of them, even and as they see their political leaders do things akin to what I have tried to describe above?

Connecting again to our previous points, how and when does war/warfare become effective, let alone "Legitimate"?

Be well Eeben,

Jon.

PS Any time to keep working on your book? ;-)

jon said...

Eeben,

This is on a personal note only..... as I got to thinking about what you told me (and I agree 100% with it!), when you said that we didn't know each other, and it is quite obvious that most, if not all, of the blog's followers are folks with whom you have interacted on a personal and professional level over a long time.

It's quite the accomplishment, on your end, and on the part of many like you, to persevere thru a successful military career.

As far as many were concerned, from the Top on down (@ Btl level, of course) I was, supposedly, a "Lifer", a Career man, someone with endless opportunities in the Marine Corps. All of that not-withstanding, I chose to separate from the military at the end of my 4-yr-enlistment contract, and pursue... Well... Pursue whatever I did pursue...

The idea, and clearly stated intent on my part, was to continue with Service, choosing, this time, (as I volunteered to be a Marine), Law Enforcement.

Aaah Mate, the youthful exhuberance of idealistic expectations! I basically chose (I realise this now, retrospectively)to forget the reasons which primarily led me to disengage from the Corps: The hypocritical scheming at the political level, way, way above us; backroom dealings for which only we, the foot soldiers, paid, and dearly did we pay....

But, worse in Law Enforcement, I quickly learned, as if I didn't know any better, eh?... The back-stabbing, the flat-out lies from the Executives, the rotten political personal agendas of everybody.. And I do mean Everyone! The corruption, the falsity of it all, the filth with which LE is rife.

Eventually, SWAT (SRT in Detroit)... Hell, I figured, selective, better people, real, no- nonsense missions, you know, the works... Boy, didn't reality turn around to kick myself thru the teeth again!

The phoniest, most selfish people I have dealt with, to date... And talk about politics: SRT is all about politics & PC. It's virtually a lifestyle, and, most importantly, the Unit's primary Mandate, across the Board.

jon said...

Allow me a quick detour:
In Detroit, transfer into SRT is granted primarily (when not exclusively) thru personal networking: The relative tryouts and interviews are mostly a smokescreen, a way to create the necessary paper trail for CYA purposes. When I got in, somehow it happened thru sheer performance and service ratings, I was not close to anybody within the Unit, or to any Department Executive...
When it became quite evident to some folks that I was an "outsider" (for an immediate lack of a better word), "problems" started. Nothing overt, of course (it couldn't, and it can never be, that), but underneath it all, there was tension.... My concern was, and will always be, professionalism, in terms of Performance, and Loyalty, at all times.

Their recruiting MO allows for the admittance into the Unit of personnel who SHOULD NOT be there, a danger to the citizens and fellow police officers/SRT "operators".
I made no bones about making my opinion clear in that respect, and I made no bones about proving such an opinion at any given turn.....

After a brief "discussion" with the Commanding Officer of the time (Sgt Dollinger), a decision was made that, although "very good at what you do" (as he put it, quite politically correctly, I should note ;-)), he felt that for the overall "well-being of the Unit" I was to be let go, and be re-assigned.

...Of course, a 7-year-old girl was killed in May of last year by the very SRT personnel I trained and worked with...Still led by him. I was not part of that mission. (You can research this, the information is out there)

In any contingencies, all best planning and best training go into the toilet once the adversary is engaged, so, per se, the incident was not and would not be anything particularly inconceivable.
And yet Mate, I know those guys, and how they are, and how they do just about anything they do at work... The stinking arrogance which I know led that specific mission, the type of arrogance which spoke then, does now, of utter unprofessionalism...

So what am I saying? I'm saying, I guess, that when I speak and note certain things, like, say, in your blog, much is filtered thru personal experiences...

One more time, I left what I volunteered for: Police employment; just like leaving the military in 1996.

Tired Mate, tired of the hypocrisy.

In any case, that's it in a nut shell.. Figured it'd help you a bit as far as understanding a bit of my.. "background".. ;-)

Until later,
Best,

Jon

stonejon7771@yahoo.com

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

For expressing my concerns, I have been advised that I am not welcome in some countries, Jon. Sadly, concerns – and especially voicing them – has apparently turned me into an “enemy”.

Whereas my concerns lie with the lives of soldiers and allowing them to accomplish their missions and survive, others see this as an “attack” on their brilliance, even when that brilliance is in very short supply. I really couldn’t care less about the stupidity of politicians but when lives are at stake, I feel we all have a duty to speak out.

As someone who has spent most of his life on this troubled African continent, I am sick and tired of conflicts that could quickly be ended, simply being allowed to continue without end in sight. I fully realise that international and local political alliances come and go as that is the nature of national interests, but what I see makes me more and more concerned. I have come to realise that as long as this continent stays in turmoil, others can benefit.

I see private military companies with atrocious records being awarded multi-million dollar contracts under the guise of “bringing peace”. Unfortunately, I have met some of the troops trained by these companies and cannot help but feel shocked about what they were (or were not) taught.

Soldiers are supposed to be politically astute but non-partisan.

I know it has a slim chance of making a difference, but I am more determined to complete my book, despite massive time problems. I will get there one day.

Rgds,

Eeben

jon said...

eHey Eeben,

I'll get back to the blog soon, as you bring about some seriously interesting points...

Later,

Jon

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I probably only personally know about 10 of the followers of this blog Jon and of them, worked with probably 5. The remainder are folks who either agree with what I say or disagree with me, but at least we communicate it with one another.

I know that life is not without its backstabbers, schemers, liars and cheats.

What I fail to accept is that many of these eventually find their way to the top – obviously with help from connections who have managed the same route to success.

Your career path seems to have been littered with them and it is sad that such people eventually make one lose hope for what ought to be done. I wonder how many of them are purposely put there?

Political correctness is engineering the downfall of values and of life in general. It is sad that you were a victim of their plots.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Personal experience is always very valuable, Jon.

I am sorry to hear you got such a raw deal and although these things shouldn’t happen, they do. Unfortunately, egos by those who are not up to scratch have a way of sinking those who know how to do their jobs. This is especially so when those in command have little knowledge or egos as big as houses.

The incident you mention, despite being very sad, is typical of what can happen once an adversary is engaged. However, I cannot comment on it as I was not part of it but I understand your feelings on the matter.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I look forward to your comments Jon.

Rgds,

Eeben

Wayne Vincent Bisset said...

I read your blog with re-newed interest Mr. Barlow. I have a mission to start the most effective anti-poaching unit ever! So far they are dismal. Deploy after the rhino is dead! That is no good. Need a pro-active unit and an honest one.
I just started and the core is made up of guys that served with EO, even that crazy Michael da Silva :}

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That is a great idea, Wayne. I am sure you will find that your uni8t will be in high demand, especially as the police do not seem able to cope with current crime issues. I would suspect that rhinos do not even feature on their list of priorities.

Thanks for roping in some old EO guys. I’m sure it will go well.

Good luck.

Rgds,

Eeben