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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.

Friday, November 11, 2011

FOR VETERANS ACROSS THE WORLD

My friend RG sent this to me for Veterans Day – a day we ought to remember with thanks to the many men who gave their lives for what they believed in. Without their selfless contribution, our world would surely be a lot different. We must never be allowed to forget that they gave their tomorrows for our today. A greater sacrifice there can never be. May you all have peace where you may be.

THE FINAL INSPECTION

The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
'Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you ?
Have you always turned the other cheek ?
To My Church have you been true?'
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
'No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills got just too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand.
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
'Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell.'


Author Unknown~

38 comments:

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

Thanks. That really hits home.

Best Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It saddens me deeply to see how some people desecrate war memorials, John. They have no respect for the living, let alone for those who gave their all. I blame this on parents who never educated their kids and made them understand that there were REAL men who fought to make the world a better place.

When I read that poem today, it certainly touched a nerve. My dad too did his bit during WW11 and I remain proud of him.

Rgds,

Eeben

John said...

Good Morning Eeben,

I could not agree more. You have certainly done, and continue to do, your bit against the foul things in the world. I imagine you will have no issues when these questions are asked of you.

We all have to be ever mindful of those who do not respect those who have paid that ultimate sacrifice as they have evil in their soul and will cause massive mischief to those who would live a good and true life.

WIth Much Respect and Best Regards,
John

Six said...

Thanks Eeben.

Herbert said...

Mr Barlow,

Thank you so much for posting the very timely and hard-hitting poem. I saw it once years ago and failed to hang on to it. After reading it I caught myself just staring at the screen for a while--and truth be told, I had to wipe my eyes. I intend to share it with some people.

Best Regards,
Herbert

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for your kind words, John.

I would like to think that those who gave their lives did so knowing that one day they would indeed be judged as the soldier in the poem. May those who do not show respect be pointed in the opposite direction.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You’re welcome, Six.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I felt that same way, Herbert. It is so simple yet beautifully written that one cannot other than spend some time reflecting on it.

Thank you for sharing it with people you know.

Rgds,

Eeben

Feral Jundi said...

Great poem. Thanks Eeben for your service, and thanks to all those here in the comments section, or those quietly reading on the side for your service as well.

To me, this is a global remembrance day for all veterans of all nations. A prayer and salute to those who gave some, and to those that gave all.... -matt

Robin said...

Hi Eeben,

Isn't it so true how so few give so much to many and get so little little back? It is the giving (sacrificial) nature of the soldier, that asks for nothing and as such is consumed by the greed and ignorance of many)I recently read the story of an ex-koevoet tracker and must admit that this poem you posted really drives home the thankless job performed by so many and how the only true gratitude they will ever receive will be at the hand of God. Whilest walking this earth, the scars are so real that many will wish death to come, but as hero's they cannot seek comfort from the darkness, and only a few will ever understand. To many, 'war veteran' is a mere two words, for a few, it means true and never to be forgotten warrior. Those that desecrate war memorials should be likened to rats, destroying what they could never understand or comprehend for they will never accend to that level of human existence where they can interpret the true significance of such a structure.

Forever committed and always remembering.
Robin

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Absolutely Matt, for ALL veterans across the globe.

But also to those who are so often forgotten or overlooked – their families and their loved ones.

My thanks and appreciation to you all.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Well said, Robin. Thank you for that comment.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

Sometimes it takes an unknown author with a timeless poem to bring out the humility in man. Those that scoff at the sentiments are likely to live a truly shallow and hollow existence. There is a brotherhood that exists among current and ex serving soldiers. You can leave the military but the military never leaves you. Old soldiers dont die, we get " M.O.T.H" balled. If civilian life were a tad more like the military, we would live in a far more ordered and peaceful world. The current explosion of "pmc's" must be monitored and policed to ensure that they dont become undisciplined hordes of murderous mercenaries like what was witnessed in the Balkans. Those men are neither soldiers nor the intended recipients of the very poignient poem. Discipline, honour, humility and doctrine above all else. Way too many stories pop up about pmc staffers in iraq and afghanistan who openly use the contracts to get "trigger time" and thereby confusing the line between adversary and member of the public. Hearts and minds are not being won in these situations. We will all one day stand tall before the man and answer for what we have done. The poem was a great addition to your blog, i just wish more people would read and heed the wisdom and once and for all get the press in line and research before they besmirch . Many thanks. Mike da silva.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Those that scoff have no purpose in life, Mike.

To those who have been there, regardless of time, there is a common bond that can never be broken, no matter hard the politicians and media try to break it.

As I have never been to Afghanistan, I take the stories of PMCs – propagated by the media – with a bag of salt. After all, EO too was a victim of mistruths.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robin said...

So true Eeben, the media afterall are businesses and are out to make money. They serve that one master and if they can sensationalise better then the next media group, they will make a lot of money....but then don't you know that better than anyone else! I would much rather say I stood for something, so I never believed everything, thus, I did not fall for nothing. I would rather stand with a weapon, never to use it, than reap destruction with a plastic keyboard.

If anyone has not read Eeben's book on OE, you really should, I found it one of the most profound books I have ever read. I use certain lessons from the book in business today to great success.

And the blood of the soldier is not defined by colour, language, or any other tangible or visible feature, it is defined by his bond with his fellow, that when one is in need his fellows stands up, that when he weaps, we all weap.

I look into my sons eyes everyday and see sunshine and love, because certain people paid the ultimate price so that he can live in the world that he does.

Eeben, I know who you are and you are a giant amongst small people - let NO-ONE tell you anything different. The saddest thing is that 'people' are not ready or willing to listen to what you say. These 'people' could learn so much and knowledge is power, if only they understood that. But hey, fear makes a man do strange things.

Regards
Robin

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It seems that there are always a few rotten apples, Robin. They spoil it for everyone else. What I do know is that not all in the media are like that but the rotten ones taint the good ones. Fortunately, many of those who were so keen on attacking us are now without work or unable to find good jobs.

Not a day goes by that I do not think of those men who walked before us as soldiers and I hope that us who follow in their footsteps would make them proud. What I do know is that I look back on those I had the honour of serving with, working with and commanding and know that I feel immense pride in what they did – and many still continue to do.

Thank you for your kind words.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

i will remeber those that you named in the back of your book that gave all in the contracts in Cabinda, Angola and Sierra Leone. Wayne Ross Smith was the first fatality in the Angola contract and he died from gis injuries in a tragic accident on the 11th of November 1993. never forgotten. today is my 42nd birthday and i remember my 24 th birthday and was saddened by the events. my friend Paul George De Sousa flew down in the plane with Wayne that day and returned a changed person. my birthday that year was a solemn affair and Brian Westwood attended my little birthday dinner back in the world but we didnt celebrate but lifted our glasses in honour of a fallen comrade, even though it was by an unfortunate accident. i returned to Cabo Ledo a few days later after my leave and got back to work with all earnesty.
a little salute in honour of the brave men who fell in the honourable name of Executive Outcomes.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Not a day goes by that I too do not think of them Mike.

Rgds,

Eeben

PS: Happy Birthday.

michael b said...

this atholl visser aka ivan the terrible keeps popping up all over the show. there is a book out that seems to glorify"his swathe of desrruction" as a mercenary, gun runner, drug smuggler and all round dick. the blurb on the indicates he flip flopped between various right wing groups and was a very senior member/ commander of the CCB. he also waffles on about the Olof Palme assassination and so on and so on. this name has surfaced a few times on your blog, is this dude real or is it simply a pseudonym?

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FDevil-Incarnate-Depraved-Mercenarys-Destruction%2Fdp%2F1845962060%2F&h=9AQE-RgmyAQEpNj-3vbvBJAh-roVCqJSMRwClu4Eo7Cbrjw

this is the type of individual i alluded to in my earlier post who besmirches the soldiers code and if he really exists, he will be standing in another queue reserved for the pol pots, adolf`s and a few serb and african leaders of the world.
mike

betcha2000 said...

Hi Eeben
I was wondering if you ever came across my step father Bryan Westwood as I think he was in Executive Outcomes
Any info would be appreciated

Thanks
John

betcha2000 said...

Hi eeben
I was wondering if you ever came across my stepfather
Bryan Westwood
as I believe he was in Executive Outcomes
Any info would be appreciated
Thanks John

Raven said...

Morning Eeben
If you have not seen this, go have a look...
http://www.defenceweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21430:human-rights-versus-corporate-rights-mercenary-activity-in-the-21st-century-&catid=54:Governance&Itemid=118

Kind Regards

SvN

MStav said...

Mr. Barlow,

I am a great admirer of your work--in light of the recent holiday, thank you for your service.

I'm an American Special Forces candidate with the US Army, and I'm interested in getting into the world of private military contracting. Could you offer any advice in terms of career development, and skills/certifications that might enhance my critical skills? For instance, is it significantly better to be an officer, or a veteran NCO?

If you personally are not in a position to offer this advice, could you suggest another resource?

Thank you again.
V/r,
MStav

eet kreef said...

Thanks Eeben

James said...

Dear Eeben,

I am currently studying a postgraduate degree with Cranfield University at the MOD's Defence Academy of the UK.

My academic research area is focused upon PMSCs, and my dissertation will be aimed at dispelling the common misconception about the role security contractors play.

I was wondering if you would be willing to perhaps speak to me and help with my research.

I would be very grateful for a little access to your wealth of knowledge on the topic.

- James

John said...

Merry Christmas Eeben,

May the blessings and grace of this special season be with you and your family. Best success in 2012.

Regards,
John

michael b said...

Have a good christmas and peaceful new years. Best wishes. Mike da silva.

Warwick said...

Nice poem Eeben. We met back in 1989 while sharing offices in Randburg. I was the young geologist from New Zealand. By the way, I gather I owe you a big thank you for helping me to obtain residence in South Africa, but would love to know exactly what happened from your perspective, if you have a minute. My e-mail address is adamel@maxnet.co.nz. Regards
Warwick Alexander

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi Mike,

As I don’t know him, I am afraid I cannot comment. Although I have heard the name I do not recall ever meeting him. However, you can be sure that if he exists, he is using an alias. But then, there are also many out there who make many false claims and even write books about them.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi John,

Yes, I remember Bryan very well. I first met him when we were on the urban EOD/IED teams in the early 1980s. He gave me many laughs – once we were called out to a suspect device on a fuel tanker in central Pretoria. Enroute we decided that time was against us – besides suiting up would have been of no use if the device went off when we were working on it. At the debrief, we reported that it was a hoax and when asked what steps we would have taken were it a limpet mine on the tanker, Bryan immediately responded with “F@#&ing big steps - in the opposite direction”. I was severely reprimanded for falling over with laughter as that was construed as “behaviour unbecoming an officer”.

He later joined EO where he did good work for us as a “loggie” and other things.

I hope your asking has nothing to do with bad news?

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi John,

I see that you sent me a few comments re Bryan. I am sorry I did not respond earlier but I was out of country. My apologies.

I knew Bryan and he was in EO.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi Stephan,

Thanks, someone sent it to me a while ago so I have been able to peruse it.

It is ironic how the bad guys are given human rights and deny the ordinary, hard working folk a living. When anyone stops that – as EO did – they are accused of violating human rights! No wonder the enemy makes use of continually claiming his human rights are abused – knowing full well we will stop everything and investigate ourselves.

I recall those who bemoan the poor enemy’s human rights being called “useful idiots”. A goods term I think.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi MStav,

I am afraid that I may not be the best person to ask re PMC work especially in Africa as there are many things to be borne in mind on this continent. Also, as every country has different requirements, it can be tricky sometimes to give them exactly what they need.

I would suggest you contact Matt at feraljundi. He runs a very good site and has a lot of advise for folks who wish to broaden their horizons and knowledge skills. Matt is always happy and willing to give advice to folks.

As for being an officer or an NCO: That will be dependent on what you are doing. Usually, the best trainers are veteran NCO’s and the officer-types are often engaged to assist with strategy development and implementation at the operational level.

If Matt is unable to assist you, please let me know. I will see who else I can recommend.

Good luck.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You’re welcome, Eet Kreef.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi James,

I hope your studies are going well. It is a minefield of a subject and depending on where one stands, it can be even more so.

I hope you will forgive me but I need to decline your request. I am pretty busy travelling at the moment and I have also had some pretty bad experiences with students. Those experiences have unfortunately been the prime reason why I decline any requests to assist with any research.

Good luck with your work.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi John,

Many thanks for the kind wishes. A belated Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi Mike,

May the coming year be good to you and your family.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi Warwick,

Yes, I remember you well and have often wondered what you had done with your career. It was a pleasure helping you in those days. Sadly, I had to make a duck after some potentially damaging stuff was being planned to be released and I didn’t want to contaminate anyone with my squirrel activities.

I note from your email address that you are back in NZ. I am saddened to hear of the numerous quakes you have suffered down there. Hopefully, it will get better.

I will be in touch shortly.

Rgds,

Eeben