About Me

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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. Until recently, I was a contributing editor 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, January 9, 2014

TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

Several “experts” on Executive Outcomes (EO) have again recently surfaced and are working hard at continuing their disinformation campaign against the company – despite the company having closed its doors many years ago.

I am still amazed at how those who call so loudly for peace work so hard at trying to prevent it. But I also know the aim is a feeble attempt to discredit me in the hopes that African governments will cease talking to me. As mentioned before, war is bad for business and the longer the flames can be fuelled in Africa, the more money is to be made by some who claim they want a “peaceful Africa”. Their way of achieving this “peaceful Africa” is by dispensing bad advice, selling obsolete and/or irrelevant equipment and by supporting both sides of a conflict.

When it became known that STTEP had been contracted to train a Special Operations Group (SOG) for the Ugandan armed forces (UPDF), all hell seemed to break loose again. Back were those who felt that I and whatever company I was now part of had to be stopped. To achieve this, the lines had to be blurred between EO and STTEP and create the perception that it is the same company.

Tweets were generated and sent forth, articles appeared condemning both the Texas philanthropist and the UPDF along with the journalist who wrote the story. Shock and horror was expressed that the truth was written and those who wanted to stop the LRA’s slaughter were visited by the FBI. STTEP and myself became the ”bad guys” and again it seemed a repeat of EO days. STTEP must be stopped and it appears the instructions went forth: do not let the truth get in the way of a good lie.

So it was that a blog posting penned by Assistant Professor Chris Blattman appeared condemning efforts to stop the LRA. (See my postings on this matter as well as his posting http://chrisblattman.com/2013/10/30/is-the-newyorker-publishing-puff-profiles-of-mercenaries-executive-outcomes-now-its-joseph-kony-related) I entered into correspondence with Blattman who admitted he did not do any research. We agreed to disagree on stopping conflicts and the senseless slaughter of civilians in African war zones. 

Those we trained in the SOG went on to prove beyond any doubt that they were stopping the LRA. This was, however, to be short-lived as soon after STTEP was forced to leave Uganda, the SOG was sent to Mogadishu. What an absolute waste of money: Men trained in jungle warfare with donor funds were sent to conduct urban operations!

Then, one of the blog readers (Mike Da Silva) pointed me back to Blattman’s blog and in particular to a response on his condemnation of EO/STTEP/the philanthropist and the journalist.

The comment to Blattman’s post by Kambale Mawa reads as follows:

You sir, have no idea what you are talking about.

For goodness sake,  ….. You have as much life experience as a potatoe. You have seen nothing of the world but HBO and MTV, and heard of your cohort’s accolade.

You sir killed my family. You came and cut my father’s hands off, smashed his foot with a truck, and laughed about it. Then while he we were tied to posts my sisters and mother was raped repeated till they bled to death. Then they were burned alive.

You did that sir. I was there and watched you do it. Maybe you had a different face, and skin color – but might as well been you. It was your and your buddies’ words that let the beasts loose. You think you know better.

I will never forget those years I spent in slavery because of you and your ilk. Every day I wake up and do not look into the mirror. I scare little children on the street. You did that to me.

When EO was here, we were safe. They came through; they were real *gentlemen*. You sir, do not have the right to even mention their names without prostrating. Narcissism is an illness. You should have that looked at as it spreads.

I recall many letters written to me/EO in days past by the victims caught in the conflicts thanking us and writing about their plight, the torture they had to endure, the hunger, the constant smell of death and fear, the boiling and eating of new-born babies and the many, many harrowing experiences they had to live through. I shall never forget when I showed this to some local and foreign journalists how they told me that such letters were “not in the public interest”! The truth was of no consequence – their lies, however, were.

Despite Kambale Mawa’s comment being written years after the fact, it is encouraging to know that people we tried to help still remember those few who turned the tide in Angola and Sierra Leone. Many countries I travel to have heard about EO and STTEP. I am warmly welcomed and constantly thanked for the work the men of EO did – and what STTEP is doing - for Africa.

Those who are so keen to condemn EO, STTEP and myself ought to visit the areas we have worked in and discover the truth for themselves – not make it up to suit the agendas of those who pay them.


Maybe then they will tell it like it is. 

21 comments:

reflexivefire.com said...

A lot of people like to talk about peace Eeben. Some of them talk a pretty good talk too. Making it happen is a whole other story as you well know.

-Jack

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Very true words, Jack.

As we consider ourselves (myself/STTEP) to be fairly well-connected in Africa and regularly speak to African governments, I am appalled at what we see, hear and witness on this continent.

Those who stepped onto our shores with double and hidden agendas ought to realise that you can only fool some of the people some of the time. When their deception is exposed, they may find themselves at a disadvantage. Unfortunately, the deceived have a lot to catch up on once the realisation has hit home.

It is this deception that prevents peace.

Rgds,

Eeben

jobcompany said...

Hello Eeben ..... For years, I read and studied on Executive Outcomes .... it's a passion ... I think you work very well, Executive Outcomes is a great success .... You have my full support .... erick

Wayne said...

In the past few years I have heard so many stories about EO, who was in it, who ran it and what EO changed its name too after it closed down.

I do remember finding some oil company people on a beach one day long ago,in Angola, they were so happy to meet some of the people that they considered their saviors.

It is well known that small people discredit people larger than themselves Eeeben, but I know that does not take away from the, irritation you must feel.

I base my reality on my experience, not what I am told.

Regards
Wayne Bisset.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Erick.

Although the company no longer exists, the men of EO certainly did our continent good.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Some people seem to thrive on BS, Wayne as it probably does their insecurities good.

Some of these conmen and liars push me way beyond irritation. Obviously, I cannot expose them all but I will continue to honour the men of EO who did nothing but good work for Africa yet found themselves labelled as the "bad guys".

Rgds,

Eeben

graycladunits said...

Hmmm....new born babies boiled and eaten? Wow, that's shocking, disgusting, and depressing to hear of all at the same time! Anyway, why not publish these letters that speak of this and other atrocities by the LRA as the coup de gras against your critics? You could discredit them permanently.

gcu

fatfox9 said...

Eeben,
I have had the honour of working with you on a number of occasions. I have always know you to be an officer, gentleman and close friend. I also know that your ideals were instilled in all who worked for you then and indeed now. The detractors know nothing because they are nothing.

If I am also to be blacklisted so be it. I know I will be in the company of good men who know the difference between integrity and lies.

Keep up the good work and let us continue to fight the good fight.

"Political language...is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind"

George Orwell

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That was sadly what happened there, GCU.
Yet, it was these very people some foreign governments and multi-national corporations chose to support. The media too wanted to defend them and ensure their longevity. That is even more sickening to me.
I always find it strange that I have to defend myself against lies yet the liars never have to defend themselves against their deception. As for publishing all of the letters, that would require another book – something I don’t have time for at the moment.
I am discrediting these “people” and do it one step at a time. Some of those who used their pens to attack EO with lies are no longer gainfully employed and definitely not trusted as journalists and researchers. That can only be a good thing.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Mark.
My men and I will rather stand something than fall for nothing.
Blacklisting us/me was probably a good thing as it showed exactly what the agenda in Africa is. Governments in Africa have also come to realise this.
It sickens me to see how African governments are being purposely misled, deceived and blackmailed into jumping to someone else’s tune.
Hopefully, you will soon be called on to join us in the good fight – as that is what it is.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I cannot speak on behalf of any other company Private.
However, I can understand a company that choses sides as this is a fight over Africa’s survival. Those governments that do not harbour hidden agendas will have no problem with his company siding with the Chinese. Those governments that have agendas will, of course, be alarmed.
Rgds,
Eeben

Alan said...

Excellent work Eeben.

Some follow-on logic from a brave General, at least in our current political environment.

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/02/13/general-spec-ops-units-must-get-back-to-its-roots.html?comp=7000023435630&rank=4

Regards, Alan

Adam said...

Hello everyone, I am new to the blog, been searching for EO data on the net. It's so amazing, taht one provate company, can do that much for the country, I mean making history. Bows to Mr Eeben and his men. You could almost tell the South Africa contemporary conflict history thru the actions of the company. So many questions, e.g. did the company have its specific military hierarchy (ranks) I mean I found this interesting photo, what kind of rank that person wears, who is he: http://www.mercenary-wars.net/photos/befo/eoi12.jpg

Thank you!

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the link Alan. Very true.
Sadly, many generals are more concerned at their future political prospects than the welfare of the men they command.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Adam.
We kept to our military heritage as it encouraged unity of effort and discipline – besides, it is somewhat out of place to tell an officer in an army that “Mr X wants you to do the following…”.
The man in the photo is Colonel Andy Brown. I first met him in 1978/9 somewhere in our operational area. He was a Capt then and I a Lt.
Rgds,
Eeben

Adam Szpaderski said...

Thank you! I found out Andy Brown was a commanding officer in Sierra Leone, he said in an interview, about Sierra Leone: “Any movement in the interior meant keeping to the roads, and it stayed that way for about half the year, or at least for the duration of the rainy season. Those who ignored such precepts got bogged down. And then, should someone go bushwhacking – and some of the men eventually had to do exactly that – vehicles could easily disappear, sometimes permanently”. So was it really like jungle mud could quickly incapacitate a vehicle? Though.
The picture of the Colonel just intrigued me, cos his eyes were so zealous.
Anyway, there’s so much stuff about EO. Probably most of it is poor researched I guess. I will start my research with your book, but what is your opinion about the following ones:
1) Bloodsong!: An Account of Executive Outcomes in Angola, by Jim Hooper;
2) FOUR BALL, ONE TRACER: Commanding Executive Outcomes in Angola and Sierra Leone, by Roelf van Heerden, Andrew Hudson
3) War Dog: Fighting Other People’s Wars-the Modern Mercenary in Combat by Al J. Venter.
Worth reading? Could you please recommend me any other sources to obtain truth about the EO. Thank you, best regards, Adam.

Basilisk said...

It's good to see you still around. I had lost track of your blog for quite a while.

Cliche though it may sound, I first learned about you and your outfit from a documentary on the History channel here in the States. It actually portrayed your company in a very positive light, and after some more research, my impressionable 14 year old self regarded Executive Outcomes as heroes. It broke my heart to learn you had closed your doors and that I'd never be a part of the mercenary group I came to idolize. That was about 13 years ago, and I believe I've gotten over it. Mostly.

I just want to say thanks for doing a bit of right in the world. When I hear someone badmouthing Executive Outcomes, I try to go out of my way to set them straight about what's truth and whats baseless, opportunistic slander and mudslinging. I also try to educate people about the conflicts in Sierra Leone and South Africa, and drum up some awareness over the political turmoil that was and still is present in the continent.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Operating in dense African jungles is not easy and can be tricky, Adam. But, like many things, the jungle is neutral and favours those who exploit it. Sticking to roads for vehicles was essential as the terrain and vegetation did not allow cross-country movement. When the rainy season arrived, it was rough. However, soldiers should not stick to roads…
The books you mention are all good reads. Some authors however put their own spin on things – and quite often get things very wrong. Four Ball, One Tracer was written by an EO officer and I thought it was a good read. But again, like all authors (me included) it is written from Roelf’s perspective.
Not much else has been written about EO in book form. I know of 2 journalists who were writing a book on EO until I exposed them as agents of influence/disinformation agents.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your kind words, Basilisk.
Unfortunately, EO became a threat to some foreign governments and corporations who have made it their mission to keep Africa in a state of chaos and conflict. Destabilisation is very good for business – as we witness across Africa.
Thank you too for coming up for EO. Like any company, we had a few rotten apples but the vast majority of men who served in EO were there to make a difference – and they did.
Rgds,
Eeben

Peter Eichstaedt said...

I'm still wondering why the SOG move on Kony's camp missed the mark. Kony was long gone when they reached the camp. The Ugandans blamed it on the US for failing to share intelligence that Kony had left earlier. I don't believe it. As I've commented elsewhere, the Ugandans/Museveni have an interest in keeping Kony alive. So what happened?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Peter, as a journo, you will know that we were forced to leave Uganda in early 2012 by the US Dept of State, so I cannot comment on what and why something went wrong in 2014. However, I do not think the Ugandans are lying or that they do not want Kony’s reign of terror ended. I deployed with the SOG and know how the efforts at getting Kony. But, there are many other factors at play here.
Rgds,
Eeben