The recent activities of STTEP International Ltd in Nigeria have given rise to a multitude of comments from some in the media, much of it aimed at trying to discredit both the Nigerian Army (NA) and STTEP and create as much controversy as possible. The term "objectivity" does not appear to be applicable to these journalists. Apart from spewing disinformation, they appear to have a need to proclaim their great understanding of African politics, military strategy and operations—despite usually getting it very wrong.
The comments and "observations" some in the media made on STTEP's involvement in Nigeria bordered on the ridiculous but these comments are important to feed the perceptions they need to create and force a continuation of their false narrative.
Of course, the media's version of the history of Executive Outcomes (EO) was also dug up and rehashed and likewise became a focus of their attention. (I was—and still am—amazed that some journalists still believe they know more about EO than I do and now it appears they know more about STTEP than I do).
In the days of EO, some of the journalists who led the media assault were paid intelligence agents of disinformation. I exposed several of them in my book in 2007.
I have been reliably informed that some of those who escaped my book are still around and writing. So it came as no great surprise to me that some of these are the same journalists who jumped on the Nigeria bandwagon. After all, they were part of the same group that ferociously attacked EO for helping African governments. Instead, they prefer writing about the chaos, suffering, murder and mayhem these terror groups bring. This is, after all, how they make their living—and then they refer to us as "mercenaries".
One only has to look at what is written and by who to determine their agendas, where their narrative is heading and sometimes who their shadow paymasters are.
Some of them are highly agitated that I did not give them exclusive interviews especially after my six-part interview with SOFREP (http://sofrep.com). Others are calling for my/STTEP's immediate arrest and prosecution for assisting a legitimate African government that is under attack by the terrorist group known as Boko Haram. I learnt during the EO days that giving an interview to some journalists only seemed to disrupt the false narrative they were spinning. When reality did not match their agendas, it was immediately discarded and replaced with their agendas.
Some journalists have written offering to assist me in reducing the "criminality of our actions". It appears that if South Africans are called on to assist an African government fight terrorism it is considered to be "criminal". When South Africans are contracted by a foreign PMC, then it is no longer criminal!
Problem in point: STTEP is not a South African company...
What is particularly upsetting to them is that an African-managed and staffed company can be successful in Africa. This goes against everything they stand for. Instead, they appear to think assistance to the NA should have come from a foreign PMC, little knowing that foreign armies and PMCs have spent considerable time in Nigeria where "window-dressing training" has been the order of the day. But look through the window, and the room is empty.
Then there are the famous Internet trolls who allege that STTEP used "exactly the same tactics" that they spoke about to someone a while ago.
Others claim that what STTEP achieved in Nigeria was "pure luck"—much as the media claimed about EO in Angola, Sierra Leone and Indonesia. I would love to see them achieve what STTEP's training team achieved in 3 months—under exceptionally difficult and trying conditions.
Others allege that I, in person, do not do enough to condemn South Africa's politics to African governments for fear we will not get or lose contracts.
I do not need to discuss South Africa's politics with African governments—they discuss it with me. I, on the other hand, do not join in as I am a South African and regardless of what our government does or does not do, I do not hang out our dirty washing in public, nor am I in any position to change it. I am a militarist, not a politician. I leave political decisions and solutions to the politicians and only offer advice when they ask for it.
Some trolls have even expressed their disgust that STTEP has not taken up arms against the SA government! I choose to live in South Africa. Despite its challenges and problems, I remain patriotically South African and African—and will never take up arms against any legitimate government, least of all my own.
Others harp on the fact that STTEP uses "former black communist terrorists". They certainly know how to display their ignorance. STTEP will use and continue to use the right man for the job, regardless of his colour or his past political beliefs. Despite the fact that our black employees outnumbered us "palefaces" we are still regarded as "racists"—and geriatric ones at that.
Given all of the above, I am proud of what my "geriatric", "racist", "mercenary" group of trainers achieved in a very short space of time—and I am especially proud that the unit they established performed so well in action. I am equally proud that my training team and leader group were able to add value to the NA's fight against terrorism.
I suppose that is what upsets the desk-borne strategists and tacticians so much as it disrupts their false narrative...
Whenever the media embark on their agenda-driven reporting on myself and the men of STTEP, I am reminded of Hunter S Thompson's view of journalism, especially as he was a journalist:
"Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuck-offs and misfits—a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage."(Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream)