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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.

Monday, July 6, 2015

COMPOSITE WARFARE: THE CONDUCT OF SUCCESSFUL GROUND FORCES OPERATIONS IN AFRICA





As a continent, Africa presents her armies with a vast, dynamic and multidimensional operating environment. It has numerous complex and diverse ethnic, religious, cultural and tribal interests and loyalties, along with many multifaceted threat-drivers coupled to varied and infrastructure-poor terrain plus vast climatic variations. The continent is, furthermore, characterized by numerous half-won conflicts and wars fought by incorrectly structured, inadequately trained and ill-equipped armies. For many reasons, these forces have difficulty adapting to the complex, demanding and rapidly changing environments they do battle in. Similarly, the armies have difficulty in decisively defeating the various threats they face. Many of these problems stem from the fact that numerous modern-day African armies are merely clones of the armies established by their once-colonial masters, their Cold War allies or their new international allies. Many of the principles and tactics, techniques and procedures they were - and still are - being taught relate to fighting in Europe and not in Africa. Some of these concepts are not even relevant to Africa.
This book is intended as a guide and textbook for African soldiers and scholars who wish to understand the development of hostilities, strategy, operational design, doctrine and tactics. It also illustrates the importance of nonpartisanship and the mission and role of the armed forces. Officers, NCOs and their subordinates need to, furthermore, understand their role in defending and protecting the government and the people they serve. They additionally need to know how to successfully accomplish their numerous missions with aggression, audacity, boldness, speed and surprise. The book provides the reader with valuable information relating to conventional and unconventional maneuver. It also discusses how African armies can, with structured and balanced forces, achieve strategic, operational and tactical success. It covers the role of government along with operations related to war, operations other than war and intelligence operations and how these operations, operating in a coordinated and unified manner, can secure and strengthen a government.
Composite Warfare draws on the author's experiences and lessons in Central, Southern, East, West and North Africa where he has served numerous African governments as a politico-military strategist, division commander, division adviser, battalion commander and special operations commander.

 

54 comments:

nkem70 said...

Awesome

nkem70 said...

Unfortunately for me, I cannot order the book as at this present time due to my current location. As soon as I redeploy back to the states, it is definitely going to be the number one thing on my to do lists.
Thanks for your selfless service to Africa as a whole and to the entire universe; many people of your caliber and with similar experience would prefer, not to publicly share and freely enlighten others. Your prowess and erudition, will perhaps, go down into the history book of iconic Africans.

Very Respectfully
Adegoke
@nkem70

SuperFreejohn said...

Congratulations Eeben on getting your second book finished.

As soon as I can afford a copy I'll definitely try and get hold of one.

All the best.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Adegoke!
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Brother Adegoke for your very kind comments. However, I must admit that many, many people helped shaped my view on our conflicts and wars. I hope the book will not disappoint.
Please note that it will only be available in September 2015.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks SuperFreeJohn.
Please note that it is due for publication in September 2015. Maybe enough time to save up for it...?
Rgds,
Eeben

SuperFreejohn said...

I'll be scraping every penny together to try and get a copy, certainly.

It's an important step to have material on African conflicts written by those such as yourself
with such a good level of experience and knowledge. Too much is written by academics such as myself who have very little by way of first hand knowledge.

Needless to say, I'm looking forward to September.
All the best.

P.S. On the Nigerian Narrative, I've had my dealings with the Press too. 'Integrity' is just a word in the dictionary for most of them. You have my sympathies.

Hqi777 said...

Hi Eeben, any chance of a digital Kindle release?

Dino Coutinho said...

Congrats Eeben. Look forward to getting a copy. Respect! Dino

Herbert said...

Eeben,

Congratulations on what is sure to be a book of first priciples for those who actually want to learn about conflict in Africa. Come September I think I will buy a couple extra copies (in addition to my own) of the book for certain folks in a certain government agency in this country--not that they would read it, or understand it if they did.

Sounding a bit cynical, aren't I?

Looking forward to the book, and to you my best

Rgds,
Herbert

Feral Jundi said...

Outstanding job Eeben and congratulations! I know this was a long hard slog for you to undertake, and especially with work getting in the way. lol
I imagine this thing will sell big time and I will put it up on my blog to get the word out. Just curious, were you able to add your recent experiences in Nigeria to the book?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks SuperFreeJohn.
I certainly hope you will find something of value in it.
I see no wrong with many academics doing studies on conflict and war in Africa. I only fault those I read when the theory does not match the reality and when the aim of the armed forces gets lost in gobbledygook and ultimately result in more misunderstanding than in understanding. However, many of these studies remain relevant and valuable.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sure the publishers are looking at some form of e-book Hqi777. However, I suppose it will depend on what they plan with the book and how much value they place on its contents.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks Dino.
However, it is guys such as yourself and others in the team that have also contributed immensely to my small pool of knowledge. So, it is I who should be thanking all of you who have worked with me over the years.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for the good wishes Herbert.
One day when we meet, we can trade arguments as to who has become the most cynical! I am sure many will not agree with what I have written but that becomes an issue to debate. All I know is that what I have written has and does work.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It has certainly been tricky to juggle several balls at once, Matt. But my thanks to you for always putting a good word out there for myself, EO and STTEP.
Much of what we did in Nigeria (and elsewhere) was actually taken from the book and reapplied there. But, many of my guys added to my thoughts and I believe helped make the book better.
Rgds,
Eeben

Orlando Wilson said...

Congratulations on the publication, been waiting for it!!!

Please, keep up the excellent work!

Orlando

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Orlando.
No doubt it will result in some hand wringing!
Rgds,
Eeben

Jose Alves said...

Greetings Col. Barlow, at last your long awaited book is out I'm looking forward too reading it. I'm sure that it will fly off the shelves and I have no doubt that it will point out many of the faults that exist in tackling the insurgency problems on the African continent and other parts of the world were conflicts exist but where the tactics applied may not always make sense.

Best Regards,

Jose

Mathias Plank said...

Great news! I´m very keen and looking forward to read your book. I just had discussions with some comrad´s in the German Army about warfare in Africa, compared to our experience in AFG.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you, Jose.
I might add it is not focused solely on what many refer to an "insurgencies" but it also covers aspects related to conventional and unconventional maneuver.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Mathias.
It will be interesting to compare notes one day.
Rgds,
Eeben

Unknown said...

Mr Barlow,

Your blog is a revelation. I'm steadily making my way through every post you've made, and I've learned a lot. Keep it up.

If you can answer these questions, I'd be ever so grateful.

If an Islamic army from the MENA region (Mid East & N. Africa) decides to conquer Africa up to the equator, would they be able to do it ?

From what I understand Islam has a population of young unemployed and surplus males. These males are desperate as well. From what I see, Europe is too close to Russia, so Africa looks good enough for the time being.

Should Islam decide to conquer up to the equator of Africa, who would oppose them ?

My thanks for any response.

I don't know if you know anything about the dire prophecies of Siener van Rensburg, but this gentleman had a similar vision of South Africa's future, and my question is this - can such an event as this dream, really be organized here ?

And who would benefit from this ?

... because all I see, is that if SA goes the way of Rwanda, then a golden bone bedecked with glittering diamonds will be tossed into the doghouse of this world.

Madness.

I wish you well on your book.

Sincerely.

M.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your comment, M.
Given the lack of training and preparation many African armies have, along with bad advice and inadequate training, I believe an Islamic army will be able to do this. We have already seen Al Shabab and Boko Haram align themselves with Daesh (ISIL). Such religious groups are also active in DRC, CAR, Mali, Burkina Faso and so forth. This is a very typical ink-spot strategy and once the foothold has been gained, it can be expanded.
Currently, national armies have difficulty opposing them for numerous reasons. But, you also need to understand that these radical forces have foreign support, as we see in Libya.
In SA, I see the encouragement of divisive and confrontational politics as well as numerous African anti-government forces establishing themselves here as a very bad sign. That, along with numerous other areas of grave concern are all indicative that we are placing ourselves in a very difficult position which will be extremely difficult to contain if it implodes.
Rgds,
Eeben

Unknown said...

Hi Eeben,
I have eventually managed to join and sign into your site!Frankly I could not wait as to congratulate you, on yet another publication, that will without doubt leave the potential readers with fascination and with gasps of admiration for a long time ,once we all had the opportunity to read and study your most current but long awaited work!
Sir,we who had the opportunity, as to serve under your command and control,wherever in our Military careers...will always,and unconditionally admire,respect and appreciate your well known gentle humbleness,unbiased objectiveness,and unquestionable integrity.Thank you for sharing,educating us soldiers,by means of books that would last and could be re-read any times as we move on through life's journey!
Sincere regards,
Ben Burger.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for your kind words, Ben.
You have given me new inspiration and one of the greatest compliments I could ever receive.
However, I am very cognizant of the fact that I can only achieve what you guys allow me to achieve and that without your support, friendship and desire to make a positive difference, I would be a failure. I never forget that whatever good things people may say about me or STTEP are in reality only due to the very positive work you guys in the company do. Everyone in the company has also contributed immensely to my knowledge pool so on that score too, the book would not have been possible if you guys weren't willing to share their knowledge base with me.
My sincerest thanks to each and every one of you.
Rgds,
Eeben

Dino Coutinho said...

Hi again Eeben.
When we met at a wedding last year, we spoke about some of the ex EO personnel who are stil in Sierra Leone today 20 years after the deployment,. They are working civilian careers, enabled by the foundation of good layed down by EO's activities all those years ago and still making a positive difference in the lives of grass roots level Sierra Leoneans. One wishes the same can be said for the efforts of the international community-at-large in the past two decades. Another fact to be proud of, which can be cross referenced with the TRC Report (Sierra Leone 2004), of all the elements involved in the conflict in the '90s, EO stands out with a clean bill of health with regards to professional conduct. Despite the prolonged chaos which erupted almost overnight post EO withdrawal, a lasting legacy exists due to unquestioned military success coupled with sound etical standards brought about by excellent leadership.
My penny's worth.
Best regards.
Dino

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Dino. As someone who was there, your comments carry more authenticity than the journo who wrote that I gave an order to "kill everyone" when the RUF took locals hostage.
The media lies that we were paid in diamonds and diamond concessions still stands today as "fact" yet those who aided and abetted the rebels (especially in Liberia) and who were paid in diamonds is and was simply ignored.
Ironically, when the world stood by and watched the slaughter, they did nothing to intervene. Yet, we were castigated for going there to end the problem - which we did. And today, EO is all but airbrushed out of most articles on Sierra Leone. On the history of Angola, EO is hardly mentioned by scholars and journos alike - much the same as other places where EO and STTEP have worked.
EO's men who spent time on the ground saved hundreds of thousands of lives and its record stands way above most others who have engaged in military operations in Africa. That in itself is testimony to the men who I have had the honour of working with.
Rgds,
Eeben

Die Stoor said...

Eeben, congratulations on the release of your book. Clearly you did not accept the handsome offer you were made not to publish it. It is always gratifying when I open your blog and find some new material, and reading the comments always strikes me as testimony of the esteem in which you and the organisations which you have served are held.
I read elsewhere that US special operations are about to step up their involvement in various spheres in Africa through Africom. Well I suppose they will be spending vast resources setting up more African states for failure which is concerning considering the real and present threats faced from radical non-state organisations, and as you mentioned divisive politics acting almost like a compromised immune system against these threats. (not the best analogy but the only one that springs to mind)

I find it completely bemusing that they can be welcomed on the continent when anyone with a set of eyes can see how these forces are militarily supported by the US here, yet are set up as an enemy there. It strikes me more and more that these insurgencies are merely another tool of policy for certain powerful nations.

Jeremy said...

I know this book is going to be up there with Sun Tzu, Liddel Hart and von Clausewitz. Cannot wait to read it. Congratulations Eeben.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Stoor. No, I could not accept the offer as the book was written to help African armies overcome the deception and rubbish they are being taught and prevent them being set up for failure as is currently the case.
Everyone knows that the US feeling towards Africa is "Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today" and it is obvious when we see how armies are set up to fail and not succeed.
The feeling amongst many African governments is that they have started seeing through the smoke and mirrors and are beginning to realize that they are under immense threat by their allies.
Most of the conflicts we witness in Africa are foreign instigated - and the armies have been misled on how to defeat these hostile forces. Sad but true...
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Jeremy.
I am sure there will be a huge chorus of shouts claiming that there is nothing new in it but then again, why haven't African armies been taught these things?
As for ranking with Sun Tzu, Liddel Hart and others...you flatter me but I do not think of it in those terms.
Rgds,
Eeben

Derick La Grange said...

Good day,

I would like to know if there is a way that one can become part of these teams that are working in these security fields?

I have red now on numerous websites that the private security is here to stay and coming from Afghanistan, I would like to know if there are any opportunities in Africa.

Thank you.

derick.lagrange@yahoo.com

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Hi Derek,
I do not use the blog as a method of recruitment. You will need to check with our Personnel Officer via STTEP's website if there are any opportunities available.
Rgds,
Eeben

nbcollet said...

Mr. Barlow,

This is a pretty unorthodox way to contact, but I'm a US Army cadet at Princeton University. I'm researching SADF counterinsurgency strategy, focusing on the 1980s. I've been in touch with Jim Hooper extensively and am trying to gather more for my research. Is there any way we could talk? My email is ncollet@princeton.edu. Any help is greatly appreciated--I want to tell the story from the ground perspective.

Best,

Nelson Collet
Cadet, US Army

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for your message Cadet Collet.
Unfortunately, I will not be able to assist you due to problems I encountered with previous students who expected me to write their research documents for them or complained when I did not respond immediately to questions. This forced me to reassess giving help.
Good luck with your work though.
Rgds,
Eeben

Unknown said...

Mr Barlow,

Where does one get more information on this kind of career (PMC's) on the internet ? My thanks for any help.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The internet is not always the best place to look, Unknown. Many con artists frequent it and many boast of successes and operations they have dreamt up themselves.
However, as I do not know where you are resident, there are many countries that have genuine PMCs. I would suggest you check out those who operate from your country. There are several well-known PMCs in the USA, UK and elsewhere.
If you are in South Africa, it is different as there are people in our government who are concerned at rebel forces being destroyed by PMCs. SA PMCs are under constant threat if they assist African governments.
Rgds,
Eeben

Unknown said...

Dear Mr. Barlow, my deepest respect! Been following your work with EO since early nineties! Fortunately my main source of information was SOF mag! Any chance to get a signed copy of your new book? How can I contact you directly for that? Or we meet in SA so you can sign both! With best regards, Justin

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your message Justin.
Unfortunately, the book has as yet not been published due to some 'technical difficulties' that arose between publishers. I am confident this will soon be resolved.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for your interest and support Justin.
I would love to ensure you get an autographed copy but I cannot promise anything. It will depend on how the publishers handle the orders.
Rgds,
Eeben

Justy said...

Good news, Amazon gave me a delivery date: Dec. 4th! Keep fingers crossed! With best regards, Justin

Royaldrew said...

Eeben,

I read your blog regularly and find your insights in to many topics incredibly refreshing. I've pre-ordered a copy of your book on Amazon and look forward to its release!

Seb said...

Dear Mr. Barlow,

Congratulations for your book. Been waiting for it for a while ! I live in France, expected delivery on December 15th: "technical difficulties" seem to be resolved, all for the best. Good luck to you, and keep up the good work !

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you Royaldrew for both your comment re the blog as well as your interest in the book.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am sorry that you have had to wait so long for the book Seb.
I hope it will be worth the wait!
Rgds,
Eeben

Justy said...

Dear Eeben and supporters: Happy New Year and all the best for 2016! Does not start too well. Amazon delayed the book delivery again. They could not give a new date yet. Any news from the publisher? Best regards, Justin

V BG said...

Hello Mr Barlow,

Will there be a second batch of books available for sale in the future as I was unable to order in the short time they were available and due to the demand Composite Warfare has been bought out everywhere!

Cheers

Jesse Carrillo said...

Mr. Barlow,
Am looking for a copy. Any help is appreciated!
Kind regards,
Jesse Carrillo

Greg said...

Hello! I've had Composite Warfare pre-ordered on Amazon. They just informed me today that they've cancelled my order due to "lack of availability". Currently, it is not possible to re-order it on the Amazon page. As this is disheartening, is there any other way to order the book, or will the Amazon situation get remedied?

Thank you!

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Belated wishes to you and yours as well, Justin.
The book is nearing publication - finally. Thank you for your interest and patience.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It has not yet been published V BG. I am told it will happen soon.
Thanks for your patience and interest.
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

It hasn't yet been published Jesse. Apologies for the delay but it is out of my hands.
Thanks for the interest and your patience!
Rgds,
Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

My apologies Greg.
There was a bit of a ‘technical hiccup’ between 2 opposing publishers but that has been sorted and publication will now be quite soon – or so I am told.
Thank you for your interest and patience.
Rgds,
Eeben