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.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


In my previous posting I had a brief look at the Intelligence Cycle, a process many speak of but often neglect. This process can be likened to a huge machine that uses information as its fuel. But, this process can either be a highly valuable asset – or a lame duck.

But apart from knowing this process exists, what sources of information are available to feed this process and how are they determined and guided?

It is important to know that there is a vast difference between “information” and “intelligence” - the former being raw, unprocessed data and the latter collated and evaluated information from the different available sources.

The information-feed from sources can be likened to the fuel that drives the intelligence machine. Without sound and credible information – there can be no intelligence process. It then simply becomes a matter of “garbage in, garbage out”. In order to prevent a garbage-like scenario, the identification, selection and exploitation of sources is paramount.

Whereas the PMC operating in a hostile environment will not be able to access the same type of sources as a sophisticated armed force, it can, nevertheless, access a large amount of different sources to provide the information-feed into the intelligence machine. The methods of collection are categorised as either overt or covert. Sources on the other hand can be directed, non-directed or casual.

These information sources can be briefly listed as follows:

1. Space – ie satellites,
2. Aerial – ie aerial observation platforms
3. Ground – ie reconnaissance, GSR, FCR and so forth
4. Maritime – ie ships, boats, etc
5. Underwater sensors, especially at choke points
6. Agents – both penetration and infiltration
7. Electronic warfare – ie radio, telephone, facsimile and email intercepts
8. Open literature – open sources in the public domain
9. Allied forces operating in close proximity
10. Prisoners-of-war, especially those recently captured
11. Defectors from the enemy’s intelligence services
12. Established data base that has been built-up over time
13. Local population who are resident in the area of operations and so forth.

It is of great importance to the intelligence staff of the PMC to focus their efforts on the available sources and to correctly task and guide these sources where possible. Without correct guidance, tasking and leading, the sources will fail to provide the required information and ultimately, this will lead to an intelligence failure.

Intelligence failures are not necessarily only due to the poor identification and exploitation of sources but also due to a lack of knowledge on the target area and the peoples who reside there. Intelligence failures can also be the result of arrogance and a belief that the opposing forces are unsophisticated, untrained and therefore unable to wage war effectively.

It is this arrogance of superiority that has led to many forces being unable to correctly assess their opponents on the field of battle – and has, in turn, led to higher than expected casualties and ultimately defeat.

Identifying and exploiting the available sources prior to entry into a hostile area is the key to any successful military campaign. Failure to do so is the key to defeat.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


The term “intelligence” is both misunderstood - and abused - by many. Essentially, in the military sense, it is an in-depth knowledge of the enemy that allows the prediction of the future based on current, sound and credible source-information. It is this foreknowledge that allows the prediction of the enemy’s intentions that will enable a force to adopt the correct mission profile and posture, manoeuvre its forces correctly and be at the correct place and time to overwhelm the enemy with fire.

Of course, the silly old joke that military intelligence is a misnomer is due to the fact that many who work in the field of military intelligence have no idea what they are supposed to be doing and no clue how to achieve it. Instead, they conjure up incredible source-information and make predictions from this nonsense and thus arrive at incorrect conclusions and the resultant incorrect predictions.

This leads to mission failure and a loss of credibility to the fighting forces, something we seem to be witnessing on an almost daily basis in conflicts around the world.

The ability to gather credible information is based on the ability to “see into the heart of the enemy”, know where to find the information required and to identify and utilise every available source that can gain access to the information required. The value of human sources is often sacrificed in this regard, instead making maximum use of technical or electronic collection, despite it being easily misled.

An inability to analyse where the required information can be found leads to the collection of “history” and not “intelligence”.

In order to ensure the correct process is followed in this attempt at gaining access to classified enemy material, a simple cycle, known as the “Intelligence Cycle” is followed. This cycle consists of the following basic actions:

1. Determining WHAT information is required ie defining the Intelligence Problem
2. Determining WHERE to find the information, ie what access is required and how to exploit that access. This is known as the Intelligence Appreciation
3. Collecting the information by means of sources and agents
4. Processing the gathered information by means of the Intelligence Process. This is where the information gathered is evaluated, collated and interpreted. It is at this stage that the information is transformed into intelligence
5. Disseminating the intelligence, ie giving it to those people/units that need to know the available intelligence in order to plan their operations.
6. The situation is again subject to the Intelligence Appreciation in order to locate WHERE additional information may be found and the cycle begins anew.

This process remains an on-going cycle in order to continually update the information on the enemy. It is this information and ultimately the subsequent intelligence derived from there that allows commanders to apply flexibility in their planning and adapt to changing battlefield scenarios. Intelligence is also a vitally important component to ensure that forces will not be surprised and overwhelmed by the enemy.

The main problem with many intelligence operations (apart from incompetence) is that mistakes are made during the initial phases of the Intelligence Cycle, thus resulting in the wrong intelligence targets being identified. The problem is further compounded when intelligence officers taint the collected information with their own bias instead of cold-and-clinical reporting of information. Additionally, many analysts “bend” the collected information in order to suit their beliefs and previous assessments.

By knowing and understanding the forces that oppose them, the analysts, commanders and planners will be able to make accurate Intelligence Predictions.

Poorly selected sources, the lack of human agents, agents with limited access, incorrect exploitation of sources, over-reliance on electronic or technical sources and so forth simply continue to compound the problem, leading to the incorrect evaluation and interpretation of the information. It is this flawed process that leads to poor battle plans, the loss of life and ultimately victory to the enemy. When these poorly conceived plans are implemented, no amount of battlefield bravery can rectify the damage done due to a lack of intelligence – or poor intelligence.

Intelligence ought to be one of the prime sub-actions a PMC carries out once it enters a hostile or conflict area. Without intelligence, it will not know what to expect in the area, which locals are hostile, what the language/religious distribution of the population is and so forth. Nor will it know the local customs and traditions of the peoples in the area – something that can cost it dearly.

The PMC that uses intelligence wisely will be successful in its mission but it needs to first understand the process – and application - of Intelligence in all of its facets.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


On 29 April 2009, the BBC ran an interesting article on the DRC. Who else could be the main actors in this story but the UN’s result-lacking mission to the DRC (MONUC) and an ex-rebel leader wanted for war crimes?

According to the BBC – a comment based on a Congolese army paper - an indicted war criminal is currently playing a leading role in the joint-MONUC/Congolese Army’s chain of command in the DRC. “General” Bosco Ntaganda – better known as "the Terminator" - is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged forced enrolment of child soldiers in 2002-2003.

Here is an extract from the BBC’s report on this matter:

The BBC's Thomas Fessy in the capital, Kinshasa, has seen an internal Congolese army document, dated 4 April 2009, which refers to Gen Ntaganda as the deputy co-ordinator for the joint mission's operations.
Our correspondent says the paper - which notes that Gen Ntaganda spoke during an operations meeting - proves he is playing a major role in the chain of command.
A high-ranking Congolese army official confirmed the former rebel leader was involved in the operations, describing him as an adviser to the operations commander.
The UN's peacekeeping force in DR Congo, which is known as Monuc, denied the report

One needs to ask if MONUC is unaware of whom Ntaganda is and if so, why haven’t they been reading the indictments by the ICC as relates to the DRC. Or are they using Ntaganda because he is more capable than their own officers?

Can it be possible that a so-called “peacekeeping organisation”, with unlimited resources and funding (17 000 men plus), is actually this incompetent? Quick to condemn others, this bloated, inefficient organisation masquerading as a “peacekeeping force” needs to be held accountable for its failures and ineptitude.

Even the New York-based Human Rights Watch has expressed its dismay:

"We are very worried by this information and it seems to us that the United Nations is acting like an ostrich with its head in the sand…
"It's time now this is addressed head on. Rather than denying or ignoring the role being played by Bosco Ntaganda, the UN should be actively seeking his arrest and transferring him to The Hague

Whereas it is well known that MONUC apparently has somewhat of a history of partiality towards rebels in the DRC, it will be interesting to see if UN Reporter Talif Deen, who so vigorously attacked EO for daring to assist legitimate governments in Angola and Sierra Leone, will use his pen to further expose their duplicity , hypocrisy and gross incompetence. I do, however, have my doubts…

It also remains to be seen if the UN will appoint a Special Rapporteur such as Mr Enrique Ballesteros to investigate these allegations. Perhaps, in keeping with his previously long-winded title for the EO report he so falsely penned, they could name this new effort of hiding the truth “Report on the question on the use of an indicted War Criminal as a means of assisting the UN’s Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to ensure the continued violation of human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination”.

If the UN is incapable of finding officers who are not wanted by the International Criminal Court to command operations to locate and destroy rebels, it is time to contract a PMC to do what should be done. This will cost a fraction of the wastage the UN is currently thriving on, achieve more results faster and bring about an end to this lengthy conflict for once and for all.

Sadly though, the UN are simply prolonging it.