About Me

My photo
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.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Just a brief note to let you all know that I am back home again. Thank you for all the comments wishing me well on my small travel. I did not feel it warranted every good wish being posted but I sincerely thank those who sent them.

I seem to somehow have “lost” 2 comments to the previous posting. I am not sure why this has happened and I would be most grateful if you would repost your comments if you find that your comment has not been posted.

I know that there was one comment on “visual tracking” and senior officers reading the blog as well as one by Alex. They seem to have disappeared. It may be due to a fault of mine but it may also be that they were swallowed up by the ether.


tyhz1995 said...

Ah there you are sir.I will say during an earlier read on the last thread some of the script appeared cyrillic.I dunno if it's on your end or mine.Pardon my hysteria I get lonely sometimes.Just finished watching terrific rainstorm.I agree w/boots on the ground but not with stomping,stepping lightly utilising cover and weather.A heavy rain can make anything possible.Is the hunting still good in SA?-Tyler

Unknown said...

Hi Sir, good to see you back.

I asked if you would be able to post some thoughts on utilizing visual tracking teams. I know it's not something normally taught on command courses in the rest of the western world and your experiences might be enlightening to those who could employ it.


Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I have checked my fonts/scripts Tyler and don’t have a problem at my end of things. I wonder if anyone else has a similar problem?

Whereas weather is much like darkness in terms of exploitation, there are times when there is no rain and one must use whatever climatic conditions prevail. “Stomping” is just a term but I am sure that those in the know understand what I was trying to say. Treading lightly is indeed important.

The hunting season is almost over (it is mainly in winter-time over here) and I have long ceased hunting game as my heart just isn’t in it.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for resubmitting, Michael – I simply don’t know what happened to your comment.

I will certainly try to do something on visual tracking in the near future.



Alex said...

Hi Eeben,

My last submission does appear to have been posted after all, under the 'Many Thanks...' article. I figured I'd put it there since it's in the same vein as our last couple of exchanges. It's not particularly relevant to the current topics of your postings anyway but thought it may be of interest.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for reposting, Alex.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

To you who wrote me a private note:

Thank you for taking me into your confidence. We all have our ghosts and demons to contend with, but it is not walking through the fire that matters. What matters is how we walk through it.

Suffering from PTSD is nothing to be ashamed of. None of us could ever predict how the wars we experienced would change us. Some of us were simply more fortunate than others. That does not make us any better than those whose suffering surfaced and changed their lives.

Thank you for taking “my” side in the old days. I can understand how you may have felt and the courage it took. But, all wars come to an end and in South Africa, ours has ended and we need to get on with our lives as best we can. I learnt a long time ago that our beliefs, no matter how noble they may appear to us, are nothing but beliefs and we should not allow them to dictate our lives. Whereas we should stand up for what we believe in, they should not consume us as we will lose focus of the bigger picture.

I can appreciate how it must have felt to lose everything one has worked for and I wish you nothing but good. Despite your belief that you may have been disrespectful while intoxicated, I have never experienced that from you, so let that be the last of your concerns.

Please cork the bottle and change direction. I believe you can do it and restore yourself to being the person you can be - and were.



Alexander said...

Hi Mr. Barlow,

I'm a student of political sciences in Belgrade, Serbia and I'm currently gathering information for my final paper which will be on the topic of PMC's - specifically Executive Outcomes. The goal of the paper will be to asses the role of EO in Sierra Leone (and perhaps Angola), and the subsequent rise and proliferation of PMC's.

You might be curious as to my reasons for taking on this topic - its equal parts academic and personal, as I'm interested in PMC's and have lived for several years in Africa (Botswana). On top of that, the story of EO is above all - interesting.

You can imagine my amazement to find out that the "bogeyman" Eeben Barlow (that would be the image of you the press is so keen on spreading) leads a blog no less, and I thought I'd ask you for any materials on EO you would be willing/able to email me. Anything really, as information is quite hard to come by (I'm still struggling to get a hold of your book, since paypal doesn't work in these parts). I'd like to portray EO from something other than sensationalist press and papers of crusading human rights organizations, since their objectivity is at best questionable.

Thanks for reading, and sorry for the overlong post.

Kind regards,

Alexander Maricic

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Good luck with your studies, Alexander. I too spent some years in Botswana – in fact, went to school there for some years.

I have been called things far worse that a “bogeyman” but there is an old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones...”

May I suggest that you contact the publisher at www.galago.co.za I am sure that they will be able to help you get the book. Also, you may find some information in the book “Operation Certain Death” by Damien Lewis.

Let me know if you manage to get the information you need.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

To you who wrote the private notes to me: Well done to you. As said earlier, it is not walking through the fire that matters – it is how you walk through it that matters.

It seems to me as though, despite extreme difficulties, you are doing very well.

Keep your chin up and the bottle firmly corked. All will get better.



Mindworker said...

Sir, I regularly walk through the "fire" associated with PTSD closely with those whose experience has brought them there. Much like an OC and military adviser, I do not tell a person what to do (unless they are in the psychological equivalent of a mine field or "mind" field). I appreciate the delicacy and empathy you display in your response to the private mail. As a psychologist with military and police specialties I can tell you that the more people engaged at various levels in that conop the better. Trauma response is a side effect of war. We all experience it at some level, that is if we are in the normal ranges of human growth and development. There are a few of us out there who practice walking people through the dark woods of pain and trauma. I would suggest to your blogger as you did, accept the reality of the response, toss the alcohol (it is an unpredictable emotional anesthetic with high dependence risk and massively problematic side effects)and find a skilled mind worker and walk through that forest on more than just one's own personal strength. I would add do it, do it now! We absolutely need you back to work on other things with us. I can suggest a few good guides if needed. Whether you believe or not, I pray God's help and blessings to you very richly and very personally.-Michael

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I certainly hope that those who send PRIVATE comments to the blog read your comment Michael. I truly appreciate your thoughts and input on such matters as I am not qualified to give them the assistance they are crying out for. Thank you very much.