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, April 26, 2012


One has to applaud those who were responsible for finally bringing ex-Liberian President Charles Taylor to justice as well as what must be considered a landmark verdict.
Having at long last been found guilty of his war crimes, which were numerous and horrific – it is just a pity it took so long to bring him before the courts. I can only hope he won’t be given upmarket living quarters with all the luxuries he needs to satisfy his human rights.

What also concerns me somewhat is that I suspect that this is merely lip service being paid to the ex-dictator. I sincerely hope I am wrong. Time will tell how the punishment will be applied. I just hope it will be as harsh as it can possibly be.
It is a sad fact that this person was welcomed into South Africa as a hero of sorts and regarded as a great friend despite him being unable to quench his blood-lust and desire to terrorise, destabilise and steal the resources of another country. Hopefully, the large diamond he presented with such modest fanfare to Naomi Campbell will find its way back to those who it rightfully belongs to.
Whereas I applaud the verdict, what about the victims he and his thugs created? The suffering and misery these poor souls have had to endure defies belief. For them, his verdict may bring some satisfaction but it will never turn back the clock and give them back their lives.
What about the people who trained his so-called Presidential Guard, knowing full well that their students of mayhem were to be deployed in Sierra Leone to support the RUF and conduct atrocities against the innocent and the helpless?? Let us also not forget that this “Presidential Guard” was used to “pacify” and punish thousands of people in Liberia as well.
Apparently, the man who secured the contract to train Taylor’s Presidential Guard was the same man who for years, despite international embargos, supplied UNITA (who by the way did a lot of murdering as well) with a surface-to-air missile to shoot down an EO aircraft which resulted in two good men being killed.
I can only hope that more of Taylor’s associates and “business partners” will be brought to book.
Perhaps the guilty verdict will finally send a clear warning to those in power who believe they are immune to any laws and can therefore rape, murder and plunder as they see fit.
As always, only time will tell how serious we are about bringing these murderers and dictators to justice – or not.


Unknown said...

a small vctory for the media and the UN. i suspect your fears may just be right though. i hate being the negative noddy here but lets face the truth of today`s politically correct hornets nest world. will he languish in solitary confinement in a 5 by 5 cell eating slop? i somehow dont think so. the do gooders out there will harp on about his right to life disregarding the reality of the slaughter he managed! he was the orchestrator and perpetrator of hell on earth. he deserves nothing short of a short trip into the woods and a destiny with a bullet but he will get his cushy cell with television, internet, fridge and other nice things i am sure. the fate that befell the likes of Muammar and Saddam are more what he should get. the diamond he gave to that vacuous bimbo Naomi the supposedly super model should see her charged with trafficking and accepting blood diamonds. the gunrunner you mention should for the interest of history be openly named so he can stand plain before the world. the two men his deals killed were fine soldiers doing good in the bigger scheme of things. i say to hell with political corectness and name and shame the charlatans!
just my 5 cents worth. Mike

Markus said...

Well said MrBarlow! I read an artical in the uk press yesterday that said he will serve his sentence in Britain! I'm not sure if this will appease the Victims of this evil monster, as he might well have an easy life in a prison thousands of miles away. I have your book and I am truly amazed at the work of EO and the sheer incompetence of the western powers regarding the untimely withdrawl from Sierra Leon

Herbert said...


Well said, Sir. Very well said.


graycladunits said...

Dear Eeben:

I think that Charles Taylor is a native born version of the long forgotten King Leoplod II of Belgium. It seems that both men wanted to play ruler of oppressed masses that would make them rich. It is strange that anyone would have to make this reply to your blog except that I have recently been reading a book called Black Livingstone by Pagan Kennedy that portrays Leopold in the same light. The characteristics of the two men seem uncanny.

Each one continuously has an ulterior motive for all of the things that he does in his section of the continent that he controls. Each man destroys/harms the lives of countless native Africans in his path that come between him and personal gain in various ways. The comparison is actually quite creepy when you look at it.

The book actually centers on the life of William Sheppard. He was an African-American missionary from the Southern Presbyterian Church who went to the Belgian Congo. He was from Waynesboro, Virginia---30minutes South of where I live. He and his partner had no idea that they were a part of Leopold II's web of deceit. No monument exists for this forgotten hero of the Christian faith who did so much to help the people of the Kasai region of the Congo. Nor does any research exist to tell us anything of what happened to the work of Sheppard and his contempories in the long run after WWI, at least none that I am aware of. I am almost afraid to inquire myself. I am also afraid of inquiring as to what happened to the people that Charles Taylor invited into Liberia who found out about the atrocities that he and his regime committed.

Sheppard actually reported what atrocities he knew of that the Belgians committed in the Congo. It did no good though. No one listened. It seems as if justice takes so long to come to Africa.

Sincerely, gcu

P.S. What are you doing in August and September of this year as I am trying to make a trip to SA at this time and would like to meet you?

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Political correctness will still destroy the West, Mike. Every bad guy has human rights but the victims never have any.

Taylor was indeed the driving force behind many atrocities in SL. Whereas he may not have been personally involved, he certainly gave the green light for them to be committed.

For the interests of history, I did name Mr Rindel in my book. It was much later on that I learnt of his role in supporting Taylor. Was that ever mentioned in the media? No. So to me it seems as though some people in the media were quite happy to watch him and his fellow men train Taylor’s thugs.

It would be quite something if they too were brought to book.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you, Markus.

If he were to serve his sentence in the UK that would indeed be a travesty of justice. He should be sent back to Liberia – or even better still to SL - to serve his time. However, if he gets locked up in the UK he will have won again.

EO was sadly a threat to many who wanted Africa to be kept in a state of instability.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks, Herbert.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Another good book re the similarities is “King Leopold’s Ghost” by Adam Hocheschild, GCU. If you can get your hands on it, it makes for shocking reading. But, like all things in the past, it is history. We cannot change that but we can change the future if we put our minds to it.

Those who Taylor invited to Liberia as friends or businessmen: I am sure they knew the score but decided to rather hold their peace. After all, there was big money to be made.

It will be a pleasure to meet you if you visit SA. However, August/September is still a long way off and I usually have little to no control over my travels. Let me know nearer to time.



Dan said...

It is a classic example for Americans who have backed ruthless dictators and then walked away leaving them the toys and power to abuse their country and build their personal fortune. His use of RUF, etc is deplorable. He needs the death sentence, instead the world court will coddle him in prison till he dies. I hate to add this to the comments section but my second book which came out last month is a novella that deals with the height of the Civil war in 2003 and the town of Tubmanburg and the LURD forces trying to make a push south to Monrovia. Its called Task Force Intrepid: Highway to Hell. These Novellas will come out in between the Main Series of TFI. Its available on Amazon. Eeben, I cant wait till your book comes out ! D.R. Tharp aka Simon

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

An evil man indeed, Dan. However, blame needs to be placed before other doors as well and not only before that of the US. In my own country, he was regarded as somewhat of a hero.

Good luck on your new book. I enjoyed the previous one and will soon be writing my 2 cents worth on Amazon reviews.



Ivan M said...

Hi Eeben

I am busy with your book and have not put it down for the last few days.

I now live in Liberia and have followed the history alot. There was some violence when the annoucement was made and we expect some more when the sentence is announced. This is going to fuel annimosity between the Mano River neighbours, and the quicker this gets to bed the better

Justice will be served.

Have you ever thought about anti-paoching work with Rhino's

Cheers - Ivan M

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I hope that by now you have been able to complete reading the book, Ivan M.

Whereas Taylor is as guilty as can be, he was aided and abetted by numerous others who helped him in his attempts – either by means of training – or buying - “his” Sierra Leone diamonds. I think they too should be brought to book.

The animosity between the Mano River neighbours was in many instances fuelled by other interests. I can just imagine the animosity that exists as so many atrocities were committed that not only changed lives but destroyed them. You are quite correct: The quicker (real) justice is served, the better.

It is increasingly difficult for me to look towards countering rhino poaching due to a lack of time and other commitments that occupy most of my time. I do however suspect that the will to stop this despicable action is not really there.



Anonymous said...

Dear Eeben,

I have recently left the British Army, 1st battalion Irish Guards, I know I have asked about my dad but let us put that to one side for now.

I would like to please ask your personal opinion on the following, seeing as you had your own company and a abundance of experience and knowledge, you would be the best person to ask for advice in this field.

I would like to go on a Close Protection course and currently have two in mind: Ronin SA and Delta1, I do not know what is the best option, if you would please advise me on them it would be
fantastic and I would really appreciate it.

If you happen to know of any better companies to undertake training with, and how to go about finding work, I would be extremely grateful.

Many thanks

Albertus Korb

Unknown said...

people sadly dont seem to understand the difficulty in running or funding the anti rhino poaching program in the country. its not a case of just getting people in the field. there are logistical issues and political issues that are far reaching. the only realistic way to "save the rhino" is to get the remaining population of these poor animals onto one reserve and police it from there. this then kills the tourism industry and draw cards for the smaller reserves who either own or more likely "rent' the rhino from other reserves. you cant police 40 reserves spread over the republic with a handful of rag tag die hard people who want to do good and ultimately work independantly of each other. you will have to get the rhino`s onto one tract of land and have dedicated individuals protecting our natural heritage. that is just about impossible unfortunately. that or you will have to have one organisation that operates with one set of standard operating procedures on every reserve. that is a pipe dream at best as NO ONE wants to pay for it and this is like everything in life,, a business! poaching in this country is transient and is made so much easier by the fantastic road network that links reserves and game farms to main highways and byways. add to the mix the pitiful wages paid to those that work as rangers and a thing called collusion is brought into the equation. until everyone gets into the same queue and stops conducting anti poaching like we are still in the 18th century we will not see an end to the trafficking in the horn. the poachers are adapting to the 21st century but anti poaching is still in the dark ages. what people dont understand is that everything is a business. poaching is a business, anti poaching is a business. money talks and rhino horn flies to the east. someone has to pay to keep the horn here and safe! it does not come free of charge! it would be ludicrous to surmise that a group would spend millions or even billions to save an animal without seeing financial reward for the effort. hell if i had a spare 100 million dollars just lying around i would gladly fund the anti poaching campaign for no real return. the first thing we need to do is decide on how to save the beasts. stick them all in 1 reserve and police it strictly, thereby killing all the tourism draw cards to the smaller game farms or try and deploy operatives under 1 operating procedure to every ticky line game farm from pofadder to malelane and hope that money will just magically materialise to pay for the protection.we must remember that poachers are highly mobile and anti poaching units foot bound and area restricted. we dont have access to choppers and c130 hercules transport planes to deploy dudes to hot spots. at best we have men trapsing around the bush on 18 day cycles and having to respond on foot when the sound of gunfire is heard. once hotfooting it 2 to 5 clicks on foot the poachers in their 4x4`s are long gone, that or the anti poachers never even hear the shots because the poachers have adapted to the 21st century and started darting the animals and removing the horn while they are tranquilised. the anti poaching crowd are still jogging to the scene or juggling eggs for entertainment. saving the rhino will never work simply because of the inherent value of the horn and even the game farmers know this. its so easy to rent a rhino and not get too worried when it gets culled. 500 000 pounds is a damn good pay day for the poachers and a reward to the farm owners of 100 000 rand or so is a welcome income. someone has to be paid very well to protect the rhino and it must be done logically and be logistically viable. till that happens we will never rid ourselves of this scurge. that and breaking 2000 years of eastern superstition about rhino horn. when the rhino horn is gone, then every animal with a horn from the gazelle to the goat will be open season. once ground down the end user in the east wont know the difference.
Michael B Da Silva
just my personal brain fart here on the topic.

A said...

Dear Mr. Barlow:
My name is Alvaro Pemartin. I am a Spanish Emergency Doctor and Emergency Manager. I have participated in several humanitarian projects and currently I work as a remote medical officer for the mining industry. My last positions were at Sierra Leone and Guinea. Now, after two years overseas, I realize that I know very, very little about Africa and that thing called “humanitarian aid and development”.
Some time ago, I read about Sierra Leone´s History and I discovered EO´s fight for its stabilization. I got very interested in your actions and views. Reading your blog grew my interest about PMCs and their world.
I was thinking to do my PhD research about this issue. Mi main theory proposes that in some complexes emergencies when emergency aid must be deployed in very hostile environments, some PMCs would be able to deploy medical and emergency services that would assure that this function is performed in the best conditions possible.
Missions like the Haiti´s earthquake, where UN troops triggered a cholera outbreak and were unable to put an end to the waves of rapes in the refugee camps or Louisiana, where riots and violence spread after the Katrina hurricane and hampered emergency response or, more recently, the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, were NGOs are unable to protect their employees from kidnappings that no matter how they end, they only maintain the violence and destabilization vicious circle shows, that current structures and organizations are unable to give the response these complex situations demand.
Maybe I will be accused of supporting a “privatization” of the humanitarian aid but real purpose is to show that current responses are far to be optimal and that there are tools to give a really efficient and cost-effective response to these critical situations. Providing rescue and medical care, gathering medical intelligence, implementing basic public health programs are missions that a PMC can accomplish in places and situations where other organizations will surely fail.
I assume that you receive thousand of enquiries like these each day, but for me it will be of great value one or two lines with your opinion about my thesis. Even if you think mi idea is a huge nonsense, you will help me to clarify my thoughts.
Thanks in advance,

Alvaro Pemartin

Owi said...

Was Ghadafi not more instrumental to creating the monster that is Taylor than the United States?

Eeben, I am sure there are many military enthusiasts and security professionals who crave your insight on many security issues that do not even know you have a personal blog. I personally just discovered this on your wikipedia page.perhaps a little more should be done to publicize the blog because I believe you are somewhat of an oracle in this field.

What is your take on developments in the sahel region right now and do think the deteriorating security situation is directly linked to the fall of Ghadaffi in Libya? Also how much do you think Nigeria should be concerned about the situation since there appears to be a direct link between activities in this region and the Islamist uprising in northern Nigeria.

cheers and I am very happy to have found your blog.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Nice try, Anna but thanks.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Sorry to have taken a while to respond, PRIVATE but I have been otherwise occupied.

Do let me know what you need and I will see how I can assist. No promises though.

Keep well and rgds,


Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I responded to your question re your dad, Albertus. As far as our records show, he was not in EO. However, if he had joined after I left, then I sadly do not have those records.

I have heard that the Ronin course has a very good name in the marketplace and I am also told that numerous foreign soldiers come here to attend their courses. I am also told that it is internationally recognised. I do not know Delta 1 but I would assume that if you were looking for work in the US, they may be an option to investigate.

I would suggest you write to both companies and see what is on offer. Then investigate their reputations in the marketplace. Also, perhaps some folks who visit this blog may have been exposed to either company and can perhaps give us some guidance.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your assessment is spot on, Mike. Unfortunately, both protecting and culling rhinos for horns is a business.

As law and order has been severely eroded in SA, it is inconceivable that, in the short term, much will be done to stop the problem. Added to that is the matter of collusion. As long as we cannot rely on the police (very few people do given that some rent out their uniforms and vehicles) we need to look elsewhere. Looking elsewhere for funding is in itself problematic as the rhino is not viewed as an “investment” in terms of generating a profit.

Although the rhino is part of our country’s heritage, I am afraid that the political will to save it does not exist. Unless someone somewhere wakes up, we will soon find it extinct. That will be a very sad day but given the rate at which they are poached, it is a looming reality.

Your plan to establish a rhino park may be the way we are forced to go. However, that will again require funding – and the will - to effectively protect and police these great beasts. That puts us back at square one.

Perhaps you ought to refine your plan and approach the WWF? Perhaps someone will take note of what is happening.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for visiting the blog, Alvaro.

I have been a proponent for PMCs for a long time. That said, I refer to proper, disciplined and effective PMCs – not the type that try to keep a conflict going – and sadly there are a few of them around as well.

My thoughts on the UN and its absolute inability to manage anything properly are well known. Whereas it may have a noble intent, it is a waste of money and in many cases actually fans the flames of conflict and misery.

The belief that under-siege governments can actually provide the necessary security to medical teams and other response organisations is a fallacy. They have more important things on their minds and therefore organisations need to liaise and get government approval and support in securing their own positions. If not, security will always remain a problem.

I think your idea for research is certainly interesting and may deliver some findings people may actually read and take note of.

Good luck and rgds,


Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Who is to blame for Taylor’s actions, Owi? I think the international community was well aware of what he was doing but preferred to stand by and watch. I don’t believe the US can be blamed for every despot and dictator running around – unless it is in their national and vital interests.

Ghadafi certainly supported Taylor in terms of buying diamonds and funding him to some extent. Then of course, there were PMCs training Taylor’s thugs to cross into Sierra Leone and conduct atrocities. I hope that they too will be brought to book.

Ghadafi’s fall has certainly influenced what we are seeing happening in North Africa. It has given impetus to insurgent movements and access to weapons and other equipment. Libya has already shown that it is far from being stable. Former fighters from Libya joined the rebels in northern Mali – and brought along weapons and kit from Libya. This merely motivates others to attempt ousting governments.

Nigeria is facing a problem that, if left too long, may become unsolvable. It is a large country with a large population and given what we see and read, it has the potential to implode if left unchecked.