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.

Friday, August 24, 2012


For many years, Executive Outcomes was – and still is - the target of a web of lies, deception and blatant disinformation by those who were deeply concerned that we might prevent countries in Africa from imploding and whose sole interest was the destruction of the continent for economical and other gain.

A quick Google search will reveal just how many lies are out there on the company.  Granted, the media did finally publish an apology for being the mouthpiece of a massive disinformation campaign but it was a little too late as far as I was concerned. Some of these despicable, lying, self-serving members of society who jumped on the bandwagon under the banner of “journalist” had, however, effectively played their role in ensuring the longevity of terrorist groups and insurgents – at the cost of many hundreds of thousands of lives. They also very successfully contributed to the bad name many true journalists have to endure.

When I finally wrote my account of Executive Outcomes (EO), it was primarily to give my version of events – a version which unlike the media’s and the intelligence services’, was based on company documents, interviews as well as video and audio recordings of many of the men who were part of EO or senior government officials who EO had worked for.

After my book was published, I continued to hope and wish that someone who was at the forefront of EO’s operations in the field would follow suit and document their version of events – the good and the bad. After all, as I was trying to run the company whilst fending off the liars, intelligence agents and BS artists who overnight had become “specialists” on EO, I could seldom even visit our AOs, let alone spend much time on the ground.

Rudolph van Heerden, known to many within EO as “Ruff” or “Roelf” finally put pen to paper and along with Andrew Hudson wrote a perspective on EO as seen through the eyes of one of the commanders who was on the ground. I was excited at the news as I believed that it would fill in many of the gaps my book may have left. And I believe the book will do just that.

I was keen to lay my hands on Ruff’s book and when I finally managed to get a copy, - its title is “Four Ball One Tracer” - I was enthralled. Roelf tells the story of EO from the day he signed up to join the company, the nightmare that was Soyo and until the end of the Sierra Leone campaign.

Roelf discusses a lot of things – the training, the tactics, the hardships and the laughs. He tells his story as he lived it – straight and to the point. He also pays tribute to the many good men who served in EO and used their skills and knowledge to bring about positive change in war torn countries.

I do not want to spoil anyone’s anticipation but I would recommend Roelf’s book to anyone who is interested in a lot more detail about EO’s operations.

It is a very good read.

Well done Roelf and thank you again for your service in EO.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Threat prediction is a vital pre-requisite of strategy development. It can, however, be a difficult and problematic task if the intelligence analysts as well as the planners and strategists do not have accurate intelligence at hand, do not understand the historical trends that have manifested over time, and do not understand the political strategies of their own government and those of the target country or target grouping.

If the intelligence services do not utilise all available resources at their disposal, and cultivate new resources where intelligence gaps exist, they will directly contribute to intelligence failures. Intelligence failures can, in turn, lead to misjudging the enemy, doctrinal failures and faulty or disjointed threat predictions and subsequently poor, unrealistic or irrelevant strategies.

The value of threat prediction and its analysis is that it provides benchmarks and indicators that can be used to constantly assess and re-adjust the overall military strategy. The need for flexibility in the developing military strategy is vital in order to prevent a tunnel-vision view of the threats a government may be facing.

The nature of modern warfare and, more broadly, armed conflict has changed dramatically from the classical or historical perspective of war. The days of two opposing armies meeting one another on an open field to engage in a classical conventional battle are, for the time being, long gone.

Although the ever-present threat of a conventional land, sea and air battle will always remain very real, modern war and/or conflict may be characterised by many different concepts such as religious fanaticism, ethnic hatred, radical ideologies, resource grabbing, xenophobia, mass mobilisation of the disadvantaged, a breakdown of law and order, a perceived weakness of the opposition, a growth in power by armed organised crime syndicates and so forth. These factors, more than ever, require detailed investigation – something that can only be achieved by means of a strong, dedicated and aggressive intelligence gathering and analysis capability. 

Whereas modern military technology, if correctly applied, can prove to be a force- multiplier on the battlefield, strategists and planners cannot rely on technology alone, as technology is prone to failure, often at critical times. Over-reliance on technology may, therefore, present several serious disadvantages to the user. Correctly used as a battlefield support system, technology can play a valuable role in locating, confusing and even overcoming the enemy. Technology, however, needs to be balanced against the operating environment, the threat and the ability to maintain and apply the technology correctly. It remains a secondary weapon and not the primary weapon of an armed force.

Intelligence analysts, along with military planners and strategists furthermore need to consider a host of different and varying factors that may lead to political tension and thus negatively influence the security of the state, its citizens and the operating environment.   

Political tension, on the other hand, may be the result of economic tension, natural resource distribution, border disputes, perceived political sabotage, ethnicity, religious differences and so forth.

Therefore, from a strategic planning point-of-view, several factors need to be closely assessed in terms of how they can be used to the advantage of the armed forces and how they can be successfully exploited thus denying the enemy from gaining an advantage.

Additionally, these factors need to be viewed in terms of the disadvantage they may hold for the political- and the military machinery. Of equal importance is the fact that the opposing forces will be assessing the same factors of the state or grouping they view as an aggressor.

The advantage will thus lie with the strategists and planners who are able to accurately predict the threats facing the state and identify the weaknesses and exploitation possibilities in order to develop realistic options that can be implemented.

PS: I have been travelling as well as ill and have therefore been unable to regularly update the blog. My apologies...