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, October 31, 2013


The Military Academy is an educational training unit of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that houses the Faculty of Military Science of the University of Stellenbosch. As an institution, it offers undergraduate university education along with Professional Military Development for career-orientated officers.  Having successfully completed their undergraduate studies, the students are awarded a B Mil degree from University of Stellenbosch. 

The Academy, additionally, works at developing the SANDF’s future leaders and plays an important role in preparing and shaping the SANDF’s future leadership corps and equipping them with knowledge and insight to cope in dynamic and complex environments.

I was therefore greatly honoured to be invited by Professors Abel Esterhuyse and Francois Vrey to discuss my thoughts on conflict and war in Africa with the third-year strategy students at the Military Academy. My visit would be a quick one: an early morning flight to Cape Town and a return back to Johannesburg that afternoon.

My friend Mich and his colleague Botha met me on arrival and we had some time to catch up since we last saw one another during the drive to Saldanha.

Having never been to the Academy, it was both an eye-opener and a very enjoyable experience for me. What struck me most was the manner in which I was welcomed and the friendliness of everyone who I met and interacted with.

Having introduced me to his audience – which included not only the strategy students but other members of the Faculty as well as some members of 4 Reconnaissance Regiment - Prof Vrey handed me the floor and I was able to discuss my thoughts on conflict and war in Africa.

 Prof Francois Vrey (right) and I after the discussion

Most encouraging though were the questions asked after my discussion. Even more encouraging was the fact that most if not all members of the audience seem to realise and understand what is truly happening on our continent – and expressed their concerns both during question time and in private. These questions covered a range of topics from EO to current operations and why Africa is experiencing the problems we read about each day.

The comments even extended to the ICC and the question of who was indeed the greatest war criminal of modern times and who was most responsible for the slaughter of innocent civilians – an African warlord or a President who has hidden the slaughter of thousands of innocents under the guise of “collateral damage”.

As a token of thanks, Prof Vrey presented me with a book he and Prof Abel had edited – “On Military Culture”. Printed by UCT Press, the book is a welcome addition to my library.
Lunch was taken in the officer’s mess where Professor Very and I were subject to more questions – and some concerns - from the strategy students.

I left the Military Academy with a belief that if the final-year students are a reflection of our future officer corps, we are certainly on the road to improvement. I can but only hope that their new-found knowledge will be sought by others and not been seen as a threat by some senior officers.

My thanks to the Military Academy for giving me the opportunity to speak to the students and the other attending members. It was truly a privilege.

My thanks also to Mich and Botha for getting me there and back in time to catch my flight.


Alan said...

Dear Colonel:

Congratulations on your recent lecture at the SANDF Academy. Professors Esterhuyse and Vrey were no doubt most delighted to host your visit. I would not be at all surprised to see an adjunct faculty position soon coming your way. Your note of hopeful optimism regarding the future of the officer corps was most interesting. In my opinion, the mere fact they have retained an 'officers mess' puts them ahead of our own troubled establishments. I shall say no more.

Regards, Alan

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you, Alan.

I must confess that it was a very pleasurable experience for me. Not only did I enjoy the interaction with the students/faculty members but also had the pleasure of seeing an old friend again – and meeting some new ones.

I think I am too politically incorrect to be offered any sort of post at the Academy – and also academically under-qualified.



Unknown said...

I was there that day. I cannot say how proud I am to say that I'm a graduate of that very same class. Having gone through the hands of Prof. Vrey and Esterhuyse is indeed an honor. Thank you once again for that insightful presentation. We learned a lot about what is happening in Africa and how we are an important part of it. I have since moved to Taiwan to work and learn Chinese. Hoping to return one day to learn more about Africa.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I returned from the Military Academy on Friday night, Lungani where I was asked to speak to your colleagues again on war and conflict in Africa.
I hope your work in Taiwan and your Chinese studies go well. Do not stay away too long as our continent needs every good man it has.