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.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Executive Outcomes (EO) has again come under attack despite the fact that the company’s doors have been closed for more than a decade and a half. The premise is the more you repeat a lie, despite it being easily disproved, the more people will want to believe it. This principle of successful disinformation is particularly true when it comes to Africa – and EO.

A piece recently written by Assistant Professor Chris Blattman (Columbia University, USA) stated that “Whatever acts EO have on the positive side of their ledger (there are several), there are a great many dodgy ones to balance it out. I might also mention they were outlawed and disbanded…” (          http://chrisblattman.com/2013/10/30/is-the-newyorker-publishing-puff-profiles-of-mercenaries-executive-outcomes-now-its-joseph-kony-related/)

Although Blattman gives EO some credit, he refers to a “great many dodgy” things EO did and also that the company was “outlawed” and “disbanded”. Why doesn’t he list these “great many” dodgy acts? And why does he not say when EO was “outlawed” – and by whom and for what reason? As for being “disbanded”, his inference is very clear. Sadly, he appears to have lost himself in his own plot as in two sentences, he lied three times – a disgraceful act for a so-called intellectual. Unless, of course, he knows something we don’t…

Neither EO - nor later STTEP - ever engaged in any criminal activities nor smuggled drugs to embassy personnel anywhere, sexually assaulted foreign nationals where we worked, simultaneously supported governments and those who oppose them, interfered in the internal politics of African governments, killed innocent civilians under the guise of “collateral damage” and invaded countries, to list but a few. We were invited by governments to assist them and those men of EO who broke the host government’s laws were swiftly dealt with when such knowledge came to our attention.

In terms of “dodgy acts” – this inference and innuendo was started by the old SA Military Intelligence and certain old-SA government officials and their advisors in an attempt to discredit EO whilst saving the rebel forces they were supporting.  This was fed to and propagated by numerous now-exposed and discredited journalists who were working under control as agents and propagandists - and was later grasped by all who wanted EO stopped lest we expose their multiple agendas, duplicity and criminality.

If being contracted by legitimate African governments falls within the ambit of “dodgy acts” then EO must plead guilty and so too STTEP. If we ended the conflicts and wars decisively and as swiftly as possible then we are guilty of that too. If we saved thousands of innocent African lives and stabilised legitimate African governments whilst destroying or disrupting criminal, rebel and proxy forces then we are definitely guilty. However, does that make the African (and other) governments that contracted us equally complicit in these “dodgy” deeds?

Truth is, EO was never “outlawed” as the professor falsely claims. But we know the US DoS placed – and still places - enormous pressure on African governments not to speak to us as they remain very concerned that we might upset their agendas in Africa. Even African governments have now acknowledged this deception with some dismay – a deception that is aimed at ensuring that these conflicts simply continue.

Nevertheless, if Blattman has any proof of what he alleges to be true, why not list it? Why keep his readers in such suspense? If his intentions are honourable, why the concern about a company that no longer exists? And why purposely lie about it? Even more pertinent, why hide his deception behind the façade of being both intellectually concerned and principled?

Strangely enough, Blattman did not mention that EO warned Uganda in 1996 that the LRA would rise again – something western governments scoffed at. But, I forget, he studied this for six years – our lifetime on the continent has no measure against his studies. What did the six years of his study of Kony achieve and at what cost?

However, if the purpose is to mislead students, citizens and governments and discredit people and companies with false accusations, one must resort to innuendo and create false and misleading perceptions to appease your paymasters – especially if part of your covert aim is to discredit a defunct company. To work at achieving this aim, you need to exploit those journalists and their handlers who were and are too lazy to do research and intelligence gathering as they will believe and publish whatever rubbish is fed them.

Anyone who can expose this agenda must be discredited as rapidly as possible lest the truth be revealed. They must become “persons of interest” and be "blacklisted” to add credibility to the deception.

It is apparent that the truth about EO and STTEP must be prevented from becoming known at all costs. Apparently, deception and lies must prevail.

Ultimately though, it is about creating “bogeymen” and then acting according to the so-called Global War on Terror to neutralise these bogeymen – often creations of their own making and sponsorship.

I am truly grateful that I was never under the tutelage of Assistant Professor Blattman, a man who appears to have little to no clue on a subject he apparently considers himself to be quite knowledgeable on. Perhaps he would care to enlighten me on his “facts” and sources.

I look forward to his exposé on EO.

Note: I have emailed this posting directly to Assistant Professor Blattman and will publish his responses when I receive them.



Unknown said...

Hi Eeben.
I speak under correction but was it not dear old Adolf who retorted that the bigger the lie the more people will believe it?

Mr Blattman is just another glory hound trying to create spooks where none are found.

Mr Haseldine did the very same thing and he was unceremoniously ditched by his once pal and ally very publicly on his very own blog.

Eeben, to the American intelligence community ( note that i use intelligence very loosely here) are the aforementioned Bogeyman.Brrrr. A cold chill just ran up my spine. Dude you are scarier than Freddy Kreuger!!!

When will they tire of their silly games? Most Americans think they are corrupt anyway.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As long as we are approached by governments to assist them, they will not tire Mike. I am always amazed at the “research” these people do and when you take them on about it, they either fade away or go off on a tangent at how their research indicated the lie in the first place. And then they speak of “sloppy” journalism!

Whereas I am sure the Prof did some research, what good exactly has it done? Has it saved lives? Has it ended Kony’s reign of terror? People need to not only talk the talk but walk the walk as well.

I have always said – and will continue to say – we will do whatever it takes to end these conflicts as we live here. People who want to throw the biggest stones do not live here yet they claim to want to make a difference.



Unknown said...

Sorry I simply could not help myself.
Yes I posted something on the prof's blog. Sorry could not help it.

Firstly. I am an ex EO employee, book number 32. I worked on the Angola contract in the airwing as refueler and marshaler. We were not a bunch of yahoo mercs.
We did not run amok like you see in Hollywood flicks.
We did not don headbands.
We did not pump iron and shoot our weapons watching our rippling biceps. NO.
The company was run like a military unit of the old South African army.We conducted mundane tasks like taking out the trash, guard duty, digging long drop crappers, building relationships with the soldiers we were there to train, considering that they were at war with the very trainers a few years ago.
Your article is a tad lame and limp at best in the delivery ( something like limp afternoon lettuce). You allude to all manner of things and then fall woefully short of exposing the details. It is as if you are thumb sucking. Do you actually have any credible proof or facts? I personally don’t think so.

Why do you skirt around the issues you bring up and not support your studious findings with empirical proof? Why, because you have none.
Nice try at pseudo ops but I fear you have put the cart in front of the horse and the turd in front of said horse so to speak.

An unshaven profile pic ala Miami Vice makes you an intellect not as Yoda would say!

Post your proof or move onto something else. Eeben Barlow is no bogeyman, your country have far more bogeymen within their own military and political ranks, why not scratch around at home before going off half cocked.

Mike Da Silva just a lowly ex EO employee who was and is proud of the little part I played in the bigger picture to which you are totally oblivious to.
Tell me, how old were you in 1993?

Unknown said...

Hi E

First of all, I feel sorry for this "professor's" students. If he does so little research into a company that has been closed for such a long time, then his students must ask for their money back!
Then he is the one criticizing "sloppy journalism"
Rightly said, how much did his 6 years of research did in stopping Kony, in bringing peace to his many victims and how much did all that nonsense cost?
Its always very easy for the Americans (not all of them though) and the Brits to criticize the South Africans and South African companies. Lets not forget about the countless civilians that have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan by their own companies. Countries invaded by the west based on lies and deception into making their own citizens buy the BS that these were "bad" governments who had to be replaced. Wasn't there another drone killing where innocent civilians were murdered just 2 or 3 days ago in Afghanistan? And lets also ask the question - are these so called terrorists not merely freedom fighters who are trying to drive the occupiers out of their country or normal men and women who were made into "terrorists" by seeing their loved ones killed in drone strikes?
I guess its better to remove the beam from your own eye before trying to remove the splinter from someone else's.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

The entire episode has left me perplexed Unknown, especially coming at about the same time STTEP was blacklisted. Someone somewhere is obviously very worried that we are going to upset some agendas in Africa. Maybe the professor was seen as a perfect “useful idiot”. If not, he certainly acted like one.

We are used to being criticised and I for one have never let it really bother me. If the criticism is fair, we must take it on the chin. It is the unfair criticism, lies, deception and innuendo that gets under my skin. As I mentioned, it is a principle of disinformation – keep telling a lie and it will eventually manifest as fact in people’s minds.

I know that countless Americans are deeply concerned at what is happening behind the scenes in their government re Africa. But, like citizens anywhere, people accept the actions of their governments (to a point) and they merely have to live with those decisions.

It is accepted that collateral damage is at times unavoidable in conflict and war. It is when that damage exceeds the intended results that it becomes one of the biggest motivational factors for people to turn to terrorism. That is why the SADF charged soldiers with murder if it was believed they purposely caused civilian casualties. I know 2 officers who faced those charges. I was hauled before a court of law for taking out a vehicle that broke a curfew and tried to race away. Although I was found not guilty (the occupants testified in my defence!) it made me realise the problems that can be caused by senseless collateral damage.

The distinction between “terrorist” and “freedom fighter” depends on who is using the term. Our country is still coming to terms with that distinction.



Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I saw your comment on his blog Mike and appreciate and understand your feelings.

Sadly, it is often the people who know the least who have the most to say about things. This has been the story of our lives. Insofar as EO is concerned, as Africans working in Africa, we remain guilty until proven innocent. The more rubbish they can conjure up, the better their egos.

Several ex-EO guys wrote me/called me and commended your loyalty to the company. I too appreciate your loyalty but as I once wrote you, people like the professor do not deserve the time and effort to write them when they act on behalf of the interests of others.

Indeed, I have also heard from folks in Angola and Sierra Leone who were very unflattering towards the professor’s posting. Strangely enough, his research did not include much questioning or even real research. Instead, it was a regurgitation of the disinfo of others.