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, October 18, 2019


The disinformation piece published by ‘The Bell’ on 29 January 2019, seems to be steadily gaining traction, and creeping across the informational domain. I initially thought that people would see through the deception in the article, but sadly, they didn’t, couldn’t, or wouldn’t.
The piece, titled “Private army for the president: the story of the most delicate assignment of Evgeny Prigozhin“ (https://thebell.io/41889-2/) tries to connect Executive Outcomes (EO) with the formation of the Russian PMC ‘Wagner Group’, and furthermore implies that I am/was an advisor to the Russians. The Bell’s article, amongst other ‘valuable insights’, states:

“In the official program of the St. Petersburg economic forum in June 2010, Barlow’s name is listed as a participant in one short session …. the main reason for his visit was a closed presentation for a small delegation of the General Staff”.

It is sometimes difficult to defend oneself against a lie that has gained momentum. I can only suppose that it is irrelevant that such a ‘closed presentation’ with the Russian General Staff was never on the cards and never happened. Another irrelevant fact is that I certainly wouldn’t compromise EO’s reputationor even that of STTEPin favour of a foreign government-sponsored companyespecially in Africa.
The origins of The Bell can be found here: https://thebell.io/about/?utm_source=desktop_topline
The same piece, with ‘additional reporting’ recently surfaced on ‘Veterans Today’  (https://www.veteranstoday.com/2019/09/13/russia-a-private-army-for-the-president-the-tale-of-evgeny-prigozhins-most-delicate-mission/), dated September 23, 2019. Veterans Today puts itself out as ‘a journal for the clandestine community’.
When a journal that supposedly focusses on ‘clandestine operations’ get its ‘facts’ so wrong, it becomes suspiciously clear that they base their ‘clandestine intelligence’ on disinformation, and definitely not on irrefutable and verifiable facts. Basic research is no longer a requirement; instead, acting as an extension of a Russian disinformation piece is. It seems Veterans Today are trying hard to give credibility to a Russian disinformation pieceI wonder why?  
The fact that the original ‘journalists’ were paid to produce this masterpiece of deception came as no great surprise to me. Their paymasters are also no great surprise to me. Apparently, the fact that EO closed its doors more than a decade before the Wagner Group was even a thought in the minds of the Russians also seems to have passed them by. But then again, EO/myself have frequently been blamed for things that happened long before the company came into being, and even long after the company closed its doors.
Although I cannot comment on the rest of The Bells piece, I feel I am more than qualified to comment on EO/myself.
What was a fleetingly nice comment was that the ‘journalists’ promoted me to the rank of Lt GenI almost fell for this promotion until I realised I was reading a carefully prepared piece where fact and fiction were interwoven with one another to create a specific narrative and perception.
Given that I have also spoken, lectured, and participated in numerous forums in the traditional West, I suppose EO/myself were also instrumental in creating all of the foreign PMCs now running around Africa, and acting as their advisers as well.
Sometimes, I can only shake my head and wonder why, in this world of scientific wonders, a tablet has not yet been developed to counteract stupidity. The reality is that in our interconnected world, deception, through mobilising disinformation and fake news, now sadly carries more weight than verified information.
A shame indeed, but I suppose ‘The Bell’ and ‘Veterans Today’ also took some of their lessons from the EO-era SA Intelligence Services and the media, and achieved their deceptive aim.
After all, if a lie is repeated enough times, it eventually morphs into the ‘truth’. As Lord Tim Bell, the founder of the disgraced and now defunct PR company Bell Pottinger once claimed: “Why tell the truth when a lie will do.”
The Bell seems to have adopted that approach.