Eeben Barlow's Military and Security Blog


  • POLITICO-SECURITY ADVICE

    8 Apr 2014 | 12:37 am

    Thanks to numerous high-level contacts on the continent, I have been able to accurately predict the current scenarios in Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, South Sudan and other African countries - prior to these problems manifesting themselves.     I have now set-up a private consultancy to provide confidential advice to governments and corporations on political, security and investment climates in African countries. This advice focuses on matters as diverse as national strategies and national security strategies, business strategies, market research, planning, management, market penetration and investment security. Interested parties can contact me via my blog.

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  • ANOTHER “EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES” SURFACES…

    3 Mar 2014 | 5:13 am

    They seem to pop up all over the world so it was not too much of a surprise to find that another “Executive Outcomes” has surfaced  - this time in South Africa (again). This lot call themselves the “Executive Outcomes Group” (http://www.eogroup.biz) and have even claimed the old EO logo for themselves.I suppose I should be too surprised at this.It is indeed strange how many folks out there are starting up companies and branding themselves as “Executive Outcomes” and either make use of the old “nudge-nudge, wink-wink” approach or simply just imply that they are “EO reborn”. I suspect this is done to claim a record and success and use the implication to get contracts. I wish to place on record that this crowd – just like the rest of them out there – were never the real Executive Outcomes – despite using the company logo - and those who fall for their claims do so at their own peril.What is it with these people who want to be wannabees – or do they simply not have the time to apply original thinking? EO may have closed down several years ago but I shall not allow them to pose as something they never were and are not. In fact, that is fraudulent representation. Shame on them…

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  • MISSING THE POINT WITH COUNTER INSURGENCY (COIN)

    14 Feb 2014 | 1:02 am

    I thoroughly enjoy discussions on conflicts, insurgencies and wars and the countering of these actions, regardless if I agree with them or not. I know many criticise and do not agree with my viewpoints and view them as too simplistic. What I consider to be critical in the ending of a conflict, an insurgency or civil war has been very successfully applied in practise. Food for thought is, however, never bad food regardless of how it is served.Insurgencies are not new, nor does fighting them require a “new” way of fighting. Nor do fighting insurgencies need to be long, protracted and costly affairs if the strategy is balanced. However, there seems to be a misguided belief that if we can define an insurgency precisely, we can defeat it. Whereas a definition holds value, its value is lost if the cause is not fully understood. Ending an insurgency may not always be easy but it is certainly very possible. Contrary to the belief of some, an insurgency is not a spontaneous event but rather a threat that has been allowed to develop over a period of time. It is a political problem that has been brought about by dysfunctional or poor governance, a sense of political isolation and the suppression of hope along with a combination of anger, hatred and revenge that has impacted negatively on the populace and caused the populace immense distress. When the populace feel they have lost hope and have nothing more to lose by rising up[…]

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  • TELLING IT LIKE IT IS

    9 Jan 2014 | 1:41 am

    Several “experts” on Executive Outcomes (EO) have again recently surfaced and are working hard at continuing their disinformation campaign against the company – despite the company having closed its doors many years ago. I am still amazed at how those who call so loudly for peace work so hard at trying to prevent it. But I also know the aim is a feeble attempt to discredit me in the hopes that African governments will cease talking to me. As mentioned before, war is bad for business and the longer the flames can be fuelled in Africa, the more money is to be made by some who claim they want a “peaceful Africa”. Their way of achieving this “peaceful Africa” is by dispensing bad advice, selling obsolete and/or irrelevant equipment and by supporting both sides of a conflict.When it became known that STTEP had been contracted to train a Special Operations Group (SOG) for the Ugandan armed forces (UPDF), all hell seemed to break loose again. Back were those who felt that I and whatever company I was now part of had to be stopped. To achieve this, the lines had to be blurred between EO and STTEP and create the perception that it is the same company. Tweets were generated and sent forth, articles appeared condemning both the Texas philanthropist and the UPDF along with the journalist who wrote the story. Shock and horror was expressed that the truth was written and those who wanted to stop the LRA’s slaughter[…]

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  • THE ART OF LYING (VERY) BADLY

    8 Jan 2014 | 3:04 am

    I was hoping to start 2014 with a posting on conflict and the dangers of a blinkered approach to counter-insurgency. Instead, I have to waste my time and focus on another liar posing as a journalist.My thanks to Jana for pointing me to this new “exposé” on Executive Outcomes by Pauli Poisuo. See http://iissonline.net/10-frightening-facts-about-private-military-companies/Whereas I have great respect for David Isenberg, I was rather disappointed that he allowed his blog to be used as a disinformation vehicle by an apparent under-control “free-lance writer” to blatantly lie his way onto his blog. But, it is a truism that the more a lie gets spun, the more believable it becomes. I cannot comment on what was written about the other PMCs but I believe I am somewhat informed to comment on his piece about EO.Ironically, ever since myself/STTEP were blacklisted by the US DoS, a flurry of “new” stories on EO have surfaced. These “stories” are all rehashed and regurgitated elements of the disinformation campaign that was run against EO by numerous governments. Some of these articles were written by intellectuals and others by liars who obviously find their pockets swelling with someone else’s money. Is this mere coincidence – or not? Could it be that some folks are very concerned that there may be a positive intervention in some conflicts and that it will ruin their foreign policies and deny them the resources that do not belong to them? Could it also be coincidence that an African government was “warned” we[…]

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  • LAST POST FOR 2013

    19 Dec 2013 | 11:33 pm

    2013 was a year filled with adrenalin rushes, expectations, waiting, laughter, happiness, satisfaction, highs and lows, cheap airlines, rundown airports, meetings, proposals, headshaking, briefings, presentations, bad food, terrible water, long hours, little sleep and some blood, sweat and tears is nearing its end. Like so many people, I also had my share of sadness this past year. Fortunately, I have also been able to meet with some really good folks north of our border and I truly enjoy that part of my work. There has been much to laugh about and equally much to shake our heads about as well. Unfortunately, some not-so-good folks have been disrupting both my blog and my LinkedIn Account. As they say – small things amuse small minds. Sadly though, there are no tablets for stupidity. Trials and tribulations will always be there but it is not the fire we walk through that counts but rather how we walk through it. Thank you to everyone who read and contributed to the blog throughout the year. Your comments are always appreciated and highly valued as they give me insight and allow me to broaden my own knowledge base. To everyone who is far from home at this time, and to those who are deployed in the conflict zones around the world, beit as soldiers, sailors, airmen, law enforcement officers, spooks or PMC contractors, keep your heads down, your eyes peeled, your weapons close at hand, stay safe and be ready to do what needs to be[…]

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  • FUTURE CONFLICTS AND WARS IN AFRICA

    16 Dec 2013 | 10:03 pm

    The future conflicts and wars in Africa will seldom, if ever comprise large conventional forces pitted against one another. Whereas conventional engagements will occur in primarily government-versus-government actions, they will be on a much smaller scale than witnessed in the past decades. Mobility, manoeuvre, surprise, speed and firepower will still remain of critical importance yet these operations will be hampered by a lack of intelligence, unreliable air support and inadequate logistics coupled to challenging terrain and varying climatic conditions. The presence of the local population and other non-combatants has always – and will always – add a very real and unavoidable complexity to the battlefield. Whereas the government forces will attempt to co-opt and win over the support of the population, the enemy will attempt to take control over the population to force and maintain their support. However, when the populace believe and feel they have been forgotten, failed and neglected or oppressed by their government, their support for an insurgency or an invading enemy will be more energised. This in itself ought to be cause for alarm to African governments.In the early stages of an internal uprising or revolution, there is often a common popular belief that the coming conflict will provide the populace with “freedom” and “a better life”, hence their tentative support for the insurgency or revolution. As the conflict escalates, the enemy will take steps to protect their gains by tightening their control over the populace. This can result in the populace being subject to physical[…]

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  • ASSISTANT PROFESSOR CHRIS BLATTMAN EXPLAINS HIS RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

    3 Dec 2013 | 3:22 am

    I took exception to Prof Blattman’s blog entry on EO where he lied three times in two sentences. I also sent him a copy of my blog posting challenging him to prove his allegations and to give him an opportunity to clarify his lies – despite him not giving me an opportunity to comment on his false and slanderous claims.  This resulted in an email debate between Blattman and I and I simply followed the old adage – if you give a man enough rope, he will hang himself. Ironically, it was Prof Blattman who wrote about “sloppy journalism” and the lack of research…Given the recent upsurge in articles aimed at increasing the disinformation already out there on EO, I have decided that enough is enough. Whereas the company was in no way perfect and also made many mistakes (as its founder and chairman I must take the blame), I cannot sit by while armchair journalists and suspected disinformation agents apparently acting on behalf of African terror groups openly lie about good men who did what they did to end conflicts in Africa and elsewhere. I cannot allow people to tarnish the name of good men who sacrificed so much to bring about an end to conflicts by those who never set foot there and are too lazy to conduct decent research. My thanks to the many that sent me mails attacking and criticising Prof Blattman. However, this is not about attacking the man but rather about showing how he[…]

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  • A CHALLENGE TO ASSISTANT PROFESSOR CHRIS BLATTMAN, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, USA

    2 Dec 2013 | 7:19 am

    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[…]

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  • MUCH ADO ABOUT REALITY

    2 Dec 2013 | 6:37 am

    The international condemnation regarding the on-going intelligence gathering of the world’s intelligence agencies exposed by the NSA whistle-blower and fugitive Edward Snowden is in reality much ado about nothing.Most citizens of the world are blissfully unaware of a dangerous, secretive and ruthless parallel world that co-exists alongside them but which they do not see or even think about. In this parallel world, agents are recruited, intelligence is gathered and plans formulated and executed to disrupt, destroy and neutralise threats. It is this parallel world that keeps the governments – and by implication the populace - safe and their enemies in a state of constant concern and vigilance. Without intelligence, governments are unable to “see over the hill” and adapt and modify their strategies according to new or developing threats. All intelligence agencies gather overt and covert information/intelligence not only on their enemies but also on their allies. To achieve this, laws are sometimes broken and sometimes crimes are committed to discover the plans of others.  Spying on ones allies is nothing new. This has been done for centuries and has numerous aims such as determining if their allies are silently acting or turning against them, making decisions that could impact on the national security, provide early warning to allies of pending threats and even coordinate and support actions that are being planned against their allies. Espionage and covert direct action are major components of this parallel world. Telephones are tapped, email communications are monitored and sometimes disrupted, prominent persons are[…]

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  • “EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES” AND THE DARK NET

    23 Nov 2013 | 3:54 am

    Almost two decades after closing its doors due to international pressure and concerns at its successful activities in support of legitimate under-siege African and other governments, Executive Outcomes (EO) continues to be used by conmen and criminals alike to serve their purposes – and deflect blame in my/our direction. I have written about and exposed numerous of these conmen and criminals on countless occasions yet they seem to continually pop-up somewhere and by virtue of their actions, seem to imply that EO still exists and was/is involved in criminal activities – something the company never entertained.  My attention was today brought to a company calling themselves “Executive Outcomes” who claim “to be the biggest gun retailer on the Dark Net. ‘Our shops and warehouses are located in Midwest U.S. and our international re-shippers are located in the following countries . . . ’ “ The Dark Net, also known as the Tor Project has some interesting funders and backers who purport to campaign for “liberty and free speech”. It is a pity these organisations don’t campaign for honesty and truth as well. See https://www.torproject.org/about/sponsors.html.en Some information on this bogus company can be found on http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2512136/Its-just-child-porn-Fake-passports-guns-cocaine-hitmen-hire-clicks-away-internet.htmlAlso see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/bitcoin-guns_n_3070828.htmlfor more on this company.I can only shake my head at these wannabes and conmen. I suspect that it is no coincidence that they claim to be “Executive Outcomes”.

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  • (RE)STRUCTURING AFRICAN ARMIES

    20 Nov 2013 | 11:21 pm

    The age of colonialism and the subsequent decolonisation of Africa along with the Cold War has long past and despite the geographical tragedies that occurred in terms of arbitrary borders, the continent needs to come to terms with itself. It also needs to take responsibility for both its internal and external security. Africa can no longer afford to lay the blame for its woes outside of the continent. Whereas several of Africa’s problems may indeed originate from beyond its shores, countries need to review their national security strategies and act accordingly. Failure to do so simply renders them more vulnerable to the numerous threats and threat networks that are able to penetrate and exploit the numerous security lapses that exist. Cooperation between the threats operating in Africa is increasing as criminal, insurgent and terrorist networks cross and even join paths. Indeed, in several places across Africa, criminal networks support insurgent and terror networks and visa versa and on occasion, they are part of the same threat network. In parts of Africa, they have morphed into proxy forces under the control of foreign governments. On occasion, foreign interests coincide with the aims of the threats and/or threat networks and either wittingly or unwittingly support these networks. As the threats and the threat networks across the continent have increased, so too has Africa’s military capacity to deal with them been gradually reduced – due in part to a lack of focussed intelligence and foresight, incoherent strategies, incorrect structures, inadequate doctrine, substandard training[…]

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  • BLACKLISTED? WHY AM I NOT SURPRISED??

    15 Nov 2013 | 7:27 am

    Several senior African government representatives who have recently come through my door have told me that they have been “instructed” and “warned” not to meet or talk with me/STTEP by the “US Government”. But, they also tell me that for too long they have been misled and will now meet with whomever they wish to meet. Like me, they too believe that African governments have a rightful say in terms of who they want to talk to and get advice from and not be dictated to whom - and who not - they may talk to. (See my previous posting titled “HYPOCRISY AND THE POWER OF PERCEPTION”). Then I recalled that several years ago, a senior US officer said to me: “If you are not with us, you are against us – if you’re against us, then you are the enemy. It is as simple as that”. I shrugged off this comment as it merely smacked of playground bullying. Little did I realise just how prophetic his words would become. By implication, no one is allowed to criticise anything the US does in Africa – even when it fails dismally - as it seems criticism is now construed as “terrorism”. Earlier this week, I had a conversation with someone in the US who told me that during a discussion with a congressman it had been emphatically stated that STTEP has been blacklisted by the US Department of State (DoS). We are now “persons of interest”. We are now placed in[…]

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  • LET US NEVER FORGET…

    11 Nov 2013 | 11:13 am

    Today marks the Day of Remembrance – also known as Armistice Day or Poppy Day - a memorial day that Commonwealth countries have observed since the end of World War I to in honour of those servicemen who fell in the line of duty.  On this day I remember those who died on active service as members of the South African Defence Force and of course, those men from Executive Outcomes who died trying to make Africa a better place. You will never be forgotten.  Let us remember them with the words of Robert Laurence Binyon's poem "For the Fallen": They went with songs to the battle, they were young, Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, They fell with their faces to the foe. They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.   Let us never forget the sacrifices that were made for us.

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  • HYPOCRISY AND THE POWER OF PERCEPTIONS

    4 Nov 2013 | 3:54 am

    I wrote this piece in response to “Mark from Utah” who sent me a private mail lambasting both myself and STTEP. Unfortunately, he has yet to discover the spell checker on his computer or learn to write without having to resort to blasphemy and swearing. As for South Africans having no right to work in Africa, you are obviously wired to the moon. I thank you for your negligible contribution, Mark.  For helping legitimate African governments with political and military advice and training, my men and I are frequently branded as “mercenaries” by some in the media and some foreign non-African governments. There is an old adage “Sticks and stones may break my bones…” When foreign companies do the same – they are “Private Military Contractors” (PMCs). Ironically, we are not – and have never been - part of an invasion force intent on occupying an African country. We are invited to African countries by the legitimate governments who believe and know that we will not deceive them or come with a hidden agenda. It is, after all, the right of any government to decide who they wish to use to assist them – and not the right of the media or a foreign government to dictate who they may or may not use. We have never killed innocent civilians, raped women, destroyed property or involved ourselves in any criminal acts such as antiquity and resource/mineral smuggling, weapon smuggling, human trafficking and such. We have not entered those countries that[…]

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