MUST READ: “EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES: AGAINST ALL ODDS” – BY EEBEN BARLOW

Gentlemen, permit me to inform you that I just received a free, autographed copy of the aforementioned book direct from the Lord of War himself, Colonel Eeben Barlow.

The 552-page book looks to be a gauarantee of compelling reading and covers the entire career as a career army officer and leading operative of the expeditionary Private Military Company, Executive Outcomes which is by far the most acclaimed PMC ever to have emerged from Africa.

Believe me, I have not even started reading the well-illustrated book which chronicles Eeben’s career from the time of his enlistment in 1974 through to a stellar performance under the famed 32 Battalion of the defunct South African Defence Force, a unit which created a fearsome operational reputation for itself in counterinsurgency operations inside Namibia and Angola, squaring off against the Cuban-Angolan-SWAPO alliance. The multisided Eeben served as a Special Forces officer and with combat engineer, military intelligence and reconnaissance units during his professional career,

The book itself is filled with vivid photographs of military operations undertaken across Africa and in Papua New Guinea.

I have to say that I did not realise that EO actually built up a decent arsenal. As we speak, I am looking at photos of Executive Outcomes personnel and equipment in Angola and can see Mi-17 helicopters, ZPU-2 14.5mm AA guns, BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Pilatus PC-7 aircraft used for bombing and strafing, a T54 tank, a DAF truck on which a twin 23mm AA gun system was mounted and used for ground support…in much the same way as the Nigerian Army used quad-barreled 23mm Shilka SPAAG during the ECOMOG years. I can also see a Ural truck towing a D30 122mm artillery system.

For Sierra Leone photos, I can see Mi-8/Mi-17/Mi-24 helicopters crewed by Executive Outcomes pilots, a LandRover with a 14.5mm HMG, a Cessna 337 spotter aircraft, an 81mm mortar crew and a BMP-2 rolling through the jungle.

Eeben and/or Executive Outcomes saw action or had interests in South Africa, Namibia, Angola, Uganda,Sierra Leone, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

The book promises to be a complete and all-action war diary of Eeben Barlow and of the Executive Outcomes PMC. It is available on the online bookstore,AMAZON.

Gentlemen, I just found gold. Lots of pleasurable reading for me in the days ahead.

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BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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75 Responses to MUST READ: “EXECUTIVE OUTCOMES: AGAINST ALL ODDS” – BY EEBEN BARLOW

  1. Eeben says:

    Thanks Beegeagle! I am just thrilled that you finally got the book. As mentioned to you, I was getting increasingly concerned…

    A small correction – EO/myself never had interests in Rwanda/Burundi. Although we were asked by the UN to assist during the genocide, we were told that our costs were too expensive. Apparently African lives were not worth the cost.

    I hope you may find some value in the book.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  2. peccavi says:

    Another one for the library methinks!

  3. Periscope cryptologist says:

    The famed Eeben. I love his blog also. Will surely get a copy. I still relish that writeup he made about him making a presentation to his C\O. After a “textbook” officer made an impressive presentation, eeben got the floor and simply said something like i will go kill them all.

  4. beegeagle says:

    My brothers, I do not know what you expect to see in a book written by Eeben but it is stacked full of WAR stories..very, very detailed stuff.

    If you have ever read about the exploits of Southern African counterinsurgency units such as the 32 Battalion, 61 Mechanised Battalion Group, Selous Scouts, Battle of Cuito-Cuanavale on Wikipedia and found them to be very interesting, what would you expect from one who was such a high-level participant, never mind the EO’s exploits.

    Gentlemen, if you do not have this book, you are square. It is a collector’s item. Trust me, I have read “Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War” by Alex Madiebo, “My Command” by Olusegun Obasanjo, “Nigeria’s Five Majors” by Wale Ademoyega, “Revolution in Nigeria: Another View” by Joseph Garba etc.

    Interesting as Obasanjo’s and Madiebo’s books are, I do not see how Eeben’s war memoirs from SA to Namibia, Angola to Sierra Leone and beyond – for EO did work in the Great Lakes as well, can fathomably fall short.

  5. Henry says:

    I’d surely get one. It is certainly going to be a pleasurable read.

  6. eyimola says:

    Will surely grab a copy ASAP. It’s always good to hear from the horses mouth….I’m green with envy about your autographed copy.

    • Saints says:

      Yea.i was going to say something about that too..i would have loved to stack the autographed one in the library and then get another one for reading

  7. BishopOfSapele says:

    The book is retailing for over $335 on Amazon.com ….that can’t be right, can it?

  8. beegeagle says:

    Lord of War, for chaps who were opposed to the Soviet bloc and who operated under arms embargoes, what is the story behind E0’s love for Russian hardware – availability, reliability, ruggedness or just the predatory instincts of wanting to thrive on the enemy’s stocks, which like I was telling Kenee2K today, is my idea of consummate special operations?

    I mean, Russian 14.5mm AAMG, 23mm cannons, D30 122mm arty, BMP-2 IFV, T54 tanks, Mi-8/Mi-17/Mi-24? I was pleasantly surprised to see that you guys were heavy on Russian arms. You probably know that I do not obsess over anyone’s goods and would take anything that does its job and packs a signifcant punch.

  9. Eeben Barlow says:

    I have always believed that you make do with what you have, Beegeagle. In 32 Bn’s Recce Wing, we thrived off the enemy’s weapons and ammunition – simply as we were sometimes too deep in enemy territory to be resupplied. It became of matter of logistical necessity but it also made us realise that many Russian weapons were superior to some Western weapons.

    The governments EO worked for in Africa had abundant stocks of Russian weapons, ammunition and materiel and we did not want them to spend money buying new equipment. So, we used what there was. In this process, we came to realise the reliability and durability of that equipment. Sadly, it never belonged to us!

    You are correct: Use anything that does the job but if it is not able to do the job, modify your tactics to give you an advantage.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  10. beegeagle says:

    Wow, that is quite resoureful.

    Looking at that great-looking Sierra Leonean Mi-24V helicopter which your men described as a ‘flying tank’, I recall that they ‘passed through’ Kano Airport in northern Nigeria at the time of their acquisition.

    Good as they look, would you believe that they acquired two units for US$2.4 million.

  11. Eeben Barlow says:

    As you will discover, our MI’s passing through Nigeria led to some problems for us, Beegeagle. Although there were some who expected us to pay a “toll”, the craft were grounded for several days. We later discovered that the Nigerian government had some pressure put on them to hold our helis there.

    It was obvious to us that someone, somewhere wanted the situation in SL to remain chaotic – and after our contract in Angola, they knew we were going to end the conflict in SL. This needed to be stopped as that situation benefited many people/organisations.

    A sad fact about Africa – keep the pot boiling and then use that as an excuse to manipulate governments.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  12. anas says:

    I agree wit eeben on his last comment cos I personally see no reason why E O ‘s contract wit SL govt was cancelled in 97 , if I’m nt mistaken E O operatives succeded in routing the rebels and regained lost territories bt 4 reasons best known to certain interests pressure was put on the SL govt to cancel E O’s contract n we all knw wat happened at the end I wil lov 2 get that book

  13. anas says:

    And lastly general beeg and Eeben u guys knw much more on military history pls guys can u tell me who won the battle of cuito cuinavale ?

    • Eeben Barlow says:

      It all depends on which side you are speaking to, Anas.

      Cuito lay in the path of the FAPLA/Cuban forces push towards Jamba – the UNITA stronghold in Southern Angola – and the SADF was ordered to stop this drive. They did this well and with very limited forces.

      But, a very large Cuban flanking manoeuvre far to the West threatened to cut-off the SA forces at Cuito. At that time, the SADF had lost its air superiority due to a lack of aircraft – the arms embargo had done its job. The Cuban push could thus be done under an air superiority umbrella.

      Facing the likelihood of being cut-off, the SA forces executed a retrograde operation.

      So, talk to the Cubans – they say they turned the tide of the war and won.

      Speak to the SADF – they say they achieved their mission.

      Speak to ex-FAPLA men who were there – they will tell you they suffered horrific casualties but persevered.

      Personally, and bear in mind that I was not there, I think Cuito was a short-sighted political blunder by SA politicians who had lost sight of the strategic objectives of the war and tried to play generals.

      The fact is that Cuito got such massive international publicity aimed at creating a perception that the SADF lost there. So, from an operational point-of-view, the SADF won. But from a strategic point of view, the Cubans placed the SADF at a disadvantage they did not exploit.

      Cuito did however alter the landscape of the war as all sides were by then war-weary.

      Rgds,

      Eeben

      • jimmy says:

        Lord EBEN
        I remember reading about this battle very well ,however I try not to believe everything i read especially when it comes to an AMERICA magazine like time magazine can you clear this question up for me . The magazine wrote that American Satellites at the time picked up a large column of Cuban soldiers days before they met up in battle with the South Africans BUT REFUSED to give the South Africans this information either to punish SOUTH Africa or to teach them a lesson can you in your own small way clear this up?
        Lastly I hope your book is sold in the states I am going to check it out.

      • Eeben Barlow says:

        I cannot confirm that Jimmy but I do know that the US was playing both sides of the fence. South Africa went into Angola in 1975 on request of the US (after the collapse of Portugal) but the US were soon, apparently, threatening SA to withdraw. Then US then also promptly switched its support to FNLA to UNITA, both movements vying for power in Angola along with the MPLA.

        We were often told by our commanders that the US was purposely withholding intelligence from us. Only they know the reasons why. The story was also that the US compromised the Cabinda raid – a raid in which the SA Special Forces took heavy casualties and had a commander (Capt Wynand du Toit) captured by the Angolans. Du Toit later ended up in Russia being interrogated by the Russians.

        It is inconceivable that the US satellites were unable to pick-up the Cuban flanking manoeuvre. The retrograde the SADF executed did however not come from US intelligence. Sad but true.

        I suppose this merely illustrates the point of not relying on others when you are faced with a wily enemy.

        Rgds,

        Eeben

  14. beegeagle says:

    @Eeben. Lord of War, I was reading your memoirs 22:30hrs-01:30hrs.

    * Your combat engineer profile which preceded your 32 Bn stint saw a lot of very effective EOD work. I noted your use of the Buffel mine-protected vehicle and your first battlefield injuries sustained on January 1st, 1980.

    However, I noted that you mentioned anti-tank mines, grenades and anti-personnel mines but no IEDs. Does it mean that the SWAPO insurgents were not making their own IEDs?

    – What role did K9(war dog) teams play in the counterinsurgency operations?

    – I noted that you mentioned a nexus of greed which involved SA generals, businessmen and politicians which sufficed during your time in Angola. This centred around ivory trading and illegal hardwood and diamond racketeering. How much did this quest for lucre concretely underpin the deployment in Angola and I dare say, in other conflict zones across Africa?

    You might recall that on the enemy side, General Arnaldo Ochoa of Cuba was executed by the Castro regime on charges of profiteering – diamonds and that some ECOMOG senior officers in Sierra Leone were similarly alleged to have profited from diamond racketeering while Pakistani UN peacekeepers in DR Congo’s Ituri District were later also fingered over culpability in gold nugget smuggling.

    – Again, you mentioned inter-unit and inter-service rivalry between the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the SAP and the Special Forces. How much did that affect your efforts personally as a covert operator in Botswana. This problem(hoarding of actionable HUMINT) is also a problem in CTCOIN operations in Nigeria and was fingered as one reason why the 9-11 attacks in America were successfully carried out.

    Nigeria are trying to circumvent that problem as we speak through the formation of an intelligence fusion centre.

    – Alouette gunships provided covering fire for Puma helos during hot extractions. That was awesome and shows how much you guys had to improvise really. Today’s Nigerian Air Force could replicate that pairing using dedicated military variant Agusta A109 LUHs to provide covering fire for Super Puma helicopters as well but those are soft-skinned helos. I suspect that most Nigerian SF today would rather fly in a Mi-24V/Mi-35P and/or the assault-combat transport Mi-171Sh Terminator.

    Really, one has to say ‘kudos’ for such high-risk maneovres.

  15. Eeben Barlow says:

    I am sorry to see you losing sleep Beegeagle! Secretly though, I hope you are enjoying the read.

    The appearance of true IEDs only occurred later during the war. In my time, the enemy made use of anti-tank mines coupled via detonating cord ringmains to other mines. I only once lifted five TM46/Brit Mk 7 mines in such a cluster connected to 2 anti-pers mines. However, the IEDs are they are known today were not that prevalent in our border war but became used in SA by the ANC in the form of car bombs. As I at a stage worked as part of an urban IED team, I recall many very funny moments though.

    Dogs played a limited role in terms of patrolling but showed their value as guard dogs. I suspect that the heat and hot sand had a negative influence on their abilities. Horses with their mounted infantrymen however were used quite well in some areas.

    I suspect that the greed factor did not initially come into play but that it developed as a result of deployments. Most senior officers were as straight as arrows but then again, it needs one rotten apple to spoil the barrel. The few that were involved with this stuff were sadly too well connected to be apprehended.

    Yes, I recall the Cuban general being nailed for profiteering. Insofar as the UN goes – I shake my head at what they do in Africa but then again, this may explain why they needed to replace 250 EO men with 17 000 men – and then call it a success after they lost control. However, if you look coldly at the situation and equate the UN to a corporation – I know of no corporation that can suffer such catastrophic financial losses and be so riddled with incompetence and still commit the things they do without the CEO having his head removed by the shareholders.

    Inter-unit rivalry can be a healthy thing. My experience was that things went awry at the senior level as politicians though they ought to be generals and generals thought they out to be politicians. At that level, there was very little non-partisanship – and those generals who were non-partisan were certainly not popular with their peers. Of course, at the operators’ level, there was often jealousy coupled to gross incompetence. I had to work “under” two such clowns who would have needed clean underwear had they been close to a shot fired in anger. But I think I may have been my own worst enemy as I made it my mission to show them up for being fools. I think any army has a good sprinkling of those who measure their worth by how jealous and petty they can get.

    A fusion centre is a good idea but can only work if the various National Security Strategies are aligned. Without that alignment, matters can deteriorate significantly as all players vie for the gold medal.

    Rest assured that if we had Mi-24s to give top cover and extraction by MI17s, we would have opted for them above Aloes and Pumas. But our situation put us in the position of “beggars can’t be choosers” so we were only too grateful to have those craft supporting us, especially when we were heavily outnumbered by the enemy. However, our pilots were stars who would fly through hell to extract us – and they often did. Many of us (me included) are only around because of our pilots. We owe them our lives.

    Thank you for taking the time to read the book and to question.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  16. jimmy says:

    Lord EBEN
    WOW thank you for clearing that up.Yeah they withheld intelligence, and it illustrates how AFRICANS must learn to solve African problems.

  17. Eeben Barlow says:

    I have always believed we need to solve our own problems, Jimmy. The entire continent is griped in a false chaos where the perception is created that it is tribe against tribe, black against white, Arab against African where in fact, I believe much of it is instigated and boy, do some people fan those flames!!.

    As you may know, the SA Police recently arrested a group of 19 DRC coup plotters – and one is an American citizen with “ties” to the Congo. Go figure that one out!

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  18. beegeagle says:

    Glad to have lost sleep, Eeben. Rivetting stuff really. I am getting in on the post-Soyo entanglement now. Chapter 13. Nice, NICE.

    I know that you guys retrained Brigadier Valeriano’s 16 Brigade and that you trained troops and special forces for them in Angola. Did you train all the units of the Angolan Army? I noticed that the Supreme Commander requested that you support with him technical advice. Did not realise how deeply involved in Angola EO were.

  19. Eeben Barlow says:

    I am thrilled to know that you are enjoying it Beegeagle.

    No, we only trained the 16 Bde and some elements of Special Forces. As you will have read, many people/organisations/countries wanted us out of Angola – I was even offered a US$ 22 million bribe but how could I go back on my word to the Angolans? We also trained a few pilots but not many. You will later read that one of those pilots flew in under very heavy enemy AA to deliver air support to us.

    Angola was much bigger than SL in terms of our involvement, the enemy and his abilities, weapons, materiel and so forth. In developing the strategy to defeat the enemy, I advised the SP that we need to refrain from a single centre of gravity and instead view the enemy as having a trinity of gravity. I believed that if we were able to collapse two of these pillars the third would tumble. Fortunately that happened.

    When we started the final offensive (you will read about it) we knew that we had to succeed if we were to live up to our word – or we would die honouring our word.

    As you know, the Angolans were pressurised into terminating our involvement. Not long after we left, the war started again but fortunately the men we trained were still under arms and the enemy was finally defeated – again.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

    • jimmy says:

      WOW I have often wondered the morning i woke up to see the bullet riddled body of Savimbi in the L.A. times how was he caught napping did the Americans just get tired of him stealing their money to buy fancy suits and cowboy hats? thank you for clearing up some stuff l.o.l

  20. doziex says:

    The Soldier of Fortune magazine, did cover a lot of EO’s exploits, as they happened.

    I remember seeing pics of EO pilots in Angolan mig-23s, su-22s but not su-25s ?

    I applaud the Angolan govt for initially doing what it took to achieve victory, Going into business with their cold war foes must not have been easy.

    Hey Eeben, did the angolan airforce contract EO pilots for their international expeditions in DRC or congo-brazzaville ? or where those just soviet/cuban trained angolan pilots ?

  21. Eeben Barlow says:

    You are correct, Doziex, SOF did do a three-part on EO that they took from the book.
    EO’s pilots only flew MI17s, PCs, Mig-23s and SU22s.
    There was suspicion when we initially got to Angola but the operation in Soyo laid a lot of those concerns to rest. When the Angolans realised that we were not there to waste time and prolong the war, they did what they could to assist us and gave us every support they could. By the time we left, Angolan soldiers stood by weeping as we boarded the last flight out of Cabo Ledo – and I know as I was on that flight.
    When we left, we left. The pilots that flew in DRC may have included some we worked with but to my knowledge, the majority were Angolan.
    Btw, you still owe me an answer to a comment on a previous posting…
    Rgds,
    Eeben

  22. Eeben Barlow says:

    I never asked the Angolans what happened – and they never told me, Jimmy. I just felt it was not my place to be nosey. But with his death, a LOT of people lost a LOT of money…

    Rgds,

    Eeben

    • beegeagle says:

      According to snippets gleaned from my personal monitoring of developments on the day that Savimbi got nailed in perpetuity(22 February, 2002), the Angolan Army and Israeli intelligence collaborated to track him down using intercepts and drones. He was thereafter taken out by an Angolan SF unit…which could have been your wards.

  23. doziex says:

    The relationship between the angolan army and the EO, is the type that I have been advocating between the nigerian army and any of the most effective PMC’s money can buy.

    I know we currently have some isrealis doing business in with the nigerian army. I hope they can duplicate the job EO did on the angolan spec ops, and even the sierra leonean army.

    In nigeria, there remains a gap between the theoretical brilliance, and practical competence.

    If we smartly engage the services of an EO like outfit, It would only make our troops better trained and better mentored. I think like the angolan govt, we should leave pride aside. When our troops become the most effective on the continent, their would be plenty to be proud off.

    Our war college should seek relationships, others we can benefit from their military prowess. Ex SADF officers as seen in EO, can impart some of the old SADF traditions in the NA, that even the SANDF are in danger of losing. (One should never throw out the baby with the bath water)

    The Rwandans in some settings have shown great military prowess. I believe this stems form great leadership, and their great discipline under fire. From them, we could learn a thing or two.

    Our neighbours Chad, and their experience/competence in vast desert warfare. The way they have adapted their tactics and weaponry to these desert conditions would be great lessons for NA to absorb and become the best at.

    • freeegulf says:

      gen dozie, i take it that u favour PMCs works with regular army.
      but u should know this; what existed in Angola and SRL are way way different from the present conditions (or even passed conditions in the 90s) facing the nigerian army . PMCs are not always the solution, i tell u. while EO did a brilliant work in Angola and also distinguished themselves in SRL, u should understand that things could have easily swung the other way.

      Yes, EO had some upstanding personnel in management, which helped to keep them in line. but u should as yourself, what if, with a different management, they decided to work both side for maximum profit? war is so fluid, and the politics surrounding war is so complicated that u cant just bring every tom and dick to help u fight.
      Angola and sierra leone used EO for their services, and got away with it, due to good management on the part of EO. but there are tons of other conflicts where PMCs went in and did not bring about any decisive change in the combat theatre.

      as for using PMCs in nigeria, i m sorry to say, it wouldn’t fly. there is a difference between using PMCs for training specialist troops, and bringing in PMCs to fight for u. the nigerian army is way to different from that of angola and SRL.
      first, NA has a general staff with a professional officer corp (yeah professionalism suffered under ibb and abacha but the foundation was still there) so it wasn’t some militia or peoples army as in the case of FAPLA and the RSLMF.
      while, FAPLA had more war materiel (and they still do) due to the civil war and bn a client soviet state, they generally suffered from lack of competency both at the upper echelon and at the NCO level. these where troops that whenever they met UNITA in combat, they would go MIA. They always deserted. now u cant blame these soldiers since many of them where either conscripts (especially in the 80s) or press ganged to FAPLA. the angolans never had a true professional land force. throughout the 70s and the 80s, they had the cubans and soviets holding their hands. they only started improving after over 2 decades of civil war!
      in the case of the RSLMF, theirs was nothing to write home about. a situation where a commander assembles 500 men to take a rebel stronghold. at the first skirmish, three quarter of the men are MIA. in fact, in real sense, SRL never had an army. they where more or less an armed mob, that could not even execute a basic manoeuvre. this is an army where troops protesting lack of support for the war in the countryside decided to take their protest to Freetown and demand better provisions. on seeing the protesting troops (it wasn’t a coup, neither was it a full mutiny) the head of state went missing, along with his entire govt. from protest, a young kiddo named capt valentine strasser found himself in an empty state house.

      not taking away anything from EO, they where pace setters in private soldiering and they helped changed the bad conception that those 60s bunch created in the Congo and other parts of Africa.

      • freeegulf says:

        the pain that NA troops went through in ’98, very few armies could have gone through that without a full blown mutiny. and it did come very close……
        in spite of the blood, tears and pain, the average Nigerian soldier held his tact. there was cohesion right till the end days of ECOMOG.
        even when RUF where marauding the countryside killing and maiming with military advisers from ukraine and south africa (it was rumoured that some of these SA advisers fought on the govt side previously, and changed side after ’97), these troops, sometimes missing their junior leaders (a lot of them went back for their professional exams at jaji in late ’98) where able to hold their own, against a better armed (yes, u will surprise to learn this, the RUF had superior small and light infantry weapons than ECOMOG) and numerically superior wily foe.
        in the end, the only thing that stopped RUF from totally laying waste to Sierra Leone was, sheer bravery of the nigerian soja, nothing else!

        other than the SADF of old, there are very few armies in Africa that would stand shoulder to shoulder with the Nigerian army. and the SADF was great because of their professional officer corp and NCO leadership. back then, NA lacked proper NCO leadership due to fear by the officer corp that the NCOs will challenge their (officer) status. this paranoia can be traced back to the counter coup of ’66.
        thank goodness, no more coups and military misrule. the NCOs are getting back to shape and they are no longer as anti-education as they used to be. and NA High Command has been able to adapt SOF and asymmetric warfare to their plans and policy.

        other disciplined and decent African troops are the rwandans, senegalese and eritreans. of course, the UPDF is improving in bounds. ZDF has always been good, but the economic situation in zimbabwe is not doing them any good.
        one important issue is the fact that most of these armies either started as rebels or militias. so a lot of them have been unable to transform into a fully fledged professional army.
        we know who the big spenders in Africa are. but warfare is not all about having parade weapons.

  24. Eeben Barlow says:

    No comment, Tim.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  25. Eeben Barlow says:

    That is exactly the type of relationship we currently foster with our clients, Doziex. If we train them but are not prepared to deploy with them in real operations, how can we claim to trust our own training?

    Pride is a very important factor when assessing the combat readiness of troops. Nothing fosters pride, determination and unit cohesiveness like hard, tough training. During a recent contract, we started off with 800 volunteers and by the end of week 1, we had already lost more than 600. By the time training was completed, we had a lean, mean, disciplined, well-trained and cohesive force that would stop at nothing to achieve their mission.

    However, petty pride can be really damaging as not only soldiers lives are at stake but the security of a country. At that level, we cannot afford to let pride rule our actions and decisions.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  26. Eeben Barlow says:

    You lost me on the Colonel Coetzee part Doziex.

    No sweat on missing my question. It was aimed at showing just how dangerous perceptions that have been shaped by disinformation can be.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

    • doziex says:

      My apologies, that was the name of the colonel that led the PMC unit in the movie blood diamonds.
      Most believe he was a hollywood depiction of you and your outfit.

  27. Eeben Barlow says:

    Your intelligence is correct, Beegeagle. The Israelis provided the TECHINT and the Angolan SFD provided the firepower. If any of them were some of our old students, I cannot say as I don’t know…

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  28. Eeben Barlow says:

    No offence was taken, Doziex. As previously mentioned, it was to illustrate a point. Of course, those who started the rumour about EO and minerals were the very people who were conducting illegal buying and selling of minerals!! They knew we were about to collapse their illegal empires.

    The more I dig, the more complex the Mali situation becomes. We (STTEP) warned them twice of what was coming but those warnings were ignored. Had they required our services, of course it would have cost them but then again, we are not a “save the planet for free” company. But, we have never tried to extort a government or place them in a long-term predicament. That said, I wonder what debt they will be left with whenever – if ever – peace breaks out.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

    • jimmy says:

      I consider myself though not part of the military circle well read ESPECIALLY IN FOREIGN AFFAIRS but even i struggled when I first read about E.O. this of course i admit was born out of IGNORANCE and even i admit THE COLD WAR MENTALITY o they are from South AFRICA without looking deeper into the facts. .The first time i heard read about E.O was during the sierra Leone and Liberian crises and this was painted by the you know whos of bbc. However EVENTUALLY THE TRUTH GETS OUT and we begin to see what is really going on as an engineer I deal with facts and details and one of the best things you could of done is write the book it is available online in the states so i will get it but please keep telling your story because one of the most important things you have constantly said that is true AFRICANS MUST SOLVE AFRICAN PROBLEMS. Hopefully we will not have a nightmare situation in MALI but if the u.n comes in we are headed that way.

    • beegeagle says:

      It is crunch time already. I say again, that I do not see anything wrong with having your PMC and its men embedded with the Malian Army in all their forward positions.

      Since the EU training mission are already in, they can start by training troops deployed outside the conflict area and in raising new battalions. Whether the Malians know it or not, they are going to have to need a minimum of twenty battalions(new and existing alike) of their own so as not to be spread too thinly across a territory the size of Central Europe. They have to envision a 15,000-man Army now and I dare say, a 3,000-man dedicated COIN force domiciled in the National Gendamerie.

  29. Eeben Barlow says:

    The truth is Jimmy that we always found it amusing how we were branded as an “apartheid army” especially when the army had many black African units and soldiers serving in it. Strangely enough, no one has ever referred to the UK’s “Labour army” or the US’s “Republican army” when they went into Iraq/Afghanistan. Even more ironic was the label hung around EO’s neck, especially as only about 10% of us were of white African stock.

    However, we could understand the hesitancy that greeted us when we deployed into a country as people’s perceptions lead them to believe certain things. They soon however realised that we were indeed there to help them resolve their problems and when that penny dropped, we were welcomed by young and old alike. When that became apparent, the disinformation campaign against us intensified dramatically and all the stops were pulled out to smear/slander and close us down.

    Fortunately, governments in Africa as not as stupid as some would like to believe and now we are always well received. Our approach was – and still is – that we must do what we can to resolve our own conflicts and wars as rapidly and effectively as possible. If that means destroying a brutal and unforgiving enemy, so be it.

    Of course, we need the West to help but only AFTER we have been the architects of our own peace and stability. Their investments, skills and business approaches can benefit us immensely but we need to acquire those on a level playing field and not be coerced into having to accept them, regardless.

    As for the UN, I notice that they are eyeing Mali as a new “mission”. I wonder why they have not yet committed themselves to Iraq or Afghanistan as potential “peacekeeping” missions?

    Speaking my mind has however not endeared me to many governments and organisations who believe that I am opposed to them as they feel that one is not allowed to disagree with them and that their word is law. Despite me levelling criticism does not equate to being “anti” them. We are just deeply concerned at what we see happening and little being done to stop it.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  30. Eeben Barlow says:

    Aha – now I understand – thanks for clearing that up, Doziex. As someone who never saw Blood Diamond I was at a loss. So you have no need to apologise – the question was asked out of my own ignorance.

    From what I was told (my son saw the film and warned me never to watch it) “Colonel Coetzee” and I share nothing in common – thankfully. I would hate to be a Hollywood creation!! In fact, I doubt if this Coetzee character would have lasted a day in 32 Bn or EO.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  31. ocelot2006 says:

    @ beegeagle, PLEASE where do I purchase this book and any on the 32 Battalion in Nigeria? Or any online site that will ship to Nigeria? Thanks.

  32. doziex says:

    Oga freeegulf, I agree with much of what you had to say about the nigerian army. The level of frustration they must have suffered, would have inspired ten mutinies, and yet the just salute and plough on.

    Now if we can marry this diehard spirit with the best training, the best equipment, the best welfare packages, we in nigeria, would really be onto something special.

    A force that can stand up with the best the world has got to offer.

    Also, the US military, the greatest the world has ever known, utilizes the services of PMCs for VIP security, convoy escorts, force protection and base security(many UPDF soldiers did this job in iraq and afghanistan).
    Furthermore, PMCs, mainly ex NATO , ex isreali or ex south african special forces train US soldiers, SWAT team members and others in CQC, sniping and other areas of their core competencies.

    The US merely sees these ex soldiers as civillian employees whose services are necessary due to military downsizing. Also, there are just some functions a private company can perform way better than a govt beaurocracy.

    So this is where I am coming from when I advocate the services of PMCs. If the US military can use them, why do some of us keep thinking they are beneath the nigerian army?

    None of us would object to a training/ mentorship relationship between say the US navy seals and our nascent SBS commandoes.
    However, this govt to govt relationship can be disrupted at the whim of any US politician or interest group. Usually, their issue is human rights, or some other sanctimonious BS. This disrupts the training relationship and is not in the best interest of our troops.

    So wouldn’t you rather get this much needed training and mentorship from retired experienced operators, whose allegiance is to their CEO and not a nation state ?

    And if they misbehave, we can terminate their contracts and send them packing. Or we can lodge them in one of our many dungeons. (I would advice against this option, as their mates may come calling.) LOL.

    This is what the doctor ordered for the NA, as we have brave and couragous professional soldiers in large supply. They just need to be competently trained and well equipped.

    Remember, it was this incompetence, and ill equiping, that led to the large numbers of unnecessary casualties NA suffered in both the ecomog and the niger delta wars.

    • freeegulf says:

      oga doziex, u said all the right things. my only fear is that NA always relent back to relax mode and tend to forget the bitter lessons learnt in past campaigns.
      fortunately, this mali ops will keep them on stand to. taking advantage of cheap accessible armaments will help bolster their battle readiness. however, the most important issue is maintenance. the ugly practice of abandoning AFVs due to mechanical problems should be all but in the past.
      in spite of their reluctance, nigeria has to take the lead in mali.

  33. Eeben Barlow says:

    I feel I must step in here freegulf, especially in light of your comment that “it was rumoured that some of these SA advisers fought on the govt side previously, and changed side after ’97”.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many false rumours were spread about EO – rumours that later morphed into “fact”. As its chairman, I asked at that time why EO was being slandered and those training the RUF in Liberia (sadly also South Africans with VERY close links to the old SA government) were not even mentioned. The cover these people used was supposedly training the Liberian Presidential Guard. We knew who they were, we asked why they were allowed to support the RUF and why we were being attacked because we were assisting the government. No one ever answered us.

    I also asked why SA citizens along with some foreign citizens were providing UNITA with SAMs to shoot down EO aircraft whereas EO, working with the Angolan government, was deemed to be a threat. That too was never answered.

    I did not see Dozier’s comment about PMCs implying that they must fight for governments. Any government that needs to bring in a PMC to fight on their behalf and emerges victorious will have a hollow victory. Governments that call on us do so out of their own free will and use us to impart knowledge and skills to their men.

    I can understand your concerns about PMCs. I too have voiced my concerns about some of them numerous times on my blog. Some are not even PMCs as they are merely extensions of their governments and are used to exert influence. Also, some PMCs have failed dismally in their missions only to be awarded new contracts in different theatres. As far as I am concerned, they impart knowledge on how to lose a war and win it or end it rapidly.

    I disagree with your comments on no more coups: What we are seeing in DRC, CAR, Somalia and elsewhere are nothing other than coups dressed up as “liberation” movements operating as proxy forces.

    I believe there comes a time when we must stop calling these proxy forces “liberation” movements. One can only really be liberated so many times. Our governments must accept their accountability and we should work alongside one another to make sure we can all benefit from our continent instead of constantly fighting.

    I somehow think you are missing the boat re the Angolan forces. The war fought there was no picnic – some of the largest tank battles since World War 2 took place in Angola in the 90s.Insofar as the SL forces are concerned – who trained them initially? Who trained the Malian forces? Who trained the DRC and CAR forces? So I don’t think we ought to pass judgement on those forces as they can only be as good as their benefactors want them to be. And being trained and advised by PMCs that have zero record of success certainly adds to their woes.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  34. freeegulf says:

    oga doziex. i agree with ur points about PMCs training regular troops in specialist skills. in fact, the input of ex IDF personnel with CTCOIN has really improved the military’s combat operations against insurgents.
    the major point i was touching was to explain the differing role a PMC unit like EO played in Angola and SRL, as against another PMC playing same identical role with NA. the NA problems are completely dissimilar to what SRL and Angola where suffering from back in the 90s.

    the major problem NA had, i can boldly say, was the old British idea of ammo conservation and the judicious use of these ammo. thank God, with the assimilation of new tactics in asymmetric warfare, these archaic concept is giving way to immense firepower. the old doctrine preaches the use of ammo in such a way that not one single bullet should be unaccounted for during battle exercise.
    while this helps with soldier’s efficiency and weapons proficiency, it became a major headache at the doctrinal level.

    NA went into LBR and SRL with the FN FAL and the G3. In semi auto mode, these weapons are great and deliver accurate rounds. however, the conflicts in these two countries where nothing like the NA had trained for. in fact, these countries with their dense forest were visibility could be down to less than 100m made these rifles extremely cumbersome in the heat and moist of the countryside. in auto mode, these weapons where grossly deficient.
    to add salt to injury, these troops, where issued with unacceptable number of ammo (doctrine of fewer rounds and accountability that they where all trained for). in the jungles of LBR and SRL, the firefight is short and extremely violent. the first to see, and able to lay down enough rounds on target carries the day. now, imagine armed with an old FN FAL against a light weapon like the AK47 in a thick bush that u can barely see ur palm at night time. troops where ditching their rifles for the AK whenever they had the chance.
    in deployments like that, troops should have been armed with lighter weapons with good auto efficiency like the M16 and the AK47. Or better still, arm the entire section with LMGs

  35. freeegulf says:

    another problem with ECOMOG operations was the issue of tactics. ECOMOG was reactionary. everything was Ad hoc. very few lessons on LBR where taken into SRL. even at this late stage, the NA high command still viewed the RPG as solely an anti tank weapon as against the norm in SRL. even when they where deployed, rockets where always limited and in short supply.
    with few troops, brig gens abdul one mohammed and ahmadu tried to safeguard the entire SRL countryside which was absolutely impossible. there where cases of ECOMOG deploying just 3-5 soldiers to guard an entire town. now, where is the sense in that. it was them the ogas, trying to protect innocent civilians and their line of supply. though a noble idea, but the condition on ground did not favour such troop dispersal. the result was that the tipping point of the spear became shorter by the day. the more towns captured, the fewer the vanguard troops to liberate the next town because they kept dropping off numbers to garrison liberated towns and villages.
    now the above tactics, is textbook deployment of line troops. however, this is only relevant when there is abundant troop strength. in the case of SRL, the promised number was never provided or realized. now, the next thing for the chief of staff to decide, is how to work with what he has (not waiting for troops to come from nigeria) and deploy accordingly.
    in this case, deploy in strength (not the miserly 5 sojas to guard a town) at strongpoints and strategic towns and road networks. magburaka, kenema, kiodu town, lunsar, port loko, Bo and makeni where all tactically important. shorten the supply line by activating the rotary wing for troops provisions. but these where never done. there where no NAF Mil-24s or Mil-8s/ Mil-17s to resupply troops. even when these copters where dirt cheap!!
    yes, nigeria had sanctions, but eastern countries had no qualms selling hardware to all and sundry. it is inexcusable. of course, RUF kept taunting ECOMOG commanders by maiming civilians and sending them to ECOMOG lines psychologically, this ruthlessness was a tactical success. it made ECOMOG even more committed to protecting innocent civilians and further stretched their limited manpower.

    it is understandable that by deploying at strategic routes only, the rest of SRL countryside would have been left to the rebels. but personally, i feel it is a price to pay rather than spread less than 4000 men countrywide (when even NATO was deploying nearly 20000 in little kosovo in ’99) and their dispersal brought no fruitful benefits. in the end, most of these hard won territories where lost to the rebels. it was sheer will power of the troops that saved Freetown in jan/feb ’99

    • doziex says:

      Yeah freeegulf, I have always felt that an army that cannot academically discuss/study it’s faillings, painful they may be, has not yet reached maturity. And is not yet ready to learn from history. Which of course dooms them to repeating it.

      It took the US a while, but they finally figured out the right context in which to study and learn from their failings in vietnam.

      Nigeria MUST do likewise with it’s own failings, and quit covering it up.

      As you said, we tried to deploy in the ambush friendly countryside, with thin skinned vehicles. Our few apcs (mowags,sagaies and AML-90s) were wheeled vehicles, suitable for paved roads than countryside dirt tracks.

      The experienced operators in EO, fresh from angola realised this. They utilised RSLAF BMP-2s whose tracks were good for the bush, And it’s 30mm gun was a good counter ambush weapon.

      Another EO tactic was one of a combined horizontal, and vertical envelopment. Meaning Helicopters were used to spot and fix rebel positions. Mi-17 transports flew in a mortar crew, others approached over land. Then at the appointed time a combination of mi-24 rocket attacks, sometimes NAF alpha jet strikes and 80 mm mortar fire decimated the rebel camps and as they fled, they fell into pre laid ambushes.

      Now lets be clear the EO had help from the nigerians, the sierra leonean army, the kamajors, and faced a much smaller less equipped RUF.

      At the time ecomog had entered the fray the EO trained sierra leonean army had now defected to rebels forming the infamous AFRC/RUF alliance. This was a much tougher nut to crack. And then, Chales Taylor and Blaise Compaore facilitated viktor Bout’s ukrainian arms flow to the rebels, this made it a different animal. Yet ecomog didn’t bulk up on arms and men, until it was too late.

      • beegeagle says:

        And it is possible at this time to acquire 50 surplus units of BMP-2 IFVs which carry 7 troops+2 crew into battle for US$10 million.

        It is still a very useful infantry support vehicle which, like BTR-series APC and built to withstand desert conditions and have been used across various PKO theatres by the Indian Army.

  36. freeegulf says:

    sir eeben, it is a privilege. i must say, that in spite of the overwhelming pressure mounted by SANDF MI, u where able to achieve such soaring heights in SRL and Angola. that takes more than steel nerves. it is like fighting the establishment. not a very popular sit to be in. welldone.
    i get ur take on the issue of PMCs. my only contention was that Angola was in serious trouble by the time they called on EO. in fact, the soyo ops proved that EO could be a match and even surpass UNITA.
    Yes, FAPLA fought big battles, the likes of which have never been seen on this continent ever since. UNITA, at its height was one of the most powerful non-state armed forces in the world.
    my gripe with FAPLA is, they never created the room to build a professional force. they took for granted, the fact that Cubans had garrisoned troops in-country. and soviet advisers where always there to hold their hand.
    one could see how naked they really were, after the departure of the Cubans, and the breakup of the USSR. UNITA in the early 90s nearly overran the entire country. it was this desperation that made them really more acceptable of so called apartheid or Boer troops. however, their generals should be commended for standing and backing EO throughout its deployment there.
    in the case of SRL, the army was recruiting from the same source as the rebels. so there was hardly any qualitative edge. they lacked junior leaders input and discipline was an issue.

    what i find extremely commendable is EO’s decision to train new troops in Angola, rather than go for retraining of available troops (who have already had an established attitude towards firefight).
    another major success, is the deployment of ex senior SADF senior officers (Lt Col and full Col) in Angola and SRL. we know the importance of commandos and SFs, but the input of senior officers with staff college and full command experience is immeasurable. whether all the troops are ex recce, 32 bn, or koevoet, they need these experienced commanders with head for planning and executing ops.

    as for the issue of coups, i was referring to the instability that military coups brought to Nigeria. in fact, the military is the first victim of any coup executed by the armed forces. the past military governments deliberately de-clawed the army and air force, just to foster their rule. SOFs where unheard of then because they where deemed a threat to the sitting govt. with the advent of civil rule, these past ‘taboos’ re now a reality and yielding good fruits for the military in terms of skills and armament acquisition.

    on ur take about instability in africa, u re so on point! until Africa decide to solve her own problems without holding out a begging hand, the continent will continue to be a foot mat for global power play.

  37. Eeben Barlow says:

    There you are correct, freegulf. By the time we got there, they had lost control over 90 percent of the country. My/EO’s mission was to essentially redevelop the military strategy, train a brigade support by Special Operations Groups in manoeuvre warfare and destroy the enemy.

    I now understand your comment on the Angolans re a professional force. My apologies but you are correct there too. This has however changed of late.

    Again, point taken on SL’s army. But, we need to ask (again): Who trained them so badly?? The lack of junior leaders and even officers was sorely lacking. These points are simply confirmation that African armies are only as good as the so-called benefactor wants them to be. I have had the great pleasure of working with African troops in Southern, Central, East and West Africa and I can assure you there is nothing wrong with the man-material. How come we could train a relatively small force and then end decades old wars where goodness knows how many foreign advisors and trainers have set foot?

    Point made on Nigeria’s situation re coups. Again, I perceived you to be referring to Africa at large. See, that danger thing of perceptions!

    What concerns me as I watch the AU, our leaders spend too much time on meeting and too little time on action when it comes to ending these proxy rebellions. BUT, where we see war and conflict, it is poor leadership at the national level that resulted in the fighting. As the saying goes: Failing to plan is planning to fail.

    For a long time after leaving EO, I sat and watched with morbid fascination as our world fell to pieces. I had no interest in trying to help governments any longer. I was, to use a phrase Peccavi and some others may recognise, “gatvol”.

    When STTEP called on me in 2009 to take the chair I reluctantly accepted. We still follow many old “EO rules” and know that where we work, we are making a positive change. But, governments must decide for themselves where they want to be and how they want to be remembered. When it comes to PMCs, there are very few with any track record to be proud of. I am proud of what EO achieved and I am equally proud of what STTEP has achieved.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  38. beegeagle says:

    The rumour mongering centred on the activities of EO frankly approached pandemic proportions – the South African media, Namibian media, international press and it cost EO a lot in our image-obsessed world. Even as it was not explicitly stated as a reason(none was given anyway), that was a possible cause of the unilateral termination of EO’s contract with DEBSWANA Diamonds in Botswana, not like EO were not fulfilling their contractual obligations.

    Again, Lord of War, I thought it was quite professional and ethical that you actually reported the matter of a few greedy EO operatives who engaged in diamond trading..cheaply buying off diamonds in Angola for resale at huge profits in SA. I noted that you personally brought the matter to the Angolan FAA’s Chief of Intelligence, General Itha and went so far as alerting SA Customs to search your men at Jo’Burg Airport and to apprehend anyone engaged in diamond rackeering. That was all rather exemplary. Good for discipline and focus.

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the book thus far and I am still a third of the way through. It is a high-quality manual on conventional warfare, guerrilla warfare, expeditionary operations and appropriate training and intelligence responses.

    Yeah, Oga Eeben, it might be appropriate for you to see if a Nigerian online bookstore “KACHIFO” or SHOPRITE of SA who have a significant presence in Nigeria can distribute this gem of a book – a MUST for every soldier, student of African military expedition, intelligence operative, CTCOIN operator, cop and defence+security technocrat etc. I cannot describe the crazily multi-layered and intricate intelligence, counter-intelligence, neutralisation and sundry operations undertaken abroad.

  39. Eeben Barlow says:

    Thank you for your kind comments, Beegeagle. My thanks too to your bloggers who are questioning, agreeing, disagreeing and arguing about EO and at giving our continent its rightful place. The sooner we all realise we need to stand together, the less divided we will fall.

    My rules were – and still are – we are contracted by governments to help them, not to indulge in crime against them. Anyone caught will face the full might of the law – either in a court or elsewhere, but punished they will be.

    Having EO operatives searched was also brought in to kill the rumour mongering in the media. But then they claimed we had bought off the customs officers!! Frankly, it was laughable but nevertheless had to be countered wherever possible.

    Vengeance is always best taken cold. In my book I named some intelligence agents in the media and I am thrilled to report that they are no longer journalists of any value. Most lost their jobs. The media did a full page apology to me a few years ago but obviously, it was too little too late.

    However, when the book was initially published, there were some who claimed that I was simply trying to rewrite EO’s history and make us out to be purer than the driven snow. Despite me naming government officials, crooks and agents-of-influence who worked against EO or who were involved in fuelling conflict, NO ONE I named was willing to sue me or to take any action against me. That says it all as far as I am concerned.

    I will have a word with the publisher and see if we can possibly get some books to you. Maybe I can get someone to take 6 or so books up when they pass through and they can be collected in Nigeria?

    Rgds,

    Eeben

    • beegeagle says:

      Fine, Lord of War. My friends enjoy chatting with you because experience makes the difference and we can concretely relate to issues as Africans. Very different from relating to externals who often confuse issues and concrete reality – such as this funny idea of sending UN peacekeepers into a Mali that is in the throes of switching into full insurgency mode. Beggars belief.

      REF having the books parachuted to me, we can finetune the details backstage as the weekend wears on.

  40. beegeagle says:

    Here are some very interesting background reports to read, just so that everyone is carried along in this discussion

    SOUTH AFRICAN BORDER WAR
    (DO READ all the OP THIS, OP THAT at the top of the page)

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_African_Border_War

    NAMIBIAN WAR OF INDEPENDENCE

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namibian_War_of_Independence

    32 BATTALION

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/32_Battalion_(South_Africa)

    61 MECHANISED BATTALION GROUP

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/61_Mechanised_Infantry_Battalion_Group

    SOUTH WEST AFRICAN TERRITORIAL FORCE

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_West_African_Territorial_Force

    KOEVOETS (paramiltary COIN police)

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koevoet

    SOUTH WEST AFRICAN POLICE

    http://m.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_West_African_Police

  41. freeegulf says:

    sir Eeben, u made a good point on the subject of the kind of training African armies are receiving and where they are getting it from also. its baffles everyone what some of these armies do even after so called american training, with emphasis on special operations warfare.
    i will agree that some of these forces have already been setup to fail. another sad note, as u mentioned, is the issue of African leaders and their tendencies for meetings and conferences without any action to show for. yes, the top has to be rotten before it gets to the bottom.
    it is sad that most of these countries still haven’t learnt anything. they still go, bowl in hand to the west for handouts. meanwhile, conflicts simmers at home. Africa should be able to solve Africa’s problem, without becoming a playground for competing interest outside the continent.
    unfortunately, we are not seeing the end of these conflict era. i dare say, we have entered a new phase of power struggle and resource competition. with china and india becoming major players, these will even make the continent more susceptible to outside manipulation.
    in the end, without good and strong leadership, this continent is going nowhere. that is if these outside influences would even allow the right people to take the reins in the first place.

  42. Lourens says:

    Freeegulf, unfortunately we are of the opinion that the “outside influences” will prevent, at all cost the right people to take the reigns, as you put it.
    This whole thread is basically an indication of it. A prefect example is the training, as has been discussed so many times now. All the African armies failing on this continent has mostly been trained by the US, French, Israelis and the Brits. Like Eeben said, there is nothing wrong with the African soldier, it has been proven over and over, the problem lies with the training the West hands out “for free”.
    Its sad to say that even the once mighty SA army is now being trained by Americans. How sad is that!

    • freeegulf says:

      gen Lourens, well said!! its terrible because there seems to be no African renaissance. the good leaders with vision would always be fiercely resisted and their lives cut short. the biggest fear of these ‘outside influences’ is an independent minded and visionary leader.
      we shouldn’t forget that it is the failings and decadence at the top political level that brings about these unrest and chaos. not until we sort out our politics, the economies of this continent will remain fragile, subject to the whims and caprices of external powers.
      as for the military front, the less political interference the better. professionalism still remains a long way for most African armies. however, this does not take away the courage of the individual officer or rank and file troops. they are just as good and just as bad as any other soldier worldwide, with the specific conditions in place of course.

      i m not surprised about the new face of the SANDF. it is quite natural that they will generally phase into a ‘less aggressive’ force. in the 70s and 80s, the SADF had a clear goal and was used as a weapon to pursue particular goals, be it destabilization of neighboring states, or the protection of the republic. however, in this era of ‘international community’, there are less and less border or ideological threat. thereby.
      the SANDF of today is more or less geared toward international peacekeeping. it is good to note, however, that this was a once lean, effective fighting machine (the SADF) that changed modern warfare in southern africa. they wrote the book on bush war, and personally, i would say, the SADF was the best bush army in its time.

  43. gbash10 says:

    Thank your Gen Beeg for providing this medium for the Lord of War,Eeben Barlow to share his vast wealth of experience in CTCOIN,guerrila warfare,Recc,etc. around the African continent.
    Oga Eeben Barlow,thank you Sir.

  44. Eeben Barlow says:

    You smacked that nail right on the head, freegulf. We are becoming the battleground between competing interests and have no say in the matter. Like you, I believe the conflicts will escalate and our situation will become even more dire.

    Unless our leadership takes control, we will become displaced peoples on our own continent.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  45. Eeben Barlow says:

    This is such a good forum to enter into debate with likeminded, concerned citizens of our continent, gbash10.

    I am honoured to be part of these discussions.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  46. Eeben Barlow says:

    This change of tactics was scripted a long time ago, Beegeagle.

    We have learnt not to deploy with men we did not train as we have seen the result of a lot of this “training” they are given.

    I reiterate what I said earlier: We warned the Malians TWICE about what was coming – the first warning was early last year but they refused to believe us, opting instead to believe others. That is often why African armies are caught off-guard and lose the initiative. You cannot secure the pillars of state by ignoring intelligence and being reactive.

    In terms of size of the new Malian army: I suspect you could be right. But I would add to that a combat team that is high in manoeuvre and firepower, well-trained, well-led and correctly equipped.

    However, I do wonder what the cost will be for the EU mission and who will carry that cost…

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  47. Eeben Barlow says:

    I believe that when the enemy commence with their IEDs, swarm attacks and suicide bombers on a large scale, the UN will reconsider their haste to get involved Beegeagle. But, these conflicts suit them as peace implies they have no role – and therefore make no financial gain out of it.

    I shall be in touch shortly via our other channel to arrange the airdrop of books.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

  48. beegeagle says:

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting the STTEP involved in Mali, whether or not the EU or UN are coming
    as well. We know that those are not coming to the frontlines.

    In Mogadishu, the UN and the US State Department reportedly contracted a PMC, Bancroft Group, to train and advise Ugandan troops right at the battlefront. They helped with the impartation of relevant skills in the area of tactics, IED and ambsuh defeat, CQB, sniper training and FIBUA.

    Why not STTEP in Mali? I think the UN need to kick the petty politics to the corner and do the expedient at this time.

    Read

    http://theledger.com/article/20110810/news/108105028

    US RELIES ON CONTRACTORS TO TRAIN AFRICAN TROOPS IN SOMALIA CONFLICT

    http://nytimes.com/2011/08/11/world/africa/11somalia.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0

    Mr. Rouget, center, watched a battle
    between Ugandan troops and Shabab
    fighters. “Urban fighting is a war of
    attrition, you nibble, nibble, nibble,” he
    said. He was wounded last year in a
    street battle against the Shabab.

    Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

    Ugandan soldiers listened during a
    briefing on combat operations in
    Siigaale, a front-line position in
    Mogadishu that has seen years of
    fighting. A recent United Nations report
    documented a “growing number of companies” that have waded into
    Somalia’s chaos with contracts to protect Somali politicians, train African troops and build a combat force to battle armed Somali pirates.

    Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

    Mr. Rouget, left, pointed to a hole that
    was used by Ugandan snipers to help
    fend off Shabab fighters. One Western
    consultant who works with the African
    Union credits Bancroft with helping “turn a bush army into an urban fighting force.”

    Credit: Todd Heisler/The New York Times

  49. wocon45 says:

    @ Gen beeg am willing to stop a Challenger2 with my bare hands for a chance to have a little talk with “AGAINST ALL ODDS” pending when the airdrops take place. Until then, your boys will keep scanning the skies. over…

  50. Lourens says:

    Beegeagle, in comment to your post on “US relies on contractors to train African troops in Somalia” I can only say that the problem is this – the contractors are US based companies and the training the African troops are receiving is seriously not up to standard. We have discussed this before, it is clear that they really dont want to train the troops to an acceptable standard, for reasons only known to them.
    We have first hand experience on the way they trained the Iraqi troops, and the way they trained the Iraqi Government Ministry’s PSD teams. I was also told personally by a soldier in East Africa how many days they received practical training during an eight week Pathfinders course. Only 1 day! With compliments US special forces… If you guys think I’m talking rubbish here, Gen. Eeben can back me up here.
    In fact, to come back to training, and accountability on ammunition used during a fire fight, I would like to ask Eeben to tell of an incident conveyed to him by a certain General on what STTEP trained soldiers did in a specific fore fight… General, if you may?

    • beegeagle says:

      General Lourens, I salute you.

      Believe me, one of the chaps with whom I maintain communication backstage DID tell me, though I do not know how matters actually panned out, that the Western PMC trainers of Ugandan Special Forces(dunno whether that was in Uganda or in Somalia though), were told to hold back on certain ‘sensitive’ parts of the special warfare curriculum, just in case they(the sponsors of the PMC trainers) have to fight against those UPDF SF chaps at some point in future.

  51. freeegulf says:

    i m not surprised about this, general Lourens. concerning foreign military training, ‘interest’ always plays a big deal in practical curriculum. its the sad part, but african armies are hooked on IMET, which though not a bad thing, will leave them really handicapped immediately such ‘interest’ changes.

  52. Eeben Barlow says:

    I have always considered the indiscriminate use of firepower to be counter-productive, Beegeagle.

    If we are looking at the defence in conventional operations, one of our principles is maximum fire to the front. Whereas this may be acceptable especially if we are assaulted by human wave attacks, it does not apply to small team/COIN operations.

    In the defence ie static defence and not mobile defence, we will have planned and developed our defences along the enemy’s most likely approaches and strengthened it with obstacles. In addition, we would have developed strong-points and made sure that we can achieve interlocking arcs of fire. A fireplan would have been prepared to enable indirect fire support to add to our direct fire effect. Most crucially, ammunition would have been stacked to provide us a ready reserve. We usually don’t have that luxury in COIN/small unit manoeuvre operations.

    With that in mind, we train soldiers to use their sights effectively. I shall not bore you with the details of the training, suffice to say that at the end of their training cycle, they can hit a target with one shot at a distance of 300m. The reason for this training is that in certain operations, we cannot resupply them with ammunition as it may compromise their positions, it may be too far ahead of the other forces, the enormous costs to fly in helis with ammunition, etc.

    In a contact our boys had – at 03:00 in the morning, no night vision equipment, they killed 4 enemy with 6 rounds. Granted, it was an ambush at a known enemy crossing point but it proves the point what Lourens said: we do not need to use ammunition injudiciously.

    Winning the fire fight is good and well but if we have surprise on our side, we have done our job. If the enemy achieves tactical surprise, we have NOT been alert and done our job.

    Rgds,

    Eeben

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