Year In Review: 2017 Google Analytics Report For Feral Jundi

Last year was interesting for this industry, and as I write this, Feral Jundi is celebrating 10 years of publication! Yep, my first post on this blog was January 22, 2008, and I am still here! (and alive… lol)

But back to the year of our lord, 2017. Last year my traffic decreased even more on the site. A big part of that is my transition to Facebook and Twitter. But mostly the work I do on Facebook, which has been fantastic. I get to interact with tons of folks in this industry through that page and it has been fun. But like I have mentioned in the past, I like to keep the blog going so I can get into subjects that are unique and not being talked about in the main stream media. Or if it is being talked about, at least I can correct the record or let folks correct the record that are not being heard in the debate or discussion.

My overall stats for the blog for 2017 is 49,550 visits and 67,617 page views. For 2016 I had 83,436 visits and 109,102 page views. Definitely getting less traffic on the blog. But that was expected and these statistics do not reflect the massive amount of traffic and interest I am seeing on Facebook.

The health of the blog is alright considering I am using an older theme. I have had a few repairs done last year, and those involve code and what not. My theme is not being updated anymore, so until I find something that is more appealing than the current one, I will keep repairing the old one. And actually, I have stumbled upon some outstanding services that can repair WordPress blogs pretty easily for a good price. WPfixit is a group I highly recommend. They are fast and they get the job done.

Now for the data… The US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and South Africa were the top five countries that folks came from that visited the blog. France and Germany were on the top five in 2016, but not this year.

My next graphic is devices. Not much change in ratio from 2016. Just less traffic. Mobile devices are still king and everyone uses their smart phones to read stuff. I find myself using my iPhone to check out Facebook and Feedly all the time. I try to keep the blog operational for mobile use, and that can be tough sometimes when there are bugs in the code. I use WPtouch Pro for converting my blog into a mobile friendly site.

The top mobile devices used were Apple products like iPhone. No surprises there.

For search, or how folks find the blog, here are the numbers. Organic search is still the top means of people finding this site.

Under the social category, here are some of the primary spots that folks come from to get to my blog. Of course, Facebook is king, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn. Reddit is another interesting source that I really haven’t leveraged that much. If there is an interesting PMSC topic that pops up, and folks bombard that thread, then a Feral Jundi mention in that thread could get a lot of views and possible clicks.

Another deal to point out is Wikipedia. Feral Jundi has been referenced in Wikipedia entries and I imagine I will continue to get traffic from that stuff as more people use FJ material as a source in their research. I have also seen FJ referenced in publications, which is kind of neat as well.

Let’s now get into content. For 2017, I have not posted a lot of stuff, but it is still cool to see what was the most popular. It is usually a mix of posts from this year and years past, and like in 2016, my Job Tips post is still the most popular. Which tells me that folks are hungry for information on how to get into this industry. That meshes with what is going on at Facebook. I get guys and gals contacting me all the time wanting answers to questions about this industry. Either they are in the process of getting a job, or wanting to apply. That is the majority of my emails as well. So there is still a strong interest in gaining employment in this industry.

The other top article of interest was the Erik Prince Plan For Afghanistan post. That had a ton of interest in 2017 and certainly was a benchmark for this industry. It is the first time in the modern era that a private citizen was consulted and asked to draw up plans for replacing US troops in Afghanistan with private contractors. The longest war in the modern era for this country, might I add.

I called this historic, because I never thought I would see the day that the leadership of this country would actually consider using our industry to effectively end US troop involvement in Afghanistan, and at a fraction of the price! It would have included a private air force and a 5000 man mentor/advisory contractor force, and it would have been quite the effort.

Unfortunately, the Erik Prince plan was not implemented and President Trump decided to go with his General’s plan. We will see how that goes….

For demographics, my readership is 45.85% female and 54.15% male. Kind of surprising that there is still a strong female interest in this industry. Women are making it into contracting, and even security contracting, and are absolutely interested in this stuff.

The age of my readers are mostly younger, with the 25-34 year old range being the top group that visits. No surprises there. They are probably the ones clicking on the Job Tips post as well.

Now onto the posts that I liked last year and that were significant. The Chennai Six or the AdvantFort contractors that had been rotting away in Indian prison since 2013 were actually freed last November. What a fantastic surprise and gift to the friends and family of those contractors for Christmas.

Now, if we can only get the Raven 23 or Blackwater contractors freed from their nightmare. We will see how 2018 goes and I am hoping that this new administration will right the wrongs of the prior administration when it comes to this case. I know the friends and family are still actively involved in this deal and you see articles now and then about the status.

The Erik Prince plan was my favorite post and John Stossel even did a cool segment on the good that Blackwater and PMSC’s do in this industry.

I am still following what China and Russia are doing with PMSC’s and I wrote a couple posts dealing with that aspect of the industry. Honestly, I think they look at what the west has done with contractors and they feel that contractors could be used as a proxy force for what they want accomplished as well. It’s just with countries like Russia, that you might see their contractors do a little more that defense related stuff. Meaning those groups are gaining offensive capabilities and experience. Russia and China also have a lot of control over their companies, so it is still questionable how ‘private’ they really are.

The Somali Project was a fun review and I recommend watching this documentary if you have an interest in Somalia and the PMPF, and how Roelf Van Heerden and company trained and mentored them, check this out. It also goes into how Lodewyk Pietersen died.

Finally, the private air force scene kicked it up a notch with Draken International getting some huge Red Air contracts with USAF. I think Claire Lee Chennault of Flying Tigers fame would be jealous. Or imagine John Boyd flying as a contractor pilot for Draken and being a private Top Gun guy? lol Pretty cool.

The big news items that happened last year is ISIS has lost some serious territory in Syria and Iraq, and we had some heavy duty hurricanes and fires that did a lot of damage in the US. In both cases, contractors have been called upon to help. Puerto Rico has seen some armed security work, and in Iraq, CENTCOM showed contractors numbers increased 37 %! Mosul and other cities will require a lot of clean up work, and munitions clearance.

Some things to look out for in 2018 is a possible contract in Iraq to run a toll road. If that goes through, that will be interesting. I expect to see a slight increase in the use of contractors, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US military presence is not going away in both of those countries, just because they do not want to lose territory gained in Syria and Iraq, and they are sending in more folks to try to take territory back from the Taliban in Afghanistan. There is also other commitments throughout the world where contractor support will be needed. Where the US military goes, so do the contractors…

MARSEC is another one to watch in 2018. According to recent reports, world wide piracy is down, but the typical hot spots are picking up again. Gulf of Guinea, Somali and Southeast Asia have become more active. Armed guards on boats will not be going away anytime soon.

Mergers and Acquisitions have chilled out a little. We might see some more activity in that area now that there is a new Tax Plan in the US, but so far I have seen anything.

On Facebook, I continue to write about my favorite subjects like Mission Command and EBFAS. The private space industry is fun to watch as well. I am always interested in the operations of other companies outside of this industry with the hopes of finding any lessons learned that might be applicable to our industry.

Finally, I want to give a big thanks to those of you that have followed Feral Jundi over the years and have given your input. A blog is nothing without it’s readers. On the FJ facebook page, it is fun to get a PM from folks saying things like ‘man, I was following your blog back when I was in Iraq’, or ‘your blog really helped out when I was trying to get a job’.

This blog has been immensely valuable and fun to me. From the networking to the deep dives into business and war, I have really gotten a lot out of this enterprise. If you have an interest in writing and have some cool ideas you want to share, then blogging could be your thing.

It is also interesting that on Facebook, folks are blogging on the pages. Or at least that is how I view it. They share articles and give opinions about those articles, and entertain their readers or friends with lively comment sections. FB is like hanging out on a hyper blog network, and that is why I have been hanging out there a lot. Here is to a new year and new opportunities for all. –Matt

Tags: , , ,

Legal News: The Entire AdvantFort Crew Found Not Guilty By Indian Court

Finally…. Man, what an incredibly exhausting and horrible experience for all of those involved. These men definitely suffered at the hands of a legal system in India that was out of control. These guys rotted in prison for four years and were initially given a sentence of five years back in January of 2016. They had been detained and in prison since 2013, so these guys have definitely been jerked around. Bravo to the friends and family as well as the legal teams and politicians that fought so hard to get them released.

These types of incidents are also a grim reminder of what can happen to security contractors out there. –Matt

 

 

‘Chennai Six’ former British soldiers released after four years in Indian jail
November 27, 2017
The “Chennai Six”, who  had all previously served in either the Parachute or Yorkshire Regiments, were acquitted on Monday and told by a judge to apply to get their passports returned, ending a long wait for them and their families in the UK.
Billy Irving, 37, Nick Dunn, 31, John Armstrong, 30, Nicholas Simpson, 47, Ray Tindall, 42, and Paul Towers, 54, were among 35 imprisoned in October 2013 while working as security on commercial ships to protect against pirates in the Indian Ocean.
They were jailed in 2013 along with 14 Estonian, 12 Indian and three Ukrainian colleagues when their vessel, the MV Seaman Guard Ohio, was boarded by the Indian Navy for entering its waters without permission. All the men worked for AdvanFort, a maritime security company.
Indian authorities found weapons and ammunition on board and the men were charged with possession of illegal firearms. Following an initial conviction the charges were quashed when the men argued they had the right permits and clearance for them as they were an anti-piracy unit.
But they they were later reconvicted when a lower court reinstated the charges, as the Indian justice system, both in the southern state of Tamil Nadu and nationally, moved their case between courts and judges.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , ,

Cool Stuff: John Stossel Discusses The Good Of Private Military Companies

This is an excellent little piece by John Stossel. He is a Libertarian and brings forth some interesting points of view in regards to private industry vs government. He has a book that delves further into his ideas.

Some of the examples brought up in this video, would be familiar to anyone that has read this blog. They talked about the Flying Tigers, Somali Pirates and the MARSEC response (with mention of The Somali Project), privateering and the Letter of Marque, as well as early American colonists and their use of private security.

I would have also added some more uses of contractors that had positive results. Executive Outcomes in Angola and Sierra Leone, STTEP in Nigeria, and David Stirling’s PMSC that fought in Yemen to name a few.

It is great to finally see some alternative points of view when talking about this industry and I recommend watching this. –Matt

 

The Flying Tigers.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Industry Talk: Janus Global Operations Tasked To Clear Parts Of Mosul

Man, this is a story that is not getting the attention it needs, but is very much significant to the war effort. Janus Global is being tasked with clearing the thousands of IEDs and explosive remnants of the battle in Mosul. In the words of a US government official in reference to Mosul, it is ‘like nothing we’ve encountered’. Clearing Mosul will take in some estimates, up to ten years! Not only that, but think about the other areas that ISIS had control over in Iraq or even Syria. Weapons removal and abatement will keep this company and others like it, busy for a long time….

As to the particulars of these contracts, I have no idea if the contractors doing the clearing are using an organic security force or partnering with the host nation forces or subcontracting security. For the CMC projects during the Iraq war, security was a huge deal and it was done internally and contracted out, along with partnering with local security companies. Quite a few security contractors cycled through those projects back then and it was extremely successful in cleaning up old Ammunition Supply Points that were destroyed in the war.

I should note that this has been an incredibly dangerous assignment for this company.  Last year, a Janus Global contractor was killed clearing munitions in Ramadi and I don’t think this will be the last. Good job to the company and I wish everyone good luck as they clear these battlefields. –Matt

 

 

Janus Global Operations assists clearance of ISIS-placed booby traps and other explosive devices from Mosul, Iraq, the country’s second-largest city
By Kara Kagarise
Aug 2, 2017
Janus Global Operations (JGO) has been tasked to clear areas of Mosul, Iraq of ISIS- placed booby traps, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and explosive remnants of war in a situation a U.S. government official says is “like nothing we’ve encountered.”
JGO has been working in Iraq since April 2016 on behalf of the U.S. Department of State’s Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.  Initially, JGO helped clear Ramadi, Iraq of tens of thousands of explosive remnants of war left by ISIS as it was expelled by U.S.-supported Iraqi forces.  Earlier in 2017, having worked in Ramadi and other areas of Anbar province, JGO expanded its work for the State Department by establishing a training facility outside Erbil, in Iraq’s Kurdish region, to support operations in other areas liberated from ISIS.
The coalition against ISIS announced on July 10 that Iraqi forces regained control of Mosul, concluding a months-long effort that was supported by U.S. training and air support. The violent extremist group left behind innumerable explosive devices, as reported by the Washington Post on July 13 in an article headlined: “It could take more than a decade to clear Mosul of explosives, U.S. officials say.”
JGO’s chief executive officer said ISIS’ use of IEDs as a ‘weapons system’ broke new ground, making it much more challenging for Iraq’s displaced citizens to return home and resume their lives.  The State Department-sponsored efforts of JGO therefore utilized systematic ‘strategic clearance’ that focused on clearing critical infrastructure to rapidly enable the resumption of Mosul’s economic and civic life.
“Age, gender, religion – it makes no difference to ISIS.  Its goal is to destroy and kill. Ours is to help make the city safe for people, business, and government services to return to normal. The State Department’s office of Weapons Removal and Abatement is saving lives and restoring hope through its work, and we’re proud to be part of this effort,” said Matt Kaye, JGO’s chief executive officer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Legal News: Erik Prince Statement On Raven23 Court Of Appeals Ruling

     I am heartened by the Court of Appeals ruling today and am grateful the Court finally recognized the unique nature of a Blackwater Contractor’s relationship with the federal government. These men volunteered to serve their country in deadly environments not once, but twice. Each of them served in the Armed Forces, then volunteered to serve again as contracted security professionals. They served our nation with distinction and have always deserved better treatment. At trial, the US Attorney steadfastly maintained that our men initiated the firefight in Nisour Square without provocation. I was shocked when the US Attorney finally admitted, on the record, that was not the case. I hope the attorneys who appear to have deliberately misrepresented the evidence before the trial court face investigation and appropriate disciplinary action. -Erik Prince

Folks, this is hopeful news and that statement up top is an exclusive statement from Erik Prince for the Feral Jundi readership. I also posted a statement below from the Free Raven23 Facebook Page below. That page is managed by the friends and family of these men. Below that, I was also able to get a statement from Christin Caveness Slough.

My own commentary on this is that this whole deal has been incredibly political and these men have suffered because of that. This is also significant to the discourse out there, because every article or book or commentary that references the Nisour Square incident, will now have to include this history. That is if they care about the truth, or telling the whole story. –Matt

PLEASE READ ALL AND SHARE!

We received a decision today. It is not true justice, but it is a SMALL step closer to reuniting our families. But we have a LONG road to go and humbly ask for your prayers.
Nick’s conviction was overturned (because his jury did not hear evidence of his innocence), but the government has the ability to retry him. We don’t yet know if that will happen, how long it will take to decide, or what will happen to Nick during the interim (kept in custody or released).
One of Evan’s convictions was overturned.
He, Paul, and Dustin will be re-sentenced due to the misapplication of the federal weapons law to secure their 30-year mandatory minimum sentences. We don’t yet know when their resentencing will be held.
We need prayer warriors more than ever:
(1) release and no retrial for Nick; and (2) time served at re-sentencing for Dustin, Evan, and Paul SOON. 

Free Raven 23 website here.
Free Raven 23 Facebook Page here.

Christin Cavness Slough statement.

While I am thrilled that Nick Slatten’s completely erroneous conviction has been vacated, the remaining convictions being upheld is why I no longer trust, or respect, our federal judicial system. There was an opportunity here for the court to finally show that it could deliver justice within the clearly framed boundaries of the law and failed to even issue a coherent or unified opinion. It is an additional small victory that the court finally recognizes that the federal weapons law, used to force 30 year mandatory minimum sentences, was woefully misapplied however calling it a tragedy that it was applied in the first place would be a gross understatement. We remain hopeful that all four of these men will be home where they belong sooner rather than later, but this was not the firm step in that direction that we had hoped or that the law required.

Ex-Blackwater contractor gets murder conviction tossed by federal appeals court
August 04, 2017

A federal appeals court Friday overturned a former Blackwater security contractor’s first-degree murder conviction in connection with a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 14 Iraqi civilians and injured 17 others.
In a split decision, the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit ruled a lower court erred by not allowing Nicholas Slatten to be tried separately from his three co-defendants in 2014.
Slatten, 33, had been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the shooting, in which prosecutors claimed he had fired the first shots.
The court also ordered new sentences for the three other contractors — Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Herd — who were each found guilty of manslaughter and firearms charges carrying mandatory 30-year terms.
The judges determined those sentences were “grossly disproportionate to their culpability for using government-issued weapons in a war-zone.” Prosecutors had charged the men with using military firearms while committing another felony. That statute, typically employed against gang members or bank robbers, had never before been used against overseas security contractors working for the U.S. government.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,

Industry Talk: The Historic Implications Of Erik Prince’s Plan For Afghanistan

So folks, I have been waiting a bit to post on this because so much has been written about it and I wanted to see where it goes. Basically Erik Prince came up with a plan for Afghanistan that would have historic implications for this industry and country if implemented. Already, contractors are a part of the history of this war, with great sacrifice and from many partner nations over the last 16 years. But this….this is an entirely different level.

At this point in time, we have a standing US President that is actually considering a plan conceived by a contractor. Actually two, because Stephen A. Feinberg of Cerberus Group and owner of Dyncorp came up with a plan as well. But I will focus on the Prince plan because of how much traction it is getting. I say traction, because the media and the naysayers of this industry have been writing this off as insignificant or risible. But I say not so fast….because from what I have heard on the grapevine, this is getting much more serious consideration than what is reported.

About the plan. It is basically modeled after what the US did in post war Japan, using a viceroy to command over the effort and an army of contractors. US Special Operations would still have a presence in the country to counter the Taliban and the various jihadists. It is a long term, cost saving answer to providing presence in that country. A solution that would dramatically lessen the contractor footprint in Afghanistan according to Prince, and send most of the troops home (minus the special operations folks). Please read the plan below.

I would also suggest listening to Erik Prince talk about the plan in his media blitz, ever since November of last year. This too is historically significant. Since Prince donated to the Trump campaign, as did his sister Betsy DeVos (who is now Secretary of Education), Erik has had the ear of the President of the United States. He also speaks the language of business, which is familiar to Trump. This interaction between an Administration and a private contractor reminds me of Claire Lee Chennault and his dealings with the Roosevelt administration for the formation of the Flying Tigers in China. The Flying Tigers were the only game in town after Pearl Harbor, and they were the rock star private air force that was sticking it to the Japanese in China. Claire made Time magazine’s man of the year back then, and a major movie was made about what he and his motley crew accomplished. The Chinese were thankful as well.

Another point as to the historical significance. The war in Afghanistan has become the longest war in US history. The Erik Prince plan would effectively end US troop involvement there, and switch that involvement to a private model focused on supporting and working with Afghan troops and police to wage war and provide security. It is a plan aimed towards providing a long term presence, yet with a much smaller, less expensive and efficient footprint. It would also entail consolidated, longterm leadership in that country. Prince compared the position to more of a bankruptcy trustee. That leader would also work with Afghanistan to get them on a better financial footing. Meaning mining laws and a means to invigorate investment there.

If Prince is not able to implement this plan in Afghanistan, he will definitely be able to play around with the pieces of similar process in Somalia for his FZIA contract. That will be very interesting to see how it works out. Afghanistan is in the same boat as Somalia, and they both need to get their finances and industry in order so they can actually pay for their wars and security.

Further more, what is really interesting here is that President Trump is questioning what we are doing in Afghanistan. We have been there for 16 years, our Secretary of Defense clearly stated that we are not winning there, and the Taliban have taken over 40 percent of the territory by force. This war has been expensive, and will continue to be expensive on the current track and also with legacy costs. It will also cost lives, and the President is right to question what we are doing there. Currently the President is seeking plans from both his military, and now significantly, private contractors. The message to his generals is pretty clear to me. Give me a good plan and right the ship, or I will go with the EP plan. To be in this position where a private contractor plan is actually competing with a military based plan, is historically significant in modern times. Even if they go with the military plan, this is quite the moment for this industry.

Having listened to most of Prince’s interviews, the best guess as to what he wants to set up is similar to what Blackwater did with the Afghan Border Patrol contract. Basically train and mentor forces. As to a Close Air Support model, that too has been done. Dyncorp had their version of air support or armed Huey gunships to cover down on the Poppy Eradication Force contract in Afghanistan. Blackwater also did paracargo resupply missions in Afghanistan using CASA 212’s back in the day. Blackwater also used Little Birds as air support for their WPS contract, and their efforts were hugely successful there.

Other models outside of Afghanistan, is what STTEP did in Nigeria. That was a training and mentorship type contract that did very well for the Nigerians against Boko Haram.  I mention all of these examples, because contractors have already performed similar functions as to what Prince is talking about both in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the modern era. A contractor mentor or trainer would not be a shock to the ANA or ANP and would actually be quite familiar to them. Hell, there are thousands of contractors in Afghanistan as I write this and they have been working hand in hand with Afghans for the entirety of the war.

I should also note that Prince’s FSG company just won a contract in Somalia to basically set up a mini-Dubai there! The Free Zone Investment Authority of the South West State of Somalia to be specific. Talk about a busy guy! Between OBOR, Somalia, and meetings with the US administration for an Afghanistan plan, I would say that he is keeping busy.

Finally, I want to recommend some good podcasts and video of the EP plan. He has been busy presenting the plan in the news, at universities, and in social media/podcasts.  We will see how this develops, but no matter how it turns out, this has been historic and fascinating to watch and write about. Here are a couple of good sources below to check out to further get educated on the plan. –Matt

Erik Prince at Oxford University.  (significant, because this kind of kicked off the campaign for the EP plan)

Tucker Carlson interview.  (large conservative audience)

Podcast where Prince debates with Sean McFate. (I liked this, because Prince really dug into the history of contracting and won the debate -in my opinion)

David Isenberg’s take on the concept.

Deborah Avant article.

Sean McFate article.

Tim Lynch’s post at Free Range International here and here. (Tim wrote an excellent deal on this and is a very experienced contractor in Afghanistan)

Fox and Friends interview. (the President is said to be a big fan of this show, and this is the most recent interview Prince did)

* I will add more to this group as more good ones pop up.

The MacArthur Model for Afghanistan

Consolidate authority into one person: an American viceroy who’d lead all coalition efforts.

By Erik D. Prince
May 31, 2017
Afghanistan is an expensive disaster for America. The Pentagon has already consumed $828 billion on the war, and taxpayers will be liable for trillions more in veterans’ health-care costs for decades to come. More than 2,000 American soldiers have died there, with more than 20,000 wounded in action. For all that effort, Afghanistan is failing. The terrorist cohort consistently gains control of more territory, including key economic arteries. It’s time for President Trump to fix our approach to Afghanistan in five ways.

First, he should consolidate authority in Afghanistan with one person: an American viceroy who would lead all U.S. government and coalition efforts—including command, budget, policy, promotion and contracting—and report directly to the president. As it is, there are too many cooks in the kitchen—and the cooks change shift annually. The coalition has had 17 different military commanders in the past 15 years, which means none of them had time to develop or be held responsible for a coherent strategy.

A better approach would resemble Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s leadership of postwar Japan. Given clear multiyear authority, MacArthur made bold moves like repealing restrictive speech laws and granting property rights. Those directives moved Japan ahead by centuries. In Afghanistan, the viceroy approach would reduce rampant fraud by focusing spending on initiatives that further the central strategy, rather than handing cash to every outstretched hand from a U.S. system bereft of institutional memory.

Second, Mr. Trump should authorize his viceroy to set rules of engagement in collaboration with the elected Afghan government to make better decisions, faster. Troops fighting for their lives should not have to ask a lawyer sitting in air conditioning 500 miles away for permission to drop a bomb. Our plodding, hand wringing and overcaution have prolonged the war—and the suffering it bears upon the Afghan population. Give the leadership on the ground the authority and responsibility to finish the job.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , ,