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Industry Talk: The Slavonic Corps–A Russian PMSC In Syria

“A large field between Lattakia and Tartous, surrounded by barbed wire. That is where our battalion and the Syrian reservists were stationed. It used to be a racecourse. We were housed in the former stables. By October there were 267 people from the ‘Slavonic Corps’, split into two companies. One company was made up of Kuban Cossacks, the other had people from all over Russia; there were 10 or 12 men from Petersburg. The bosses said that the numbers of the corps in Syria was expected to reach up to 2,000 men.”
In addition to assault rifles, the battalion received machine guns and grenade launchers. They had anti-aircraft guns, 1939 models. The mortars were from 1943. Crews were formed for the four T-72 tanks and some BMP (infantry fighting vehicles). The question of how appropriate the weapons were, for the task of protecting “facilities,” came up quickly, even from the most gullible, and was addressed. “Did you come to fight or to guard? Whoever guards is on eternal kitchen patrol.” Those were the words of the commander’s reply. The manager of the project was Vadim Gusev, known to many as the deputy director of Moran Security Group.

This is a unique story that I wanted to get out there for folks to check out. My post about Assad approving the use of PMSC’s was a record post on FJ, and stories like this are very interesting to the community. I also wanted to put this out so that those who were involved with this contract in Syria can respond. The last couple of weeks I have been asking around on FB and nothing has come up. I suspect that it is mostly a language deal and that Russians have not been hanging on English based FB groups. So hopefully this post will get their attention via Google Search.

Basically, this company was contracted to guard ‘and’ do other things in Syria, for the Assad side. Apparently the contractors recruited by this company were victim to the whole bait and switch game, and as soon as they got on the ground, the company changed the contract to a more kinetic operation . So the company I believe is at fault for not being honest in their recruitment from the get go, and not preparing their people for this kind of contract. As  a result, the Slavonic Corps had a poor showing in Syria, it was poorly led and managed, and the contract signed with the client was poorly written. The result was a company running out of Syria with it’s tale between it’s legs, and creating a bunch of unpaid and pissed off contractors. Here is a quote about recruitment:

This was never understood. “When they spoke to us in Russia, they explained that we were going on a contract with the Syrian government, they convinced us that everything was legal and in order. Like, our government and the FSB were on board and involved in the project. When we arrived there, it turned out that we were sent as gladiators, under a contract with some Syrian or other, who may or may not have a relationship with the government… That meant that we were the private army of a local kingpin. But there was no turning back. As they said, a return ticket costs money, and we’ll work it off, whether we like it or not.” As they told the Slavonic Corps troops, the job came down to maintaining control over the centre of the oil industry, in the town of Deir ez-Zor. In order to be in control of it, we had to reach it. More than 500 kilometres across territory occupied by government troops, by the opposition or by completely unknown forces.

Crazy, but this sounds way too familiar from my experience in contracting. But I am not going to let the contractors that signed up for this off that easy. These guys did not do their due diligence before accepting the contract. It sounded like the recruiters attracted a lot of desperate and naive folks who really wanted to believe this was a good deal. I wonder if the Russians have a forum or Facebook group to go to, so they can ask questions to their community about companies like the Slavonic Corps or the Moran Security Group? Because if they would have had a SOCNET or a Feral Jundi or an Eeben Barlow, they could have gotten some second opinions that would have squared them away.  Here is a great quote from another Russian PMSC called the RSB Group, about the idiocy of this contract:

In the words of the professional: This is a crazy scheme
After asking Vyacheslav Kalashnikov several times to speak on the subject of Syria, and having received no answer, Fontanka turned to the head of Russia’s largest private military company, the “RSB Group,” for comment. Oleg Krinitsyn is certain: the Syrian story of the Slavonic Corps was a crazy scheme from the start.
“The widely advertised campaign to recruit mercenaries for Syria initially sounded like a stunt, a kind of PR campaign. Later on, people believed it and were drawn to their dream – to make money. But not all of them understood that this money was dirty, and possibly bloody. Before sending people to a country where there is active fighting, where there is a virtual ‘layer cake’ of the Syrian Army, the opposition fighters, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra etc, it’s essential to prepare them, as well as to understand how to get them out of there. Among those guys, photographed against a backdrop of Syrian equipment, festooned with weapons, I noticed a few of our former employees, who had been dismissed because of their poor moral character. I saw guys with criminal records amongst them. This once again confirms that the aim of the recruiters was not to attract high quality professionals, but just to plug a ‘hole’ with cannon fodder, and fast. And the boys were sent on contracts that resembled contracts for suicide missions. Right away, people signed a contract that included a will to bury their remains in their homeland, or if that proved impossible, in the nation where they died, and then be reburied in Russia. Dreadful.

Luckily for these guys, they were saved by a sand storm. Having experienced these types of storms in the middle east, I can say these things can get pretty dense. Quote:

It could be regarded as a great success that, out of the whole corps, a total of six people were wounded, two of them seriously. It should be pointed out that all of the wounded were removed from the battlefield and returned home with all the others. “We were saved by a sandstorm, we were enveloped by it on our retreat, but it hid us from the local mujahedeen. There was so much sand that you couldn’t see anything. But thanks to that, we are alive.”

These guys also paid the price when after fighting their way out of Syria, they had to deal with authorities when they came back home. The FSB was heavily involved from the sounds of it and this is also an interesting angle to this story. One of the articles I posted below talked about the FSB connection to this company and contract:

For instance, the head of the Slavonic Crops was a commander in the FSB reserve. New York University professor Mark Galeotti has studied the way the Russian security apparatus operates. In an interview for The Interpreter on the topic, he told me that private military contractors would need to clear all such operations with the FSB, which would mean that the FSB has placed Syria on the list of nations where foreign operations were approved. Galeotti went even further. When asked whether he thought there were more Russian mercenaries fighting for the Assad government inside Syria, he said that this was “likely,” and it’s not just mercenaries who are helping Assad:
“I anticipate that ‘mercenary’ is merely a cover story for Russian soldier or spook, just as the “Russian engineers” working on Syrian air defense systems are going to be military.”
There is significant reason to believe that the FSB knew about the mission. But as Thursday’s story in Foreign Policy explains, the Russian government had good reason to clip the mercenaries’ wings:
It’s not hard to surmise why the FSB would have turned on a company it may have given tacit support to send men into Syria. The mercenaries performed poorly in the field, and proof of their illicit activity had been plastered all over the Internet, so not tossing Gusev and Sidorov in the clink might have caused the kind of scandal that even an unembarrassable Kremlin would want to avoid. Moscow has been outspoken in its criticism of U.S. and Arab arms transfers to Syria’s rebels, even as its own state arms export company dispatches more and more sophisticated hardware to Assad, according to the State Department’s Robert Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria. The Kremlin is also trying to ensure that the imperiled Geneva II peace conference takes place in December, just in time for the regime to be in a much-strengthened negotiating position after a series of tactical gains on the battlefield.

So with that said, I think the Russians were anticipating that the West was going to make this into an ‘embarrassing deal’ by plastering it all over the news. So for them, as soon as the whole thing went bad, they took the side of shock and disgust. Check out how they tried to whitewash this incident when these guys came back.

Despite the fact that, according to the contract, the assignment was supposed to last five months, in the last days of October the personnel were loaded onto two chartered planes and sent to Moscow. They were not expecting such a reception to be awaiting their arrival at Vnuknovo. As they disembarked the aircraft one by one, each fell into the hands of FSB officers. There was a quick inspection, the removal of SIM cards and any other media, and a brief questioning as witnesses. Then followed the removal of their passports, non-disclosure forms, and tickets home. Vadim Gusev, who had flown in business class and left the plane first, remained in the hands of the investigators. As they explained at the Moran Security Group, he and another employee of the company, Evgeny Sidorov, who was responsible for human resources, were arrested in a criminal case brought by the FSB’s metropolitan command under the never-before applied Article 359 of the Criminal Code – mercenary activities.

Did I mention that the contractors involved will not be getting paid the 4,000 dollars they were promised!…. Yikes, what a soup sandwich.

Well, that is about all I have on this one. Just some commentary on what has already been reported. If anyone has any interesting side notes on this story, I would be curious to hear about it. I also posted some links to the companies involved in this story and some good posts about the Slavonic Corps below. -Matt

Foreign Policy story on the Slavonic Corps.

Moran Security Group is a member of the ICoC (number 385) and is a member of SAMI

The Slavonic Corps website here.

War is Boring post about it here.

Pieter Van Ostaeyan’s blog about it here. (he was able to dig up some interesting stuff)

Youtube video of one of the contractors thought to be dead, that survived and posted this.

 

 

The Last Battle of the “Slavonic Corps”
The story of the Russian mercenaries who went to war against Syrian rebels.
By Denis Korotkov
Originally published by Fontanka on November 14, 2013
Translated by Pierre Vaux November 16, 2013
A Syrian rebel group claims that it has ambushed and killed a group of Russian mercenaries who may have been working for a Chinese security contractor. The jihadist fighters from an Al Qaeda affiliate “Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS)” claim to have killed the mercenaries in a battle near Homs. At least one of the mercenaries, however, has been videotaped alive and well, and living back in Russia.
The large and well-respected St. Petersburg newspaper, Fontanka, has published an article, translation by The Interpreter, entitled “St. Petersburg Sends Contractors to Syria.” It details the investigation that uncovered the existence of Russian mercenaries defending sensitive installations important to the Assad government in Syria. The contractors appear to have been recruited in St. Petersburg by a company based in Hong Kong.
We also know that the mercenaries appear to have been operating in As-Sukhnah, east of Palmyra, on the road between Deir Ez Zor and Homs. Jihadists have long wanted to capture the town, and nearby Palmyra, because securing this road would link their forces from the east to the west. The Assad regime, on the other hand, has had difficulty sparing the resources to defend the position, as it is far away from the major cities which are heavily embattled. According to the initial investigation by Fontanka, the mission of the mercenaries was to secure key regime assets, away from the front lines, in order for Assad forces to concentrate on removing “bandits” in other areas. However, it appears that the oil fields that the Russians were supposed to be guarding were in rebel control, and the team was really tasked with getting them back.
The following translation is an update from Fontanka. It says that one of the key players in the military contracting company is a reservist officer in the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), lieutenant colonel Vyacheslav Kalashnikov. The FSB, therefore, were aware on some level that the Moran Security Group was sending Russian mercenaries to Syria to fight for Assad. However, the mercenary group was shut down and several mercenaries were arrested upon their return to Russia. A major Russian contractor says that this was not an FSB mission, but a mission designed to look like an FSB mission. The insinuation is that a pro-rebel group hired the Russians in order to lead them into a trap, kill them, and show their bodies on television.
All of the pictures on the original Fontanka article were also posted in the one we already translated. Instead, these pictures of the Russian mercenaries were posted on a Russian social network (except the one that states it was from Fontanka). – Ed.

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Company Spotlight: Paramount Group Talks About Security In Africa

Below I have posted a couple of interesting stories about Paramount Group and it’s background. As you can see from it’s Wikipedia page, it is heavily involved with a lot of areas of defense in Africa and they are the largest PMSC in Africa. So when Ivor Ichikowitz (the founder and executive chairperson of the company) talks about private security in Africa, I tend to listen.

I also posted a side deal about an aircraft they donated to help in the war against Rhino poachers. This is a great move by the company because poachers are destroying one of Africa’s top treasures–it’s animals. They also had a vehicle showcased in the popular TV show called Top Gear.

The last article I posted below was not about Paramount Group specifically, but about private security in Africa in general. It talked about the focus of other large companies like G4S in Africa, and it is a great compare and contrast article after reading what Paramount mentioned. If companies want to know what to focus on when delving into this market, it pays to study the market leaders of this continent. Check it out. -Matt

 

 

From the website

Paramount Group is the largest privately owned defence and aerospace business in Africa, providing fully integrated turnkey solutions to global defence, peacekeeping and internal security forces.
Since its inception in 1994, Paramount has built strong relationships with governments and government agencies in over 30 countries around the world, earning an enviable reputation as a trusted advisor in the industry.
The Group is a leading innovator in the design and development of state-of-the-art products that it manufactures in locations throughout the world.  It is partnered with some of the world’s largest and most reputable organisations in the global defence community. The Paramount Group has the ability to understand its client requirements and to use its unique knowledge and experience to design cost-effective, future-proof solutions. As a result, Paramount has enjoyed strong growth and achieved an excellent track record of delivering successful projects.

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From Wikipedia
Paramount Group is a group of companies operating in the global defence, internal security and peacekeeping industries. It was founded in South Africa in 1994 and offers a range of armoured vehicles, military aircraft, equipment and training to governments.
The company was founded by South African entrepreneur and industrialist Ivor Ichikowitz. The Group is based in South Africa, with its headquarters near Johannesburg.
Paramount Group manufactures a range of armoured vehicles – the Maverick, Mbombe, Matador and Marauder – and in 2011 unveiled AHRLAC, a long-range reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft. AHRLAC is the first aircraft to be designed and built from scratch in Africa.
The business has government clients in 28 countries and partnerships with leading international defence and aerospace players, including Aerosud Holdings Ltd, its partner in the development of AHRLAC (Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft).
In February 2011, Paramount Group announced a joint venture with Abu Dhabi – based defence business International Golden Group to market and distribute Paramount Group’s products and services in the United Arab Emirates.
Paramount Group’s Marauder featured in an episode of the BBC’s Top Gear programme. Television show presenter Richard Hammond took the vehicle on a test drive in South Africa to put the vehicle through its paces in comparison to a Humvee in a bid to find ‘the world’s toughest car.’ The programme was broadcast in July 2011.
AHRLAC was launched in September 2011 and described by commentators, including the Wall Street Journal, as filling a niche for a versatile, low-cost aircraft.

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Security Is Key To Africa’s Economic Rise
By Ivor Ichikowitz, chairman of Paramount Group, Africa’s biggest private defence company.
Ivor Ichikowitz reports
22 November 2012
The most important single factor in boosting an emerging economy is a stable state. I believe that all things flow from this.
Capitalism is the most powerful driving force behind Africa’s economic development but businesses must be able to be run without the fear of suddenly losing all their assets in unexpected or undemocratic changes in government.
Criminals, terrorists and rebel groups further undermine economic activity across the continent and need to be effectively countered. It has been estimated, for example, that over 10% of Nigeria’s oil production is stolen between source and sale by criminal gangs, including groups who tap directly into long pipelines that are extremely vulnerable to theft in isolated areas.

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Company Spotlight: Conquiro

Glyn Rosser, Managing Director of Conquiro comments, “The real-time advantage of having an aerial surveillance asset is obvious. Giving forewarning of anything from IED placements to ambushes, UAVs really are life-savers.”

This is cool. A friend of mine works for this company and he wanted to give me a heads up about what they are all about. So below is some information from their press release and from their website. Basically this is a PMSC with a focus on the use of UAV’s, and specifically the Aeryon Scout.

Last year during the Libyan uprising, I wrote about the Aeryon Scout being used by the rebels for ISR. Here is a link to that post and it gives you an idea as to it’s capabilities. I am sure Conquiro will go on to use other UAV’s as the technology improves, but the Aeryon definitely has operational history behind it.

The other thing I like about this company is that it kind of reminds me of a modern day version of John Hawkwood’s White Company, or a private military company that had a huge component of longbowmen. (drone archers) If you are interested in working for the company, go check out their career page or send them an email. -Matt

Twitter for Conquiro here.


About CONQUIRO
Who We Are
Conquiro is a UK registered company that is made up of ex-British Army servicemen. All three Directors have served within Military Intelligence and UAV/ISTAR roles.
Formed in early 2012, Conquiro is the only company of its kind in the UK with operational experience and Subject Matter Expertise (SME) in UAV operations and consultancy.
What We Do
Conquiro provides Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Systems, often referred to as UAV’s or UAS. Conquiro not only provides the equipment, but also SME operator pilots.
In addition, all of our pilots are trained security operators and have the training to analyze imagery obtained during deployment.
Not only do we provide system specific provision, but a full range of turn-key consultancy solutions for clients requiring UAV capabilities.
Our consultancy ranges from identification of suitable platforms, through to procurement, paperwork and bespoke training for in house UAV capabilities.
Our Equipment
Currently our workhorse UAV is a vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) platform. However, we work closely with UK based manufacturing representatives in order to provide clients with bespoke solutions, and can procure the best platform in order to match client needs.

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Company Spotlight: Mountain Men Security–A Crime Fighting, Man Tracking PSC

The development of Mountain Men’s Special Response Team (SRT) was as a result of an increase in home invasions, armed robberies and violent crime. Our SRT members are all trained man trackers and have the ability to track suspects who flee a crime scene. This is very helpful in areas where there are vast tracts of land, mountainous terrain and forests or green belts. These members have made a huge dent in criminal operations in the areas where they have been deployed. Together with specialized units of the South African Police Service, we have arrested armed robbers, wanted suspects, house breakers and recovered hundreds of thousands of rands worth of stolen property.
Our Armed Response Units and Protection Services Units all interact with our SRT members which makes us a formidable force in the fight against crime. We have made in excess of 2 640 arrests over the past 12 years, averaging 18 arrests per month for serious crimes.

The other day I was perusing Facebook and checking out some news with some of my readers and friends. One reader’s page I like to check out from time to time is David Scott-Donelan’s. He posted a picture from a trip to South Africa awhile back and talked about a private security company that he helped train in tactical tracking. That company is Mountain Men Security, and what they have done with that training is truly amazing.

Basically this company is providing a security service and a tracking service in conjunction with the South African Police. They are working together in a public/private partnership, and MMS’s is providing the hunters.

These hunters are called the SRT or special response team, and they are using the skills David taught them to track down criminals.  In the video below, you get a sample of what they are doing. I thought this was awesome, and this company deserves to be in my ‘company spotlight’ category.

In the past I discussed the value of tracking to security contractors, military and police. Groups like Koevoet or the Selous Scouts made great use of tracking to locate criminals or enemies. You hear of military or police forces using these skills from time to time, but a private security company using these skills is just rare and very cool. It is also producing results and making their services valuable to the local community.

So bravo to Mountain Men Security for making those skills work for them. Best of all, you can see their arrests made on the front of the website. The community they are protecting can actually see the value, and know that if a criminal is on the loose, these guys will soon be hunting them down. -Matt

 

The Scott-Donelan Tracking School website here.

Mountain Men Security website here.

 

The history of Mountain Men Security

In 1998 former South African Police Force Murder and Robbery detective, Allan Dillon, retired police officer, Patrick Freeman, and friend, Billy Bownes, began conducting neighbourhood crime prevention duties in the Lakeside area in their spare time as a result of an increase in criminal activities in the Lakeside area. With their combined police experience and good knowledge of the area, criminals were being apprehended whilst breaking into houses and motor vehicles and soon the community were calling the three crime fighters “The Mountain Men”.
This subsequently led to the formation of a security company which has grown from three persons patrolling Lakeside on bicycles and conducting observation duties from the mountain above Lakeside to a structured security company with 70 plus employees, a 24 hour control room which monitors alarm systems, dispatches our own armed response vehicles, monitors CCTV live and on event activations, as well as interfaces between SAPS, Metro Police, National Parks Board, Neighbourhood watches and members of the public.
As the face of crime continued to change in South Africa so did our approach to protecting our community and clients. We soon realized that an armed response service on its own is a reactive service and is in fact your last line of defence, not your first. We implemented crime fighting strategies and relooked at the way in which crime was being fought in our areas of operation.
The development of Mountain Men’s Special Response Team (SRT) was as a result of an increase in home invasions, armed robberies and violent crime. Our SRT members are all trained man trackers and have the ability to track suspects who flee a crime scene. This is very helpful in areas where there are vast tracts of land, mountainous terrain and forests or green belts. These members have made a huge dent in criminal operations in the areas where they have been deployed. Together with specialized units of the South African Police Service, we have arrested armed robbers, wanted suspects, house breakers and recovered hundreds of thousands of rands worth of stolen property.
Our Armed Response Units and Protection Services Units all interact with our SRT members which makes us a formidable force in the fight against crime. We have made in excess of 2 640 arrests over the past 12 years, averaging 18 arrests per month for serious crimes.
Our K9 Unit with a tracking dog has given us great results and has leveraged our manpower in the fight against crime. Presently we are expanding this unit.
As we move forward into the future we continue to embrace technology and raise the standard of training of our officers. We continue to offer our clients and the communities where we work an innovative and results based security service. TODAY, AN ARMED RESPONSE SERVICE ALONE IS NOT ENOUGH TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
Company website here.

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Somalia: Sterling Corporate Services Replaces Saracen International For Training Puntland’s PMPF

With the news of contractor Lodewyk Pietersen being killed by his PMPF force that he was mentoring, I wanted to bring some attention to the company he was working for. Apparently Sterling Corporate Services replaced Saracen International as the prime vendor for training and mentoring Puntland’s anti-piracy force.

Of course this came out last February and I missed this news somehow. Either way, better late than never as they say, and thanks to a reader for pointing out this information.

So who is Sterling Corporate Services?  From the sounds of it, it looks like most of the guys that were with Saracen Int. just changed t-shirts and jumped into a new company. The UAE is still paying for the whole thing as well.

Also, the PMPF has a website which has several links to what is going on with the contract and their anti-piracy efforts on land.They even have a wikipedia entry, just so you can see the overall history of this force and what they are up to.

But as far as a website for SCS, that is a no go. Which is too bad because I could have done more to promote what these guys are doing in Puntland as opposed to finding out what they are doing after one of their guys gets killed while on an operation. With that said, if anyone from the company would like to correct the record as to what happened to your contractor, the industry and public would like to know.

The other reason why SCS should come up and speak about what happened, is because their competitors are taking advantage of this vacuum or ‘lack’ of information and spreading all sorts of negative information to discredit them. Pretty soon, rumor becomes fact, and then you get the main stream media reporting off of these rumors. So keeping quiet can sometimes do more harm than good, and especially in today’s fast paced social networked environment. At the least you should be contacting new media folks like myself, just because my readership are industry folks and the public. -Matt

 

 

Puntland counter-piracy force poised for launch
23 February 2012
by Richard Meade
An armed counter-piracy police force, funded by the UAE government and trained by private security, is poised to begin operations inside the Somali state of Puntland after previous attempts to launch such a force floundered.
Speaking exclusively to Lloyd’s List ahead of the UK-sponsored Somalia conference being held in London today, Puntland’s interior minister Abdullahi Ahmed Jama confirmed that the Puntland Maritime Police Force would be resuming operations imminently and directly targeting pirate gangs on land.
The Puntland counter-piracy force was established back in 2010, before being suspended in February last year under pressure from several UN agencies who criticised the force’s lack of transparency, the issue of arms sanctions and the lack of a legal framework to support operations.
According to Mr Jama those issues have now been resolved and the police force is now expected to resume training and recruiting with the backing of international governments.
The Puntland police force will operate with the co-operation of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia which is understood to be pursuing similar plans involving private security trained forces.
According to Mr Jama, the Puntland force is a locally recruited, armed coastal police force established to fight piracy on land and protect Somali marine resources. It has been formed, he argued, in direct response to multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and demands from the international community for the Somali authorities to build security and law enforcement institutions to address piracy.

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Company Spotlight: CEO Stephan Crétier Talks About Garda And Role In Middle East

This is cool. The CEO of Garda was interviewed recently and it is neat to hear about some of the inner workings of Garda and their strategy in the market.

From what he said, they are trying to become the Walmart of private security. Interesting, but I think G4S has them beat there. lol But still, I think what is really cool here is that Garda became successful despite being in a hard place to do business.  It sounds like Quebec is a tough town in that regard, and for a private security company to excel is really unique.

I also perked up on his comment about their entry into Iraq. Here is the quote:

Q: Why the Middle East, given that it’s so fraught with danger and potential PR disasters?
A: You’re right, but at the same time you can have a PR disaster at Toronto Pearson, you can have a PR disaster in the shooting of armoured trucks. We’ve been extremely selective. People say, well, you’re just another Blackwater. But companies like Blackwater and Triple Canopy work as subcontractors to the U.S. government and army. We don’t. We work for NGOs in dangerous areas—oil and gas companies, reconstruction companies. We don’t work in war zones. When Iraq was at war, we weren’t there. We were in Kurdistan. We came in with the reconstruction of Iraq. In Afghanistan we are working almost exclusively with NGOs. We’re very specific about the type of business we want to do. We could do the same business as Blackwater, but it’s not the kind of culture we are looking at.

Interesting comment, but I do not agree. There are just as many complexities and issues working the oil/gas/NGO/reconstruction angle, as there are with working for a government like the US. I think the reason why Garda is not getting into that arena is because the market is filled with US PSC/PMC providers that are ‘preferred’ by the US Government and army, and not because of the culture. So for that market, they simply cannot compete.

I see this comment as more of the same when it comes to bashing US companies in order to differentiate and ‘elevate’ their company.  To say we are not like them, when in fact you are exactly like them, is telling. You provide a protective service to clients, and your culture is no different than a US company culture. (do a search on Garda or GardaWorld and they have had their fair share of issues–so their ‘culture’ is not immune despite the clients they choose)

Also, working for an NGO in Afghanistan, is working in a war zone. I think that comment was a misstatement. And if they are doing any convoy work or motorcades from Kurdistan to the southern Iraq or central Iraq, then they are operating in a war zone. And of course, Kurdistan has not separated from Iraq…yet, so working in Iraq is still working in Iraq. lol

Cool interview regardless, and check it out below. -Matt

 

In conversation: Stephan Crétier of Garda
On becoming the Wal-mart of security, and what exactly Garda is doing in the middle east
by Martin Patriquin
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Stephan Crétier stumbled into the security industry in 1994. Five years later, with a $25,000 second mortgage on his home, he bought and radically revamped the Montreal-based security firm Garda, best known for its armoured trucks and pistol-packing guards. Today, the company is one of the largest of its kind in the world with revenues last year of over $1.1 billion. Roughly a year after moving into the fraught security industry in the Middle East, four employees of GardaWorld, Garda’s global security wing, and Peter Moore, the man they were protecting, were kidnapped in Baghdad. Only Moore survived.
Q: You were actually on track to become a baseball umpire. Why the career change?
A: I was doing some minor league baseball in the U.S. It was really a question of looking down the road and asking, “Am I going to make it?” It’s a long road, and at the same time your friends are out of university and getting real jobs. One day, I decided it was enough, and I went back to Montreal. I worked for a small mom-and-pop [security] operation, and after five years I decided to start my own. The rest is history.
Q: You acquired Garda in 1999. What were the dynamics of the security services industry at the time that led you to believe you could make a serious go of this thing?
A: When I started the business—I don’t want to insult anyone, but it was security people in business instead of business people in security. We had security people trying to build a police-type model. We tried to replicate a model that existed in Europe in the early ’70s. Those companies really accelerated their growth when Europe discovered terrorism; [Europe] needed the help of a more modern and professional private sector to help take care of national security.

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