Archive for category France

Russia: PMSC’s Operating In A Legal Grey Area

This is a good little report on the status of Russian PMSC’s, with a mention of the Slavonic Corps debacle. I have written in the past about Russia’s use of PMSC’s and their efforts on legalizing it. But as the report mentions, Russia also benefits from keeping their industry in the legal grey area of war fighting. Especially if you see how ‘volunteers’ (who are paid by the way) are being used in places like the Ukraine. It is not too much of  a stretch for Russia to just outright contract out various aspects of their war there.

While he says his fighters are “volunteers” rather than mercenaries, they are paid salaries: from $1,000 per month for a low-ranking enlisted man to $2,000 to $4,000 for officers. Yefimov did not answer the reporter’s question about who pays the salaries.

Ukraine’s government says more than 10,000 Russian mercenaries form the bulk of the Russian proxy forces that the Kremlin has used to sponsor the creation of the separatist “people’s republics” in parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk provinces. Many fighters are motivated by the propaganda of the Kremlin-controlled media, Yefimov says.

“Our press and television present the dramatic facts. The Russian people cannot tolerate the terror that the fascists have staged there [in Ukraine]. Killing women, children and the elderly. Most of those who go [to fight] are sensitive and empathetic; they want to help. This is especially true for people from 40 to 60 years of age, who were brought up under Soviet traditions.” Other fighters go because they miss the adrenaline of war or to earn money, he said.

Although for using Russian PMSC’s on the international market, they will have to have some protections. Compared to the west’s market of force, they have a lot of catching up to do.

With that said, one area that interests me is Assad’s manpower issues in Syria. Will we see more Slavonic Corps type contracts pop up where Russian PMSC’s answer the manpower call in Syria? We will see. Russian PMSC’s are already doing the maritime security game, and operating in the middle east protecting oil company facilities and their employees.

The one company mentioned in this video was RSB. The key thing the president mentioned was the legalities of operating as a PMSC. That Russian law has it’s roots from the Byzantine era, and that whatever is not explicitly banned, is legal. So operating outside of the country as a PMSC, is not explicitly banned in his view. Interesting comment, although as you can see with the Slavonic Corps, you can still be thrown in prison for such activities–based on the whims of their government.

He also mentioned he could raise an army of  1,000 plus troops, which is typical talk from a company CEO. If you have the attention of journalists, you always want to promote capability when you can. lol

Also, they cut the youtube video a little short. For the full video, go here. –Matt


RSB contractor.

RSB contractor performing maritime security.



Russia’s private military firms operate in legal grey area

July 28, 2015

Since the conflict in Ukraine began, Kiev and the West have accused Russians of participating on a massive scale. The Kremlin denies sending professional troops to Ukraine and insists the Russian citizens there are volunteers who have signed up to help the separatists. Increasingly, experts are pointing to the presence of a third category of fighters: the employees of private military companies, or PMCs.

While the private security industry is well established in the United States – with globally recognised brands such as Academi (formerly Blackwater) – Russia has never legalised their use. That could be about to change, however, as Russian PMCs certainly do exist and are now active internationally.

Programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Elom Marcel Toble.

By Gulliver CRAGG , Ksenia BOLCHAKOVA

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Mali: As France Goes To War Against The Islamists, What Will Be The PMSC Contribution?

I see three areas of focus coming out of this new conflict, that PMSC’s will be crucial for. The first is security services for private interest throughout the Sahel. In the articles below, I have listed all the actions of companies in Libya, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mali, and it is one of reaction to the events in Mali. The Islamists are targeting western interest as a way of hitting back at France and the west, and the hostage crisis in Algeria is a prime example.

The services I see as crucial would be an increase in PSD services, kidnap and ransom services, static security reviews and manpower increases at facilities, and evacuation services.

The second area of focus for PMSC’s would be logistics, and especially as the conflict drags on and the ECOWAS force comes into play. Whatever force they come up with, it is being drawn from the poorest nations in the area, and this army will have nothing in the way of equipment or support. So I could see the typical players for logistics stepping up for this conflict. The AMISOM mission is a good example of what I am talking about and I believe the main players there are Dyncorp, PAE, and Bancroft Global Development.

Perhaps because this is France’s deal, there might be more emphasis on using French PMSC’s? On the other hand, if the US is footing the bill for training up this ECOWAS force, then it will be their choice for who will support the mission. There will be plenty to choose from and we will see how this pans out?

The final area of focus will be training. I really think the model here will be something like what is going on with AMISOM for Somalia. The forces of ECOWAS will have very little to no experience fighting in deserts or fighting an insurgency. You need a robust training program that will meet then needs of such a mission. Not only that, but you must also account for the education levels of those forces being sent in the first place. So training will be vital to the success of France and the west in Mali, and this will be a long term effort much like how AMISOM has turned out.

I could even see some contracts coming up that are focused on training the new government of Mali. Training, mentoring, and support for both the government and the military, will all be possible contracts in the future for companies.

Overall though, I don’t give Mali much hope unless it figures out it leadership and government. Hopefully the new government will come together and stay focused, but these things tend to be really messy if we look at past experiences. Yet again, I point to Somalia as the model of how messy this could be. Mali must have a leader or leaders that the people (and soldiers) can support and even fight for. The west can expend millions of dollars on training this military to expel the jihadists from the north, but Mali must have a solid government or ‘foundation’ to build from in order to keep the jihadists and military in check, now and well into the future. –Matt


Edit: 01/20/2013- I wanted to add two more articles that detailed the efforts of energy firms throughout the region. Either companies are boosting security, or they are evacuating folks just to be safe.
The Energy Giants at Most Risk in Northern Africa

Foreign Firms in Algeria Boost Security

Security experts said Algerian authorities may now need to rethink the way security is handled, allowing more foreign involvement in the process.In other high-risk resource-rich countries, such as Iraq, foreign companies commonly employ private Western security companies that are staffed by armed expatriates. Algeria, in contrast, keeps the majority of armed security personnel local, said one security consultant.Typically in Algeria, an oil company hires a foreign contractor to advise on security or to head a team, but the majority of the personnel carrying arms are limited to Algerians, the person said. Some of that security is provided by companies set up by retired Algerian generals, the person said.The system could result in lower-quality security, he said. “Even before the French were in Mali, Algeria hasn’t been the safest place to operate in for a long time,” the security consultant said.

Algeria crisis triggers Libya, Egypt oil security review
Jan 18 2013
* Libya says boost oilfield protection in south
* Italy’s ENI biggest operator across the border
* Some firms in Egypt say reviewing security
* Staff evacuation, tighter security to raise costs,
By Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Ron Bousso
Libya rushed to beef up security at its oil fields and energy firms were considering similar measures in Egypt as Islamist militants threatened to attack new installations in north Africa.
More than 20 foreigners were still being held hostage or missing inside Algeria’s In Amenas gas plant on Friday after Algerian forces stormed the desert complex near the Libyan border to free hundreds of captives taken by Islamist militants.
Hundreds of workers were evacuated from a number of Algerian production sites on the border with Libya to safer places in the country’s centre and industry experts said that could ultimately lead to lower oil and gas production from the OPEC member state.

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Aviation: Tracking Jihadists– France Is Using CAE Aviation For ISR Over Mali/Niger

The other day I came across a very interesting little deal about France’s involvement in Mali. That they are contracting the services of CAE Aviation to perform ISR ‘to monitor parts of north Mali and western Niger‘.

Why this is significant is that the west is having a heck of a time trying to figure out what to do in Mali. No one wants to put boots on the ground (or air) because of the politics of such a move.

Meanwhile, the jihadists have control of the north and are ruling with an iron fist. They are also pouring into the country from other places in the Sahel to get ready for the coming military intervention by the west and it’s African partners. Whatever force goes in will not have it easy, and the jihadists will have had plenty of time to prepare the battlefield and plant IED’s all over the place.

So what do you do if you are not willing to ‘send in the troops’? Well France seems to have answered that question with the use of CAE. If the company has any comments about the services they are providing to France, I will add it below. Until then, here is a run down of the type of services they offer. –Matt



CAE-AVIATION – Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Services

CAE-AVIATION is the European leader in intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance services (ISR). We provide a full turnkey air-to-ground surveillance and reconnaissance (AGSR) service at short notice for governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Our fully integrated ISR detection, observation, command and control systems gives to the local military, police or disaster relief commander “an eye in the sky” enabling him to use his strength and assets to maximum effect.
Selected by NATO, EU forces and many European ministries of defence and interior, CAE-AVIATION air-to-ground surveillance and reconnaissance AGSR services are maximizing intelligence collection while minimizing operational costs.
Image intelligence
CAE AVIATION supplies an autonomous intelligence capacity of image origin with highly qualified interpreters and analysts to provide the tasker with full reporting i.a.w NATO ATP-47a standard as well as geo-referencing and a complete IMINT database creation. “ISARD” and “CAE-Workshop”, two company developed softwares allows quick and efficient classification, analyze, and management. It is available for sale with the training of your own analyst as well as the training on different tools, from identification to reporting.

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France: Regulation, Expansion Of French PMSC’s Urged By Members Of Parliament

“Global sales of the sector(security) are difficult to evaluate, but the specialists put it between $100 billion and $200 billion a year,” the report said, adding that the Foreign Ministry puts the figure as high as $400 billion for the total market for security and defense services.
Some 5,000 security firms operate in the world market, which is changing continuously and sometimes with a hazy line between security and military practices, hence the usefulness of calling them security and defense service companies.
Of the French firms, average annual sales is 3 million euros ($4 million). The largest is GEOS with 40 million euros followed by Risk & Co with 28 million euros, the report said.

Very interesting article and France is now joining China in this ‘re-evaluation’ of PMSC viability. I think what we are seeing here is a realization by France that it is missing out on a massive market, and by not having a vibrant and competitive PMSC industry, that they are missing out strategically.

That last part is the most important part because like most of Europe, France needs oil. In a world where oil producing countries are threatened by regional instability or the demand continues to push supply, countries are looking to all and any means of achieving strategic advantage for those resources. Having French companies on the ground, working day in and day out with these oil rich, war torn nations, or protecting the various key individuals and projects within these zones, is one way to ‘influence’ and grab a larger piece of the ‘oil pie’ in those regions.

To further emphasize this last part, here is the quote that perked me up.

A visit to Libya showed the significant presence of “Anglo-Saxon companies,” which have used the uncertain situation on the ground to develop their businesses.
“Their presence seems to favor British economic interests,” the report said. “It seems very desirable, within the framework of Libyan law, for our societies to form partnerships to set themselves up for the long term in this country, as there are strong expectations toward France,” the report said.

The other oil related indicator of need is maritime security. France does not want to depend upon other nation’s PMSC’s to protect their flagged vessels. And those flagged vessels transport commerce and oil/gas.  It is of national interest to ensure these vessels are protected and the economy of France is not negatively impacted by piracy. PMSC’s are a strategic asset that France can tap into to protect that interest.

 French Navy commandos aboard cargo ships. The daily cost of a Navy team is 2,000 euros, compared with 3,000 euros charged by a private company, the report said.
A Royal Dutch Navy team on a cargo ship costs 80,000 euros, reflecting the deployment of 18 personnel, including a nurse. But the demand for onboard protection outstrips supply of Navy teams, and a flourishing private market has sprung up.
Some French oil companies have asked for Navy teams but have had to go to the private sector because squads were unavailable, Betto said…British companies dominate this sector, including Triskel, APMSS and Solace, with a U.S. specialist, Advanfort. An estimated 170 companies specializing in armed maritime protection were set up in Britain from Jan. 1 to Sept. 30 last year, the report said.
The only French firm in this market is Gallice. With annual sales of 20 million euros, it offers armed protection through an Irish subsidiary in order to avoid tangling with French law, the report said.

So France is putting military details on private vessels, and because the need outstrips the supply, they are having to look to the private sector for security–which means using  British or other companies. I am sure that does not sit well with these French shipping companies. lol

Also, how is putting Naval commandos on private vessels  the best use of that resource? Shouldn’t they be doing more important missions, like hostage rescue? Using highly trained commandos for basic protective duties is not a wise choice for this particular mission, and especially when you only have a limited number of those commandos.

Some of the companies mentioned in this article are Argus and a Global X. I have not heard anything about these companies, but here are some quotes about them below.

The European Union uses Argus, a Hungarian-registered company, for building security in Libya. The firm is led by French nationals, and using diplomatic status, the personnel carry weapons…A group of French companies — Geodis, GIE Access, Sodexo and Thales — has formed the Global X company to bid for contracts in U.N. peacekeeping operations, which is seen as a huge market. Such contracts would provide jobs for former French service personnel and create a presence where active French soldiers are not deployed.

 UN peacekeeping operations?  Interesting. Global X would be a serious contender as well, just because having french speakers is a big plus for a few places in Africa. 

So there you have it. Libya and it’s oil, maritime security, and peacekeeping are the markets that France is looking at, and they estimate the global security and defense market to be a 400 billion dollar industry! Not only that, but PMSC’s are viewed as strategic assets, much how China is seeing this industry.

The US and Britain are already way ahead of most of the world when it comes to this industry thanks to ten years of constant war. But as more countries catch on, I imagine the market will evolve and become more interesting as time goes by.

The definition of the state and it’s monopoly on the use of force is changing as well. Countries are realizing that PMSC’s, if used properly, can be ‘real levers of influence’ to quote the report. If anyone has any info on these companies or the article below, feel free to comment. –Matt


Regulation, Expansion of French Private Security Firms Urged
Feb. 26, 2012
A bipartisan French parliamentary report is calling for recognition and regulation of private military companies, hoping to reverse the strong climate of rejection regarding security contractors.
The report, published Feb. 14 and co-authored by members Jean-Claude Viollet (Socialist) and Christian Menard (Union pour un Mouvement Populaire), points up the growth of business in private security and military activity over the last two decades, led by U.S. and British companies.
The sector has become so important, France can’t ignore it, the report said.


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Music: French Foreign Legion, By Frank Sinatra

How cool is this? I had no idea that Sinatra did a song about the Legion. Enjoy. –Matt


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Industry Talk: Secopex CEO Pierre Marziali Killed In Libya

Rest in peace to the fallen and my heart goes out to the family and friends of Pierre.  I had no idea that Secopex was operating in Libya, and this is pretty big news for a couple of reasons.

The first is if this was an intentional targeting, the objective is pretty clear. By killing the CEO of a major PMC in country, this brings great attention to the fact that the west is now using it’s own version of ‘mercenaries’ or PSC’s in Libya to do their bidding. There was great outrage in the beginning of this conflict by the west/media that Ghaddafi would actually contract with private forces, and yet here is the west doing the same thing. It is a killing that reflects the hypocrisy.

I guess this incident happened at a police check point and the others in the party were arrested as well.  There is no telling what will happen to them, and they might be used as political pawns in a media game that Ghaddafi could play. For those familiar with Iraq or Afghanistan warfare, the insurgencies have used fake police check points as a means to do all sorts of nasty things. I have no doubt that similar tactics will continue to happen in Libya as a tool of whatever side in the conflict.

Another thought that came to mind is that I wonder if one of Ghaddafi’s mercenaries actually thought this one up as a strategy? Could this be a case of PMC versus PMC  or private forces versus private forces in Libya? Who knows, but if the west plans on using private force in Libya, the possibility exists that you could have PMC’s/PSC’s battling one another in one form or another.

I am also curious as to what are the services that France’s largest PMC was going to provide in Libya other than basic security stuff? And why was the CEO on the ground involved with this activity?  To give a comparable US example, this would be like the CEO of DynCorp getting killed in Libya.  So if you have the CEO on the ground in a madhouse like Libya, then I imagine that there was some very interesting planning and advising going on.

Although at this time, I haven’t a clue as to exactly the kind of services Secopex was providing and I am sure the story will develop as more details come out. If the company or anyone familiar with this story would like to provide more details in the comments or in private, please feel free to do so. –Matt

Edit: 5/18/2011 – Here is the official statement from Secopex about Pierre’s death.

Mr. Marziali was in Benghazi for the creation of a branch office destined to provide close protection services. The circumstances of his death remain unknown at this time.
The other members of the company with him are currently being held by the rebellion. The Quai D’Orsay expects their liberation within the following days. We do not know the reason for their arrest.
We will respond to the insulting and libelous allegations in due course.
Mr. Marziali’s served his country for twenty five years. Until his death he worked in respect of the laws of the Republic. He was a man of honor.

Pierre Marziali, CEO of Secoplex.

Head of French Security Company Killed in Libya
May 13, 2011
The president of a French private security company who had scheduled a meeting on Thursday to discuss business opportunities with opponents of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi died in a hospital here on Wednesday, apparently after he was shot in the stomach, the French Foreign Ministry and rebel officials here in Benghazi said.
The circumstances that led to the shooting were murky on Thursday, as was the status of four of the executive’s colleagues, who were reported to have been detained. No one seemed to be sure who was holding them: Benghazi’s civil prosecutor referred questions to military prosecutors, who in turn said they could not comment on a continuing case.
“We are very sorry for what happened,” said Gen. Ahmed al-Ghatrani, a rebel military spokesman, who blamed “gangs that the old regime used,” without providing additional details. Read the rest of this entry »

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