Archive for category Industry Talk

Yemen: UAE Deploys It’s Colombian Mercenaries To Yemen

Very interesting news and I thought I would put this up on the blog incase someone has any other information to add to this news. I held off on talking about this when news of it first trickled out, all because I could not find any legitimate news group to confirm it. The New York Times was the group that originally broke the story about Reflex Responses and I put that up on the blog back in 2011. I haven’t heard much about it since.

I do know that the whole thing switched from a PMSC scheme with Reflex Responses as the recruiting company, to just a recruitment of Latin Americans directly to fight for the UAE armed forces. I talked about that transition here and here. It has been quite the drain on the Colombian market of force. Those guys must have been pretty bored all of these years.

Now that the UAE actually has a war to fight in Yemen, and they have lost a few of their own in that war, I am sure the idea of using more foreign troops to do that job will be more appealing to the locals of the UAE. The houthis and Saleh’s guys are definitely giving them a fight, and even launching ballistic missiles.

Back to the deployment of mercenaries in Yemen. What is interesting is that there is some history of mercenaries being used in that part of the world. Former SAS guys were recruited to fight there back in the sixties and did quite well. I imagine the current coalition will use these Colombian/Latin forces for basic infantry tasks, like guarding facilities or light patrolling. We will see how far they will go in their usage. Here is a quote about the make up of this force and what they are getting paid.

The Emiratis have spent the equivalent of millions of dollars equipping the unit, from firearms and armored vehicles to communications systems and night vision technology. But Emirati leaders rarely visit the camp. When they do, the troops put on tactical demonstrations, including rappelling from helicopters and driving armored dune buggies.
And yet they stay largely because of the money, receiving salaries ranging from $2,000 to $3,000 a month, compared with approximately $400 a month they would make in Colombia. Those troops who deploy to Yemen will receive an additional $1,000 per week, according to a person involved in the project and a former senior Colombian military officer.
Hundreds of Colombian troops have been trained in the Emirates since the project began in 2010 — so many that the Colombian government once tried to broker an agreement with Emirati officials to stanch the flow headed to the Persian Gulf. Representatives from the two governments met, but an agreement was never signed.
Most of the recruiting of former troops in Colombia is done by Global Enterprises, a Colombian company run by a former special operations commander named Oscar Garcia Batte. Mr. Batte is also co-commander of the brigade of Colombian troops in the Emirates, and is part of the force now deployed in Yemen.

I could not find Oscar’s company online and if anyone has a link, I will update it here. I did find him on Linkedin, but no mention of Global Enterprises. Interesting stuff and we will see how it goes for them. I imagine we will see more of this kind of thing amongst the wealthy gulf nations. ISIS and Al Qaeda are both expanding and morphing into hybrid terrorist armies, and Iran continues to meddle and cause trouble. The middle east will continue to require manpower for it’s wars and security, and private industry will certainly answer the call. –Matt


Emirates Secretly Sends Colombian Mercenaries to Fight in Yemen
NOV. 25, 2015
The United Arab Emirates has secretly dispatched hundreds of Colombian mercenaries to Yemen to fight in that country’s raging conflict, adding a volatile new element in a complex proxy war that has drawn in the United States and Iran.
It is the first combat deployment for a foreign army that the Emirates has quietly built in the desert over the past five years, according to several people currently or formerly involved with the project. The program was once managed by a private company connected to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater Worldwide, but the people involved in the effort said that his role ended several years ago and that it has since been run by the Emirati military.
The arrival in Yemen of 450 Latin American troops — among them are also Panamanian, Salvadoran and Chilean soldiers — adds to the chaotic stew of government armies, armed tribes, terrorist networks and Yemeni militias currently at war in the country. Earlier this year, a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia, including the United States, began a military campaign in Yemen against Houthi rebels who have pushed the Yemeni government out of the capital, Sana.
It is also a glimpse into the future of war. Wealthy Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Emirates, have in recent years embraced a more aggressive military strategy throughout the Middle East, trying to rein in the chaos unleashed by the Arab revolutions that began in late 2010. But these countries wade into the new conflicts — whether in Yemen, Syria or Libya — with militaries that are unused to sustained warfare and populations with generally little interest in military service.

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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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Industry Talk: GardaWorld Buys Aegis Group For Expansion Into Africa And ME

This is some big news. Both GardaWorld and Aegis are big companies, and this is more sign of consolidation in the industry as the market compresses. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have drawn down significantly since the hey day of contracting, and moves like this signal the latest strategies of the major companies–if they want to survive.

I first found out about Aegis shopping around for buyers from Intelligence Online. It has a paywall, but what little they said in the brief description is all I needed to know. As for GardaWorld, here is a snap shot from Wikipedia as to their size and status. Pretty big..

GardaWorld Security Corporation is a Canadian private security firm, based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, with 45,000 employees (by November 2013). Though GardaWorld International Protective Services, now the international division of the company, began its operations in 1984, Garda World Security Corporation was established by its Quebecer owner Stéphan Crétier in 1995, who initially invested $25,000 in the company, then named Trans-Quebec Security Inc. The company is the fifth largest consulting and security services firm in the world, with operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The company today runs heavily on physical security guard services as well as armoured car services in select countries and cities throughout the world. The firm has over 200 offices worldwide.

And then here is the size of Aegis and what they do, based on their Who We Are page on their site. The CEO is Tim Spicer by the way, who used to own Sandline International.

Aegis is today a diverse and comprehensive organisation operating in countries spread across several continents in a variety of service streams.
Founded in 2002, Aegis was established as a US government security provider from 2004, when it was awarded the ground-breaking Reconstruction Security Support Services Iraq (RSSS-I) contract with the US Department of Defense. The $1.3 billion lifetime value of this contract made it one of the largest security contracts ever awarded.
The experience and ethos built during the RSSS-I contract, and a range of other government and commercial contracts in Iraq, allowed Aegis to transition to the Security Support Services Iraq (SSS-I) contract, and to secure and successfully mobilise the security for the US Embassy Kabul, a project which currently employs over 1000 people.
The definition and requirements of security are ever changing. In recent years, we have grown a successful security service business in support of the extractives industry, focused initially on the Oil and Gas sectors in Iraq, but expanding into East and North Africa. We have also been in the vanguard of developing comprehensive business practices and ethical codes of conduct for the security industry and as such we are one of the first companies to become accredited to the industry standard (PSC 1).
Aegis now provides a wide breadth of complementary service streams including Kidnap for Ransom Response, technology integration, advisory and intelligence, training, consultancy, strategic communications and protective services. Across these areas we employ over 3500 people at any one time and run a fleet of over 300 vehicles.

That is 48,500 plus or minus employees and contractors!… Quite the army. lol

As to the details of this acquisition, I will post what the companies have sent out for PR. The news release mentioned a couple of interesting things. First is the fact that both companies are the first to be PSC-1 certified. The second interesting tidbit is that the new company wants to hit the African and Middle Eastern markets hard with their services. Aegis will definitely bring a lot to the table when it comes to those regions.

I have written in the past about GardaWorld and their goals in the middle east, and I view this as further proof of those plans drawn up by CEO Stephan Crétier. Although they have had some hiccups and the whole Daniel Menard episode in Afghanistan was one example. I also found an article that talked about how the draw down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the fierce competition between those that were still on the scene, has resulted in companies like GardaWorld to ‘be competitive’. In other words, lowering salaries and hiring cheaper labor–something we have seen in the maritime security market as well. 

One final note. I have no idea if everyone that is working for Aegis now, will have to change t-shirts and wear the GardaWorld crest?…  Or if all the benefits and pay scales will change, now that Aegis has a new owner. We will see how that goes and that process can be kind of crappy for the employees and contractors of said company.

Sometimes with these things, the parent company likes to keep the newly acquired company intact with the same name and everything. Just different owners with a little crossover of upper and mid- management. But who knows, and we will see how the acquisition goes? I will leave it to those employees, contractors, upper management, etc. in the comments below to explain how things are going. –Matt



GardaWorld Announces Strategic Expansion to Become the Premier Security Provider in Africa and the Middle East

As part of its expansion, the company signs a binding agreement for the acquisition of Aegis Group

MONTREAL, QUEBEC–(July 13, 2015) – GardaWorld, the world’s largest privately owned security and cash services provider, announces today the strategic expansion of its protective services platform in Africa and the Middle East.

Over the past decade GardaWorld has continuously expanded its operational capacity as demand for specialized and professional services to protect high profile diplomatic staff, development projects and leading oil & gas companies dramatically increased in Africa and the Middle East. In the current geopolitical context, such comprehensive security services offering remains critical for companies and governments operating in the region and GardaWorld has committed to become a premier security provider globally. The company expects to complete this phase of its strategic expansion plan before the end of the year.

As the first phase of its strategic expansion, GardaWorld is pleased to announce that it has entered into a binding agreement for the acquisition of Aegis Group, a leading provider of highly specialized protective services with annual run-rate revenues of over CAN$450 million with a presence across 10 African and Middle East emerging markets.

“Aegis Group’s operational platform will complement GardaWorld’s offering and geographic footprint as we continue to build our protective services capabilities throughout Africa and the Middle East,” said Stephan Crétier, Founding President and CEO, GardaWorld. “Aegis Group and GardaWorld have both been truly committed to setting the highest professional and ethical standards in the industry. We are the first two private security providers in the world to obtain the PSC.1 certification, offering our clients a complete peace of mind service solution in emerging markets. Once we have completed the integration, we will become a clear market leader, providing premier professional security services with the unsurpassed depth of our offering and strength of our global platform.”

“In the next phase of our growth strategy, planned for later this year, we expect to further expand GardaWorld’s regional infrastructure and to double our physical footprint by reinforcing our presence on the ground in nearly 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. Our goal is to offer a specialized and distinctive protective services offering, to more clients, including governments, diplomatic organizations, large critical infrastructures, mining, oil & gas companies, NGOs and Fortune 500 corporates, in more places and where they need us most than any other company in our market,” continued Mr. Crétier.

GardaWorld’s acquisition of Aegis Group is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and is expected to close within the next 90 days.

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Industry Talk: A Bancroft Global Interview And Their First KIA In Somalia

Brett Fredericks. Photo by Bancroft Global

Brett Fredricks. Photo by Bancroft Global

This is sad news for Bancroft Global. One of their guys was killed last January and I am just now finding this out. What a tough deal and this is the company’s first loss.

The man killed was former Delta Force soldier, Brett Fredricks and I have included a link to what happened to him with a clip from that article. The attack happened during Christmas Day and three other AMISOM soldiers were killed as well. Apparently he was unarmed, and those are the terms of the contract.

It was lunchtime on Christmas Day in Mogadishu, and Brett Fredricks was doing what he loved. The retired member of the Army’s famed and secretive Delta Force was huddling with Ugandan soldiers planning an assault on an enemy position during a firefight with al-Shabab guerrillas. But this gunbattle was different. It was taking place inside the international force’s heavily secured base at Mogadishu airport. It would also be one of the final moments of Brett Fredricks’s life.
At least eight al-Shabab fighters, some dressed in Somali national army uniforms, had infiltrated the base, then made their way to arms caches apparently stashed by Somali workers who had easy access to the complex. Now they were on the attack. When word reached Fredricks, he was across town at another Ugandan base, combining a work meeting with a Christmas celebration.
Together with a small group of Ugandans, including some senior officers, Fredricks, 55, raced back to the airfield. By the time they got there, the infiltrators appeared to be holed up in an old building being used as a kitchen. After gathering some reinforcements, Fredricks and about a dozen Ugandans made their way to what seemed to be a safe position near the kitchen building and discussed how best to attack it.
But two al-Shabab fighters had slipped unseen into a patch of heavy brush from where they could engage Fredricks and his protégés. One or both of them opened up on the small group, spraying them with bullets. One Ugandan soldier fell wounded, another dead. And an AK bullet hit Fredricks between the eyes, killing him instantly.
Fredricks’s death, which hasn’t been reported previously, is an exceptionally rare example of a retired member of Delta Force dying on a foreign battlefield. The Pentagon doesn’t officially acknowledge 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, as the unit is known by its full name. It’s the Army’s equivalent to the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, and its members are trained to conduct high-risk missions like freeing hostages or raiding enemy territory to kill or capture wanted militants. The unit has a bloody history in Somalia: In October 1993, five Delta operators and 13 other U.S. troops died in a desperate fight with Somali militiamen, hundreds of whom also lost their lives. The battle was later memorialized in the book Black Hawk Down and the movie of the same name.
His death was also the first in Somalia for Bancroft, a small firm that is trying to make money in one of the world’s most dangerous places.


Tragic and just another reminder out there that the savages are absolutely using deception and anything else to gain advantage for the attack. If you are not thinking about how to counter these types of attacks in your defensive plan for your base or remote site in today’s war zones and high risk areas, then you are in the wrong.

The other part I wanted to talk about is the latest news of Bancroft Global’s work in Somalia. I found this quote in a Foreign Policy article and I thought it was enlightening to say the least. BG is doing very important work there, along with the other military forces in country.

Now U.S. contractors are training another battalion, the Danab, or “Lightning,” which is supposed to be Somalia’s answer to the U.S. Army Rangers. “It’s basically really at the beginning stage, because we’ve only so far recruited and at least done some training of three companies” totaling around 450 troops, said a U.S. official with knowledge of Somalia policy, who characterized the program as “the most significant” U.S. training initiative to date. The U.S. official said that the elite companies, which are supposed to include fighters from multiple clans and regions in order to encourage loyalty to the central government, represent a “model for the future Somali National Army.” Ultimately, the official said, “you’d like to see this multiplied out [to more battalions], and we would like to do that, although frankly the resources aren’t there to do it as quickly as some people would like to see done.”
The training of Danab forces currently takes place in Baledogle at a facility run by the contractor Bancroft Global Development. The shadowy U.S. outfit, which in 2011 was revealed to have hired a former French army officer convicted in South Africa of recruiting mercenaries to fight in Ivory Coast, maintains a dingy, second-floor office in the decrepit Soviet-era Air Force base, which is riddled with bullet holes and badly in need of a paint job. In one otherwise Spartan room, a roster of Danab personnel, complete with passport-sized photos, stared down from the wall. Elsewhere, there were lists of Danab weapons and equipment.
Despite the willingness of U.S. officials to own the Danab training operation in Baledogle, Bancroft employees downplayed their ties with the U.S. government. “We have nothing to do with the Americans,” said one employee, a stocky former special operator whose biceps bulged out of his tight-fitting company shirt. “We’re in charge of training Danab. We have nothing to do with the Americans, and the Americans have nothing to do with us.”
Bancroft’s executive director, Marc Frey, told Foreign Policy that the company “has no contracts with the U.S. government” and “no contract to train the Danab battalion with any country.” Instead, U.S. officials say the company trains Somali National Army troops as part of a larger contract with the Ugandan government to provide what it calls “military mentors” to AMISOM. The U.S. government then reimburses the Ugandans for the cost of the training.


So to add to this article by FP, I found a quick little interview that BG did for a Somali paper. They talk a little about Brett and the attack, and about their contract with AMISOM. Probably the most interesting part is the discussion on the BG business model and lessons learned. Here is a clip.

WDN: Bancroft has substantial experience operating in high risk fragile countries like Iraq and Afghanistan. What lessons learned from previous experience has Bancroft applied to its current operation in Somalia?
Bancroft: Actually, Bancroft has done almost no work in Iraq. We certainly worked in Afghanistan, but never based our strategy on working for the coalition forces. From the perspective of our work in Somalia this is a good thing. Although many well-meaning people made extraordinary efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, those campaigns have not had good results. In particular, the situation in Syria and Iraq today is very troubling. Since we are not burdened by habits formed during those other conflicts, we have been able to learn a lot about what not to do, by looking closely at what went poorly in those other places.
The most crucial lesson we have drawn from its work in dangerous places is that it is actually far more effective to live and work among the people than to wall ourselves off in fortified compounds. There are risks to that approach, of course, but Somalia is fighting an enemy that moves through and remains among local communities. To be effective, we must work with the people; we must become a part of the community. In Somalia, the Turkish government in particular has understood this phenomenon very well. We have a good deal of respect for the Turkish Government’s ability to apply these important lessons on the large scale that only a sovereign state can do.


It is interesting to me how this company operates. They continue to apply their investment and development concept in Somalia, and still claim to not work for the US.  Although they are still getting paid in a round about way by the US. Here is a quote about it in a July 2nd Foreign Policy article.

Now U.S. contractors are training another battalion, the Danab, or “Lightning,” which is supposed to be Somalia’s answer to the U.S. Army Rangers. “It’s basically really at the beginning stage, because we’ve only so far recruited and at least done some training of three companies” totaling around 450 troops, said a U.S. official with knowledge of Somalia policy, who characterized the program as “the most significant” U.S. training initiative to date. The U.S. official said that the elite companies, which are supposed to include fighters from multiple clans and regions in order to encourage loyalty to the central government, represent a “model for the future Somali National Army.” Ultimately, the official said, “you’d like to see this multiplied out [to more battalions], and we would like to do that, although frankly the resources aren’t there to do it as quickly as some people would like to see done.”
The training of Danab forces currently takes place in Baledogle at a facility run by the contractor Bancroft Global Development. The shadowy U.S. outfit, which in 2011 was revealed to have hired a former French army officer convicted in South Africa of recruiting mercenaries to fight in Ivory Coast, maintains a dingy, second-floor office in the decrepit Soviet-era Air Force base, which is riddled with bullet holes and badly in need of a paint job. In one otherwise Spartan room, a roster of Danab personnel, complete with passport-sized photos, stared down from the wall. Elsewhere, there were lists of Danab weapons and equipment.
Despite the willingness of U.S. officials to own the Danab training operation in Baledogle, Bancroft employees downplayed their ties with the U.S. government. “We have nothing to do with the Americans,” said one employee, a stocky former special operator whose biceps bulged out of his tight-fitting company shirt. “We’re in charge of training Danab. We have nothing to do with the Americans, and the Americans have nothing to do with us.”
Bancroft’s executive director, Marc Frey, told Foreign Policy that the company “has no contracts with the U.S. government” and “no contract to train the Danab battalion with any country.” Instead, U.S. officials say the company trains Somali National Army troops as part of a larger contract with the Ugandan government to provide what it calls “military mentors” to AMISOM. The U.S. government then reimburses the Ugandans for the cost of the training.
While this roundabout method of payment has been the norm for Bancroft’s training of AMISOM troops over the years, some officials worry that it shields the firm from the additional scrutiny that goes along with contracting directly with the U.S. government.

So here is the interview below and I posted the whole thing for those that are interested. Feel free to check out the links provided in this post because there are a lot interesting details about what BG is doing in Somalia. They are a good company to study because they are doing things a little bit different than the standard PMSC. Check it out. –Matt

Bancroft Global website here.

An Interview with Bancroft Global Development
By Wardheer News
May 21, 2015
Editor’s note: Bancroft’s story has been featured in many notable publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. This is the first time their story has been covered by Somali Media. Thus, WDN brings you this exclusive interview. Mohamed Osman and Abdelkarim Hassan have conducted the interview for
WardheerNews (WDN): We are delighted to welcome you to, before we delve into the bulk of the interview, could you please share with us a brief background history about Bancroft?
Bancroft: Thank you. I am pleased that a serious news outlet has an interest in Bancroft and the work we do.
Bancroft’s roots go back more than a ?century, to relief efforts during World War I? and to a team of financiers who helped ?dozens of countries to prosper in the ?decades following the war. Many of these?countries are terrific successes especially? when compared to the situation that existed? before Bancroft’s predecessors became? involved. Example client partner countries ?include Austria, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Japan, Peru, the Philippines and Mexico. After the end of the Cold War, Bancroft set out specifically to modernize and revive its successful model.
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Industry Talk: Olive Group Merges With Constellis Group

This is the other big news I wanted to write about. I have written about Constellis Group in the past and they are definitely making some big moves. They merged with Triple Canopy, and while I was gone this happens. They merged with Olive Group!

And speaking of size, I wanted to get some information about exactly how big the family of companies are with Constellis Group? Here is what they said in a tweet.

Over 10,000 employees and contractors! That is a division in military terms. lol And if Olive Group’s numbers are correct, that means this merger doubled the size of this family of companies. Wow…

Some other side news with this merger is that Olive Group just purchased Newport Africa late last year. So Constellis is making a huge Africa play with this merger, and especially East Africa and in the oil and gas industry.

I was able to find a quote from the CEO of Olive Group as to their view of the merger and what it will mean for the company. Here it is.

The merger will provide us with a deeper funding base and allow the business to expand into new areas,” Mr St George told the Telegraph. “The world is not getting a safer place.”
Olive will continue to trade under its existing name and both the St George
brothers will take seats on the board of Constellis, which has traditionally specialised in Federal contracts in the US. Olive expects to hire more ex-forces staff according to Mr St George. The company will be looking to expand over the coming years and take on more ex-UK services personnel and operations staff to help it grow in key markets such as North Africa, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Olive already employs around 5,000 people working in 20 different countries.

The other news for this deal is Moody’s assigned a B3 rating to the $450 million, five year second lien notes of Constellis Holdings, LLC. The rating outlook is ‘stable’. What is cool about this story is that Moody’s identifies what gives this rating it’s stable outlook. Here is a quote with my emphasis in bold black.

Moody’s calculates pro-forma debt/EBITDA and EBITDA/interest at the low 6x and low 2x levels, respectively (after Moody’s standard adjustments) as of the fiscal year ending December 2014, based on audited financial statements and taking into account the additional debt and Constellis’ acquisitions over the year. Estimating metrics is made difficult by the wide number of cost actions undertaken/planned, and the only partial year contribution of acquisitions during 2014.
These metrics compare somewhat favorably to many defense services contractors also rated at the B3 CFR. Nonetheless, operating cash flow in 2014 was modest despite the large tax refunds. Funding the Olive acquisition will increase financial leverage somewhat, and there is still limited visibility into Constellis’ cashflow. Further, Moody’s estimates that the pending dividend equates to more than a year’s worth of prospective free cash flow and the Constellis growth strategy will continue to emphasize acquisitions.
The high concentration on the US Department of State’s (DoS) Worldwide Protective Services (WPS) contract, which expires in October 2015, represents a rating constraint since the contract will make up a third of revenues pro forma for the Olive acquisition. At present, the $17 million of near-term debt amortization scheduled seem high versus reported funds from operation. Liquidity should improve given the lack of scheduled debt amortizations going forward and expectation of free cash flow.
The stable rating outlook benefits from expectations of steady profits from rising demand as a result of ongoing conflicts throughout geographic regions where Constellis and Olive operate (i.e. Middle East, North Africa). Increased security needs for the US Department of State’s diplomatic activity as well as for energy sector customers favors the demand setting. Potential for cost actions to raise cash flow generation also factor into the outlook.
Upward rating movement would depend on better intermediate term revenue visibility, which is unlikely to develop until after the WPS successor contract outcome is determined. (WPS task orders can endure beyond that contract expiration date.) Adequate liquidity, expectation of FFO/debt greater than 10% with annual FCF greater than $25 million would likely accompany an upgrade.
Downward rating pressure would result from backlog declines, weaker liquidity or low free cash flow.
The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Aerospace and Defense Industry published in April 2014. Other methodologies used include Loss Given Default for Speculative-Grade Non-Financial Companies in the U.S., Canada and EMEA published in June 2009. Please see the Credit Policy page on for a copy of these methodologies.
Constellis is a global provider of training and security services focused on counter terrorism, force protection, law enforcement and security operations. From 2010 to October 2014 the company’s name was Academi Holdings, LLC. Before its 2010 ownership change, the company had been named Xe Services and Blackwater Worldwide. Pro forma for the pending acquisition of Olive, revenues in 2014 would have been approximately $1 billion. The company is majority-owned by Forte Capital and Manhattan Partners.

As you can see with the rating study, WPS is very important to Constellis Group. It also makes sense why they made their move with Triple Canopy–to secure more WPS business. The merger with Olive Group covers the oil and gas sector and entrance into Africa. I suspect we will see Constellis Group making more moves and getting bigger. The question is, who is next? –Matt

Constellis Group to Merge with Olive Group
MAY 7, 2015
Transaction creates the global leader in security, risk management, and complex programme management services Constellis Group’s capabilities in programme management and training combines with Olive Group’s strength in the provision of risk management solutions for blue chip corporate clients
A strong, well-financed platform for growth will help clients face increasingly complex challenges and risks. Olive Group will drive the combined Group’s enhanced offering for corporate clients operating in the energy, aviation and infrastructure sectors, particularly in the Middle East and Africa
Olive Group’s management team remains unchanged as the founders join the Board of Constellis.
Constellis Group and Olive Group jointly announced today that the two parties have agreed to merge Olive Group into the existing Constellis Group of Companies. Olive Group will drive the entity’s global focus on commercial sectors, and this merger establishes the combined resources and funding to deliver ambitious plans for commercial expansion, to which both parties are committed. The merged entity will leverage Olive Group’s market leading position and reputation for new growth.
Olive Group is a leading provider of innovative risk management solutions, which include security, programme management, life support and technology solutions, to blue chip commercial customers operating primarily in the energy, aviation, and infrastructure sectors. Headquartered in the Middle East with principal offices in the UAE, UK, and USA, Olive Group has more than 5,000 staff operating in 20 countries on 5 continents. Olive Group will continue to operate its distinct and highly respected brand, driven by its reputation of delivering operational excellence in conformity with the strictest compliance standards in the industry. Olive Group’s management team will remain unchanged and is committed to driving the growth of the combined Group with the scale and support afforded through this new partnership with Constellis Group’s global operations.
Chris and David St.George, co-founders of Olive Group, will join Constellis Group’s Board of Directors, adding immeasurable value, insight, and relationships in the commercial markets they and Olive Group’s leadership team helped establish over the past decade. Olive Group’s founding shareholders have chosen to maintain a significant ownership position in the combined entity.
“We are excited to welcome Olive Group into the Constellis family,” said Craig Nixon, CEO of Constellis Group. “The leadership, experience and capabilities of our combined operations establish us as a full-service risk management, integrated security, and managed services provider with a global presence.”
Olive Chairman Chris St.George said: “Olive Group’s clients face increasingly complex challenges in managing a myriad of risks including the safety of personnel, integrity of investments, regulatory compliance and the protection of corporate reputation. As a result, Olive Group needs to offer more services, and this merger establishes a unique position for the company to meet these global operational demands.”
Martin Rudd, Olive Group’s Managing Director, who will continue to lead Olive Group added: “Triple Canopy and Olive Group share deserved reputations for operational excellence and governance across government and commercial clients. Not only will this combination allow each company to benefit from the other’s considerable experience, but it will provide us both with a broad and resilient platform for growth. We are tremendously excited about the opportunities which lie ahead for the combined Group”.
The transaction brings together a global team of industry leaders serving a broad list of customers that include governments, NGOs, and a diverse mix of commercial entities. The transaction furthers Constellis Group’s participation in the commercial sector and provides global expansion into established and emerging markets across several continents. Operating under the oversight of a distinguished Board and an experienced management team, the combination of these companies will enable a significant expansion of services within the global stabilization market, delivering complex program management, mission support, integrated security solutions, training and advisory services throughout the world.

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Industry Talk: STTEP and Relentless Pursuit In Nigeria

Nigerian army 72 mobile strike force operatives pictured with their newley acquired beryl rifles. credit: nigerian_armed.forces

I have been away from the blog for awhile and now I am trying to play catch up. Over the last couple of months, probably the most significant story that stood out to me was the news from Eeben Barlow’s company called STTEP. Apparently they were on contract in Nigeria to help the Goodluck Jonathan government turn the tide agains Boko Haram. You heard that correctly–STTEP was called in to take on Boko Haram, a vicious jihadist group who is now allied with ISIS!

Now honestly, I had heard rumors of South Africans fighting in Nigeria last time I was home and hanging out on Facebook. What really grabbed my attention though was the deaths of Leon Lotz and Nangombe, both of which were former Koevoet, and both of which were working in Nigeria as contractors. The company they worked for was Pilgrims Africa Limited (or a subsidiary of Pilgrims Group Limited), which the managing director for PAL is Cobus Claassens.*

Cobus is quite the character and he was involved with Executive Outcomes back in the day. He was also on the History Channel with a show called Shadow Force and in the documentary called Shadow Company. If that isn’t enough, he was also the inspiration for Danny Archer, the main character in the movie Blood Diamond.

The thing with this news, is there wasn’t a lot to go with it. What were these guys doing there. Also, why was Boko Haram getting destroyed in Nigeria?

Well, it was only until SOFREP and Jack Murphy was able to score an interview with STTEP, another group operating there, where the bigger picture unfolded. Here is a quote of why STTEP was there and how their contract morphed from rescuing the Chibok Girls to fighting and stopping Boko Haram, based on the interview Jack did with Eeben Barlow (the chairman of STTEP).

The chairman of STTEP, Eeben Barlow, reports, “Our relationship with the Nigerian government and the Nigerian Armed Forces is very good, and as fellow Africans, they recognize the value we have added thus far at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.”

In mid-December of 2014, STTEP was contracted to deploy to Nigeria. Their mission was to train a mobile strike force to rescue the Chibok school girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. When the terrorists abducted over 250 schoolgirls, it drew international media attention and put the ‘Nigerian Taliban’ on the map. Michelle Obama responded to the kidnapping with a perfectly ineffective social-media campaign driven by the Twitter hashtag #bringbackourgirls.

An advanced party of South African military veterans working for STTEP landed in Nigeria by early January of 2015. Instead of social-media activism, they held a selection program for the elite Nigerian military unit they were to train while the main body of STTEP began to arrive. “It is a mobile strike force with its own organic air support, intelligence, communications, logistics, and other relevant combat support elements,” said Barlow. He declined to name the unit they were training, but an open source investigation strongly suggests this unit is the 72 Strike Force.

By the time the main body of STTEP contractors arrived, the selection process for the Nigerian strike force was complete and training was able to commence immediately. “We built it from scratch,” Barlow explained, “and were able to, in a very short space of time, get it combat ready. The results this force achieved, along with the support of the Nigerian Army, are indeed remarkable.”

STTEP trained the Nigerian strike force in mounted and dismounted tactics with an emphasis on operational flexibility, which was tailored toward the unit’s specific mission. “I think we sometimes gave them [Nigerian military] gray hairs, as we were forever begging for equipment, ammunition, and so forth,” Barlow said as they conducted training in a remote area. “But, the credit in this instance goes to the chief instructor and his men, who implemented the training.”

The South Africans trained their Nigerian counterparts in the tactics, techniques, and procedures that they had practiced and refined on the battlefield since South Africa’s conflicts in the 1980s, including Barlow’s concept of relentless pursuit (which will be explored in a future article).

Meanwhile, Boko Haram was experiencing an increase in operational tempo and achieving successes in their area of operations. The militants captured Gwoza and established a base there in August, followed by the border town of Malam Fatori in November and Baga in January near Lake Chad. By early January of 2015, Boko Haram was estimated to have control over 20,000 square miles of territory.

With this in mind, STTEP’s mission quickly transitioned from training a rescue unit to training a rapidly deploying mobile strike force, and mentoring those they trained in the field. “By late February, the strike force conducted its first highly successful operational deployment,” Barlow said.

Outstanding and the interview is quite extensive. It is spread out over a six part series and each part discusses the various aspects of the contract and what they did. They also dispelled some myths and lies that was being reported on out there. Not only that, but Eeben dedicated several blog posts to the contract and dispelling myths. Here is a link to each post by SOFREP and Eeben.

SOFREP Interview

Eeben Barlow Speaks Out (Pt. 1): PMC and Nigerian Strike Force Devastates Boko Haram

Eeben Barlow Speaks Out (Pt. 2): Development of a Nigerian Strike Force

Eeben Barlow Speaks Out (Pt. 3): Tactics Used to Destroy Boko Haram

Eeben Barlow Speaks Out (Pt. 4): Rejecting the Racial Narrative

Eeben Barlow Speaks Out (Pt. 5): The External Drivers of Nigeria’s War

Eeben Barlow Speaks Out (Pt. 6): South African Contractors Withdrawal from Nigeria

Eeben Barlow’s Military and Security Blog

Updating the Narrative

Feeding the Narrative

I have also found some interesting outside links that discuss either the contract or filmed the action of Mobile Strike Force 72.

Beegeagle’s Blog

South African Mercenaries and Nigeria; Chairman of STTEP, Colonel Eeben Barlow, Speaks to the Beeagle’s Blog Community On Pervasive False Narratives


The War Against Boko Haram (Full Length video)


COUNTER INSURGENCY OPERATION: The Gains and Prospects ( various shots of trainers working with Nigerians)


As you can see with most of the material, Eeben has been definitely working hard to correct the narrative and call out the myths and lies about this contract. There are plenty of sources of information for folks to tap into when it comes to this contract.

A couple of things that I was curious about, was the methodology or model for this contract. In Part 3 of the SOFREP interviews, the tactics were discussed. It sounded like the model of operations was a mix of what Executive Outcomes did in Sierra Leone (read Eeben’s book Executive Outcomes: Against All Odds or Roelf’s book to read more about that) and it also sounded a lot like what Koevoet did during the South African bush wars. STTEP applied the principal of ‘relentless pursuit‘ to this contract, and yet again, we see success. (Eeben blogged about the concept) Here is a quote from the interview.


When asked about the tactics that STTEP mentors their Nigerian counterparts to use, Eeben Barlow, the company’s chairman, replied, “The strike force was never intended to hold ground. Instead, it operated on the principle of relentless offensive action.” Barlow has previously indicated that this tactic is key to waging an effective counterinsurgency.

In the doctrine Barlow advocates and made use of in Nigeria, relentless offensive action means immediately exploiting successful combat operations to keep the heat on the enemy. This strategy relies of the synchronization of every asset brought to the battlefield, and applied on multiple fronts against Boko Haram. One of those tactics includes the relentless pursuit of enemy forces.

As to the strategy, I asked Eeben on his blog about how involved STTEP was in formulating the strategy to go after Boko Haram. Here is his answer.

In Nigeria, the Strike Force was an asset of a certain infantry division. As such, the division commander was responsible for the overall theatre strategy. He would brief us on a specific operation and ask for our input. He would also ask us how best we could support his operations.
Generally, our relationship with African armies is that they engage with us on planning and execution and we give our input. At times, we are asked to plan the overall operation and then oversee the execution.

It is also important to note, much like EO’s contracts in Angola and Sierra Leone, that STTEP also had involvement with the aviation side of this contract. Here is the quote from the interview.

STTEP also brought an air wing to the table with its package of trainers, advisors, and mentors. The air wing is an organic asset of the strike force and takes its orders from the strike force commander. The pilots fly a variety of missions to include CASVAC, MEDVAC, resupply runs, transporting troops, and even providing air support for the strike force. For instance, the air wing was “given ‘kill blocks’ to the front and flanks of the strike force and could conduct missions in those areas,” Barlow said. This means that the air wing dropped ordnance to create blocking positions, which would prevent the enemy from escaping the operational area that the strike force was patrolling in, essentially isolating the objective area.

Now what I am not clear about, and I don’t think it has been mentioned in the interviews, is if STTEP and Pilgrims Africa Limited were working together in a partnership? Also, with the new president of Nigeria coming onto the scene, I wonder if they will use the services of STTEP?

After discussing this with Eeben on his blog, more than likely Buhari will turn to western aid and money, which will undoubtedly edge out smaller companies like STTEP. That is too bad. Although I have a feeling that STTEP will be getting more business because of their actions in Nigeria, or what they did in the hunt for Kony. Africans helping Africans…

Very interesting stuff and congrats to STTEP for a job well done. Also, good job to the other contractors like Pilgrims Africa Limited working in Nigeria that are helping to defeat Boko Haram. Rest in peace to the fallen and I certainly hope that Nigeria will remember that sacrifice. –Matt

Edit: 6/19/2015- After posting this, I have already received some interesting feedback and I got a correction on some of the details here. The two big ones is that STTEP and Pilgrims Africa Limited were not working together on the training/mentoring contract, and PAL was only involved with the logistical tasks supporting the contract. Leon and Nangombe were also working for STTEP at the time of death and not Pilgrims Africa Limited.

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