Posts Tagged eeben barlow

Publications: Nigeria’s Private Army–A Perception Study Of PMSC’s In The War Against Boko Haram

As soon as I found this, I had to share. I have never seen anyone do an analysis like this about our industry and it needs to be put out there for consumption. These folks attempted to get actual public perception about PMSC’s fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria. And even though they do not mention STTEP specifically, this is the company they are absolutely talking about.

It should be noted though that the study had none of the pertinent links to the reportage done on STTEP in Nigeria. Specifically the excellent articles by SOFREP and their interview with Eeben Barlow, the chairman of STTEP. After all, they are the only site that Eeben gave an interview too in regards to this contract. Eeben also gave plenty of information about what STTEP did on his blog, so it was odd to not see any links to those sources in the footnotes.

For whatever reason, they decided to keep the report free from those sources, and focus solely on doing their survey of Nigerians and their perceptions of PMSC’s in Nigeria. Specifically, PMSC’s and their role in countering Boko Haram.

Below I have posted their findings, and I was kind of shocked. Overall, there was very high support for using private military contractors against Boko Haram. 75 percent of respondents in telephone surveys supported groups like STTEP fighting Boko Haram. On social media it was 62 percent! That is incredible.

The reasons for supporting companies like STTEP are pretty simple. They could care less who they used to defeat Boko Haram, just as long as they were defeated. As for those that opposed using PMSC’s, they expressed that Nigeria should do this themselves.

Very cool and this will go into the archive here for anyone needing to come back to it. You can find a copy of this report at Remote Control’s website, and this is the pdf for it. I posted the findings below, but please check out the rest of the report to dig into how they conducted the survey or check out their website to learn more about the group. –Matt

 

 

Commissioned by the Remote Control project, the Nigeria Security Network carried out a perception study into the use of private military contractors. The study suggests that the majority of Nigerians support using private military contractors to fight Boko Haram. However, within the minority that oppose their use, some expressed opinions that could be vulnerable to manipulation by Boko Haram, due to their similar emphasis on western meddling in Nigerian affairs. The research suggests that opposition to PMSCs is strongest when they are engaged in combat roles, and that their potential for carrying out human rights abuses with impunity was of particular concern. The report concludes with a series of recommendations.

Level of support

Our study found that the majority of Nigerians are in favour of using private military contractors against Boko Haram. 75 percent of respondents to our telephone survey said they support using foreign mercenaries. 23 percent, meanwhile, said they oppose with only 3 per cent not having a view.
There was a significant difference in responses between men and women, with 80 percent of women saying they support using mercenaries compared to 69 percent of men. Conversely, 17 percent of women opposed using mercenaries while 23 percent of men opposed them. The reasons for this fall outside the re mit of this study, but may be an indication of heightened fear among female segments of the population following large numbers of abductions of women and girls by Boko Haram.
There was a little regional variation beyond the margin of error, with opposition significantly stronger than average in the South East and weaker in North Central. This is notable since the North Central region, including the city of Kano, is an area that has been significantly affected by Boko Haram’s violence. The higher than average support for mercenaries may be due to the region’s heightened experiences of violence. Conversely, the South East is one of the least affected regions. However, respondents in the most affected region – Nigeria’s North East – answered much closer to the average, making it difficult to draw conclusions about these regional variations.
On social media, of our sample 62 percent supported the use of private military contractors, with 36 percent opposing and 2 percent expressing a mixed opinion.
Reasons for supporting
Reasons for supporting private military contractors varied. The most popular reason was that people did not care what method was used to defeat Boko Haram, as long as they are defeated. 42 percent of support- ers argued this. Meanwhile, 27 percent suggested the contractors could offer better capabilities, while 20 percent said the Nigerian army is not effective enough to stop Boko Haram by itself. 6 percent said Nigeria can benefit from using foreign fighters since Boko Haram does the same.
These reasons were also reflected in our social media analysis. The most common reason was again that the method of defeating Boko Haram shouldn’t matter, with 47 per cent of those in favour arguing this.
Other common reasons included a feeling that Nigeria was being singled out for using private contractors when it is normal for other countries to do so, and a belief that contractors would be more effective.
Reasons for opposing
Of those telephone survey respondents opposed to using foreign mercenaries to fight Boko Haram, most (51 percent) expressed opposition to private military contractors on the grounds that Nigeria should have the capabilities to defeat Boko Haram without outside help. A further 27 percent of respondents cited reasons that could be interpreted as aligning with the insurgency’s messages or that could be manipulated by the insurgency to gain support. Within this group, 12 percent said foreign mercenaries are more likely than Nigerian troops to hurt civilians or commit human rights violations, 9 per cent said foreign mercenaries are trying to control or colonise Nigeria, and 6 per cent said they are trying to impose Western ideas on Nigeria.
16 percent gave “other” reasons for opposing contractors that were not anticipated, for example that the Nigerian army knows the terrain better.
Like with the telephone survey results, our social media analysis revealed that the largest number (46 percent) of tweeters who opposed private military contractors did so on the grounds that the Nigerian army should be able to defeat Boko Haram itself. Other, less common reasons included the perception that mercenaries were trying to advance a colonial agenda, that using them may back re, and that the Nigerian state should not re- cruit soldiers associated with the Apartheid era in South Africa.
Switchers
To determine whether perceptions of private military contractors changed according to their role, we asked respondents their views of contractors if they were restricted to a training role versus a combat role.
This variable made a small but perceptible difference. If used only in a training role, 78 percent of respondents supported using the private contractors, whereas if used in a combat role 71 percent supported their use. Similarly, if used in a training role, 21 percent opposed their use, while 27 percent opposed their use if used in a combat role.
7 and 6 percent respectively may seem like a small amount. However, when considering the population of Borno state alone, which is likely to be around 4.5 million, 6 percent represents 270,000 people. Even if a tiny fraction of these were so angered by the use of private military contractors that they were tempted to support Boko Haram, this could result in thousands of new supporters.
This switcher group is especially important because those who switched were mostly the same people who were concerned about private military contractors imposing Western values or colonialism on Nigeria,
or abusing human rights, rather than simply opposing them because they think the Nigerian Army should not need such assistance. In total, there were 18 respondents in the former category. Of these 18, 16 switched their opinion if private contractors take only a training role. This suggests a restricted role for private military contractors could mitigate the perceptual backlash and reduce the risk of Boko Haram gaining support as a result. However, it must be noted that because the group expressing negative opinions for these reasons was so small, further research would be needed to ensure these ndings are not a statistical anomaly.

Read the rest of the report here.

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Books: Composite Warfare, By Eeben Barlow

Right on! This is the highly anticipated book written by Eeben Barlow about his thoughts on how to conduct warfare on the African continent. Be sure to check out his blog post about the book over at his site, because he certainly will be answering some questions about it there.

As for an actual shipping date for the book, that is still to be determined and the publisher will have more on that I am sure. The date below says September 19 for the published date, so perhaps in September some time? But you can pre-order now and definitely get in line. Check it out. –Matt

Edit: 09/18/2016 – The book is now for sale and shipping at 30 South Publishers. You can buy the book here.

Website for STTEP is here. (Eeben’s company)

 

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Composite Warfare: The Conduct of Successful Ground Forces Operations in Africa
By Eeben Barlow
Price: $49.95
Product Description
As a continent, Africa presents her armies with a vast, dynamic and multidimensional operating environment. It has numerous complex and diverse ethnic, religious, cultural and tribal interests and loyalties, along with many multifaceted threat-drivers coupled to varied and infrastructure-poor terrain plus vast climatic variations. The continent is, furthermore, characterized by numerous half-won conflicts and wars fought by incorrectly structured, inadequately trained and ill-equipped armies. For many reasons, these forces have difficulty adapting to the complex, demanding and rapidly changing environments they do battle in. Similarly, the armies have difficulty in decisively defeating the various threats they face. Many of these problems stem from the fact that numerous modern-day African armies are merely clones of the armies established by their once-colonial masters, their Cold War allies or their new international allies. Many of the principles and tactics, techniques and procedures they were – and still are – being taught relate to fighting in Europe and not in Africa. Some of these concepts are not even relevant to Africa.

This book is intended as a guide and textbook for African soldiers and scholars who wish to understand the development of hostilities, strategy, operational design, doctrine and tactics. It also illustrates the importance of nonpartisanship and the mission and role of the armed forces. Officers, NCOs and their subordinates need to, furthermore, understand their role in defending and protecting the government and the people they serve. They additionally need to know how to successfully accomplish their numerous missions with aggression, audacity, boldness, speed and surprise. The book provides the reader with valuable information relating to conventional and unconventional maneuver. It also discusses how African armies can, with structured and balanced forces, achieve strategic, operational and tactical success. It covers the role of government along with operations related to war, operations other than war and intelligence operations and how these operations, operating in a coordinated and unified manner, can secure and strengthen a government. ## Composite Warfare draws on the author’s experiences and lessons in Central, Southern, East, West and North Africa where he has served numerous African governments as a politico-military strategist, division commander, division adviser, battalion commander and special operations commander.

Product Details
• Amazon Sales Rank: #437301 in Books
• Published on: 2015-09-19
• Original language: English
• Dimensions: .79″ h x 6.14″ w x 9.21″ l, 2.15 pounds
• Binding: Paperback
• 576 pages
Buy the book here.

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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

Vice

The War Against Boko Haram (Full Length video)

MediaUno

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

72ND MOBILE STRIKE FORCE

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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Industry Talk: Pseudo Operations And The Relentless Pursuit Of Kony

But then she reminds herself of the numbers. In the past two years, L.R.A. violence has dropped by ninety-three per cent, from seven hundred and six killings in 2010 to only fifty-one in 2012. According to Resolve, a U.S.-based analysis and advocacy group, the L.R.A. had approximately four hundred fighters in 2010; by June, 2013, they were down to a hundred and eighty Ugandan fighters and fifty armed zande—abductees from Congo and the Central African Republic.
“It was only ninety-three per cent because of relentless pursuit,” Davis said. “If we pulled out, that would plummet. I know that is something to celebrate. And if Kony dies a natural death under a mango tree someday, I’m O.K. with that—I know he’ll see justice, as long as he is not hurting kids and women.”
“We don’t need accolades,” Davis told me. “We are not bleeding at the end of the spear, getting pursued by crocodiles and killer bees. The Ugandans are.” And they show no signs of letting up.

Thanks to Adam for sending this one, and a big congrats to Eeben Barlow and his team for all the work they did on this contract. Also, I have much respect for Shannon Sedgwick Davis and her crew for actually taking action and having the courage to contact Eeben and funding this contract. You did the right thing. A hat tip as well to the Ugandan forces who embraced this training and made it work for them out in the field.

What makes this story significant is the fact that pseudo operations was taught to the Ugandan military by a private company, and there are actual tangible results that we can point to after they received this training.  Although I wouldn’t mind seeing a more academic study applied to how much of  an impact pseudo operations really had, it would seem to me that these initial findings are encouraging.

The other really cool aspect of this story is that for those of you that follow the blog and read the discussions I had with Eeben Barlow a couple of years ago about the concept of pseudo operations here and here,  you will quickly realize that in fact, something positive did come about from those conversations. That someone reading those conversations and posts over at his blog, whom actually had the money to fund such a contract, came forth and embraced the idea for the relentless pursuit of Joseph Kony and the destruction of his LRA. Here is a quote referencing how this group came to Eeben via his blog.

Poole had been reading a military and security blog written by Eeben Barlow, who had been a commando and a covert agent for the South African apartheid regime’s most notorious squads. He was also a visionary and a dreamer. Back in 1997, he told me that his goal was to create the best and biggest military consultancy in the world. The private army he founded, Executive Outcomes, hired itself out, in the late nineties, to end civil wars in Sierra Leone and Angola in exchange for lots of cash and access to diamond and oil fields.
Davis went to meet Barlow in South Africa, and, after a family dinner with his wife and son, he told her he would take the job—and that he did not want a fee. He did not want to make money on this, he told her; she would just have to pay his trainers and underwrite his expenses. This was the kind of partner she was looking for.

 Pretty cool. Here is a quote about the pseudo operations training the Ugandan’s received.

The effects of the training were evident. Charles, a lieutenant from West Nile, told me that in the old days they would unleash a thousand bullets every time they encountered the L.R.A. Now, he said, they would wait and track in silence. The South Africans had taught them tactics for crossing rivers with logs and ponchos, how to swim and how to avoid crocodiles, which had killed one soldier and attacked another. “The South Africans taught us ‘pseudo,’ ” Charles said. “You behave like your enemy so you can approach him, or even infiltrate inside the camp. We pleated our hair like they do, put on civilian shirts, uniform pants. Sometimes we went barefoot. We used to travel forty or forty-five in a team; now we can go six.”

Here is the quote about the raid that missed Kony. It certainly hit intel pay dirt though!

In September, 2011, the first special-operations group trained by the South Africans crossed into South Sudan and caught Kony by surprise at a meeting with all his commanders. He escaped, but the Ugandans took back a haul of valuable intelligence: satellite phones, a computer, and diaries. Defectors later revealed that the L.R.A. fighters were baffled by the attack: Was this some new Ugandan army? After the raid, Kony lost contact with his entourage. He roamed the bush alone with one of his pregnant Sudanese wives, and helped deliver her baby—one of probably more than a hundred small Konys now in the world. When he reëmerged, he was so furious that he demoted all his commanders. According to defectors, he had moved to a new camp, in southern Darfur.

And this is what DoS thought about the whole thing.

By the end of 2011, Barlow and his trainers were gone. “Even folks at State and the Department of Defense acknowledged the training Bridgeway offered was very helpful in advancing the Ugandan Army’s capacity,” a Washington-based analyst told me. But they are not yet willing to say so publicly. When I asked a State Department official about the significance of Davis’s work, he refused to comment beyond noting that “the Bridgeway Foundation is an independent organization that does not have an official relationship with the U.S. government.”

So with that said, I think Eeben and his crew deserve a great deal of recognition and thanks for a job well done. He has proven once again that private industry can indeed produce amazing results through innovation, dedication and hard work. That pseudo operations or PO can be taught and it can be effective in some types of warfare. As Sun Tzu would say, ‘all warfare is based on deception’, and PO is an excellent deceptive tactic. –Matt

 

shannon-sedgwick-davis-1-465

Shannon Sedgwick Davis.

How a Texas Philanthropist Helped Fund the Hunt for Joseph Kony
October 21, 2013
Posted by Elizabeth Rubin

One night in July, 2010, Shannon Sedgwick Davis, a lawyer and activist from San Antonio, Texas, and the mother of two young boys, found herself seated across from the chief of the Ugandan Army, General Aronda Nyakairima, at his hilltop headquarters, in Kampala. “It was one of those out-of-body experiences,” Davis told me. Davis was on the verge of becoming deeply involved in the campaign to capture Joseph Kony. In the course of a quarter century, Kony abducted tens of thousands of people, mostly children, and conscripted them into the Lord’s Resistance Army (L.R.A.), which was conceived as a Ugandan rebel force but whose primary target has been civilians in several African nations. “I am a full-blown mom, sitting here with this Ugandan general,” Davis said. “And I can’t believe I have an audience with this man, and that he didn’t write me off as crazy.”
Davis had two questions for Aronda: Would military trainers and communications make it easier for the Ugandan Army to chase down Kony—who is wanted by the International Criminal Court—in the jungles of Congo, the Central African Republic, and Sudan, where he and his commanders have scattered, and, more important to her, rescue the women and children still in his clutches?
Yes and yes, said the general. His eyes looked so tired, Davis recalled, that she hadn’t been sure she had his attention. “You almost want to pry them open so you make sure he’s still listening. But he said they would welcome any assistance, and that it was their problem to solve.” It was late, and in that first meeting Aronda seemed unsure what to make of this passionate, small blond woman from Texas. But the meetings persisted. Together, they began to map out what the general wanted and the guarantees that Davis would require from the Ugandans before embarking on an unorthodox venture: the charitable organization she heads, the Bridgeway Foundation, would hire private military contractors to train an African army.

Read the rest of this entry »

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United Nations: Working Group To Debate UN Use Of PMSC’s

“Rwanda was a horrific UN failure where lives were equated to dollars. Doug’s comments aren’t entirely correct: EO wasn’t “between assignments” nor were we on our way to New York. The UN turned it down because we were “too expensive” – even though we were several hundred million dollars cheaper than they were.” –Eeben Barlow on the UN approaching Executive Outcomes to end the Rwandan Genocide

This should be interesting to watch. Although it would have been nice to see a more varied panel that included some actual CEO’s of companies whom have actually contracted with the UN to provide security. Or at least were approached by the UN to provide services….

The other point to bring up is an effort within the UN to establish an ‘international regulatory framework on PMSC’s’. Here is a video of what they are up to. I imagine we will hear more about this effort in the discussion.

For some interesting discussion and background on the UN’s use of PMSC’s, I have covered the subject in prior posts here. Also, just type in Google Search, ‘UN, Feral Jundi’ or ‘United Nations, Feral Jundi’ for more posts about the UN and PMSC’s.

Also,  check out the Kings Of War blog and their discussion on the UN’s use of PMSC’s here. (check out the comments by Doug Brooks, David Isenberg, myself and others)

Eeben Barlow also has much to add to the discussion about the UN and PMSC’s here and here. His company, Executive Outcomes, was actually approached by the UN to end the Rwandan Genocide. I wonder if the panel will even delve into this history? –Matt

 

Mass grave skulls from Rwandan Genocide.

 

Expert group on mercenaries debates use of private military and security companies by the United Nations
26 July 2013
The United Nations Working Group on the use of mercenaries will discuss the use of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in UN peace and humanitarian operations in the field.
The panel discussion will take place on 31 July 2013 at the UN Headquarters in New York, as part of a special year-long study on the use PMSCs by the UN bodies worldwide, which the expert group will present to the UN General Assembly in 2014.
“As a large consumer of security services, the UN has the opportunity to positively influence the standards and behaviour of the industry to comply with international human rights norms and support the implementation of the UN Charter,” said Anton Katz, who currently heads the expert group charged by the Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the activities of companies providing security and consultancy services on the international market.
“The UN should serve as a model for world Governments and other organizations in its use of private military and security companies,” the expert stressed. “Without proper standards and oversight, the outsourcing of security functions by the UN to private companies could have a negative effect on the effectiveness and image of the UN in the field.”
The five-strong expert body, which has drafted a possible international convention on private military and security companies, has already provided an overview of the UN policy regarding the use of PMSCs in a previous report* to the UN General Assembly in 2010.
The event will feature two panels, focusing on the use of armed security services by the UN and the use of PMSCs in peace operations. Details of the event, including the panelists, are available here.
The panel discussions will be also broadcasted live at the UN web TV.
The Working Group will hold a press conference at 13:30 on 1 August 2013 at briefing room S-237, the UN Headquarters.
The Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination was established in 2005 by the then Commission on Human Rights. It is composed of five independent experts serving in their personal capacities: Mr. Anton Katz (Chair-Rapporteur, South Africa), Ms. Faiza Patel (Pakistan), Ms. Patricia Arias (Chile), Ms. El¿bieta Karska (Poland) and Mr. Gabor Rona (United States/Hungary).

Learn more, log on here.
(*) Check the full report to the UN General Assembly here.
Read the Working Group’s draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies here.
For more information and media requests please contact: ?In New York: Nenad Vasiæ (+1 212 963 5998 / vasic@un.org) ?In Geneva: Natacha Foucard (+41 22 917 9458 / nfoucard@ohchr.org) or Junko Tadaki (+41 22 917 9298 / jtadaki@ohchr.org) or write to mercenaries@ohchr.org
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:?Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)
Press release here.

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Africa: The Anarchy Gravy Train

     What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else — something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you’d like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry.

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   I was turned on to Mr. Gettleman’s stuff after doing a little searching around on all things Africa, and I am impressed with what he has reported on.  He seems to have a feel for what is really going on, and has boiled it down to it’s most basic root causes.  From Somalia to the Congo, it is all the same.  It is the Anarchy Gravy Train, and all of these seedy and despicable groups mentioned, all benefit from this chaos. They don’t want order, because it is a threat to their lively-hood.

   At best what I can determine from all of this, is that these groups have found a means of survival through terror. It not only feeds them but gets them anything they want….anything.  That’s pretty powerful, and these struggling governments who are dealing with these groups are having a hard time selling a better deal.  So these thugs look at government as a threat to their good deal and terror based businesses.

   It is the same with the current drug war, and you could easily say that the cartels only benefit from a weak government and weak borders.  Anarchy, or something close to anarchy, is a place in which enterprising criminals can really flourish.

   Look at Haiti right now, and that would be an excellent study for this concept.  With the earthquake came instant anarchy.  Infrastructure is destroyed, prisons crumble and convicts escape, and the government or any semblance of it is not able to protect or adequately help their people.  Crime increases, and business based on that anarchy increases.  Things like charging for shade under a tree, or selling child slaves, all because there is no one around to tell them that they can’t do that. That is what Africa is all about, and it is sad.

   So in a sea of chaos and anarchy, how do you establish order?  That is the million dollar question, and in Africa, it is a question that is continually pondered day in and day out, and with little success.

   From my point of view as a security professional and as an independent contractor or businessman, I could give some suggestions as to how to bring order to chaos.  Although my suggestions might not be the most politically correct solutions, they are none the less just ideas to think about.

   Business must be supported and protected by government.  I can’t stress enough how important business is to a government.  If you have the support of business, and you actually do things that increase business or brings a return on investment for the community, then I think countries in Africa will be able to do a better job at diminishing the power of these free ranging thugs. Telecommunications is a big one, and any effort of the government to promote that and get it out to the masses, will only help in other areas of commerce and governance. Educations and the promotion of innovation is another.  Anything a government can do, to stimulate business and get people occupied with that, as opposed to committing crimes or fighting each other, will help. It produces jobs, and increases the quality of living by bringing more cash into local economies.

   Security is the second area that needs to be a priority.  Governments must have adequate protection, and they must do all they can to protect it’s people.  If they have the resources to raise an army and police, then that is one way.  If they have the resources, but not the manpower, then using assistance of other countries or contracting a PMC would be another way.  Or the third way a country could protect itself and it’s people, is through the means of Letter of Marque and Reprisal.  To issue a LoM to individuals, and have them focused on taking the assets away from enemies of the state, and/or killing and capturing those enemies would be an excellent way of kick starting a government.  This is privateering, and governments could turn to this activity as a cost effective way of defeating it’s enemies and eradicating these free ranging thugs and rebel groups that we read about all the time.

   You could also use bounty hunting as a means to eradicate or capture these thugs.  If countries could contract the services of competent companies to do this task, then that would buy them the time necessary to raise a police or army.  And as the author pointed out below, once you take out the leaders of these roving bands of thugs, they tend to dissipate. Focusing the energies of a professional and competent company on the task of removing this threat, could be a real help in the over all effort of creating peace and stability within a country.

   My point with both of these activities, is that countries should have the right and means to contract with professional forces who could accomplish the task of destroying any threats to a government.  Especially in countries that are deemed failed states, or pretty damn close.  Or countries that are so overwhelmed that even their current forces at maximum levels, are unable to do the task (like in Mexico).

   The example of what I am talking about, is early America and our use of privateers in order to defeat the British on the high seas.  We did not have a sufficiently sized Continental Navy, and privateers was the answer.  Using mercenaries was our answer to manpower deficiencies during the Battle of Derne back during the Barbary Pirates days.(our very first foreign action as a young country) Or even look at the use of contractors today by the US–there are thousands of us working in the war. Why does the west continue to deny other countries whom they call friends, their right to defend self in such a way? Because currently, the means we are currently allowing countries to use, are pathetic.

   We say things like ‘only the UN is authorized to be in the Congo’.  And then what happens?  They fail miserably, and things get worse.  We say companies like Executive Outcomes are unjust and illegitimate, yet when they are contracted to help a government, like with Sierra Leone, they were successful. How about we put that choice in the hands of the governments of countries, and stop dictating what we think works or doesn’t work?

   Ideally it would be nice if all countries in Africa, had the ability to raise armies that were sufficiently organized and violent to deal with their threats.  Yet time and time again, governments fail to create such things.  The local populations are not able to produce recruits for these armies that are able to operate at an advanced level.  Education and health deficiencies are contributors.  Corruption in society and government is another deficiency.  There are a number of reasons why local males (or females) are not able to do the job.  Some countries are just decimated do to war or famine, and to say that they could raise armies that can do the job is a joke.  So where do they turn to, to get the strategic advantage?

   Well if you introduce a company with some capability, and mix that up with the best local troops a country can offer, hence creating a hybrid force that could do the job, then that would be one way.  Having a company do it all, or even another country do it all, would be another.  This is not rocket science, and with the unorganized thugs we are seeing in most of Africa, forces like what I am talking about and what Eeben brought to the table with EO, are the types of forces that would end this ‘anarchy gravy train’.

   The final component of destroying the anarchy gravy train, is international will.  The mandates that the UN has operated on, are terrible.  You must work to end wars, and that takes violence of action.  You do not send in peacekeepers to somehow bring stability during an active war.  The war must end, and that only happens after one side has broken the will of the other.  Or you destroy the leadership of that other side.  Only after the war has ended and the parties on both sides is exhausted, can you then begin to introduce peacekeepers.

   What instead should happen, is wars should be fought and ended as quickly as possible.  It takes extreme violence and strategy that far surpasses the other side, to make that happen.  It also takes political will, not only from the government, but of the countries of the world who are looking on.

   Just imagine if the UN was created back during the early days of America?  And the countries of the world decided to send the UN to the Americas, to stand in between the rebels and the British?  Do you think for a second, that the UN could accomplish that task?  If anything, colonial rebel forces would just attack and steal from the UN, much like they do now a days in places like Africa. Or because the UN is so ineffectual, they could just claim that they are a tool of the British, and then turn the UN into a target of the rebels–much like local forces do to the UN today. And as the UN mission fails in America, donors to the UN continue to question why it even exists, much like countries do now.  Pathetic really.

   To end this Anarchy Gravy Train in places like Africa, we need to start looking at ideas that work.  Ideas that have continued to be attacked because of misconceptions coming from the media or from those who stand to benefit from the Anarchy Gravy Train.  I will continue to offer the lessons of the past, and how they could be applied to today.  But until the powers that be, get realistic about actions that will bring the kind of peace and stability these countries need, we will continue to watch this horrid spectacle. –Matt

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Africa’s Forever Wars

Why the continent’s conflicts never end.

MARCH/APRIL 2010

BY JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

There is a very simple reason why some of Africa’s bloodiest, most brutal wars never seem to end: They are not really wars. Not in the traditional sense, at least. The combatants don’t have much of an ideology; they don’t have clear goals. They couldn’t care less about taking over capitals or major cities — in fact, they prefer the deep bush, where it is far easier to commit crimes. Today’s rebels seem especially uninterested in winning converts, content instead to steal other people’s children, stick Kalashnikovs or axes in their hands, and make them do the killing. Look closely at some of the continent’s most intractable conflicts, from the rebel-laden creeks of the Niger Delta to the inferno in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and this is what you will find.

What we are seeing is the decline of the classic African liberation movement and the proliferation of something else — something wilder, messier, more violent, and harder to wrap our heads around. If you’d like to call this war, fine. But what is spreading across Africa like a viral pandemic is actually just opportunistic, heavily armed banditry. My job as the New York Times’ East Africa bureau chief is to cover news and feature stories in 12 countries. But most of my time is spent immersed in these un-wars.

I’ve witnessed up close — often way too close — how combat has morphed from soldier vs. soldier (now a rarity in Africa) to soldier vs. civilian. Most of today’s African fighters are not rebels with a cause; they’re predators. That’s why we see stunning atrocities like eastern Congo’s rape epidemic, where armed groups in recent years have sexually assaulted hundreds of thousands of women, often so sadistically that the victims are left incontinent for life. What is the military or political objective of ramming an assault rifle inside a woman and pulling the trigger? Terror has become an end, not just a means.

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