Posts Tagged executive outcomes

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

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



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


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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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.

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.

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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 / ?In Geneva: Natacha Foucard (+41 22 917 9458 / or Junko Tadaki (+41 22 917 9298 / or write to
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:?Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 /
Press release here.

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Industry Talk: Roelf Van Heerden And Men Lead PMPF Operation To Free MV Iceberg 1 Hostages

This is all types of cool. Basically the PMPF and their South African mentors/trainers rescued the hostages of the MV Iceberg 1 after a two week siege. This is significant, because this rescue/siege was conducted by a private South African force who commanded an assault force they trained, with the blessing of the Puntland government. And they rescued 22 hostages who had been held for over 1000 days, after a 10 day siege. Ross Perot, eat your heart out.

What is interesting about the account below is the tactics involved and how they adapted to the changing situation. And how Rolf van Heerden’s crew was able to finally resolve the siege using some recoilless weapons, minus the weapon sights. lol

“I asked Mohamed Farole if we could get hold of larger weapons or even mortars. I also talked personally to President Farole about the situation and he raised a concern that we might kill or injure the hostages. We did manage to get hold of a Soviet 82 mm B-10 recoilless rifle and a number of rounds and it wasn’t long before we had deployed it on the beach. With no sights available the crew took aim by aligning the weapon and the ship through the open breach and we fired a number of rounds, striking the vessel around the bridge area.
“The pirates on board obviously took fright and contacted the Puntland ambassador in Dubai to inform him that they wished to surrender but that we should stop shooting at them first. We held our fire on two occasions in an effort to give them the opportunity to surrender but, after a number of breakdowns in communication, I had had enough and we resumed the bombardment of the vessel with all available weapons.
“An old United States 106 mm recoilless rifle, unearthed from the rear of a private home, was the next heavy weapon to arrive, together with six rounds provided by the Puntland government. The aiming process was repeated and after two misses the crew found the correct range and four rounds smashed into the ship with resounding explosions, setting the vessel on fire. This effectively changed the pirates’ minds and they indicated that they really wished to surrender and talk.”

If you want a good primer on Roelf, check out his book called Four Ball One Tracer. He was a commanding officer for Executive Outcomes back in the day, and currently he works under the employ of the PMPF.

Now I am not sure if he is still with Sterling Corporate Services, Bancroft Global Development, or hired directly as a member of the PMPF? There was a lot of back and forth about money and the survival of the PMPF, and it is hard to say what the arrangement is now. All though it is obvious that the men of Sterling Corporate Services are still with the force, and they are still operating.

If you remember, SCS lost one of their men in a PMPF operation last year, and that put them on the map. The UN has been trying to shut them down because they are viewed as the competition that is making the UN look bad. lol Funny how the UN could support and oppose such a force, all at the same time?

With that said, there have been several sources that have identified the effectiveness of the SCS trained and mentored PMPF force, and a reduction in piracy could be attributed to their actions.

Building up indigenous ground forces has also helped. What has really thwarted pirate networks is a ground force known as the Puntland Maritime Police Force, according to an expert who has worked on the ground in Somalia. The PMPF is about 400 men, recruited locally and trained to be a professional anti-piracy police force. And it’s worked, says former Green Beret Roger Carstens, who is working on a project about Somalia and the maritime force and has spent much time on the ground there in recent months. “They basically went in and chased the pirates to keep them out,” Carstens told Situation Report. “That kept the pirates out of the pirate towns, where they staged their attacks, and it screwed [their] investors,” he said. But he warns that if support and resources ebb for the ground force, it could falter. That would be a good thing for the pirates.

“If they fail, you could easily see a resurgence of piracy writ large,” Carstens said, emphasizing that the concentration of pirate activity emanates from Puntland, an area of northeastern Somalia that was declared an autonomous state in 1998.

The other thing that I was curious about is who is paying for the PMPF now? I imagine that the UAE is still funding it. or maybe the owners of the Iceberg paid Puntland to conduct this rescue? Who knows and if anyone is familiar with the funding and survival of the PMPF, I am all ears. Either way, good on Roelf and company and good on the PMPF for rescuing these guys. –Matt


PMPF forces conducting operations to free crew of MV Iceberg 1.


Exclusive: South African-led operation frees hostages from Somali pirates
Written by Andrew Hudson
Tuesday, 29 January 2013 This is
In December 2012 the Puntland Maritime Police Force rescued 22 sailors who had been held hostage on board the Panama-registered ship Iceberg 1 for nearly three years – the longest period for any hostages held by Somali pirates. Roelf van Heerden, the South African commander of the ground force, gives an exclusive first-hand account of the operation.
The Iceberg 1, a 4 500 tonne roll on/roll off cargo vessel owned by Dubai-based Azal Shipping, was hijacked just ten nautical miles off Aden, Yemen, on March 29, 2010. She was carrying generators, transformers and fuel tanks and had a crew of 24 from Yemen, India, Ghana, Sudan, Pakistan and the Philippines.
The Iceberg 1 eventually ran aground in September 2011 off Garacad, a small coastal village in the Galmudug region on Somalia’s eastern seaboard. With two hostages dead, a continuing standoff between the owners and the pirates, and an exhausted, sickly crew of hostages, the last months of 2012 held little prospect of an end to the ordeal. That was until the Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF), under the command of a team of South Africans, took action.
Roelf van Heerden, who commanded the ground forces, is permanently employed by the PMPF and his main role, together with other South Africans, is to train the PMPF and deploy the police force. Van Heerden now takes up the story:
“On 28 October 2012 Mohamed Farole, son of Puntland’s President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, called me at the headquarters of the PMPF in Bossaso and briefed me about the Iceberg. Mohamed, who is the director of the PMPF, also asked me to carefully assess whether the PMPF could undertake an operation aimed at freeing the hostages.
“All previous attempts to resolve the hijacking, including offers of a ransom, had failed due to disagreements between the parties on the ransom amount, the means and the location of the ransom transfer. The ship’s crew were also reportedly in a sorry physical and mental state. The first fatality, a Yemeni, was said to have committed suicide in October 2010 after continuous harassment by the pirates. The other fatality amongst the hostages was the first officer, Dhiraj Kumar Tiwari, who had been severely tortured by the pirates and had not been seen since September 2011.
“The vessel had also run out of fuel and the seasonal high winds had caused both the ship’s anchors to break loose allowing the vessel to drift helplessly onto the rocks. The Iceberg’s hull had ruptured and the lower hold containing eighteen very large generators in 12-metre containers had flooded.

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Books: Four Ball, One Tracer: Commanding Executive Outcomes In Angola And Sierra Leone, By Roelf Van Heerden

Very cool. If you are a fan of Executive Outcomes or a student of private military companies and their uses for war fighting, then this is your book. I have not read this book yet, but this is definitely on my list for Christmas. lol

I would be interested to hear what others have to say if they have read it. I am particularly intrigued with the idea of leading a modern private military force for offensive operations, and all of the unique challenges associated with that endeavor. There is much written about modern military leadership during combat operations, but very little written about modern private military leadership as it applies to combat operations.

It is also a unique study on the true potential of PMC’s, and this kind of insight would give any author, film maker or video game developer some extremely valuable information as to how this type of force really works. The book will be in the Jundi Gear store if anyone wants to find it again in the future. –Matt

Edit: 07/06/2012- I just got an email from Andrew Hudson and he informed me that the book is published and being sold at,,,, and So if anyone reads the book, definitely let us know what you think here. Maybe the authors might come out and answer some questions as well?


Four Ball, One Tracer: Commanding Executive Outcomes In Angola And Sierra Leone
By Roelf van Heerden as told to Andrew Hudson
Book Description
Publication Date: June 2012
Brutally honest and devoid of hyperbole, this is Roelf van Heerden’s Executive Outcomes. / Unapologetic, unassuming and forthright, the combat exploits of Executive Outcomes (EO) in Angola and Sierra Leone are recounted for the first time by a battlefield commander who was physically on the ground during all their major combat operations. From fighting UNITA for the critical oil installations and diamond fields of Angola to the offensive against the RUF in Sierra Leone to capture the Kono diamond fields and the palace coup which ousted Captain Valentine Strasser, van Heerden was at the forefront. He tells of the tragedy of child soldiers, illegal diamond mining and the curse of government soldiers who turn on their own people; he tells of RUF atrocities, the harrowing attempt to rescue a downed EO pilot and the poignant efforts to recover the remains of EO soldiers killed in action. Coupled with van Heerden’s gripping expose’, hitherto unpublished photographs, order of battle charts and battle maps offer unprecedented access to the major actions as they took place on the ground during the heydays of EO.
Buy the book here.

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