Posts Tagged PMSC

China: OBOR, Africa And China’s Growing PMSC Industry

Members of the Ever Victorious Army, a mercenary army in China, during China’s Taiping Revolution. Led by American Frederick Townsend Ward and later Charles Gordon.

Every once in awhile, someone writes a good article on the state of some of these foreign markets that I really don’t have a good grasp of. For example, I do not speak Chinese, I do not work in the PMSC market in China, and I have had no interaction with Chinese contractors here at the blog or on Facebook. That’s not to say that they are not reading the blog or my FB stuff, but still, it is extremely difficult to get a good read on what is going on with that industry.

So I have to depend upon open source stuff that comes out, and try to put the pieces together. I also use my background as an armed security contractor to sift through what is interesting and what is not. With that said, I found these two articles below, to be very interesting.

The first talks about some key incidents that have fueled some movement in the Chinese PMSC market. In South Sudan last summer, there was a typical African ‘wild fire’ that broke out between the warring political factions there, and Chinese companies and their personnel were trapped. A PMSC named DeWe was called upon to rescue these folks, and their operation lasted over 50 hours. Here is a quote.

On the evening of July 8, the streets of the South Sudanese capital of Juba were raked with gunfire as an uneasy truce between warring political factions broke down. Inside the offices of DeWe Security, a Chinese private security firm, phones started ringing. Panicked Chinese oil workers employed by the China National Petroleum Corp, the main client of DeWe (pronounced DeWei) in South Sudan, were calling an emergency number to say they were in harm’s way and awaiting instructions. For Kong Wei, head of DeWe’s Juba office and a veteran of the People’s Liberation Army who retired five years ago, it was the start of a 50 hour-marathon without sleep as he and his colleagues executed an evacuation plan. “Bullets and shells flew over our compound all day and night”, says Mr Kong. The contractors soon realized that their tin-roofed cinder-block building couldn’t stop bullets ” just one of the many lessons they would learn.
In all, 330 Chinese civilians, stranded at 10 locations across the city, were instructed to hunker down until the airport could reopen. Some moved into shrapnel-proof metal containers. It was only on the fourth day of the fighting, once the government had blasted the rebels out of Juba, that the trapped workers were evacuated to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

I have no idea how many CNPC personnel were killed or if they all made it out alive, but the point being is that this was a major security nightmare, and it sounds like they were not that prepared for such an event. Chinese companies are not that responsible in that regard, and they are also going about it security in a very naive kind of way. For example, you should not be doing security in places like Iraq without a gun. Nor should you be providing security on boats without weapons. It’s just stupid and I continue to see this learning curve–they fear an liability of arming folks, then a bloody incident occurs where folks are killed and the security failed in protecting everyone, and then you get the backlash from the families of the deceased and from your citizens back home. Then eventually, they come to the logical point of arming their security. Remember, your threats out there could care less about your views on weapons and they will exploit your weaknesses if unarmed.

It kills me when this lesson had to be learned in the beginning stages of the Marsec industry when piracy was peaking, and unarmed guards were actually jumping ship as ‘armed’ pirates had their way with the client and their vessel. Well, the Chinese are learning this as well.

The other thing that needs to be brought up when talking about China, is their economic policy. OBOR or One Belt One Road is a Silk Road 2.0 type economic policy that China is currently trying to implement. It is said to be worth well over a trillion dollars. What is also driving OBOR is China has a manufacturing surplus, and it needs more trading partners and routes bad. Especially when they are now dealing with a Trump administration that has not been that favorable towards China.

As for the PMSC element of OBOR, Erik Prince and FSG just recently announced strategic alignment with OBOR. In one of the press releases, FSG mentioned that they were setting up two FOBs in Yunnan and Xinjiang province. China has some issues in these regions, and they have been clamping down on muslim extremists big time in places like Xinjiang or Yunnan. (on a side note, Xinjiang is Frontier in english…which makes you think that FSG was formed all along to deal with Xinjiang. It explains why they would bring on Prince, who is well known to jihadists)

Another point to bring up with OBOR is that the land component of this strategy has muslim extremists to contend with. TIP is one group of concern, and their members are getting more operational experience in places like Syria. They will be coming home, and that knowledge will be coming with them. Also, as China’s dealings with their muslim populations has been known to be extreme. But because journalists are really not able to cover that very well, I have no idea how bad the relationship really is. My guess is that it is bad, and the fear of a population being sympathetic to extremists is legitimate. So if OBOR is directed at building roads, pipelines and power lines in these areas, they will probably have issues. Here is a quote I found from one article that talked about actual numbers.

For China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, Islamic risk is also a prominent political danger. According to the broadest definition, OBOR involves 64 countries, 33 of which are Muslim countries, accounting for more than half the total. Among the remaining 31 non-Muslim countries, 10 countries have obvious existing Muslim unrest and are at risk of terror attacks. In total, 44 countries have Islamic risk, making up 69 percent of the total number of countries along OBOR.For example, Pakistan, China’s iron-core brother, is a country with serious Islamic extremism. From 2012 to 2013, violent terrorist incidents in Pakistan caused 11,590 deaths, which included 6,008 civilians, 1,408 policemen and 4,174 militants.

So there is OBOR and then there is also their expansion in Africa and their dealings in the middle east. I have written about that stuff in the past, and that is not new. But OBOR is something else, as far as scope and cost, and we will see how that works out.
Another deal that was mentioned in the articles below, from an industry news angle, is the growth of Chinese PMSC’s and the fact that they are unionizing. The first quote is about growth and it sounds like DeWe is making it’s moves. Also, it is interesting to know that HXZA has the monopoly on Chinese MarSec.

DeWe’s profile rose dramatically last summer when Chinese Poly-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings hired it to manage security at a $4bn LNG project in Ethiopia” the largest project that the Chinese private security industry has been asked to protect. Some other companies appear to have friends in high places. HXZA, for example, has a near-monopoly on security for Cosco Holding and China Shipping Container Lines, China’s two largest state-owned shipping groups. “They clearly have very solid relations to the state, considering how loyal their customer base is. And they are not that cheap,” says one foreign private contractor.

That LNG project in Ethiopia is huge! Here is a quick snippet of what that involves.

Development of the Hilala and Calub gas fields in southeastern Ethiopia may finally be getting underway, more than 40 years after their discovery.Project developers laid the foundation stone in early March for a $4 billion project to export gas from the fields to China. The project, which is being funded and developed by Chinese joint venture Poly-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings, involves the construction of a 700 km gas pipeline to transport up to 12 billion cubic metres of gas per year from the Ogaden Basin to the port of Damerjog in Djibouti, where the Hong Kong-based independent will build a 3 mtpa LNG export plant. The plan is to eventually expand the plant’s capacity to 10 mtpa.Construction should start in August and is expected to take three years to complete, a PR representative for the Djibouti government told Natural Gas Daily.

The reason why they need robust security for this operation is because of groups like Ogaden National Liberation Front. These folks attacked a Chinese assets in Ethiopia before, and no doubt, they will make things difficult for them again.
The final quote that was interesting as well, was this deal on numbers of PMSC’s and the fact that most are not armed. That is a bad combination, and I they are going to have quite a few incidents in the future if this is the attitude.

“About 3,200 Chinese employees of private security groups were based abroad last year”, says Liu Xinping, deputy director of the China Overseas Security and Defense Research Centre. “That compares with 2,600 Chinese troops deployed under UN mandates” China’s only foreign military deployments in conflict zones. Yet with a few exceptions the security contractors are usually unarmed. DeWe’s Chinese staff did not carry weapons during the fighting in Juba but led teams of armed locals. 7m Tonnes of oil destined for China said to be shut in by violence overseas each year Beijing is extremely cautious about the industry, partly due to the abuses of the type that have periodically plunged US occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq into crisis. In 2010, supervisors at a Chinese-owned coal mine in Zambia fired into a crowd of workers demanding higher pay, injuring 11 and triggering an anti-China backlash.
Two years later, a supervisor was killed at the site during a dispute over wages. One security company manager, who asked to remain anonymous, says all contracts they sign with Chinese state companies prohibit employees from carrying weapons.
“The government doesn’t want Blackwater,” he says.

They may not want the liability attached to arming their PMSC’s, but the threats out there could care less. They are armed, and to think anything other than an armed security professional will be able to stop these folks, is wishful thinking. It also does not match up with reality. China needs to take a hard look at what is happening worldwide, and know that it is a very dangerous world. If they care about their workers and countrymen, they should do the responsible thing and arm their security. Lives depend upon it.

This brings up another interesting point. Western PMSC’s have a distinct advantage when it comes to the armed security contractor game. Firearms are very much a part of the US culture. To not be armed is odd, if performing security functions. Plus, the US has a constitution that protects the rights of gun owners and our freedom of speech. In China, not so much. lol Matter of fact, these so-called Chinese PMSC’s, are really not private per se. They are state sponsored companies, and tightly controlled. They do not want these folks armed, because honestly, China has had a horrible time of uprisings in it’s history. Some of the most bloodiest rebellions and uprisings in the history of mankind, have happened in China. So they are very wary of losing any control or monopoly on the use of force. But their PMSC industry is going forward, and they are getting lethal because that is reality if they want to operate in places like Africa or the Middle East.

The question I always like to ask with this stuff, is where is the industry at, and where is it going in places like China? Hopefully this information helps the readership a little, and I will keep my eye out for any new movement with this stuff. –Matt

Chinese private security goes global

February 26, 2017

By Charles Clover

On the evening of July 8, the streets of the South Sudanese capital of Juba were raked with gunfire as an uneasy truce between warring political factions broke down. Inside the offices of DeWe Security, a Chinese private security firm, phones started ringing. Panicked Chinese oil workers employed by the China National Petroleum Corp, the main client of DeWe (pronounced DeWei) in South Sudan, were calling an emergency number to say they were in harm’s way and awaiting instructions.  For Kong Wei, head of DeWe’s Juba office and a veteran of the People’s Liberation Army who retired five years ago, it was the start of a 50 hour-marathon without sleep as he and his colleagues executed an evacuation plan. “Bullets and shells flew over our compound all day and night”, says Mr Kong. The contractors soon realized that their tin-roofed cinder-block building couldn’t stop bullets ” just one of the many lessons they would learn.
In all, 330 Chinese civilians, stranded at 10 locations across the city, were instructed to hunker down until the airport could reopen. Some moved into shrapnel-proof metal containers. It was only on the fourth day of the fighting, once the government had blasted the rebels out of Juba, that the trapped workers were evacuated to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

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Film: My Review Of The Somali Project

 

I finally got a chance to watch The Somali Project, which was originally called The Project. This documentary was purchased by The Vladar Company and the film is now available to buy or rent. With that said, I was able to rent the film through youtube, and it is fantastic! When you rent it, you get the film for 48 hours. You also have the choice to rent a High Definition version, and that is what I went with.

Now I had read about the film and how it did at the Tribeca Film festival, I blogged about it, and I watched the trailer. But I never got a chance to watch the whole thing. Here on the blog, I have also written about the Puntland Maritime Protection Force and about piracy off the coast of Somalia during the peak years of that problem. It was a horrible deal, with hundreds of folks taken hostage and just rotting away off the coast of Somalia in captured ships. My interest in the matter was getting armed guards on boats, so that these pirates would have friction at sea. On land, the PMPF was the answer to attacking the source of piracy.

The film starts off with the families of hostages who were from places like India. Heart wrenching to say the least. Basically these hostages were tortured, and treated horribly and their captors were negotiating with the companies that owned these captured vessels. Some companies paid the ransom, and others did not. Some companies just gave up on the whole deal and just left their employees/contractors to rot. Either way, there were multiple ships parked off the coast of Somalia that were captured and being held by pirates and no one was doing any rescues.

Next in the film, we see an individual named Roger Carstens who paid a visit to the PMPF camp in Somalia and accompanied the PMPF on their first mission. He was an observer that worked for The New America Foundation at the time. He was also prior special forces according to his LinkedIn profile and he provided a lot of the commentary in this film.

Now for the main stars of this film–Erik Prince was the idea guy, and EO veteran Roelf Van Heerden was the commanding officer of this operation. Erik had several cameos in this film and discussed some of the ideas behind ‘The Project” as it was called. Roelf was the CO of the entire operation, and his fellow South African mentors/trainers were heavily involved in training these Somalis. And what a process that was. It was also interesting to see a Somali American that was a member of the PMPF.

They did a great job in the film showing exactly how difficult it was to train these guys. We are talking about folks who don’t even know how to put shoe laces in boots, or what basic hygiene was or any of that stuff. The trainers mentioned how much of a challenge this really was. They were taking a very rough product and trying to make soldiers out of them. It was a challenge that any contractor or military guy that has been in this position, can appreciate.

We also get to see how well the PMPF camp was constructed. Within that camp, you get to see all the equipment they had, to include air assets. Here is what they had according to wikipedia and Defence Web.

The Puntland Maritime Police Force possesses both maritime and land security capacities. The force has three Ayres Thrush low-wing aircraft fitted with armored cockpits and engines to protect the crew and aircraft from hostile ground fire. It also operates an Antonov An-26 transport aircraft and a Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter.

For naval capabilities, it operates three rigid-hull inflatable boats (RHIBs), which are armed with 12.7 mm DShK heavy machine guns.

I really like the use of the An-26 for paracargo operations. For long range operations on the ground, they were using this aircraft to drop fuel and supplies.

When they finished training their first batch of PMPF forces, they then went on to conduct their first operation, complete with air support. And this is where the film gets interesting… They go into detail about what exactly happened during the incident where one of the SA mentors was killed. His name was Lodewyk Pietersen and I do remember writing about this when it happened. This film shows exactly what went down, and how something like that could happen. Basically a nephew of a pirate, whom infiltrated the PMPF, instigated a mutiny of sorts, and executed this SA mentor as a means of putting a halt to the mission. The pirates knew that if they could kill a mentor, that the operation would stop and the Puntland government would want everyone to stop and get back. Which is what happened and I wrote about that as well. Roger Carstens mentioned that the pirates identified the ‘center of gravity’ of the PMPF, which were the mentors, and effectively attacked it.

What happens next though, is what I was impressed with. The contract at that point was buried and folks went home–except for a few volunteers that stayed behind. Roelf was one of them, and he continued to lead the PMPF in further operations. He and his team were definitely involved in combat, and definitely used their air assets. The film goes on to talk about all the rescue missions and raids that this team went on, and thanks to the leadership of Roelf, they were able to successfully free hostages! I talked about one of those operations awhile back (MV Iceberg) and it was impressive. Roelf was instrumental in keeping that unit operational and effective, and Roger Carstens was impressed with Roelf’s performance out there. Especially against such great adversity. ‘This is Africa’, the saying goes, and these men were definitely dealing with some African friction. lol

Other characters in the film included interviews with UN folks, and South Africans like Lafras Luitingh, another Executive Outcomes veteran.

Overall, this film is excellent and it is worth your time to watch. It puts into perspective what these men were up against for this contract and I have a lot of respect for what they did. This film brings attention to the complexities of modern warfare and what private industry can accomplish. It also brings attention to the sacrifice and hard work of those whom are on the ground, doing the job that no one else was willing to do or wanted to do. These men were absolutely responsible for the rescue of multiple hostages taken by pirates, and they definitely had an impact on the overall piracy problem of the time.

The results speak for themselves–piracy is at an all time low thanks to what has been done on land and at sea by private companies. It is a success story, and one that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. –Matt

 

Rent or Buy at Amazon, iTunes, Vimeo, Google, or Youtube, take your pick.

 

 

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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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Syria: Nine Russian Contractors From PMC Wagner Killed

Rest in peace to the fallen…

In my last post on Russian contractors, I mentioned briefly about a PMSC called PMC Wagner or OSM. The Wall Street Journal is the first large media group that I know of that has talked about this company in a story, and I thought I would share that here. I want to keep a record of this stuff so that it can be a reference for how the Russian market is developing in Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere.

So why do I continue to focus on the Russian market? Primarily because if the Russian PMSC’s start delving more into offensive operations, then that could be a sign of things to come for the rest of the industry. I like to follow the offensive aspects of PMSC use because that will have impact on the future of this industry. Meaning as more and more private companies from other countries get into the game of war fighting, and actually winning wars like what Executive Outcomes was able to do, then that would move the marker of what is acceptable and possible within this industry.

It will give countries an option other than using and paying for a standing military, or for countries who lack those kinds of war fighting and winning capabilities within their own military.

One country might view another country’s PMSC industry as a strategic advantage. Something that they want in their tool kit of force. Especially if PMSC’s start winning wars and battles, and especially if a country is flush with cash but lacks manpower. A country that is in a fight for their survival (like Assad’s Syria) will do everything it can to win, and really could care less where that manpower comes from at the end of the day. Enter the PMSC market.

Back to the article below. The quote that caught my attention was this one:

An official close to the Russian Defense Ministry said that the group had numbered around 1,000. Unlike Western security contractors, who are typically armed with only light weapons, members of the group were operating T-90 tanks and howitzers.

Contractors operating T-90 tanks and howitzers? lol That is some serious weaponry and I would love to hear more about what exactly these guys were doing with this stuff. EO used tanks and APC’s in their wars pretty effectively, and it is interesting to hear about private companies actually operating this type of equipment. Imagine that training course? lol

The other interesting quote below is the leader of PMC Wagner/OSM, came from the Slavonic Corps. The Slavonic Corps was also given tanks to use, but that was a big surprise for the contractors involved apparently.  So will PMC Wagner pick up where the Slavonic Corps left off, and do better?  We will see. –Matt

Edit: 12/19/2015- The guy in the photo below was an entertainer that was working at Latakia Air Base at the time and not some soldier or contractor according to my readership. There is a question on how many contractors were killed as well. One of my readers said that an article from Reuters was written last October in regards to this incident and they only mentioned three Russians that were killed. Also, the 1,000 contractor headcount is not realistic according to the readership. That is a pretty big footprint for a contractor force so I would imagine that number is a lot lower.

Edit: 03/10/2016- War is Boring wrote an interesting article that talked more about Russia and it’s use of PMSC’s. This quote on PMC Wagner is what I wanted to put out there for the record:

It now seems the TchVK Wagner is building on the Slavonic Corps’ misfortune. Indeed, many members of this mysterious organization, as well as its leader — a former major in the Spetsnaz and ex-employee of Moran Security — were also members of the luckless 2013 expedition in Syria. According to the journalist Denis Korotkov, author of numerous articles on the TchKV Wagner, these contractors are active in Syria and entertain “close links with the Russian army.”

“TchVK Wagner is not a PMC, but a paramilitary organization with no official status,” Korotkov insists. “It is obvious that this task force could not exist without serious support from high-ranking government officials.”

Oleg Krinitsyn, head of the Russian PMC RSB Group, says he agrees with that assessment.

According to Korotkov, neither Moran Security nor RSB Group are active in eastern Ukraine — and this for legal reasons and in order to preserve their contracts abroad. Furthermore it seems the Russian army in Syria does not make use of these two PMCs. For sure, these companies do employ droves of former FSB agents, and one can easily imagine that they offer piecemeal services to the Russian state while on duty abroad, especially in Africa.

CTnknb5WUAA4XdM.jpg-large 

 

Up to Nine Russian Contractors Die in Syria, Experts Say
Incident shows how the country is using private groups to avoid deploying uniform troops, they say
By THOMAS GROVE
Dec. 18, 2015
As many as nine Russian contractors died in October when a mortar round hit their base in western Syria, according to several people familiar with the matter.
The incident, experts say, shows how Russia has used contractors to perform quasi-military tasks, avoiding the political repercussions of deploying uniformed troops—and steering clear of the domestic concerns that come with the deaths of soldiers.
The Russian government hasn’t acknowledged the deaths, described to The Wall Street Journal by three people.
“It’s one of Russia’s first attempts at trying to create a private military company like what was Blackwater,” said one of them, Ivan Konovalov, director of a Moscow-based security think tank and a consultant to lawmakers who are trying to create the legal basis for such military companies, which now fall in a legal gray zone.
Blackwater, which provided armed security, logistics and other support to U.S. government agencies, became emblematic of Washington’s reliance on private-sector firms to advance foreign-policy aims in conflict zones.
Unlike Blackwater, though, the Russian Defense Ministry hasn’t publicly acknowledged their existence. It isn’t clear whether the men’s role went beyond protecting government installations to direct involvement in fighting.
Founded by former Navy SEAL Erik Prince, Blackwater was involved in a series of controversial incidents, including a deadly 2007 shootout in Iraq that ultimately led to its reorganization and rebranding as Academi and to Mr. Prince’s exit from the business. Blackwater said it was carrying out dangerous work on behalf the U.S. government in a way that was more cost-effective than using uniformed personnel. Four former guards were convicted after the shooting, but said they shot in self defense.
The Russians killed in Syria belonged to a private group called OSM, according to Denis Korotkov, a former security adviser and journalist. The group is known informally as Wagner, after the nom de guerre of its leader, a former military intelligence officer who has served in several conflicts since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Syria wasn’t the group’s first deployment. According to all three people, the group operated in eastern Ukraine, where its members were charged with protecting factories and pro-Russian rebel leaders.
In Ukraine, the Kremlin employed “hybrid warfare”—a term national-security experts use to describe the use of irregular forces, propaganda campaigns, economic coercion and sometimes direct military action.
Groups with connections to Russian military and intelligence, and whose activities can be denied, have operated in the conflict zones that flared up since the fall of the Soviet Union. Wagner’s group however has emerged as one of the most prominent both in terms of the size and missions, according to Mr. Konovalov.
Based in the southern Russian region of Krasnodar, the group deployed to Syria after a contract was drawn up with Syrian authorities, Mr. Konovalov said.

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Russia: So Where Are Russian PMSC’s Working In The World?

This is a great graphic from InformNapalm, along with a link to the article. I have heard about a few of these companies, but this is by far the most comprehensive collection that I have seen posted. There was quite a bit of interest the last time I posted about Russian PMSC’s here and here, and we will see if anyone wants to pop up and add to this stuff.

The story about PMC Vagner (or Wagner) is interesting. I actually heard some information about them from other sources and they are definitely mixing it up in Syria. Here is a quote from the article that perked me up.

For example, ‘Vagner’ private military company (incorporated in Argentina) poses itself as a closed militarized structure; its training camp is located in the village of Molkino in Krasnodar krai, at the training site of the 10th special forces brigade of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. With high probability we can assume that we observe here the mentioned above mechanism for the creation of voluntary units of Russian GRU’s reservists.

Everything is organized as in a Special Forces: arrival, interviewing, testing, quarantine, intensive special training, examination and sending on a mission. At the same time the main priority is to keep the information in secret.

According to closed sources, the main task is to prepare the ‘Vagner’s fighters for the war in Syria and send them there. This version is confirmed by the data from numerous printed materials.

Obviously, these men are the backbone of ground operations’ troops and they fight under the guise of Assad’s volunteers. Detachments of ‘vacationers’ are sent to Syria from Primorsko-Akhtarsky military airfield, which is located in 200 km from the training center.

According to confidential information, there are hundreds of killed fighters in the ranks of ‘Vagner’ PMC. This information is partially confirmed by the data in open sources:

24.09.2015 – 10 coffins arrived to Sevastopol from Syria;

20.10.2015 – Vessel with bodies of 26 killed marines from 810th brigade arrived to Sevastopol;

27.10.2015 – A coffin with a soldier died in Syria arrived to Sevastopol.

In the article they also posted a video and links to these various companies. Check it out. –Matt

 

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Cool Stuff: A Russian Contractor Gives The Low Down On His Industry

After posting my deal on Russia’s PMSC market, I got some interesting feedback from the readership. Specifically, I got a great message on Facebook from a Russian security contractor whom has been working in his industry since 2005. He was kind enough to send me his input about the state of the Russian PMSC market and his opinion on the various players in that market. And as you can see below with his post, the western media tends to put a slant on things. lol

On this blog, I try to cover the international security contracting scene and it can be very difficult to get a good read on the various markets out there. I am an American, and have worked for American companies overseas and that is it. So the market in China or Russia or wherever is not my area of expertise. So like everyone else, I have to count on the available open source information (in english) and the feedback from my readership (which are mostly western). Hopefully this blog can attract the experts in those markets, and get their help on getting the story right. Or at least let them give their side of the story, which is something I try to do for all of the posts here.

With that said, here it is. Also, on a side note, I have never met this individual or worked with them, so I cannot vouch for them personally. Out of respect for the author’s wishes, I have not listed their name here. Enjoy. –Matt

 

Slavonic_Corps_5

Members of the Slavonic Corps in Syria.

 

First of all, I’ve been reading your website and FB for ages. One of the top spots on a web to read about PMSC and all the things related. Thanks a lot for all the effort you put in!

Just recently saw your post on Russian PMSC. With all due respect and understanding that Russian mercs are exotic beasts for your audience, sometimes we get a lot of laughs reading BS about us. ))

I’ve been doing PMSC since 2005 with Russian companies. I’m Russian. V’been in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Afghanistan and Central Asia. I know what I’m talking about.

Russian PMSC market simply doesn’t exist. RSB Group that you mention is not very big, though they try hard and do some nice online marketing. The only real and good professional team made of Russian mercs today is Moran Security, based in St.Petersburg, and the only cool thing about them is that they really do a lot of cheap marsec jobs in Indian ocean.

And that’s all. All the Russian real business PMSC-market consists of about 50 people and most of them have a dual citizenship (including US, UK, NZ and etc) and we don’t visit Russia for years.

“Grey area” Russian geopolitics and all the blah-blah-blah is for journos.

In Iraq for example Russian oil companies prefer to sign contracts with British PMSC, not Russian PMSC, and thus they justify huge budgets on security. Half of the money they sip off for security fog is nicely landing in Malta and California villas for top-management of Lukoil.

In Iraq in 2009-2011 we’ve done few security jobs for local warlords and Kurds, but not too much of serious staff. Our peak activity was in 2005 when we were securing regular truck convoys going from Turkey to Basra in the south.

In Central Asia small Russian proto-PMSC were simply slaughtered by islamists and in-prisoned by official local intelligence services.

In Syria the infamous Slavonic Corps was a joke. In Russia we are having a lot of giggles reading the western overstated mass-media reports on its “mighty force of 200 fighters”. It’s a joke. Divide by ten. )))

In Afghanistan we had only a couple of small jobs securing convoys very close to the northern border.

UN approached us for a few gigs in Iraq but it didn’t materialized.

As to Ukraine – it has nothing to do with Russian PMSC. All the fighters from Russian side who go to Donbass to fight are tightly controlled by FSB, have FSB-controlled training camps close to the border and they have nothing to do with PMSC, business or market issues. It’s a Russian version of patriotic ideological madness and Russian version of state-controlled ISIS.

We had a few small contracts guarding Russian mineral companies in Africa, but that was on a minor scale as well. Nothing to be proud about.

So for the last 10 years we have no real Russian PMSCs succeeding in international market and all the Russian mercs apart from those 50 people from RSB and Moran Groups today are trying to join some western security companies with very little success.

There is no reason to exaggerate Russian PMSCs presence anywhere as they simply do not exist as business units. But it’s a lot of fun to tickle western audience with fairytales about exotic Russian mercs roaming Middle East and Africa. )))

Once again, thanks a lot for your blogging and info-sharing.

All the best and huge regards, FJ!

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