Posts Tagged ross perot

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Company Spotlight: Drum Cussac

     Drum Cussac deserves a little attention here, and I would like to thank Marcel at the Feral Jundi Facebook Page for sending me some recent information about them. I have posted a job deal from Drum Cussac in the past, and interestingly enough, it was for some FCO work. I say this because in the article below, it is yet again the FCO wanting to work with Drum Cussac for a contract training the TFG coast guard in Somalia to battle pirates.  I guess the FCO likes working with Drum Cussac, and that is why I wanted to do a company spotlight on them.

     Oh, and the dorks at the Telegraph should really think before getting all pissed off about their government hiring ‘mercenaries’ and using tax payer’s money for contracting their services. What the article forgets to emphasize (yet still mentions) is that the money the FCO would use for contracting Drum Cussac’s services, would be the $25 million dollars in so-called ‘aid money’ given to them by the US.  So I am not sure how this would be construed as taking from the British tax payer? Hell, if anything, US money for anti-piracy operations should go towards contracting the services of US companies.

     But back to Drum Cussac.  I found a few interesting things about the company worth noting, but there are also some areas that I am foggy about. For example, there is no history section on the company’s website that discusses where the name ‘Drum Cussac’ came from?  There really isn’t any information about the leadership of the company on the website either, but I did find out who the CEO of Drum Cussac is via other means. He is former Scots Guards officer Jeremy Stampa Orwin.

    As for the business that Drum has done, as of 2008 they had over 130 super-yachts as clients, with each boat worth more than £50 million. Not bad, and it sounds like recently they have done a lot to corner the super yacht market with their partnership with Yacht Lifeline. I am sure business has increased since that time, and their other shipping protection work, as well as the oil and gas stuff has made them a pretty penny. They also mentioned ‘500 transits’ in high risk waters over the last five years, so that is something.

    I was really interested when they started promoting ‘armed security’ in a press release, and the Telegraph story took an interest as well. For a British company, promoting maritime armed security is a rarity it seems. lol But it is a sign of the times that armed security is what is probably being demanded now a days. Especially as each ransom paid continues to add to the lethality and size of the piracy problem.  Perhaps shipping companies are starting to get the idea that something needs to be done, other than fueling the problem with more money.

    The other area of interest was their Political Evacuation Insurance they offer.  I am wondering if this insurance would cover a situation like what happened to Ross Perot’s company in Iran? I would be very curious to know how far a company like this would go to save a client?

    Finally, I have posted a link to probably one of the best Maritime Security forums out there, located at Close Protection World’s family of forums.  They have tons of information about the SSO certification for maritime security work, and they discuss Drum Cussac from time to time. Especially this current news story about them.

     From what I gather, Drum offers a pretty good SSO course for a reasonable price.  I have yet to hear any complaints and they sound comparable to other companies offering the same. No word on wether or not you could get on some database after getting this training, but I am sure they would offer some kind of networking potential or even recruitment offers via email every once in awhile.

     Although it sounds like this current gig offering £1,500-a-day would only be reserved for their high-end guys. But you never know, and they do cover a lot of boats out there, so the work has to be there.  Definitely check out all the stuff below and if anyone has anything else to add about the company, please feel free to chime in. –Matt

Armed Security Teams

October 2010

Drum Cussac, the market leader in anti-piracy and maritime security consultancy, can now supply a full range of armed services for the protection of vessels in transit through high risk waters and for static operations or survey work in areas of high threat.

Our armed option has been designed to provide fully legitimate, properly licensed and trained teams to deploy onboard vessels. Our teams are experienced UK Nationals and are equipped with new and modern weapon systems. We are able to operate from a number of ports in the Indian sub-continent, Africa, Gulf States and the Mediterranean.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Kidnap And Ransom: French Tourists May Be Billed If High-risk Trips Go Wrong

     This is curious, and it also kind of ties in with my Ross Perot’s Rescue of EDS Employees In Iran post.  If you could afford it, would you pay for the services of the government to rescue a loved one, or would you seek out the services of private industry to rescue a loved one?  Because if countries like France put the cost of rescue on the individual that is taken hostage, then you would think it would be alright for that individual to choose either a private option that is cheaper or better than a state sponsored option for rescue.

     Now of course there is always the K and R industry and their approach to getting hostages released.  But for the impossible cases, where folks are political pawns or the hostage takers have no intention of negotiating, what do you do? Or how about cases where governments refuse to do a rescue because it is politically sensitive? There are lots of cases where the standard hostage negotiation tactic just does not work in the international realm, and sometimes the only chance of survival for that hostage, is rescue. One that could be potentially violent, or one that could be sneaky and non-violent.  Either way, what are the options other than letting those folks just die?

     A great example of this, is the execution of a French hostage recently by Al Qaeda.  What if the family and friends of this hostage wanted to contract the services of lets say Xe or some similar company for the rescue of their loved one? Or even contract the services of another country’s army for a rescue? All because they either did not want to pay France for a rescue operation, or they thought that Xe or another country would be a better option–both for price and for execution?  It is an interesting thought to ponder, and especially if France wants to go down this path of forcing it’s citizens to pay for rescues. –Matt


French tourists may be billed if high-risk trips go wrong

Lizzy Davies

 5 July 2010

French tourists who run into trouble after taking unnecessary risks overseas could have to pay for their rescue and repatriation under legislation debated today by MPs in Paris.

The proposed law, put forward by a government tired of having to foot the bill, would enable the state to demand reimbursement for “all or part of the costs … of foreign rescue operations” if it deems that travellers had ventured knowingly and without “legitimate motive” into risky territory.

According to the foreign ministry, the bill is an attempt to encourage a “culture of responsibility” among French travellers at a time of frequent kidnappings, hijackings and civil instability across the world. The ministry hopes that the prospect of being saddled with paying costs such as emergency air fares home will make people think twice about venturing into territory classified as dangerous. There is no question of ransoms being included in the cost, unsurprisingly, as France insists it never pays them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

History: Ross Perot’s Private Rescue Of EDS Employees In Iran, 1978

     This is some fascinating history.  I will let the articles and stories below speak for themselves. But basically what we have here is a former special operations hero Col. Bull Simons and CEO Ross Perot, conducting a private rescue operation of Perot’s employees trapped in Iran back in 1978. And they got them home in one piece.

     There has been a miniseries and book written about the rescue in the eighties, but below I found a current interview where Ross Perot actually talks about particulars of the rescue. He mentions a man in Iran named Rashid who was very instrumental to this operation, and if I can find any articles about his effort, I will make an edit and add this to the post.

     What is also interesting is that Congressman Ron Paul actually mentioned this rescue when he was discussing the concept of using the Letter of Marque as a means for using private industry for today’s wars.  I guess the point with this is that Col. Simons was able to plan and conduct a rescue mission through private means and with the help and support of a very rich and determined CEO of EDS, and accomplished the mission. (Hewlett-Packard is the new name of Electronic Data Systems now) In other words, it is another example of what private industry can do when it comes to conducting military-like operations.

     The other point I wanted to make is that this rescue was in a way a chance for Col. Simons to conduct a rescue operation that he could make up for the Son Tay Raid during the Vietnam War.  The Son Tay Raid (Operation Ivory Coast) was a famous rescue operation he commanded, and tactically speaking it was successful. But because of poor intelligence they had no idea that the prison camp did not have POW’s, and they came up empty handed. That would’ve sucked, but I still give them a lot of credit for pulling off what they did.

     But I can bet you one thing that the Son Tay Raid was weighing heavily on the mind of Simons as he conducted his planning and preparations for this private EDS rescue. I am sure all the Vietnam veterans working for EDS at the time were highly supportive of this rescue as well, because of what it symbolized and what Ross Perot cared about at the time.  And that is getting your men back home, whether they are POWs in Vietnam or EDS employees in Iran. That is what really made this cool and why it belongs here on FJ. –Matt

Buy the book On Wings of Eagles, the story about this rescue, here.


(From an interview in Year In Special Operations)

June 2010

For all the giving Perot has done over the years, there was one special occasion where it came back to him, when in 1978 two of his EDS executives were taken hostage by the Iranian government. When attempts to resolve the situation through diplomacy failed, Perot made the decision to act on his own. Remembering Col. Bull Simons, who had retired a few years earlier, Perot called him and asked him if he would organize and lead the rescue of his men in Iran. Within days, Simons was selecting and training a team of EDS employees (all highly decorated Vietnam veterans) into a hostage rescue team to rescue the two executives from the Tehran prison and bring them home.


In what may be the ultimate act of employer loyalty – the Iran rescue – you go to Iran in 1979 to get your people out. Can you talk a bit about what happened?

Before I left for Iran, I visited with my mother who was dying of cancer. I explained the situation to her, and that two of my men had been falsely arrested and jailed. She looked me squarely in the eye and said, “Ross, these are your men. You sent them over there and it’s your obligation to get them out.” What does that say about her?

Days later I was with Simons and the team in our safe house, and he looked me in the eye one day and said, “Perot … see if the U.S. Embassy will allow these men to receive refuge at the embassy when we get them out of prison.” That was the biggest mistake we made, because when I talked to the American ambassador he said “No,” and two hours later, the Iranian security forces were tearing up the town looking for me. Simons then said, “Perot, I want you to go to the prison where the men are held. Visit with them, and tell them what our plan of action is, so that they know where the rendezvous point is, what they’re supposed to do, etc.”

I replied, “Colonel, the Iranians are still looking for me.”

He replied, “One branch of the Iranian government is looking for you, but another branch of the government runs the prison. They don’t talk to one another – they won’t know anything about you at the prison.”

If Bull Simons told you to do it, you did it. A rescue team member drove me to the prison where the two EDS executives were being held. It was a giant fortress, with everyone standing in front, and there were at least a hundred camera crews there. I thought, “Well, this is it.” I walked past them and they ignored me. I thought to myself, “There must be somebody else here.” I went in, walked up to the reception room and there was former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, sitting there talking to the general in charge of the prison. Ramsey leaned forward and pointed at me, and spoke to the general. The general politely arranged for me to meet with Paul Chiapparone and Bill Gaylord [the two detained EDS executives], and I then left. After I returned home, and the story of the rescue was in all the papers, Ramsey called me and said, “Ross, I thought you were Frank Borman,” [the retired U.S. Air Force colonel, NASA astronaut, commander of the Gemini VII and Apollo 8 missions and then-president of Eastern Airlines] and I said, “Thank God!”

The man who actually led the rescue at the prison was an Iranian systems engineer working in our company – we called him “Rashid.” Simons roamed the streets of Tehran and observed huge numbers of Iranian terrorist teams. Simons had the genius to have Rashid create an Iranian “terrorist” team so that Rashid, as a leader, could attend the morning meetings. There were lots of these teams all over Tehran, and they would meet each morning to plan their daily activities. Simons learned that the team leaders also attended, so this meant Rashid was able to go to the meetings. Simons asked Rashid to form a team to infiltrate the revolutionary movement. Before the jailbreak actually occurred, Simons told Rashid, “See if you can bribe the police chief to leave open the police armory, where all the weapons [are] stored.” Rashid paid them $100, less than the cost of a pistol, to leave the police armory open. Rashid and his team attended the next morning meeting with more weapons than you can imagine. Rashid, who by now was very well regarded by his fellow terrorist team leaders, distributed weapons around the room, and shouted “Gasre Prison is our Bastille. It is our responsibility to free the thousands of political prisoners.”

One hour later, 30,000 terrorists stormed the prison and the guards were stripped down to their long underwear [and they] never fired a shot. 12,000 prisoners were allowed to escape so that our two men could also escape.

Our team drove their vehicles over 500 miles to the Turkish border before they ran into trouble. They were within 30 miles of the border when a group of Islamic revolutionaries stopped the vehicles, pulled Simons out, and started hitting him with a rifle butt. Simons, with no comment, pulled a note out of his pocket and handed it to them. The note read, “These people are friends of the revolution; please show them courtesy and escort them safely to the border, signed, Commandant of the Tehran Islamic Revolutionary Committee,” and it had a big seal. If you were to read the seal closely, it said, “Rezaieh Religious School: Founded 1344.” Simons gave me the note when he arrived in Turkey. He translated the words on the seal to me. I can tell you that I carefully read all seals on documents now!

The point is, it could never have happened without Bull Simons. The team did it – and nobody was hurt. It was too good to be true. When we landed in Dallas, my mother was at the airport, sitting in her car just outside the exit door. She was determined to see my two men reunited with their families. Mother passed away a few weeks later.

Year In Special Operations link here.

Wiki for Arthur D. Simons here.

Wiki for the Son Tay Raid here.


On Wings of Eagles

This is the real-life story of a Green Beret colonel, who came out of retirement to lead a secret raid, the computer executives, shaped into a crack commando team and the Texas industrialist, who would not abandon two Americans in an Iranian jail. After a hairbreadth escape, there is a desperate race for safety. Today the team is back home living normal lives. But for a while, they lived a legend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,