Posts Tagged Tactics

Books: Composite Warfare, By Eeben Barlow

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

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

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

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



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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Syria: DIY Armored Trucks–The T-HOMS75

Now this thing is an interesting creation and I will tell you why. It is wedge shaped, which indicates to me that it could be used for barrier busting. Like knocking down sandbags/walls and getting in some quick shots with the mounted DShK. Then they pull away so they can reload and maybe attack from another point.

The wedge shape is also great for deflecting incoming small arms fire, or maybe even some cannon fire from the front. So on the streets of Homs where every inch of territory is being fought over with a vengeance, something like this was probably purpose built to deal with an issue the rebels identified.

Another cool use for such a vehicle is creating mouse holes in walls. So if you are able to punch a hole in a wall, then your assault team can run into those breaches and either make an escape or obtain a tactical advantage in a fight. They can also rescue downed rebels in a fight if they had to.

Who knows, but it definitely looks like they are taking some notes from the Libyans in their war and the Narco Tanks in Mexico. They probably checked out all of the ‘Mad Max’ designs back in the day in Iraq as well.  Interesting DIY Armor and if anyone has anything to add about this vehicle, I would be interested to hear what you got. –Matt



….Something much weird of the anti-aircraft pick up was recently spotted in Homs, Syria. It’s a sort-of improvised Suzuki pickup converted into armored vehicle capable to open its way through barriers and sand bags, equipped with a Doshka machine gun.

Dubbed T-HOMS75 by the Zaman Al Wasl reporter that took the first pictures of it, the vehicle is operated by a crew three people (driver, gunner and assistant): the gunner stands behind the drivers cabin with the gun placed on top of it.

It is capable of a maximum speed of 80 km/h (due to the added weight) and gives protection against light and medium machine guns, allowing to move in places guarded by snipers.

From the Aviationist.

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Legal News: Jailing Of Croatian General Ignites Anger At EU

These forces had received instruction by a U.S.-based firm, Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), headed by retired General Carl Vuono, which provided (along with French Foreign Legion organized training camp in Šepurine near Zadar) mainly the commissioned-officers training, but had no significant intelligence activities or professional influence on senior Croatian military strategy and tactics. Its engagement was approved by the U.S. government.
Former President Bill Clinton wrote in his memoirs that he believed the Serbs could only be brought to the negotiating table if they sustained major losses on the ground. The negotiations produced the Dayton Peace Agreement which ended the war in the Balkans.
Former US peace negotiator Richard Holbrooke said “he realised how much the Croatian offensive in the Krajina profoundly changed the nature of the Balkan game and thus this diplomatic offensive.” Retired four-star General Wesley Clark, Director, Strategic Plans and Policy (J5) for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and later Supreme Allied Commander Europe simply called it a turning point. -From Wikipedia

Thanks to Cannoneer #4 for sending me this.  As everyone remembers, MPRI was instrumental to Operation Storm and licensed by the US government to do what they were doing in Croatia at this time. As the quotes above state, this victory in Croatia was a ‘turning point’ of the Balkans Conflict.

Awhile back, I also posted a deal where MPRI was being sued by Serbians that were impacted by this operation.  No word yet on how that is going. –Matt

Jailing of Croat general ignites anger at EU
April 16, 2011
Anger at a U.N. court’s jailing of a Croatian war hero erupted into fury at the European Union and this country’s pro-Western government on Saturday when thousands of enraged veterans of the Balkan conflict tore EU flags and denounced the conservative administration.
The court in The Hague, Netherlands, on Friday sentenced Gen. Ante Gotovina to 24 years in prison for atrocities committed by his troops during “Operation Storm” — a 1995 military offensive designed to drive the Serb rebels out a swath of Croatia they had occupied. Read the rest of this entry »

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Somalia: Al Shabab Using Taliban Playbook And Market Of Force To Kick Off ‘Massive War’

“One more thing we deeply share is the hatred of infidels,” the commander, Abu Dayib, told The Associated Press.

Some experts say the similarities are no accident.

“Al-Shabab is copying exactly whatever the Taliban was doing in the late 1990s, because they think the strategies the Taliban employed in Afghanistan were successful,” said Vahid Mujdeh, the Afghan author of a book on the Taliban. “There is no doubt that the Taliban are like heroes for al-Shabab.”

U.S. and other security officials worry about another common thread: Both the Taliban and al-Shabab have links to al-Qaida. 


     In the past, I have highlighted successful strategies that were built upon mimicking either the enemy or whomever is the best.  Not only that, but to also add one little thing to that strategy to give you the edge when fighting an opponent that is also using that same model. That little thing could be the repeating firearm, the machine gun, or the UAV. That little thing might also be an operational method, like pseudo-operations. Or it could be the Letter of Marque and the creation of an industry that profits from the destruction of an enemy? There are all sorts of potential ‘little things’ out there, and it requires a creative mind to ‘build that snowmobile’ and develop that winning strategy.

    Which takes us back to Somalia.  I am still having a difficult time trying to figure out how the TFG government and the AU expects to defeat Al Shabab with their current strategy?  I am also scratching my head as to how the west plans on defeating Al Shabab with the current arrangement in Somalia?  If we are having a tough time battling the Taliban in Afghanistan with the world’s best militaries, then what hope does the TFG and AU have in their fight?

    The other thing that stood out to me, was the use of suicide assaulters again.  These guys wore police uniforms, swarmed the hotel, and fought their way into areas of human concentration.  Today’s defenses throughout the world, must answer the question of wether or not they can stop a swarm of suicide assaulters.  This is obviously a model of attack that is being copied throughout the jihadist world, and it will only go away when it is turned into a zero sum game. Meaning, defenses are strong enough to continually defeat this kind of attack.  As it stands now, this attack will probably do very well in poor countries, or countries that do not prepare for this kind of attack because of whatever reason.

     My final thought about this matter is how jihadists use their market of force. Al Qaeda and others use their market of force to greater advantage than the west, and I will explain.  We take retired SEALs or Green Beret’s, and give them static security/convoy/PSD jobs in this war, and we freak out if these men actually had to fire their weapons in defense of self or their client. With Al Qaeda/Taliban/Al Shabab, they will not only hire jihadist contractors to participate in the war, but also contract them to kill the infidels and conduct offensive operations. They are doing it all, from providing bounties in Pakistan for killing soldiers, to paying snipers to kill soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq, to providing protective services for drug operations or for piracy operations.

     Probably the most prolific use of contractors for offensive jihadist operations, is the whole IED game.  They contract out the hole being dug, the bomb being constructed, the bomb being planted, and the guy that pulls the trigger on the device. Hell, for the sniping or bomb stuff, the jihadist contracting officer requires filming the kill in order to receive payment.  That is what our enemy does with their market of force, and to me they are far more advanced in contracting private force for the task of killing their enemies than the west.

     If you look at the west and how we are using our market of force, it is literally non-existent. We have not seen a company or individual contracted to kill or even capture an enemy combatant. Companies are not contracted to take down terrorist cells or take towns and cities. Individuals are not hired to hunt jihadists or do anything of harm to our enemies. Instead, we see retired special operations soldiers who were expert in tracking and killing enemy combatants in their military jobs, just sit at civilian guard posts, driving vehicles in convoys or protecting dignitaries. That stuff is important to do, but we have created an industry that does not at all take full advantage of our market of force.

     We also pay these folks an incredible amount of money for doing these basic ‘defensive’ tasks.  God forbid if that individual actually fired their weapon though. The possibility of that retired SF operator being sent home or fired would be high and if they accidently killed a civilian in the process of defending self or the client, they could face criminal charges. Al Qaeda and company kill and terrorize civilians with their market of force all the time, and it is just the price of doing business to them. I am not saying the we should use our market of force and not care about civilian deaths, but I do think our enemy is far more realistic about what really happens in war.  They are out there and fighting us based on a no holds barred mindset (no respect for law or borders), and their market of force is considered a serious element of their strategy. I have yet to hear about a jihadist commission on wartime contracting either? lol

     The west hasn’t a clue on how to use their market of force, nor are they getting a good return on investment for the force they are using. I have certainly pointed to examples of how we could use our market of force to a greater and more strategic extent, but I also realize that I am up against the ego of states and their dedication to the monopoly of force.

     Let’s flip this around and mix the players.  If Al Qaeda could contract the services of Xe, what do you think they would ask of Xe?  What do you think they would be ‘ok with’, or what would be politically correct for Al Qaeda?  I think we all know that AQ would probably ask a company like that to take on their most complex operations that require a disciplined force with skill and capability.  The only limitations to the contracts would be AQ’s money, and what Xe was willing to do for that money.(in this hypothetical, they would have no loyalties to or be controlled by any state)

    One example of how markets of force behave when both sides have no qualms about it’s use, is the drug cartels in Mexico.  All the cartels of the drug war are all copying each other, and all of them are tapping into markets of force to do all sorts of nasty things to one another. It is producing some extreme violence and methods of warfare that we can certainly learn from.  With this scenario, the Mexican government cannot even compete, and if anything, the drug cartels fear one another more than they fear the government. (as a side note, the Mexican government is not even using their market of force) It is just one example.

     The pirates of Somalia are another industry that fully exploits this market of force, and they get a really good return on investment with this force. The world’s best and most powerful navies have not been able to defeat this latest wave of piracy coming out of Somalia, and it is probably one of the most embarrassing things to witness as an observer of this whole deal. Guys armed with AK’s, buzzing around in motor boats, taking down mulit-million dollar vessels, and evading multi-billion dollar navies at the same time. This market of force is very enthused by the ‘incentive’ of this industry, and the pool of this force is only increasing because of this piracy model’s success ratio.

     So to finish this post, I guess all I have to say is that today’s enemies have developed a model of warfare that is a direct challenge to countries and their state sponsored armies. These enemies could care less about borders, laws, or political correctness and truly only care about winning by any means necessary. In Somalia, we are witnessing Al Shabab use this latest model of jihadist warfare which has achieved much for the Taliban in Afghanistan.  This model has many elements to it which makes it successful. One of the key elements that is ignored by all who study this war, is the enemy’s use of their market of force for the destruction of their enemies. I think they are better at it, and they get more of a return on investment with their market of force than the west ever will. Stuff to think about. –Matt

Islamist rebels attack Somali hotel, killing 32

Somalia rebels looking increasingly like Taliban


Islamist rebels attack Somali hotel, killing 32


August 25, 2010

MOGADISHU, Somalia — Islamist militants wearing Somali military uniforms stormed a hotel favored by lawmakers in the war-battered capital Tuesday, firing indiscriminately and killing 32 people, including six parliamentarians.

A suicide bomber and one of the gunmen were also killed in the brazen attack just a half-mile (1 kilometer) from the presidential palace. The attack showed the insurgent group al-Shabab, which controls wide areas of Somalia, can penetrate even the few blocks of the capital under the control of the government and African Union troops.

Tuesday’s well-planned assault came one day after al-Shabab warned of a new “massive war.” Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, an insurgent spokesman, said the attack by members of the group’s “special forces” targeted government leaders, foreign agents and “apostates” at the $10-a-night Muna Hotel.

Survivors of the hour-long slaughter described seeing bodies strewn throughout the hotel and people scrambling to safety through windows. An 11-year-old shoeshine boy and a woman selling tea were among the dead.

In an interview with The Associated Press, one parliamentarian said she was jolted awake by the popping sound of gunfire. Saynab Qayad said three fellow lawmakers staying on the top floor of the three-story hotel drew their guns while other guests fled out windows.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Iraq: The Forgotten Four–South Africans Kidnapped In 2006 But Families Still Wait

     Pierre Durant, her brother-in-law, believes that he is the only person still actively looking for the men, who were seized at a rogue police checkpoint in the north east of the Iraqi capital on December 10, 2006. He has travelled to Iraq eight times to hunt for clues and to attempt to put pressure on the authorities to investigate the case. At one point in the past year he managed to speak to his brother on a mobile phone, raising hopes of a resolution, but the trail has since run cold.

    Mr Durant, 42, and other close relatives of the four hostages contacted by The Times, appealed to the kidnappers to show mercy. “We as a family are not looking for justice or retribution,” Mr Durant said. “If these guys are alive then we want to negotiate for their release. If they’ve been killed then I just want their bodies back so we can try to get on with our lives.”


   I was working as a security contractor with a different company back then when this happened, and at the time there were numerous kidnappings of contractors going on. Crescent Security was another company that was impacted by this type of assault.  The one thing that all of us thought about while running the roads back then was ‘Don’t trust anyone (Iraqi police officers or soldiers)’. Because at the time, the enemy was playing like they were cops or soldiers and doing all sorts of things under that cover. I still don’t trust any of these guys, and that is the reality of war zone work.

    The same thing is playing out in Afghanistan, with the Taliban or extremists dressing up like cops or soldiers and using that as a cover to get in close to their targets or use it like camouflage in a forest of chaos they create during the assault. Nothing new in the history of warfare, and today’s enemies are carrying on the tradition. It is the enemy’s version of pseudo operations, and it works.

   My other point I wanted to make is the good work and sacrifice that South Africans have given in this war.  I should certainly hope that if any leaders in the DoS or DoD is reading this, that your involvement in trying to secure the release of these men, would be much appreciated.  Contractors are the ones that put their lives on the line for you and your equipment, the least you can do is show some humanity and compassion and use some resources to find these guys and secure their release.

    Bravo to Pierre for keeping up the search and not giving up. My heart goes out to the family and friends, and I certainly hope this ends well and these men get released. –Matt


South Africans who were kidnapped.

Three years on, and no ransom demands have been made for Hardus Greef, left, Johann Enslin and their colleagues.

The forgotten four: kidnapped in 2006 but families still wait

May 7, 2010

Deborah Haynes

No one knows whether they are dead or alive. The families of four South African men kidnapped in Baghdad in 2006 are desperate for news of their loved ones — but fear that their plight has been forgotten, at home and in Iraq.

Unlike the case of the recently freed British hostage Peter Moore and his four guards — three died and one is missing — no one has claimed responsibility for the South African hostage taking.

No video has emerged and no ransom or political demands have been made. Instead, the families of Andre Durant, Johann Enslin, Callie Scheepers and Hardus Greef, all security guards, have endured 3½ years of unanswered questions and silence.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Mexico: Cartels Take It Up A Notch And Focus Their War On Authorities

    Public Safety Secretary Minerva Bautista was among the wounded but was recovering from non-life-threatening injuries, according to the state attorney general’s office. She was traveling in a bullet-resistant sport utility vehicle.

   State Attorney General Jesus Montejano told the local Milenio television station that the attackers used assault rifles, grenades, a grenade launcher and a powerful .50-caliber sniper rifle whose rounds are capable of penetrating bullet-resistant materials.

  “In the ambush, they used concentrated fire from these types of weapons, forcing her and her escort to crash into a trailer truck that they had pulled across the road,” Montejano said.


   I posted three stories here, that are pretty telling of where Mexico is at with their war against the cartels.  There are two ways to read this.  Either the cartels are threatened more by the government and authorities, or the cartels are thinking in terms of taking the fight out of the authorities so they can continue to eradicate their competition.  So is the government a threat, or are they just getting in the way?  Interesting stuff, and this first article below goes into the various angles on this.

   My personal thoughts on it, is that the cartels will do whatever they need to do in order to win control over the drug markets.  If law enforcement or government officials directly or indirectly help their competitors, they will do what they can to remove that element of the equation.  Because I really think that if the cartels were purely focused on combatting the government, we would see way more deaths of officials.  The death toll figures support this as well, with most of the deaths in the war being members of the drug cartels. But this could change, and we will see how this goes.

   None the less, these are still attacks on the state.  And when the cartels start using .50 caliber sniper rifles (see second story below), grenade launchers, and assault rifles against armored motorcades in well coordinated ambushes, I tend to take notice.  Unfortunately, the next level will probably be more usage of IED’s in these ambushes and all of the rules of Iraq and Afghanistan will apply to this latest evolution of the drug war.

   The third story is another disturbing tale about cartels purposely attacking law enforcement.  Seven officers killed is pretty bad, and that indicates to me that the cartels have absolutely no fear or respect for law enforcement.  They are just obstacles that need to be removed, so they can focus on the bigger war of gaining territory for their drug operations. Thanks to Doug and others for sending me these stories. –Matt


Body Guards

An injured bodyguard of Mexico’s Michoacan state’s public safety secretary walks with help from a police officer after being wounded during a shootout in Morelia, Mexico, early Saturday. A fellow bodyguard lies dead. 

Mexico says cartels turning attacks on authorities

By MARK STEVENSONThe Associated PressSunday, April 25, 2010

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s drug cartels have changed tactics and are turning more attacks on authorities, rather than focusing their fire on rivals gangs, the country’s top security official said Sunday.

Interior Secretary Fernandez Gomez-Mont said at a news conference that two back-to-back, bloody ambushes of government convoys – both blamed on cartels – represent a new tactic.

“In the last few weeks the dynamics of the violence have changed. The criminals have decided to directly confront and attack the authorities,” Gomez-Mont said.

“They are trying to direct their fire power at what they fear most at this moment, which is the authorities,” he said.

Officials here have long said that more than 90 percent of the death toll in Mexico’s wave of drug violence – which has claimed more than 22,700 lives since a government crackdown began in December 2006 – are victims of disputes between rival gangs.

Mexican drug gangs have been known to target security officials. The nation’s acting federal police chief was shot dead in May 2008 in an attack attributed to drug traffickers lashing back at President Felipe Calderon’s offensive against organized crime.

But such high-profile attacks were rare in comparison to inter-gang warfare. But after the large-scale attacks on officials Friday and Saturday, “casualties among the authorities are beginning to increase in this battle,” Gomez-Mont said.

On Saturday, gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked a convoy carrying the top security official of the western state of Michoacan, in what appeared to be a carefully planned ambush.

The official survived with non-life-threatening wounds – she was traveling in a bullet-resistant SUV – but two of her bodyguards and two passers-by were killed. Of the other nine people wounded, most were bystanders, including two girls ages 2 and 12.

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