About Me

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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. Until recently, I was a contributing editor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Saturday, December 17, 2016


I would like to wish each and every visitor to the blog a blessed and merry festive season. To those who celebrate the meaning of Christmas, I wish you and your families a blessed, happy and joyous festive season.

To those who do not celebrate Christmas for whatever reason I wish you all a time of happiness and peace with your families and friends.

I would also like to wish each and every one of you – and your loved ones - a great 2017. May the coming year be filled with good health, happiness and safety.

Thank you to everyone who read and contributed to the blog throughout the year. Your comments are always appreciated and highly valued as they give me insight and allow me to broaden my own knowledge base.

To everyone who is far from home at this time, and to those who are deployed in the conflict zones around the world, beit as soldiers, sailors, airmen, law enforcement officers, spooks or PMC contractors, keep your heads down, your eyes peeled, your weapons close at hand, stay safe and be ready to do what needs to be done.

Let us also remember those who will not be able to be share this time with those they hold dear as well as those who have lost friends and loved ones. They should never be forgotten. Nor should the sacrifices they have made ever be forgotten.

A very merry Christmas season to all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


When Piet Fourie and Johan Jonker of Bush War Books (www.warbooks.co.za) asked if I would be willing to visit several MOTH shellholes in and around Cape Town, I was happy to oblige.

Not only was I afforded the opportunity to discuss my book (Composite Warfare) but I was also able to meet some old friends, make new friends, and also have the great pleasure of seeing some of my old parachute sappers from way back when.

Piet and Johan organised talks at three different shellholes as well as at Bargain Books in Canal Walk.

I would like to express my thanks to the Old Bills, Deon vd Berg, Mark Bester, and Phillip McLachlan of the Blaauwberg Cuca Shellhole, the Old Red Barn Shellhole, and the Marshall Smuts Shellhole respectively, for hosting me.

My thanks also to all of the MOTH’s and their families and friends who came to support me and who gave me their friendship and hospitality. 

It was fun and interesting to discuss the changes we are witnessing in not only our own country, but across Africa and the world.

Thanks too must go to Bargain Books in Canal Walk for allowing their shop to be used at very short notice. It was here that I also met several Facebook friends and was able to spend a few minutes chatting to them. Thanks guys for your support as well.  

My sincerest thanks to Piet Fourie and Johan Jonker of Bush War Books for their friendship, organisational skills, and support. It is indeed a pleasure to work with you both!

Monday, November 21, 2016


I have been asked if there are currently any reviews of Composite Warfare available on the web.

The short answer…”Yes”.

I was able to ‘steal’ these reviews off Piet Fourie’s site Bush War Books.  (www.warbooks.co.za). Fortunately, they are all good but I am sure the less good ones will still come…

Incidentally, Piet also sells the book so if there are any of you who are unable to find it in the bookstores—local and abroad—he will be able to assist you as he ships military books all over the world.

Here they are sequenced from the most recent to the first…

A military masterpiece!

Frans van Niekerk on Nov 11, 2016

The book is a military masterpiece and showcases a portion of one of the most reputable strategic military minds. The book was written purely for a soldier, from a General to a Junior leader - to equip them for the battlefield. Eeben used his knowledge and vast experience on the subject matter to create a textbook that is not only an easy read but is composed of factual information and is easily referenced. Given the impressive history of Eeben’s military career and the many successes he has achieved all over Africa, the book is not just an academic book but a testament to tried and trusted methodologies that have yielded success in the field and has simplified many complex military manoeuvres. Perusing this book will empower military leaders to lead their armies to victory and allows for fundamental and complex principles of warfare to be properly addressed. The strategic nature of this book will also enrich corporate leaders. As it explains the importance of strategy and the implementation thereof in an operational environment, as well as the importance of taking a holistic view to addressing a problem. Naturally, because there is no room for error and the stakes are always high in any military strategy, the development of a good corporate strategy can be developed from military principals. The reader can see the importance of all forces at play and develop an understanding of the objectives and the impact it has on winning the fight, and ultimately the war.

An amazing book!

Hansie Prinsloo on Nov 09, 2016

A monumental piece of work delivered by a living legend who is deeply respected by both friend and foe alike. I recently had the privilege of meeting one of Picasso’s last living students. As Picasso’s fingerprints are left in modern art, this book will leave its fingerprints on generations to come in Africa. Knowing the author is a humbling experience. By virtue of knowing him as a person, I surmise that one of his objectives was not only how to handle conflicts in the African context, but for future generations to learn from the lessons of the past in order to manage conflict and prevent war raging in a current and future Africa. Salute!

A must read for any professional soldier hoping to survive Africa

Hein M. on Nov 07, 2016

This is one of the most complete guides for any professional soldier. A very practical look at the Art of War in an African context with practical explanations of the intricacies of war. It creates an almost complete view of anything you might encounter be it as a foot soldier, battle commander or intelligence operative/SOF soldier. I would recommend this book as a must have for all who have chosen the military as a career. Eeben Barlow is one of the best teachers and commanders a soldier can ever hope to serve under and his practical experience and ability to transfer this knowledge will stay with you forever.

Incredibly detailed and thoroughly researched

Hannes Wessels on Nov 05, 2016

Surely the seminal work on the subject. Incredibly detailed and thoroughly researched by a man who has both the empirical and theoretical knowledge to tackle a very complicated subject. Only through the sort of exposure that Eeben has experienced can one write about the unusual nuances pertaining to conflict situations in Africa and that shows. Too many soldiers ignore or are unaware of the political dynamics pertaining in their theater of operations. This can be a costly mistake which the author does not make. Anybody looking to fight a war in Africa need look no further for guidance.

A classic appraisal of modern day warfare

Patrick Ricketts on Nov 05, 2016

The book Composite Warfare is a classic appraisal of modern day warfare internationally and not only in Africa. It should be valued for its understanding and appraisal of modern military conflicts and the valuable development of strategic, operational and tactic perspectives applicable to modern armed conflicts. As the author had risen from the ranks, having gone through a soldier’s harsh realities, he displays an intense understanding of the relationship between the state and its armed formations and the role and responsibilities of armed formations within society and on the battlefield. The author further describes the basic tendencies in the modern art of warfare, the courses and progress of armed conflict and the perfection of operational and tactical skills of officers and men in an armed conflict that results in military victory. Thank you very much for this excellent piece of work, though the content may pose a challenge to certain international power blocks who it may be viewed as a challenge their expansionist policies in their strive for control of material resources


Roy Marais on Nov 01, 2016

This is one of the best, if not the best Warfare Manuals for ANY Person who lives and works in Africa being that Military, Government or any other entity who is involved in Africa, to understand the complexity of Africa. The author has through this developed the way forward for training the new breed of soldiers in Africa. Excellent book and a must for any student of the Art of War. In time to come this book will be rated at the same level as Mobile Warfare of Roland de Vries.
In years to come this book will become as relevant as “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu only that this manual focuses on Africa and how future warfare should be planned and conducted within the African Battle space.

New one for Military scholars

Phillip on Oct 17, 2016

This book is definitely going to be a best seller for the year!! This is a excellent guide for waging a modern military campaign not just in Africa, but around the world. The structure of the information is easy to read and digest, even for non- military men like me. I think there will be a lot of soldiers around the world walking around with this book as a guide. Keeping this one next to Mobile Warfare of Roland de Vries.
Thanks Piet for the signed copy. Was a nice surprise!!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


This past weekend witnessed the solemn commemorations of Remembrance Day around the world.
It was indeed a fitting time to remember the numerous sacrifices made by the many allied and enemy soldiers who went before us. In countless ways, it was both a joyous and sad occasion, but sadly the world has not become what so many had hoped—and died for. The ‘war to end all wars’ was only the start of the conflicts and wars that would follow.

It was also the weekend that my book Composite Warfare was launched in Natal.
My sincerest thanks to everyone who braved the rain and traffic to support my recent discussions and book launch in Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Shelly Beach. I had a great time visiting and chatting to everyone. It was also an honour and a privilege to meet old friends and make new ones.
My apologies to those I was unable to remember from my past…I have to blame ‘old age’.
It is always very difficult to single out specific people, as there are many that played a very prominent role the entire time I was in Natal.
However, I would like to thank the following people by name:
1.    Piet Fourie of Bush War Books for arranging the talks, coordinating matters and making sure I never went hungry or thirsty (Piet and Bush War Books are on Facebook for those who wish to join their circle of friends) and for arranging my overnight stay in Durban
2.    Johan Jonker for his support to both Piet and myself – and of course, his very entertaining stories
3.    Simon and Sarah for their immense kindness and hospitality for feeding me and giving me a warm, cozy bed to sleep in. I am, however, disappointed that they were unable to arrange better weather as it was very cold, misty and wet (I know we need the rain!) where they live, despite it being summer
4.    Brett for taking Sarah, Simon and I to supper on Thursday evening
5.    The Old Bill of the Alan Wilson Shellhole in Pietermaritzburg for allowing the MOTH hall to be used as it was raining and very wet outside
6.    The Natal Mounted Rifles (NMR) in Durban for allowing their facilities to be used on Saturday. Again, the rain was rather pesky but the braai Hilton organised made up for that by far.
7.    Mara Potgieter and her two ladies at Bargain Books, Shelly Beach for their efforts to both promote the book as well as sell it.
A very big thank you to everyone who sacrificed their time to listen to me discuss my new book as well as for the many interesting questions everyone asked.
And of course, a really big thank you to everyone who bought my books.
I truly appreciate your support.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Every military unit and every nation has its own heroes who stand steadfast even when the chips were down.
These are men who, faced with possible death, refuse to acknowledge its presence. In times of exhaustion, extreme danger, hunger, and great anxiety, they are able to control their fear and harness it to rally or save their colleagues, and in some instances, even save their countries. Yet, despite their exploits of immense personal courage, dedication and fortitude, these heroes inevitably find themselves abandoned and betrayed by their politicians and generals.
A Handful of Hard Men by Hannes Wessels must rank as one of the most riveting books on contemporary African military history that I have read. It is also a book that lays bare the many misconceptions about Rhodesia’s war for survival and exposes some of the great betrayals these soldiers have been forced to live with. Yet, even when they realised they were being sold out by the very politicians who sent them to war, these men continued to fight on and carry out their orders, not for the politicians or even their generals, but for one another and the unit they held dearly.
The Rhodesian Special Air Service (SAS) produced men of such exceptional calibre.
Hannes Wessels has captured the essence of true combat by this handful of very hard men—the Rhodesian SAS—who, despite adversity and hardship, still found time to treasure small things most civilians take for granted.

Soldiers who, on a daily basis, live a stone’s throw from death, develop their own sense of humour—a sense of humour those who have never been under fire find difficult to grasp. Oftentimes, they speak a language others do not understand but it is a language they have learned through circumstance, hardship, and the ever present spectre of death. These hard men of the Rhodesian SAS were no different.
A Handful of Hard Men looks into the soul of soldiers who, many years ago, were fighting a forgotten war in southern Africa—not as some would like to claim between the black and white people of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)—but between two very different ideologies. Ultimately, these soldiers were to face the betrayal of the West, the very civilisation they believed they were defending from an encroaching ideology based on communism and state collapse. In their defence of ‘western civilisation’, they deployed and fought wherever they could find their enemy. Meanwhile, ensconced in their ivory towers, the politicians of the West were plotting the demise of Rhodesia.
Through his pen, the author weaves a narrative that focusses on one man in particular—Darrell Watt—and the brave men who, under his leadership, stood beside him, regardless. The support they received from an ill-equipped air force (due to international sanctions) is worthy of a book on its own.
A Handful of Hard Men spans several years of Darrell Watt’s life—from recruitment, to training, to reconnaissance, to operational and tactical deception, to deep penetration raids and operations, and the ultimate standing down of the Rhodesian SAS. The operations these few men conducted were intense, breath-taking in magnitude, and vividly described, and yet even under the ever-present threat of death, humour presented itself.
Interwoven in the narrative is the developing political situation and the behind-the-doors negotiations and political duplicity to collapse one ideology and replace it with another.
After reading of the operations the Rhodesian SAS conducted, I was left breathless and it was as though I could smell the cordite and taste the blood in my mouth.  
I would highly recommend this magnificent book at any serious student of contemporary African warfare and history.
For ordering information, as well as other news and stories on Africa, visit Hannes’s blog www.africaunauthorised.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


As Africa drags itself ever closer to the abyss, one would think that governments would be paying a lot more attention to strategic intelligence, and the current and developing strategic threats, along with strategic forecasting. This sadly appears not to be the case as it is evident that erroneous intelligence impacts greatly on current thinking and strategies—especially when the initiative has been lost and the tipping point is approaching.

If governments continue to base their strategic predications on thumb-sucking, misinformed media articles and ‘opinion pieces’, ill-informed advisors, and incorrect narrative-driven assumptions, instead of verified and credible strategic intelligence, tragedy awaits them as they place their national and vital interests at risk. The richer they are in resources, the greater the risk and the subsequent looming tragedy.

The rise of armed anti-government forces, radical religious terror groups, proxy forces, domestic and transnational organised crime, planned regime-change actions, mass perception shaping programmes via the mainstream media and so forth, is evident that intelligence failures at the strategic level are increasing. The continued lack of intelligence is costing—and will still cost—African governments dearly in the future as they will be unable to prepare and posture themselves correctly to meet the threats. Nor will they be able to develop a coherent strategic intent as the threat and its intentions will be unknown…let alone safeguard their interests.

The integrity and survival of the state along with the longevity of government requires a reliable, robust, and continuous strategic intelligence input. This is essential to enable the development and adjustment of the National Strategy. The National Strategy, in turn, must give the government direction and guidance on how it intends to position itself on the national, regional, continental, and international stages. It is also essential to give forewarning of real, potential and predicted violent and non-violent threats against the state—and the obstacles it will face along the way in countering the threats.

The National Security Strategy is similarly guided by strategic intelligence and strategic forecasting and/or predictions, and its impact is felt across all pillars of the state. However, threats against the state are not only of a military or armed nature. They include planned non-violent attacks such as economic sabotage, political blackmail, coercive diplomacy, perception manipulation, international criminal court threats, trade embargos, resource and state capture, and so forth. These threats are diverse, multi-dimensional and very seldom, if ever, appear as a singular threat. They develop over time and are never spontaneous.

Without strategic intelligence, the state will have no pre-warning of the approaching threats—or their intentions—that will attack it on numerous fronts. Nor will it understand—or be likely to withstand—foreign-backed and sponsored regime change actions through violent and non-violent means. These attacks all have only one aim: the installation, by any and all means possible, of a government that will be sympathetic to the regime change sponsors and that will surrender its resources as a token of thanks.

Countries such as Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Nigeria, Central African Republic, S Sudan, DRC, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Mali to name a few have all found themselves under sustained attack without having had any home-grown intelligence pre-warning. Despite several of the aforementioned countries being cautioned prior to the attacks, they chose instead to be blind and discard the dangers in the misguided belief that they may not be targeted or that the intelligence was wrong. In some instances, they were advised by ‘allies’ that the intelligence was false. Several other countries are also on the target list but are not currently viewed as priorities—yet. However, in every case, the developing intentions were and are—if anyone was or is willing to look—as clear as daylight, yet they were and are seemingly unable to connect the dots.

Reliance on the media, ill-intentioned ‘allies’, misinformed advisors, and public perceptions does not constitute intelligence at any dimension or level. The misguided belief that these sources will provide accurate and objective intelligence is a myth governments should dispel with absolute haste as these sources are usually coloured with disinformation. Instead, they must develop their own sources of intelligence and take responsibility for their own intelligence collection efforts and their intelligence failures.

Just because the intelligence does not match their ethnic, financial, racial, religious, or xenophobic narrative, it does not mean that it is wrong or false or even non-existent. 

Unless African governments realise the true value of strategic intelligence and critical role it plays in guiding and shaping their national and security strategies and defending their national and vital interests, they will continue to lead themselves—and their people—down the path of self-destruction.