Saturday, May 22, 2010


Eeben Barlow founded the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes (EO) in 1989. The company trained SADF Special Forces in intelligence skills. Operating primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West, EO served such corporate clients as De Beers (diamonds) and Ranger Oil in Northern Angola. EO later operated in Sierra Leone against the rebel movement RUF in that country and assisted Indonesian Special Forces in the hostage-release operation in Irian Jaya in 1996.

EO also operated in South America and the Far East. Nowadays Eeben Barlow lectures to military colleges and universities on defense, intelligence and security issues.

Eeben Barlow is currently an independent consultant. Eeben Barlow's Military and Security Blog is a serious look at military and security matters.

From Eeben Barlow's blog:


When a nation’s armed forces are committed to war, the war is fought at three distinct yet inter-related levels. These three levels are:

1. Strategic Level

2. Operational Level

3. Tactical Level

Warfare at the strategic level can be broken down into four distinctive types of strategic warfare. These four types are:

1. Offensive Warfare

2. Defensive Warfare

3. Attrition Warfare

4. Revolutionary Warfare.

Each type of Strategic Warfare can be further broken down into different sub-types of warfare. As an example, Offensive Warfare can be subdivided into either a Distant Strategic Offensive or a Close Strategic Offensive – the type being determined by the proximity of the offensive.

At the Operational Level, usually confined to a specific theatre of operations, the military strategy is accomplished by the setting of operational objectives, within that specific theatre, to meet the military strategy’s goals. Poor planning, non-compliance to doctrine and inadequate tactics can result in failure, thus impacting negatively on the overall military strategy.

The Tactical level is that level where the techniques to attain the strategy are implemented by various unit levels such as a division, a brigade, a company or even a section. It is, therefore, at the Tactical level that tactics come into play. The tactics employed will be dependent on numerous factors such as the phase of war, the enemy, the terrain, the weather, own forces capabilities, the local population and so forth.

Eeben Barlow's autobiography: Executive Outcomes: Against All Odds

Whereas the principle aim of war is to always achieve victory over the enemy, regardless of the type of warfare, the modern-day war can be viewed as having five main strategic goals:

1. To repulse an aggressive act by the enemy, contain and destroy it.

2. To invade, conquer and destroy an enemy.

3. To seize and exploit the resources of an enemy.

4. To energise foreign policy by means other than diplomacy.

5. To gain favourable public opinion and strengthen national resolve and will.

To achieve these strategic goals, the military will adopt a specific posture in order to accomplish its allocated mission. The posture will thus be determined by the perceived enemy threat and will therefore determine the military’s doctrine and tactics.

The tactics, in turn, are related to the specific phase of warfare that is being implemented. These phases - excluding the intermediate or transitional phases - are:

1. The advance

2. The attack

3. The withdrawal

4. The defence

Sound military strategies will lead to well-developed doctrines, good planning based on sound intelligence and correct application of tactics. It is, however, at the tactical level that the war can be either won or lost.

This is where I disagree - the United States was never defeated on the tactical level in Vietnam; there was never a decisive Communist victory against United States Forces on the battlefield.

Perhaps this was because while we were engaged in a distant, strategic war; the Viet Communists were fighting Revolutionary Warfare, and were willing to adopt attrition tactics to achieve their Strategic aims.

The American defeat in the Vietnam Conflict was STRATEGIC in nature, and it occurred at Berkeley, Kent State, Columbia, and a hundred other college campuses, where the few of the anti-war movement held the many of the entire country hostage - Sean Linnane


  1. Hi Stormbringer,

    I fully agree with your comment but I wrote “It is, however, at the tactical level that the war can be either won or lost” – the emphasis being on “can”. Once this level reaches a point of collapse, the war is over. However, at the strategic level, wars can also be won or lost, especially in a scenario where the politicians turn yellow or the casualty rate is no longer accepted on the home front.

    In Africa, wars are however usually lost at the tactical level and upward permeation results in the collapse of the strategic level.

    Like the US in Vietnam, South Africa didn’t lose the tactical war. We too lost it on the strategic level due to international pressure and our lame duck politicians caving in to that pressure.

    Whereas my blog entry was to give a broad look at strategy and tactics, I nevertheless appreciate your view on where wars are won or lost.



  2. Don't forget Walter and his cohorts *spit* had a rather large hand in the SE Asia debacle. They and the damn liberals tried to do same with Iraq but were beaten back by the Milblogs via the internet, the Patriot Guard and other orgs like Soldiers Angels and WWP. The ability to communicate and the spread of knowledge affected the outcome in Iraq and I suspect it would have done the same if the American people knew at the time the truth about the actual battles in Vietnam and how badly the enemy was getting beaten.

  3. Eeben,

    You are quite right, of course - and thank you for honoring Blog STORMBRINGER with your presence.

    BTW I have been aware of your outfit EO since the mid-nineties and our paths crossed - briefly and obliquely - during the time I was going in and out of West Africa like the place had a revolving door.

    If this is not out of line, could you contact me via email (click on the "email STORMBRINGER" device upper right this page) and let me know where I can send a copy of your book for an autograph?

    Many Thanks,
    Sean Linnane

  4. Cool post & comments. I will buy Mr. Barlow's book this week. I am aware of the great work EO accomplished in Africa to stop murderous gangs.

  5. Thanks for the link Sean and thanks for your insight Eeben. I'll visit your site often and link to it as well. Looks like I've got another book to buy and read.

  6. Hi Stormbringer,

    Did you receive my mail?



  7. This thread of IO permeates all of this. We are doing IO so poorly and yet our enemies driven by economic necessity have seen the efficiency of a well invested IO campaign.

    Nothing has frustrated me more in my trips East than watching how much hot air is devoted to promoting IO when so little hard resource is tasked to the mission.

    Until we master this aspect of warfare we will continue to lose on all fronts, both kinetic and the political...


  8. hi, mister barlow
    my name is thomas michael bremmer, i'm french, i' have studied tactical, security approaches, and i'm graduated in spanish and english, i'm looking for a job in africa to protect hi personnalities or all others kind of job
    i wait for response to my request
    thank you in advance and , i hope read you in a few time

  9. i forgotten that i also grduated in paramedic cares

  10. Thomas M BREMMER that's ended the two others messages before i apologize for this fault

  11. T. bremmer
    my adress is

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