Executive Outcomes

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Executive Outcomes
Private military security firm
IndustryPrivate military and security contractor
FounderEeben Barlow
Area served
Africa (Angola & Sierra Leone)
ProductsProviding military combat forces including personnel and equipment, law enforcement and training, logistics, Close quarter training, and security services
ServicesSecurity management, full-service risk management consulting
Number of employees
2,000+ [1]

Executive Outcomes was a private military company (PMC) founded in South Africa by Eeben Barlow, a former lieutenant-colonel of the South African Defence Force, in 1989. It later became part of the South African-based holding company Strategic Resource Corporation. [2]

A private military company (PMC) is a private company providing armed combat or security services for financial gain. PMCs refer to their staff as "security contractors" or "private military contractors". Private military companies refer to their business generally as the "private military industry" or "The Circuit".

South African Defence Force comprised the South African armed forces from 1957 until 1994

The South African Defence Force (SADF) comprised the South African armed forces from 1957 until 1994. Shortly before the state reconstituted itself as a republic in 1961, the former Union Defence Force was officially succeeded by the SADF, which was established by the Defence Act of 1957. The SADF, in turn, was superseded by the South African National Defence Force in 1994.

A holding company is a company that owns other companies' outstanding stock. A holding company usually does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies to form a corporate group. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies.




In 1989, following the conclusion of South African Border Wars in Angola and Namibia, the apartheid regime in South Africa was beginning to dissolve. The South African Defence Force was looking at broad cuts in its personnel. African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela demanded that then South African President Frederik Willem de Klerk dismantle some of the South African and South-West African Special Forces units such as 32 Battalion and Koevoet. One of these was the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), a unit that carried out covert operations which included assassinations of government opponents, and worked to bypass the United Nations apartheid sanctions by setting up overseas front companies.

South African Border War The war on the border of South West Africa/Namibia and Angola.

The South African Border War, also known as the Namibian War of Independence, and sometimes denoted in South Africa as the Angolan Bush War, was a largely asymmetric conflict that occurred in Namibia, Zambia, and Angola from 26 August 1966 to 21 March 1990. It was fought between the South African Defence Force (SADF) and the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN), an armed wing of the South West African People's Organisation (SWAPO). The South African Border War resulted in some of the largest battles on the African continent since World War II and was closely intertwined with the Angolan Civil War.

Angola country in Africa

Angola, officially the Republic of Angola, is a west-coast country of south-central Africa. It is the seventh-largest country in Africa, bordered by Namibia to the south, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Zambia to the east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Angola has an exclave province, the province of Cabinda that borders the Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The capital and largest city of Angola is Luanda.

Namibia republic in southern Africa

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Only Koevoet – being part of the South West African Police (SWAPOL) – was disbanded as part of independence negotiations for South-West Africa (now Namibia). Many members of the other units, or simply former national servicemen, were recruited by Executive Outcomes (EO).

South West African Police The police force of South West Africa

The South West African Police, often abbreviated to SWAPOL, was the national police force of South West Africa. It was responsible for law enforcement in South West Africa when that territory was governed by South Africa, first as a League of Nations mandate, and from 1966 as occupier. It was organised and structured both as a paramilitary force and as a civil police force.


Eeben Barlow & Michael Mullen – an Irishman from Dublin, formerly in charge of the Western European section of the CCB [3] – established Executive Outcomes (EO) in 1989. Its aim was to provide specialised covert training to Special Forces members. Barlow was also awarded a contract by Debswana to train a selected group of security officers to infiltrate and penetrate the illegal diamond dealing syndicates in Botswana. When Debswana discovered EO was training the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA), it promptly cancelled EO's contract.

The South African Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) was a government-sponsored death squad during the apartheid era that operated under the authority of Defence Minister General Magnus Malan. The Truth and Reconciliation Committee pronounced the CCB guilty of numerous killings, and suspected more killings.

Debswana company

Debswana Diamond Company Ltd, or simply Debswana, is a mining company located in Botswana, and is the world's leading producer of diamonds by value. Debswana is a joint venture between the government of Botswana and the South African diamond company De Beers; each party owns 50% of the company. Debswana operates four diamond mines in central Botswana, as well as a coal mine.

Botswana republic in southern Africa

Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. Since then, it has been a representative republic, with a consistent record of uninterrupted democratic elections and the best perceived corruption ranking in Africa since at least 1998. It is currently Africa's oldest continuous democracy.

"Many of Barlow's Special Forces students would later join him at EO after he started recruiting men to assist with the training of the Angolan forces," says Walter Halicki, one of Eeben's associates in the FAA.

The company also went on to recruit many of its personnel from the units President F. W. De Klerk disbanded. At its peak, EO employed about 2,000 former soldiers.

Barlow registered Executive Outcomes Ltd in the UK on the insistence of the South African Reserve Bank. There is some confusion over this issue as a top secret British intelligence report states that “Executive Outcomes was registered in the UK on September 1993 by Anthony (Tony) Buckingham, a British businessman and Simon Mann, a former British officer”. [4] Buckingham denies that he registered EO in London and consistently denies any "corporate ties" to EO. [5]

South African Reserve Bank central bank

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) is the central bank of South Africa. It was established in 1921 after Parliament passed an act, the "Currency and Bank Act of 10 August 1920", as a direct result of the abnormal monetary and financial conditions which World War I had brought. The SARB was only the fourth central bank established outside the United Kingdom and Europe, the others being the United States, Japan and Java. The earliest suggestions for the establishment of the Central Bank in South Africa date back to 1879. A select committee, consisting of ten members of Parliament was established on 31 March 1920 to examine the benefits to the national interest of the establishing of the central bank.

Anthony Leslie Rowland "Tony" Buckingham is a former North Sea oil-rig diver and is currently an oil industry executive with a significant share holding in Heritage Oil Corporation. Heritage is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange since 1999. In 2008, Heritage listed on the London Stock Exchange. Buckingham's direct and indirect share holding is estimated to represent 33% of Heritage. This share was reduced in November 2007 via a share placement made through JP Morgan and Canaccord.

Simon Mann British military officer; Equatoguinean detainee

Simon Francis Mann is a former British Army officer and mercenary. He served part of a 34-year prison sentence in Equatorial Guinea for his role in a failed coup d'état in 2004, before receiving a presidential pardon on humanitarian grounds on 2 November 2009.

Key personnel

Apart from founder Eeben Barlow (CEO), other senior EO personnel were Lafras Luitingh (Deputy to CEO) and Nic van der Bergh (CEO after Barlow resigned). [6] [7] Senior associates included Simon Mann and Tony Buckingham, who, along with Barlow and Luitingh were the executive officers of Ibis Air, the aircraft procurement organisation for Executive Outcomes which was essentially their private "air force". Pilot Crause Steyl [8] was the South African-based director of Ibis Air. [9] [10]


Executive Outcomes initially trained and later fought on behalf of the Angolan government against UNITA after UNITA refused to accept the election results in 1992. This contract was awarded to the company after EO had assisted Ranger Oil [11] with an equipment recovery operation in the harbour town of Soyo. Dubbed by the South African media as an attempt to assassinate the rebel leader Dr. Jonas Savimbi, EO found itself under constant UNITA attacks where it lost three of its men. This action saw EO as being recognised by the FAA and a contract to train its forces was duly awarded. In a short space of time, UNITA was defeated on the battlefield and sued for peace. The Angolan government, under pressure from the UN and the US, were forced to terminate EO's contract. EO was replaced by the UN's peacekeeping force known as UNAVEM. Angola returned to war shortly thereafter.

In March 1995, the company contained an insurrection of guerrillas known as the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, regained control of the diamond fields, and forced a negotiated peace. [12] In both these instances they are credited with rescuing both governments against RUF and UNITA. In the case of Angola this led to a cease fire and the Lusaka Protocol, which ended the Angolan civil war – albeit only for a few years. [13] In Sierra Leone, however, the government capitulated to international pressure to have EO withdraw in favour of an ineffective peacekeeping force, allowing the RUF to rebuild and sack the capital in "Operation No Living Thing". [14]

Professional soldiers and military hardware

As is characteristic of one of the first PMCs, Executive Outcomes was directly involved militarily in Angola and Sierra Leone. The company was notable in its ability to provide all aspects of a highly trained modern army to the less professional government forces of Sierra Leone and Angola. For instance, in Sierra Leone, Executive Outcomes fielded not only professional fighting men, but armour and support aircraft such as one Mi-24 Hind and two Mi-8 Hip helicopters, the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle and T-72 main battle tank. [15] [16] It also possessed medevac capabilities to airlift the wounded out of combat zones via Boeing 727 D2-FLZ owned by Ibis Air. These were bought from sources in the worldwide arms trade within Africa as well as Eastern Europe. [17]

The aircraft were owned and operated by a separate partner company called Ibis Air which also owned MiG-23 "Flogger" fighters and a small fleet of Pilatus PC-7 turbo-prop trainers converted for the recce and ground attack role (with the capability to fire SNEB air-to-ground rockets). Ibis Air also had the connections to operate MiG-27 "Flogger" strike aircraft and Su-25 "Frogfoot" close support aircraft for EO that were loaned out via the Angolan Air Force. [18]

Major contracts

Executive Outcomes had contracts with multinational corporations such as De Beers, Chevron, Rio Tinto Zinc and Texaco. The governments of Angola, Sierra Leone, and Indonesia were also clients.


Executive Outcomes actively encouraged the South African government to enforce a regulation of PMCs as several South African and international companies were masquerading for work under the banner of Executive Outcomes. Additionally, Executive Outcomes was actively engaged in providing input into the formulation of the bill which became known as "Regulation of Foreign Military Assistance Act" in 1998.

Executive Outcomes was duly provided with a licence stipulating that it met the requirements of the newly introduced Act.

Executive Outcomes was dissolved on 31 December 1998.

The aim of the Act was to stop mercenary activities by the dual actions of:

  1. preventing direct participation as a combatant in armed conflict for private gain including the training, recruitment and use of mercenaries; and,
  2. requiring approval of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee for offering of military assistance overseas. [19]

Sandline International

Executive Outcomes was often loosely linked with the United Kingdom private military company Sandline International, but in 1997 Sandline directly subcontracted Executive Outcomes for their operation in Papua New Guinea to oust the rebels holding the Pangua mine on Bougainville Island which led to the so-called "Sandline affair" when news of the government's intention to hire mercenaries was leaked to the Australian press.

The Commander of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Jerry Singirok – who reversed his support for the operation – ordered the detaining of all the mercenaries on their arrival, and forced the Prime Minister Sir Julius Chan to resign with Papua New Guinea coming close to a military coup. [2]

Sterling Corporate Services

A UN report from July 2012 criticised the South African security company Sterling Corporate Services for assembling a "private army" in defiance of international agreements and also of Somalian sanctions. [20] The report was conducted by the UN's Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) and revealed strong links to Executive Outcomes. [20]

See also

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  2. 1 2 The Privatisation of Violence: New mercenaries and the state Archived 8 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine Christopher Wrigley CAAT March 1999
  3. Eeben Barlow's autobiography: Executive Outcomes – Against all Odds Archived 29 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Reporter, Staff (24 January 1997). "Africa's new-look dogs of war" (Online). Mail & Guardian. Africa. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  5. Cilliers, Jakkie; Mason, Peggy; Pech, Khareen (January 1999). "PEACE, PROFIT OR PLUNDER? The Privatisation of Security in War-Torn African Societies :- Chapter 5: Executive Outcomes – A corporate conquest p.106, №18" (PDF). ISS Africa. Institute for Security Studies in Africa. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
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  7. Singer, P. W. (2003). Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Updated ed.). New York: Cornell University Press. p. 101. ISBN   9780801459603 . Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  8. Leigh, David (30 January 2005). "Thatcher 'directly involved in coup'" (Online). Guardian News and Media Limited. UK. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  9. "Executive Outcomes". Source Watch. The Center for Media and Democracy. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
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  11. "Company Overview of Ranger Oil Limited". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  12. The New Mercenaries and the Privatization of Conflict Thomas K. Adams. Parameters, Summer 1999
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  16. Barlow, Eeben ; (2010). Executive Outcomes : Against All Odds (3. ed.). Alberton, South Africa: Galago. ISBN   9781919854410.
  17. Forsyth, Al J. Venter ; foreword by Frederick (2006). War dog : fighting other people's wars : the modern mercenary in combat (1. ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Casemate. ISBN   9781932033090.
  18. Singer, P. W. (2003). Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Updated ed.). New York: Cornell University Press. p. 106. ISBN   9780801459603 . Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  19. Chapter 2 — The Private Military Companies' Perspective Select Committee on Foreign Affairs 1 August 2002
  20. 1 2 Ivor Powell and Bianca Capazorio (1 September 2012). "UN slams SA's 'private army'". IOL News.