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Military History~Central Africa - Angola / Congo / Mozambique / Seychelles/ Zambia
NB - Border War books are listed in the Southern Africa Section~~~11312~11313~Military History (Rhodesia/Zimbabwe)%3CBR%3E%3CBR%3EBooks covering the Rhodesian bush war - a low intensity terrorist guerrila conflict. Also on the elite Rhodesian special forces, the Rhodesian Special Air Service SAS Paratroopers, Rhodesia%27s elite parachute battalion, and the elite Selous Scouts psuedo-terrorists special forces unit. Rhodesian Light Infantry RLI famous for quick reaction Fireforce operations, British South Africa Police, COIN BSAP ZANLA ZIPRA PATU CIO, Rhodesian Central Intelligence Organisation, rhodesian helicopter pilots, insurgency counterinsurgency, guerrilla warfare counter-guerrilla warfare tactics. Colonization & independence, terrorism, freedom fighters, armed struggle . Popular titles include%3A LRDG Rhodesia%3A Rhodesians in the Long Range Desert Group - J Pittaway & C Fourie, SAS Rhodesia%3A Rhodesians and the Special Air Service - J Pittaway & C Fourie, See You in November - The Story of an SAS Assassin - Peter Stiff , The Elite - The Story of the Rhodesian SAS - Barbara Cole, Selous Scouts%3A Top Secret War - Lt-Col Ron Reid Daly, as told to Peter Stiff, Dead Leaves%3A Two Years in the Rhodesian War - Dan Wylie, anti police rhodesian terorriorist unit, 1 commando infantry light rhodesian, militaria rhodesian,~
Acabou: It's Finished - Tim Green~An extraordinary true life documentary of imprisionment and survival. Imprisoned against his will and without trial for "attempting to destroy the Mozambican economy". A Rhodesian born South African commercial pilot is on his last lap of a business trip, delivering communications equipment to Mozambique when he is captured. This book details his time (3 years) as the only white prisoner in a degenerate Mozambican prison, how his fellow inmates rallied around him and his wife's struggle, miles away, to have her husband freed. In one particular spine-chilling section of the book, Tim is marched out into the prison grounds at dawn to be executed...
ISBN 1 919874 08 9. Softback. Size - 222x252mm, 164 pages .~Covos Day
ISBN 1-919874-08-9. Softcover
Size 225 x 150mm.
Re-printed Aug 2003.
started as a journal Tim Green kept for himself during his imprisonment in Mozambique. Scribbled with the stub of a pencil on a children's notebook, smuggled into the cell by inmates, the notes were intended as letters to his family should he not survive. On his release the notes were turned into a full length gripping story. It tells of how he was working as a commercial pilot, flying communications equipment to Mozambique. On completion of this job he was paid in American dollars, which he tried to exchange for local currency to pay for a meal. The currency was allegedly counterfeit and he was imprisoned for trying to ruin the Mozambican economy. He tells of how he was marched in front of a firing squad and almost put to death and how it was the inmates, rallying around him and his wife's pressure on the South African government that saved his life.
Tim Green was born in 1950 on a farm in the then Rhodesia, he spoke Shona until the age of five, in fact his first letter home to his parents from primary school was written in Shona. His father died when he was 16 and he ran away from boarding school to help his mother run the farm. Tim Green was the youngest commissioned officer in the Rhodesian Army at the age of 18, in his free time he qualified as a commercial pilot. ~Acabou|ISBN 1919874089|~11312~1495~~
Barrel of a Gun: Misspent Moments in Combat - Al J Venter~Sequel to '
War Dog: Fighting Other People's Wars - The Modern Mercenary in Combat - Al J Venter
' (Listed below)
Al Venter has spent most of his adult life covering wars. From these 40 years has emerged his latest book which, for want of something better, he has called
Barrel of a Gun.
This book covers many of Venter's exploits, starting with his first real experience of conflict after he'd landed in Nigeria following the Ibo-led putsch that eventually led to the Biafran Civil War. From there he went on to cover the wars that the Portuguese were then fighting in a desperate rear-guard series of guerrilla conflicts to retain their African colonies in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea (today Guiné-Bissau). Then came Beirut, Rhodesia, the Congo, huge dollops of the Middle East, South Africa's border wars in Angola and the consequential overflow into Zambia, Uganda, Liberia, El Salvador, the Balkans - where he went in twice - once with the United States Air Force over Kosovo and afterwards with mine-clearing teams in Croatia, Executive Outcomes (twice into Angola and once in Sierra Leone) as well five weeks with mercenary South African helicopter pilot Neall Ellis in the subsequent Sierra Leone war against the RUF rebels. There he flew combat in an antiquated M-24 Russian gunship that leaked when it rained. Since then, Al Venter spent a lot of time covering some of South Africa's security problems, including more than a month with para-military units active against drug elements along the Tugela River in KwaZulu/Natal. One recent phase in South Africa involved a brief spell in the mountains on horseback, and not the first time either. He was attached to a mounted unit along the Angolan Border in earlier days, not long before one of the soldiers was blown up by a Soviet TM-57 anti-tank mine. Venter has been twice injured in combat, once when a TM-57 detonated under his APC while with a long-range penetration group deep behind enemy lines in Angola and another time, through his own stupidity, that destroyed all hearing in his left ear ......
October 2010. Hardback 228 x 156 mm 352 pages 16-pg photo section~"Anybody who believes that the pen is mightier than the sword hasn't spent time in Somalia, or in Beirut in its bloody heyday." So begins this fascinating memoir of a journalist, filmmaker and raconteur who has made a career of examining warfare, on the ground, at sea and in the air, at the Sharp End. While the average citizen is aware of violent conflicts broiling all around the globe, Al J. Venter-from some strange compulsion unexplainable even by him-has felt the need to see them all in person, preferably from the centre of the action.
Born in South Africa, Venter has found no shortage of horrific battles on his own continent, from Rhodesia to Biafra, and Angola to Somalia. He has ridden with the legendary mercenary group Executive Outcomes, jumped into combat with South Africa's crack Parachute Battalion - the Parabats - at Cuamoto during the Angolan War, where he and several others became casualties, and traipsed the jungles with both guerrillas and national troops under whichever strongman in the country then held power.
During Sierra Leone's civil war he flew in the government's lone Mi-24 Hind gunship as it blasted apart rebel villages and convoys, his main complaint being that the Soviet-made craft leaked when it rained. In the Middle East he went into southern Lebanon with the invading Israeli army, and spent weeks at a time in war-torn Beirut. Through all this, Venter never lost his lust for action, even though he sometimes had to put down his camera or notebook to pick up an AK-47.
In his journeys, Venter associated with an array of similarly daring soldiers and journalists, from "Mad Mike" Hoare to Frederick Forsyth, as well as elite soldiers from around the world, many of whom, he sadly relates, never emerged from the war zones they entered. The creator of many documentaries and books, on such diverse subjects as warfare, shark diving and nuclear proliferation, Al Venter has here offered the reader his own personal combat experiences in all their multifaceted fascination.
October 2010. Hardback 228 x 156 mm 352 pages 16-pg photo section~Select version||Barrel of a Gun|ISBN 9781935149255 EB|Barrel of a Gun - Autographed|ISBN 9781935149255 Auto|~11312~12915~~
Bush War: The Road to Cuito Cuanavale - Dr G Shubin & Dr Tokarev~
Soviet Soldiers' Accounts of the Angolan War
For almost fifteen years South Africa was involved in a civil war in Angola, the so-called Bush War, on behalf of the UNITA faction. The climax of this portrayed conflict was the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, the largest military engagement on African soil since the Second World War. Here South African forces came to blows with Angolan FAPLA troops and their Cuban allies in a battle whose outcome is still hotly debated. Thousands of South African conscripts took part in the Bush War and their stories are beginning to be told. What is much less known is the view from the other side. This book provides, for the first time in English, first-hand, personal accounts of the conflict, leading up to Cuito Cuanavale, as told by Soviet advisers to the Angolan army. Their experience of the war and their views and assessment of their South African enemies as well as their Cuban and Angolan allies will surprise and fascinate South African readers and at the same time offer new insights into the conflict.
Paperback. 210x148mm, 216 pages. B/W photos.
Planned dispatch date:
(ITEM CODE -
)~About the Editors
Dr Gennady Shubin is a Senior Researcher for the Institute for African Studies in the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. He has published 17 books (nine of them are co-authored) including three books on the modern RSA’s history, six books on the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, two books on RSA’s Army and Military Industry and six books of memoirs about Angolan war (one of them in English and one is Russo-English).
Dr Andrei Tokarev is head of the Centre for South African Studies at the Africa Institute in Moscow and an Associate Professor at the Military University in Moscow.~Bush War|ISBN 9781431401857|~11312~13772~~
Congo Mercenary - Mike Hoare~In July 1964, after four years of uneasy independence, the Democratic Republic of the Congo was engulfed by an armed rebellion that spread throughout the country like a bush fire. The rebel soldiers struck terror into the hearts of civilians and National Army soldiers alike. Faced with this situation, the Congolese government hired legendary mercenary leader Mike Hoare to quell the uprising and bring order to the country.In
, Mike Hoare tells the true story of his resolute band of mercenaries (5 Commando) during the Congo war. In fascinating detail, Hoare describes how the mercenaries were recruited and trained, and then recounts their adventures through four combat campaigns over an 18-month period during which they liberated Stanleyville, fought rebels in the hinterland, freed hundreds of European hostages and restored law and order to the Congo.Originally published in 1967, and now including a new foreword by Mike Hoare,
is a well-written and historically important account of one of the most brutal rebellions in Africa, as well as an accurate and gritty depiction of the mercenary life.
Sycamore Island Books. Reprinted 2008. Paperback 342 pages. Illustrated~~Congo Mercenary|ISBN-13 9781581606393|~11312~13213~~
Congo Unravelled. Military Operations From Independence To The Mercenary Revolt 1960-68 - Andrew Hudson~Africa @ War Series - a new series of thin light-reading books, covering specific subjects in general.
Post-independence events in the Republic of the Congo are a veritable Gordian knot. The ambitions of Congolese political leaders, Cold War rivalry, Pan- Africanism, Belgium's continued economic interests in the country's mineral wealth, and the strategic perceptions of other southern African states all conspired to wrack Africa's second largest country with uprisings, rebellions and military interventions for almost a decade.
solves the intractable complexity of this violent period by dispassionately outlining the sequence of political and military events that took place in the troubled country. The reader is systematically taken through the first military attempts to stabilize the country after independence and the two distinguishing military campaigns of the decade-the United Nations military operations (Opération des Nations Unies au Congo, or ONUC) to end the secession of the Katanga Province, and the Dragon Operations led by Belgian paratroopers, supported by the US Air Force, launched to end the insurgency in the east of the country-are chronicled in detail. Finally, the mercenary revolt-an event that tainted the reputation of the modern mercenary in Africa- is described. Lesser known military events - Irish UN forces cut off from the outside world by Katangese gendarmes and mercenaries, and a combined military operation in which Belgian paratroopers were dropped from US Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and supported by a mercenary ground force to achieve humanitarian ends - go far toward resolving the enigma surrounding post-independence Congo.
April 2012. Paperback 297mm x 210mm 72 pages 8pp colour photos, many b/w photos, maps. RRP £16.95
Planned Dispatch Date:
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)~~Congo Unravelled|ISBN 9781907677632|~11312~13811~~
Congo Warriors - Mike Hoare~Colonel Mike Hoare commanded a unit of mercenary soldiers during the armed uprising in the Congo in 1964 and 1965, which he described in detail in his previous book,
. In this follow-up account of those war-torn days spent fighting the Simba rebels, Colonel Hoare focuses on the courage and ambitions, the lives and deaths of those men under his command. It includes twenty-one stories about mercenary soldiering in the Congo and Katanga including the heart-rending tale of an American missionary doctor, a young woman who suffered harsh treatment from rebel soldiers, her escape and her eventual return to Hoare's unit - and the romantic surprise which awaited her. In an exclusive new foreword and epilogue for this Paladin reprint, which the author has described as his favorite of all the books he has written, Colonel Hoare provides an unparalleled understanding of mercenary action in Africa, the involvement of the CIA in such activities and new insight into the minds and hearts of mercenary soldiers.
is not to be missed by anyone interested in combat, mercenaries, warriors or Africa.
Paladin Press (Blue Jacket Books) 2008. Paperback, 21.4 x 14 x 1.4 cm. 204 pages~~Congo Warriors|ISBN-13%3A 9781581606478|~11312~13216~~
Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, Pretoria - Piero Gleijeses~ This is a compelling and dramatic account of Cuban policy in Africa and of its escalating clash with US policy and later its direct military clashes with the South African Defence Force in Angola. It is the other side of a conflict that South Africans have not been told about until now.
ISBN 1-919-85410-X Hardback, 504pp; size 242 X 160mm, b/w pics and in-text illustrations. ~ISBN 1-919-85410-X Hardback,
504pp; size 242 X 160mm, b/w pics and in-text illustrations.
is a compelling and dramatic account of Cuban policy in Africa and of its escalating clash with US policy and later its direct military clashes with the South African Defence Force in Angola.
It is the other side of a conflict that South Africans have not been told about until now.
Gleijeses' narrative gallops from Cuba's first hesitant steps in rendering assistance to Algerian rebels fighting France in 1961, to the war in the Congo (later Zaire and now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in 1964-65, when 100 Cubans led by Che Guevara, acting in support of the Simba rebels, were confronted by white mercenaries from South Africa, Rhodesia, Britain and elsewhere - supported and controlled by America's Central Intelligence Agency.Gleijeses writes about the dramatic despatch to Angola of Cuban troops to aid the communist-inclined rebel MPLA movement in 1975. And how, being the rainy season, their destruction of the major river bridges in Angola's north contributed to halting the rapid and victorious advance of the seemingly unstoppable Battle Group Zulu of South Africa's SADF.
The blocking of Battle Group Zulu from reaching Luanda led to political decisions by the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to call off the CIA's IAFEATURE operations in support of UNITA and the FNLA and to South African Prime Minister John Vorster withdrawing all South African forces from Angola. This left the MPLA and its Cuban and other communist allies in control.
This was undoubtedly the most significant domino that would soon lead to the fall of white Rhodesia and ultimately to the handover of Namibia to SWAPO and finally to black rule in the Republic South Africa.
Piero Gleijeses analysis is clear, rigorous and balanced; the archival research supporting it is unprecedented. Not only is he the first historian to have gained access to closed Cuban archives, he also worked extensively in the archives of the United States, Belgium, Great Britain and East and West Germany.
In addition he interviewed many of the protagonists in the United States, Cuba and Africa - from the head of the CIA station in Luanda to Che Guevara's second-in-command in the Congo - and analysed the American, European, South African and other African press. The result is a remarkably comprehensive document that sheds new light on the history of those times. It revolutionises our view of Cuba's international role, challenges conventional beliefs about the Soviet Union in directing Cuba's action in Africa and provides. for the first time, a look from the inside of Cuba's foreign policy during the Cold War.
Piero Gleijeses, since 1972 has been the Professor of American Foreign Policy and Latin American Studies at the John Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies. He is fluent in four languages and can get by in another four including Afrikaans - although he has not yet set foot in South Africa. This has clearly assisted him greatly in his penetrating researches.
was awarded the 2003 Ferrell prize of the Society of Historians of American Foreign relations and it has been the subject of high praise by numerous reviewers.
He is the author of five books and monographs and has written numerous articles for journals, newspapers and journals as well as contributing chapters to a number of books.
He is presently researching a further book on the Cuban/Angolan situation which will record events leading up to the Cuban withdrawal from the country in 1989. This will incorporate Cuban, FAPLA, UNITA and South African standpoints of the bloody battles and political events that took place around Cuito Cuanavale during 1987-1989.~Conflicting Missions|X ISBN 191985410X|~11312~1498~~
Counterinsurgency in Africa: The Portugese Way of War 1961-74 - John P Cann~Portugal was the first colonial power to arrive in Africa and the last to leave. As other European states were granting independence to their African possessions, Portugal chose to stay and fight despite the small odds of success. That it did so successfully for thirteen years across the three fronts of Angola, Guine and Mozambique remains a remarkable achievement, particularly for a nation of such modest means. The Portugese approach to the conflict was distinct in that it sought to combine the two-pronged national strategy of containing the cost of the war and of spreading the burden to the colonies, with the solution on the battlefield. Even today Portugal's systematic and logical approach to its insurgency challenge holds valuable lessons for any nation forced to wage a small war on the cheap. John P. Cann's study is both wide-ranging and comprehensive, providing a description and analysis of Portugese counterinsurgency, including aspects such as intelligence and mobility, besides discussing social and logistical operations. Whilst discussing operations that took place during the 1960s and 1970s this study remains very relevant to present-day counterinsurgency operations.
Feb 2012. Paperback 234mm x 156mm 240 pages c 16 b/w photos, 4 maps. RRP £25.00
Planned dispatch date:
(ITEM CODE -
)~~Counterinsurgency in Africa|ISBN-13 9781907677731|~11312~13823~~
Executive Outcomes: Against all Odds - Eeben Barlow~Eeben Barlow a former lieutenant-colonel in the Permanent Force of the South African Defence Force, served in the Engineer Corp, the Reconnaissance Wing of the elite 32-Battalion, Military Intelligence and in the shadowy Civil Co-operation Bureau division of Special Forces.When the government arbitrarily disbanded the CCB Barlow found himself on the street. Taking advantage of his exceptional military skills he formed Executive Outcomes, a private company under whose aegis he was invited to train the SADF's Special Forces in intelligence skills and to stem the flow of stolen diamonds from the De Beers Corporation's properties.He was then invited to recruit a force of ex-servicemen retrenched from the SADF to assist an oil company in the recovery of equipment that they had been forced to abandon at Soyo in north-western Angola after it was overrun by UNITA rebels. EO's successes resulted in a contract to re-train the Angolan army and lead it in a fight to defeat the UNITA rebels.A contract to restore order in Sierra Leone and other like contracts followed, including one to rescue Western hostages taken by separatist rebels in Indonesia .
1st Edition, Aug 2007, ISBN-13 9781919854199, Softback 552 pages. NOW OUT OF PRINT
Reprint/Revised Edition, May 2010. ISBN-13 9781919854410, Softback 552 pages. ~August 2007
552pp, 32 pages colour photographs
Six in-text maps and other in-text illustrations
Reprinted May 2010, with a few minor amendments and corrections.
ISBN-13 978-1919854- 41-0
is the model on which all Private Military Companies (PMCs) operating in Iraq and Afghanistan are based. Founded by author Eeben Barlow in the early 1990s he originally offered courses in intelligence to South Africa's Special Forces and security work to De Beers' diamond mining industry. This was greatly expanded in 1993 when an oil company offered EO a contract to provide security for its staff while they recovered valuable drilling equipment stranded at the Angolan oil port of Soyo - after its capture by UNITA rebels.
Barlow recruited ex-members of South Africa's elite military units for the job. EO was contracted for a month, but this ended up being extended and EO spearheading an Angolan Army assault on Soyo and its capture from UNITA. This highly successful operation led to a contract to retrain the Angolan Army. Both UNITA and MPLA had taken part in UN supervised elections in 1992, but UNITA had rejected the results after losing and it had returned to civil war.
During a hard-fought campaign, retrained Angolan Army units led by EO captured Cafunfu - the diamond producing area that funded UNITA's war effort. Eventually, international pressure spearheaded by the UN and the 'blood diamond' lobby, forced EO's withdrawal from Angola which quickly sank back into chaos. The UN's efforts to restore the situation achieved by EO for US$35 million, cost the world body many billions of dollars.
EO's next contract was in May 1995 when 200 men were despatched to Sierra Leone where RUF rebels, chopping off people's limbs and engaging in cannibalism, were marching on Freetown. EO smashed the rebels and this led to free and fair elections with a new government being elected. Pressures were again exerted which resulted in EO's withdrawal. In the place of its 200 troops the UN deployed 18 000 soldiers at a cost of US$1 billion per year. The rebels regrouped, frequently taking UN troops as hostages, and the country again sank back into an orgy of cannibalism and limb chopping.
There is much, much more to the Executive Outcomes' story and Eeben Barlow tells it the way it was in this no-punches-pulled account.
Interviewing Eeben Barlow is not an experience you would describe as comfortable.
It's not because he is a former CCB operative nor the fact that he is proficient in multiple ways of killing and maiming. It's because what he says not only makes a lot of sense, it also makes you somewhat ashamed of both yourself and your profession, journalism.
He doesn't like most journalists, whom he accuses of helping his enemies wage a vicious disinformation war against him and his company, Executive Outcomes, for many years.
"All that shit you wrote, all the garbage you passed on from the so-called 'sources' - where was even the slightest bit of evidence to back it up?"
In his newly-published book - Executive Outcomes, Against All Odds - Barlow savages many local and international journalists who, he says, willingly did "hatchet jobs" on EO.
I'm one of them. Back in 1993, my byline was one of three which appeared on a piece quoting former SA Defence Force Colonel Jan Breytenbach as saying EO was "training ANC hit squads" in Angola . (At the time, EO had been given a contract by the Angolan government to re-train the army - a project which effectively spelled the beginning of the end of Jonas Savimbi and his UNITA movement, as the Angolan forces were better trained and prepared for battle.) The alleged ANC squads had a hit list of prominent people, including himself, claimed Breytenbach. I don't even remember the story, save to know that Breytenbach was never one of my sources or contacts. But my byline was on the story and I must have contributed to it.
Did we ever try to get corroboration or confirmation of Breytenbach's claims? No. Why would we? Barlow and his bunch of ex-SADF "mercenaries" could only have been up to no good in Angola . After all, we told ourselves, why would they help the people who were once their enemies, unless they were being paid huge amounts and were involved in oil or diamond deals?
Barlow sits across from me in a Pretoria coffee shop, his blue eyes accusing. I have no answers. He has a point.
In conversation, Barlow echoes the litany of accusations and claims which were levelled against EO in the eight or so years it operated as a private military company in Africa and elsewhere: they committed atrocities, they were given huge diamond and oil concessions, that they were a front for Britain's MI6 secret service, that they fronted for the American CIA; that they were incompetent buffoons.
"Take the case of Sierra Leone (where EO helped the Freetown government crush RUF rebels): we were accused of committing atrocities against the local people. No proof. Nobody ever charged. No witnesses. The opposite was the case. As we went into action against the rebels in a new country and environment, we realised that we needed intelligence and information. And we got that from the local people, who realised that we were bringing stability and security after years of rape and murder by the rebels. We gave them some medical help and we made it safe for their (them) to go back to their normal lives. They helped us with the information we needed to mount our operations. Think about it - if we had been slaughtering them, would they have helped us?"
Barlow is correct. Neither the United Nations, whose peacekeeping troops replaced EO and who then virtually lost the country back to the rebels; nor the Sierra Leone government, has made any atrocity charges against the company.
"A professional journalist," Barlow says with just a hint of a sneer, "visited the country and wrote that the people were happy with our presence and what we achieved."
Angola , likewise, was an area where EO was repeatedly under fire, mainly from journalists in South Africa .
"You people," he says, "ignored everything we provided you in terms of intelligence about who was really benefiting from the continuation of the war between UNITA."
Those people were senior officials in the former SA government, companies and businessmen.
Barlow believes that UNITA's supporters in South Africa were making a fortune out of the diamonds-for-arms trade which saw the rebel movement exchanging gems for weapons which were flown into Angola from South African airfields.
"When General Ita (the then head of the Angolan military intelligence) told journalists this was happening and even provided registration numbers of the aircraft, nobody followed up on it." They actually verbally attacked Ita, claiming he was lying and then attacked the government for attacking UNITA.
He adds: "There are people who have a lot of blood on their hands - by prolonging the Angolan civil war, tens of thousands of people died.
"But I'm proud of what we in EO did and the sacrifices we made."
Undoubtedly, Barlow and the company made a lot of money contracting out their military expertise - he has long since ceased to care about being labelled a "mercenary" he says - but the costs of the EO intervention were miniscule when compared to that bucket loads of money spent by the UN and African Union whose troops replaced the South African company in Sierra Leone.
"What the Executive Outcomes experience proved was that there is a place in Africa - and the rest of the world - for private military companies. In our case, we did jobs that others either couldn't do or didn't want to do. And we did those jobs well, without any bias, because we were employed by legitimate governments."
In Angola , the company started off training the Angolan Army's 16 Brigade, but was also involved in some of the heavy fighting against UNITA. Barlow says that it was more the comprehensive training given to the Angolans which enabled them to turn the tide against UNITA, rather than EO's own combat team: "we had only 500 people, spread out around Angola and you can't win a war like that with that number of soldiers..."
In Sierra Leone , EO's combat-hardened veterans - white and black, former SADF and from the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe - didn't pussy-foot around when hitting the RUF rebels. Using highly mobile teams on foot and in vehicles, and backed up by air support which included a Russian-made Mi-24 helicopter gunship, EO decimated the rebels' jungle hide-outs after initially saving the capital, Freetown, from what looked like a certain surrender to the rebels.
"It is a great pity that EO did not continue, because it would have been a very effective instrument for change in Africa - and it would have enabled South Africa to project its influence to far corners of the continent. It wasn't long before the US and European governments stepped into to the vacuum we left. So, again, it's outsiders sorting out African problems..."
Ironically, many people are not aware that EO played a major role in drafting South African legislation which controls the private military industry, the Foreign Military Assistance Act - and that, so far, EO is the only company to have been licensed by the government to offer military assistance and know-how outside the borders of this country.
Although EO has been shut down, Barlow gets a number of calls from abroad, "asking me if I'd start it up again."
One such was for assistance ahead of the Iraq invasion in 2003 which, Barlow says, "I turned down because that is not legitimate, it is just about oil and resources."
It pains him to think that the expertise of thousands of former South African policemen and soldiers has been lost to this country, as they apply their skills and experience all around the world.
"Those in the military field know just how good the former SADF was and how capable some of our people were. It is a great pity that this government, in the name of transformation, has turned its back on those skills."
Barlow, in common with many ex-SADF officers, doesn't have a high opinion of the current SA National Defence Force (SANDF) and especially in its peacekeeping missions around Africa .
"Our guys seem more interested in theft, robbery, rape and murder than they do in carrying out their jobs."
These days, sitting in retirement in Pretoria , Barlow watches cynically from the sidelines at developments. Like the fiasco of the abortive Equatorial Guinea (EG) coup, where scores of South African ex-soldiers were detained in Zimbabwe en route to EG and later served jail sentences in Harare .
"Simon Mann (the coup plot leader who now sits in jail in Harare awaiting extradition to EG) is an arsehole and from my dealings with him, I regarded him as incompetent. So I'm not surprised at what happened."
But, that disaster also brought down the curtain on the 60s-style cowboy mercenaries, thinking that with a few people and a few guns they could take over a country.
"We were accused of that sort of plotting all the time. We could have overthrown governments, sure, but we were professional suppliers of military services, not hired guns."
Barlow still keeps a jaundiced eye on the media: "I can see the disinformation and bullshit all over the place."
The reports on the Pikoli/Selebi/Zuma sagas should all be looked at with extreme caution and cynicism, he says.
"There are some many different agendas at play and there are so many people involved who are past masters at spinning a lie: some of the people who put together smears against us are still at it and the ANC is also highly experienced at the art of disinformation."
He says he can see the media being used and manipulated.
"Some things never change..."
Brendan Seery - The Star, Johannesburg
"I first met Eeben Barlow in 1982 … (as) a young and eager reconnaissance officer with 32 Battalion …" writes the old South African Defence Force's former Intelligence chief, General R (Witkop) Badenhorst, in his foreword to this book.
A quarter-century later Barlow still looks surprisingly young, but definitely not so eager. Wary, perhaps.
Surely the founder of the first private military company to place this type of business in an ethical framework that saw him contracting only to legitimate governments - the man credited with paving the way for the expansion of similar operations around the world - could afford to look a little more satisfied with those achievements?
Why not is suggested by the second part of the title, "Against All Odds", as well as at the back, in a tailpiece.
There he confesses: "Today, I have little interest in the misery and chaos that is spreading across Africa . I have come to realise that any attempt to stem the tide is viewed as sinister - especially by those who are pursuing alternative agendas for personal gain. ...I still receive calls from governments asking if I would be prepared to assist them to resolve their problems. They have totally lost faith in the UN and even in South Africa , whose 'peacekeeping' missions have become tainted with gross misconduct, poorly disciplined troops and political partiality. To them, my answer is always 'No'."
(Prior to publication, Barlow reiterated the above comment, confirming continuing approaches from African, European and Far Eastern governments, hoping he would revive Executive Outcomes.)
To read the pages in between is to travel a journey that started with Barlow as a sapper - an engineer - in then South West Africa clearing mines (and getting wounded in the process), before moving to 32 Battalion, patrolling deep, and dangerously, into Angola. Then came a transfer to the Directorate of Covert Collections (DCC), where he built an agent network in Botswana and "controlled people within the SACP, the ANC, the PAC and the BDF". Later counter-intelligence work included spotting, developing and recruiting an agent with the US Embassy in Pretoria , before resignation from the military to join the Civil Co-operation Bureau, the CCB.
In the not-yet-notorious CCB his responsibility was for the United Kingdom , Europe and Middle East . However the actions of its Region 6 (within South Africa ) as a sort of "Murder Incorporated", in Barlow's words, led to the organisation's collapse. So sudden was this that Barlow ended up using his own money to bring home four of his overseas agents … leaving him both "broke and heavily indebted".
Thus was laid the road to Executive Outcomes. But first came (among others) a request from a South American country to enter the field of drug enforcement (stymied by the US); training for the SA Army's Special Forces, mainly in covert operations but also counter-espionage; and assisting De Beers to curb the illegal diamond trade.
Then in early 1993 Barlow was presented with "a very delicate problem". It led to the Executive Outcomes operations which made that company's name and brought invitations to operate far and wide.
With South Africa out of Namibia , there was no reason for Pretoria to be hostile to Angola . It was thus entirely legitimate for South African citizens to accept a contract to protect recovery teams extracting heavy equipment from a Unita-controlled area in Angola's far north, in "a little town called Soyo".
Barlow's description of the fighting that ensued is a classic of its kind: descriptive, detailed and vivid, at times passionate, without moving at any time into Soldier of Fortune bravado. It displays also the compassion and understanding which mark a true soldier.
But while this was going on, the South Africans doing their job for the government of Angola - a country with which this country was officially now at peace - were being shafted.
"In Pretoria , I received a frantic telephone call from London at about 05:00 South African time. It was one of my old CCB agents.
" 'Eeben, you guys are in big shit', Richard declared. 'A friend of mine works at GCHQ, Cheltenham . They intercepted a telephone call last night from the South African Parliament building in Cape Town to the Unita representative in London …"
Both Barlow and his company had been mentioned, together with the advice "by someone in your government" that Unita hang on to Soyo regardless of cost.
Meanwhile, fed by leaks from both Military Intelligence and the Department of Foreign Affairs, a media war was unleashed back at home, with very little consideration being given to what EO might have to say, or indeed as to whether the material being "fed" was in the least reliable.
Much more - both triumph and tragedy - followed in Angola . Then came the challenge of Sierra Leone .
Suffice it to say that a small group of South Africans restored peace, at minimal cost and loss of life, only to see these achievements negated following international pressure.
For around US$31-million a year, Barlow tells us that EO defeated the rebels on the battlefield, saw the child soldiers who had been a tragic feature of that conflict demobilised, the government regain control of the country's mineral wealth, a cease-fire in place and fair elections.
Enforced replacement of EO with the UN force Unamsil cost some US$600-million a year, lost Sierra Leone to a coup, led to thousands of civilians being killed, the capital overrun, floods of refugees and massive infrastructural damage. With presumably no sense of irony, the UN rated Unamsil as a "most successful" mission.
In 1996 Barlow mounted a low-profile and extremely successful mission at the request of the Indonesian government to rescue hostages from an irredentist group. Invitations were extended by other governments with whom SA has friendly relations to assist in various projects, but these did not come to fruition.
EO closed its doors at the end of 1998, when "the South African Government lost a perfect vehicle for projecting force and bringing about stability in Africa ".
Far too often we tolerate behaviour that should be unacceptable; put up with that which should be insupportable. If the written word has a sound, in Executive Outcomes this would reflect the quiet rustle of a coat being trailed.
Barlow freely names his villains. They come chiefly from the old Military Intelligence, the old Department of Foreign Affairs, and ambitious businessmen with multiple agendas. They also include journalists.
There is no way this reviewer can comment on the accuracy or otherwise of such charges. But they cannot be ignored.
Shortly before this book appeared there were rumours that one journalist was asking for help in seeking an interdict to prevent publication. More to the point would be an action for libel, mounted perhaps by one or more of the "eminent" businessmen and former top public servants whose characters and activities are also ripped to shreds here.
Yet Barlow appears to have been a compulsive acquirer, and keeper, of sometime incriminating records. What would happen if those suing him, lost? And what would the media do about some of those who have been employed and trusted for so long as opinion-formers, if - in court - the records and documents which Barlow says he has safely cached "off-site", substantiate his allegations?
Overall, this is an extremely important contribution to our understanding of recent political and military history, both here and throughout Africa . It would be a great pity if, because of the many cans of worms it exposes, it was ignored.
James Mitchell: The Star, Johannesburg
This is the story of the birth and demise of Executive Outcomes. It is also the side of the story of Eeben Barlow, founder of EO, and he does not mince his words…
Barlow was a Lt Col in the Army and served in the Engineer Corps, 32 Battalion, Military Intelligence and he later entered the shadowy world of the CCB.
He was a spy with a network of agents overseas and in southern Africa . He knew a lot about sensitive issues and especially who was involved. This was probably the reason why he and EO were castigated when they sold their talents to the "enemy" in Angola .
Barlow presented courses to the SADF's "Recces" until shortly before EO accepted a contact with an oil company in Angola .
Due to their success, EO was asked to aid the Angolan Armed Forces to train its troops in order to break the stranglehold of UNITA on parts of that country in order to establish a government of national unity.
Due to the fact that South Africa had supported UNITA, EO and Barlow were branded as traitors. It was however the continued support from South African diplomats, businessmen and other highly-placed members in UNITA - even after the UN implemented sanctions against UNITA - that clearly had a sobering effect on Barlow.
Disinformation campaigns, threats and even an attempt on his life made him realize that big money was fuelling the war behind the scenes.
The police regularly investigated EO but never found any reason to prosecute the company. This did not stop the South African government and MI's determined efforts to destroy EO. Indeed, Barlow used his contacts in MI to brace himself for the continued attacks on his person and that of the company.
The book stretches from EO's Angolan operations to those in Sierra Leone , as well as smaller contracts tackled by the company.
He writes frankly about the alleged ineptitude of MI, the Defence Force, Foreign Affairs, Armscor, the UN. He does not shy away from using documentation to name those officials involved - nor those he identified as double agents.
Ironically enough, some of the senior military officers who apparently helped to hound the company, are themselves now in security jobs abroad, where they do exactly the same work…
Beeld - Erika Gibson, Military Correspondent
~Executive Outcomes (Reprint)|X ISBN-13 9781919854410|Executive Outcomes|X ISBN-13 9781919854199|~11312~13094~~
Guerrilla Wars in Africa: Lisbon's Conflicts in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea - Al J Venter~
('Cover' on left is not the book, just a picture we have selected pending the official cover design from the publisher)
This is not a definitive history of campaigns in Portugal's former colonies - Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea, but rather one of a military correspondent's own impressions after many visits to the three theatres of conflict in Africa. The book starts with the Mau Mau because of theknock-on effects that the Emergency in Kenya had that lead to upheavals, coups, mutinies, insurrections elsewhere in Southern Africa over the following 60 years.
600 pages, 200 photos.
Planned Release Date:
Late July 2011
ITEM CODE: GWIA
Gunship Ace: The Wars of Neall Ellis, Gunship Pilot and Mercenary - Al J Venter~A former South African Air Force pilot who saw action throughout the region from the 1970s, Neall Ellis is the best-known mercenary combat aviator alive. Apart from flying Alouette helicopter gunships in Angola, he has fought in the Balkan War (for Islamic forces), flown Mi-8s for Executive Outcomes, and thereafter an Mi-8 fondly dubbed "Bokkie" for Colonel Tim Spicer in Sierra Leone. For the past two years, as a "civilian contractor," Ellis has been flying helicopter support missions in Afghanistan, where, he reckons, he has had more close shaves than in his entire previous four-decade career; twice he turned the enemy back from the gates of Freetown, effectively preventing the rebels from overrunning Sierra Leone's capital. Nellis (as his friends call him) was also the first mercenary to work hand-in-glove with British ground and air assets in a modern guerrilla war. This book describes the full career of this storied aerial warrior, from the bush and jungles of Africa to the forests of the Balkans and the merciless mountains of today's Afghanistan. Along the way the reader encounters a multi-ethnic array of enemies ranging from ideological to cold-blooded to pure evil, as well as well as examples of incredible heroism for hire.
The days of Congo and Angola when you had the image of mercenaries as drunken guys going around shooting up the place... has gone - the people you find now... are well-trained, professional soldiers, special forces trained.
" -Neall Ellis
Praise for Al J. Venter: "
A disturbing insight into the ever growing world of unconventional private armies. Like it or not, Venter tells it to us the way it is.
" -John Le Carre
Hardback. 229 x 152 mm, 432 pages. Illustrated throughout.
Planned release date:
(ITEM CODE -
)~Former South African Air Force pilot who saw action from the 1970s onwards, Neall Ellis is the best known mercenary combat aviator alive.
Apart from flying Alouette helicopter gunships in Angola, he has fought in the Balkan War (for Islamic forces), tried to resuscitate Mobutu Sese Seko's ailing air force in the final days of his rule in the Congo, flew Mi-8s for Executive Outcomes, and thereafter, an Mi-8 fondly dubbed 'Bokkie' for Colonel Tim Spicer in Sierra Leone and finally, with a pair of ageing Mi-24s, Ellis ran the Air Wing out of Aberdeen Barracks in the war against Foday Sankoh's RUF rebels.
Twice, he single-handed (without a co-pilot) turned the enemy back from the gates of Freetown and prevented them from overrunning the capital, once in the middle of the night without night vision goggles. Nellis (as his friends call him) was also the first mercenary that worked hand-in-glove with British ground and air assets in a guerrilla war in modern times (if you discount British SAS efforts led by Colonel Jim Johnson using French mercs - including Bob Denard - to successfully harass Egyptian forces in Yemen in the 1960s by laying mines, setting ambushes and destroying their aircraft on nighttime raids on their airfields in the remote desert interior).
In Sierra Leone, Ellis' Mi-24 'Hind' ('it leaked when it rained') played a seminal role in rescuing the 11 British soldiers who had been taken hostage by the so-called West Side Boys in Sierra Leone: his chopper ferried in a contingent of SAS troops in the initial stages of the battle with the South African involved in much of the initial planning for the simple reason that no other pilot knew this West African country as well as he does. He also used his helicopter - numerous times - to fly SAS personnel on low-level reconnaissance missions into the interior of this diamond-rich country on which the Leonard diCaprio's film Blood Diamond was subsequently based.
As Al Venter tells it in an earlier book published recently in the United States and Britain,
, flying with Nellis was a tough, risky affair.
There were moments, he explains, 'such as when we hovered over enemy positions or towns under their occupation, places where we'd been told by the British military contingent under whose auspices Nellis operated - that there were significant numbers of anti-aircraft weapons. While most of it was old Soviet stock, recent events in Afghanistan demonstrated that some of this hardware is a match for anything fielded by the West.'
Such occasions, reckons Venter' marvelously exercises both the imagination and the sphincter muscle.
'Occasionally we returned to base with holes in our fuselage, though once it was self-inflicted: in his enthusiasm during an attack on one of the towns in the interior, our portside side gunner swung his heavy machinegun a bit too wide and hit one of our drop tanks. Had it been full at the time, things might have been different,' Venter recounts.
The upshot was that the two helicopters operated for the Sierra Leone Air Wing by Nellis and his boys had probably been patched more often than any other comparable pair of gunships in Asia, Africa or Latin America.
While hostilities in Sierra Leone lasted, Nellis had a price on his head: some reports spoke of a $1 million reward dead or alive, others double that.
This new work will deal with all of Neall Ellis adventures that spanned three decades. It is of interest that he was never wounded once, though on one sortie along the Angolan border in the 1980s, he dodged three SAM-7s fired in succession at his Alouette.
Planned release date:
(ITEM CODE -
)~Gunship Ace|ISBN 9781612000701|~11312~13678~~
Mercenary Commander - Col Jerry Puren as told to Brian Pottinger~On the 30 June 1960 the Congo became independent. Within five days the country had split into four squabbling parts. Tied with blood and history to the troubled country were the mercenaries, drawn from Britain, Rhodesia, France, Belgium and South Africa. They were le affreux - the frightful ones. This is their story and the story of those troubled and bloody times.
It also tells of one of the most audacious and yet badly planned mercenary exploits in history; the abortive coup attempt in the Seychelles in 1981 that nearly claimed the last of Colonel Puren's nine lives. This is a true story of adventure, of politics, of love, of betrayal . . . and of death. It is Colonel Puren's amazing story . . . and it all happened.
ISBN 0-9470-2021-7. Hardback, 384pp; 242 X 168-mm; 32pp b/w photographs. Now Out of Print.
~~Mercenary Commander|ISBN 0947020217|~11312~1501~~
Portugal: The Scramble for Africa - Paul Southern~The story opens with 'Blazer' Colquhoun landing at the Cape in 1889 en route to a meeting with Cecil Rhodes. It is to take ‘Blazer’ and the swashbuckling Pioneers across Lobengula’s lands to bloody confrontation with England’s oldest ally at Massi-Kessi in the depths of Manicaland. One man’s derring-do thwarts Portugal’s long-cherished plans to establish a vast empire spanning the African continent and its repercussions are to herald the downfall of the Portuguese monarchy. The author vividly narrates the explorations, military operations and disasters of the Portuguese through the adventures of larger-than-life military officers, speculators and freebooters, and traces the dogged resistance and fate of kingdoms like those of Gazaland in Mozambique and Bié in Angola. In the first decade of the 20th century a Portuguese officer and a battle-hardened, former Senegalese colonial soldier, lead indigenous troops through hitherto impenetrable swamps and hostile jungles to establish control throughout turbulent Portuguese Guinea. The author graphically describes how German military intervention in Angola prior to the Great War, leads to a crushing Portuguese defeat, emboldening the clans of Kwanyamaland and provoking South African military involvement, while painting in graphic detail the Portuguese army’s epic battle for mastery of southern Angola, and of the Kwanyamaland chief’s final surrender to British Imperial forces in 1917. The author concludes this colourful, absorbing and wide-ranging narrative with a detailed account of the trials and tribulations of an ill-prepared Portuguese colonial army as it attempts, with British help, to stem the inexorable advance of German forces into Mozambique in the final stage of the Great War.
Dec 2010. Softback, 256 pages. 17 illustrations, 8 maps.~~Portugal Scramble Africa|ISBN-13 9780946995639|~11312~13439~~
Portugal's War in Angola - WS van der Waals~In January 1961, Angola, one of Portugal's most thriving "overseas provinces" was in the eye of a storm. A period of sustained growth in the 1950s, a golden decade of Portuguese African history, had led to Angola becoming one of Portugal's most prized possessions. National development plans were embarked on with zeal; new roads, railways, factories, harbours, airfields and settlements were built and exports increased dramatically. While the rest of Africa was in turmoil, Angola and Portuguese Mozambique, seemed like oases of peace and progress. Couched between its high-sounding principles and its policy of Lusotropicalism, Portugal marched ever onwards to the beat of its own drum, seemingly oblivious to its impending fate. Portuguese Prime Minister, Dr. Salazar, had ruled over Portugal's colonies with an iron fist for over thirty years, enforcing a draconian racial policy on the African territories, whereby the population of the New State was categorised into "native", "white" and "assimilated" groups, and the colonies as a whole, with their burgeoning economies, were bound to the dictates of the European state. On 4 February 1961, the day regarded by the People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) as the start of its national revolution, the storm broke. Taken unawares by the shock of the uprisings in Angola, and the subsequent bloody insurrection on 15 March 1961, Portugal was to plunge its armed forces, untested since World War I, into an urgent counteroffensive. The Angolan war has been described as the bloodiest colonial insurgency in the history of Africa south of the Sahara. But it was to become a conflict that Portugal would lose not on the battlefield, but in the hearts of its own citizens. After a thirteen-year war of attrition in Angola, and facing increasing setbacks in two of its other war-torn territories, an enervated Portugal with its weary armed forces would deal the final blow to itself.
October 2011. Paperback, 222mm x 152mm. 317 pages with illustrations.~~Portugal%27s War in Angola|SBN13 9781869193515|~11312~13826~~
Road to Kalamata: A Congo Mercenary's Personal Memoir - Mike Hoare~
The Road to Kalamata
is the real-life adventure story of the 4 Commando team of mercenary soldiers, as told by their leader, Col. Mike Hoare. At the close of 1960, the newly formed independent state of Katanga in central Africa recruited Hoare and his team to suppress a rebellion by the Baluba, a fierce tribe of warriors rumored to be cannibals and known to torture and dismember any enemy soldiers unlucky enough to be captured. The events recounted in this book occurred in the Congo during the Katanga campaign of 1961.With insight that only an officer with extensive battlefield experience can bring to this subject, Colonel Hoare chronicles the metamorphosis of 4 Commando from a loose assembly of individuals into a highly organized fighting unit, while also taking the reader inside the minds and hearts of men who sell their military skills for money. What emerges is a compelling and complex portrait of genuine adventurers, "
a breed of men which
," writes Hoare, "
has almost vanished from the face of the earth
."Originally published in 1989, this reprint comes with a new foreword by the 20th century's most famous mercenary and one of its most eloquent storytellers.
Sycamore Island Books, 2008. Paperback 2008~~Road to Kalamata|ISBN-13 9781581606416|~11312~13214~~
The Seychelles Affair - Mike Hoare~The "Seychelles Affair "is one of the most infamous episodes in the tangled history of mercenary warfare in Africa. The story of the ill-fated coup begins in 1978 when representatives of the exiled Seychelles president approached legendary mercenary commander Mike Hoare - who had successfully quelled the uprisings in the Congo in the early 1960s - to overthrow the Marxist regime then in power.Hoare's story of the attempted coup reads like a thriller, detailing all the drama of the backroom scheming, the tense action at the airport on Mahé, the forced landing of the Air India Boeing and the ensuing escape of Hoare's band of mercenaries. Equally fascinating is the author's description of his dealings with South African intelligence agencies, the subsequent prosecution by those who had helped them prepare for the coup, his attempts to organize a proper defense and obtain a fair trial for himself and his 30 men, and what it was like to spend 33 months in a South African prison.In the exclusive new 7 page foreword to this Paladin reprint, Colonel Hoare sheds new light on the events leading up to the failed coup, discusses the lingering ramifications of the failure on the nation of Seychelles and relates how his conviction affected his life after he got out of prison.Don't miss this opportunity to read Hoare's wonderfully wry and insightful account of how one little mistake can unravel even the best-laid plans.
Paladin Press 2010. Paperback 244 pages~~The Seychelles Affair|9815ISBN-13 9781581606577|~11312~13215~~
The Story of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment - Edited by WV Brelsford~This is the first full-sized history of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment whose history dates back to the earliest days of the European occupation of this territory, and whose members have since then fought gallantly in both World War I and World War II. It gives a fascinating account of the origin, growth and traditions of the Regiment and of its active service in many widely scattered countries.
Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) was one of the few British dependencies in East and Central Africa that had an African regiment with its own territorial title - the military forces of Nyasaland, Tanganyika, Kenya and Uganda being known collectively as The King's African Rifles. The regiment's origins go back to the Barotse police of the early 1900s. In World War I the Regiment campaigned in East Africa, and in World War II in Italian Somaliland, Madagascar against the Vichy French forces, and Burma against the Japanese.
This book tells of the early beginnings of the Regiment, in the time of Cecil Rhodes, when the Chartered Company tackled the uneconomical task of establishing law and order in the vast tracts of land north of the Zambezi. It tells the story of the gallantry of Europeans and Africans in the Great War when the Regiment's forebears fought in the relentless campaign against General von Lettow-Vorbeck's forces, culminating in the post-armistice surrender of the German Commander in Northern Rhodesia. In the last war the Regiment mustered eight battalions and ancillary units, and fought from the grim defeat, against overwhelming odds, at Tug Argan in 1940, through Abyssinia and Madagascar, through the Chindwin Valley and Arakan, to the final triumph at Mandaly in 1945.
ISBN 0946995834. Reprinted facsimilie edition Galago 1990 (original printed 1954). Hardcover. 134 pages. Includes lists of commandants, honours and awards, maps, B&W photographs, battle plans.~~The Story of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment|ISBN 0946995834|~11312~11314~~
War Dog: Fighting Other People's Wars - The Modern Mercenary in Combat - Al J Venter~
deals with mercenary action in a score of wars: Angola, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, the Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Lebanon and others. One of a handful of correspondents that saw action with the South African 'guns for hire' group Executive Outcomes, Al Venter's revelations about this organisation are remarkable. So are many of the 150 photos in this book. Having personally visited every locale he describes throughout Africa and the Middle East, Venter is the rare correspondent who had to carry an AK-47 in his research along with his notebook and camera. To him, covering mercenary actions meant accompanying the men into the thick of combat. In this book you get up close and personal with hardened pro's on the ground, joining them for missions where quick thinking and a will of steel are the only things separating them from success or failure, life or death.
664 pages. 32 pages color photos, maps.
ISBN-13: 978-1932033908, Apr 2008. Softback. With Introduction by Frederick Forsyth
ISBN-13: 978-1932033090, Jul 2003. 1st Edition Hardback, autographed. (Now out of Print, few copies remain)
- see sequel of this book
Barrel of a Gun: Misspent Moments in Combat - Al J Venter
above on this page~Casemate Books, USA
Cover photo on this page.
With Introduction by Frederick Forsyth
Cover photo on Catalogue page
644 pages. 32 pages color photos, maps.
Mercenaries have been with us since the dawn of civilization, yet in the modern world they are little understood. While many of today’s freelance fighters provide support for larger military establishments, others wage war where the great powers refuse to tread. In
, Al Venter examines the latter world of mercenary fighters effecting decisions by themselves. In the process he unveils a remarkable array of close-quarters combat action.
Having personally visited every locale he describes throughout Africa and the Middle East, Venter is the rare correspondent who had to carry an AK-47 in his research along with his notebook and camera. To him, covering mercenary actions meant accompanying the men into the thick of combat. During Sierra Leone’s civil war, he flew in the front bubble of the government’s lone Hind Mi-24 gunship—piloted by the heroic South African chopper ace “Nellis”—as it flew daily missions to blast apart rebel positions. In this book the author not only describes the battles of the legendary South African mercenary company Executive Outcomes, he knew the founders personally and joined them on a number of actions. After stemming the tide of Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA army in Angola (an outfit many of the SA operators had previously trained), Executive Outcomes headed north to hold back vicious rebels in West Africa.
This book is not only about triumph against adversity but also losses, as Venter relates the death and subsequent cannibalistic fate of his American friend, Bob MacKenzie, in Sierra Leone. Here we see the plight of thousands of civilians fleeing from homicidal jungle warriors, as well as the professionalism of the mercenaries who fought back with one hand and attempted to train government troops with the other, in hopes that they would someday be able to stand on their own.
The American public, as well as its military, largely sidestepped the horrific conflicts that embroiled Africa during the past two decades. But as Venter informs us, there were indeed small numbers of professional fighters on the ground, defending civilians and attempting to conjure order from chaos. In the process their heroism went unrecorded and their combat skill became known only to each other.
In this book we gain an intimate glimpse of this modern breed of warrior in combat. Not laden with medals, ribbons, civic parades, or even guaranteed income, they have nevertheless fought some of the toughest battles in the post- Cold War era. They simply are, and perhaps always will be, “War Dogs.”
Al J. Venter has made a career of covering other peoples' conflicts. As a long serving Africa and Middle East correspondent for Jane's International Defense Review his reports over the past thirty years have spanned four continents. Twice wounded and now well into his sixties, he recently flew combat in Sierra Leone alongside Neall Ellis in an aging Russian Mi-24 gunship (that leaked when it rained) . He has also produced documentary television films on subjects from the wars in Africa and Afghanistan to sharkhunting off the Cape of Good Hope.
"A disturbing insight into the ever growing world of unconventional private armies. Like it or not, Venter tells it to us the way it is."
- John Le Carre
"In this work, Al Venter has delved into the real-life exploits of the War Dogs... to illuminate how the privateers have continued to conduct battle in the wake of the Colonial Age. The true stories in this work are more impressive than fiction, and in terms of Africa, this book should be on the must read list for the U.S. State Department and British Foreign Office."
"…a gripping and hugely informative read. …highly recommended. …impressive and enlightening."
- The Herald, 07/2008 ~Select version||War Dog (Softback)|ISBN-13 9781932033908|War Dog (Hardback, autographed)|ISBN-13 9781932033090|~11312~12955~~
War Stories by Al Venter and Friends - Al J Venter~Al J. Venter's new book 'War Stories', has strong South African links, but includes forays into other countries. Comprising of 35 chapters, most of which were written by well-known people who were there in various operational theatres. The book starts off with Neall Ellis's chapter on his flying the Russian Mi-8s on supply missions in Afghanistan. Some excellent Rhodesian material is covered by SAS Colonel Brian Robinson, RLI troopie Hannes Wessels, Selous Scouts Lt Col Ron Reid-Daly. Former Selous Scout Aubrey Brooks, a section leader in Colonel Mike Hoare's invasion force that tried to take the Seychelles by force, covers that aborted operation including his own arrest and subsequent sentencing to death. South Africa's Border Wars are covered, to list a few, a chapter written by Paul Els on the first battles that started it all, Graham Gillmore on the 44 Parachute Brigade, Al Venter's experiences during Parabat's Charlie Company's attack on Cuamato where their Pumas were ambushed by RPG-7's. Combat correspondent Willem Steenkamp writes on what it was like to report on wars in those days. There are chapters on Portugal's African campaigns which today's generation know very little about. Venter aims to put the record straight since Lisbon was fighting guerrillas in Africa twice as long as America remained active in Vietnam. Other pieces include a story on experiences with a private military company in Iraq, Myke (Hawkeye) Hawke own exploits fighting drug gangs, US Colonel Lester (Les) Grau compares Soviet 1980 efforts with whats going on in Afghanistan today...... and many more. A very interesting compendium of military writing that will be thoroughly well-illustrated throughout, with plently of photos.Nov 2011. Paperback 430 pages. 22 x 15.7 x 3.1 cm ~Al J. Venter's new book 'War Stories' is due out 2011. It has strong South African links, but includes forays into the Balkans, Chad, the Sudan, two Somali episodes (including a secret US Marine chopper rescue of American Embassy staff from Mogadishu immediately prior to Gulf War 1). Aditionally, there's also a bit of history on the Zanzibar Revolution by former Newsweek correspondent Peter Younghusband, some excellent Rhodesian material (including an SAS backgrounder by that unit's last-but-one comander Colonel Brian Robinson) as well as a chapter on the RLI by former troopie Hannes Wessels. Venter's old pal Ron Reid-Daly also gets a look in.
Former Selous Scout Aubrey Brooks was a section leader in Colonel Mike Hoare's invasion force that tried to take the Seychelles by force (and ended up with most of the mercenaries hijacking an Air India passenger jet back to Durban. Aubrey's exploits make for one of the most interesting chapters, including his arrest and subsequent sentencing to death...
South Africa's Border Wars are there in force and include an extremely instructive section on the battle that initiated those campaigns by veteran militaruy author Paul Els as well as a great vignette by Graham Gilmore on 44 Parachute Brigade. Also included is Parabat's Charlie Company (89/91) attack on Cuamato where Venter almost bought the farm when he went in with the the initial strike force onboard Puma choppers when a bunch of gooks were waiting for them on the ground with RPG-7s. His group was headed by former British SAS operative Peter MacAleese (then serving as an NCO in the SADF).
Combat correspondent Willem Steenkamp has a contribution on what it was like to report wars in the days before cell phones, faxes and the web. As he says, it was tough work and a scoop really was a scoop that waited until you returned to civilization, unless you were prepared to lose exclusivity by using party lines with half the country listening.
There are four chapters on Portugal's African campaigns which today's generation know very little about. Venter aims to put the record straight since Lisbon was fighting guerrillas in Africa twice as long as America remained active in Vietnam and proportionate to population (9 million to 220 million) the Portuguese Army suffered far worse casualties. Cumulatively, Lisbon deployed less choppers in their three theatres of African military activity - Angola, Mocambique and Portuguese Guinea - than you would find today in any big city in the United States. That tells tells you a lot...
He also has a strong chapter from an American pal who served with a private military company in Iraq and is hoping that Myke (Hawkeye) Hawke will come up with his exploits fighting the drug people in time to be included. If he can manage it, he intends to include a chapter on professional hunting in an African war zone by his mate Giorgio Grasselli who remained active in the Matetsi area almost until the end.
One of the highlights is a strong piece on comparing Soviet efforts in Afghanistan in the 1980s with what is going on there today. That's something that involves Colonel Lester (Les) Grau, who is still serving in the US Forces and wrote what is arguably the most instructive book on the subject. He was able to work closely with his Russian counterparts following Perestroika and comes up with some astonishing figues (Moscow lost something like 300 helicopters to enemy action during the course of the war in that harsh land)
Other chapters include several of Venter's experiences in the Middle East, including a brush or two with Hizbollah, two chapters on clearing landmines (one of which takes place in the Balkans and involves rthe dreaded Yugoslav PROM-1 anti-personnel 'bouncing' mine) as well as time spent with Congo mercenary chopper pilot Dave Artkinson now training pilots in the mountains of Lesotho.
The work kicks off with Neall Ellis's contribution flying Mi-8s on supply missions in Afghanistan, which he is doing right now.
There is much more, but there is not the space to mention it all including some of the choicier bits, except that this is going to be a rather interesting compendium of military writing that will be thoroughly well-illustrated throughout.
'War Stories' is a working title and comprises 35 chapters. It will include scores of on-site action pix.
Target release date :
June / July 2011
ITEM CODE -
WSAJV~War Stories|ISBN-13 9781869194109|~11312~13013~~
Table of Contents
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