Today, some 30 years after African independence, mercenary groups are making a come-back as 'The new dogs of war'. The most formidable being Executive Outcomes (EO)
Executive Outcomes is one of some 20 companies clustered under the Strategic Resources Corporation (SRC) that specialize in, private security, gold and diamond mining, air transport, hospital construction, computer software, and demining.
The majority of EO's soldiers come from South Africa's former 32 Battalion, the Reconnaissance Commandos, or "Reccies," the Parachute Brigade, or "Parabats," and the para-military "Koevoet," or "Crowbar." These four groups, supporting the apartheid government, were South Africa's spearhead of military destabilization throughout southern Africa. The standard EO employee contract is for one year, and EO does not maintain a permanent standing force.
Executive Outcomes, based in South Africa, began in 1989, but first achieved widespread notice early 1993, when the Angolan MPLA government hired it to blunt the military offensive of Jonas Savimbi's UNITA. By training the Angolan military and sometimes engaging in combat, EO helped to push Savimbi into signing the Lusaka Protocol in November 1994, which effectively finishing Angola's civil war.
A year later, in 1995, the Valentine Strasser government of Sierra Leone hired EO to protect it against an imminent takeover by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The contracting government purchased the equipment, in accordance with EO specifications. Most of the purchasing of such ammunition occurs in Eastern Europe. EO's offensive is said to have greatly assisted the Sierra Leonean government to eventually hold elections in 1996.
The South Africans, have superior technology
and logistics. Andy Brown, EO's commanding officer in Sierra Leone
comments; "We work within a set of parameters that are quite
novel to west African
conditions." United States Defense experts believe that EO is highly skilled in signals and communication and photo interpretation.
Even after EO leaves a country, such as Angola, some of its personnel remain behind, often in private armed security companies.
Despite being officered by white South Africans, EO has not attracted the mass criticism of past mercenary groups. The OAU and South African government have offered only muted criticism.
Private Security in Sierra Leone.
|EO's military intervention resulted in several defeats for the RUF. By the end of August 1995, EO had regained control of the main diamond mining areas and subsequently trained Kamajos; local self-defense units as replacements for the unpaid and thus unreliable Sierra Leone army.|
Thus, armed forces, that usually provide public service elsewhere, become private affairs in Sierra Leone, existing as a tool of the powerful foreign patron, resulting in a declining significance of the state apparatus. Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, elected president (1996), of the Sierra Leonean people's Party was unable to control the Kamajo fighters, an ethnic-based militia, trained by EO, who owed their allegiance and loyalties to EO, as their members had been trained by EO military men to protect local areas from the RUF attacks.
The primary motivation of EO however,
can be said to be the potential profits from diamond the trade.
Under the guise of providing national security for collapsed but
mineral-rich states, the security companies, along with their
associates only further accentuated the international exploitation
and marginalization of Sierra Leone. The 21 months of operation
provided by EO cost the Sierra Leone government $35 million, in
addition to which, the government also granted diamond-mining
'the trend is now for private corporations to actively reach out and "establish" governments that will then make their decision with an eye first on corporate interests foreign shareholders become the real basis for sovereignty'. Klerks
An example of such concessions was the one allegedly granted to the Branch Heritage group; part of the same parent multinational firm - Strategic Resources Corporation, to which EO belongs. The Branch Heritage group is comprised of Branch energy (mining); Diamond Works (trading diamonds) and Sandline International (security and military support). Diamond mining concessions in the Kono diamond fields were granted to Branch energy by the government. In addition, transactions that were mutually beneficial often took place between the international companies themselves: In October 1996, Branch Energy sold its diamond concessions in Sierra Leone to diamond works and receive a 30% share in the company in exchange. Conflict resolution was thus not the commercial network's primary interest as this would have opened up the market to other serious competitors who had been deterred by the war.
Even after EO left Sierra Leone after the signing of the peace accords (it's departure from Sierra Leone being one of the conditions), some of its personnel remain behind, working in private armed security companies. Thus, a foreign and largely non-accountable company, such as EO are gaining importance as economic and security presence in unstable African states. EO's reply to its critics is that SRC companies, such as itself, can provide Africa with two scarce commodities: physical stability and economic know-how.
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