Executive Outcomes

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Executive Outcomes
Private military security firm
Industry Private military and security contractor
Founded 1989
Founder Eeben Barlow
Defunct 1998
Area served
Africa (Angola, Sierra Leone)
Products Providing military combat forces including personnel and equipment, law enforcement and training, logistics, Close quarter training, and security services
Services Security management, full-service risk management consulting
Revenue Unknown
Number of employees

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


Mission statement[edit]

Executive Outcomes' mission statement was described by the company as:[3]

To provide a highly professional and confidential military advisory service to legitimate governments.
To provide sound military and strategic advice.
To provide the most professional military training packages currently available to armed forces, covering aspects related to sea, air, and land warfare.
To provide advice to armed forces on weapon and weapon platform selection.
To provide a total apolitical service based on confidentiality, professionalism, and dedication.


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.

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).


Eeben Barlow & Michael Mullen-an Irishman from Dublin, formerly in charge of the Western European section of the CCB,[4] 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.

"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”.[5] Buckingham denies that he registered EO in London and consistently denies any "corporate ties" to EO.[6]

Key personnel[edit]

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). [7][8] 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[9] was the South African-based director of Ibis Air.[10][11]


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[12] 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 USA, 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.[3] 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]

As is characteristic of one of the first Private Military Companies (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 two Mi-24 Hind and two Mi-8 Hip helicopters, the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle and T-72 main battle tank.[15] It also possessed medevac capabilities to airlift the wounded out of combat zones via Boeing 727 aircraft. These were bought from sources in the worldwide arms trade within Africa as well as Eastern Europe.[16]

The aircraft were owned and operated by a separate partner company called Ibis Air which also owned MiG-23 "Flogger" fighters and a squadron of Swiss made fixed wing turbo-prop trainers converted for recce and the ground attack role with the capability to fire 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.[17]

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 license 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.[18]

Sandline International[edit]

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[edit]

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.[19] The report was conducted by the UN's Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) and revealed strong links to Executive Outcomes.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Isenberg, David (November 1997). "Soldiers of Fortune Ltd.: A Profile of Today's Private Sector Corporate Mercenary Firms". cdi.org. Center for Defense Information. Retrieved 29 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b The Privatisation of Violence: New mercenaries and the state Christopher Wrigley CAAT March 1999
  3. ^ a b The New Mercenaries and the Privatization of Conflict Thomas K. Adams. Parameters, Summer 1999
  4. ^ Eeben Barlow's autobiography: Executive Outcomes – Against all Odds
  5. ^ Reporter, Staff (24 January 1997). "Africa's new-look dogs of war" (Online). Mail & Guardian. Africa. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  6. ^ 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. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Isenberg, David (August 1997). "Soldiers of Fortune Ltd.: A Profile of Today's Private Sector Corporate Mercenary Firms". cdi.org. Center for Defense Information. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ Leigh, David (30 January 2005). "Thatcher 'directly involved in coup'" (Online). Guardian News and Media Limited. UK. Retrieved 16 July 2015. 
  10. ^ "Executive Outcomes". Source Watch. The Center for Media and Democracy. 15 November 2006. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  11. ^ 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.88" (PDF). ISS Africa. Institute for Security Studies in Africa. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "Company Overview of Ranger Oil Limited". Bloomberg Business. Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Conflict, Inc.: Selling the Art of War". Center for Defense Information. 7 December 1997. 
  14. ^ "The vagabond king". New Statesman. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  15. ^ "Sierra Leone, 1990–2002". Acig.org. Retrieved 2012-08-07. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ Chapter 2 — The Private Military Companies' Perspective Select Committee on Foreign Affairs 1 August 2002
  19. ^ a b Ivor Powell and Bianca Capazorio (1 September 2012). "UN slams SA's 'private army'". IOL News. 

External links[edit]