• Private Military Companies

    Boots on the ground?

    Looking back at a previous post, I’m struck by a statement by a minister of the Transitional Government, Abdalla Haji Ali: "Besides donating assorted weapons to favored factions, unfortunately Ethiopian military personnel crossed deep in to Somali regions of Bakol and Bay in the last 48 hours." The timing of Ethiopia’s recent announcement of what may seem like public knowledge — "We have a very active terrorist cell in Mogadishu, which has been involved in terrorist activities in Kenya" — is curious. Both Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s statement and Ali’s statement were reported the same day. Ethiopia’s offer to "help" comes during ongoing African Union peace talks last week.…

  • Private Military Companies,  Public Diplomacy

    Public Diplomacy by Proxy

    A recent public opinion poll shows an increasing concern that Washington is too quick to use a military response, including private security companies that augment “real” military force, to foreign policy challenges in lieu of soft power alternatives. Falling outside of normal legislative oversight, private military forces are contracted, deployed, managed, and paid through the civilian leadership of the Defense Department and State Department and other civilian departments (CACI, the Abu Ghraib interrogators came in through a Department of the Interior contract). Much of what the article says has already been written about here on this site, including “Security firms operating in Iraq have been cited for fraud and have clashed with…

  • Private Military Companies,  War

    Is war about to break out in the Horn?

    News from the Horn of Africa heats up. "Ethiopia’s prime minister said on Thursday that he believes it iscommon knowledge that an al-Qaeda terror cell is operating in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu…The African Union, also based in Addis Ababa, was meeting late on Thursday to discuss plans to send troops to Somalia to guarantee the safety of the government-in-exile, which was formed after three years of peace talks in Kenya." Back in May 2005, US Marines were reported to have landed in the area, but that’s dated. Currently, the heat is between the Transitional Government and the "other". From today’s news (emphasis added): A group of Somali lawmakers in-exile on Tuesday…

  • Africa,  Private Military Companies

    Updated: TopCat and Marathon Link & Oil Diplomacy

    Back in Aug 2004, TopCat conducted a symposium on "security vulnerability assessment procedures and how to develop a comprehensive security plan for your facility or site." Listed as one of the "Expert Instructors" was a Col Bernard "Bernie" J. McCabe (ret.), manager of Global Security for the Marathon Oil Corporation but a one-time rep for Sandline. More information on McCabe and Marathon oil is found in a lengthy document about "the new world order’s mercenaries" has more food for thought: …old-boy network had put him in touch with oil entrepreneur Anthony Buckingham. Buckingham, also ex-military, has been described in some press accounts as a former member of Britain’s naval special…

  • Africa,  Private Military Companies

    Marathon, PETRONAS, and PexCo Oil and Somalia

    More information on the Somalia, Oil, and possibly TopCat continue. Reporting from Oil and Gas Investor indicates Marathon Oil, of Texas, and possibly other firms have taken over the Conoco claims, or at least is moving in on them, and bumping yet another company to boot. From the Nov 2005 issue, emphasis added: 4. Mixed messages are being sent about licensing in Somalia with a Dutch firm taking acreage but an Australian firm, which thought it had won a block, being told it had negotiated with the wrong people. [Dutch] PexCo exploration has signed up for with the Ministry of Mines and Energy for exploration in the Ogaden area, according…

  • Africa,  Private Military Companies

    Puzzle Pieces: HAFZA…Somalia…TopCat….intent? Goal?

    The HAFZA site, available on Google Docs in archive form, has extensive text on being legitimate and extolling the value of its purpose. As part of its financing, HAFZA authorized a "Mid Term Note" (MTN) of $50m, issued one year ago and due 2014. Websites and entities seeking to obfuscate the truth do not tend to go into as much detail as HAFZA has to explain its mission and provide supporting documentation, and above all, reiterate over and over a noble purpose.

  • Private Military Companies,  War

    UPDATE 2 on The $50m contract to fight piracy, a primer on privatized force

    The recent $50m deal between TopCat Marine Security and Somalia has apparently opened some eyes to the world of private military companies. Two leading experts / authors in the field today, Deborah Avant (The Market for Force: The Consequences of Privatizing Security) and P.W. Singer (Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Cornell Studies in Security Affairs)), refer to these private enterprises as Private Military Companies and Private Military Firms, respectively (there are other authors and resources I’d recommend, see my reading list on the right). What many people do not understand, not through lack of caring but through a cloud of understandable and encouraged ignorance, is the…