Mercenaries: The Executive Outcomes Story

Mercenaries: The Executive Outcomes Story

Founded in 1989 by Eeben Barlow, South Africa’s Executive Outcomes is one of the world’s most famous Private Military Contractor or Mercenary Firms. 

Executive Outcomes revolutionised the Mercenary business from a shadowy trade to a legitimate business enterprise whose Blueprint has since been adopted by other Mercenary Firms, most notably, Blackwater which played a significant role in the invasion of Iraq.

Formation & Origins Of Executive Outcomes

Barlow was former head of South Africa’s Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB) which played a key role in Apartheid era Security specialising in covert Black Operations.

After South Africa obtained Independence in 1994, the CCB was disbanded and there were also significant cuts in Military personnel. This provided a vast recruitment ground of skilled Military Personnel for Executive Outcomes.

Angola was the first major operational Theatre in which Executive Outcomes gained credibility after it was engaged by the Angolan Government to repel Rebel UNITA Forces and to train 5000 Angolan Army Troops in 1993. 

Executive Outcomes fielded a force of at least of 500 soldiers in Angola.

These soldiers served mainly as a force multiplier and enhanced the effectiveness of a much larger Angolan Army force of about 5000 troops also trained by Executive Outcomes.

By 1994 Executive Outcomes had scored significant success by securing important Gold and Oil fields on behalf of the Angolan Government.

However, under pressure from the U.N., the Angolan Government terminated Executive Outcome’s Contract and replaced it with a U.N. peacekeeping force.

Executive Outcome’s success in its Contract with the Angolan Government paved the way for its involvement in Sierra Leone in May 1995 when the Sierra Leone Government hired Executive Outcomes to fight the rebel forces of Foday Sanko when they were within 20 Miles of capturing the Capital City of Freetown.

In exchange for mining concessions, Executive Outcomes entered the conflict on the side of the Sierra Leone Government and managed to push the rebel forces away from Freetown, open the roads into Freetown to allow the transport of food and fuel as well as securing important diamond mining fields.

Once again however, Executive Outcomes was replaced by a U.N. peacekeeping Force which failed to secure the gains made by Executive Outcomes allowing the Sierra Leone rebels to take the Capital.

According to Barlow, Executive Outcomes was also contacted to intervene during the early stages of the Rwanda genocide in 1994.

However, his quotation was reportedly too steep for the U.N. to engage the services of Executive Outcomes to intervene in the Rwandan genocide.

Despite its successes, Executive Outcomes was still perceived as a clandestine organisation as it battled to shake off its mercenary identity in the eyes of the international community.

Things took a turn for the worse in 1997 when South Africa passed new legislation which regulated foreign military support and included heavy penalties such as seizure of assets as well as fines in excess of 150 000 U.S Dollars or 10 years in jail or both for operating without the State’s approval.

Owing to this new legislation, in 1998 Executive Outcomes decided to terminate all operations and close down the company rather than risk prosecution by not conforming to the legislation.

Following its closure in 1998, Executive Outcomes moved all its operations to a series of aligned companies that included Simon Mann’s Sandline International. 

However, by 2006 Barlow had formed a series of new Security Companies one of which was involved in the mission to track and rescue the kidnapped Chibok girls from Boko Haram in Nigeria.

As recently as December 2020 Barlow announced the rebirth of Executive Outcomes reportedly at the request of several African Governments. 

Today the influence of Executive Outcomes on the Private Military Contractor Industry continues to be felt as they all aspire to the Executive Outcomes business model and record of military successes. 

Mercernaries: The Story Of Executive Outcomes