The Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) is a South African-based private military contractor founded by former Rhodesian army officer Colonel Lionel Dyck in 2012. Though DAG has a global presence, the company has gained notoriety for its ability to rapidly assemble and operate in demanding environments, particularly in post-conflict African states.
Despite the group’s notable successes in Mozambique, actively engaging with SAMIM against insurgent groups, the company has drawn criticism for alleged racial discrimination and human rights violations.
2.0 Motto, Symbols, and History
“WE TURN YOUR PROJECTS INTO REALITY“
Despite Dyck Advisory Group’s (DAG) prominent work in Mozambique, there is little exposure to the company. The tagline “We turn your projects into reality”, which appears on their official site’s home page in capitalised white bold lettering (source), is perhaps the only form of self-expression found online.
The unofficial tagline reflects the company’s principal mission to conduct rapid assessments of conflict situations and provide appropriate solutions to their client’s solutions.
The DAG’s trademark is the logo of a red-outlined eagle appearing against a white background. There are 17 species of eagles found in South Africa and the giant bird has had a long cultural history of signifying power, success and strength. The employment of an eagle as the logo is perhaps symbolic to the South African company.
The Dyck Advisory Group was founded in 2012 by Lionel Dyck, a former military colonel who served in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.
The group markets itself as a consulting organisation on its main sites and was first established as MineTech International, one of the largest suppliers of demining, explosive ordnance disposal and specialised security dog providers and anti-poaching services. Their services branched out into private military contracting and animal conservation in recent years. The DAG’s client base is international, however, following 2019 their troops have been particularly active in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, where they have been commissioned to support Mozambique’s operations against local insurgent groups.
3.1 Military police contractor
DAG was a significant PMC contracted by the Mozambique government during the rise of Islamic insurgent groups in Cabo Delgado. The company has been awarded numerous contracts since its establishment by various government and multilateral organisations.
In 2019 shortly after the Russian PMC Wagner left Mozambique, Dyck Advisory Group was hired by the Mozambique police to support SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) against the uprising insurgent groups.
“PMCs were vital to the survival of Cabo Delgado and Pemba [until SADC forces arrived]”, Dyck said. (source)
DAG is financed through a combination of state resources (Government of Mozambique) as a result of military contracts with Mozambique police force, and private resources.
(In an interview with Ouest France in 2021, Lionel Dyck expresses the support of an international donor who brought 120 barrels of oil as fuel from Nairobi during an operation led by the DAG in Pemba. (source))
3.3 Business Structure
The Dyck Advisory Groups is divided into operations in the following sectors:
Explosive Hazard Management
3.4 Key Figures
Colonel Lionel Dyck
The founder of Dyck Advisory Group, Zimbabwean-born Lionel Dyck has a military career of over 26 years. Prior to establishing MineTech and thereafter DAG, Dyck served in the Rhodesian Security Forces and in the Zimbabwe Defence Forces thereafter. He assisted the Government of Mozambique during the civil war as part of the Zimbabwean Intervention Force. His operations in demining and anti-poaching followed his participation in the Mozambique Civil War.
Dyck has led operations reacting to UN Declared Emergencies including the UN Quick Reaction Force into Iraq in 2003, the UN explosive hazard response into Libya in 2011 and CAR in 2013.
In 2013, Dyck was recruited out of retirement on a pro bono basis to support conservation efforts in the KNP-GLC Project. (source)
Max Dyck began his career in demining in 1997 and has had over 15 years of work in the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance. He joined MineTech in Mozambique in the early 2000s and was thereafter advanced to the position of Operations Director MineTech International. He joined the United Nations in 2009 and was a Programme Manager for UNMAS in Cyprus, Libya, Darfur, CAR and the DRC.
Molam is currently an advisor for DAG and joined MineTech International in 2005 in Zimbabwe as the logistics manager, over the ensuing years he has moved into operations and project management. He has over 10 years of experience in Mine Action Operations and Logistics in South Sudan, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Laos, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe. His previous work includes IMAS EOD L3 operating and has trained to IMAS EOD L3+ with experience in Explosive Hazard Project Management, Operations and Logistics. (source) (source)
DAG’s recruitment methods remain largely inconspicuous. Save the email address for potential applicants found on the DAG’s official website, there is little known information regarding the company’s active recruitment methods. (source)
Interested candidates can submit their resumes via the official website. Online applicants are required to include their personal details, qualifications, and certifications specific to the company. When applying DAG requests full descriptions of the candidates’ job roles, responsibilities, and duties, for each work experience since leaving high school (including any military or police service) as part of the candidates’ employment history.
The following questions are examples provided of what information is required when applying:
“if you were a K9 handler, did you man ECP’s? Did you search vehicles or ships or people or airports or luggage? What sort of sites/project were you working on? What did you do to take care of your EDD/K9? Did you make any reports? Did you do regular training with your EDD/K9? What sort of training? Etc.”
Specific job postings are advertised on the company’s job boards via their official website. These roles vary from freelance to full-time employment in the following sectors:
- Civil Engineering
- Close Protection
- Document Control
- ECM (Electronic Counter Measures)
- EORE (Explosive Ordnance Risk Education)
- Explosive Hazard Management
- Facilities Management
- Human Resources
- Maritime Security
- Military Police
- Office Administration
- Project Logistics
- Project Management
- Project Operations
- Radio Operations
Possible Foreign Recruitment
According to correspondence with the DAG’s recruitment team, it is implied that foreign candidates may apply.
3.6 Connections to other important organisations
Dyck Advisory Group’s work in Mozambique was supported by Paramount Group, an African-based global aerospace and technology company, and Burnham Global, a Dubai-based contractor staffed by British military veterans, creating a hybrid-private-military-corporate entity.
Dyck’s contract with the Mozambique government follows the withdrawal of Wagner Group from Cabo Delgado. (Source)
Paramount is believed to be supporting the Mozambican Ministry of Defence while DAG has been employed by the Ministry of the Interior to support police operations in Cabo Delgado.
- Chinese-made W85 heavy machine guns
- Type 80 general-purpose machine guns
- 50. calibre machine guns (mounted on helicopters)
- Soviet-designed AGS-17 30 mm automatic grenade launchers
- Improvised gas canister-based “barrel bombs”
- Mi-24 Gunships
- Bat Hawk Light Aircraft
- Aérospatiale Gazelle
- Eurocopter AS350 Écureuil
- Aérospatiale Alouette II
- UH-1 Huey
- Cessna Caravan
- Bell Long Ranger
- Diamond DA 42
- CADG Helix
(6 combat helicopters: 3 Gazelle, 1 Alouette and 2 Ecureuil, were claimed to have been used by DAG in the attack in Palma, according to Col. Lionel Dyck in a telephone interview with the Ouest France Johannesburg correspondent, Valérie Hirsch in 2021. (source))
- Marauder Armoured Vehicles
- Naval support (specifics unknown)
- (supplied by Paramount Academy in Mozambique)
5.0 Tactical-Operational Information
Dyck’s most notable operations have been in Mozambique where they were assisted by the government’s police and military forces as well as other non-state actors. The deployment of their assault units against the insurgency relies primarily on heavy air power. The group utilises a wide range of helicopters, both their own and supplied externally.
- DAG was contracted by the Chief of Police in Cabo Delgado in 2019 to provide Mozambique soldiers with air cover following the withdrawal of the Wagner group.
- The group was instrumental in the defence of Pemba between 2019 and 2021 against the insurgents who they engaged using helicopters mounted with 50. calibre machine guns.
- DAG also worked alongside government forces to retake the town of Macomia from the insurgents in 2021.
- Dyck Advisory Group’s anti-poaching operations under the DAG Conservation Trust has been responsible for rhino conservation operations in Mozambique since 2015. They have provided anti-poaching services in other African countries.
5.2 Core Purpose
The Dyck Advisory Group’s core purpose is to provide rapid assessments and solutions both locally and internationally. Their primary operations are in Demining, Explosive Hazard Management, Specialised Security, Canine Services and Counter-Poaching.
Air power is pivotal to DAG’s operations. In Mozambique, the group was contacted by the government primarily to assist the country’s forces with much-needed air support. The group’s operations rely heavily on their air mobility and rapid assessment of hostile environments. DAG was instrumental in effecting a number of emergency civilian evacuations by air between 2019 and 2022.
The founder of DAG, Lionel Dyck stressed the unique position of DAG in Mozambique as being one of the few PMCs that had no ground forces but relied exclusively on their aircraft to target insurgents.
“We managed to hold them [insurgents] up for a year without ground forces,” he said.DefenceWeb 2022
According to DefenceWeb, Dyck believed that DAG could have recaptured Mocimboa da Praia from the insurgents had there been political will and combined ground forces.
5.4 Personnel size
Current figures on DAG’s personnel count remain unknown. However, based on various open-source information, estimates have been made that the group deployed an around 30 in its most recent operation in Mozambique.
An Amnesty International report released in March 2021 accused the DAG of carrying out indiscriminate attacks. According to Amnesty International, 53 witnesses saw DAG operatives fire machine guns from helicopters and drop hand grenades indiscriminately into crowds of people. The report expresses that the group repeatedly fired at civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and homes. (source)
“…the helicopters shot against everything and everyone. For them it was no longer possible to know who was who.”A woman who lived near the hospital attacked in Mocímboa, June 2020. Amnesty International
In an interview with CNN, Lionel Dyck admitted that DAG crews had fired into crowds when terrorists were attacking his men from among civilians.
“[The] dissidents ran into a hospital shooting at us so we shot them,” He said.Lionel Dyck to CNN 2021
Dyck told CNN that a law firm hired by DAG was conducting an investigation into the allegations and that all their actions were cleared by a senior Mozambican officer (source). He firmly emphasized that the group “never engaged anything a Mozambican general didn’t agree we could engage.” (source).
7.0 The Future Of Dyck Advisory Group
After the company’s most recent work in Mozambique, there is little information publicly available about the DAG’s current operations. Despite being credited for its significant successes in Mozambique, it is the company will not continue operations in the region, given the recent accusations of human rights violations.
Since its founding, Dyck Advisory Group has maintained its status as a highly valued contractor in a majority of the sectors it operates in. Despite being a PMC of a smaller scale, the company has proved itself hugely successful in its security services, taking on a pivotal role in driving out insurgents from key cities in Mozambique. However, the controversy surrounding the execution of the group’s operations concerns the international community, potentially affecting its reputation and future success as an upcoming PMC.
update: the first version of the article said DAG had around 200-300 people in MOZ. However, multiple experts have pointed out that it was around 30.