Posted by Fredrick Ikerionwu | 30 December 2018 | 1,980 times
“Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.” ― Sun Tzu
Upon his appointment as the 20th Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff on July 13, 2015, Lt-Gen Tukur Yusufu Buratai resumed office on July 16, 2015. He unveiled his vision for the Nigerian Army, which is: “To Have a Professionally Responsive Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles.” It was designed with a clear understanding of Nigeria’s contemporary security challenges, and to engender a professional rebirth of the Nigerian Army (NA) in its entirety. The vision also tasked personnel on the total defeat of terrorists/insurgents, and the liberation of all the territories held by the insurgents.
Indeed, Buratai’s burning desire and unparalleled determination to rekindle the fighting spirit of Nigerian troops in the North-east was legendary. Hours after taking over command, he launched himself into the theatre of operation, at a time when the Boko Haram sect was alleged to control over 30,000 square miles of territory - a land span same size with Belgium.
The Nigerian military, for about a decade, have been bedevilled with the fight against insurgency and terrorism which, according to Sun Tzu in his legendary draft, The Art of War, is like a water which hold no constant shape but multi-faceted. Buratai is a man who places national interest above self, in absolute loyalty to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; a man who personifies patriotism, among other distinctive traits. No doubt, his leadership has brought about a holistic paradigm shift in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.
In his routine visits to the North-east, he obtains first-hand information hence the need to re-strategise, which has yielded tremendous results. He conducted strategic troops deployment and redeployment which saw the dexterity and heroism of the likes of Lt Col Abu Ali (of blessed memory) whose command was very instrumental in recapturing over 11 local government areas. This was achieved through a superior study and mastery of the Boko Haram sects and their inimical tactics. The rare feat achieved by the troops was emphasised by the Governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima, who said: “No part of the Borno State is under Boko Haram occupation; although there are pockets of attacks on soft targets by the defeated insurgents, the military and other security agencies deserved unreserved commendation.”
Gen Buratai, despite his indefatigable marksmanship, being a military officer, he also believes in comprehensive national approach to combating insecurity; acknowledging the fact that military action is not enough to win an asymmetric warfare. Thus, he saw the need to strengthen the Department of Civil Military Affairs by establishing a Human Right Desk in all Nigerian Army formations, including the ones in the North-east, to handle issues of human right violation, in an effort to improve community stabilisation to totally defeat the Boko Haram negative ideology.
In his quest for continuous operationalisation of non-kinetic approach to Counter-Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operation (COIN&CT Op) in the information environment. To counter the terrorists' ideology, it became imperative for him to establish the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command; and he appointed a very senior military specialist as commander. Prior to the command’s official commissioning, the command was able to detect and dismantle Boko Haram’s online recruitment links. This, no doubt, served as a combat multiplier and complements the NA kinetic approach to COIN and CT Op.
The Nigerian military of recent has witnessed series of attacks from the Abu Musab al-Barnawi camp of the Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP). He maintains the narrative that his sect is out to only combat the Nigerian Army and other state security organisations. This narrative is not only false but evil, as it tends to lure civilians to its caliphate: civilians whom they perceived to attract national and global attention are kidnapped for ransom while some are killed. It has been observed and noted that the ISWAP modus operandi includes disguising self on military kits to untraditionally gain access to military base before launching attacks, the method is another means of self-destruction to that of suicide bombers.
Despite the Nigerian military's effort to harmonise desert and woodland camouflage uniforms to check the proliferation of camouflage uniforms across the country, elements of ISWAP still find ways of using these uniforms to infiltrate troops' defensive positions to launch attacks, as seen in the attack of troops on Operation Last Hold and that of Metele attack. It is against this bridge of military tactics, that the Chief of Army Staff, having reviewed all the operational lapses, have taken it to himself to build a smart army for the Federal Republic of Nigeria that will be technologically driven, in line with global best practice.
In view of this, Gen Buratai revealed that the NA is making advancement to the use of drone technology and digitalisation of the Nigeria Army kits, with sort of a radio-frequency identification mechanism as this will enable troops to differentiate between friendly forces and unfriendly ones in the frontline, and at the same time initiate alert when in danger. This height is dynamic and vital in modern warfare: to ensure successful implementation of the COIN and CT campaign. And from the view of an Open Source Intelligent analyst, it’s a step in the right direction and highly commendable of Buratai’s strategic thoughts. We may not be there yet but with evolving strategic thoughts like this, victory is in sight.
•Fredrick Ikerionwu, a New Media & OSINT analyst/Member, NA Resource Centre, writes from the FCT. He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter @Fredwave
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