History is repeating itself as far as strategic and tactical novelty of global reckoning in the conduct of counter-insurgency, (COIN) operations by the Nigerian military. As in the case of the Nigerian military’s record breaking face down of insurgents in Liberia and later Sierra Leone in the 1990s, so also is its conduct of the Boko Haram COIN so far.
DefenseNigeria has learnt from highly dependable sources that no less than three foreign militaries are studying the Nigerian military’s exploits in the COIN operation. The three are at the United States, a traditional admirer of the Nigerian military as far as land operations is concerned, Britain and Belarus.
This newspaper understood that the foreign militaries are paying particular attention to how the Nigerian operation commanders and troops cut Boko Haram’s supply line and isolated the insurgents in record time. Admirers of the tactics involved are said to have described such as unbelievable even by the standards of those that have been much longer involved in COIN warfare.
The US military is said to have admitted they have never had a success rate in terms of the speed at which the Nigerian army have basically broken the back of Boko Haram although as is typical of most insurgent groups, this is when the war might just be beginning. As an unengaged military expert told this newspaper, “The insurgent may never be able to mount and sustain any major operations again but terrorism is a many sided warfare. You don’t finish it at a go”
Observers have sighted the understudy teams at Maiduguri airport from where they are said to normally proceed to the combat zone. This, it is said, is no secret at all, according to such discerning observers.
This brings back memories of similar admiration for the Nigerian performance in ECOMOG few decades ago which subsequently resulted in request for closer intermingling with Nigerian troops. However, the request became the subject of uproar and recriminations within the Nigerian establishment.
Victor Malu, the Chief of Army Staff at the time resisted it, telling Howard Jeter, the then American Ambassador in Nigeria who conceptualised the request to his government that what the Nigerian army needed were equipment, not lessons in peacekeeping.
Lessons from that uproar might have favoured the current strategy of intermingling right at the war fronts. The assumption is that the fears of Victor Malu and all those opposed to the earlier intermingling must have been taken care of.
The Nigerian and the American militaries are no total strangers to each other in the war front. When the American rangers came under surprise attack in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia in 1993, it was the Nigerian military tacticians that created a corridor for them to escape. A Case of ‘Always as Friends’ can thus be argued.
This possibility of a world-class professionalism would be most calming to Nigerian, coming after the terrible reality that Nigeria, until recently, did not have a military that could face down Boko Haram insurgency quickly.
The Nigerian military had been left without weapons to fight and troops sent to war front were easily vulnerable to being savaged by Boko Haram insurgents. Nigerians saw their own troops running away from battle.
It is perhaps only this stellar performance that would cure the psychological trauma of such a disaster, a continental giant whose neighbouring armies had to help out, especially if the military would be isolated from budgetary volatility in terms of a credible, deterrent force in a world of multiple threats.
That is provided nobody along the line within or without the military would steal the money too.