Boko Haram: The Comeback Kid !

Despite the Nigerian army making significant progress in curtailing the group’s activities, Boko Haram- the worlds deadliest terrorist group is making a comeback in northeast Nigeria.

The possibility of a Boko Haram 2.0′ is a worrying development that comes as the Nigerian army is already been stretched to breaking point by its security commitments in the south, central and northern Nigeria. Nigeria’s depleted military and exhausted fighting men and women plant the seeds of a Boko Haram revival.

Boko Haram it seems is staging a major comeback after a long hiatus.

On Saturday July 14, Boko  Haram insurgents invaded a Nigeria army base in Yobe state.  In an attack that lasted hours, 23 soldiers have been declared MIA( presumably KIA).

Barely 24 hours later Boko Haram militants again overran a base housing troops of the 81 Division Forward Brigade.  According to a source, large convoys of Boko Haram fighters in trucks mounted with anti aircraft guns attacked in huge numbers at around 7;30 pm (1830 GMT), catching the soldiers by surprise. Unsettled and disoriented the soldiers put up a fight and held on until 9:10 pm, before succumbing to the superior numbers and firepower of the attackers.

The military has gathered that they drove from Lake Chad through Gubio (in borno state) and attacked the base in two fronts in a pincer attack. The timing and coordination of the attack suggests they had solid intelligence. The fact that the attack took place at night emphasizes this point. A fighting unit with no night attack gear attacking at night suggests real time continuous intelligence on their target.

The fact that the attackers came from the Lake Chad basin suggests external influence. For the past couple of months the Lake Chad basin has seen a beehive of activities. Chadian and Nigeriene forces have deployed as much as 2000 troops to the Lake Chad basin. In response the Nigerian Army deployed two amphibious brigades to the Lake Chad basin. This was subsequently followed up by the deployments of gunboats by the Nigerian Navy.

With such a formidable number of forces in the Lake Chad basin by three countries, not to mention the presence of the worlds most sophisticated drones in five countries in the region, how then is Boko Haram able to mobilize such a  formidable array of forces that can be easily detected, drive all the war to Borno state undetected, and then attack two Nigerian army bases in a 24 hour period with clockwork precision at night? The answer is simple.

Boko Haram has its own tactical air force.

Nigeria has taken it for granted that it is the richest and most technically advanced country in the region, but the strategic  enviroment has changed drastically. Nigeria folded its arms and watched as the powers that be ringed Nigeria with six drone bases stretching from Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Mali.

An American Air Force listening station is being built in Ghana, when that is complete every country surrounding Nigeria, stretching as far as Ghana will play host to American, French or both military facilities. All within a period of three years.

As incredible as the proliferation of CIA drone stations in the region has been, often forgotten is the technical features of these Reaper drones. These are the drones that monitored Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan for over a year without the Pakistani’s knowing about it. The United States is a decade ahead of the rest of the world in the building and application of surveillance drones.

The CIA (not the USAF) alone operates a staggering 6,000 drones and helicopters that are so stealthy its remained a public secret. The SEAL team that raided the Osama compound in Pakistan were forced to blow up the stealth helicopter used in the operation after the crash.  By the time the Pakistan got word of what was taking place and deployed F-16 fighters the Americans were long gone.

Against this backdrop you will see that it is virtually impossible for Boko Haram or any other group to smuggle in weapons through the Lake Chad region, organize raiding parties in dozens of trucks, drive hundreds of kilometers through open terrain, pop up in Borno state and attack two Nigerian army bases at night in quick succession, without American and French forces knowing.

By allowing the proliferation of drones around the country and taken no counterbalancing action to mitigate this development Nigeria has practically lost control of its airspace and by and large its territory.

Though hard to prove, there is the likelihood that the powers that be are providing non-state actors like Boko Haram with their own mini-air force.

A significant change in operations and a threat to the Nigerian forces unseen in the last 3 years, the potential of non state actors like Boko Haram pluging into these drones should not be discounted. The CIA has been predicting a possible Nigeria breakup in 2015. When that didn’t happen they shifted their doomsday prediction to the possibility of Nigeria devolving into violence and civil war after the 2015 elections.

So confident was the United States of this that, three days to the election three U.S Marine Osprey aircraft (a beautiful plane) landed in Accra Ghana with 300 Marines onboard. Their task was to go into Nigeria and evacuate westerners when the shooting begins.

Again Nigeria failed to read the script, and luckily for us Goodluck Jonathan (against the advice of his wife) was magnanimous in defeat and accepted the results. Now the United States is doing it itself. Think about it. The number of U.S stations and facilities in West Africa stretching from Cameroon through Niger, Chad, Mali and soon Ghana,  in under just THREE  YEARS is truly staggering. A testament to Americans unmatched logistics capability. The best the world has ever seen.

Now, what better way can the United States carry out its agenda without soiling its hand than to clandestinely provide Boko Haram the use of these devices for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as providing the militant group with a tactical-level air force capability that all states in the country , except Nigeria do not even posses.

Ignoring or dismising the national security implications of Nigeria encicled by drone bases will do nothing but speed up the demise of the Nigerian Federation, a CIA objective since 2010. We are talking about the most sophisticated drones on earth in Nigeria’s backyard.

Rather than us seeing them, they can see into our bases, they know where the key headquarters are as well as the key command and control nodes that they can potentially attack via proxy using non states actors like Boko Haram. Nigeria needs to wakeup.

Its time for the Nigerian military to operate with France and the United States in mind as potential sponsors of insurgency groups, and by such a threat to the national security of Nigeria. To do this Nigeria should take the necessary steps to enhance its own surveillance assets in every spectrum of military operations on a strategic level.

This will potentially force Nigerian military units to move more rapidly against these insurgent organizations than in previous years. Instead of large, forward-operating bases and massive logistics networks that operates in a fairly predictable pattern, Nigerian forces will have to change position on a regular basis to avoid being detected and targeted by the enemy — be it a state or non-state actor.

With this reality, Nigeria should be investing more heavily in countering enemy ISR capabilities. These capabilities should include those that can blind, confuse, destroy and disrupt sensors. Nigeria has become accustomed to facing enemies without ISR capabilities, be it state or non-state actors. Now Nigeria may face actors that have more sensors looking at Nigerian assets than vice versa.

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