For decades the perception of Nigeria’s military strength and resolve has served as a deterrence against bad actors. Regrettably, that perception and as a consequence its deterrent effect is up in smoke in an increasingly dangerous neighborhood, threatening a significantly weaker Nigeria.
If you are a Nigerian you should be livid with rage. Unless somebody drops a 15 kiloton nuclear bomb in Lagos or Abuja, you might not see a significant change in the Nigerian governments attitude towards upgrading the nation’s armed forces, into a 21st century fighting force, on par Egypt Algeria and South Africa. And even that is not a given.
If a bunch of rag-tag insurgents on pickup trucks can overrun a Nigerian army base with impunity, kill 100 soldiers, man the base the base for hours, chase away returning soldiers who came to carry the corpse of their fallen comrade and spend hours carting away large caches of weapons, in a country that has an airforce with helicopter gunships, then Nigeria’s ability to win wars against a state actor with a professional army is marginal at best. Which current state of the armed forces, the military can not perform their statutory obligations in territorial defence on land air and sea.
If the Nigerian government does not take proactive measures to reverse this decline, the Federal Republic of Nigeria may cease to exist as an entity in as little as under a decade. If that happens the disintegration will start not from the Nigerian people, but from the military in itself.
All over the world soldiers who complain about armaments and support tend to come from countries with conscript armies, not countries with an all volunteer professional army. The Nigerian Army is an all volunteer force. Two hundred thousand Nigerians voluntarily chose to put their lives in harm’s way so 180 million Nigerians can go to bed peacefully at night. Sending these gallant service men and women to the front with substandard equipment and no close air support to be slaughtered, comes with its attendant risk of mutiny and insubordination, which are a precursor to mass desertion and ultimately chaos.
This portends grave danger to not only Nigeria, but West Africa as a whole. With %99 of the region’s GDP and a regional hegemon if Nigeria sneezes, West Africa does not catch cold. It goes into cardiac arrest and requires life support. The United States and France will be more than happy administer an EKG.
Nigeria’s role as West Africa’s de facto leader requires a military dimension. With security situation in the region worsening, even francophone states like Niger, wondering why despite the presence of American drones and forces, Boko Haram continues to thrive in West Africa, is now comfortable with the notion that Nigeria, as West Africa’s de facto leader acquires a military dimension. They wants Nigeria to do even more for continental security and to broaden deployment overseas.
About a quater of Nigeria’s Vickers Mk.3 tank fleet has been lost to Boko Haram fighters. Six T-72M1 tanks have been destroyed. Boko Haram now fields more tanks than most West African armies. A couple of BM-21 Grad MLRS is now n the arsenal of Boko Haram. When you quantify this to the amount of artillery pieces and other vehicles stolen, one cannot help but wonder how strong the Nigerian army really is at the moment. It most certainly cannot stop an invading army.
The Nigerian Air Force has spent the last couple of months opening gymnasiums, sewing machine factories, fish farming and other stupid ventures while soldiers on the ground are being slaughtered because there are not enough platforms to provide Close Air Support.
Rebuilding the armed forces can only be achievable through sustained and consistent investments in the defense budget. It took years for Nigeria’s military readiness to erode, thus it will also take years to restore it. The restoration should needs to start NOW.
SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA
In the last five years we have witnessed an uptake in the new scramble for Africa, with each party consolidating their hold and digging in.
FRANCE & UNITED STATES
France and the United States and her allies have effectively taking control of West Africa in every index. They have invested close to a billion dollars erecting drone bases in five ECOWAS member States and have signed security agreements with three ECOWAS member states. The United States and France will never leave West Africa. They have invested so much. Nigeria is fast losing relevance.
China as we speak is expanding its presence in Southern Africa. Zambia is basically a Chinese enclave now. In August China placed the dreaded new generation strategic ground to air missiles, the HQ-9 in Zimbabwe. There is absolutely no doubt this is a direct preparation for defending her vast economic interests in the country, with a possible signal of ratcheting up future gunboat diplomacy against the competing West, as foreign powers scramble to move into Zimbabwe for business, under the newly elected President Emmerson Mnangagwa administration.
The African Union, just like the Nigerian government is asleep. If they knew the capability of the dreaded HQ-9 SAM system they will stay up at night sweating profusely. You gotta understand that this is the same SAM system China has deployed to the South China Sea on Woody Island, consisting of her latest HQ-9 missiles. Taiwan and Vietnam, has since been turned into nearly a no-fly Zone due to the missiles. Its that good.
The HQ-9 system is designed to track and destroy aircraft, cruise missiles, air-to-surface missiles, and tactical ballistic missiles. The missile is armed with a 180 kg warhead, has a maximum speed of Mach 4.2. and has a maximum range of 200 km up to an altitude of 30 km. The missile has a proximity fuse with an effective range of 35m, which goes active when the missile is 5km away from its target. The HQ-9’s guidance system is composed of inertial guidance plus mid-course uplink and active radar terminal guidance systems.
Not to be undone, Ivan Ivanovich has moved into the Central African Republic. Russia and China are muscling their way into the Central African Republic, pushing out the France. France, the former colonial power, has traditionally wielded the most clout in CAR. Russia recently deployed forces to the Central African Republic and they are now engaged in training central african republic soldiers providing military advice and of course setting up a temporary base in a Central African Republic.
AFRICA is now a geopolitical chess game. Everyone moves their pawns forward. When one country moves, the others take note and react accordingly.
The West is trying to do to the CAR what they have done to Nigeria, that is cripple the country’s military to keep the country mired in internal strife, thereby making them dependent. Russia thwarted their nefarious agenda. The Russians made its big move at the end of last year, when it was authorised by the UN to provide the CAR with weapons and military personnel.
The delivery was ostensibly aimed at shoring up the beleaguered central government and its chronically weak military – an exemption to a UN arms embargo, imposed in 2013 when the CAR exploded into civil conflict. Britain, France and the United States were furious voiced a protest, demanding that deliveries be restricted to light arms and that Russia take step back.
In Russia quickly signed a range of bilateral deals with the government; Russia now provide security for President Faustin-Archange Touadera. The West has missed the boat. The Russians are now everywhere in the CAR state apparatus.
There seem to be a conspiracy to keep Nigeria focused domestic issues why the region is overtaken by foreign powers.
Nigeria should expand its military as quickly as possible and as much as possible. It must reverse the hollowing out of the Nigerian armed forces and restore it warfighting edge. The region is changing rapidly and the security environment for Nigeria is becoming more complex uncertain. It’s prudent to take into account the fact that the United States and France are keeping its commitments on permanently stationing combat units in virtually every country that shares a border with Nigeria.
As a consequence some countries with whom Nigeria has had territorial disputes with now have the military capability to seriously threaten the Nigerian homeland and our vital interests.
Nigeria must now be bold enough and competent enough to rejuvenate the defence and security of the nation. Nigeria won’t always have the luxury to choose to be left alone or to remain inactive in a tough neighborhood.
There are three major areas in which the Nigerian military is deficient
Nigeria military operations over the last decade has seen the Nigerian army operate from broadly secure military bases and outposts. But non state and state actors are now acquiring the capabilities to mount precision strikes against such facilities. The recent attack by Boko Haram on Nigerian military bases emphasizes this point. Boko Haram has successfully attacked 6 Nigerian army bases in recent months.
Boko Haram have demonstrated even opponent of limited ability can cause damage to main operating bases using indirect fire weapons. The need to defend Nigerian air bases and other locations from other indirect fire. The army’s solution to this threat was to take the ZSU 23-4 anti-aircraft camera which was originally designed to destroy aircraft and turn it into an infantry weapon.
The Nigerian airforce possesses very limited offensive assets. Numerous capabilities have been either reduced or eliminated entirely as they were perceived as less of a priority in an era of peacekeeping and counterinsurgency. The Nigerian military it appears lacks a clear understanding of the strategic importance of airpower. You cannot isolate ground forces from airpower in today’s battlefield.
The lack of a credible air force severely limits the army’s ground campaign against the Jihadi group. The army’s reliance on airpower is born out of prudence and necessity. An overstretched army units often needs the force multiplication capability airpower. There is little point in troops charges into an enemy stronghold if a 2000 Ib bomb could deal with the problem.
In the absence of a credible close air support, the army often relies on the long-range striking power of the Multiple Launch Rocket System as a saturation fire weapon with a symphony of rockets being able to blanket an area of 1 square kilometres in seconds. Boko Haram fighters are specifically
Another aspect that has been allowed to wither is in air defence systems
End of Part Two.