By Anthony Kolawole
I have always admired the operational strategy of the Nigerian Army in the war against Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist in North East Nigeria despite the criticism it has received in some quarters in recent times. In my opinion, the bulk of the criticisms were not grounded in facts, but on assumptions and illogical conclusions.
If one flashes back to the periods between 2013 to 2015 and how the country was on the brinks with Boko Haram insurgents claiming territories and establishing caliphates, we would understand how effective the counter-insurgency operations have been post 2015. However, again, this is understandable because we are in a country where everybody is an expert even on issues they are ignorant about.
That no territory in Nigeria is under the control of Boko Haram terrorists is no mean feat for those of us that under the dynamics involved in warfare. Not to talk of asymmetric warfare. Some of us that are schooled in the art of war as propounded by Sun Tzu, the great Chinese war veteran would readily understand and appreciate the efforts of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria since 2015.
As a start, Guerrilla warfare as described by Sun Tzu in ‘The Art of War’ is characterized by repeated surprise attacks and efforts to limit movement of enemy troops. This is very instructive because the Boko Haram war in North-East Nigeria is such that epitomizes what Sun Tzu describes as sabotage, ambushes, and surprise raids on unsuspecting military targets, often fighting in their homeland and the use of their familiarity with the local landscape and terrain to their advantage.
This was what has been the case since 2009, when the Boko Haram violent campaign started in Nigeria. But ironically, the military commanders then didn’t understand what they were confronted with, and as such the Boko Haram fighters gained advantage and unleased terror in unimaginable quantum. So much so that we feared that Armageddon had befallen Nigeria. However, all of these has changed with the new realization by the military authorities on the dynamics involved in the war and the subsequent deployment of what I would call a Super Camp strategy in the fight against terrorism in Nigeria.
I am fascinated by the super camp strategy concept because it in itself gives the Nigerian Army a psychological advantage, and this advantage has yielded the much-needed results in the war against terrorism in Nigeria. For emphasis sake, the Nigerian Army Super Camp Strategy involves two critical components. One is taking the fight to the enemies in their domains as against what was obtainable in the past where troops would wait for Boko Haram terrorist to bring the battle to them. The second component involves a routine introduction of counter-insurgency strategies that always takes the Boko Haram fighters unawares. This is legendary.
This much has been the focal footprints of the Nigerian Army, and little wonder why they have been able to record tremendous success in the war against terrorism in Nigeria. A good example can be found in the recent success recorded by the Nigerian Army on routine patrol along Monguno-Mairari-Gajiram axis in the North-East Nigeria, where heavy casualties were inflicted on Boko Haram terrorist and scores of weapons and ammunition recovered.
We must learn to call a spade a spade in Nigeria regarding the war against terrorism. We must admit that a lot has changed since the advent of the present administration and with the current service chiefs that have indeed led by example. I also beg to add that special recognition goes to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai under whose leadership the Nigerian Army has been able to make tremendous progress. For those that still have a reason to doubt the effectiveness of the operational strategies of the Nigerian Army, they are probably out for mischief or are sponsored elements contracted to cry wolf where non exist.
Back to the crux of this piece, which is the Super Camp Strategy. This is a unique one that should be commended by every discerning mind. This is especially so because the threat hitherto posed by Boko Haram terrorist has been effectively contained so much so that what is now left is clearance operations as what is being experienced in recent times. This much was confirmed by Colonel Sagir Musa, the acting director of Army Public Relations wherein he stated that Boko Haram terrorists and other radicals have suffered heavy casualties as troops of the Nigerian Army continue to dominate the theatre of war, causing remnants of Boko Haram terrorists devastating consequences.
I could not agree less with him because as one conversant with the happenings in the theatre of operations in North-East Nigeria I say in unequivocal terms that the activities of the Nigerian Army have been such a huge success. So I can’t but give credit to the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai whose leadership strides has impacted positively on the troops in the theatre of war in North-East Nigeria. This is also with the fact that we have witnessed situations where Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has been seen in the trenches with his troops in the battlefront and providing that psychological boost as well.
This, in my opinion, speaks of Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai as a war strategist that deploys Intelligence, Credibility, Humaneness, Courage, and Discipline in leading the war against terrorism in Nigeria. According to Sun Tzu, if leaders are to succeed, their competence must permeate every aspect of their work. Their technical proficiency must also conform to or exceed expectations. Sun Tzu also stated that leaders must demonstrate respect for those with whom they interact. This applies to subordinates, peers, and competitors, leaders must project decisiveness and courage in the face of challenges. Also, to prepare their forces for all tactical contingencies that may arise in the field of battle.
I must indeed confess that Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai has displayed an unalloyed commitment in the war against terrorism in Nigeria. The above-listed attributes are indeed a demonstration of the true Nigerian spirit. And we must in this instance doff our hats for him and all the gallant troops fighting day and night to keep Nigeria free from the clutches of Boko Haram terrorists.
Kolawole PhD, a University teacher wrote this article from Keffi.