OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 24 August 2013

Situation Friendly Forces:

19 August: control of counter insurgency and counter terror operations in North East Nigeria, returns to Nigeria Army with the formation of 7th Infantry Division. 3 month old Operation BOYONA (covering operations in the States under State of Emergency). HQ in MAIDUGURI, GOC is tipped as Maj Gen ETHNAN, commanding 8, 000 troops comprising of troops from YOLA, MONGUNO, YOBE, SOKOTO as well as troops returning from operations in MALI
The Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Strike Group based in YOLA is to be upgraded with new strike and patrol aircraft and helicopters

20 August: MALAM MUBARAK (aka DAN HAJIYA) taken to ABUJA in a military aircraft from SOKOTO
JTF states that it believes Abubaker SHEKAU might have died as a result of injuries sustained during a firefight. He is believed to have been injured on 30 June in SAMBISA FOREST, evacuated to AMITCHIDE in CAMEROUN for treatment and died between 25 July and 3 August

23 August: 22,000 illegal immigrants deported to CHAD, NIGER and CAMEROUN within the 3 month state of emergency period and 84 illegal border crossings identified according to Interior Minister Abba MORO

24 August: NPF intercepted a vehicle with 5 passengers carrying an unknown amount of weapons and a suspected explosive device, in ANKPA Ward, MAKURDI, BENUE State. 1 suspect was shot and captured and 4 escaped

Situation Enemy Forces:

19 August: 3 police officers (2 male, 1 female) were killed and 1 wounded in an attack upon a Divisional Police Station in KAJURU, KAJURU LGA, KADUNA State. The attack at 11.30pm and lasted for approximately an hour

44 civilians killed and 14 wounded in fishing village of DEMBA, KUKUWA LGA, BORNO State, allegedly by a force of approximately 50 insurgents. Some victims were shot, others beheaded or had their throats slit, survivors allegedly had their eyes plucked out. Unknown number of houses burnt. Nigerian Red Cross, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Medecin Sans Frontieres (MSF) are providing relief, local are taking shelter in Baga Central Primary School, BAGA

20 August: 4 civilians’ were killed and 8 injured in an attack by suspected insurgents on GAMBORU-NGALA, BORNO State. Approximately 50 insurgents arrived in a convoy of cars and motorcycles, reportedly dressed as soldiers and pretending to be a combined military CJTF force, residents in the FLATARI Ward were requested to come out of their homes at 2.00am to observe captured Boko Haram and then shot

21 August: 2 police officers were killed in an attack on a Police Station in GWOZA, GWOZA LGA, BORNO State. The attack took place at 8.00am and resulted in 7 insurgents killed

23 August: 5 imprisoned members of Boko Haram have stated they are interested in dialogue, in an Arabic language video shown to journalists by the Chairman of the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Resolution of Security Challenges in the North Tanimu TURAKI. The video by Muhammad Lawan Dan SULIAMAN, ABDUL-AUZA’I, AL-DARNAWO, AL-MALIKI and 1 other unnamed gives Islamic justifications for negotiations citing Koranic examples

Situation Other Forces:

22 August: 2 suspected insurgents dressed as women were detained by the Civilian JTF vigilante group in JIMTILO near, MAIDUGURI, BORNO State. The suspects both in their early 30’s stated they were from SHEHURI area of the city and were captured heading to KONDUGA. The 2 suspects were handed over to the military and allegedly shot dead and their bodies left in HAUSARI ward

Situation External Forces:
21 August: US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy SHERMAN states the US will assist Nigeria with training in security

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/ Detained
NPF

5

1

0

NA

0

0

0

Total NSF

5

1

0

CJTF

0

0

0

Insurgents

9

1

Male:

1  

Female:  

0

Civilian

48

22

0

 

Table 2 Captured insurgent equipment

AK47

 

Pistol 9mm 7.62 Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash 

2

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

Table 3 Insurgent incidents

Insurgent Incidents  IED Vehicle IED Suicide IED Small Arms Small arms+IED Other wpns Theft Kidnapping
0 0 0 4 0 0 0 0

 

Analysis

Strike two: in Greek legend, the Hydra was a multi headed monster encountered by the hero Hercules. Striking off one head merely caused two others to grow in its place giving an exceptionally apt analogy for decapitation tactics for most modern terror groups which operate in a dispersed cellular manner.  Charismatic leaders have throughout history held sway in terror groups through force of personality and well honed personality cults but the demise of these groups has had less to do with neutralisation and more to do with the things that took place to effect that neutralisations, thus the capture of Kurdish PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan in Nairobi in 1999 did not spell the end of the PKK as his capture was as a result of a discrete special operation well away from the main theatre of operations, likewise the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan did not affect Al Qaeda’s day to day operation such as they are. The assassinations and attempted assassinations of HAMAS leaders has not weakened HAMAS. However although the death of UNITA’s Jonas Savimbi, preceded the collapse of UNITA in Angola, the death of Savimbi however was less the determining factor in their collapse and more the final straw at the end of a long run of military defeats and loss of territory. Likewise the capture of Abimael Guzman the leader of the Shining Path Terror Group in Peru , followed by the death of his successor and the rest of the leadership was in the context of a series of defeats which eventually led to the group splitting and ceasing to be a major threat

These examples seek to show that in most conflicts it is not a matter of how many you kill or capture but who you kill or capture and in what context. And I would suggest in the case of a certain types of insurgencies of which Boko Haram is one, the death or elimination of the charismatic figurehead is of less importance than the elimination of key operational figures such as armourers, financiers, smugglers, specialists such as bomb makers, heavy weapons experts, etc . Thus the alleged death of Boko Haram’s Abubaker Shekau if true is less important than the deaths of Mohammed Bama, Abatcha Flatari and Abubakar Zakariya Yau and the arrest of Malam Mubarak.

Mohammed Bama was apparently an operational commander who had led several successful attacks against the Nigerian Security Forces and was a heavy weapons specialist skilled in the use of anti aircraft guns. His father Abatcha Flatari was allegedly one of the spiritual luminaries of the group, giving legitimacy and Islamic ‘cover’ to their actions. Malam Mubarak was arrested in Sokoto, with sufficient weapons, IED components, men and cash to safely assume (in conjunction with other arrests and seizures in the area) he was attempting to set up a major cell in the area, with the likely purpose of drawing security forces away from North East Nigeria. There have been no suicide IED attacks for over 3 months much less VBIED’s. This would indicate that the logistic chain for large scale IEDs (supply, manufacture, transport, deployment, initiation etc) has been severely disrupted, including the clerics who would be necessary (one presumes) for suicide bombings.

The conclusion one can draw from this is that it is immaterial if Shekau is dead or not. If he is, another individual who can gesticulate menacingly on camera will be found. The same cannot be said so easily for a persuasive cleric, skilled tactician, heavy weapons expert or IED maker.

Hard Power/ Soft Power: The  formation of this new unit is a positive development that again seeks to achieve one of the key principles of war and COIN- unity of effort.  The use of ad hoc ‘joint’ forces with different equipment, training, weapons and skills is never the best solution to any problem much less an internal security issue.

The use of soldiers for internal security is not the most optimal solution. Internal security should always be the preserve of the Police and the Courts. As useful as this new division will be it should only be the stopgap between stabilising the situation and returning security to a civil force.

A military force can provide security however this is unsustainable, it is expensive, takes forces away from their core tasks and denudes their war fighting abilities. For security to be sustained there must be stability. For there to be stability there must be law and order. In other words a functioning system of accountability and conflict resolution (i.e. courts) and a competent force that protects the populace and maintains order (i.e. a police force).

Within the framework of the current State of Emergency there is scope to set up specialist courts that deal exclusively with violent offences as well as terror offences. These courts with dedicated lawyers, investigators and judges, should be used to clear the back log of terror related cases so that there is a clear indication of the consequences of the actions of the suspects. At the same time criminal cases and civil cases should be tried and resolved at an accelerated rate, so as to give people a belief in state mandated methods of conflict resolution.

For the police to take over internal security operations there will need to be a serious retraining, reequipping and reorientation.

Thus the force must be able to defend itself and the populace from IEDs, protect itself and the population from mounted company sized attacks, dismounted company sized attacks, assassinations, kidnappings, robberies and at the same time conduct normal police activities, prevent and investigate thefts and burglaries, deals with traffic offences and domestic disturbances etc.

Thus one will need a force with the firepower and mobility of an infantry unit but the accessibility and nuance of a community police force. This could also solve the problems associated with vigilantes as they could be inducted into the force as auxiliaries.

In planning for the long term solution to this insurgency, the Federal Government would do well to look towards a new Federal Police Force, dedicated towards internal security and stabilisation.

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About peccavi

A Nigerian with interests in defence, security, geopolitics, the military particularly small unit tactics, COIN, stabilisation and asymmetric warfare
This entry was posted in Counter insurgency, Nigeria Defence, Nigeria Strategy, Terrorism, West Africa Defence, West Africa Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

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