OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 31 August 2013

Situation Friendly Forces:

26 August: 4000 civilians have been displaced from DUMBA to BAGA following last weeks attack.  The IDPs are being catered for by the Nigerian Red Cross

Situation Enemy Forces:

25 August: 6 civilians were killed in DAMASAK, BORNO State on the NIGERIA/ NIGER border by suspected insurgents

30 August:  Insurgents allegedly killed a  20 civilians in DAMBOA and NGANZA after killing CJTF around MONGUNO

14 nomadic herders killed in an unspecified village in BORNO State by gunmen

Situation Other Forces

25 August: 14 vigilantes killed and 9 wounded in an attack by insurgents in BAMA, the insurgents were allegedly dressed in military uniform and called the youths away for a meeting. The attackers used knives and cutlasses

27 August: attacks by insurgents in DAWASHI, KUKAWA LGA, BORNO State has resulted in 5 CJTF and 20 civilians dead and 12 wounded. The CJTF came from MAIDUGURI and were attacked by the insurgents

30 August:  a group of 100 vigilantes from the CJTF on an unsupported clearance operation around KALERI, SHUWARI and NANNARI villages were attacked by insurgents allegedly dressed in military uniform and mounted in 3 vehicles resulting in 24 dead and 34 missing near MONGUNO,  BORNO State. 


Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/ Detained








Total NSF


















Table 2 Captured insurgent equipment



Pistol 9mm 7.62 Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash 










Table 3 Insurgent incidents

Insurgent Incidents  IED Vehicle IED Suicide IED Small Arms Small arms+IED Other wpns Theft Kidnapping
0 0 0 3 0 2 0 0



Improvise, Adapt and Overcome:  the insurgents have reacted to the military pressure and change in dynamics by adopting new tactics and procedures.

The insurgents went from mob action with crude weapons, to an armed insurrection and then to Vehicle borne and suicide IEDs. As they scored more successes and defined more and more ‘no go’ areas coupled with an influx of weapons and trained personnel from Mali/ Libya were able to  engage in large scale vehicle mounted attacks against urban areas and most importantly withdraw from these attacks in relatively good order to fight again.

In response to the Op Boyona offensive the insurgents have now dispersed and modified their tactics as follows

Infiltration tactics: it can be presumed that the insurgents used women, children and other ruses to spy on and infiltrate target areas. However in the wake of this offensive with the restrictions to freedom of movement, the use of women (and men disguised as women) has become more and more apparent. The use of vigilantes has increased the capture rate of these individuals. Their motivations have been reported to be as varied as payment (N5,000.00), as duty to their husbands or relatives who are insurgents, blackmail/ coercion, revenge for dead husbands or relatives.

Tricks and Ruses: the insurgency has shown its resilience and intelligence by adapting to the adversity of its current position and by using circumstances that are familiar to their victims they have been able to undermine their victims’ security measures. Thus dressing up in uniform and arriving with civilians and claiming to be a combined military/ vigilante patrol to lure vigilante members into an ambush or turning up in a village announcing that they had captured Boko Haram members and shooting anyone who came out to observe. This obviously has the advantage of allowing insurgents to get as close as possible to their targets or even take them away to secluded areas for attack but also puts a certain level of friction between civilians and vigilantes, vigilantes and the military etc.

Attacks on civilians/ soft targets: the majority of the targets of insurgent attacks have been civilians, either vigilantes or ordinary villagers. Attacks on vigilantes are understandable as they are clearly aligned with the security forces, easy to reach targets and are giving the security forces a marked advantage with their local knowledge and ability to move without the huge logistics of a military force.

Attacks on ordinary civilians are slightly more difficult to fathom other than as a punitive measures against locals thought to be pro government or anti insurgent. The deliberate barbarity of some attacks and symbolism of attacking people at prayer and mutilating them should be indicative of the deliberate messaging by the attackers that the victims are apostates and subhuman. It is very typical  of all extremist movements particularly at the stage where they are on the back foot.

Cordon sanitaire– attacks in and around their safe areas Bama and the axis from Lake Chad to the villages south east of Maiduguri in the vicinity of the Sambisa Forest Reserve. The attacks on military targets can be viewed as an attempt to keep the security forces on the defensive and compel them to devote men and resources towards force protection and away from offensive operations or protecting civilians. Attacks on civilians in this area can be seen as an attempt to impose their will on the civilian population, to either force their compliance with the insurgents and non cooperation with the security forces or to drive them from their homes in a combined punitive measure and to put pressure on the security forces to support and protect them

Second front: arrests and seizures in areas such as Benue, Lagos etc are open to an ambiguous interpretation (local political or criminal elements, fleeing non operational insurgents etc) however arrests and seizures in Sokoto can only indicate a concerted effort to begin a sustained campaign in the North West. This is operationally sound as such a campaign would achieve the necessary shock effect on the civilian population and the political and military leadership and would also force the security forces to dedicate significant resources to force protection, protecting key infrastructure, high value personnel and the civilian population as well as shutting down the insurgent cells. Considering containing the insurgency in the North East after 4 years has led to the generation of an entire division, the drain on manpower is self evident.

The geo-sectarian implications of a second front in the North West is again pertinent as this would be a direct challenge to the primacy and power of the Hausa- Fulani/ Sokoto Caliphate in Northern Nigeria by the majority Kanuri/ Borno based Boko Haram.

This fault line is obviously slightly more opaque and subtle to outsiders than the obvious North/ South, Christian/ Muslim, North/ Middle Belt one but is as fundamental to northern Nigeria as the Shia/ Sunni split and it is extremely interesting to see what the outlook will be following a sustained campaign in North Western Nigeria

The insurgent’s intent is quite clearly to maintain pressure on the security forces, reduce or eliminate civilian support for the security forces and maintain sufficient safe areas in order to regain the initiative. If successful they could once again build up sufficient men and materiel to once again pose a major threat.

The Price of Liberty: vigilantes throughout history have always turned out to be more harm than good. The fact that a civilian population voluntarily turns against an insurgency to support the security forces without any inducement, training or equipment is an overwhelming measure of success for the security forces, a sign of failure for the insurgents and desperation by the civilians.

However the chickens will come home to roost and are doing so with a vengeance. These are soft targets against a ruthless enemy.

They are untrained, undisciplined, ill equipped and other than local knowledge and force of numbers have absolutely no tactical advantage against the insurgents except possibly when working with the security forces.

And once the crisis is over will these unemployed, unskilled youth return to unemployment or conveniently morph their services to the highest bidder in time for the next elections?

In other words the advantages of the vigilantes in their current form are rapidly becoming ineffective.

The vigilantes should be formed into legal law enforcement auxiliary

  • Given rudimentary training in law/ rules of engagement, vehicle check points, searching, counter IED, basic force protection and so on.
  • They should be regularised, registered and given identifiable uniforms and ID cards
  • They should be given pay and benefits on fixed full time or part time contracts, with the option of skills acquisition or formal education scholarships on completion of successful full or part time service
  • They should be equipped with anti riot gear, batons, stab vest, etc
  • They should be given a command structure and embedded/ attached to a police/ military unit and can only be used or deployed in conjunction with the police or army

If the vigilantes are not brought into line all they will do is provide the insurgents with an easy supply of victims in the short term and give us a brand new militant group in the long term


About peccavi

A Nigerian with interests in defence, security, geopolitics, the military particularly small unit tactics, COIN, stabilisation and asymmetric warfare
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