OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 2 November 2013

Situation Friendly Forces: 


27 October: Acting Commander 21 Brigade, Col. Ibrahim YUSUF reiterates that the Army will give safe passage to any insurgents who wish to surrender, advising that they can surrender at any military outpost or to their district or ward head

29 October: Nigerian security forces ambushed insurgents travelling in a convoy of cars in GIDAN MAIWA, NINGI LGA, BAUCHI State along the BAUCHI-KANO Road, killing 1 and capturing 4. Also captured in the operation were 11 AK 47s, an undisclosed number of rockets, grenades and over 1000 rounds of ammunition (type unknown). Several insurgents were reported to have escaped into the forest. The group were allegedly planning to attack AZARE town

30 October:

  • Elements of 7 Division reported they destroyed 2 vehicles and captured 3 motorcycles belonging to insurgents based in camps in KAGA LGA, BORNO State, in a combined operation with the NAF. Patrols were now regularly operating on major highways
  • Further attacks by 7 Division on insurgents took place at 11.00am with attacks on insurgent camps in GOHO Village, MAINOK Area. The insurgents reportedly withdrew to MARGUBA, where they were again engaged by pursuing troops. Insurgents were seen hurriedly crossing the road in the vicinity of BENISHEIKH, reportedly they were heading north towards GUBIO. Troops were still in pursuit

Situation Enemy Forces:

27 October: insurgents attacked a checkpoint at the BAMA-BANKI Junction Road on the NIGERIA/ CAMEROUN border in BORNO State with RPGs, IEDs and small arms killing 4 soldiers and capturing their patrol vehicle. They then burnt all the buildings in the village including shops and a filling station

1 November: suspected insurgents have abducted two women from a passenger vehicle in the vicinity of BENISHIEKH in KAGA LGA, BORNO State along the MAIDUGURI-DAMATURU Highway

2 November: suspected insurgents attacked a wedding convoy killing at least 30 civilians including the groom on the BAMA-BANKI Road between GAMA and GWOZA near FIRGI, BORNO State. The wedding party was travelling to MAIDUGURI after the ceremony in MICHIKA, ADAMAWA State. Bodies were also seen near Some victims were shot and others had their throats slit

3 November: Abubakar SHEKAU has released a video claiming responsibility for the 24 October attack on DAMATURU

Situation External Forces:

28 October: UNHCR reports 10,000 Nigerians have become refugees crossing into CAMEROUN (8,128), CHAD (150) and NIGER (2,700) due to Boko Haram’s activities, 15 were reported killed and 7 wounded in an attempted forced repatriation from CAMEROUN to ADAMAWA State

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/ Detained
NPF

0

0

0

NA

4

??

0

Total NSF

4

??

0

Vigilantes

0

0

0

Insurgents

1

??

Male:  

4

Female:

0  

Civilian

30

??

2

 

Table 2 Captured insurgent equipment

Rifles

 

Pistol 9mm   Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash 

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

 

Table 3 Captured Security forces equipment

Rifles

 

Pistol 9mm   Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash 

???

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

 

Table 4 Insurgent incidents

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

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

1

 

Analysis:

Action-Counter Action:

The army predictably launched an offensive to clear the highways and the insurgents have predictably shifted. They appear to have moved closer to the borders whether this is simply because security forces there have been denuded for other operations or they have relocated over the Cameroun border is unknown, however it can be conjectured that they appear to have retained their operational cohesion and capability.

The attack on Damaturu was well planned and executed. They appear to have succeeded in capturing (however briefly) their key targets and destroying others before withdrawing. As the objective of the attack can only have been to capture stores and attrite the security forces men and materiel, it is reasonable to count this as a success for the enemy, despite their casualties.

That the enemy can still generate the men and leadership to mount such operations despite the pressure it is under demonstrates that there is still a hard core with the will and ability to fight competently.

Their skill at relocating and launching attacks of alarming barbarity can also be viewed as an operational plus for them. The attacks are effective in that they interdict and isolate communities along the highway, terrorise the civilian population and are of such barbarity that they force the security forces to react. Once the security forces are deployed in clearance operations the enemy launches attacks elsewhere.

All of this is classic guerrilla behaviour, the Security forces are hard pressed to react any differently but it is clear that other tactics should be explored. The use of fast jet for air support in a COIN op fought in rural areas is not really the most effective use of airpower, attack helicopters or even support helicopters with door gunners would be more effective.

Thought should be given to aggressive counter guerrilla groups, who will deploy and fight like the insurgents in their chosen areas. The Rhodesians and apartheid South Africans were past masters at this and it is a highly effective tactic.

Clearance operations will always only just be temporary solutions; to sustain the pressure on the enemy, forces must be deployed to fight the enemy in what they consider their safe areas and these forces must not have the impediment of a long logistic chain, but fight with the same mobility and flexibility of the insurgents. At the same time, ground cleared must be held.

No small task but the ‘groundhog day’ round of offensive and counter attack has to be changed to be effective

Marching on your stomach:

In all of the enemies current operations they have sought to gather supplies, vehicles, food, medicines, fuel, arms, ammunition (and distressingly women as well). This indicates that the leadership is planning for a long campaign and intends to attempt to sustain operations throughout the dry season and beyond.

However these attacks also indicate something that may or may not be significant. The insurgents have not really displayed this form of rapacious banditry before, this change in ‘resupply chain’ could indicate that their links to their former sources of supplies have been cut, either due to a loss of funds, patronage or increased interdiction.

This leads to an interesting speculation; whilst operationally the enemy has shown a skill and resilience that indicates they will be a force to be reckoned with for a while, strategically the switch to internal raiding could be an indicator of a change in their fortunes. It is well known that indiscriminate attacks on Muslims alienated insurgents in Iraq from Al Qaeda, likewise in Algeria, the barbarity by the FIS and its off shoots helped an unpopular military regime maintain control.

Boko Haram has never had much sway beyond the Sahel and appears to have not significantly tapped the huge Gulf Wahhabi money sources in the way Middle Eastern and Central Asian insurgencies have. Most of their funding appears to have come from benefactors, both private and in local government, and then latterly from robberies, kidnappings protection rackets and also from their links to the smuggling and kidnapping networks in the Sahel.

The links to the Sahel smuggling and kidnap sources would have dried up with the ANSARU split. No longer having access to the major urban centres means that kidnapping and robberies are no longer as easy as before and their members are unlikely or unable to pay subscriptions from the bush and it is highly (and hopefully) unlikely that they are still getting pay offs from politicians.

Thus even with the vast arms bazaar that is the Sahel, they need money to arm, feed and sustain and if they can’t buy these things they must obtain them by raiding.

This is a good sign as to the strategic trajectory of the insurgency and also gives a few tactical hints to the security forces as to what targets are likely to attract the enemy, giving ample opportunity for these sites to be hardened or for deliberate ambushes to be laid.

The enemy has a significant operational capability but the story is not as positive for them as it appears

Advertisements

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 Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 2 November 2013

  1. igbi says:

    peccavi, your analysis comprises many errors.
    First of all Shekau is dead and it has been proven that the new videos produced by boko haram were fake.
    Secondly it seems you are boasting boko haram and that you are gathering unverrified infos from sensationalist news papers.
    We both know you are nowhere near the north east, what I didn’t know was that you favored reports depicting the Nigerian armed forces in a bad light.
    I would like to know where you got your figure of stolen vehicles. It seems to me that I read about that in an other invented story.
    You seek to be neutral, but you are going at this the wrong way.
    Calling a terrorist attack a success is just the same as praising terrorism.
    And your report comes with no proofs. if you want to be taken seriously then you need to get proofs of what you are saying, if not then you would just be an other sensationalist journalist amplifying terrorism as a way to sell papers.

    • peccavi says:

      Hello Igbi
      Thanks for your comment and for taking the time to read the blog. To address your points:
      There is no evidence Shekau is dead. There is no proof that the recent videos are faked or doctored, if there is I would be grateful to be directed to the sources. However again the question is not whether Shekau is alive or dead, it is of limited operational value, what is important or most interesting is that he was so quick to release the video and claim success for this attack. Look to explore that question; the answer (to me) links into the premise of the second analysis ‘Marching on your Stomach’.

      I have not insinuated that I am in the North East and I do not think that impression comes across. The function of this sitrep is to take publicly available, open source information; collate it in a readable, chronological manner and try and analyse it to the best of my ability.

      I use a certain amount of local knowledge, training and professional experience. My intention is not sensation or propaganda but to look at events and try and interpret them for the lay persons, fellow analysts and hopefully also for decision makers, to give them an alternative view of events.

      A military success is an operation that achieves its objectives. By every matrix the Damaturu attack was a success, the insurgents successfully attacked the security forces, stole supplies and withdrew in reasonable order. That is a military success.

      I do not aspire to neutrality but to objectivity. I think that is fairly obvious by the fact that I put Boko Harams activities under enemy and security forces under friendly. My seriousness or otherwise is not judged by my ability to propagandise events but by the opinions of my fellow professionals.

      Thanks again for visiting

      • jake z. says:

        This was a solid analysis peccavi. moreover shekau is probably alive–as evidenced by videos. Even if he’s not alive, whoever is his fake is issuing the same language Shekau did. I think your groundhog’s day analogy is right on. Also I agree about the effect of the ansaru split; this is also why BH is only Borno-Yobe based now. Ansaru also suffered with the French ops in Mali, so the Middle Belt where ansaru was most active has been pacified from terrorist groups… for now.

      • peccavi says:

        Thanks for the comment.
        Ansaru’s quiescence and the loss of leadership combined with the run up to the elections could lead to a fairly interesting time in Nigeria, particularly the Middle Belt as you pointed out

      • igbi says:

        I hope that you would allows me to give an analysis of the latest boko haram video: it was only 35 seconds long, which defeats its purpose of being made to prove that boko haram was successful.
        The person pretending to be shekau is seen for only 10 seconds, which gives him very little time to say anything.
        There is a part of the video which is supposed to show weapons that boko haram allegedly stole from the armed forces, but that part is just a photo, it is not animated which implies that it could easily have been doctored and I can’t see any other reason to use a photo in that part of the video rather than a an animated video.
        In my humble opinion, that photo was photoshopped. I verry much think that boko haram not only didn’t “capture” any weapons, but it also doesn’t have the weapons on that photo. If boko haram had been any successful in its attack on Damaturu then it would have produced hard evidence, it would have produced a video at least 10 minutes long and it would have produced a video showing dead soldiers and terrorists actually emptying the armoury. But we saw none of that. Now, if we keep in mind that boko haram needs to keep its terrorist image intact or it would lose all its sponsors and fatally to it, mere civilians would invade and destroy its hideouts, then we begin to remember that 70% of insurgency (including terrorism) relies upon propaganda. Propaganda is how Fidel Castro made the world believe he had thousands of armed men in the bush while he actually had only 70 armed men. The lack of propaganda is also what led to the defeat and demise of Che Guevara. his is one of the main reason I spend a lot of time analyzing the infos coming from the newspapers and comparing them in order to distinguish truth from propaganda.
        You have to admit that the journalists reporting on the topic are clueless, but keep reporting because terrorism is good for sales.
        How can we trust journalists who produce no image and keep claiming that anonymous witnesses gave them the account which they are reporting ? First of all the public has no way of verifying the existence of the anonymous person and if that person exists the how does the public know that “mr anonymous” is not a boko haram member trying to use the media to print his propaganda ?
        How can the journalist himself verify that ?
        It would be nice if journalists logically verified what they print by the use of genuine photos and genuine videos and also by reducing the percentage of rumors they publish. They should be giving facts not hearsay.
        Here is an analysis of the latest video produced by the terrorists:
        http://abujade.wordpress.com/2013/11/09/boko-haram-leader-shekau-is-dead-fake-ghost-video-is-evil-propaganda-muslim-against-terror/

      • igbi says:

        Sorry for the spelling mistakes, it is due to the fact that I am exhausted. Have a nice day.

      • igbi says:

        Jake.z alias jacob zenn, I think that is your real name, but I may be wrong. You cannot use the videos as proof to shekau being alive, indeed boko haram produced this video in which a person (not shekau) pretends to be shekau:

        And befor then boko haram had produced an other video which was proven to be a fake.
        By the way, oga Peccavi, for the seriousness of your work (which is already very serious but is being dented by the fact that the “news” available to you and I is not serious), could you get in contact with a specialist in imagery and videos in order for him to analyze the latest boko haram videos and reveal to you if they were doctored or not: you see this is a simple thing which all these journalists with their big budgets could do, but they chose not to because terrorists propaganda sells too well.
        So please there is no more excuse, you can’t say that there is no proof, because you can have those videos analyzed by you own guy and come here with his remarks and conclusions. That would be a meaningful thing to do.

  2. peccavi says:

    There is a video with a fake Shekau and then 2 subsequent videos with the ‘original’ Shekau.
    I am not an image analyst and I completely agree with you that a forensic analysis of the videos is an absolute requirement but that is the job of the authorities and the people who received it (i.e. AFP).
    So I cannot say conclusively if the videos are faked nor can I say conclusively Shekau is alive, what I can say is that on the balance of evidence and probability Shekau is alive and he is in those videos.
    Again the key question is not whether Shekau is alive or not. As I wrote on Beegeagles blog (hopefully to return soon), Shekau is an irrelevance. If he is dead, someone else will take over, he has no popular support base beyond family, tribe, town etc thus it is unlikely that his death will cause a loss of change in public perception. The loss of their urban networks has not defeated Boko Haram, they have just rebalanced to rural ops.
    You are correct that propaganda (or media ops/ psy ops/ influence ops as its more politely called) is a key component of both an insurgent and counter insurgent but there are two things you should bear in mind.
    First, accusing all journalists of being terrorist sympathisers, being lazy and bad at their job is Lesson No 1 in ‘How Not To Win the Media War’. The media is a tool, to be influenced, wooed and manipulated. It is a tool to influence the enemy, influence and inform the friendly population and motivate the troops. I struggle with people who advocate banning or limiting media access, where has it worked in the world in an insurgency? The media has to be wooed and influenced. The days of propaganda declaring endless victories died a long time ago. Saddams Information minister was declaring victory even with US tanks behind him, shebi it was effective.
    Second you are again looking at the issue from what I believe to be the incorrect perspective. Shekau alive or dead is not the point, the point is that not only were BH able to launch a successful attack but rapidly use it for a propaganda. This shows that not only do they have a military capability but an (for want of a better word) ‘administrative’ capability and a logical operational capability.
    Whether this is the last type of attack or not their structure is intact. Strategically they are still as stupid as ever but operationally they are doing everything right.
    I would suggest you Google Jacob Zenn and read some of his work first. Whether you agree with the analysis or the conclusions you can hopefully appreciate the quality and substance of work and appreciate someone who has taken the time to specialise in a our country’s issues.
    Finally thank you for presenting your points rationally it makes conversations so much better
    there was a faction that claimed to have killed Shekau and then bombed Kano to show their strength. We haven’t heard from them since. Boko Haram has tried to move into the middle belt and the North West and not succeeded. There was a huge amount of kidnapping in Maiduguri of professionals etc, now they are pushed out of the urban areas that source of funds has dried up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s