OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 9 November 2013

Situation Friendly Forces:

4 November:

  • Elements of 5 Brigade in the vicinity of GAMBORU- NGALA and 21 Brigade in the vicinity of BAMA –KELANI engaged insurgents in a simultaneous operation to clear their camps. 7 insurgents were reported killed and an unspecified number wounded. Supported by 79 Composite Group NAF they destroyed 13 vehicles and an unspecified number of motorcycles, some containing IEDs. An unspecified amount of arms and ammunition were captured
  • Nearly 20.00 farmers have been driven from their land according to the BORNO State Ministry of Agriculture The head of the BORNO State Farmers Association chairman states that farmers in Northeast NIGERIA have lost N3 billion in food crops due to the insurgency, having been forced to abandon harvests or newly planted fields. He requested material and financial assistance from the government.

5 November: the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North presented its report to the President of the Federal Republic of NIGERIA. Recommendations include an advisory committee on continuous dialogue, victim support fund. The committee leader Alhaji Kabiru TURAKI (Minister for Special Duties) admitted that they were unable to make contact with the insurgent leadership however spoke to key members in detention.

6 November:

  • The President has asked the National Assembly to extend the State of Emergency for 6 months to 12 May 2014
  • The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency announced they had arrested 2 people with 2.2 tons of cannabis at the Trailer Park in BULUNKUTU area. The arrest led agents to a drug factory in the POMPOMARI area along BAGA Road, MAIDUGURI, where further drugs were found. The drugs had moved from EDO State, the suspects were named as Sunday ADEBAYO (from OSUN State) and Imoah ABU (EDO State)
  • The head of the Nigerian delegation to the CAMEROUN-NIGERIA Trans Border Security Committee, General J.B. SAMUEL has stated that NIGERIA needs the collaboration and support of CAMEROUN in securing the 1,700km border. A CAMEROUNIAN official stated they had already taken unspecified precautionary measures along the border

7 November:

  • The Senate unanimously approved the extension of the State of Emergency in ADAMAWA, BORNO and YOBE States for another 6 months. The Governor and Senator from ADAMAWA State opposed the move by letter and in radio interviews. The YOBE State Governor approved the measure
  • Approximately 100 family members of people detained as members of Boko Haram protested at the premises of BORNO Radio Television (BRTV) for the release of their husbands, sons and bothers or information about them. They stated that their family members were innocent and caught up in security sweeps.
  • Lt Col Adamu Garba LAKA; commander 202 Tank Battalion, BAMA, stated that 4 insurgent hideouts in the vicinity of the town have been raided over the previous 3 days in KILANI, BULAKADI, IZAD and BULLA MUSA. No casualties were listed on either side however an unknown quantity of RPGS, rifles, dane guns, IEDs, magazines and ammunition was recovered as well as equipment such as boots and generators

8 November:

  • A combined JTF and DSS team launched an operation to secure 2 houses occupied by suspected insurgents at 3.00am. 5 insurgents and 2 soldiers were killed in the 3 hour operation in HOTORO DAN’MARKE and BRIGADE Quarters of KANO City, KANO State. Security forces captured 2 AK 47s, 458 rounds of 7.62 ammunition and 6 AK 47 magazines. The suspects were believed to be planning suicide attacks in KANO
  • 1000 youths for the BORNO Youth Empowerment Scheme (BOYES) have been inducted in MAIDUGURI. This second batch of trainees are between 18 and 28 in age

9 November: Governor NYAKO relaxes the Motorcycle ban in NUMAN LGA, ADAMAWA State until the end of November in order to allow farmers transport their harvested produce

Situation Enemy Forces:

31 October: reports of an attack on GULUMBA Village, BAMA LGA, BORNO State killing 27 and injuring 13 civilians. Approximately 70 gunmen attacked the village mounted on 15 motorcycles and in Toyota Hilux vans, burnt shops, buildings, destroyed livestock and machinery

3 November: Abubakar SHEKAU has released a video claiming responsibility for the 24 October attack on DAMATURU, YOBE State. Speaking in Arabic, Hausa and Kanuri. The 11 minute video entitled ‘Battle of Damaturu’ was released to journalists

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

  Killed Wounded Missing/ Detained
NPF

0

0

0

NA

2

??

0

Total NSF

 2

??

0

Vigilantes

0

0

0

Insurgents

12

??

Male:  

 

Female:

0  

Civilian

0  

??

0  

 

Table 2 Captured insurgent equipment

Rifles

 

Pistol 9mm   Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash

 

2

0

458

0

0

0

0

0

 

Table 3 Captured Security forces equipment

Rifles

 

Pistol 9mm   Ammo IEDs Vehicles Motorcycles RPGs Cash

 

0

0

0

0

0

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

0

0

0

0

0

 

Analysis:

Swings and roundabouts: The initiative pendulum appears to have tentatively swung back in favour of the security forces by sheer tempo of operations and relentless effort. This might bring minor tactical relief but the enemy will rapidly rebalance and strike again.

It is the opinion of this observer that spectaculars like the Damaturu attack will be few and far between and the most likely counter strike will be a resumption of highway ambushes and attacks on isolated villages. The time taken for the enemy to resume their attacks will indicate their resilience however while this strength and resilience will prevent them from being eradicated, the attacks of the last few weeks culminating in Damaturu indicate a strategic crisis for Boko Haram.

An anti government group in Nigeria and an Islamic fundamentalist/ revivalist one in the North does not struggle for traction or support. There is a general exasperation at all levels with Nigeria’s chaotic governance, thus Boko Haram could have very easily become a credible representative of the grievances of the Northern underclass in the same way MEND represented the Niger Delta issue, eventually (or initially depending on outlook), getting support and sympathy from the regional political elite, culminating in rich rewards for their leadership.

Boko Haram squandered this opportunity by engaging in a fruitless effort to start a religious war by attacking churches, when this failed to generate the necessary response they began focusing more on the security forces, however the nature of Nigerian police and military bases is that they are all deeply embedded in populated areas and the utter ruthlessness and lack of discrimination shown by Boko Haram caused infinitely more local Muslims to be killed than Christians or southerners even when these groups were the overt targets.

The brutal manner in which they maintained control over rural villages they held, taking food, women and money as they saw fit again eroded any popular support they might have enjoyed if they had presented the populace with a credible alternative along the model of the Islamic Courts in Somalia or even the Afghan Taliban, even today in Taliban controlled areas they are cautious to show clear distinctions between themselves and the government, with locals preferring Taliban Courts to Government Courts as they do not take bribes and rule according to Islamic law and local custom.

Having squandered any putative good will, Boko Haram began nihilistic revenge attacks to ‘punish’ civilians for turning against them. Again not necessarily the sanest move for a group hoping to offer an alternative to a discredited system.

By focusing their attacks on the populace and concentrating in particular areas (i.e. near Bama, along the Maiduguri Highways) it gives the security forces a reasonably good idea of where to look for them. By using vehicles which need roads and fuel and leave tracks and need large enough spaces to be parked, they again leave sufficient signatures for the security forces. One can only assume the lack of background mobile and other communications makes intercepting various forms of wireless communications fairly straightforward.

Thus it is reasonable to assume based on these that Boko Haram is under pressure both militarily and strategically and needs spectacular events like the Damaturu attack to resupply stores, boost flagging morale and convince outside allies and sponsors that they are still worth supporting.

It can be seen as a desperate throw of the dice or an evolving tactic of low level attacks whilst husbanding resources for occasional spectaculars. The latter is the most likely course of action. This gives the counter insurgent a rather taxing conundrum in that the basis of virtually all counter insurgency efforts is to use military means to create the conditions by which a social or political solution can be obtained. With no popular base to appease, ideological principle to adopt, political grouping to engage or social ills to correct; then the depressing and unfortunate conclusion is that this is an insurgency for which there is solely a military solution.

Soft power:

The Presidential Committee on Dialogue and the Peaceful Resolution of the Security Challenges in the North presented its report to the President this week. There are several sensible recommendations but the general result is that there has been no negotiation.

This ties into the conclusion of the above analysis; however the answers are not as easy as portrayed. One unpopular, incoherent group has shut down 3 states in the Federation expanded the defence budget and caused mass panic across the North. The effect of the insurgency on normal life, such as trade and agriculture has been noted with food insecurity now being added to the numerous problems of the unfortunate peoples of this region. There are a wide variety of issues and cases that need to be addressed in the North and unfortunately partisan, sectarian and regional politics with the all encompassing corruption conspire to keep them suppressed.

The petitions of detainees relatives highlights the terrible human toll of this conflict not just in dead and maimed but in disappeared and detained. It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens and to enforce the rule of law.

As normalcy returns to these states, then the authorities must begin correcting some of the ills of the early days of the counter insurgency effort. The easiest is to give an account of all those currently detained, their condition and if they are to be charged with any offence. If they are innocent they should be released forthwith, if they are suspects they should be tried.

An accounting of all who have been detained should follow as well as their fate. If there have been excesses then people must be held to account. Those detained should be kept humanely with access given to the Red Cross/ Red Crescent to ensure compliance.

Following these a clear detention policy should be published and detainees given access to legal representation and conditions of detention are brought to an acceptable standard.

GSM services should be phased back into Borno State even if it is only between certain times or in certain areas. The Damaturu attack was launched against a petrol station that had become a meeting point for people wishing to make phone calls. The insurgents abilities to organise and coordinate do not appear to have been hampered and there is a goldmine of Signal intelligence to be collected from the enemy now they have been isolated into sparse rural areas. The suffering of local citizenry, loss of revenue and jobs and the inability to communicate or raise alarms far outweighs any benefits to the insurgents.

Food insecurity is not a problem that will be going away and mass starvation/ malnourishment due to a lack of food or the funds to purchase food is a feasible outcome.

Fighting will extend to the next planting and harvesting season and this needs to be planned for. Staple foods will need to be purchased ahead of time to be released for sale at a fixed price to villagers in the affected areas; agricultural outreach schemes should be planned ready for the cessation of hostilities in order to allow farmers to not just resume production but to do so on a larger and more efficient scale. Even if the fighting ends this year, there will still be severe hardship faced by returning internally displaced persons and refugees.

These are not the bleatings of a woolly minded, bleeding heart but sane counter insurgency policies. Boko Haram might be one of the least popular movement on the planet but there are a plethora of better organised, more intelligent groups around the country, with genuine long standing grievances for whom recourse to arms is a viable option.

Showing that the government cares for and will ameliorate the suffering of the people is a cardinal rule of COIN. The corollary to there being only military solutions to Boko Haram is that this leaves a huge space for civil actors to fundamentally alter the post conflict and stabilisation phase of this campaign.

 

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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. Bookmark the permalink.

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