OP RESTORE ORDER SITREP- Week Ending 21 December 2013

Situation Friendly Forces:

18 December: the Senate held a 6 hour closed door session with the Service Chiefs and Heads of Agencies reviewing emergency rule in ADAMAWA, BORNO and YOBE States. Attendees were Admiral Sa’ad IBRAHIM (Chief of Defence Staff), Lt. Gen Azubuike IHEJIRIKA (Chief of Army Staff), Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba (Chief of Naval Staff), Air Vice Marshall Alex BADEH (Chief of Air Staff), Mohammed ABUBAKAR (Inspector General of Police) and Ita EKPEYONG (Director General of the DSS)

20 December: Kabiru UMAR (aka Kabiru SOKOTO) the convicted mastermind of the 2011 Christmas Day bombing at St Theresa’s Roman Catholic Church, MADALLA has been sentenced to life imprisonment at the Federal High Court, ABUJA. The convicted terrorist was described as ‘having no remorse’ and a ‘pathological liar’ for his claim that he could not understand English and thus required an interpreter despite having 4 Credits in WAEC and having previously been employed as a Laboratory Technician. He was also convicted of attacks in MABIRA. The attack killed 44 and wounded 50

21 December: Security forces supported by aircraft in hot pursuit of the insurgents fleeing BAMA have surrounded ABBARAM where the escaping insurgents have allegedly holed up with their hostages. Reinforcements are moving in from MAIDUGURI

Situation Enemy Forces:

18 December: Approximately 20-30 unknown gunmen attacked the bureau de change market in MUBI, ADAMAWA State causing at least 10 casualties. Patrolling soldiers from Special Operations Btn, stationed in the town pursued the assailants killing 13. An unknown number of AK47s and unknown amount of stolen money was recovered

20 December:

  • At 3.00am hundreds of insurgents mounted in vehicles armed with rifles, RPG’s, AA weapons and IED’s attacked 202 Tank Battalion at Kur Mohammed Barracks in BAMA. The insurgents infiltrated through BANKI, CAMEROUN. Aircraft deployed at 6.00am, with fighting around th base ending an hour later. Reinforcements have been sent to secure the town and base following the attack. The insurgents had apparently infiltrated the area on Thursday 19th hiding along the road to GULUMBA Town, where they were spotted by locals allowing troops to prepare their defences accordingly however the insurgents were able to penetrate the base and burn several buildings and reportedly abduct an unknown number of women and children (members of soldier’s families living at the barracks). Unconfirmed casualty figures indicate the enemy lost 18 vehicles and 100. Friendly casualties were reportedly 13 soldiers dead and 18 civilians
  • President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Goodluck JONATHAN met with the service Chiefs and Inspector General of Police over the BAMA attack.
  • The Nigerian Government has requested that CAMEROUN take steps to eradicate insurgent bases on their territory

Situation External Forces:

16 December: the UN Humanitarian Agency (OCHA) states that 1,200 people have been killed by Boko Haram since 14 May 2013.

18 December: US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power met with the President and National Security Adviser in ABUJA and advised the proposed North East Development Plan be fast tracked and expressed concern over ‘inhumane practices’ by the security forces

Statistics

Table 1 Casualties

 

Killed

Wounded

Missing/ Detained

NPF/DSS

??

0

??

Military

13??

??

??

Total NSF

0

0

??

Vigilantes

0

0

0

Insurgents

113??

??

Male:  

??

Female:

??

Civilian

18??

??

??  

 

Table 4 Insurgent incidents

Insurgent Incidents

 

IED

Vehicle IED

Suicide IED

Small Arms

Small arms+IED

Other wpns

Theft

Kidnapping

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

0

 

Analysis:

Law and Order: the trial and conviction of the terrorist Kabiru Umar took 6 months, the fastest criminal case in Nigerian legal history. This is an excellent step and needs to be commended and replicated.

The importance of these trials are that they reinforce the principle of the supremacy of the state and constitutional rule of law, despite the conviction it presents Boko Haram members with an alternative to death and deprivation in the bush. The knowledge that you can get a speedy and fair trial and live out the rest of your life (albeit in prison) could incentivise quite a few to reconsider martyrdom. Nigerians are fundamentally optimistic people and where there is life there is hope.

The other interesting fact to come out of this incident are Boko Harams court room tactics. All the accused thus far have claimed not to understand English and offered no significant defence such as alibis etc. This could be a deliberate statement of contempt for a system they do not subscribe to (i.e.’ I do not understand your boko language’ or ‘I refuse to answer to your boko court’!) or else it is a deliberate delaying tactic to try and drag the trials out as long as possible. So far there have been just 3 trials however if there are dozens going through the system requiring multiple translators, it is not only a drain on resource but makes the trials longer allowing misinterpretations etc, which defence lawyers can use to call for a mistrial.

Several dozen interpreters should be brought onto the books and prepared for future cases. We look forward to more trials and convictions.

Boko Haram’s Dry Season Offensives: a pattern is beginning to form for Boko Haram’s strategy during this period. Having evolved from an urban cell based terrorist group with a rural component to a rural guerrilla force, their tactics have changed from urban IED attacks, small arms attacks, robberies in urban and peri urban areas and assassinations to pinprick attacks against small isolated targets in rural areas such as vehicles on the highways, villages, checkpoints combined with massed attacks against specific targets.

This evolution is rational and logical. The enemy has adapted to conditions, identified their strengths and capabilities as well as gaps in the strengths and capabilities of the security forces. What is interesting is that the enemy has been able to recruit and train enough men and sustain this effort, using funds from the earlier robberies, taxes on fuel and commodities smugglers, ransom payments (both local and foreign victims) permitting them to purchase weaponry and expertise. Combined with captured vehicles and weapons, captured food and forcibly impressed abductees the enemy has been able to maintain a decent operational tempo.

While initially shocking this strategy has a limited shelf life, in reality it is quite wasteful as the security forces responses, tactics and procedures will improve and the enemy risks putting following their worst course of action which is concentrating, men and vehicles where they can be fixed and destroyed by Nigerian firepower. The enemy tactics have been to attack early morning, allowing them to operate during the hours of darkness and withdraw early in the morning before aircraft can be deployed.

This is what appears to have happened at Bama, with the enemy launching a successful attack, (despite friendly forces being forewarned) penetrating the base long enough to take hostages but then being fixed and attacked by aircraft and then harassed during their withdrawal.

As friendly tactics improve we will see spoiling attacks against Boko Haram in their forming up points and as exasperation with Cameroun grows hot pursuits across the border.

It is thus hoped that Boko Haram will continue this tactic of massed attacks against fixed positions, whatever the shock value, they lose men and materiel that they have to find ways to replace.

The enemies best course of action are the checkpoints and raids on isolated villages, although again with time the roads will be secured by a series of permanent checkpoints and patrols and the villages by vigilante detachments.

Hopefully the Nigerian Army will learn from this and evacuate all family members from combat bases and the siege at Abbaram will not become Nigeria’s Beslan.

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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
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