NORTHERN NIGERIA INTERNAL SECURITY SITREP- Week Ending 14 June 2014

Situation Friendly Forces

11 June:

  • Media reports indicate that soldiers operational allowance will be increased from the current N1,500.00 per day to an undisclosed amount. Of the Operational allowance N500.00 goes to the unit for rations and N1,000.00 to the soldier
  • Commander 23 Armoured Brigade, Brig. Gen Nicholas ROGERS advised viewing centres in ADAMAWA and YOLA States to shut down during the World Cup

Situation Enemy Forces

08 June:

  • A female suicide bomber mounted on a motorcycle detonated her device outside 301 Battalion Barracks in GOMBE, GOMBE State around 11.30am killing herself and a soldier who was trying to search her. One other soldier was wounded
  • Fulani herdsmen and Tiv villagers clashed in ANANUM Village, DONGA LGA, TARABA State, 7 people were killed and 2 injured.
  • Gunmen abducted 20 Fulani women and 3 young men from nomadic settlements BAKIN KOGI, RUGAR HARDO and GARKIN FULANI, CHIBOK LGA, BORNO State. The abductors allegedly demanded ransom in the form of cows

09 June:

  • Approximately 350-400 gunmen mounted in approximately 35 APCs and pickup trucks and dozens of motorcycles counter attacked BIITA and IZGHE Villages, GWOZA LGA, BORNO State with small arms, RPGs following their defeats over the weekend. Troops withdrew from the area. Villagers from ATTAGARA, AMUDA, AGAPALAWA, ASHGASHIYA, NGOSHE and CHIKEDEH have reportedly taken refuge in the MANDARA Mountains
  • Gunmen attacked TOHYA and WUROJENE Villages, BORNO State with small arms and petrol bombs around 7.00pm, killing 5 people, burning buildings and stealing food.
  • Youths shot cows belonging to Fulani herdsmen in JOL Village, RIYOM LGA, PLATEAU State killing 60 and injuring 30 of the cattle.
  • Gunmen attacked DAMPAR, IBI LGA, TARABA State with small arms at approximately 8.00am killing13 people and injuring 32. 29 houses were reported burnt.

11 June:

  • Gunmen attacked TANJOL and TASHEK, PLATEAU state killing 8 people and burning down a church
  • Nomadic gunmen attacked RIM and JOL Villages, RIYOM LGA, PLATEAU State at around 1.30am killing 5 civilians and 6 members of the Special Task Force

12 June:

  • Gunmen attacked the Divisional Police Station in SUMAILA, SUMAILA LGA, xxx State

Situation External Forces

09 June:

  • The EU has declared Boko Haram a terrorist organisation

10 June:

  • TURKEY has added Boko Haram to a list of people, institution and organisations linked to al Qaeda

12 June:

  • At the London Ministerial Meeting on Security in Nigeria and West Africa the decision to set up a Regional Intelligence Fusion Unit- the External Intelligence Response Unit (EIRU) with NIGERIA, UK, US, FRANCE, BENIN, CAMEROUN, CHAD and NIGER was finalised, the framework was established in ABUJA in May and an MoU signed in YAOUNDE. US Secretary of State John KERRY, UK Foreign Secretary William HAGUE and others were in attendance

13 June:

  • A high ranking delegation from the Nigerian military met Sri Lanka military officials to discuss COIN tactics.
  • NIGERIA denied Australian Government claims that they had offered SF assistance

 

Insurgent Incidents IED Vehicle IED Suicide IED Small Arms Small arms+IED Other wpns Theft Kidnapping Foreign attacks
1 0 1 7 1 0 0 1 2

 

Analysis:

For reasons best known to themselves, the enemy has decided to concentrate in Gwoza and the foothills of the Mandara Mountains, staking claim through a ruthless campaign of village attacks and ambushes.

There might be deeper significance to this action but this piece will focus on the operational perspective.

This is a fairly curious course of action. A guerrilla’s biggest asset is their flexibility and mobility, their ability to move more quickly than conventional forces, to pick and choose their battleground and attack conventional forces at their weakest points.

Conventional forces are generally constrained by having to defend base areas, friendly population centres, supply lines and all the other paraphernalia off a state and its standing forces.

By concentrating so strongly in this area the insurgents forfeit a lot of the advantages they gain but at the same time (depending on their strengths) could stand to gain

Advantages:

Population: The insurgents will take control of a population, farming land villages. This population can be exploited for food, labour, conscripts, sex slaves and money. The presence of this population also constrains friendly options

Caches: the enemy can store food, fuel, livestock, weapons and other types of supplies in this area. This gives the insurgents the ability to sustain themselves without external assistance, thus they can remain hidden in this area without having to emerge to raid villages. Rather than relying on the sheer vastness of the Area of Operations (AO) and luck to prevent friendly forces from discovering their weapons caches, they can secure them by force.

Killing area: the swamps, caves, hills and forests of Gwoza and the Mandara Mountains are perfect ground for a small light mobile force fighting against a road bound, heavy conventional force. The rough terrain means that what few roads there are will be easy to mine with IEDs or lay ambushes on. The broken swamps, hills and caves provide perfect cover for a few men to lay ambushes and hold, up delay or even destroy a superior force. As the Germans in WW22 discovered in Yugoslavia a determined force in a defined area can create so suck in a huge amount of troops for very little benefit

Disadvantages:

Population: Whenever the Taliban settle in an area in Afghanistan they generally set up patrols, checkpoints and courts, chasing away bandits and arbitrating disputes. It is a generally accepted fact amongst the Afghan population that Taliban courts are cheaper, quicker and (by Afghan standards) fairer than government courts, thus they had a modicum of popularity. Boko Harams public outreach campaign consists of taxing villages, kidnapping young men as forced conscripts and labourers, kidnapping young women as camp followers/ sex slaves , stealing food and livestock and then burning what’s left. Understandably most people have left rather than endure this thus by their very own actions Boko Haram has driven away the population that could have sustained and shielded them, thus negating one of the key advantages of controlling territory.

Caches: the benefit of widely dispersed weapons, food and fuel caches is that it would take extremely good patrol or detective work, betrayal or luck for them to be discovered. By concentrating supplies in a defined area, it greatly reduces the work that I needed to find enemy caches. Searching 70 square kilometres is infinitely easier than 70,000 square kilometres, you can be more thorough and repeat more often.

Killing area: For planning purposes one always aims for a 3 to 1 advantage against a fixed enemy. Boko Harm has achieved fairly creditable success by concentrating forces for its attacks which have immediate numerical and fire superiority and attacking bases or units. By taking territory, Boko Haram loses that advantage. They are now fixed to an area and can easily be outnumbered and outgunned by a force with air superiority, artillery, armour and more

If Boko Haram to actually intend to use this area as a base of operations, then strangely enough in the opinion of this observer, this is not a bad thing. In fact their over confidence that leads Boko haram too issue such challenges can be the source of their undoing.

To defend it they will probably plant a large number of IEDs in and around entry points, roads, vulnerable points and other vital ground and key terrain.

A network of small mobile outposts with men on motorcycles will be used to provide early warning with the larger forces and technicals hidden deep in the woods and hills.

They will most likely use it as a staging area for future attacks, to make IEDs, stockpile supplies bought in or loot obtained from raids. Due to their interior lines they will be able to react to any incursion with massive strength. Their raiding parties will be able to keep their erstwhile slave trade going and maintain attacks on the military and defenceless villages.

It is apparent that Boko Haram wishes to goad the military into a fight on this terrain. Having picked the battlefield they will wish to fight a battle according to their strengths.

The question of course is whether the risks outweigh the advantages. The worst possible scenario for Boko Haram would be to be allowed to settle and consolidate. Friendly forces could allow them to build up strength while surrounding them with outposts and gradually shaping the battlespace, using the ISTAR assets currently in country for the #Bringbackourgirls effort to build up an intelligence picture of the area. Once Boko Haram is unable to escape they will be forced to fight their way out, thus instead of drawing friendly forces into a battle of attrition on ground of their choosing, they will be forced to concentrate and launch attacks against fixed positions. If these positions are adequately fortified, supplied and supported by fire, these battles could be killing grounds for Boko Haram.

A push by conventional forces into the area despite whatever nasty surprises would also upset Boko Harams plans, adequate counter IED drills will slow forces down but once good preparation and training could produce a slow methodical advance that pushes Boko Haram until they are forced to break cover where they can be destroyed from the air

Of course all of this depends on good preparation and ground work. It would also be positive to prepare IDP camps for those fleeing their villages.

It might seem counter intuitive (and very ruthless to the unfortunate inhabitants) to actually more or less concede territory to an enemy, but in this case a positive end could emerge and in this case one can finally identify where the enemy is in order to strike them.

 

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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, Defence, Nigeria Defence, Nigeria Strategy, Peace support, Peacekeeping, Stabilisation, Terrorism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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