War on insurgency: Operational blunders, poor supplies causing military losses

Operational blunders, obsolete weapons and under-stocked armouries are some of the major reasons behind the military’s apparent inability to end the Boko Haram insurgency, Defence sources told Daily Trust.

The military had recorded huge losses of personnel last month in its battle against insurgents in Borno and Yobe states.
Authorities denied some of the reported losses, but sources said the armed forces routinely downplay their own casualties and overstate their gains in the insurgency war.
A Defence source told Daily Trust: “Almost all the units in the eye of the storm (Borno, Yobe, among others) have under-stocked armouries.”
Other sources said the lasttime the military authorities embarked on large-scale weapons acquisition was many years ago, in spite of the more than 1 trillion budgeted for security operations since 2012.
The killing of an officer and dozens of soldiers under his command around Gubio, Borno State, on September 13 by Boko Haram insurgents was attributed to these factors.
Military sources attributed the mass casualty to an “operational blunder.”
Daily Trust gathered that soldiers involved in that operation were issued inadequate ammunition.
“When they were ambushed and came under heavy fire from the insurgents, the soldiers ran out of ammo and so many of them were either killed or seriously injured,” one of our sources said. 
Another cause of the massive losses, according to sources, was the sudden cancelation of an aerial campaign without prompt communication to the troops that had already advanced.
“This single act led to the massacre of our troops,” a source said, attributing the outcome to faulty communication between the Air Force and Army. 
The Nigerian Army, however, denied allegations that Boko Haram insurgents operating mostly in the Northeast have superior weaponry.
Spokesman Brigadier-General Ibrahim Attahiru told Daily Trust that the insurgents are not in any way better armed than the Nigerian Army.
“The Nigerian Army is continually re-strategising to overcome the challenges and there has been massive government support in this regard,” he added.
Brigadier-General Attahiru also nixed the alleged lack of coordination between the Army and Air Force: “The training of the armed forces has been on joint-service basis, aimed at achieving inter-operability when duty calls.”
Speaking to Daily Trust by telephone, former Kano State Military Administrator, retired Colonel Aminu Isa Kontagora, said fighting insurgency is demanding and “difficult because no clear-cut battle is drawn.”
He added that it is extremely demanding on logistics and personnel.
“If the nation and the people don’t give full support to the operation, there are bound to be problems,” Kontagora said, adding that assessing military operations from the outside is also not easy.
When asked to comment on information that military armouries are under-stocked, Kontagora said: “I don’t think it is an issue that needs to be publicised,” adding that aside military action, political will is needed to end the insurgency.
“Youth employment, the dialogue committee, et cetera, are all in place to achieve that. There is need to dismantle the reservoir of youth where the insurgents use for their recruitment,” he said.
‘Porous borders’
Meanwhile, military authorities have said influx of illegal aliens, arms, ammunition and improvised explosive device (IED) materials into Nigeria through porous borders is a challenge to the fight against terrorism.
In the current edition of the Nigerian Defence Magazine, the military also identified the use of animals like camels, donkeys and cows to traffic small, light and collapsible arms into the country as another challenge.
The magazine, a publication of the Defence Headquarters, said that the arms were being brought into the nation through some of its porous borders.
It said that most of such arms came to the Boko Haram insurgents through Libyan and Malian rebels, desperate to exchange arms for money.
“This has added to the overwhelming challenge of the influx of illegal aliens, arms, ammunition and sophisticated IED materials into the country, and efficient and effective fight against terrorism,” the publication said, quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
It also said that the waterways and sea ports in the South provided another means through which those arms were trafficked to the country via the ships, speed boats and canoes through the creeks.
It described as “disheartening and unfortunate” the means by which “merchants of death” trafficked small weapons, to beat security agencies at the borders.
“The fact that the weapons are small, light and collapsible makes them easy to be concealed and moved on camels and donkeys’ back in specially crafted skin or thatched bags,” it said.
It said that some merchants of cows and grains in the region hid the arms and ammunition in empty fuel tankers, under vehicle engines and bags of grains and smuggled them in.
“The grains are transported in large number via trucks, trailers, lorries and old model pick up vans and jeeps with little attention given to them by security agents.
“The use of tricycles, camels, donkeys and cows moving in flocks to deceive, hide and conveniently traffic arms in some parts of the North are ways hitherto unknown,” it said.
It, however, said that the Joint Task Force (JTF) in the region had since uncovered those means and had taken measures to contain them. The magazine called for adequate deployment of personnel and technology in the borders to man, monitor and check the movement of illegal persons, goods and arms into the country.
“Security agencies at the borders and seaports have complained of the porosity of the nation’s border and water ways.
“The problem of porous borders is compounded by inadequate personnel, patrol vehicles, surveillance helicopter and equipment.
“Consequently, most of the borders are leaky and this makes effective control of intruders, smugglers and merchants of deaths, a mirage,” it said.



Dailytimes
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