Part II : Evolution of the Nigerian armed forces.

Mobility

Faced with a formidable adversary the Nigerian army has learned that moving troops fast across the battlefield is very important, and being able to get troops into an area safely with some form of fire support is very key. To this end the army has invested in a formidable fleet of armoured Personnel Carriers and Infantry Fighting Vehicles.

BIGFOOT MRAP
A Column of Infantry Fighting Vehicles
Men of the 7th Infantry Division cooling from the baking heat in the Sambisa forest during combat operations.
A soldier stands in between two CAIMAN Mraps.
Nigerian army BTR-4 Infany Fighting Vehicle.

 

Domestic built MRAP from Proforce.
BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
Drivers hatch of a BTR-2 IFV.

INFANTRY

Perhaps the most visible evolution of the Nigerian military is in its infantry. The power of the infantry is fundamental to Nigeria’s power as a military force. As recently as 6 years ago an unsophisticated enemy equipped with two way radios, the AK-47 and the RPG-7 could engage and threaten Nigerian infantry in fights that last hours, sometimes days. indeed at a point in time the bulk of Boko Haram’s heavy weapons came from the Nigerian army, weapons abandoned by fleeing soldiers unable to match the heavy firepower of Boko Haram.

A series if well publicised embarrassing incidents of hundreds of Nigerian soldiers fleeing into neighboring Cameroon, and the subsequent loss of territory was all it took for President Goodluck Jonathan to lose the 2015 election to Muhammadu Buhari, the Commamder who drove the invading Chadian army out of Nigeria. Muhammadu Buhari was elected largely in a security mandate, and boy did he deliver !!

The new administration realised that what the Nigerian infantry need is a standardized assault rifle to all infantry unit. The previous administration had procured 2,000 units of the Beryl assault rifle from Poland for Elite Special Forces. The new administration however gave the go ahead to equip the entirety of the Nigerian army with the Beryl assault rifle. Special Forces units were equipped with the equally effective Tavor assault rifle.

The decision to equip an army as large as the Nigerian army with powerful lethal weapons systems was a controversial one, given the state of the Nigerian economy. Nigeria had good weapons in the inventory, but far from enough to make any strategic sense. And yes, Nigeria was in a recession, its worst in 25 years. But the tradeoff is the hour-long lead-bullet on concrete wall battle that we see today instead of the “hey, the dude shooting at us is behind that wall….OK, done”.

Additionally the army was beginning to field high powered weapons like the Carl Gustav recoilless rifle to light infantry companies in match Boko Haram’s inexhaustible supply of the RPG-7.

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Carl Gustav recoiless rifle.

The result speaks for itself. Today the Nigerian army is unmatched in its ability to identify, engage and destroy the enemy with dispatch.

Nigerian Infantry 8 years ago.

Nigerian Infantry today.

Nigerian army Special Forces 2012

Nigerian Special Forces today

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