The recent cowardly attack by the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram in Maiduguri is proof the Nigerian army is tactically illiterate, and unfortunately as has been norm , 15 Nigerians payed the ultimate price for the military’s incompetence.
Now, first of all suicide attacks can never be prevented. Once terrorism starts it never really ends, because there are an immeasurable amount of soft targets to choose from. But in this case the Nigerian army deserves criticism.
The Sambisa forest is a good 120 miles from Maiduguri. How on earth could Boko Haram freely approach Maiduguri, the headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division !!, attack and freely extricate themselves with uncanny confidence.
They did not fear interception and ambush on the way in. They did not fear pursuit or encirclement on they way out. Clearly Boko Haram seems to have the same level of control of the countryside in Borno state as the Nigerian army. How did the attackers escape? Where was the newly activated Army Aviation?
Front the onset Nigerian ground forces have depended on the sister service for close air support, strafing, surveillance etc. But the repeated (and avoidable) loss of soldiers who went into combat promised air support but instead got ambushed, frayed the relationship, with Army officers making vocal complaints that the Air Force is not pulling its weight.
Troops on the ground say the Air Force has been out of touch, fulfilling only half of their requests that ground commanders say are needed to route and interdict retreating Boko Haram and called for the establishment of an air arm.
The Air Force refuted these claims and complained that the service has limited numbers of aircrafts and remotely piloted attack drones, so priorities for assigning them must be set by senior commanders at HQ. The President showed keen interest in Army initiative, and despite objections by the Air Force, the Nigerian Army fought its way into Attack Aviation, much to the frustration of the embattled Air Force leaders,
The Army Aviation Unit became fully operational in May 2017, with the stated mission of locating and attacking insurgents in battles with ground forces. Against this backdrop its incredible the Jihadi group could carry out such an attack and escape.
The Nigerian army should have obliterated Boko Haram by now. The army has nearly 200,000 men in active duty plus 53,000 in reserve. You don’t even need a fraction of this size to wipe out Boko Haram.
Nigeria has at least 4 Active Special Forces Expeditionary Units, that could be assigned the task. Locate enemy positions using Nigeria’s vast fleet of reconnaissance assets of all kinds. Assigned three separate units to attack from three fronts in a pincer, each unit backed by attack helicopters and Air Force Drones.
If need be the CH-3H Rainbow UCAV could be deployed. Its incredible the arrays of drones available to the Nigerian military. To put things into perspective, Russia still has no armed unmanned aircraft systems, and thus lacks a real-time recon-strike option for its drone platforms. Nigeria has Four in service.
It’s a very simple Mission : find, fix and destroy Boko Haram to the last man, woman, and child, by any means deemed, as necessary by the Commander on the Ground. With the regular army, para-military and air force as backup force, the assault Task Force could complete the mission in a week. Perhaps Nigeria should learn from the Chadians on how to use a small but highly mobile force to devastating effect using multiple front pincer attacks.