The principle of deterrence as element of defence strategy

Generally, national defence policy determines how well a nation endures national and international challenges to her national interest.

A strong and integrated national defence policy, one in which all elements of state power are coordinated and harmonised to support national objectives after an analysis of the threats and environment of the policy, is therefore pertinent to the security and development of any nation that desires progress and stability in the world.

The defence and security structure, which exist in Nigeria today reveals the profound defect inherent in the defence thinking in the country.

Nigeria needs a defence policy designed to guarantee national security and threats by deterring external threats and aggression.

While the primary concern is to avoid war through diplomacy and deterrence, the nation will ensure that the Armed Forces posses the capability to successfully defend the Nigerian territory and her people.

For the last decade Nigeria’s fixation on Counter Insurgency have led successive administrations to cancelling planned procurement programs in favour of platforms suitable for low intensity urban guerrilla warfare, thereby, ironically, further compromising Nigeria’s security, without the corresponding transformation in the material condition of the people or even technological and industrial development of the country. All in the name of fighting terrorism.

The recent $600 million deal for 12 Super Tucano aircrafts and millions more for 10 Super Mushank trainers epitomizes Nigeria’s strategic blunder

This has blinded Nigeria’s leaders to the fact that an existential threat to Nigeria still exists. The existential threat Nigeria faces will come from another direction. Our narrow focus results from a political class that regularly reanimate and politicize the Boko Haram insurgency to score political points, perpetuating a public addiction to the Boko Haram melodrama.

If that weren’t sufficiently distracting, the Buhari administration plunged into foolish idea of supporting Morocco’s entry into ECOWAS, a country physically, politically, and ethnically not eligible to join the regional bloc.

Presently, Nigeria could be ranked among countries with lowest national defence capability in the world i kid ye not. The reasons are simple to establish.

The basic ingredients, which make states independent, are absent. States with well-built defence capability have a well-built economic, industrial and technological base. This supports the defence infrastructure like the armed forces and arms industries.

West Africa, not Borno state, not the Sambisa, is where our geopolitical attention should be focused. And for that region, we need a “security industrial complex” far less than geopolitical vision and a meaningful military presence in.

There is a disturbing gap between the Nigerian governments view of France and that of its Francophone vassals, Nigeria’s next door neighbors. Nigeria should be terrified by the military buildup by France and the United States, its expansion and interference in ECOWAS and a series of alarming incursions into Nigerian territory.

But this is by design. We cannot ignore the vested interests driving and distorting our geopolitical priorities. Nigeria still has territorial disputes, especially in the Lake Chad basin.

The stakes in these disputes include deposits of oil and access to fresh water in the Nigerian administered islands..

The effect of this, is a serious and gross threat mis-analysis which breeds severe consequences for Nigeria’s national security as deterrence is lost.

The lack of a cohesive defence policy in itself more damaging to a nation’s natural security than having an underequiped military can.

Nigeria’s political class refuses to properly articulated how Nigeria will attain the independent capacity for deterrence and its employment as a principle of national defence.

It is unwise to assume that the existing military infrastructure provides sufficient deterrence against potential aggressors. Now armed to the teeth, Nigeria’s Francophone neighbors brazenly presses territorial claims against Nigeria, from the Bakassi islands and fisheries to fresh water and prospective oil deposits in the shrinking Lake Chad basin.

Yet Nigeria still does exhibit any remarkable commitment towards rebuilding her conventional capability. In fact, Nigeria has lost the initiative, as neighbouring countries are modernizing at a faster pace…..s

For a country that cannot generate sufficient technological, industrial or economic output to support modern military, it is pointless to talk of force projection, rapid mobilization or even co-operation with allieson an equal basis. Military technology… has been an important means of changing the world balance of power.

It is imperative for the Nigerian government to reorient its spending to revitalize our air force and navy and reestablish an effective air and naval presence in the region to deter more adventurism in the now crowded neighbourhood.
We need a strategy of offshore balance in West Africa, but must also start coming to grips to the spectre of a possible hegemonic threat gathering in our very own backyard. We need to look in the that direction.
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