Rejuvenating Military Strategies to Combat Terrorism
By Lt. General Tukuru Buratai
(Being an Opening Address at Quarterly Conference at Jaji, Kaduna)
I welcome you to Jaji, the Home of the Infantry Corps for this unique COAS First Quarter Conference 2019, which is being held simultaneously with the Combat Arms Training (CAT) Week. The choice of Jaji as the venue for this conference is for many reasons. Firstly, it affords officers of the Infantry Corps, who just concluded their reunion to seamlessly migrate to the COAS First Quarter Conference without having to embark on another journey. Secondly, it offers us the opportunity to see the level of transformation of NA training institutions in the past 4 years, with Jaji as an example. This transformed citadel of military training provides the serene environment needed for us to brainstorm and appraise our performance in the First Quarter 2019. We will also in the course of this conference, deliberate on key issues that will positively prepare and project us into the Second Quarter of 2019 with a view to further consolidate our efforts towards achieving my vision: “to have a professionally responsive Nigerian Army in the discharge of its constitutional roles”. I appreciate the combined efforts of the Principal Staff Officers and other staff officers at Army Headquarters, the Infantry Corps and Centre and HQ 1 Div for the painstaking coordination and arrangements put in place to have a successful conference.
It is gratifying to note that the NA within the First Quarter 2019 has performed creditably well starting with the seizing of initiatives and turning the battle momentum against the Boko Haram terrorists in the NE and rounding up with the professional manner with which the NA supported the civil authorities, as part of our constitutional role, to ensure the successful conduct of the 2019 General Elections. The successful conduct of Ex EGWU EKE III and OP SAFE CONDUCT 2019 in support of the Nigeria Police and civil authorities has contributed to strengthen the Nation’s democracy considering the wide acceptability and credibility of the elections as espoused by key nations of the world, civil society organizations as well as local and international observers and monitors. Despite reports of some alleged cases of infractions by some personnel, which are being investigated by a high level committee, I am elated with the encomiums and accolades showered on the NA for the high level of professionalism exhibited in the conduct of the elections. I say well done to each and every one of you.
I must also acknowledge the resilience and doggedness of our troops in reversing the ugly trends that almost marred our concerted efforts in the North East. As you are all aware, Boko Haram has aligned with the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) to make Northern Borno and the general area of the Lake Chad Basin an enclave straddling the 4 countries in the region.
Thus, the fight requires a combine holistic approach by the countries of the Lake Chad Commission to ensure the total defeat of both BHT and ISWAP. That is why Operation YANCIN TAFKI was launched to effectively ensure the total destruction of the insurgents hibernating and operating from the ‘tumbuns’ with a view to crippling their ability and capability to wage any form of war. The operational successes recorded in this First Quarter 2019 in this fight have further underscored the NA’s resolve to defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
There is no doubt that we are engaged in asymmetric operations against terrorists side by side with the resurgence of kidnapping and armed banditry in the North West as well as the North Central Zones of our country. The strategy we used in the past to address such ugly trends in the South East and the South South regions must therefore be rejuvenated with new “out of the box” ideas to address the current security challenges. This has necessitated the launching of OP HARBIN KUNAMA III. The concept of this operation will require the combat arms as well as all combat support and combat support services working in synergy with other security agencies, the traditional institutions and other stakeholders to get rid of criminal elements. We must ensure information flow that will be converted into actionable and timely intelligence for troops to take proactive measures and to support and drive targeted operations. It is important that commanders in the field relate with the society and other security agencies in their efforts to bring the high rate of kidnapping, acts of banditry and attacks on villages leading to killings in Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna and Katsina States to an end. There must be sustained synergy, cooperation and collaboration with all stakeholders in these endeavours. At this point, I will seize this opportunity to caution the media and the general public not to glorify bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers and ethnic militias to the extent that they are seen as stronger than the military and other security agencies. The criminals and bandits are only as strong as the society paints or view them and further propagated by the media. It is important to state that information and intelligence flows from the people and indeed from the press and the public. Such criminal activities are intelligence based and the people, are in this regard to provide timely information and clear identifications of the perpetrators. Undue publicity and praise singing of the bandits and other criminal elements would only motivate them to commit more criminal acts at the detriment of the society. Therefore, the press, the general public, security analysts and public commentators are advised to show more maturity and due diligence in this collective effort of ridding the country of criminals and criminalities.
At the same time, to effectively succeed in the conduct of operations, we must embark on realistic and effective training and establish operational units in line with NA ORBAT 2016. I am happy to observe that in line with my training directives for Year 2019, formations and units have commenced important activities such as the annual range classification, corporal and below competition and training of standby forces for emergency deployment for local operations and Peace Support Operations. In the area of capacity building, we have sponsored several senior and junior officers on overseas courses, seminars and workshops. We partnered with the Harvard Kennedy School, USA to train 30 senior officers on leadership and strategic management at the NARC Abuja.
Similarly, in order to develop the intellectual capacity of our officers, we initiated the COAS’ Lectures Series which are held twice every month at the NARC. This is aimed at bringing intellectuals, academia, captains of industries and other notable individuals to speak on contemporary issues that will help build the intellectual capacity of personnel. In the area of field training, we sponsored a platoon of troops to Burkina Faso for Ex FLINTLOCK and 2 officers and 8 SNCOs for AFINDEX in India. I have also approved the conduct of a one week Doctrinal and Leadership Seminar for Junior Leaders at HQ TRADOC NA. This is an innovative training for junior leadership as they would be tested in a 2-sided manual war gaming exercise aimed at preparing them for operations. These and many more are efforts put in place to have professionally trained troops. To ensure troops are no longer battle fatigued, I have directed that fresh troops be injected into the theatre of operations while overstayed personnel are gradually being de-inducted.
We have operationalized some new commands, schools, brigades, battalions and FOBs. Some of them are the NA Cyber Warfare School Giri, 63 Bde Asaba, 98 Bn Birnin Gwari, NA Special Forces Logistics Base Giri and FOB Gembu. I have directed that the FOB Ode Ekiti be made operational also and we now have 19 Bde and its units to operate deep into the insurgents’ hideouts in Northern Borno and the Lake Chad region. We have also established a Centre for Counter Terrorism under the Nigerian Army University Biu essentially as a hub for comprehensive research on counter terrorism. More establishments and units will come on stream in the nearest future.
The NA within the First Quarter 2019 has established the NAVMC with a view to developing our capability to produce our own vehicles, repair and carryout maintenance. I am glad to note that within the First Quarter 2019, the company has made significant repairs of unserviceable equipment in support of OP LAFIYA DOLE. The company is also on the verge of delivering own made operational vehicles. This shows that it is only a matter of time before our military industrial complex takes a firm root in line with Mr President’s directives. We have also established the Nigerian Army Land Forces Simulation Centre. The DG and some officers have travelled to selected mentor countries to see what is obtainable with a view to creating a model. When fully established, it will cater for all forms of simulations as a force multiplier for our training efforts and will reduce cost of training to a minimum. Furthermore, in a bid to promote information technology and in line with standard best practices, the NA has approved the use of a secure military unified communication system called the NA Secured Information Platform (NASIP). The NASIP platform is designed to offer fast access, secure and timely delivery of voice, video and data communication links in real time. NASIP is almost due for launching but at the moment all mails and correspondences to the COAS’ Office are sent through the upgraded NAWANI platform and my directives are also communicated via the same medium. This has further enhanced speed of transmission of directives and drastically reduced the circulation of large volumes of papers. I therefore urge you all to key into this innovation immediately.
An army needs logistics support to function optimally. To this effect, Mr President has intervened promptly by authorising concerted efforts through a government to government procurement policy to obtain critical platforms needed for our operations. This package, which is almost due for delivery will also come with technical training content and maintenance support. Similarly, to ensure adequate logistics support for our operations in the North East, we have established a new logistic base in Monguno, procured vehicles, motorcycles, ballistic helmets, fragmentation jackets, boots, clothing and other general stores in support of our operations.
Let me reiterate at this juncture, that we remain very passionate about the welfare of our troops. I strongly believe that a well-motivated army is the bastion of military victory. In this conviction, I have pursued vigorously the construction, renovation, rehabilitation and indeed the development of new structures for both officers and soldiers’ living quarters nationwide. I have also within the period under review directed the payment of the new RCA, operations and uniform allowances as approved by Mr President. The Nigerian Army University Biu is fast developing in terms of academics and infrastructure. I have directed that the NA constituency must be given preference in admission and job opportunities in the university. Similarly, the NAWLG has established and incorporated several welfare related companies that would be beneficial to personnel and their families. These include the Nigerian Army Farms and Ranches Ltd, the International Livestock Market at Giri Abuja, NAWLG/Gasland Plant at Mambilla Barracks Abuja, Agent Banking in NA Barracks, Super Green Security Limited and the launching of the Micro Distribution Centres of Gas Penetration Plants in collaboration with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. The plan is to replicate these laudable efforts nationwide. With these comprehensive welfare packages in place, I have no doubt that troops of the NA will be motivated to give their best in the discharge of their constitutional responsibilities.
Having mentioned some of the things achieved within the First Quarter 2019, it is important for us during this conference to appraise our successes and also shortcomings with a view to preparing for the Second Quarter of 2019. It is my desire to see the NA well prepared to face the contemporary security challenges ahead. On this premise, I welcome the theme for this year’s CAT Week, which is “Leveraging Land Power for Current and Future Warfare: The Utility of the Combat Arms”. I am convinced the various briefs and lectures programmed as well as the discussion and interactive sessions that will follow will proffer workable solutions that would address the emerging security challenges and position the NA for more effective service delivery towards providing secure environment for peace and unity in Nigeria. To achieve this, commanders at all levels must be more proactive in their information gathering efforts and in processing the information into credible intelligence for operations. Commanders must also be innovative and prudent in the management of resources to ensure proper maintenance of equipment placed under their charge. Training of troops under command to ensure physical fitness and operational efficiency has to be paramount as we move into the Second Quarter 2019.
Let me use this important occasion to pay tributes to the gallant officers and soldiers, who in obedience to our constitution have made the supreme sacrifice in line of duty within the period under review. They have, as patriotic Nigerians fought bravely as demanded of them. My condolences go to their families. We will never forget them and we must ensure that the payment of their entitlements and the welfare of those they left behind remain priority. May their gentle souls rest in perfect peace.
Finally and with a high sense of responsibility and respect, I humbly express our profound gratitude to Mr President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, for his invaluable support to the NA. I want to on behalf of officers and soldiers of the NA, once more pledge our total loyalty to Mr President and our commitment to the defence of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The NA shall continue to remain apolitical, professional and responsive in the discharge of its constitutional roles. On this note I declare the COAS First Quarter Conference and the CAT Week 2019 open.
Lt. General Tukuru Buratai
Chief of Army Staff