Buratai: When a Military Chief Leads on the frontline
By Shittu Yunus
Wars are either fought from the frontline or on propaganda-mediated front. The case of the ongoing fight against the age-long insurgents, members of the Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP), by the Nigerian Army has more correlation with the later. It is not a virtual war, or a sort of social media warfare. It is a real battle which is been prosecuted largely in the North East.
Regrettably, however, a little is being said about how the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-Gen. Tukur Buratai, is currently superintending in the crushing of the insurgents in the North East theatre of operations while protecting.
Gen. Buratai, a son of World War II veteran has proved his mettle excellently in professionalism, soldiering and leadership throughout his decades of an eventful military career. The combatant soldier has never cringed even for a moment in justifying his upbringing as soldier.
When Buratai announced his relocation to the North East in April 2020, critics and especially the oppositions doubted the possibility of the move, citing many incidences of previously announced relocations that were short lived or that failed to deter terrorists from their nefarious activities.
On his relocation, Tukur Buratai, called on troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents not to give room for cowardice. He said he had relocated to the north-east to lead his men to war.
In a message to the troops on “final clearance” of the insurgents, Buratai said from then on, it is forward ever as the army owes it a duty to save the country from the menace of Boko Haram.
“Ours is a professional calling, a call to serve our dear country; a call to defend the territorial integrity of our fatherland, which we must all be proud of,” he said.
“We must also be proud of our calling as professional soldiers and patriots. Therefore, we must go all out to stop and eliminate these criminals. We must do it now. There is no better time than now!”
He also charged commanders to inspire those under them, asking them not to relent.
“Gentlemen gallant commanders all levels, you must hold firmly to your officers and men. You must instil confidence through your words and actions. In order to win the trust and confidence of their subordinates, commanders must never show fear or fatigue. If they do that, they will lose all moral authority to lead and command their men,” he said.
Before his relocation, Buratai had initiated strong Special Strike Force Teams, in the Northeast to improve operational competitiveness’ against terrorists. He also conceptualized and introduced the first Nigerian Army Female Corps as panacea to the rising incidences of female suicide bombers. This magic halted the trend of suicide bombing because of the intelligence component of the gender-balancing initiative.
He has not only proved the doubting Thomases wrong by moving to the North-East, Buratai is deeply and actively engaged on the frontline to confront the ISWAP and Boko Haram fighters head-on.
A stickler to standards and established conventions, Gen. Buratai knows winning the war on terrorism needs a repackaged Army, and leadership by example which his relocation signifies. Being on the ground, he ensures the troops continue to respect the fundamental human rights and dignity of citizens in the areas troops are deployed to for special assignments.
His presence on the frontline symbolizes a courageous leadership which has immensely boosted the morale of troops and intelligence gathering in the ongoing onslaught believed to be the final strike to clear the remnants of the insurgents. The effort is already recording monumental successes.
The new military strategy he spearheaded has also ensured the insurgents and their leadership are in complete disarray, setting the conditions for the commencement of the final assault on their evil enclaves and hideouts. As at last count Buratai led Nigerian troops in major victories that claimed the lives of 1,015 terrorists and also led to the arrest of 84 of their collaborators.
Some of the success stories recorded by the Nigerian troops since Buratai’s relocation to the North included coordinated artillery bombardment conducted around the Timbuktu Triangle general area by the Offensive Support Group of Operation Kamtana Jimlan. While 78 BHT/ISWAP fighters were killed, several gun trucks belonging were also destroyed. This was followed by the arrest of 27 high-profile Boko Haram informants, an accomplishment that significantly dislocated the information and supply chain of the terrorists.
In the same vein, Troops of 159 Battalion foiled terrorists’ attempt to attack Geidam in a gun duel, killing at least 13 terrorists while troops of 212 Battalion ambushed and killed dozens of Boko Haram/ISWAP elements at Gajigana in Nganzai.
Similarly, troops of 3 Battalion, Army Super Camp 11, Gamboru Ngala, cleared Fuye and Melere villages of terrorists and advanced to Ndufu and Muktu villages, where they destroyed ISWAP’s restructure in the areas. The troops also eliminated 20 Boko Haram fighters while they were heading to attack villages surrounding Baga.
In these operations, apart from eliminating terrorists and destroying their assets, huge arms and ammunition including AK-47 rifles, magazines, rounds of special ammunition, hand grenades, LG3 bombs and gun trucks were recovered.
Typical of his nature, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, who is always concerned about the welfare of wounded soldiers, paid an unscheduled visit to military health facilities, where he interacted and commiserated with soldiers on admission. One of the recent such visit was to commiserate with some wounded soldiers who were involved in the annihilation of over 100 terrorists at a bloody military offensive in Gorgi
These, among other endless qualities of the Army General, justified the level of successes being recorded at the theatre.
In order to sustain the level and scale of successes already recorded in the counter-insurgency war, the Nigerian Army will need to intensify efforts on intelligence gathering because there are still some pockets of informants within the communities who feed the terrorists with details of troops movement and tactical operations.
Shittu Yunus Shittu is an Associate-Editor with Emergency Digest