Nigerian Army’s Current Decision Dominance Skills
By Jude Ede-Attah
Not until General Ibrahim Attahiru was appointed Chief of Army Staff and began his tour of duty in that capacity that I took time to read up the concept of ‘Decision Dominance’ as an effective military strategy. Decision dominance is a developing concept in military operations.
It presupposes the ability of the Commander to sense, understand, decide, act, and assess faster and more effectively than any adversary. It creates a significant, not only tactical but operational and strategic, advantage, on any future battle field that the Army is engaged in.
This rare military leadership skill or attribute does not come over night nor chance upon a commander. It is earned through concerted training, discipline, persistence, perseverance and resilience. Decision Dominance reflects a strategy for the use of military force in concert with other instruments of power. Are we about to see a dose of such military leadership skill in dealing with all the security challenges that assail us in this country?
On his maiden operational visit to the epicenter of ongoing Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist activities in the north east, the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Ibrahim Attahiru made a profound statement while addressing the people over there. Not sure if the statement was a direct order to the troops or a proclamation of his mission but the import of that statement has nonetheless defined the character outlook of his tour of duty as Nigeria’s 21st Chief of Army Staff.
On that eventful day, the General who was decked in combat gear with bulging fragmented jacket and ballistic helmet to match was obviously not in the mood for any political correctness or diplomatic nicety. He spoke unambiguously amid intermittent cheers from his battle-ready troops.
“The next phase of our operation in the theatre will be massive and brutal against all elements of the Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists. What we are doing in this theatre will be replicated in other operations across the country in order to give a final and decisive knock to the insurgents and other forms of criminality in the country”, he thundered.
Not a man given to frivolity or inanity, both in conduct and in utterance, Gen Attahiru was dead serious and he meant every word of what he uttered. He knew that at this stage of the operation, decisiveness and decision dominance hold the key. He understands the burden of history placed on his broad shoulders by providence. To him, failure is no option as all eyes are on him to give relief to Nigerians and indeed the entire global family who have watched with incredulity the savagery that has gone on for over a decade in the north east of Nigeria.
But Gen Attahiru came prepared even when his appointment was a big surprise to some and a rude shock to others. In fact, barely an hour he was named as the new COAS, sponsored headlines and fabricated stories began to appear in a section of the social media, all with the intent to deride his personality and diminish his worth. He shrugged it all off knowing where they were coming from and opted to rather feed his focus.
His focus is to bring the adversaries of Nigerian nation to their knees. He understands the internal security obligation of the military and was not in any way going to stand hands akimbo and watch all manner of violent criminals and warlord-wannabes plunge the country into the abyss of crisis. He made the position of the army very clear on the brewing internal security challenges during his speech at the Commanding Officers workshop held in Akwa Ibom State recently. He stated that the military will overcome all the security challenges confronting Nigeria. He also restated that the Nigerian Army under his leadership will remain proactive and work with other security agencies to decisively deal with internal security threats facing the nation. It was this statement that deductive journalists interpreted in their headlines that read: “COAS to Igboho, Asari: We are coming for you”.
But then again, his assertion is not unmistakable. The army will not stand-by and watch the nation blown into smithereens by disgruntled politicians, irredentists and agent provocateurs. The Army under Gen Attahiru will certainly fulfill its constitutional obligation of defending the country from external aggression and internal insurrection; simple and short.
Even more significant is the fact that the new Army Chief counts on the resilience and gallantry of his troops to realize his corporate vision for the Nigerian Army. He understands the indispensability of joint operations of Nigeria’s tri-service armed forces and synergy with other security and response agencies in waging battles against adversaries of the nation. No wonder he crafted his corporate vision statement to read: “A Nigerian Army that is Repositioned to Professionally Defeat all Adversaries in a Joint Environment”.
From all indications and from what can be gleaned from his Command Philosophy, it is safe to say that Gen Attahiru is prepared to take the anti-terror war to a point where the army will effectively exploit its asymmetric advantages of sound civil-military relations, quick impact projects, information dominance, flexibility and mobility of troops, tech capability and other essential abilities and capabilities, to finally wrap up insurgency and banditry anywhere in our country.
The point really is that the coming of Gen Attahiru and his fellow service chiefs at this time of intense and multiplying internal security challenges happening across the country is providential. Assailed from all fronts, Nigeria is currently bleeding from the violent campaigns in almost every part. From the north east region where Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists groups are neck deep in their bloody terrorist campaign to the north west parts where vicious cross-border bandits hold sway and carrying-out relentless abductions of citizens including school kids; to the north central where violent clashes between farmers and herders have graduated to mass abductions and kidnappings, and down to the south west and south east where the separatist agitations and damning acts of violence against law enforcement agents by unknown gun men have reached a feverish pitch. And of course, in the Niger Delta region where sea piracy and attacks on Nigeria’s maritime assets and sundry crimes are rearing its ugly heads again.
It does appear that the country is mired in a cesspool of insecurity and malfeasance. And as one commentator put it, the entire country has become a huge crime scene with the military almost single handedly tasked to deal with the situation. With the multiplicity of internal security operations across the country, the military particularly the Nigerian Army has its hands full with troop deployment to about 33 of the 36 Nigerian states. This situation is a clear reflection of the faulty internal security operation mechanism which has seen the last line of defence becoming the first line of defence. The military that ought to come in only when security infraction is such that is way beyond the capacity of the civil police to deal with is now deployed to every insecurity situation while the Police and other paramilitary and response agencies which are supposed to be the first responders now take the back seat!
Good enough, Gen Attahiru understands that the whole emphasis now is on military effectiveness in order to not only tame the hydra-headed security challenges, especially insurgency and banditry in country but to totally and finally stamp them out.
The Army Chief understands that the welfare of troops has direct correlation with troops’ morale and fighting spirit. To this extent, he assured the troops during his visit to Special Army Super Camp 1 Ngamdu, Sector 2, that all issues bordering on conduct of operation and welfare of troops will be accorded top priority while notifying them of his intention to inject new ideas and strategies that will aid intensification of aggressive clearance posture of the troops. Even the vexatious issue of troop rotation was addressed by the General as he disclosed that very soon the Army will come up with formidable rotation plan within the theatre to relieve troops that have served and are due for rotation without affecting the overall efforts on ground.
As was noted by a retired officer who is conversant with his progression in the Army, “Gen Attahiru is a fine officer. He had distinguished himself in every position or rank he found himself or attained in the Army. He has served in various capacities and in various commands, including as the Director of Army Public Relations, GOC 82 Division and Theatre Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, among other command and staff positions in the Army. Anywhere he served, he always left his mark as a courageous, innovative and patriotic officer who was determined to leave the place better than he met it”.
Nigerians are indeed watching their Army under this new Chief with keen interest and in high hopes.
Jude Ede-Attah, a military enthusiast and journalist wrote in from Lugbe, Abuja.