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Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission and Nigeria Security Interests

By John Amoda
Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission and Nigeria Security Interests: How to Make the Commission A Win-win Project (4)

OBVIOUSLY, we are concerned that what is going on in northern Mali could have destabilizing effect on the entire region which could provide a haven for those who wish to do obvious harm, to train.

We are worried about potential links between extremists in Northern Nigeria and extremists beyond Nigerian borders. Yes I think we have a right to be concerned about it.

We have been very supportive to the ECOWAS’s efforts to deploy an ECOWAS force to Bamako to help stabilize the transitional government of President Traore, to allow that government to feel safe, to begin to restructure the Malian security forces and to initiate a dialogue with the elements of the Tuaregian insurgencies, notably the MNLA, towards achieving a political solution to what is going on in Mali now and deny space to extremists who wish to do us harm”.

What the Ambassador demonstrates above is the US global Stability Operations Approach to combating terror; an approach which informs the strategic analysis of security situations where governments have failed or are in the process of failing.

When the Ambassador is asked about dialogue with “Islamist groups”, he gives a nuanced answer: “Well, I think it is important to differentiate between AQIM which is an Al-Queda affiliate group which has kidnapped and killed Westerners, which has attacked the UN in Algeria, which has perpetrated acts of barbarity and Tureq insurgents who continue to express the moderate Malian version of Islam and really have no problems with Tureqs”.

We see in the Ambassador’s answer the produce of the “whole of US Government Approach” to stability operations. We see in the Ambassador’s answer that what he meant by a holistic approach to counter-insurgency, is an approach that begins with, (1) making embattled friendly governments like that of President Traore safe, (2) the restructuring of the security forces, (3) the denial of operational space to extremists “who wish to do us harm”, (4) all the above executed as context for initiating dialogues with the elements of insurgencies who are moderates and that can be dealt with in forging a consensus support for political resolution of pertinent conflicts.

We review the Ambassador’s responses only to buttress the point made about the capabilities of the two governments involved in the Bi-National Commission- the American and the Nigerian. The American foreign policy to Africa is a stability operations policy as illustrated in the answer of the US Ambassador to Nigeria.

Stability operations strategic engagement with Africa is bed-rocked in US post-cold war review of its global military capability for a new era of international politics. The US in the Bi-National Commission with Nigeria knows what it must do to bring Nigeria to the capability that fosters an equality of partnership in making the government of Nigeria safe.

Bilateral relations in the context of stability operations foreign policy already implies the need to shore up the security of the Nigerian government to prevent its failure and to secure it. There are, therefore, two perspectives on the US bilateral operations with the government of Nigeria: the US and the Nigerian.

For the US, its Nigerian foreign policy is that of stability operations illustrated with the US Ambassador’s comments on Mali. Nigeria Government’s US policy must develop its capability to secure the Nigerian society and to keep it safe; the Nigerian policy, therefore, in the context of US doctrine of stability operations, is the formation of the state, in the course of which necessary project the restructuring of the society economy and of its security capabilities is undertaken.

The Nigerian- US Bi-National Commission must therefore be contextualized in the furtherance of the capability of the Government of Nigeria to appreciate what it must develop to drive its own stability operations. The import of this observation can only be fully appreciated with a more detailed presentation of the US approach to security.

It is in this respect that I see the publication of the US Army Stability Operations Field Manual as a generous contribution to the upgrading of global security of the component societies constituting the international community. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the Nigerian Government to appraise this US contribution and use its Bi-National Commission partnership for the appropriate upgrading of its national security statecraft.

Chapter 1 of the FM 3-07 is a must read- It deals with the Strategic Context of the Doctrine grounded in the American Experience with Stability. I quote summary of American Experience with Stability:

‘1-1 During the relatively short history of the United States, military forces have fought only eleven wars considered conventional. From the American Revolution through Operations Iraqi Freedom, these wars represented significant or perceived threats to national security interests, where the political risk to the nation was always gravest. These were the wars for which the military traditionally prepared. These were the wars that endangered America’s very way of life.

Of the hundreds of other military operations conducted in these intervening years, most are now considered stability operations, where the majority of efforts consisted of stability tasks. Contrary to popular belief, the military history of the United States is one characterized by stability operations, interrupted by distinct episodes of major combat” (Page 1-1, FM 3 – 07).

From the above we can learn that a country’s military preparedness should involve training for (1) defending the national security interests where the political risk to the nation is gravest, when the danger to the very way of life is most evident and urgent; for effective defence of the national interests the Armed Forces of the nation must envisage episodes of major combat; these wars are few and should be necessarily so-otherwise a country that faces threats to its very way of life as frequent and routine occurrence has no time for anything else but to be on perpetual danger alert; (2) the military must also be prepared for undertaking stability operations- engagements which do not involve threats to the nation’s value system or to its very way of life.


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