Chief of Defence Staff, Lucky Irabor

By Ibrahim Wuyo, Kaduna

The military cannot use old tools and tactics to defeat asymmetric warfare like banditry, kidnapping, as well as terrorism and insurgency by Boko Haram, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, has said.

He said that was why the military resolved to acquire new platforms and capabilities to address the challenges. 

General Irabor spoke at the Jaji Military Cantonment as the Special Guest of Honour during the Regimental Dinner organised in honour of the graduating students of Senior Course 43 of Armed Forces Command and Staff College.

According to him, long-term success against terrorism, insurgency and other internal security challenges require a whole-of-government approach and not just a military solution. 

He explained that the involvement of the military in containing asymmetric security threats in the past few years has highlighted the need to acquire the new operational capability of the Armed Forces of Nigeria to deal with emergent threats.

“Accordingly, we are developing new capabilities in intelligence and surveillance, which are critical for staying ahead of terrorists and insurgents, and other criminal elements in the society.”

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To the graduating students who are in the rank of Major and its equivalence and about to assume new responsibilities as mid-level commanders, he said, “as you are aware, asymmetric warfare encourages the use of non-traditional military tactics for which our previous training and operational doctrines were not well suited.” 

“Nigeria as a nation is currently contending with a number of asymmetric threats. The most visible of these threats is the terrorism and insurgency by Boko Haram in the North-East.

Equally disturbing is the herders-farmers conflicts in some parts of the country, which recently have attained a worrisome dimension with different interpretations of the causes of the conflict and personalities involved.” 

“This is coupled with other varying acts of criminalities that are characterised by banditry, kidnapping among others. The involvement of the armed forces in the management of such internal crises requires a complex interplay of many factors.”

“As mid-level commanders, your role becomes even more challenging when operating in an operational environment that is intricately woven and influenced by many factors and several differing actors, most of which are not defined by military necessities. Expectedly, such complex security environment will require new capabilities and also portend several challenges to military and security practitioners.”

“One major success determinant in a complex security environment is for you to have a thorough understanding of the dynamics that define the crisis you are deployed to contain, and the interplay of the various actors. This understanding will ensure that you exhibit clear thought and adequate judgement in decision making even when under pressure. It will also guide you from the manipulative tendencies of some parties to the conflict.”

“You must remember that as a commander, and indeed as a member of the armed forces, you are required to be apolitical and neutral in your decision making and subsequent actions.”

“Your men will depend on you for decision making in every situation. This role will be well served if you are adequately equipped for clear thoughts in the midst of combat engagements and under the expectations of team members. It requires a depth of understanding of the overall situation at every point in time and courage; both that which is innate and that imbibed from formal military training.” 

“As junior leaders, you must therefore leverage on training and experience in taking timely decisions for your team, especially when under pressure. I, therefore, enjoin you all to acquaint yourself adequately and keep abreast with the issues that define your operational environment. Such knowledge is needed for you to be effective in command, and provide leadership and guidance for your men.”

“The curriculum of our training institutions across the Services are constantly being reviewed and our new platform acquisitions are being focused to acquire new set of capabilities that address asymmetric threats. We cannot use old tools to address new threats.”

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“Accordingly, we are developing new capabilities in intelligence and surveillance, which are critical for staying ahead of terrorists and insurgents, and other criminal elements in the society.”

“The Defence Headquarters, as well as the Services, are utilising their Special Forces Units, which have been force multipliers and have proven to be critical in asymmetric warfare because of several unique capabilities they can bring into combat, including operating in small teams over an extended period in difficult terrain.” 

“We are also giving our officers and soldiers specialist skills to addressing the problems of terrorism and insurgency. I have been informed that the curriculum of the College, which you have gone through in the last 11 months, is in line with these realities.” 

“I wish to inform you that the transformation to a desired set of capabilities that will enable us to deal with changing threats in our country continues. As tactical level commanders, you have a very unique role to play in the consolidation of these new capabilities through training and continuous education of both yourselves and your men.”

“It has become common knowledge that long-term success against terrorism and insurgency, and indeed other internal security challenges require a whole-of-government approach and not just a military solution.” 

He said the actions of the military merely serve to create the necessary conditions for other agencies of government to function in the restoration of long-term peace and security to the crises areas. 

However, he said in providing this much needed secured environment, they must understand and appreciate the important roles of other security agencies in the overall security architecture.

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