Opinion

Why Buratai’s strategy against terrorism is being studied abroad

 

By Deborah Obeweh

In the history of terrorism and the fight against insurgency the world over, few countries are able to beat their chests to say they have succeeded in crushing terrorists in record time like Nigeria has done under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Since President Buhari promised during the inauguration of his administration to relocate the operational command of the armed forces to the areas ravaged by the activities of the insurgents, the world watched to see if the strategy could usher in a glimmer of hope in an asymmetrical war that has defied all known tactics for winning a conventional war.
This is because most who have been involved or have experienced insurgency and terrorism know how different it is from a conventional warfare and realize that it takes more than a sophisticated armory or superior firepower to crush.
World powers like the US and Russia have found out that the war against insurgents is different from a conventional war because, due to how it starts, is fought in a terrain better known by the insurgents.
The efficacy of weapons is therefore hampered by the undulating terrain like hills, valleys, forests and creeks; access to the fortresses of the insurgents is made difficult with laying of land mines and due to proximity to civilian settlements. There is also the inability of members of surrounding communities to cooperate with troops due to fear and lastly, peculiarity of the illogic the drives the insurgency.
All these factors affected the initial operations of Nigerian troops sent to fight the insurgents and like it happened to US troops in other countries, Nigerian troops were being ambushed and killed and many had to run to other countries for their safety.
Worse still, communities and local government were being captured and a sizeable part of the country was brought under the control of the insurgents.
But the appointment of Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusuf Buratai as the chief of army staff in 2015 helped to changed all that; it raised the hope that Nigeria was about to do something different giving his approach and tactic towards the fight.
The Nigerian government had made a promise to end the scourge within a given time and Gen. Buratai resolved to achieve that.
Here was Nigeria, which had in the past admitted to not possessing modern weapons and a general lack of confidence haunting its troops now talking tough and giving a deadline for the defeat of insurgency.
And to the surprise of many nations, Nigeria was able to achieve and by December 2015, was able push the insurgents out of the territories they were occupying, destroy their weapons, set captives held by them free, liquidate many of their top commanders and pushing the insurgents to the fringes.
The world immediately took an interest in Nigeria because this is an area where many nations have failed.
The US an acclaimed world power failed woefully in several wars against terrorists and insurgency that it has come to learn to tread carefully when the issues in other nations bother on the twin evil.
Right form its intervention in Iraq to its recent in Syria, the strategy adopted by the US have not been that effective. This has not been helped by its meddling in the internal affairs of sovereign states or resort to different standards depending on the countries concerned.
Its intervention have been woeful that most times it is even blamed for escalating the crises in such countries as it happened in Iraq and Syria.
The Soviet Union had also not fared better when it comes to fighting terrorism,
It exhibited a lack of preparedness to fight counter-insurgency war when it went into Afghanistan.
It was reported that in 1985, Soviet forces lost 18 aircraft and 53 helicopters,  before the introduction of the Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles into the war.
In Somalia the US-led military operation in 1992–93 which culminated in the Battle of Mogadishu on October 3–4, 1993,  18 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of Somali militia fighters and civilians were killed.
Under international pressure, the UN humanitarian effort, known as Operation Provide Relief, arrived in Somalia in April 1992.Various Somali militias however disregarded the cease-fire that brought the UN intervention and engaged in extensive fighting as well as in large-scale hijacking and looting of international food convoys.

Hence the US proposed to the United Nations that American combat troops be sent to Somalia to protect aid workers which the UN accepted and on December 9, 1992, a force of about 25,000 U.S. troops began to arrive in Somalia.
The already unstable situation took a turn for the worse when 24 Pakistani soldiers were ambushed and killed while inspecting a weapons-storage facility.
On October 3, 1993, the U.S. forces in an attempt to capture Olympic Hotel in Mogadishu, where the targets were thought to be meeting went awry.
After 17 hours of continuous fighting, the surviving U.S. troops were finally rescued by an international force but the battle left 18 U.S soldiers dead and 84 wounded.
Soon after the incident at Mogadishu, the US withdrew all its troops from Somalia and a year later UN troops were also withdrawn, leaving the country engulfed in clan warfare.
This is in sharp contrast to what is taking place in Nigeria where within a short while after taking over, the Buhari administration crushed the erstwhile dreaded Boko Haram insurgents by taking the fight to their territories.
Within three months after Buratai moved troops to the theatre of war, the minister of information, Lai Mohamed announced that the insurgents were technically defeated and degraded.
This is because much success was recorded after troops were mobilized to enter right inside the fortresses of the terrorists at Sambisa Forest and the terrorists were fled and were reduced to launching attacks on soft targets to prove their existence.
Since 2015 when the current administration was inaugurated, so much effort was put in place to ensure the life of the citizenry is secured.
General Tukur Yusuf  Buratai on assumption of office got the troops ready for action and introduced reforms and  strategies which gave the military upper hand as they took the insurgents by surprise in their fortress which saw the Boko Haram terrorists running for dear lives.
Complaints about insufficient weaponry became a thing of the past as weapons were procured at speed and mobilized across the theatre of war.
There was confidence building as the low morale of the army gave way to high spirits as men and officers which under the previous dispensation were quitting due to lack of confidence became encouraged and fought in defense of their fatherland.
The military took the dreaded Sambisa forest and established a base at Camp Zairo as the insurgents on seeing superior fire power and war strategies surrendered and began to fight among themselves.
Gwoza a local government headquarters  and 13 other local governments which were previously captured by the insurgents and designated the capital of the Caliphate were recaptured by Nigerian troops and its people liberated.
Local governments areas in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States that were under Boko Haran were liberated and the insurgents were pursued to precincts on the fringes of the Nigerian border and began to prey on soft targets to be able to eat
Much has been achieved with the release of the over hundred Chinok girls and return of the other set stolen from Dapchi within days.  This is a far departure from the attitude in the previous era when more than three weeks were wasted before the administration could even admit that some girls from Chibok were abducted.
Camps for Internally Displaced Persons IDPs were emptied as  more persons in such camps relocated to their recaptured communities living normal lives as before.
Obeweh is a psychologist and wrote from GCU, London Campus, United Kingdom

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