Leadership (Abuja)

20 January 2013

West Africa: 'Nigerian Troops Ill-Equipped for War in Mali'

There are speculations that due to lack of adequate training and discipline, the over 1,200 Nigeria troops would not be directly involved in combat operations to oust the militiamen from the northern region of Mali.

A United Kingdom (UK)-based newspaper, The Guardian,on its website yesterday alleged that men of the Nigerian Army deployed in Mali lacked the capacity to fight on the front line.

The paper quoted a senior source in Mali that the military contingent from Nigeria lacks the needed training and discipline to be relied upon to oust the Islamists from northern Mali prompting suggestions that the role of the men would be limited to security and logistics.

"The Nigerian Army is in a shocking state," said the source, "in reality there is no way they are capable of forward operations in Mali - their role is more likely to be limited to manning checkpoints and loading trucks.

"The Nigerian forces lack training and kit, so they simply don't have the capability to carry out even basic military manoeuvres. They have poor discipline and support. They are more likely to play a behind-the-scenes role in logistics and providing security."

The source added that under plans for the enforcement of a United Nations (UN) Security Council-backed military intervention in Mali, Nigeria, alongside troops belonging to member states of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) are expected to lead forward operations.

The reality on ground as reported by the paper may have forced the governments of France, Germany, the United States of America (USA) and the European Union (EU) to consider the idea of further providing the Malian army with the necessary training, equipment and logistics support.

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