Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Cameroon: An Army That Reassures!

editorial

In these difficult moments when a loom of threat is lingering dangerously over the fatherland, there is every reason to expect even more from our armed forces, even stretching beyond human limits.

The Boko Haram insurgency is virtually at our doorsteps with repeated incursions into the national territory resulting, in several instances with what can aptly be referred to as military losses. In Kousseri some three weeks ago, an armed band came into town, almost without resistance, to ensure the release of a captured member of the gang during an operation on the Maroua-Kousseri road a few hours earlier.

Their fire power was exceedingly disproportionate to what the local military response could offer. On the night of Friday May 16, 2014, a similar scenario occurred at Waza, with a similar result and several vehicles and explosives seized from a Chinese worksite with rare ease because of the inappropriate nature of the military response from the Cameroonian side.

These are incidents that can be a source of legitimate worry from the local population, especially as the Boko Haram is virtually in a war with Cameroon as seen from antecedents, notably the repeated taking of hostages. Last Tuesday's May 20 National Day military parade in Yaounde and in all the other Regions of the country offered a rare opportunity to judge the nation's combat readiness to face such situations more squarely in the near future, given the quality of military equipment and, but above all, the quality of men involved in the process of protecting the territorial integrity of the fatherland.

A visible appraisal of the nature of the equipment displayed during the several parades hardly fathoms the combat-readiness on the ground especially as military experts readily point to the fact that all that was displayed is merely a visible part of the huge iceberg of the necessary arsenal already procured to face the Boko Haram challenge with the necessary efficiency. All of this only gives credit to the veritable declaration of war on the sect made by the President of the Republic, Paul Biya at the end of the summit on the security situation in Nigeria held in Paris last May 17.

"We are here to reaffirm our determination to vigorously fight the Boko Haram scourge and we are declaring war against this sect, which war, we are sure to win", President Paul Biya told reporters at a press conference after the Paris summit. On the ground, that war is already being won, even only seen from the available military arsenal on display last Tuesday. From the parades, one could easily decipher an army in the process of modernization, professionalization and, above all, rejuvenation. The political will to have a brand new army in this triple posture was manifested in December 2013 with the creation of new operational units.

A new 31 Infantry Brigade was created with headquarters in Ngaoundere with resident battalions in Ngaoundere, Tcholliré, Poli and Tibati and the 32 Brigade with headquarters in Maroua with battalions in Maroua, Kousseri, Mora, Mayo-Oulo and Kaelé. Several other specialized military units have also been created within the National Gendarmerie to provide an appropriate response to the insurgency situation. In addition, some 5000 new recruits have also come to swell the ranks in an attempt to have the necessary men in time of need.

Many Cameroonians were proud to see the turnout of their armed forces last Tuesday. They must be rest assured of their security.

But this security can only be durable if all elements remain disciplined and cases such as that in Edea last Tuesday in which a soldier shot and killed his superior should be a rare occurrence because, rare as such incidents may be, they cast a real doubt over discipline which is necessary for the attainment of desired results. Luckily here, we were talking about morality, much easier to cure than morale which is essential in the performance of a military force.

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