Nigeria: Army's Super Camp Concept and Quest to Uproot Insurgency

President Buhari is still battling Boko Haram.
12 September 2019

TARKAA DAVID, in this report, dissects Army's super camp concept and quest to root out insurgents through tactical, trained and motivated troops.

The Nigerian Army, recently announced a new strategy in its over one-decade war against insurgency in the Northeastern part of the nation.

The strategy entails the concentration of fighting forces in strongholds called Super Camps with capacity to respond swiftly to the adversary.

Prior to this strategy, there had been cases of low manpower in the various battalions and brigades.

Its is believed that the Super Camp concept is part of efforts to prevent successful insurgents attack on troops' locations. It's no longer news that there have been reports of insurgents overrunning small troop locations in the Northeast, using numerical strength to overrun the various bases.

Recall that in August, the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) entered Gubio and Magumeri, two strategic towns near Borno State's capital, Maiduguri, in northeastern Nigeria, despite claims of a degraded Boko Haram to vent havoc.

ISWA looted fuel and supplies, destroyed houses , government buildings, and prayed before retreating into Borno's hinterlands.

However, the military had since left these locations/ towns in line with its "super camp" strategy, thereby creating an immediate vacuum, a development which has forced , thousands of civilians to flee.

The "super camp" strategy is apparently driven by the military's inability to defend itself against constant ISWA raids on poorly constructed military barracks in rural areas. Under the new strategy, military personnel would be stationed in well-constructed "super camps," which ISWA presumably cannot overrun.

While the military may have reduced the potential for casualties and theft of military materials, it has also reduced its ability to combat ISWA in rural areas. This strategy appears to be the most recent formulation of its"fortress strategy," which seemingly was never implemented after its initial 2017 announcement.

The chief of army staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai (COAS), speaking at the Chief of Army Staff combined second and third quarter conference in Abuja to appraise the Nigerian Army's performance, noted that so far, 20 Super Camps have been established in the Northeast with more platforms deployed to support the initiative.

Speaking on the Army's operations, he said the service has redefined Operation Lafiya Dole with the Super Camp concept to end terrorism in the Northeast.

He explained that the Super Camp Concept entails the concentration of fighting forces in strongholds that have the capacity to respond swiftly to threats.

He said operations earlier launched by the Army against armed banditry and kidnapping have recorded successes despite setbacks in Sokoto, Katsina and Zamfara states.

He restated that the welfare and administrative concerns of personnel especially those deployed for various operations must be addressed.

He directed that soldiers who have met the executive commission requirements should be recommended for Presidential commissioning. While charging commanders to reorientate their soldiers on civil-military relations and interservice relationship, he said such clashes dents the hard-earned integrity of the Nigerian army.

"It is imperative to be more proactive in ensuring discipline and professionalism of our personnel in dealing with other agencies of government and indeed the larger society.

"We should all note that the Nigerian Army, as part of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, is mandated to support the civil authority and the Nigerian Police Force in internal security operations. However, recent occurrences have shown that there is a need for more reorientation on civil-military relations and interservice relations at the junior level," he said.

He added, "unfortunately incidences such as the one at Ibi in Taraba State, which generated intense media comments are not healthy for the smooth cooperation and operation of our security forces.

"Investigations have been completed and decisive actions will be taken to ensure it never happens again," he said.

The COAS reiterated that the Army will not condone any act of indiscipline that will tarnish its hard-earned good image.

"I, hereby, charge commanders to educate personnel on the need to adhere to the rules of engagement at all times and also respect extant laws and the fundamental human rights of the citizens as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," he stressed.

Earlier in his welcome address, the Chief of Policy and Plans (COPP) Lt General Lamidi Adeosun, said the 2nd quarter conference initially scheduled for June, could not take place due to operational exigencies.

He noted that the combined conference focuses on appraisals and reviews of it's strategies for the forthcoming Kogi and Bayelsa elections.

Though promising, pundits are of the opinion that ISWA will likely be able to operate more freely. It will face less resistance as it engages with the population and builds a base of political support.

On its part, the military hopes that, from "super camps," it will be able to conduct mobile raids on ISWA camps and fighters. In the past, however, ISWA has been able to ambush such patrols, obstructing military movements.

With ISWA "free to roam," there would likely be less combat between ISWA and the military, and therefore, fewer deaths of soldiers, ISWA members, and civilians. But from a political perspective, Nigeria appears to have unofficially ceded control over parts of Borno to ISWA, at least temporarily.

Security experts are of the view that the decrease in deaths resulting from the "super camp" strategy is a welcome development , considering the devastation of 10 years of war. They however believe that it should not be confused with permanent peace. It is unlikely that ISWA would be content with only roaming Borno's hinterlands but with space to operate, it could amass new recruits, train them, and generate more tax revenue, at which point it may be capable of attacking "super camps" and threatening major urban areas.

Military and civilian death tolls would then rise again, hence, the need to think outside the box and be proactive rather than being reactiveeact.

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