By Richard Murphy
It took America over a decade to hunt for Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the terrorists attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon House, September 11, 2001, also popularly referred to as 9/11 attacks. And for years, Bin Laden remained a fugitive, hiding in caves and forests in different parts of the world.
However, a drones operation by the US Naval SEALS terminated the reign of Bin Laden as he was fished out and killed in a smart operation on his Abbottabad cave, in Pakistan. It was a smooth, but highly technical operation.
Consequently, Buratai’s introduction of armed drones belonging to its sister agency, the Nigerian Air Force in the combat of Boko Haram terrorism and other allied acts of terrorism has descended a moment of respite for Nigerians, but great trouble for terrorists. It resonates fresh trouble for Boko Haram factional leader, Abubakar Shekau and his predictable, shameful end like Bin Laden in the nearest future.
Therefore, Nigerians still skeptical about the competence, capacity and preparedness of the NA to finally extinguish terrorism and allied criminal acts in Nigeria have been proved wrong again. The NA’s incorporation of the armed drones military technology in the combat of terrorism and specifically, in battling Boko Haram terrorism is a testimony to doubting Nigerians, that the Nigerian military rather than Boko Haram insurgents are singing the victory song. The success story was confirmed at the African Land Forces Summit in Nigeria, where an assemblage of the world’s best armies again attested to the sophistry and military excellence of the NA. The summit co-hosted with US Army Africa (USARAF), attracted Military Chiefs from 40 African Countries as well as allies from the United States Army, Africa Command, NATO and the African Union.
The summit snowballed into military demonstration exercise code named “Operation Silent Kill” at the 176, Guards Battalion, Gwagwalada, to advertise the military dexterity of the NA in the use of armed drones in combating terrorism, much as it displayed the Army’s capabilities to engage fleeing remnants of Boko Haram terrorists and expectedly humble Shekau and his minions with a final defeat.
The Chief of Army Staff and ombudsman of the counter insurgency operations in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai listed the many gains of the introduction of the armed drones in combating terrorism to include, the effective defeat of Boko Haram terrorists and the Army’s strong and overwhelming presence in Sambisa Forest. He reassured Nigerians and the rest of the world, that the NA has remained unbowed in the face of bile terrorism and it is better repositioned to tackle the menace.
The Army Chief said “The armed drones were very effective in detecting movement of arms and logistics of the terrorists, tracking their hideouts as well as the movement of members of the group particularly in Sambisa Forest where the Shekau faction held sway.”
But more importantly, the fruitful African Land Forces summit, in Abuja, the largest gathering of world military Chiefs on the continent, raised a platform for these countries to share experiences on global terrorism and other security challenges, with the tenor of transnational threats and crimes.
The Summit with the theme ‘Unity is Strength: Combatting Africa’s Security Challenges’, provided African military leaders a forum to strengthen existing relationships, smoothen military cooperation, develop capacity and new ways of tackling insecurity challenges in Africa.
The platform, the first of its kind in Nigeria, has made an unambiguous statement about the thickness of the Nigeria Army and its combat readiness. The demonstration exercise, ‘Operation Silent Kill,’ afforded the Nigerian Army a unique opportunity, to speak through action, as it demonstrated to Nigerians and the world its military capabilities and might to the largest military gathering on the continent in handling lethal terrorism.
It has also positively projected the image of the Nigerian Army, its excellence and sharpness in combating the widespread acts of terrorism in the country. The demonstration exercise, which featured ground troops of the Nigerian Army, and their naval counterparts, providing air cover for the operations, excited military Chiefs, who converged to witness how the strength of the combined troops would deeply penetrate enemy camps and the destruction of their weaponry in the Northeast.
The flawless exercise was done in the presence of the acting Commander in charge of the United States Army African, Brig.-Gen. Eugene LeBeouf; the COAS Lt-Gen. Buratai and Chief of Naval Staff , Vice Admiral Ibok Ette –Ekwe Ibas, senior military officers and top government functionaries, who witnessed the demonstration excise of ‘Operation Silent Kill.’
With these developments , remnants of Boko Haram terrorists, still lurking in hideous places in the Northeast would have a rough and tough time. It has expressed in clear and indisputable terms, the determination of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Abayomi Olonisakin and the COAS, Gen. Buratai and all the Service Chiefs partnering together like we have never had in recent times that no one can ever dare the resolve of the Nigerian people.
The Nigerian Army constantly seeks and adopts new tactics and strategies in combating terrorism, which is adjudged as very dynamic in character. It has also loudly confirmed Nigeria’s Military Chiefs as operating a focused and dedicated leadership, ever willing to stop at nothing until terrorism is finally defeated.
It has also sent a red card to other armed and violent militias, promoting various acts of criminality in the country like armed banditry, kidnapping, cultism, civil unrest, violent separatists’ agitations and ethno religious crisis that they no longer stand a chance to destabilize Nigeria.
To these hordes of armed gangs, the Chief of Army Staff has vowed never to shrink or blink an eye, until they are crushed and victory chorused, as exemplified by the constant training exercise for personnel and exchange of experiences on tackling global terrorism as anchored by the African Land Forces Summit.
Murphy, a security strategist writes from Calabar, Nigeria.