Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai Building Smart Army

“Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.” ― Sun Tzu

Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai upon his appointment as the 20th Nigerian Army, Chief of Army Staff on 13th July 2015, in all stratagem resumed office on the 16th July 2015 and unveiled his vision for the Nigerian Army which is “To Have a Professionally Responsive Nigerian Army in the Discharge of its Constitutional Roles”, designed with a clear understanding of Nigeria’s contemporary security challenges and to engender a professional rebirth of the Nigerian Army (NA) in its entirety. The vision also tasked personnel on the total defeat of terrorists / insurgency, and the liberation of all the territories held by the insurgents.

Indeed, Gen Buratai’s burning desire and unparalleled determination to rekindle the fighting spirit of Nigerian troops in the North East was legendary, as he left office hours after taking over command and launched himself into the theatre of operation, in a timeline when the Boko Haram sect was alleged to control over 30,000 square miles of territory — a land span same size with Belgium.

The Nigerian Military for about a decade have been bedeviled with the fight against insurgency and terrorism which according to Sun Tzu in legendary draft “The Art of War” is like a water which hold no constant shape but multifaceted. Gen TY Buratai is a man who places national interest above self; in absolute loyalty to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a man who personifies patriotism among other distinctive traits. No doubt, his leadership has brought about a holistic paradigm shift in the fight against terrorism and insurgency in Nigeria.

In his routine visits to the North East, he obtains firsthand information thus the need to re-strategize which has yielded tremendous results. He conducted strategic troops deployment and redeployment which saw the dexterity and heroism of the likes of Late Lt Col Abu Ali whose command was very instrumental in recapturing over 11 local government areas achieved through a superior study and mastery of the Boko Haram sects and their inimical tactics. The rare feat achieved by the troops was emphasized by the Governor of Borno State, Gov Kashim Shettima who said “No part of the Borno state is under Boko Haram occupation, although there are pockets of attacks on soft targets by the defeated insurgents, the military and other security agencies deserved unreserved commendation”.

Gen Buratai, despite his indefatigable marksmanship being a military officer he also believes in comprehensive national approach to combating insecurity acknowledging the fact that military action is not enough to win an asymmetric warfare. Thus he saw the need to strengthen the Department of Civil Military Affairs by establishing a Human Right Desk in all Nigerian Army Formations including the ones in the North East, to handle issues of human right violation in an effort to improve community stabilization to totally defeat the Boko Haram Negative ideology.

In his quest to continuous operationalization of Non-kinetic approach to Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operation (COIN & CT Op) in the Information Environment to counter terrorist’s ideology, it became imperative for him to establish the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command and appointed a very senior military specialist Brig Gen Thomas O Unokhua as the pioneering commander in which prior to the command’s official commissioning, the command was able to detect and dismantle Boko Haram’s online recruitment links. This in no doubt, served as a combat multiplier and compliments the NA kinetic approach to COIN and CT Op.

The Nigerian Military of recent has witnessed series of attacks from the Abu Musab al-Barnawi camp of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP) who maintains the narrative that his sect is out to only combat the Nigerian Army and other state security organization. These narrative is not only false but evil as it tends to lure civilians to its caliphate, civilian whom they perceived to attract national and global attention are kidnapped for ransom while some are killed. It has been observed and noted that the ISWAP modus operandi includes disguising self on military kits to untraditionally gain access to military base before launching attacks, the method is another means of self destruction to that of suicide bombers.

Despite the Nigerian Military effort to harmonise desert and woodland camouflage uniforms to check the proliferation of camouflage uniforms across the country, elements of ISWAP still find ways of using these uniforms to infiltrate troops defensive position to launch attacks as seen in the attack of troops on Operation Last Hold and that of Metele attack. It is against this bridge of military tactics, that the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen TY Buratai having reviewed all the Operational lapses, have taken it to himself to build a smart army for the Federal Republic of Nigeria that will be technologically driven in line with the global best practice.

In view of this, Lt Gen TY Buratai revealed that the NA is making advancement to the use of drone technology and digitalization of the Nigerian Army kits with sort of a Radio-frequency identification mechanism as this will enable NA troops to differentiate between friendly force and unfriendly force in the frontline, same time initiate alert when in danger. This height is dynamic and vital in modern warfare to ensure successful implementation of the COIN and CT campaign and from the view of an Open Source Intelligent analyst it’s a step in the right direction and highly commendable of Gen TY Buratai strategic thoughts. We may not be there yet but with evolving strategic thoughts like this, Victory is on sight.

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