So far, the death toll has reportedly risen to 118 while over 150 soldiers are still missing. So, the question is what might be responsible for this disaster?
Fighting a war involves a lot of issues. The first are the tactics and strategies employed. Strategy is the planning, coordination and general direction of military operations to meet overall political and military objectives. Tactics implements strategy by short-term decisions on the movement of troops on the field of battle. The questions is; has our military developed and applied the right strategy and tactics in this case?
Secondly, what about intelligence. How come that Boko Haram would mobilize so heavily, move so many troops and attack so mercilessly without intelligence discovering it in advance? Don’t we have spies anymore?
We understand that the watchtower saw them coming and raised alarm accordingly. But how close were they before the tower saw them? How high was the watchtower. Watchtowers are between 3 and 12 metres? How high was ours? We are talking of a desert land in which the eyes can see a long distance without vegetation obstruction assuming that the sentinel were using unaided eyes. But, don’t they have binoculars and telescopes that can see even thousands of kilometres away?
And when the sentinel raised alarm, how come the Boko Haram still caught some of the soldiers in their bedrooms? How combat ready were they on that day? How come they could not mobilize quickly and defend themselves? Were the attackers so many as to overwhelm them in numbers? Was our firepower so wreak relative to that of the attackers?
What about backup forces? Couldn’t the unit have been reinforced as soon as the sentinel sighted the oncoming attackers? Or were they not able to estimate their number and strength from the watchtower?
We understand that our overwhelmed soldiers tried to escape through the wired fence by forcing a truck through it but the truck got stuck, blocking the others lined behind it, thus allowing Boko Haram attackers to catch up and massacre them. The questions is: how can our soldiers fence themselves up without allowance for emergency exits? Who could have designed the fence?
What about air force backup and coverage for the ground troops? Shouldn’t the air force have mobilized and rained bombs on the attackers as soon as the watchtower saw them coming?
In anticipation of a situation like this, can’t we have cruise missiles that we can use to attack the oncoming enemy troops? Ballistic missile can even do more damage as they can be nearly impossible to detect or stop and can cover thousands of kilometers so that they can even be fired from Abuja. Don’t we have them?
Now, contrary to the position of some uninformed apologists, the military strength of every country is available on the net. Just google “2018 military strength of Nigeria” or any other country of your choice. The tables are there. Let us see a brief comparison of Saudi Arabia/South Africa/Nigeria in that order:
Total population 28,571,770/54,841,552/190,632,261
Available Manpower 15,300,000/26,000,000/72,400,000
Fit for service. 14,000,000/14,100,000/40,710,000
Reaching military age annually. 510,000/965,000/3,456,000
Total military personnel 256,000/94,050/181,000
Active personnel. 231,000/78,050/124,000
Reserve personnel 25,000/16,000/57,000
Total aircraft strength 844/209/124
Total helicopter strength 254/94/42
Attack helicopters 22/12/11
Combat tanks 1,142/195/248
Armored fighting vehicles 5,472/2,265/1,420
Self-propelled artillery 254/43/25
Towed Artillery 432/97/339
Rocket projectors 322/50/30
Naval assets 55/30/75
Patrol vessels 11/31/93
Mine warfare 3/2/0
We can see that in spite of our advantage in the form of human resources, Saudi Arabia, about one-seventh of our population, and South Africa, about one-quarter, are both superior to us in military strength. Yet neither of them is confronted with security threats such as those of Boko Haram and violent herdsmen that we are fighting. Yes, Saudi Arabia is richer but with its small population and less security threats, should it be stronger than us? How come we can’t equip our military forces very well?
The questions are legion. I think our national assembly should be interested in them.
Analysed by Hon. Ademola Ijabiyi