Boko haram offensive on Maiduguri was halted yesterday by the Nigerian military. The terror group launched a predawn attack on Maiduguri and engaged a coalition made up of Nigerian government troops, citizen vigilantes and armed local residents in fierce battles which resulted in Boko Haram losing over 200 of its fighters and the coalition successfully preventing the terror group from breaching the city’s perimeter.
The Sunni Islamist terror group began its offensive at 5 a.m (local time) by attacking Jintilo – a village located 5 kilometers from Maiduguri city center – and engaging the government troops stationed there in a fierce gunbattle that forced the local residents to flee. Government troops were aided by the Nigerian Air Force which conducted aerial attacks against Boko Haram positions in the village. The troops were also reinforced by additional soldiers from nearby military outposts. The attack was finally repulsed.
Military authorities have currently imposed a 24-hour curfew on Maiduguri in an attempt to prevent Boko Haram terrorists from infiltrating the vital and strategic city. This attack comes just after President Goodluck Jonathan has finished his election campaigns in Maiduguri (where he pledged to end the terror insurgency if re-elected).
Monguno Barracks captured.
In a simultaneous attack on Monguno, Boko Haram overwhelmed the national security forces and overran the military barracks, and also captured the town and its outlying settlements. Monguno is a town located in Borno State and its population exceeds 100,000 people. The town is 135 kilometers from Maiduguri, the state capital.
The huge and strategic military barracks in Monguno had acted as a buffer against Boko Haram advancing towards Maiduguri. Boko Haram had formerly confined itself to Baga town and was hesitant to advance southwards due to the heavy military presence in Monguno. The capture of Monguno barracks is therefore a devastating blow to the government’s counter-terror efforts as Maiduguri is now well-exposed to a simultaneous multipronged Boko Haram attack.
Monguno barracks housed the 243rd Battalion of the Nigerian Army and the fate of about 1400 soldiers stationed there is officially unknown but intelligence sources report that a significant number of soldiers were killed and others fled the battlefield.
The recent string of battlefield defeats faced by that the Nigerian military has puzzled intelligence agencies. The Nigerian military has a reputation as a capable military force with a functional command chain structure. However, its inability to contain and defeat the Boko Haram insurgency reveals grave deficiencies within the military establishment.
An assessment conducted by SIN points out to deficiencies in military intelligence gathering capabilities, internal sabotage and ineffective military doctrines as the main culprits for these battlefield failures.
Warfare is about strategies, military tactics and intelligence. A successful military campaign is dependent on the availability of factual and actionable field intelligence. Nigerian Military Intelligence is seriously lacking in its intelligence gathering capabilities, and this explains why Boko Haram can launch surprise attacks on military barracks, villages and towns located in terror-prone areas. Intelligence gathering is a proactive exercise and it significantly informs the attack (or defensive) vectors that the military will adopt.
The repeated incidents of Boko Haram terrorists ambushing Nigerian military indicates instances of internal sabotage where government soldiers sympathetic to the terrorists reveal confidential military plans to the Sunni insurgent group. Failures by the military intelligence to unmask these internal saboteurs and abate espionage activities by Boko Haram have markedly jeopardized the national counter-insurgency efforts.
The Nigerian military has always been of the defensive in almost all its engagements with the terror group. This indicates an ineffective military doctrine which places the fighting troops at a strategic disadvantage. It also shows that the troops rely on inadequate intelligence which does not describe the enemy’s troop configuration, their plans, movements, location of bases and weapons caches; and their battlefield posture. These two factors act synergistically to attenuate the fighting capacity of the Nigerian military.