Terrorism: Redefining our Approach By Raymond Inkabi
Insurgents and insurgencies have existed throughout world’s history, ebbing and flowing in strategic significance in response to social systems, of which almost every nation have had their share in the course of forging an identity for themselves – and just like them; Our Fatherland Nigeria is not an exception to this blight. Though, ours can be likened to a mixed wine with different flavors from many brands. We are at crossroads, and how we respond depends on the level of situational awareness we have of the issue at hand.
There are definite strategies we have to employ; to win the war on terror and create our desired society where unity and faith, peace and progress shall reign. Insurgents and terrorists tend to be highly adaptable and flexible, at least at the tactical and operational levels of their evils. To match them, counterinsurgent mechanisms must also be adaptable and quick to learn.
These insurgents are relatively strong – so our heads tells us. And yes, perhaps because they easily scout new recruits to replace fallen ones, or rather they seem resolute; determined and brutally wicked.
Ironically they continue to draw empathy, sympathy and support, and alas justification for their evils. We need to contain them. And we need to quell them. We need unrivaled peace. Terror is for the weak minds.
The military must learn these terror cells, their tactics, logistics, funds, operations, sympathizers both local and foreign. Also their origin, and what sustains their campaign; in terms allies, imported cash, weapons, manpower, experience, training and covert sponsors. It is important to know from the insurgent’s perspective. To defeat an enemy, you must know him well. For without any apologies, I do not agree with those who argue these insurgents are ghosts, invisible,
unknown, imaginary and all the superficial attribution of an alien to this enemy.
It’s common sense to know that we will find it difficult to triumph, when we see them as non destructible.
We must also factor in the locals here; they cannot be overemphasized or brushed aside. They play important roles in insurgencies and their counterinsurgent campaigns. Their support is strategic to both sides. It is not their physical support that largely sustains the campaign,
but rather their political or emotional support. Our military should develop an effects-based approach designed to fracture, delegitimize, delink, demoralize, and de-resource insurgents.
There is no single approach in defeating a complex insurgency like the Boko Haram and, or other sister terror groups. This requires a multidimensional approach and intelligence gathering network from both the military and civilians. We must win the locals, and everyone including the farmers.
For they are the system, they know it, live it and can surmount any challenge than an ordinary military personnel sent on recon. They are better informed and predisposed to any information. We must use them.
In fighting determined insurgents even the most effective methods, sometimes the only effective method violates human and civil rights.
Nigeria must choose between sinking to the ethical level of the insurgents or accept total anarchy defeat. In war there are no rules.
The only rule is to stay alive. We are at war with the insurgents and we need to stay alive to win this war, both in mind and body.
Casualties are inevitable; this path is a necessary evil. For he who wants nothing at all to do with evils at anytime must be an adventurist or an aristocrat living in a utopian villa.
Persistency in insurgency arousing popular sympathy amongst certain peoples and place must have a basis of genuine grievance if not feigned, also structures and leaders to keep on with terror. To succeed, our counterstrategy has to address the grievance – the root cause itself, before anything else. If we know that Insurgent groups can always disperse their forces, to make them smaller and more difficult to attack, also acquire more secure communications; better camouflage, and more effective diversions to counter measures by government forces, what do we expect if we launch a military offensive? Not much success, as we have seen. They continue to strike at will and choice.
We need to address the root causes rather, like poverty, unemployment, provision of social amenities, forging a national identity, human rights and good governance which involve their provision for all in a timely and decentralized manner. Not just Abuja alone and other major cities. Federal presence must be felt in all our 36 states with much emphasis on staging grounds – the northeastern states. Every individual region must have a stake in the Nigerian Project.
We cannot deny that these evildoers are also victims of these things too. But theirs is foolhardy and cowardly. And in the long term, poor governance can undermine a counterinsurgency effort by undermining popular support for the government. Thus it is important to ensure coordination between other actors involved in governance – the state, and local governments. Disengaging the sympathetic support of a large population is hard to achieve under our current engagement style.
Insurgents are often better able to build support networks and capture territory in rural areas. That is where government needs to be.
The ability to electronically map and survey territories to monitor insurgent sanctuaries and their support network is another critical intelligence capability which would give us an edge over them. The problem of destroying insurgent groups and their supporters is often one of finding them. This is where intelligence comes into play.
Gaining access to reliable and actionable information is of paramount importance. Every tip is important.
Insurgents’ ability to maintain sanctuary in neighboring countries can also be lethal to a successful counterinsurgency effort. This has to
be curbed by monitoring movements and by enforcing border security and also places where insurgents can gestate. The military and the government need to utilize diplomatic and other means to encourage neighboring states to stall recruitment campaigns for insurgents, close training camps, and conduct a sustained counterinsurgency campaign that undermines popular support for insurgents and capture or kill leaders and guerrillas to demoralize them. We need competent courts to prosecute insurgents, and terrorists. For effectively prosecuting insurgents is critical to the success of any counterinsurgency campaign. The failure to adequately deal with these individuals undermines our counterinsurgency efforts.
Insurgents sometimes can make religion a significant part of their rhetoric to gain popular support. We all need to demonstrate and preach tolerance and patience in our worship centers. Inciting sermons must be banned or censored altogether, and should not be heard playing on loudspeakers in markets or other public space anywhere. Promoting disorder is also a key objective for most insurgents – we can start by uniting all peoples and bridging every lacuna.
Because disrupting the economy and decreasing security help produce discontent among the government and undermine the strength and legitimacy of our government – we must shun all attempts to heat the polity and guard our budding democracy.
Public perceptions of security can be an important indicator for instance; public opinion polling can be adjusted to address perceptions of corruption or judicial integrity. The media should be
more responsive and objective always must be on the side of good against evil in their reportage. There is no point in glorifying these insurgents or their activities with front page headlines. If we
presume they do not read or listen to news. At least their sponsors do. Do not feed their egos. Starve them of information.
There is need to secure the authority of state: by protecting our government buildings and symbols, military facilities and installations, police structure and infrastructure, and law enforcement capabilities. Collecting information through patrols, surveillance, and interaction with the local population – the civilian JTF is commendable on this because they know the population and terrain better than the military do, and are more familiar with the social and cultural conditions. There should be synergy between our forces and these volunteer groups.
These groups are not to be pitied at all. Since all avenues to resolve the menace and bring them to table has woefully and unfortunately failed in every aspect. Their coordinated efforts to topple a legitimate government, has undoubtedly led to varying degrees of extremities. We must all rise up to the challenge! No more slumber, and no more committees! All hands must be ready, and we are those hands – not just the military and the government. In this light, our continued reliance on short-term cures, strategic medicines, futuristic technologies, and military expeditions represents a failure to understand the past or the direction of the future. God’s willing we shall triumph over this phase of our collective history. Peace to all those who died while we all slept.
The writer is a Concerned Nigerian, who still has Great Faith in Nigeria.
Follow him on www.twitter.com/@aklis_01
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