At the level of the Defence Headquarters, the Nigerian Armed Forces operate FOUR combined task forces which, in addition to their large military components, also have large contingents of Police Mobile Force(MOPOL), Police Anti Terrorism Squad(ATS), Police Anti Bomb Squad(ABS). There are also contingents drawn from the State Security Service and the National Intelligence Agency, as well as from paramilitary agencies such as the Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
The task forces and their proper designations are, in the order of their coming into being, are as follows;
* MULTINATIONAL JOINT TASK FORCE(MJTF):
Stationed at Baga on the Nigerian shores of the Lake Chad, about 1,942km driving distance to the northeast of Lagos. The MJTF is a tripartite affair involving the armies of Nigeria, Chad and Niger and was established in the mid-1990s to control the anarchical frontier which was badly affected by the antics of straying and prowling Chadian militiamen. It is the smallest of the task forces.
* JOINT (MILITARY) TASK FORCE-Operation Pulo Shield (formerly Operation Restore Hope)
Established around 2004, it is tasked with handling the now much-abated Niger Delta insurgency – ‘the Gunboat War’, illegal petro-bunkering, piracy in the creeks and coastal areas, kidnapping and hostage taking.
At the height of the Niger Delta insurgency, the JTF was said to have had over 10,000 men under arms. It is statutorily commanded by a Major General, with a Brigadier General serving as his deputy. There are commanders for each of the service components – Army, Navy and Air Force and there are Sector Commanders for Areas of Responsibility coinciding with the states of the core Niger Delta.
* SPECIAL TASK FORCE – Operation Safe Haven
Established about 3 years ago to counter the effects of a total breakdown of law and order occasioned by the genocidal killings perpetrated by ethnic militiamen on the Jos Plateau, with hundreds of persons sometimes slaughtered in a single night.
Stemming from the Muslim-Christian contention which was naturally entailed therein, the insurgents of Boko Haram quietly entered the fray on one side and beginning from Christmas Eve 2010 detonated IEDs which killed an estimated 86 people. There have been several other IED blasts perpetrated by Boko Haram on the Jos Plateau, most recently in March 2012.
The STF was until September 2011, statutorily commanded by Brigadier Generals. Perhaps as a result of threat perception and the fact that the murderous antics of ethnic militiamen have been exacerbated by the negative influence of Boko Haram, the profile of the STF has since September 2011 been raised. The STF is now commanded by a Major General and it has had an INFUSION of an additional two battalions, 500 seamen and airmen, an additional contingent of 1500 MOPOL and ATS men from the Nigeria Police Force and about 500 personnel drawn from the State Security Service, paramilitary services and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
* JOINT (SECURITY) TASK FORCE – Operation Restore Order: Established in June 2011 to vigorously confront Boko Haram insurgents, the JSTF has a triservice military component, an intelligence component comprised of men of the State Security Service and the National Intelligence Agency, men of the Nigeria Police Anti Terrorism Squad, Anti Bomb Squad, Marine Police Command and the Mobile Force(MOPOL). There are also elements of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Initially limited to Borno State of NE Nigeria as its Area of Responsibility(AOR) and made up of about 6000 combined forces, the JSTF in September 2011 had its AOR redefined to encompass a range of states where Boko Haram are known to be active(excluding Plateau State which is the STF’s AOR) and as such, the JSTF almost certainly number over 12,000 defence and security forces.
The JSTF appear to be on a high with near-daily liquidation and arrests of kingpins and terrorists alike having become its lot since January 2012.