Nigerian mortar crews and a Toyota Landcruiser gun truck

By Ibrahim Abdul’Aziz and Dulue Mbachu
July 16, 2014

When Islamist militants raided the northeastern Nigerian village of Izghe, killing 90 people, some government troops dropped their weapons, stripped off their uniforms and fled in civilian clothes, according to two soldiers who were at the scene.

The soldiers said the troops were angry their monthly pay had been cut in half to 15,000 naira ($92) without explanation, heightening their belief that money meant for them and their front-line fight
against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram was being siphoned off by officials in Abuja, the capital.

“Somebody is sitting comfortably in Abuja stealing our money, and we are here facing Boko Haram fire every day,” Shu’aibu, a lance corporal, said in a June 11 interview in Yola, capital of Adamawa state. He spoke on the condition that his surname wasn’t published because he’s not authorized to comment.

Corruption among senior officers is weakening the army’s ability to defeat Boko Haram, which kidnapped more than 276 schoolgirls in April, said James, a sergeant who was at the Izghe attack in February and spoke on the condition that his last name wasn’t published.

The Nigerian budget allocates about $6 billion a year for defense and security. “Nigeria’s military budget is opaque, and only aggregate numbers are presented to the public, meaning that we don’t know how the budget is spent,” Mark Pyman of the Berlin-based corruption watchdog, Transparency International, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “The link between conflict and corruption is clear: Where funds are lost through corruption, soldiers don’t get the equipment and materiel they need.”

Army Desertion

Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant-General Kenneth Minimah said that desertion is part of any conflict. “We must accept that since the Carthaginian wars, soldiers have deserted from the battlefield,” Minimah told reporters in Abuja on July 14. “There’s a high level of unemployment on the ground, most people want jobs, and if that job is to join the army, fine, it’s a source of employment. But when the reality of military service comes,he drops his rifle and runs away.” The military is taking every necessary measure to check corruption and indiscipline by troops, he said.

Nigerian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Chris Olukolade said in an interview last month that the troops’ pay had to be cut temporarily because of a delay in the release of funds by the Finance Ministry, and they would receive their full salaries.

Intelligence ‘Failure’

While the Nigerian military has heavy conventional weaponry such as tanks, the security forces have been slow to adapt to the challenges of Boko Haram’s guerrilla tactics, according to Nnamdi Obasi, West Africa analyst of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. “I think from the onset the challenge was underestimated by the security forces,” Obasi said in a July 9 phone interview from Abuja. “It was a failure of intelligence.”

Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state, the birthplace of Boko Haram, said in February that the Islamist group is better armed and motivated than government troops.

The Nigeria Labour Congress, the umbrella trade union federation, and human rights activists including lawyer Femi Falana have led calls for a probe of how the military budget is being spent.

Boko Haram, whose name means “western education is a sin” in the local Hausa language, drew global outrage with its April 14 abduction of 276 schoolgirls from their dormitories in the northeastern town of Chibok. The U.S., U.K. and France have joined an international effort to find and rescue the girls.

Islamic Law

The group’s five-year-old insurgency to impose Islamic law on Africa’s top oil-producing nation has killed thousands of people and forced almost half a million to flee their homes last year, according
to the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. Three bomb attacks in Abuja this year have claimed at least 120 lives. Aminu Sadiq Ogwuche, a U.K.-born former Nigerian military intelligence officer who’s suspected to have masterminded one of the attacks, was extradited to Nigeria yesterday from Sudan, police said.

“Boko Haram is effectively waging war on the people of northeastern Nigeria at a staggering human cost,” Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement yesterday. “Atrocities committed as part of a widespread attack on civilians are crimes against humanity, for which those responsible need to be held to account.”

Death Toll

Boko Haram killed at least 2,053 civilians in about 95 attacks in the first six months of the year, Human Rights Watch said. In some areas, Nigerian security forces have been accused of receiving bribes from Boko Haram and cooperating in the group’s attacks, according to Pyman of Transparency International.

On June 1, the mainly Christian village of Attagara, near the border with Cameroon, beat back an attack by suspected Islamist militants, killing 37 of them, according to Pogu Bitrus, a church minister and chairman of Kibaku Elders Association,representing the main ethnic group in Chibok and the Gwoza region.

When villagers learned that the militants were preparing a reprisal attack, they went to the nearby military base at Pulka to report what they had learned and were promised protection, he said.

Weapons Theft

“The next day people dressed like soldiers came in nine armored vehicles with Nigerian army marks and called on the people to come and discuss the security situation,” Bitrus said in a June 27 phone interview. “And when they came they opened fire on them, killing at least 250 men, women and children.”

Bitrus alleged that some military units withdrew from bases in the region so Boko Haram fighters could loot weapons,including the armored vehicles used to attack Attagara, he said.

“The military has tanks, has artillery, and they have never been used against Boko Haram,” he said. “Instead, they’re sending out soldiers in pick-up trucks to confront them.”

With troops currently deployed on security duties in 28 of Nigeria’s 36 states, the 130,000-strong army is “over-stretched,” said Obasi of International Crisis Group. It also has to deploy and supply its forces across the three states under emergency rule, which cover an area of 154,000 square kilometers (59,500 square miles), about the size of the U.S. state of Georgia, of difficult terrain.

Isolated Soldiers

“It’s very difficult to deploy small numbers without having a means to resupply them, risking having them isolated and cut off,” Obasi said.

Since the abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok, at least 538 people have been killed in attacks on 18 mainly Christian communities bordering the Sambisa forest hideout of the militants in the Gwoza district of the northeast, according to a toll kept by the Kibaku Elders Association.

Many communities besieged by the militants have turned to local vigilantes for their defense. “There isn’t enough fight against Boko Haram,” said Bitrus. “The local vigilantes should be armed to defend themselves. Unless something is done, we’re heading to anarchy.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Dulue Mbachu in Abuja at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at

Karl Maier, Paul Richardson


About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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  1. Delavegas says:

    #15,000 Naira a month. Chai, diaris God oooo

  2. jimmy says:

    This to me one of the first real balanced stories concerning some of the problems bedeviling the NA . There is no question this war by its conclusion will destroy some people careers and uplift others. One of the things that WILL COME OUT OF THIS WAR IS THE GOOD ( BRAVERY OF NIGERIAN SOLDIERS AND THE URGENT NEED TO BUY REAL EQUIPMENT. The BAD. The lackadaisical attitude of people who real power to make certain game changing decisions especially military officers and the UGLY the desertions and until January of this year the LACK of CRYSTAL CLEAR EYED POLITICAL WILL .
    It is not surprising that this article was written by a Nigerian.

  3. drhobert says:

    Die for ur nation for 15000naira while legislooters collect 45million?Pls desert d army.It isnt worth it.

    • igbi says:

      How could you say this : “Pls desert d army.It isnt worth it.” ?
      This is one of the reasons I am not commenting on this blog anymore, people keep talking before thinking! if you did think before talking thrn I shall conclude you are a boko haram terrorist or sympathizer. Now rephrase what you said and take out your encouragement for desertion and for boko haram overruning the nation and killing our relatives.

      • rugged7 says:

        lol..Oga Igbi u don start again. I doubt if anybody on this blog supports boko haram.
        Your blind love and patriotism for Nigeria is quite obvious.

        BUT the truth must be said, try not to get overly emotional. The truth hurts sometimes but it is a stark warning for those in the corridors of power.

        They have to shape up or ship out….

      • igbi says:

        I think you don’t get me, I also think the government should do more for the military, but I really don’t see how encourageing soldiers to desert is going to help my relatives stay alife ! There are things you don’t say in war time. I am not a fan of GEJ and other politicians, I have said the worse things about them on this blog. But the one thing I don’t understand is the guy calling for soldiers to desert ! Now tell me how that makes me blind.

      • AreJames says:

        Please we don’t want our young soldiers deserting the army. It is frustrating what is happening in terms of national resource prioritization but as someone said here most soldiers at the frontlines in any army are more motivated by love for their unit, camaraderie, spirit de corps and regimental pride than woolly eyed patriotism. Psychologists are still researching why patriotism falls so low in the hierarchy of motivators after recruitment.
        Money on its own does not even enter the picture at all…so let is leave that one.
        I think young men join the army out of patriotism but stay in it out of camaraderie and love of the unit. This love is at least what we hope continues to keep the army together while corrupt or self serving politicians get their own due in good time.

    • drhobert says:

      I withdraw my comment and apologise if it rubbed off poorly on all u distinguished cyber combatants.Bt d way things ar goin ar beginning to seem unreal.Lyk though d ogas at d top are animals without reasoning or compassion expected of human beings.First,u equip d troops poorly nd send to avoidable deaths u den giv dem poor renumeration all bcos of lov for naija.Common men its inhuman.And to disagree wit sm views of my elders here corruption contributes to desertion.Using myself as an instance I doubt I will stay at d war front if my renumeration is poor nd worse still is not regular.BT havin said dis I apologised to all my elders here nd Mod watchers for my ill thought comment

  4. asorockweb says:

    15,000 Naira a month is not salary; it is combat hazard pay.

    This is in addition to salary.

    Just getting the facts straight.

    • AreJames says:

      This is extremely low hazard pay. These guys are going to be comparing themselves to colleagues on UN peacekeeping missions. That is why a sophisticated rotation programme should be in place run by the NA office of plans that comprehensively shares the experiences across the board both locally and internationally for all ratings. So many moving parts requiring sophisticated IT based processes. Our MOD probably needs to be split into separate ministries for Army, Navy and Airforce as obtains in the US to handle these problems; duty rosters, promotions, training, allowances and remuneration, pensions, medical, rehabilitation, reskilling st.c.

      • asorockweb says:

        Please o, MOD bureaucracy is enough.

        No need for additional civil servants to add to the 90% recurrent expenditure

  5. peccavi says:

    The way to tackle this problem is to pay direct into accounts straight from MoD HQ. It removes temptation from civil servants and senior officers and allows soldiers and their families to access funds promptly. It reduces the cost of administration and just makes sense

  6. freeegulf says:

    the 30000 is not salary. its danger pay.
    NA needs to rotate troops in the NE every 4 months max! anything longer than that will bring in poor motivation and inefficiency.
    balanced report though. you can definitely tell it wasnt written by some oyibo from 3000 miles away that is completely clueless.
    i really hope the army can introduce proper discipline top down

  7. ozed says:

    On this matter of desertion, I think we need to take a careful and balanced view of what is going on.
    This idea of blaming corruption for desertion is funny to me. Desertion in the face of the enemy is almost as old as prostitution. If you look at operations during the Civil war, Liberia, Sierra Leone you will find similar trends of desertion. the main difference for me is that this is Nigeria’s first ‘Internet war’, sort of the way Vietnam was USA’s first televised war. Today disgruntled grunts (no pun indented lol) have direct access to the newspapers, blogs, twitter etc. and can pass their grievances across. This is a first for Nigeria.

    Regarding the weak attempts at justifying what to my mind is basically cowardice, we should ask the following questions:
    1. Is the corruption now more than it was during the ECOMOG years?
    2. Are the guys in the North East actually having a harder time than the boys in Sierra Leone etc.
    3. Is the fighting here more difficult than ECOMOG faced? Especially since Charles Taylor had artillery and MRLSs?
    4. If the real reason behind the desertion is corruption, why have the larger number of the boys stayed at their positions and chosen to do their jobs?

    Finally, (and i am sure Pecavvi can bear me out on this), what motivates 90% of soldiers to brave untold odds to win battles is not national pride or love of country, it is actually self preservation, unit pride and camaraderie with the guys in the trench next to you.

    When you drop your gun and scamper for the rear, it is actually these your bunker mates that you disrespect the most. You are basically telling them your own life is worth more to you than theirs is worth to them.

    I think we should call a spade a spade, desertion is driven far more by cowardice, than any high minded protest about allowances or corruption.

    My view.

  8. igbi says:

    Deserters deserve a bullet to the head.

    • AreJames says:

      Agreed. There is even a social stigma to it. The NA has been forced to fish with a net in its recruitment in order to make up the numbers that is why the wrong guys have passed through. The army is not an unemployment alleviation agency and it is not for failed young spare parts traders looking for something to do before starting another business line.If you don’t have the spirit of sacrifice and basic discipline you should not be recruited at all. Another point is that no army has all it needs war is not X-Box 360.

      • AreJames says:

        …blasting enemy goons from behind LCD screens with hi tech standoff weapons and recording kill ratios of 100:1 is sweet…. but just fantastic. The reality is that ammo runs out, supplies don’t come on time, mosquitoes bite, your best friend bleeds to death next to you.

      • giles says:

        you are very stupid. wot a stupid comment. If u check well here is not nairaland

      • igbi says:

        I think we are blowing this desertion thing way out of proportion, so a few soldiers have deserted, it is not the end of the world, although I hope the army captures them and executes those traitors. Let us just put measures that would stop this from reoccurring. One thing I know is that Mr Are James, you are wrong in saying the army recruited the wrong people to fill in the numbers, with a population of 180 million and the number of candidates each year, the size of the military makes you realize the army took in excellent candidates and refused some candidates who would have easily made special forces in a western country. I want to say a big Thank you to all the soldiers who keep the flag flying, a true soldier would doesn’t desert, I hope i will be joining you guys soon. You are my heroes. God bless.

  9. asorockweb says:

    The NA has not been force to “fish with a net”

    I believe part of the problem was that smart, self-centered young men outwitted the hard, brave, and maybe not-so-smart young men that were the typical NA recruits.

    The young men wanted a good job – they didn’t join to die for their country.
    In a way, they had the mindset of many US soldiers prior to 911 – Join the Army, get an education.

    Our soldiers are trained but they are not exercised.

    How many recruits are exercised on how to properly fight from their 4WD vehicles and how to defeat ambushes while in convoy?
    Do they have to practice with their very lives?

    If soldiers are repeatedly exercised on the typical combat scenarios that occur in the north east, they are much less likely to feel overwhelmed in the face of combat.

    Deserting under fire has nothing to do with corruption or lack of combat pay.

    If a soldier feels so cheated that he wants to quit the Army, the time to do so is when you are in barracks – going AWOL is different from deserting under fire.

    Deserting under fire puts your colleagues at risk.

    • AreJames says:

      This is a valid point raised about field craft with the 4WD vehicles mounted with machine guns and cannons. To what extent are we really practically trained on this?. How are the convoys arranged?, how do the look outs position themselves and with what equipment do they observe? in an ambush who does what?. who evacuates the injured?, who lays down protective fire? …et.c

  10. jimmy says:

    You guys have spoken the truth . OGA DR HOBERT your apology is accepted. OGA HENRY you hit the nail on the head. The comments from the C.O.A.S . were tough, accurate, and very insightful. impressed that my GENERAL read on the Carthaginian wars .
    Desertion before fire / under fire/ after fire is a personal decision that is centered on cowardice pure and simple whether they are paid N1000,000.00 or N100.00. The Nigerian Army is a volunteer army in short no one as the American Indian would say “forces you to put pen or finger to paper to sign”.
    In the last two years 2011-2013 We witnessed at least accurately the addition of 10 brand new battalions, ( 8000+) as the C.O.A.S. said like any other agency unfortunately some of these individuals viewed it as an employment agency until the true hazards of joining the military reared its head.
    Some of these deserters were probably hired during this period , the balanced report also stated that a lance corporal kept his uniform on , it is important not from a psychological point of view but from a practical point of view he should be rewarded and used as a recruitment tool.
    When gulf war1 and gulf war2 came just like what happened now we saw such people infact there was pathetic case of a doctor who tried to sue the PRESIDENT OBAMA saying he would not obey the order he was discharged with a bad record, jailed, lost all his benefits over a 20 year period.
    Personally I have not been in the army but I have a very dangerous job where people have died, and IN INSTANCES I have been on the job for 15 hours straight, it is not the pay as you guys have pointed out, it is the fear of failure of letting my buddies down , my family down that drives me.
    It is best they desert now just as the fight and the weapons begin to arrive, not when the battle is thickest and occurring everyday when they will be needed to be counted on.
    Lastly and to end on a good note in any war there are exceptional acts of bravery going on everyday some these stories after being FILTERED need to be released to the public, we are hearing accounts just like like the civil war of our sisters playing significant roles in war operations the army would do well to profile them. LET US FOCUS ON THOSE GUYS DR HOBERT LET US PRAISE THOSE GUYS THOSE GUYS STAYED.

  11. Makanaky says:

    I will not call it desertion but melting to fight another day, sometimes we are too patriotic not to see the other side. Do any of us know how well armed BH fighters are ? There is evidence of Libyan, stolen Nigerian Army weapons and recently Cameroonians army weapons been used by BH fighters.
    At least there is a retooling process taking place, I just hope its speedy enough to avert more unnecessary deaths.
    I think we should be careful at blaming frontline soldiers because this war has not been fought with the right attitude, political will, weapons, strategy, civil-military support and above all National destiny.
    This is the right time to think again and make the right decisions ! the Military, civilians and the politicians should speak with one voice,so many lives have been lost to these less humans called Boko Haram just because of our obvious division.

    • Are James says:

      “melting to fight another day …”. I need to write this down somewhere. I am learning a lot from this blog… lol.

    • igbi says:

      There is a reason deserters are either shot or given prison sentences. There is no such thing as “melting to fight an other day”. There is no such thing as pity in the war front as well. It feels like you don’t get what is at stake, just imagine this picture : boko haram arrives your village, they start with your neighbor and behead him then they move to the house of one of your relatives and start the beheading … Yes we have to push the politicians to do their job, but no there is no excuse for desertion, only a bullet to the head ! We can survive without politicians but not without an army. I am 27 years old, I hope it is not too late to join.

      • igbi says:

        I meant I hope i am not too old to join.

      • Tope says:

        Hey guys while the issue of deserters is being said lets think logically, a soldier is armed with few clips, hasnt secured his families future, doesnt hv right kitting n is pushed to fight n ambushed, he is not a coward for fighting, he knows the stake, Read Napoleons Wars he did, even die hard soldiers no when to retreat and regroup, its a battle for Gods sake, what will u expect a soldier to do when he has ran out of ammo? Lets make it clear there are 2 types of deserters, the cowards and the fight anoda day types, we d
        anoda nt knw the pyschological stress soldiers go through daily, for them willing to lay their lifes down they deserve commendation, do nt call dem cowards they are not robots nor magicians, if and when the Military gets its act together then it will stop

        First the Army is not an employment agency let all soldiers serve on da frontline as final test after trainingto be formally inducted, this will wean da chickens from the Eagles.

        Second, arm each soldier to the teeth n give n meet all assurances that when and if they are ambushed, close air support will be there.

        Third, Generals and Battle Commanders must work with soldiers to craft battle strategy, when u jog the brains of ur
        men u become a unit n that bond is unbreakable, wat we have now are Generals coming up with strategies isolated from on the ground reports, Minimah must deal directly with soldiers through their leaders so the facts are not lost in da chain of command.

        Last should be Welfare, provide lifetime support for soldiers n their family, if we follow this you will see an Army of da

  12. freeegulf says:

    melting to fight another day ke. who gave the orders to ‘melt’? oga, i dont think you understand anything about battlefield discipline. please enough of this smart words. DESERTION and AWOL are two different things

    if you dont like the system and its chronic wahala, then leave while you can. but please do not get to the frontline, and then start ‘melting’.
    troops who dessert are traitors, and should be shot. cowardice in the face of danger. God help this current crop of NA, they are becoming too self centered for the good of this once great institution.

    • Triggah says:

      ‘melting to fight another day’… Best piece of comedy I’ve heard in days… ‘melt…

    • giles says:

      a man is sent to fight without proper equipment. during the ecomog d military provide air cover for d ground troop and all so no one to leak troops movement and mission. but now b4 d troops even leave der base ,dose idiots know der at coming.pls let me ask if u we’re dose brave troops wot will u do,keep on during like a’s simple give d troop Intel air cover and proper fighting hardware. and let’s see if some of our troops will still dessert

      • igbi says:

        Tell them sir. politicians i hope you are listening !

      • igbi says:

        Although let us not forgive deserters and let us not accept excuses deserters give even though we accuse our politicians of being complicit in this (for not providing the needful in due time).

  13. igbi says:

    Politicians, you better start performing or the people will give you a “bloody nose”

  14. peccavi says:

    Oga Ozed, you are correct that higher purposes have very little to do with why a man fights, fear of failure, comradeship etc have more to do with it than anything.
    However I hope those wishing to shoot deserters are standing in line to take their place. If a soldier is worried about his pay, inadequate equipment, doesn’t trust his commanders, has no idea when he will be rotated, then he will lose more and more interest in fighting. The objective will change from doing ones duty to survival at all costs. There will always be cowards and never do wells, however before we judge soldiers then lets make sure they have all they need to suceed

  15. airsupport says:

    I really do appreciate the work Mr Beegeagle is doing but I think a lot of the regular commentators on this blog are really out of touch with the reality of the Nigerian defence apparatus. A lot of people come here to live out their fantasies. @Peccavi, thank goodness you seem to still see things realistically.
    To the rest of you, consider the following then make your judgement:
    1. What is the appropriate punishment for an APC/IFV crew man who deserts gets ambushed due to fuel starvation because after he is sent on a patrol with 1/4 tank of diesel because a superior is enriching himself with the fuel budget,?
    2. What is an appropriate punishment for an infantryman who deserts his duty post due to the frustration of being constantly sent out on patrols totally under-equipped?
    3. What is the appropriate punishment for a soldier who lost a comrade due to lack of air support while his service chiefs ride around in $50m Gulfstream and Falcon jets?
    I may not be a service man but I have drinking buddies who have served up to 4 tours in the NE and believe me the picture they paint is not pretty at all. expect more deserters. Corruption in the military has sky-rocketed since the BH insurgency, while welfare continues to remain poor. It amazes me that the armchair defence analysts don’t see “fire on the mountain” after 2 mutinies in Maiduguri.

    • AreJames says:

      All these things you mention have been trashed on this blog to almost treasonable levels. However, the idea of a soldier deserting because of perceived ills of leadership or inadequacy of weaponry is completely new in history. It does not happen. Armies advance and retreat as a unit. During set piece battles, units can withdraw tactically, report, replan and regroup based on communication up the chain of command but turning tail, putting on civilian clothes and blending with local populace is cowardice.
      Most wars irrespective of what we read in history are mostly mediocre affairs, the US wasted money in Iraq and Afghanistan and made billionaires of neo con aligned businesses like Haliburton and some select PMCs and there was a year that ammo and flak jackets were inadequate, hummvies and trucks were being blown up everyday…yet we did not see a lot of desertioms and the few there were not justified in this manner.
      I think the CIC is to blame for the slide in the military but he seems to be making ammends and calling generals to order, the press is also not letting up in its constant pressure about weaponry and soldiers field allowanes and whether the stories are 100% true or not we should commend them for making the noises. I still think the maverick Sahara Reporters is doing Nigeria the greatest good in this respect…safer to have an amplified loss than exaggerated victory in terms of driving home improvements.

    • freeegulf says:

      yes we know that NA senior officers are corrupt and this level of corruption is unprecedented in the history of this great institution. we saw similar deplorable acts during the ND crisis.

      @ oga airsupport, senior officers in strategic positions often relish these sorts of opportunities in ISOs while hoping the conflict can be milked financially as much as they possibly can. its a shame, and the office of the COAS has to address this degenerative behavior.

      however, its a deploring attitude on our part to defend cowardice. i understand you are familiar with some of the combatants that have done tours up north, hence the personal wish for their safety and wellbeing. but you should know this; the army is not for halfhearted conditional fighters. if a soldier cannot stomach the crisis and its ugly realities, they should leave while they can. but please do not do a ‘melting off’ or the other comic phrase, ‘live to fight another day’. do not do a runner. by doing this, they are condemning their comrades in arms to inglorious death.

      let me make this clear, if an infantry man leaves his base (which is far from the frontline and says ‘i have had it. damn these corrupt officers’ ) decided to quit the army, its ok, i don’t blame him, even if i do not personally agree with his mentality or action. but that is AWOL, which is common.
      however, when an individual soldier or APC crew decide to abandon their position at the frontline or during a firefight and break contact without permission from the appropriate quarters, leaving others blind or in assumption, then they are guilty of cowardice. and if they are caught, they should be tied to the drum and summarily shot! the army was never a bed of roses. please quit before endagering your comrades who depend on a chain of command. even in a sudden loss of comms to relevant units, which is very common in combat, unit cohesion, whether at the section or platoon level should still decide actions and movements. there are cases where troops for whatever reason where cut off from friendly lines. these troops still manage, collectively or individually to reach their parent units or other friendly positions.

      attitude is important for aggressive combat. nigerian soldiers were never known for their timidness. if this generation of frontline soldiers lack that warrior spirit, i feel pity for the institution in general.

      apart from lacking some crew serve weapons which can help maximize terrs casualties, the army has everything it needs to fight and defeat these terrs.
      air support is important. but when the air force has skeletal equipment to provide CAS, should the army then pack up and retire?
      what happened to good ‘ol recon. how can officers deploy convoy without appropriate counter ambush measures. don’t the army reconnoiter routes and carry out aggressive patrols to dominate the ground?

      so without air support, soldiers cant engage terrorists now? na wah o.
      what if you have all the necessary assets, and still yet, at the middle of an ongoing operation ( which i should say, might have been meticulously planned, with the fighting even progressing better than the book) sand storm or other natural weather conditions grounded the air force. so they will automatically pause the fight and wait for the air force to resume air worthiness abi?

      during WW2, the germans prayed for bad weather while the allies wished for air support, we know which army was the best in the war. highly tactical forces like the RDF where overrunning larger oppo forces without air cover. now the once mighty, all conquering, fearless nigerian army now make excuses about air cover or lack of it.

      what happened to FOs, and artillery spotting? we saw AMISON using micro and mini tactical UAVs, and we re here waiting for NAF acquisitions. if this present campaign is left to to emotions and mood of civilians ( irrespective of their position or support), the army would turn into a militia.

      i blame DARP and chris olukolade. if they where doing a proper job, the bad exceptions wouldnt be overriding the hardwork of the other tough and long suffering grunts.

      after all being said, i commend the brave and long suffering sojas that re keeping the flag flying. keeping guard and doing their duties so that others might enjoy freedom and prosperity.
      God bless them, and bless the NA. viva the FRN.

  16. freeegulf says:

    oga tope, so you are now a military theorist, defining desertion and defending deserters. please, there are no two forms of desertion. there is nothing like fight another day for individual soldiers. please stop all this civilian view of combat.

    the fact that you use the word ‘desertion’ should tell you there are no two angles to cowardice. like i mentioned previously, DESERTION is different from AWOL. going AWOL is something very normal in armies worldwide. but running away in the face of enemy action is DESERTION, and it is punishable by death in the Nigerian army.

    soldiers don’t make the decision to run away and fight another day. that is utter bonkers.
    for frontline troops, should the fighting position become untenable and there’s risk of being overrun, the troops request permission to withdraw. they don’t just throw away their fatigue, their gear, and do a ben johnson.

    even in fluid situations where troops had to quickly break contact and withdraw to another line, they will inform their neighbouring units.

    imagine a case where your flank has been left exposed by ‘live to fight another day troops’, now you re completely exposed at your flanks, just because some ‘melting off’ soldiers decided to run without requesting permission for withdrawal or even informing other units. communication link is vital in combat, if this is lost, a whole unit could be wiped off, simply because the left hand did not know what the right hand was up to. let me give you with an illustration of what happens when there is no communication among units; a soviet battalion moving through a valley was nearly wiped out in a harsh mountainous area somewhere in afghanistan by mujaheddins occupying the high ground. now for anyone that understand a little bit about tactics, the first thought would be why did the battalion choose to move through the valley? why did they not occupy the high ground and secure their lines? well, guess what, a neighbouring battalion had been sent to secure the high ground earlier. the battalion at the valley thought their neighbours were still occupying the high ground, as such, where secure to move along the base of the mountain. the result was a catastrophic tragedy were a battalion was nearly wiped out. moral lesson: communication.
    the unit that was supposed to hold the high ground, did a timid patrol, felt it was not worth their time, and decide to withdraw without informing HQ or neighbouring units. good men where wasted there just because some foolish CO decided holding a ground was not worth his time.

    advance to contact, peeling off, feint, fall backs, breaking of contact, secondary fighting positions, all these are everyday necessities in combat. however, any decision to carry out these maneouvres rest solely with the leadership element and not to individual soldiers. the section leaders, platoon leaders, coy OC, they are responsible, so are the NCOs who ensure unit cohesion.
    it appears that these basic elements is lacking in some units of the 7th division. Command and Control is of utmost importance in any army. without C&C, the combatants are essentially a mob.

    a lot of questions need to be asked of the junior leadership and NCO cadre of this present crop of NA. discipline seems to be lacking and simply poor if reports coming from upcountry can be stomached as factual, and discipline is the achilles heel of this army, God help them. without discipline, you might as well disband the unit and form it from ground up.

    the COAS does not interact with single units; platoons and company, except at his own discretion. he has officers to carry out this task. the platoon leaders report to their COY OC, the company to the battalion, and so forth. once there is breakdown in the relationship between the officers and the men, like someone else mentioned, there is fire on the mountain.

    • Are James says:

      C2 in COIN is essentially about the quality of mid level leadership competence and communications hardware. The main actors are captains, majors, colonels and a few brigadiers. Let us remember that COIN is essentially on the tactical level. There is nothing necessarily strategic about rounding up highly motivated boko haram miscreants. The COAS should rejig the competency profile of all mid level officers in theatre via on the job training/quick brainstorming workshops and equip them better in terms of secure communications, platoon level fire power and a secret protocol for geographical neighbouring units providing reinforcements for each other in a dynamic fashion.
      Finally close air support, let all pilots and NAF ground ops supporting the NE operations report to a single army CO for now until the NA Air Corps comes on stream.

  17. peccavi says:

    Oga AreJames abeg make I no begin misyarn this afternoon.
    All this one you are saying is story. A tactical manoeuvre is a tactical manoeuvre, what we are discussing is that which makes a man stand and fight.
    If a soldier does not believe in his cause he will not fight, simple, if a soldier is not properly conditioned, he will not fight, simple.
    Because you seee US or western soldeirs on TV and movies you think they are supermen? Oga, they break like normal human beings. You think I’ve not seen US soldiers retreat from Taliban? Insurgents pushed the Italians out of Najaf while I was there. Una dey believe say war na video game.
    When those soldiers were pushed out they had to go back and do their job, even if you didnt get air support they knew it was because of circumstance nbot because someone was chopping money. In Iraq sometimes I had less than 4 magazines of ammo. However this was not because my Ogas were selling ammo (in reality it was because they were fucking idiots) but although we bitched about it we trusted that we would fight for each other. Again let me list (using Afghanistan) how I was treated.
    I had shit loads of ammo, grenades etc
    We had AH and fast air on call
    We had 81mm on call
    we had 51mm mortars in the platoon
    My leaders were with us, the OC and CO shat in the same hole, ate the same crap
    We were paid direct into our accounts, we received allowances for deployment, for working in hot weather, for working in armoured vehicles, we had life and kit insurance, when we left we had psychological debriefing, and leave.
    As leaders one of the things you would get the most shot for is if you ate before your men, slept before your men, didnt make sure they had been paid, didn’t know their personalities
    One of the more important part of your plans/ orders are how you will extract casualties, everyone from the Platoon commander, sergeant, Coy commander, and Sergeant major will personally let you know that whatever fucking happens you will be brought off the battlefield and taken to hospital.
    Have you heard of a single battle where UK/ US forces did not recover the bodies of their dead or wounded (same with the Taliban sha)
    There is a dedicated organisation supporting returnees with financial and other problems.
    If you do get killed or wounded not only does your personal insurance payout, but the army will payout, charities will look after you, from national charities but local or regimental charities.
    Fallen soldiers are honoured, their names and pictures are on the news and they are mentioned like human beings not hidden away
    Yet I have still seen soldiers refuse to go on.
    The solution was not to shoot deserter which is without doubt one of the most fucking stupid ideas in military history but to manage the problem. Each soldier is taught the warning signs of ‘Battle shock’, commanders are encouraged to identify those soldiers counsel them, keep them with their friends an try and get them to conquer their fear
    Those that go into total battle shock are withdrawn, taken to hospital for 48 hours rest, almost all will volunteer to return within 24 hours, those that don’t are counselled, most will return, those that don’t are withdrawn or transferred to another unit or other tasks
    Now this all sounds very fluffy but (a) it works (b) it reduces wastage and it utilises what Oga Ozed correctly identifies is the biggest motivator for a soldier, his friends, shame and the family bond of his unit and regiment

    Now compare this with the Nigerian soldier and policeman
    Their pay goes through Oga
    Their allowances are randomly deducted
    Equipment and food is poor
    Police have to buy their own fuel
    Men are posted randomly to units, rather than training and deploying with the same men
    Morale is fairly indeterminate
    Casualty figures fluctuate, rather than having a fixed insurance scheme, survivors and widows depend on a big man or governor making a donation

    I would happily and willingly fight for free in the North East but can we ask the same of our soldiers and police?
    Do we not do them a greater and more unconscionable disservice by failing to ask that they are treated properly?
    Despite all I have said they are still there, they still pushed down the road to Damboa twice to fight the enemy

    So please, abeg, if you want to shoot deserters, take your ass to Damboa, stand behind the troops and shoot anyone retreating, then take their place.

    If not abeg keep quiet, watch your TV and leave the boys alone

    • igbi says:

      As usual you treat one side of the problem well but you neglect the other side: can Nigeria afford mass desertion ? Should it be encouraged ?
      No, as I have stated we need to do the needful to provide for the soldiers, but there shall be no excuse for deserting, only a bullet to the head. There is no pity at war.

      • peccavi says:

        Get on a plane go to Nigeria sign up or shut the fuck up

      • igbi says:

        I think it is you who should shut the fuck up !

      • Sele says:

        Ur opinion is pretty strange. no one supports desertion among troops in the front line. However, the truth is that if most armies of the world fight in the condition of troops welfare, equipment state that the NA personnel are presently involved in there will be 75 – 90 % desertion. Do u know how it feels to operate in a condition where you are not sure when ur dependents will get ur gratuity if u die in combat or if ur quarters in the barracks will still be available to them 6 month after ur demise. please dont make those comments if you dont wear the shoes to know where it pinches. Thank God the majority of troops are still in the frontlines

      • igbi says:

        look @sele, I say this without any passion, just logics. If some brave soldiers are being killed and the punishment for deserting is less than death then you have a situation in which desertion becomes an option. I had a deserter in my family, but still all deserter deserve the bullet (to the head) nothing less.

    • AreJames says:

      Wow. I can’t argue with coal face experience.

  18. jimmy says:

    oga Peccavi
    Much respect for your comments and I most honorably disagree and I will disclose that i will take oga freeegulf’s side as a matter of disclosure. The estimated quantity of Soldiers who have deserted there post in a combined force of 20,000 + men is approximately less than 200 which is less than 1% .
    The COAS as OGA HENRY said came out publicly and addressed publicly some of the fundamental problems of why this happened let us even go by what you discussed i.e they were intially not paid on time, lack of enough back up and procurement weapons, air support no sugar coating.
    The situation you described for the British troops works well in a small confined area it does not do well over when you are fighting and covering areas that extend through to border towns of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad that are extremely vast and are not very idealistic or realistic.
    The reality is back up does now always come ( ask the Americans, the reality is AIRSUPPORT CAN BE NON EXISTENT. In the states two MARINE 2 star GENERALS LOST THEIR CAREERS because a base was almost overrun consisting of 45 SOLDIERS 9 were killed by the same rag tag taliban and score were wounded.The equipment was there, the soldiers were well fed and well paid and I am sure their insurance was paid up to date and they got their weekly phone calls (okay that was below the belt I apologize).
    OGA freeegulf is saying you do not abandon your comrades due to timidity in the middle of an IMPENDING FIRE FIGHT or DURING an INTENSE FIREFIGHT , you do not abandon your comrades or even recently bought equipment in the middle of a fight. There have been cases of DESERTION IN THE HEAVILY CENSORED REPORTS FROM AFGHANISTAN , berghdahl is the first to breech the code this is unforgivable PEOPLE DIE WHEN THIS HAPPENS 5 PEOPLE DIED searching for that mofo,No amount of counseling needs to be done with someone who has a despicable act like that in mind.
    This personally was also one of the worst excessess of President OBAMA’S L EFT WING TENDENCIES he is no hero, like the Nigerian deserter he walked out from camp left his equipment, and was captured, 5 men died walking into an ambush trying to find that mofo this is the crux of oga freegulf if you are going to desert do so in away that it does not put the rest of your comrades in the greatest peril.
    TONS OF EQUIPMENT are being bought right now ( we know because the assholes who are politicians are falling over themselves to tell us) There will still be the desertions no matter what because ” It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”.
    This has held true since ROMAN TIMES and is ongoing even in the North east.
    OGA PECCAVI There is a picture of a Nigerian Soldier on NAIRALAND with a heavily bandaged left hand manning a machine gun just before an impending firefight, I do not think he thinking about his pay or anything else ,I believe he knows he has to be there for his buddies pure and simple.

  19. freeegulf says:

    oga jimmy, thanks for your comment. as usual, you are top notch! I don’t see why Oga Peccavi of all people is defending this deplorable act. Whether British army or US army, we re not that wealthy to match them policy and firepower wise. However, what the troops have on ground is enough to consolidate and defend their positions from any terrs. Without comparison, try find out from any veteran of the DRC conflict, especially the 98-01 era. Those Rwandese and Zims have got the stomach for combat. The RDF junior leadership were comparable to officers in any army worldwide. Only the Eritreans could match that sort of discipline. We had that too. But now, we are just wobbling.

    Someone mentioned that six APCs where lost in Damboa Boko attack. Now i don’t know how accurate that is. But please, if true, how can troops abandon their colleagues and their equipment. This is the same NA that used to go back to the field to look for unaccounted rounds for inventory. An army that used to be so thorough. Even an ex army chief is at a loss about this army’s battle performance and we are here talking about counselling.

    I cant comment more on the Damboa debacle since i do not know it in detail. but from this bits i have been hearing, i think the army still has a long way to go before they can effectively destroy this vermin. Good job SBS, they are silent and competent warriors.

    God bless the NA. we just need to take this war more serious and wipe out these vermin

    • beegeagle says:

      Elsewhere, ALADE wrote


      I hav to correct dis guy who said damboa was taken over by boko haram, dats jst a twisted story wat really happened was that there was heavy fighting between the military & boko harams though they both had casualty but boko haram over powered the military. The military evacuated the base when ther was no assurance of air cover. For ur info,no MRAP was lost to the insurgents.


  20. igbi says:

    To deserters reading this, your bullet is coming (to corrupt people, yours will follow too).

    • AreJames says:

      Let us give corrupt people the bullet first.
      It is the very worst manifestation of human cowardice and indecency to be middle aged and hold the rank of colonel or general in an army and steal from the defence budget/funds when twenty something year olds are dying in battle …for their country. Doing that should ordinarily provoke in any normal human being the kind of self disgust and psychological nausea that leads to suicide. It is sub human.

      • igbi says:

        I trust that the COAS and the SSS and military intelligence will do their thing. Political thieves, the ghanaian/liberian/lybian way awaits you. But for the purpose of not encouraging mutiny and desertion, I will need solid proof and names before saying that there are some vague officers who are indulging in corrupt malpractices. Soldiers have a channel in the military to complain if they are not fairly treated. Soldiers be brave and follow the military way of doing things. If an officer is corrupt then he will be courtmarshalled (and hanged, I hope).

  21. igbi says:

    Pity for deserters = encouragement of desertion and support for the enemy. It is that simple.

  22. peccavi says:

    Oga Jimmy, I’m not sure how President Obama made Bergdahl walk off his base but thanks it is a key example of what I am talking about. Amongst US/ UK soldiers we believe fundamentally that whatever happens someone will come and get us. In Nigeria 219 girlls can go missing and no one gives a shit.
    However well fed or paid soldiers are, they still lose battles, that is not what we are talking about. What we are talking about is that moral component that makes a man WILLING to fight. The Germans kept fighting to the end despite being defeated, they fought hard in the East in order to allow their soldiers withdraw to thee West to surrender to US/ UK/ French forces? This is what I mean by the moral component, thee soldiers sacrificed themselves that some of their friends would live.
    During the civil war,, the Biafrans fought to the end, naked, barefoot, with their bolt action rifles, with 33-5 bullets against an enemy with air, artillery armour support, overwhelming logistics, heavy weapons etc. Yet by 1969 Federal morale particularly in 3MCDO was so low people were refusing to fight and shooting themselves in the foot. They were better paid, armed and equipped than the Biafrans but the Biafran believed they were fighting for survival.
    The point is that morale is not simply py and welfare, its a huge gamut of things.
    But in Nigeria’s case the point is not lack of belief, but hopelessness. The Biafrans knew all they had were 5 bullets and 1 meal (if lucky a day), so they went to fight inn the hope that their sacrifice would lead to victory. A Nigerian soldier will go to fight not knowing if his pay is there, if he has enough ammo, has enough fuel, whether someone will come and support him if attacked, whether his family will get his entitlements, when he will go home. When he retires he has no idea if he will get his pension. So how can he have hope.
    Men will fight for a myriad or reasons but life without hope of something better is empty (this is the foundation of all religions) and that’s what eats at morale.
    So as I have said soldiers will keep fighting, but you can deal with morale b improving conditions for soldiers. The USSR shot deserters or waverers, it didn’t stop them from getting their asses handed to them in the first part of the war. The Germans shot deserters, they still lost and didn’t prevent surrenders.
    Treat soldiers like human beings. Its s hit job but we are all volunteers and know the game but a game without hope of something, even if not victory is a waste of time
    Oga freegulf: Let me be clear I am not defending desertion, I have had soldiers pull that bullshit and leave us in the lurch, they are treated with the contempt they deserve.
    I am attempting to explain that managing soldiers morale and welfare is a little bit more nuanced than shooting them. There are ways to make sure soldiers don’t break and if they do getting them back into the fight. If soldiers actually desert then they should be tried and jailed.

    But it will be a long cold day before I will not pass comment on ANYONE who advocates shooting your own soldiers for such a crime (corruption, murder, rape, treason I have no problem with) but if as I have said, talk is cheap, if you have never functioned on 15 minutes sleep in a week, dealt with the smell, dirt, fear and pain of training much less service, in a horrible shitty war such as in NE Nigeria then please, I dey use God beg you, either take your self up North East stand behind advancing troops and shoot anyone who either turns back or doesn’t advance fast enough, or report to the nearest recruiting centre to show us how its done, or shut the fuck up.

    • peccavi says:

      For the avoidance of doubt, I do not mean shut the fuck up in general but for the particular individual who is braver than the brave behind his keyboard

    • igbi says:

      I think your imagination is somewhat stuck. Who is saying that soldiers should not be treated like humans ? Al I am saying is that deserters deserve a bullet to the head. It is very simple.

    • igbi says:

      A deserter is not a soldier, he is someone waiting for the last bullet.
      Long live the brave, the soldier, the Nigerian soldier.

      • peccavi says:

        And we look forward to the day you join up to show us how its done until then hush little boy hush

      • igbi says:

        I have different plans in life, one of them is to help the Nigerian armed forces. I am not going to give details here. I don’t need your approval. So you little boy who can’t even dream of ever being an officer, you shush. I actually refused becoming a french army officer at the last minute for fear of betraying my own country.

      • peccavi says:

        Good for you, but please, shut the fuck up

      • igbi says:

        so @ peccavi you are still opening your dirty mouth.

  23. jimmy says:

    OGA Peccavvi , OGA Freeegulf I am grateful to know both of you from this blog and my respect for both of you guys continues to be where it should be which is very high.
    Thank you oga p for the clarification it is something that needed to be said, oga Henry said it best that the COAS coming out publicly and stating what has transpired in honest opinion shows remarkable candor and the true essence of what a General should be , identify problems and solve problems with the attention to detail.
    You are on point about soldier MORALE AND WELFARE no arguments here and also let me state that based on the reports we are hearing , glimpsing, surmising rightly or wrongly concrete attempts are being made to rectify this problem we also know factually a GOC was removed as well as other officers who were disarmed and arrested and now await trial.on court martial.
    This war is not going to end tomorrow, DAMBOA AND CHIBOK AND BAGA maybe (especially damboa ) Nigeria’s version of Falloujah.
    For the Nigerian generals listening these are three towns that are clustered together like a triangle with DAMBOA AS ITS CENTER OF gravity and all three have to be meticulously pacified and the Boko Haram cell that operates there needs to be wiped out.

    The 101st battalion needs to be reassigned separating the good from the bad. They are just giving the 99.9% of the armed folks a bad name.

    • peccavi says:

      There are no bad soldiers, only bad commanders. If the unit has issues then it needs to be withdrawn, reconstituted and then put back into the fight to regain its honour.
      The Damboa wahala is interesting and again defies logic but lets see

  24. freeegulf says:

    oga jimmy thanks for your comment. i agree with you that some units are giving our young lions a really bad name.
    NA is an unwieldy bureaucracy. one way to look at it is that this current crisis will definitely bring the NA back to its feet. the pace at which the army losses focus is shocking.

    @oga peccavi, at least you have taken a stand on the issue of deserters. maybe i m too hawkish, but at least, you agree that there should be punishment for troops who endanger the lives of their comrades at the frontline.
    as for welfare and morale, we know all this, the army is not where it should be. its a bureaucracy that needs to whip up to shape and do the needful for these brave men that are putting their lives on the line to defend the nation.

    when Lt Gen Ihejirika was COAS, I said it times without number that he was the greatest army chief the army has ever had, and that includes legend such as gen TY. Ihejirika really tried to improve on troops welfare and make professionalism standard in NA. the current COAS is a war type leader, which is exactly what we need at this time. but please, we should not ignore the plight of our long suffering troops in the NE.

    on the issue of traitors and so called fifth columnist. its part of warfare, whether within or outside the borders of the country. remember when the great maj gen mamman vatsa came up with a plan to invade cameroun after they killed some of our soldiers and civilians, it was someone within A’HQ, someone really high up that sold those plans to the french, who in turn passed it to the camerounians. all i m saying its that this is a facet of warfare. it should be the job of the military and security services to comb out these traitors and make them pay for their crimes. phones should be intensely monitored and our own little version of operation prism should cast a wide net on communications in the NE.

    • peccavi says:

      I have no sympathy for desertion, it is a crime punishable under military law. My take is quite simple anyone who advocates shooting soldiers in your own Army for that particular offence should go to Borno, shoot them themselves and take their place and show us how its done. That’s all.
      Try to understand how it feels to be in those conditions and be treated the way our boys are treated and then load your gun

    • igbi says:

      A deserter is not a soldier, so shooting a deserter is not equivalent to shooting a soldier.
      Do you know who else also sympathizes with deserters: shekau does.

  25. igbi says:

    So far we have one same guy who keeps advocating against military procurement, who sometimes praises the terrs for “military prowess” and who has called for the liberation of boko haram terrorists in our prisons, and now the same guy is sympathizing with deserters. I am seeing a pattern here. Who do you work for @peccavi ? Who ?

    • peccavi says:

      I am a paid agent of Boko Haram. Now what are you going to do?

      • igbi says:

        Well, it seems he is not hiding his face anymore, MI5 or MI6 you have an other underwear bomber right under your noze. As I have been noticing, Britain seem to produce a lot of terrorist minded people ( especially Nigerians, Somali and Arabs), I think this is due to their great tolerance of religious hate speech. This guy said it himself, he is a paid boko haram agent.

  26. igbi says:

    It is generally the enemy who shows sympathy to your deserters.

    • Triggah says:

      One airforce chopper just went down in Bama today. Any specifics on the helicopter? They say its not as a result of enemy action. Who has details?

    • CHYDE says:

      Oga Igbi read Peccavi’s statement well, i believe no one on this blog sympathises with deserters but if you are in Borno with all the ‘funny things’ going on in that hot zone what will you do? Put yourself in the shoes of the gallant soldiers ( believe me i know what i am talking about). Please avoid the name calling,it doesn’t help in any way, you are much within your right to disagree with another persons opinion

      • igbi says:

        The guy has already confessed being on boko haram ‘s pay roll. Now knowing that people can be identified by their ip adress, I can go and report him in any interpol office. I think he needs to answer some thorough questions.

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