BOKO HARAM AND ‘MERCENARIES’ IN BORNO – THE MYTH, THE REALITY; HEARING IT FROM A PMC OPERATIVE

A commando of the PMC-trained 72 Mobile Strike Force, the strike element of the Nigerian Army’s 72 Mobile Force.

BEEGEAGLE’S BLOG
18 March, 2015

In our bid to continually keep you updated in the most meaningful way, we shall now attempt to give you real details on the most seemingly inscrutable developments in the mission area.

Last week, the global media went to town with news of a supposedly heavy presence of Private Military Contractors (interchangeably described as ‘mercenaries’) in Borno. The said reports were sketchy and largely based on anecdotal evidence. That was why your authoritative BEEGEAGLE’S BLOG dug deep into its global network of contacts to bring to you the most specific details on the role played by PMCs in Borno.

One of the significant reasons acknowledged as haven engendered improved battlefield outcomes by military-savvy watchers of the Boko Haram Insurgency, obviously dovetails into the recent acquisition and delivery of new hardware systems.

The first thing to be mentioned however is that the impact of new hardware acquisitions has been instantaneous. There continues to be massive equipment shortages, regardless of the said latter-day infusion of much-needed hardware systems for Nigerian Army operations in the Far Northeastern theatre. There is still a lot that needs to be done.

Morale is discernibly on the up though and it makes one wonder just how bad provisioning had been prior to the acquisitions which have helped to engender new outcomes at the frontlines.

Some of the tip of the spear units in the mission area are the irrepressible 103 Battalion at Konduga (who were rotated in from their permanent garrison at Awkunanaw in Enugu) and have, in conjuction with SF commandos, been able to defeat at least eight major Boko Haram onslaughts on Konduga. They have had a crack artillery detachment from 1 Division providing covering fire these many months.

PMCs and the War Effort

One unit which is in the form of their lives at the moment is the South African PMC-trained unit, known as the 72 Mobile Force (hereinafter referred to as 72 MF). This crack commando formation described as 72 MF above, also has a sub-unit which is its field strike element and that sub-unit is the 72 Mobile Strike Force (hereinafter referred to as the 72 MSF). The said 72 MSF have been the core users of the REVA MRAPs recently imported under a different contract, from the Republic of South Africa.

Both the 72 MF and its highly engaged sub-unit, 72 MSF, were quickly but thoroughly trained in the mission area to support 7 Infantry Division. The PMC trainers had a very limited time to train the boys and they faced huge equipment shortages.

Action Stations!

This 72 Mobile Strike Force has also benefitted from PMC tactical advice in their field operations and wait for it, they have had the RARE PRIVILEGE of being launched into battle in what was a joint offensive on the town of MAFA, despite having no radio communications. This unit returned to its FOB and began preparing to support 7 Infantry Division with the taking of Bama.

72 MSF pounded BAMA from the air (almost certainly using Gazelle helicopters), artillery (certainly the new RM-70 122mm MRLS) and mortar fire. Thereafter, 72 MSF cut off the escape routes from Bama. The main body of the advancing NIGERIAN ARMY then took the town and carried out mopping up operations.

In short,the South African PMC involvement is limited to training and mentorship of 72 Mobile Force and occasionally embedding with the smaller 72 Mobile Strike Force thereunder.

According to my impeccable source,this highly active 72 Mobile Strike Force, the said sub-unit of the larger 72 Mobile Force is comprised of Nigerians and mentored by a handful of South African mercenaries.

According to the narrator, 72 MSF have “merely acted as a force multiplier for 7 Division but the Nigerian Army are the ones who deserve the credit”. The Nigerian Army troops of the 72 MSF “have performed well” and will perform even better if given the advantage of more training.

Apparently, the South African PMC trainers and advisers did not try to speak to the media or ‘leak’ anything to the media. Infact, they have tried to remain hidden but as pale faces in Maiduguri, they tended to stand out. As I said, the PMC elements apparently did not
want to act in any manner that embarrasses the Nigerian Army as the Nigerian Army are not just their hosts but are friends and comrades-in-arms as well. The fact is that a nexus of mischief makers with vested political interests used their minions in the foreign media to sensationalise a low-level involvement which in broad outlines, did not transcend training and mentorship but which was conveniently blown out of proportion.

There is no way that about “a squad-sized contingent of PMC mentors embedded with a company-sized Nigerian commando unit namely 72 MSF”, can claim to have done all the heavy work in the 7 Infantry Division’s AoR”

As my source commented: “Our NA colleagues have been really good to us and have tried to assist us wherever they could, despite themselves being stretched as it concerns available equipment. To be sure, the brief of 72 MF in the AoR is to support 7 Infantry Division

“Thank you for seeking to know and understand. We seldom read the articles on the web, even as we hear that every man and his dog is now claiming that there are ‘100s of us’ supporting the Nigerian Army.

“Such rubbish! We are a very small group and our force is primarily comprised of Nigerian Army elements. The claim that we are ‘100s strong’, is aimed at discrediting the Nigerian Army and the government”.

“We also note that a few companies have now tried to claim that they are the ones there!! The world is a strange place indeed”

About beegeagle

BEEG EAGLE -perspectives of an opinionated Nigerian male with a keen interest in Geopolitics, Defence and Strategic Studies
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58 Responses to BOKO HARAM AND ‘MERCENARIES’ IN BORNO – THE MYTH, THE REALITY; HEARING IT FROM A PMC OPERATIVE

  1. Thank you for this Beegs. You are a true patriot and a blessing to Nigeria.

  2. rka says:

    Just as I suspected. Good one Beeg. It is a little concerning though the repotted shortage of equipment.

    Hope the re-armament continues at pace.

  3. Deway says:

    Thanks Beeg for this insightful info. Any information on the Russian trained SF units?

    • Deway says:

      This equipment thing is a real big issue. Hope Defense HQ sees the need to take this up after April. Kitting for troops going into battle is still an issue.

  4. colloid says:

    Uhmm… That’s insightful Oga Beegs. I just wish an audio or visual-audio link of this interview(or something like that)could be provided so “these” propagandanist and mischieve maker could be silence forever. All these insinuations are just to smear the image of the Army. Imagine saying that the so called “mercenaries” were doing the DIRTY JOBS at night while the Army take over to claim victory in the morning. Rubbish!!!

  5. ozed says:

    Wonderful and creative offensive concept. Very good for desert /arid landscape warfare perfected by the South Africans during the apartheid wars with Angola and SWAPO.
    Well at least one good thing came out of it. He he he.

    I hope once the PMCs leave the diehard sandhurst types in high command don’t de-emphasize this force and its ‘irregular tactics’ and order the poor men and officers back to digging trenches and manning sandbagged positions.

  6. beegeagle says:

    There is a monumental job left for the FG to do before we have our NA in pristine form again.

    I have been in touch with operators from across the spectrum in that AoR. Along the line, we interviewed someone who claimed to have been in a theatre where he saw shells for 105mm pack howitzers manufactured in 1964 and 122mm shells manufactured in 1971. Come on….that is obscene.

    If #NeverAgain is not intended to be consigned to the realm of empty sloganeering, the FG must embark on a programme to have the Nigerian Armed Forces COMPREHENSIVELY retooled and without further delay.

    • Henry says:

      The video on the preparations of N.A’s onslaught on Bama by Nick George brought out many of the problems we face in the N.A to the fore.

      -Hundreds of Troops attacking bama without the necessary kit. No bulletproof vests, no webbing.

      – Artillery Shells transported arbitrarily without pallets and in a reckless manner.

      – Artillery shells so old they’ve turned black.

      – lack of proper Armoured mobility for most troops.

      – good old proliferation of Cammo. Why can’t all our troops be kitted liked the ones who stormed bamako?”.

      – our new bulletproof vest is another one, I mean that thing comes without pouches for storage of extra mags or grenades.

      Our problems are huge, and there is a lot the military High command has to do.

    • ozed says:

      This is so shameful it hurts!!
      How could professionals who managed these forces over the years allow things to get this bad, and all the while beating their chests and saying they could defend the Country against any threats.

      This situation cuts across all the services, and i mean all!!

      To think that some of these former military men who know just how poorly things were managed, got into major positions of political power, and did ZILTCH about these things is simply shameful beyond belief.

      When will we begin to take ourselves seriously!!!

      And now a man (bloody civilian by the way) who inherited this mess is sweating blood to try and get the army into a position to escape a very humiliating situation, and some of these very ex-military men (who slept on the job) are cruising around pontificating and exhibiting the heights of hypocrisy.

      • ozed says:

        Meanwhile the hand writings have always been on the wall:
        – Nigerian Army uniforms in Liberia/Sierra Leone which would dissolve into rags under the strain of combat within months
        – Scores of expensive military equipment stacked in fields at Ojo cantonment and allowed to rust and die (just to forestall imaginary coups)
        – Tons of Airforce bombs in Makurdi destroyed after the failed Vatsa coup, who knows if they were ever replaced
        – Expired large calibre shells at Ikeja cantonment exploding on a bright sunday afternoon during OBJ’s reign and scaring us Ikejites to hell
        – Situation where our only experienced fighter pilots were ranking officers Wing commander and above due to total halt in training of pilots until fairly recently

        The list goes on and on, but we refused to learn until mere insurgents almost naked us for our own house. Se us de beg for draw for our own home match.

        I just pray we have learnt!!!

      • Kola Adekola says:

        Oga Ozed, I saw a documentary on Canadian army uniforms recently. They are given just 3 sets to last their stay in the army; they wear them in rain, sun, winter, summer, in the Arctic, in the desert etc.
        Needless to say, the blend of materials to make miracle cloth for the uniform is a secret.

        These is the sort of thing we should be doing. Most of our problems are so small, but failures to meet them are so far reaching that it makes you wonder. Yet, these are things we can solve simply by looking inwards with CONFIDENCE and SELF-BELIEF. God knows we have enough people raring to go for things like this.

        Nigeria, harness the might of your people! Common uniform again?!
        Never Again!

  7. ugobassey says:

    I wonder if the SA government is secretly working with FG through the PMC.

  8. beegeagle says:

    OK…to less gloomy stuff.

    I am now strongly led to believe that the Gazelle helicopters are almost certainly in service with the nascent Nigerian Army Aviation Corps.

    • rka says:

      Oga Beeg, any thoughts as to why the gazelles appear not to have any markings be it NAF or NA? Have any been seen armed apart from maybe pintle mounted guns?

      • rka says:

        I know you alluded to the use of the gazelles in your write-up, but would be refreshing if mounted with rockets/missiles.

      • Henry says:

        In my opinion, it is impossible for the NAF to hold a commission ceremony for an asset that isn’t theirs. The Gazelles were commissioned into service by the CAS himself, no doubts as to who owns it.

      • beegeagle says:

        I would not know, bro. But the weaponised Puma helics and the Gazelles were calibrated by the NAF at Owode last month. I am thinking that since the NA Aviation Corps had no combat experience at the time, the NAF probably did the calibration on their behalf.

      • sazulu says:

        The helicopters were initially intended for the NA aviation corps. In fact the corps had already been established on paper by the NA. However due to lack of time for adequate training of pilots, NAF was tasked to operate the aircraft. They will most likely be reverted to the NA after the war.

  9. Kay says:

    Refreshing news clarifying PMCs roles.

    Here’s map of Gwoza and environs http://imgur.com/a/f32wI

  10. ugobassey says:

    The Gazelle no doubt is very affordable and can be featured as land based scout/light transport crafts. They can also be operated from floating platforms hence they serve a wide variety of roles. From a long term perspective DHQ should be looking at streamlining inventories for the ultimate purpose of local production. Take for example Denel, the South African company that produce Rooivalk their attack Helo. The company is currently near broke is looking for $500 Mil to kick start production. We can choose to partner with them have them build a factory (not assembly plant) right here in Naija and produce a Nigerian variant of the H2 Rooivalk. They are also manufacturers of Fighters, Missiles and Heavy transport Helos, so the partnership would be very profitable to us. I’m saying South Africa because they already have a strong investment presence in Nigeria and we have a long (though not always friendly) relationship with them.

    • Capt Tobias Wilcock says:

      The rooviak is one of the most expensive helicopters in the world at an operating cost of well over !0,000USD an hour, very low dispatch reliability and The basic air frame and engine components come from the same line as the PUMA ( which was locally modified as the Oyrx). There is also the break even /efficiency-investment returns issues to be put into consideration as well as Western restrictions on sensitive eletronics

  11. Henry says:

    Thank you Oga beegs. The equipment shortages are a major issue for us. It cannot go away solely with the importation of vehicles. It is a patriotic duty to support our Government’s national automation policy plan.

    In the land systems area, especially troop mobility and transport, Nigeria should be able to sustain itself. I’ve seen pretty recent companies grow into some of the world’s largest APC/ MRAP suppliers. The Streit group began operations in 1994, ICP, the makers of Reva MRAPs only began operations in 2004.

    These things are achievable with the IGIRIGI, PROFORCE and MEKAHOG. I just hope these companies can grow, come up with better more competitive designs and the government can continue to move in this trajectory. It is imperative that all parties involved do.

    • Capt Tobias Wilcock says:

      This is the main point we keep missing, we are carrying serious funds to this guys to develope better and sell to us, while we are neglecting our own local manufacturers, young work force, etc, we need to start producing terrestrial movement vehicles locally, then graduate to higher things

  12. rugged7 says:

    U.S congessional analysis on Nigeria, elections and Boko Haram
    March 8 2015
    http://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R43881.pdf

  13. Ola says:

    Sir Beegs, thanks for bringing us reliable, detailed info as ALWAYS!
    It still hurts me though that we’re reactionary on the issue of BH. I just wondered how it’d have been for us if we had had a confrontation with another nation! We may say the BH war is not conventional, but conventional warfare or not, you fight with the equipment you have!

  14. rugged7 says:

    Biya may die soon – He’s suffering from Cardiac and Prostate Cancer – French newspaper
    http://www.cameroonjournal.com/biya-may-die-soon-hes-suffering-from-cardiac-and-prostate-cancer-french-newspaper/

    • Kola Adekola says:

      Oga, that most certainly means civil war and a truly wretched situation with boko haram / Seleka for our next door neighbour in the near future.

      What a nightmare eastern winds seem to be blowing Nigeria!

    • jimmy says:

      Interesting I am not trying to stir up something but why would a French newspaper share what should be regarded as confidential medical history unless they wanted to embarrass Biya.

  15. Kola Adekola says:

    We need in the region of $30billion over the next 5 years to build our army. It is not just for the maintenance of security, it is the obvious and sensible thing to do. We need capabilities from electronic warfare to 5th generation fighter jets. …And please, nobody tell me we have to learn to walk before we learn to run, we have been “learning” to walk for going on 55 years now and we are still bloody walking. Take the plunge and never look back.

    Never Again.

    As an aside, here is a highly interesting link about the designation of boko haram as a terrorist group by the US:
    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2015/03/18/could-boko-haram-be-hillary-clintons-biggest-scandal/

    • Augustine says:

      I think $10 Billion will do the job in 3 years. NA $ 4 billion. NAF $ 3.5 billion. NN $ 2.5 billion. My guess.

      • Kola Adekola says:

        $30billion over the next 5 years is good and we can afford it.

        We need to be where Egypt and Algeria are. Egypt has approached us to partner with them against ISIS. Such a partnership is bound to yield several spinoff opportunities. For example, Russia is holding joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and anti-terrorism drills with Egypt this year. We could easily be part of similar exercises, but wetin we go carry go deh na?

        We are the worlds 21st largest economy and still run on mid 20th century capabilities, whilst surrounded by overtly hostile, “sell your mother” type neighbours like Chad, Niger and Cameroon..

      • Kola Adekola says:

        I would suggest we split the $30billion into:

        1. Rearming/modernising – $20billion
        2. Military Industrial Complex – $20billion

        Rearming/modernising would include acquiring integrated defence systems encompassing training, aerospace, missile, networks, weaponry etc.

        For the Military Industrial Complex, it would be seed money for capable entrepreneurs, research facilities, an enabling environment (including overhauling our poor Intellectual Property system) etc.

  16. Augustine says:

    Augustine has now been appointed by the FG as new Minister Of State For Defence, Federal Republic Of Nigeria !

    If you don’t see me commenting on this blog again, I have become very busy.

    Augustine is new minister of state for defense….appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan, approved by senate….read…. http://www.punchng.com/news/jonathan-assigns-portfolio-to-obanikoro-seven-others/

    Did you laugh? LOL !

    Congratulations Colonel Augustine Akobundu (Rtd), you got a most honourable job, please we would love to have you read Beegeagle’s blog daily and help us rebuild Nigeria’s defence sector. Thank you sir.

  17. asorockweb says:

    What do you guys think of the dual MHGs on the REVA pictured above?

    I wonder if the 2 guns are zeroed-in for a specific distance.

    • sazulu says:

      Yes the 2 HMGs are zeroed in on the same target. Bearing in mind the high chances of stoppages of this type of small arms, built in redundancy makes it highly efficient. The chances of the two guns stopping at the same time will be very low.

  18. asorockweb says:

    *dual MMGs

  19. Augustine says:

    Terrorists have struck Tunisia, one of the most stable Arab nations. Speculations point to ISIS from Libya.

    NATO coalition in Iraq confesses slow progress means air campaign alone will not defeat ISIS, wary of ground troops deployment.

    Nigeria still has serious shortage of weapons/equipment, and wide gaping capability gaps in combat. We have enough weapons to defeat Boko Haram today based on recent importations, but not enough to be a military power that can work with Egypt effectively. I won’t go into this topic again until after this war is over soon, hopefully after elections.

    I still insist that Nigeria is buying weapons in trickles of 5 units, 10 units usual tradition…..and NAF is far behind and outside the top 10 as Africa’s number 11th ranked nation in air combat power…..NA remains one of the obsolete armies in terms of equipment in Africa, no single laser guided ATGM to boast of, reliable SAM is almost non-existent.

    Let me keep quiet lest I offend my ogas again o !

    • Deway says:

      ….and all these in the midst of a defence budget running into billions of dollars annually. Very frustrating to day the least. Its a shame.

    • Eugene4eveR says:

      Didn’t Chad / Boko Haram dash us some SAM’s????? Abi, we return them back after seizing them? Nothing is impossible for our poliTHIEFcians, current govt or so called opposition.

  20. max says:

    Beeg; your analysis on the limited part played by PMC’s is very apt, refreshing, and commendable. Keep it up, am proud to be here.

  21. Oje says:

    Nigeria’s current stock of weaponry is an overkill and will reduce any conventional foe be it Chad or Cameroon to rubble. Why do we need laser guided bombs against Boko Haram? Or Chad, or Cameroon? The Nigerian Navy is second only to South Africa in sub Sahara Africa. The Nigerian airforce operates the most advanced serial surveillance platforms in all of Africa and uses armed Drones. We have the largest helicopter gunship fleet in Africa…….Small small gradually we are getting there. We cannot evolve into the military machine we all wish to be in 24 hours or 5 years. Gradually we are on the right trajectory. I still think we need a more robust Intelligence service now than just buying arms.

    • Augustine says:

      BVRAAM vs WVRAAM…..you won.t even kill mosquito, Oga Oje.

      • Deway says:

        In response @Augustine, new info concerning the JF-17 fighter.
        JF-17 Thunder fighter jet configured for long range maritime strike.

        Image of JF-17 Thunder fighter jet configured for long range maritime strike role has appeared on the Chinese language forums. JF-17 Thunder fighter jet is armed with C-802A Anti-ship Missile for use against maritime targets / warships from standoff distance of 180 km and two external fuel tanks to extend its range.
        The JF-17 Thunder will also carry 2x medium SD-10A Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) and 2x PL-5E II Within Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (WVRAAM) for self-defense purposes.
        We need to stop wasting time.

        http://military-update.blogspot.com/2014/09/f-17-thunder-fighter-jet-configured-for.html

  22. camouflage1984 says:

    Edward @DonKlericuzio
    · 1h 1 hour ago
    #BokoHaram Communication & Logistics links wit unit in Banki & environs cut. Enemy units in Banki isolated as Nigerian forces moves to Librt

    Edward @DonKlericuzio
    · 1h 1 hour ago
    Fightings now in d vicinity of Gwoza caves after the destruction of #BokoHaram extensive tunnels and fuel dumps. Loads of Foodstuffs seized

  23. camouflage1984 says:

    It was a the T72 tank after all and not our UAV

  24. Number one says:

    We need to establish a Commando school,so these skills can be passed on to the next generation of warfighters.

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