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