Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kill Them, Get Them Running, and Keep Them Running

Strategypage explains Nigeria's recent dramatic improvements in fortunes against Boko Haram.


In late 2014 Nigeria began a major offensive against Boko Haram and depended [0n] less corrupt and more effective troops from neighboring Chad, Niger and Cameroon to lead the way. While this seemed to work, it was not enough to weaken Boko Haram sufficiently to allow Nigerian troops to go in and finish (and take credit for) the job. So in December the government decided to act on a suggestion that had been bouncing around (and leaking) for months and hire some foreign mercenaries to train and advise (lead) a task force of elite Nigerian troops to quickly crush the most determined Boko Haram resistance.

This answers some questions I had about the alleged revival of Nigeria's corruption-ridden military.

More from Strategypage on what the mercenary company, STTEP, did:

In a few weeks the STTEP force had expanded by selecting competent Nigerian troops and these few hundred troops, moving quickly in trucks and a few armored vehicles as the 72nd Mobile Force Battalion, with Nigerian aircraft overhead (some with STTEP men aboard acting as spotters) quickly smashed one “troublesome” Boko Haram group after another. ...

This made it easier for the troops from neighboring countries to go after less effective Boko Haram fighters. By late February Boko Haram was weakened sufficiently for the Nigerian troops to go in and carry out the final push against the demoralized and thoroughly unnerved Boko Haram fighters. STTEP was so successful that Nigeria did not extend their contract and in March the STTEP personnel left as the Nigerian Army was advancing into Boko Haram strongholds and freeing hundreds of women and children the Islamic terrorists had captured in the last year.

This is what I've been talking about for Iraq. There just aren't that many ISIL fighters, really.

But ISIL has the advantage that they are on the strategic offensive with the far larger Iraqi forces tied down defending their territory.

We need to put ISIL on the defensive by striking them rather than allowing ISIL to attack Iraq--which gave us the loss of Ramadi.

And to put ISIL on the defensive worrying more about what we do to them rather than figuring out what they can do to us, we need core ground forces to be the mobile spearheads (backed by firepower--artillery and air support) that drive into ISIL territory to allow the adequate and even poor Iraqi troops to exploit victories to fight and kill reeling ISIL forces.

Then the Iraqi garrisons are safer because ISIL is too busy coping with  our offensive to ponder their own mayhem.

We did this in Afghanistan. The French did it in Mali. And now the Nigerians did it in their own territory against fanatical jihadis.

Meanwhile, we're still writing the annexes to our perfect plan that will deliver victory over ISIL in Iraq and Syria some time after President Obama leaves office.

And also, my gathered thoughts on private warfare, which the Nigerian episode reflects.

UPDATE: About that last step:

The army fears that Boko Haram will now revert to guerilla war and attempt to rebuild. The foreign (Chad, Niger, Cameroon) troops will soon return home, in part because Nigerian commanders have been uncooperative and seem to resent the presence of foreign troops. That is unfortunate because there are still too many incompetent and often corrupt Nigerian officers and there is no quick fix for that. The army needs help because they are spread thin in the northeast and cannot protect everything Boko Haram can still raid or attack.

Could our diplomats at least remind the Nigerians about our experience in Iraq?

Keep Boko Haram running and keep killing them--or they'll regenerate and keep killing innocent people and kidnapping girls.

UPDATE: ISIL is following my advice:

Islamic state fighters pressed an advance east of Ramadi on Friday after breaching Iraqi defenses outside the city the insurgents overran last weekend in a major defeat for the Baghdad government.


We should be slaughtering these jihadis. Instead we keep excusing "setbacks" as irrelevant to our plans.