Monday, August 7, 2017 12:58 pm
Major General David Ahmadu, Chief of Training and Operations, in this interview with THENEWS editors, explains the impact his section makes on Nigerian soldiers
What is the situation of training now in the Army?
We have been training because training is continuos in the military; we trained during peace time to ensure that we can do well during war time. And like you rightly said, security gives room for development. Like MacNara said, there can be no security without development; neither can there be development without security. Training, like I said has been ongoing even before the Boko Haram insurgency. Our troops are well trained when it comes to conventional warfare and of recent, asymmetric warfare.
Training is ongoing in our military schools, institutions and also, there is in theater training where troops are trained even when the war is ongoing. So, it is not a problem. The only thing is that the issue of asymmetry war all over the world, there is always the challenge of how the insurgents attack troops and the situation is not different here in Nigeria. However, we have been able to control most of the challenges.
Before the advent of the present Chief of Army Staff, there were reports of Nigerian troops not living up to expectations in terms of confronting the enemy which is Boko Haram. But by and large, the situation seems to be different now. What role did training played in this?
Well, the situation before the present Chief of Army Staff came on board was that there were so many challenges which have to do with problems of equipment and all that. But the present Chief of Army Staff came in with robust strategy, military might, vigour and encouragement for the troops and that changed the tide of the battle. And before he came on board, the level of operational preparedness and even execution in the operation area was far below 20 per cent, so to say. But now, he has upgraded it and that is what is on ground now.
And before that time, you will notice that almost 20 local governments were under the control of the insurgents. But now, not even a single one is under their control. He was able to come out with robust leadership qualities to ensure that all the local government are liberated. So, what we have presently are just a group of marauders moving around to carry out some bombings on soft targets. But they have not been able to come together and carry out any coordinated attack. So, that is what we are having on ground. And we are already strategizing to come out with plans to clear them and finish the war. So, very soon, the war will be over.
What is the level of foreign collaboration with the Nigerian Army in terms of training?
Foreign collaboration has been ongoing before the war on insurgency. We have the British Army training team that has been around on ground. We also have the United States Army that is also training and equipping some of our units and that has been ongoing based on the diplomatic collaboration we have had with them and they have actually helped in many ways. And they are even outside the Northeast and they are also here with us. The U.S has been reluctant to sell arms to the Nigerian Army and that has not been a secret and was as a result of alleged human rights abuses and we have already done something about that and they are happy with us now. But like we all know, it is an open market; we can go anywhere to get whatever you want as long as we want to fight this war. So far, we have been able to do that and there is no problem for now.
And again, what has also made a lot of difference is the establishment of the Nigerian Army Special Forces School Buni Yadi and these are all initiatives of the current Chief of Army Staff. As a result, we now have more robust Special Forces that are all over the country. And you are aware that we have challenges in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. So, where the challenges are very tough, we move the Special Forces there…
Outside of the Northeast, troops of the Nigerian Army are also getting involved in different operations across the country which is bringing them in close contact with the civil populace more than before. As a result, there have been allegations that the troops sometimes go into these assignments without consideration that they are dealing with the civil populace…
I don’t want to agree with you in that aspect because as we train, we consider human rights violations in our training. In fact, as I speak, we have human rights desk in Army Headquarters and they are also there right from Brigade levels upwards to take care of what you are talking about. And again, in engaging the enemy, we use the rules of engagement. So, it is not just that the troops just go there with high level of high handedness. No. We have rules of engagement that guide us.
And again, what has also made a lot of difference is the establishment of the Nigerian Army Special Forces School Buni Yadi and these are all initiatives of the current Chief of Army Staff. As a result, we now have more robust Special Forces that are all over the country. And you are aware that we have challenges in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. So, where the challenges are very tough, we move the Special Forces there and they carry out the operations quickly and now get back to do other things. And that has been happening.
What is your dream for this section in the next five years?
Well, we are trying to do what we know best by continuing the training and ensuring that the operational capacity of the military is uplifted. But the only way we can succeed meaningfully is with the political will and that political will is what we solicit from government.