The Military institution have always made significant contributions to the development of nations. Apart from the sacrifices of the military on the battlefields in the defence of their nations, the institutions of the Military have also been instrumental to the development of national strategic thought in various fields.
The works of such military strategists as Sun Tzu, Julius Caesar, Carl Von Clauswitz, Napoleon Bonaparte and Admirals Alfred Mahan and Sergie Gorshkov still influence modern day military strategic thinkers. Also, military research has greatly contributed to the field of scientific and technological development as evident in inventions like the internet, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), radar, sonar, wireless communication, aerodynamics, remote guidance systems for firearms and missiles, unmanned vehicles, space exploration, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and so on.
The results of such contributions to national development are plethora. They include strategic domination as exhibited by the European nations from the Sixteenth to the Twentieth centuries, to the present geopolitical influence of the United States of America (USA) around the world. What is most evident from these remarkable contributions has been the ability of various national militaries at various times to provide solutions to contemporary national problems. While the methods/processes may not have been similar, they have always been dependent on the ability of such militaries to not only generate the knowledge but to also adapt the knowledge in providing the national strategic edge.
In Nigeria, military training and research is carried out in the various single and joint Service universities, academies, depots, training schools as well as staff colleges. While much of the basic specialist trainings are carried out in the single Service institutions, joint capabilities are developed in the tri-Service institutions. Such tri-Service institutions include the Nigerian Defence Academy, the Armed Forces Command and Staff College and the National Defence College. Basic tactical training is received at the Nigerian Defence College while staff work and operational level training is done at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College. Subsequent strategic level training is carried out at the National Defence College.
The establishment of National War Colleges by each of the Service (Nigeria Army, Nigeria Navy and Nigeria Air Force) has currently expanded the mid-level operational training structure, albeit in single-Service setups. In view of the military’s priority statutory role of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation, the focus of the training institutions had mostly been on military duties pertaining to the national defence of Nigeria in the face of external threats. However, due to the upsurge of internal security challenges in contemporary times, a lot of training efforts is now focused on training and research to address problems arising from internal threats.
The Armed Forces of Nigeria has been providing the Federal Government of Nigeria with viable options for addressing various national internal security challenges around the country. This has been especially evident in the successes of the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency (CT-COIN) operations in the Northeast. These antecedents place the Armed Forces of Nigeria at a vantage position to also proffer strategic options for addressing other internal security issues.
However, the capacity to contribute is dependent on the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s ability to harness the brain-power of its manpower. This could be drawn from their years of operational and training experiences both nationally and internationally. Personnel of the Armed Forces of Nigeria also have a wide range of professional and intellectual capacities. The problem however is how to harness the available mental energy to proffer workable solutions and to train personnel to develop the capacity to become drivers of new solutions. The Armed Forces of Nigeria can however address these problems through the following ways.
Creation of streamlined training framework
A new framework is required for tri-Service training and research that is designed to meet both the career-needs of officers as well as the strategic requirements of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Such a new framework would build on the existing training structures by adapting them into a more streamlined process. Furthermore, the new framework would need to clearly define the academic and military training outputs required at each stage of an officer’s career development and ensure that the training curricula of the various institutions are adequately designed to achieve such outputs.
Consequently, reviews of curricula would not be carried out arbitrarily by each institution if and when it so desires without regard to the training modules of other institutions. Curricula reviews would be done holistically in a periodic and all-inclusive manner by all institutions. The framework would also outline the academic achievements relevant for each institution. A more streamlined framework would facilitate the adoption of a more progressive and adaptable approach to joint training at the tri-Service institutions.
This would ensure that even when courses are repeated, there will be an appropriate progression in depth and scope of work. For instance, officers might be introduced to such subjects as military history, operational art and campaign planning as students at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College. However, on progression to the National War Colleges, based on their knowledge of the subjects and their post-graduation experiences in the field such as in CTCOIN operations in the Northeast, the officers are now tasked with critiquing such doctrinal concepts for their feasibility and practicality.
Also, on advancement to the National Defence College, the same subjects would be used for scenario-based strategic planning in Nigeria’s context. This would ensure that the practical experiences of officers are used to enrich the doctrinal process in the institutions rather than rehashing taught concepts at each level. Furthermore, it would facilitate an indigenization of the doctrines into a more Nigerian context with due cognizance of the nation’s peculiarities and using definitions and perspectives of successful indigenous military commanders.
In his book on Seapower, Geofrey Till proposed that the refinement of military doctrine ought to proceed in a continuous cycle of doctrinal formulation, training/education, operational use, evaluation and revision. The structuring of the training framework in this manner ensures that the Armed Forces of Nigeria’s doctrinal cycle follows this process and is constantly evaluated by those who have most recently utilized the doctrines. In view of the highlighted requirements for streamlining the training framework, there is the need to constitute a working group comprising military education experts as well as relevant teams from the AFCSC, the NWCs and the NDC.
The focus of the working group would be to examine the curricula of the various institutions in order to ensure that taught courses are streamlined into a more harmonized structure. Sequel to the development of the streamlined framework, a dedicated training planning cell would need to be established under the Training and Operations Branch at the Defence Headquarters. The training planning cell would be responsible for the maintenance of the streamlined training framework for the institutions and the coordination of training efforts amongst the institutions.
Coordination of research efforts
The lack of coordination and targeted research needs to be addressed. At the AFCSC, coordination of research is done at the single Service and Joint Departmental levels for lower and higher level research respectively. At the NDC, the research is managed at the departmental level and the Centre for Strategic Research and Studies (CSRS). These research efforts are carried out independent of each institution and are not coordinated towards solving specific problems of policy or strategy beyond the Colleges. This disconnected process needs to be aligned into a better structured framework that ties the enormous amount of resources spent in research to specific practical outcomes. There is therefore the need to formulate a framework that ensures connectivity between the Colleges and the Services and other relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies.
The essence is to collate the research needs of the various Services and agencies and appropriately allocate them to colleges having the requisite capacities. It will also ensure that local and international visits and tours are centrally coordinated and their outcomes fed to the appropriate diplomatic quarters. Furthermore, the centrally organized allocation must assess the methodologies that would most appropriately provide the required results. Thereby, errors in output would be reduced to a minimum.
One of the observed challenges with the international media has been that much of the narrative and statistical data has come from foreign sources. The AFN could lead the way in helping change this trend by building a reputable framework that provides well researched and dependable data on national security issues. One way to achieve this coordinated approach is to establish a central research cell under the TOPS Branch at the DHQ to collate, allocate and coordinate research between the institutions and the relevant Services and agencies.
–Obadina wrote from Abuja