Some retired military officers have called on the military high command to prioritise the application of modern technology in the war against terrorists causing carnage in parts of the country, rather than depending largely on human presence.
They said gone were the days of wasting soldiers in the warfront when equipment like drones and hitech armament can be deployed to target the enemy from faraway.
The veterans also said the tagging bandits as terrorists will enable the military deploy appropriate equipment and force without recourse to international sanctions.
LEADERSHIP recalls that the federal government recently gazetted a court order declaring bandits terrorists after calls by Nigerians and civil society bodies.
Bandits operating in the North West and North Central have kidnapped, killed and rendered thousands homeless after collecting millions of naira in ransoms and levies.
Military defence strategist, Colonel Hassan Stan-Labo (retired) advised the government to deploy high-powered drones and other advanced technologies to defeat the outlaws.
He said the era of using human beings on the battlefield was over as technology has taken the place of humans in ground battles.
“What we need to do differently is to make sure that we begin to deploy game-changing equipment into the battlefield, equipment that can turn things around. We have to begin to also, as nation, think of how to bring in multimodal transport assets into the battlefield that will enable us reach the terrorists right there in the forests.
“Most of our vehicles, apart from combat vehicles, cannot access these forests because of the nature of the terrains; that is why the bandits themselves use motorcycles and tricycles.
“We should begin to think in that direction; more so, it is time we introduced technology into the battlefield fully. Battles today are no longer fought by the muscles or biceps of the troops; battles are fought by technology. By now I do not see why we should not have drones everywhere in the battlefield,” he said
He said contrary to beliefs that the military lacks manpower to prosecute the war, the war can actually be fought with half the present manpower with the appropriate equipment.
“The president has just returned from Turkey which is one of the leading countries in the production of drones. Turkey has positioned itself quite adequately when it comes to defence aerial assets.
“We have drones today that can spend 24 hours in space, powered by solar; there are drones who while in the air will get adequate surveillance information and send them down to you. We have drones that can engage objects in the air, drones that carry armament with the capability for engaging.
“We have drones that have air and ground capability. We should go out there and shop for the appropriate equipment. We can fight this war with even half of the strength we have now if we have the relevant equipment.
“Gone are the days when you begin to waste human beings in the battle field; you have equipment that do the job for you while you have commanders in the operations room watching the battle field on a big screen and directing on what to do and where to do.”
He further said that branding bandits as terrorists will enable the military to deploy game changing assets such as Super Tucano and other high grade military assets against the outlaws which was hitherto not allowed.
He said the declaration comes with a lot of benefits as it will provide the government of Nigeria a better opportunity to move against them in any manner desired if it will help in ameliorating the situation on ground.
According to Stan-Labo,”It will allow for the deployment of additional assets which hitherto could not be deployed against bandits but can be deployed against terrorists. Such additional assets will now be deployed which include the Super Tucano aircraft.
“It will bring a great deal of further pressure to bear on the terrorists now the international community will begin to see them as terrorists. It will avail us, as a sovereign nation, a better opportunity to move against them in any manner we’ll love to if it helps in ameliorating the situation on ground. It comes with a lot of benefits.”
A former director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen Sani Usman (retired) said the declaration of bandits as terrorists was a welcome development, adding that it was long overdue.
He noted that the declaration will enable government forces to deploy appropriate assets against the criminals without being accused of human rights abuses or use of disproportional force.
“I wish we’ll understand that what stops the government from fighting terrorists is because of the unpatriotic elements who report to foreign powers and assume that Nigeria is operating under circumstances that are far below sovereign status.
“Talking about human rights abuses; of course, we have individuals that were calling for amnesty for the criminal elements, not minding the fact that the atrocities they have been committing against the Nigerian people and the Nigerian state. Therefore, this has left no one in doubt about the status of these people. With the court order being gazetted, let’s see who will allege human rights violation or use of disproportional force,” he said, adding that the declaration was long overdue because nobody should tell the government what to do to protect its people.
“It is a welcome development that is long overdue, it leaves no one in doubt as to the status of these criminals that have been committing mayhem in the Nigerian society.
“And the government forces are now at liberty to use the newly acquired weapons against these criminal elements; however, the issue of interpretation is key. People need to go back to that piece of legislation and understand the language what is meant by ‘Yan banga.'”
General Usman said criminals do not go by the name the society knows them, hence people have to be very careful about the issue of nomenclature.
He reiterated that the bearing of firearms is an exclusive right of the government and its constituted authorities.
“Our laws are very clear in respect of the possession of arms; it must be legal. There are constituted authorities allowed to carry arms; you as an individual who wants to carry arms must seek legal permission unless you are a criminal,” he said.
A security expert in Bauchi, who does not want to be named, said the recent terrorist branding of bandits waging terror in Northwest Nigeria by President Muhammadu Buhari will not change the spate of kidnapping and other forms of banditry in the country.
He faulted the strategy deployed to fight bandits, saying it is not compatible with the realities that it ought to address.
He said in most of the instances, the nation’s military only engages the bandits in air raids without ground mop-ups, which in most cases end up worsening the situation, exposing the communities that security men are working hard to protect.
“You find out that when the military engages the bandits through airstrikes, the much-needed ground clearance to sink the remnants of the bandits and shield the communities that naturally ought to be protected.”
The chief of army staff (COAS), Lt. General Faruk Yahaya has stressed the need for continuous capacity development amongst personnel of the Nigerian military to adequately and timely confront the security challenges bedeviling the nation.
General Yahaya stated this while commissioning the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare Command (NACWC) Off Grid Solar Farm during his maiden visit to the command at Giri, Abuja.
In a statement by the director, Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, the COAS said that the adversaries had also extended their nefarious activities to the cyber domain, hence the need for the command to have alternative power sources to effectively achieve its mandate.
General Yahaya, who expressed satisfaction with the project, seized the opportunity to communicate with troops in the North East Theatre of Operations through their Command-and-Control Centres.
He commended the frontline troops for their resilience and doggedness in the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations.
Earlier, the commandant (NACWC), Major General Abubakar Adamu thanked the COAS for his support to the command, particularly for the timely provision of funds for the completion of the solar farm.
He said the gesture had boosted the morale of the personnel and will further enhance the operational capability of the command.