Promoting Kinetic Operations for Counter Terrorism, Insurgency in Nigeria

By Dr. Ona Ekhomu

On Monday 22nd March 2021, the Chief of Defence
Staff, General Lucky Irabor hosted a brainstorming session for the conical apex
of military, security and intelligence leadership in Nigeria at the National
Defence College Abuja.
The purpose of the one-day summit was to generate powerful ideas on the
application of kinetic operations to restore peace to Nigeria in the wake of an
inexorable and implacable terrorist/insurgent onslaught. The summit combined
two structured analytical methodologies for idea generation – structured
brainstorming and virtual brainstorming. The goal of the conference was to find
innovative and creative solutions to Nigeria’s endemic insecurity using the
kinetic approach.


The Special Guest of Honour was the Minister of
Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (Rtd). Other Special guests included
Delta State Governor, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, Ekiti State Governor and Chairman of
the Nigerian Governors’ Forum Dr. Kayode Fayemi (virtual), Information Minister
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Niger Delta Affairs Minister Senator Godswill Akpabio,
Minister of State for Petroleum Chief Timipre Sylva, the National Security
Adviser Major General Babagana Monguno (Rtd), the Chief of Staff to the President
represented by Presidential Spokesman Chief Femi Adesina. Service Chiefs
included the Chief of Army Staff represented by Major General Ben Ahanotu,
Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral AZ Gambo, Chief of Air Staff Air Marshall
Isiaka Arnao, the Inspector General of Police represented, Chief of Defence
Intelligence Major General Samuel Adebayo, Director General of National
Intelligence Agency Amb. Abubakar Rufai, Chief of Defence Space Administration
Rear Admiral Williams Kayoda, Commandant of the National Defence College Rear
Admiral Oladele Daji.
Former service chiefs in attendance included former Chiefs of Defence Staff,
Admiral Ogohi (Rtd.), General Alexander Ogomudia (Rtd.), Admiral OS Ibrahim
(Rtd.). Former Chiefs of Army Staff present included Lt. Gen. ML Agwai (Rtd),
Lt. Gen. Onyeabor Ihejirika (Rtd). Traditional rulers included the Gbong Gwom
Jos and the Ooni of Ife represented by Chief Adebisi Layade.

Summit Objectives

The Chief of Defence Staff General Lucky Irabor
referenced the presidential mandate to the military to restore peace in the
land at the shortest possible time. He said that the summit was adopting the
whole of society approach to fighting insurgency. General Irabor said that the
summit was leveraging on the collective wisdom of stakeholders such as the
military, the police, intelligence community, the military, politicians,
traditional rulers, the media, para-military organization, civil society
organizations, the diplomatic corps, academia to generate usable and practical
knowledge and ideas for prosecution of the CTCOIN Operations. He gave the
objectives as follows:
a) To create functional awareness of the kinetic approach and its implication.
b) Promote buy-in and support of critical stakeholders
c) Promote civil-military relations (CMR)
d) Promote credible deterrence
e) Facilitate strategic communications
f) Consider other measures to sustain security and stabilize the polity.

Kinetic Operations

The lead paper presenter Ambassador Abdullahi Omaki
of the Savannah Centre in Abuja defined kinetic operations as “the targeted
application of military force.” He contended that since military operations
often resulted in collateral damage (i.e. unintentional deaths of civilians),
the use of kinetic operations was intended to find “a balance to the
proportionate use of force (Kinetic) to contain, stamp out and deter terrorists
and insurgents, before a return to soft power approach is possible.” While
kinetic operations aim at restoring peace and security, economic approaches
(soft power) aim to restore social stabilization. He contended that Nigeria was
beset by a galaxy of threats including Boko Haram/ISWAP insurgency in the North
East; banditry, cattle rustling, farmers-herders clashes, ransom kidnap in the
North West and North Central; cultism, communal clashes, resource-control
agitations, as well as IPOB challenges in the South of the country. He said:
“security agencies seem not able to keep pace with wide public demands for
better protection of lives and properties of citizens”

Amb. Omaki contended that he broad spectrum of
threats have contributed to agitations for state police and community policing
leading to the emergence of regional security outfits such as the Amotekun
(South West) Shege Kafasa, (North West), Odinigwe (South East).

The lead presenter then recommended that the
military should make conscious efforts to win hearts and minds (cognitive
operations), conduct robust intelligence operations, engage in stability
operations (peace building efforts), utilize small tactical teams in combat
operations and utilize external support such as use of the Multi-National Joint
Task Force (MNJTF). He further recommended that the government should work with
regional neighbors to increase the security of our porous borders.


The paper was then dissected by six discussants and
other participants in an explosive intervention session moderated by the former
Commandant of the National Defence College Abuja Rear Admiral Mackson Kadiri
(Rtd.). In the first intervention, Major General Niyi Oyebade (Rtd.) former
Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy Kaduna and also former General
Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division of the Nigerian Army with headquarters in
Kaduna recalled the strategies that served him well in his role as GOC. He said
he made extensive use of locals to gather intelligence for kinetic operations.
He said that there was a major role for traditional rulers in CTCOIN

The former Chairman of the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) Prof. Attahiru Jega described kinetic operations as
active military warfare. He said that politicians do not like to use the word
“war” so they use the term “kinetic.” Prof. Jega said that armed bandits were
contesting the legitimacy of the state. “They are challenging the state” he
added. So the military must neutralize the non-state actors, stabilize the
security situation and promote law and order.

Intervening from the viewpoint of law enforcement,
the former Inspector-General of Police Dr. Solomon Arase called for inclusion
of police personnel in intelligence fusion centres. He said that based upon the
whole of government approach police personnel should be included in kinetic
operations to govern liberated areas. He advised the military to allow the
police create case files and prosecute captured enemy combatants. He observed
that military personnel were not adapt in prosecutorial strategies. He also
called for witness protection for witnesses and judicial officials in terrorism

Professor Isaac Albert of the University of Ibadan
introduced a conceptual model for conflict resolution in kinetic operations.
The nine step model included the role of government, the role of professional
conflict resolution civil society organizations, the role of businesses, the
role of private citizen, the role of research and training institutions, the
role of activists, the role of religious organizations, the role of funding and
the role of public opinion/communication.

A former media executive Dr. Okey Okechukwu wondered
why there were no media executives in attendance at the summit. He said that
the military should focus on visibility of operations and dominate the media
space. He called for “incestuous communication” between the military and the
media such that there is responsible and patriotic reportage of news.

In my intervention I called for the use of force
multipliers to enable prompt response to call for service (CFS) by citizens. I
explained that force multiplication refers to a factor or a contribution that
gives the military the ability to accomplish greater feats than without it. I
said that giving dedicated CUG lines to selected person in rural communities
would help them make distress calls to military Command and Control Centre (C3)
which would enable the military to respond promptly in the event of an attack.
At present, communities come under prolonged attacks by bandits and insurgents
but they are unable to contact the authorities. Since the military cannot be
everywhere, the force multipliers will sharpen kinetic operation to enable
neutralization of threats and safety of citizens. I also called for the
scrapping of Operation Safe Corridor which I described as “recycling of
fighters in the North East”.

Former Director of Naval Intelligence, Rear Admiral
(Barrister) Peter Ebhaleme (Rtd.) called for proper funding of the military and
massive recruitment to prosecute CTCOIN operations.

The Gbong Gwom Jos, HRH Dr. Jacob Gyang Buba called
for a constitutional role for traditional rulers. He said that prior to the
Local government reforms of 1976, the security of the rural areas was
competently handled by the traditional leadership institutions.

The National Security Adviser Major General Babagana
Monguno (Rtd.) said that he had collated a wide array of ideas, suggestions and
strategies to move forward the CTCOIN operations and restoring peace and
security to Nigeria.

In his remarks, the Minister of Defence described
the security situation in Nigeria as “critical”. I was asked by a national
television network on 25th March why the Minister described security situation
in those stark terms. I explained that the term “critical” is used in risk
assessment in rating the impact of loss of an asset. In a criticality
assessment rating, a critical asset is one that involves human life and or
catastrophic financial loss. So, since insurgency and terrorism result in the
loss of human lives and large scale destruction of property. The security
situation is in fact critical, I averred.

Drawing the curtain on the highly successful summit,
the Minister of Defence said he would take the recommendations back to the
President and Commander in Chief for further necessary action.


The vision of the Chief of Defence Staff, General
Lucky Irabor (who was from 2015 to 2017 the theatre commander of Operation
Lafiya Dole) to organize the summit was a sound one as it generated usable and
powerful ideas that would shape future kinetic operations in the theatre of
internal military operations throughout the country. The summit was a
refreshing return to the use thought as a precursor to action — rather than
reacting to stimuli. The terrorists/insurgents have tended to demonstrate the
initiative in hostile encounters with the military – using roadside bombs,
person-borne IEDs, vehicle-borne IED, ambushes, using of fresh gear such as AA
guns in projectile encounters. The CDS and the military high command must now
invent new tactics and strategies to take the war to the enemy and bring the
various conflicts to an end. Unfortunately the threats are a legion. They
include Boko Haramism, northwest banditry, farmer-herder internecine violence,
cultism, rabid kidnapping, ethnic militias, piracy, etc. The bottom line is
that ongoing low intensity conflicts in Nigeria must be contained, the threats
neutralized or incapacitated and peace restored so that Nigerians can once
again enjoy the Aristotelian good life.

…Dr. Ekhomu is the National President
Association of Industrial Security and Safety Operators of Nigeria (AISSON).

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