Seeks ways to mitigate collateral damage during operations

APPARENTLY worried over ongoing prosecutions of some serving and former military officers, the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, Abuja, has begun campaign for members of the Nigerian Armed Forces on value system and re-orientation. The military high command stressed that the campaign was aimed at instilling discipline, ethics, value system, service delivery, attitudinal change, and patriotism, as well as promote selfless service for the common good and destiny of Nigeria in line with the federal government’s ‘Change Begins with Me’ re-orientation mantra. Addressing a press conference at the defence headquarters yesterday, acting director of Transformation, Commodore Shuwa A. Mohammed said the initiative, like the federal government campaign, was aimed at educating and enlightening members of the armed forces to appreciate the value of accountability and integrity like other Nigerians. Commodore Mohammed stated, “The AFN being members of the larger society must key into the campaign of the present administration. We hope by the end of the exercise there will be positive attitudinal change by the members of the AFN. A soldier with a good attitude is going to be a better fighter, loyal, discipline and patriotic. The exercise is also going to be a medium of feeling the pulse of the troops on the battle fields and formations as well as feedback to the chief of defence staff, CDS.” Mohammed revealed that the exercise would be conducted for the members of the armed forces in the six geopolitical zones and that the target groups are AFN formations, establishments and units via 16 locations. “The exercise will be conducted in a three-way format for maximum attendance as follows: town hall meeting for Pte-MWO/Equivalent, lectures/presentations for 2Lt-Lt. Col/Equivelent, and seminars for Col and above/equivalent. At the end of the exercise, summary of proceedings would be forwarded to the convener of the sensitization campaign, the CDS, in form of communiqué/resolutions for further necessary action. Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff,, General Gabriel Olonisakin has stated that the military authorities had identified the need to enhance their planning capacity to manage and to assess collateral damage associated with operations. Olonisakin, who was represented by DHQ’s Chief of Training and Operations, Maj-Gen. Ahmed Mohammed, disclosed this in Abuja yesterday while declaring open a two-week collateral damage estimate/targeting training course. He said the training was aimed at enhancing the participants understanding of the processes required for intelligence based targeting which minimises collateral damage. “The selection of officers for this course cuts across operational and tactical levels because it is expected that on returning to the field, you should be able to synergize with the planning cells of your respective services headquarters.” The training is to be conducted by British Military Training and Advisory team. In another vent, the CDS represented by DHQ’s chief of administration, Real Admiral Andrew Dacosta stated that civilian harm remained a tragic reality in any conflict, especially in conflicts without clear battlefields where it becomes difficult to distinguish between combatants and civilians. Accordingly, the CDS said protecting civilians during conflicts was important as it facilitates post conflict development assistance and integration. “it also creates a conducive atmosphere for humanitarian organisations to operate in the conflict areas and it is a humanitarian obligation.”

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