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Terrorism: Timeliness of NAF’s Intelligence Data Centre

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For years now, terrorist groups operating in Northeast and bandits troubling Northwest have put the Nigerian Armed Forces under intense pressure, hence, the need for innovations that will assist the state forces outwit the criminal elements, especially in the area of intelligence.

There is hardly any continent of the world today that is not confronted with one security challenges or the other. These challenges range from mere criminality to more complex issues such as militancy, secessionist agitations, insurgency, sea piracy, terrorism, civil war, ideological war, immigration crisis and many others.

Nigeria is, however, not insulated from this horrifying global phenomenon. As a multi-ethnic and religious society, Nigeria is plagued with many of these security problems.

Regrettably, the operational tactics adopted by the nation’s Armed Forces to tackle the hydra-headed monsters, security experts said is faulty hence the need to retool the strategy with the view to laying solid foundation for victory over the terror that had enveloped the land for more than a decade.

Before, venturing into the arguments on operational tactics, it is instructive to re-echo concerns of security experts on the security architecture in Nigeria. It is no secret that the nation’s Armed Forces are overburdened by internal security issues that are the primary responsibilities of the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corp, and the undercover agents such as DSS and NIA.

Security and Conflict Resolution professional, Mr. Chinedu Obasi contends that it is hard time, the Nigerian military is unburdened with internal security issues to enable them concentrate all energy on their core mandate to so as to whittle down the capacity of terrorists to attack soft targets within Nigeria’s territorial boundaries.

“No servant can serve two masters at same time; the military should be made to face their duty of protecting territorial integrity and not be used for elections security, highway guards, or to suppress protesters etc. The danger of using the military that were not trained to operate in such civil environment was responsible for the shameful videos that emanated from the 2019 general elections. This is in addition to the avoidable civil-military fisticuffs that often time portrays our military personnel as barbaric”, he added.

But beyond this germane observations by experts lurk the questions on operational tactics as pointed out by the author Ab initio. This is because it appears that a square peg is not placed in a square hole by the military in its determined effort to undo terrorists ravaging the land.

For instance, Nigerian military are primarily trained in the art of conventional warfare; unfortunately, they now found themselves in the theatre of irregular warfare.

It is however, heartbreaking to observe that after one decade of confronting irregular warfare with knowledge and skills of regular warfare, the curriculum of the nation’s military institutions as well as the formations has not been overhauled to properly tackle the challenges beforehand.

While the military certainly deserves kudos and commendation for training and retraining Special Forces, that effort should be augmented by creation of commands, bridges, battalions and platoons of troops trained in the modern art of irregular warfare.

This can be achieved by overhauling the curriculum of the military training institutions to accommodate this new dynamics as modern warfare is gradually shifting from regular to irregular.

Another area that needs priority attention is intelligence gathering. There are consensus amongst security and military experts that intelligence gathering is at the heart of solving any security problem.

Supporting this proposition, some expert opined that though the ‘Third Reich’ was dictatorial, its remarkable successes was anchored on the effectiveness of its undercover agents to pick useful intelligence which help the regime plan a counter with precision.

Intelligence they argued places whoever has it on a position of strength and advantage, it is on the premise of this reality that every government and security agencies places high premium on intelligence.

Nations also depend on intelligence to outsmart each other hence terminologies like espionage amongst the diplomatic community and military attaché is common.

Just recently, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), commissioned a new, state-of-the-art Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre (GIDC) at the Headquarters NAF Abuja.

Explaining the imperative of the Centre, the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola said that the Centre, which is equipped with high-tech computer hardware and software, would‪ improve NAF capacity for acquisition, exploitation, analysis and interpretation of imagery and geospatial information to provide actionable intelligence for the Armed Forces and other security agencies.

Daramola explained that the Geospatial Intelligence Data Centre will further enhance the ongoing Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) efforts in the North East and other parts of Nigeria.

While commissioning the Centre, the Nigerian Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Abayomi Olonisakin, agreed with Daramola’s explanation about the Centre, saying the new Centre would undoubtedly add value to the efforts of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) to better secure the country and make it a safer place for all.

He also expressed delight with the readiness of the NAF to make the products of the Centre available not only to the AFN but also to other security agencies like the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), who could use it to determine old and new border crossing points used by illegal immigrants or smugglers.

General Olonisakin also observed that the Centre could not have come into being at a more auspicious time than now with various areas of disturbance in the Country, while adding that it was indeed a testimony of prudent management of resources by the leadership of the NAF.

Giving reason for embanking on the project, the Chief Host and Nigerian Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said that the establishment of the NAF GIDC was anchored on the resolve of the Service to operate at par with militaries all over the world.

He explained that the Nigerian Air Force embarked on the worthwhile endeavour to leapfrog from traditional means of intelligence gathering to the use of space-borne platforms in the production of actionable intelligence for operational effectiveness.

He added that this is to continue to build capacity across the spectrum of operations so as to bring the fight against terrorism and other forms of criminality in the Country to an end as soon as possible.

He reiterated that the Centre would employ and deploy satellite and other cutting edge technologies, including sophisticated and high-value computer software, to gather and analyse data to produce intelligence in support of NAF and joint operations across the country.

While noting that the Nigerian Air Force has recorded tremendous successes in this area over the years despite challenges such as the huge resources expended in purchase of aviation fuel to maintain a steady eye over Nigeria’s vast areas of interest, the Air Chief added that the NAF has been playing a vital role in most military operations, especially in areas of information gathering through the employment of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Platforms.

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The Centre would employ and deploy satellite and other cutting edge technologies, including sophisticated and high-value computer software, to gather and analyse data to produce intelligence in support of NAF and joint operations across the country

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