US Soldiers Tasked to Increase Advisory Role to Aid in Nigeria’s War Against Terror

U.S. Special Operations Command Africa commanding general Brigadier General James Linder (R) shakes hands with a Nigerien military officer during Flintlock 2014, a U.S.-led international training mission for African militaries, in Niamey, March 9, 2014. On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara's southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington's aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Central to the international effort is a blossoming relationship between the United States and France, the former colonial power and traditional "policeman" of the turbulent region. Picture taken March 9, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
U.S. Special Operations Command Africa commanding general Brigadier General James Linder (R) shakes hands with a Nigerien military officer during Flintlock 2014, a U.S. led international training mission for African militaries, in Niamey, March 9, 2014. Washington’s aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light. A growing number of European nations taking part shows their increasing concern about security in West Africa. Picture taken March 9, 2014. To match Analysis AFRICA-USA/SECURITY REUTERS/Joe Penney (NIGER – Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

In another example of news that is getting buried in the avalanche of election coverage, the U.S. announced late last week that military advisers would be sent to the front lines of Nigeria’s war against the extremist Jihadists of Boko Haram:

The Pentagon is poised to send dozens of Special Operations advisers to the front lines of Nigeria’s fight against the West African militant group Boko Haram, according to military officials, the latest deployment in conflicts with the Islamic State and its allies.

Their deployment would push American troops hundreds of miles closer to the battle that Nigerian forces are waging against an insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians in the country’s northeast as well as in neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

By some measures, Boko Haram is the world’s deadliest terrorist group.

KILL BOKO HARAM F1
Muhammadu Buhari has taken on Boko Haram more aggressively than his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, but is also facing other challenges with the Nigerian economy and government. Original Cartoon by Editorial Cartoonist Kingsley Nmbah for Nigerianreporter.com December, 2015.

The deployment is a main recommendation of a recent confidential assessment by the top United States Special Operations commander for Africa, Brig. Gen. Donald C. Bolduc. If it is approved, as expected, by the Defense and State Departments, the Americans would serve only in noncombat advisory roles, military officials said

“Rather than entangle U.S. combat forces on the ground, help build the capacity of regional forces to tackle their countries’ security challenges,” said Jennifer G. Cooke, Africa director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, who visited Nigeria last month. “Training and advising and perhaps imparting the lessons we learned the hard way is a good thing.”

Since taking office last year, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has vowed to pursue a military campaign against Boko Haram more vigorously than his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. His shake-up of the military high command and new cooperation with neighboring countries has proved effective.

Buhari, a former general, has boasted of the military’s successes in wresting control of a huge portion of terrain from the group, declaring a “technical” victory late last year. But while the military has killed or captured thousands of militants and put an end to raids of villages by dozens or more fighters, the group has still carried out suicide attacks at a relentless pace in Nigeria and neighboring countries.

“Despite losing territory in 2015, Boko Haram will probably remain a threat to Nigeria throughout 2016.

And will continue its terror campaign within the country and in neighboring Cameroon, Niger and Chad,” James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told the House Intelligence Committee in Washington on Thursday.
(Source: Outside the Beltway)