A book on Nigeria’s air operations in Sierra Leone has identified gaps with recommendations towards the successful prosecution of Nigeria’s internal and external security operations.
The book titled ‘Nigerian Air War in Sierra Leone from the Cockpit of Aggressor 08’, aims to provide vital lessons for the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts in Northeast Nigeria.
It will be launched on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at a symposium in Abuja on ‘Insurgency in the North East and the Effects of Post-Traumatic Disorders (PTSD) on soldiers, the family and society’ with the theme: ‘Identifying Potent Threats to our Peaceful Coexistence’, organised by a Non-Governmental Organisation, Green Heroes Foundation with the support of Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (Nigerian Chapter).
Former military head of state Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd) and former Minister of Defence Amb. Thomas Agu-Iyi Ironsi are among the dignitaries that will grace the launch.
The aim of the book, written by a war veteran, Air Commodore Abayomi Balogun (retd), is for three key main purposes: military history, lessons for the counter-insurgency and internal security operations, and more importantly, to expose the deadly effects of PTSD on the Nigerian military personnel in particular, their families and society in general.
Speaking on the issue at the weekend, Balogun said the book stands in the foreground as it looks at the conduct of the operation in the North Eastern part of Nigeria today, and how errors and misdemeanours that occurred in the past war campaigns are still erupting today which from the author’s point of view should have been abolished and corrective measures put in place.
According to him, the book was written to serve as a precedent enabling doors of understanding to be flung open to any armed personnel or military commander(s) within the Armed Forces of Nigeria who wish to add to their knowledge of combat if winning is the target when prosecuting any war.
The former Deputy Director of Air Operations, Nigerian Air Force (NAF) said the central idea of the book is summarized in the expectations of who a military leader should be and the attributes he must acquire before and during combat.
“The need for synergy among security Agencies during operations, the need for adequate preparation, planning and proper coordination between elements involved in an operation are keys to success in battles.
“Joint operations or joint warfare is Team Warfare. The synergy that results from the integration and synchronization of Service components capabilities under a single Joint Force Commander (JFC) often maximizes the effectiveness and efficiency of the force.
“Furthermore, the need for more intelligence gathering and timely dissemination among security operatives would surely ensure speedy conclusion of hostilities. Finally, efforts are required in the areas of welfare packages for deployed troops to sustain their fighting spirits and recognition of good deeds while at the front to sustain morale,” he added.
The second purpose of the book is, according to Abayomi, studying of military history, which provides an avenue for gaining an accurate assessment of conflicts using all available resources.
The Sierra Leone, Liberian and North East war veteran stressed that wars and conflicts may remain same, what changes in time are tactics, leadership, terrain and technological advancements.
While military history could be studied for various reasons, Abayomi said the most essential reasons to a soldier thus: the cause of the conflict, the social and cultural foundation doctrine on both sides, the leadership, logistics technology strategy and tactics.
He added: “To the military professional, the knowledge of military history is a basis for a true understanding of the nature of warfare.
“The knowledge of warfare can be gained through firsthand experience on the battlefield or indirectly through the study of past and contemporary conflicts from which one is not gifted to draw personal experience.”
“The opportunity for direct personal experience of warfare is limited and more or less beyond the control of the military professional. But he need not await a war to gain the experience; rather, he needs to undertake a study of military history which is essential for the successful prosecution of future wars.”
Abayomi in the book extended his scope further by subtly standing on a berm and looking into the serious aspects like the dent caused by war through PTSD, stating: “As offence and crime walk hand-in-hand so is war and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders”.
To this, he delved into the effects of war and violence on soldiers, their families and the society
Abayomi noted that for centuries, there have been numerous casualties of war; soldiers with various physical injuries of war can be seen but we really know little of the emotional and the silent injuries of war on Soldiers, their families. These phenomena, he noted, is further aggravated by the effects of PTSD.
He said: “A war veteran affected by PTSD will often recall and re-experience the specific trauma of war when they dream, think or close their eyes. Hallucinations are not uncommon to war veterans as most times, they feel as if they were back in the traumatic environment.
“They may also react strongly to anything that reminds them of the trauma and may react violently sometimes.”
“Wars and violence have been proven to be a deeply scarring experience for many soldiers however, nothing can prepare them adequately for warfare as scenes like witnessing the death of colleagues and narrowly escaping death themselves are bound to be permanently imprinted in their memories sometimes forever.”
“How do we handle this latent threat to our peaceful co-existence Nigerians,” he queried.