THE NIGERIAN MILITARY COUNTER INSURGENCY IN THE NIGER DELTA NIGERIA, 1999-2009

THE NIGERIAN MILITARY COUNTER INSURGENCY IN THE NIGER DELTA NIGERIA, 1999-2009

ABSTRACT

The study examines the constraints faced by the Nigerian military in carrying out counterinsurgency in the Niger Delta of Nigeria between 1999 and 2009. The study argues that there are significant problems in relying on conventional forces to engage in specialized COIN operations like the insurgency in the Niger Delta. The Nigerian military commitment to specialized COIN appeared negligible and it more often than not regarded its mission in the Niger Delta essentially in conventional military terms. As long as the COIN lasted, the military organization appeared to have been reluctant in changing the acceptable ways of conventional military operations, especially at the tactical level. Indeed, the Nigerian military COIN operation in the Niger Delta was distinguished more by its conventionality than by its adaptiveness. Consequently, continuity rather than change defined the COIN operations of the Nigerian military in the Niger Delta. Such continuity was made possible by the Nigerian military bandwidth problem and the Nigerian military organization. A unconventional coastal insurgency in a complex and difficult terrain was a significant departure from conventional war preparedness the Nigerian military were often exposed to in their training, composition and structure. Indeed, the entire military organization had to adapt and learn fast in response to changing realities evident in the Niger Delta insurgency. The Niger Delta insurgency required innovation and adaptation, but the Nigerian military were constrained by slow institutional modifications made possible by an overwhelming military bandwidth problem. In all, the Niger Delta insurgency was a new kind of war for the Nigerian military. In such a war, the Nigerian military was constrained by military bureaucracy and a democratic government almost to the point of ineffectiveness. The study submits that COIN operations invariably faced constraints when conventional oriented military assumes COIN responsibilities without making appropriate re-organisation to its force projection.