- Mulls massive deployment of attack helicopters
Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja
The military is tinkering with a new war strategy to end terror attacks by insurgent groups in the North-east within three months, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.
The new strategy, it was learnt, followed the widespread criticism of the present strategy, super camp, which entails concentration of a large number of troops in a particular area from where troops launch attacks on insurgents.
Super camp has drawn flaks from military tacticians and stakeholders in the North-east, including Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, who described it as defective since concentration of troops in one area means their absence in many areas and consequential attacks by terrorists on such areas.
THISDAY gathered that following advice by military strategists and countries with strong military background, especially in tackling insurgency, Defence ministry officials are focusing on the massive procurement and deployment of attack helicopters and gunships.
Attack helicopters, armed helicopters or helicopter gunship, are designed to fire on enemy troops and vehicles.
THISDAY gathered from military sources that whether it is providing close air support for ground troops or destroying enemy armed vehicles and tanks, the attack helicopter is built for speed and comes heavily armed with an array of auto-cannons, machine guns, rockets and missiles.
This, it was gathered, is seen as a strategy best suited for the insurgents, who deploy gun trucks, anti-aircraft guns mounted on vehicles and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in addition to hit-and-run attacks.
“Massive deployment of attack helicopters equipped with guns, rockets and missiles will do a quicker job, deployed from different angles in simultaneous operations,” a military source told THISDAY.
It was also learnt that the federal government is also moving in the same direction.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to sign a military technical cooperation agreement with Russia for the supply of attack helicopters, military transport planes and battle tanks.
Buhari is to sign a military technical cooperation deal with Russia at talks with President Vladimir Putin this month that will help it fight Boko Haram militants.
The president is billed to meet the Russian president on the sidelines of a Russia-Africa summit in the Black Sea city of Sochi.
“We’re sure that with Russian help we’ll manage to crush Boko Haram, given Russia’s experience combating Islamic State in Syria,” Nigerian Ambassador to Russia, Mr. Steve Ugbah, had said on Friday in an interview with Russia’s RIA news agency.
Ugbah said a military technical cooperation deal between Russia and Nigeria had already been drafted and that it only needed to be finalised.
“We hope president Buhari can take the talks to their logical end … The agreement will open new possibilities in such areas as the supply of military equipment and training for specialists,” he had said.
Also speaking on the matter with emphasis on army aviation, the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi, had said with the planned Nigerian Army Aviation, Boko Haram would be contained in three months.
The commander, who spoke during a visit of members of the National Assembly to the war zone, said: “Boko Haram does not have a formidable force. When we start using Army Aviation in our operations in the trenches, we will end insurgency in three months.
“Nigerians should go to sleep; if we have army aviation in our operations, as the Nigerian Air Force platform is for long range trajectory, but with the helicopters in our trenches, Boko Haram will be done with within three months.”
He assured the National Assembly committee that “no single town will fall into the hands of Boko Haram under my control. When I assumed office seven weeks ago, I promised Nigerians that I will take the fight to the Boko Haram. All the towns and villages in the theatre are in the control of our troops.
“I am not afraid of Boko Haram. Any time Boko Haram rear their ugly heads we will deal with them. They attempted to infiltrate Maiduguri but we dealt with them.”