COUNTER-TERRORISM: THE ENDGAME (WEEKLY SECURITY DASHBOARD FROM JANUARY 30 - FEBRUARY 4, 2022)
Recently, rising insecurity has assumed a dangerous dimension that threatens the country’s entire existence. From the boom witnessed in ritual killings, internet fraud, terrorism through communal and cult-related clashes to child molestation in all ramifications, the crisis has assumed a hydra-headed dimension threatening the very foundation of the existence of the entire population.
Is there an endgame in sight?
The time has become ripe to ask when the endgame of the myriads of security crisis plaguing the nation will be.
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Conquering these challenges should be the federal government’s top priority because the nation cannot achieve any significant development while grappling with myriads of insecurity challenges.
What is the endgame of counter-terrorism?
It is easy to chart a course to the endgame, but it can be challenging to stay on it.
Expressing his concerns on Wednesday over the increasing strength of ISWAP terrorists, Governor Babagana Zulum says Boko Haram would be a child’s play if the dimension ISWAP is growing remains unchecked.
According to Zulum, “But I think this is an early warning. We shouldn’t allow ISWAP to grow. ISWAP are more sophisticated, more funded, and they are more educated. And we shall do everything possible to defeat ISWAP. Otherwise, what Boko Haram did will be a child’s play. So this is an early warning that the Nigerian Army has to restrategize and defeat ISWAP.
“ISWAP will be a threat to the entire nation. Because of its proximity to Sub Saharan Africa, they are coming from Libya and others and resettling here”, he added.
Applying the inherent lessons from the chess game in counter-terrorism entails that to win, the attacker must have a better plan of action than their opponents.
A case in point is the neutralizing of the ISIS leader in a US overnight raid in Syria. Before the green light on Tuesday, Intelligence on Qurayshi’s location had been tactically surveyed for months through a tabletop model that analyzed the inherent complexity of the operation.
The critical point of the complexity in the US raid was to minimize the death of civilians, knowing that there were several children in the building.
“Knowing that this terrorist had chosen to surround himself with families, including children, we made a choice to use a Special Forces raid at a much greater risk to our own people rather than targeting him with an airstrike,” Biden said. “We made this choice to minimize civilian casualties”.
Therefore, there was a wave of relief when children and other civilians could flee the first floor of the building.
According to the chess game, strategies analyze if Troops make a move; what are the possible countermove open to the terrorists and other criminal-minded elements? What are all the countermoves the enemy may adopt from the given choices? And then for all of those possibilities, what are all of the Security Operatives potential countermoves? Chess constantly equips the attacker to be flexible enough to think about what comes next, what comes after and the repercussions.
In the death of the IS leader, even though Qurayshi opted to rig an entire floor to explode, the US officials had their planners, prior to the attack, look at the structural integrity of the building and decided it would not collapse if the terrorist blew himself up.
Though a soccer match continues even if it is egregiously lopsided at halftime, it is pertinent to situate that many fights that applied the war of attrition have seen both parties suffering avoidable heavy losses.
The search and destroy attrition warfare strategy adopted by the United States during the Vietnam War proved that war of attrition does not work when the enemy is willing to absorb higher losses and indefinitely continue a war.
The time is ripe to compare the loss of lives suffered from both ends since the insurgency war started over a decade and genuinely confirmed if the war of attrition has yielded the desired positive results?
The heightened loss of lives of civilians used as a human shield during air interdiction and the onslaught of different offensives, the continuous conscript of child soldiers, the unabated abduction of soft targets and vulnerable individuals, the dastard acts of increased ritual killings, the daily arrest of an endless number of youths under various crime activities (drug abuse, “Yahoo Yahoo”, thuggery, arsonists among others) indicates the urgent need to overhaul the current strategy presently in use.
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Insecurity is akin to a spider web of activities with one criminal act birthing diverse related criminal activities. The fear and inability of farmers to peacefully go about their business in the North gradually translates into increased food prices, resulting in increased unemployment, hunger, and poverty. The outcome of the growing poverty now culminates in different forms of crime, of which ritual killings where even parents kill their children and vice versa are gradually becoming the unattended, neglected norm in the Southern region.
Military experts like Sun Tzu say attrition is not the best way to win a war.
According to him, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
“In a war of attrition, both parties think they can win. One is always wrong, and often, both are wrong as they both end up with fewer resources”.
The terrorists have displayed that they are willing to absorb higher losses and continue a war indefinitely, showing that attribution warfare as the endgame may never be beneficial as a counter-terrorism strategy.
This is because it is easy to get distracted by the various antics deployed by the enemy camp. The opponent will use different diversionary tactics and surprise attacks at unexpected locations to distract Troops. However, the salient point should be whether matching that feature will advance towards the intended goal or amount in chasing shadows?
High profiled terrorists are daily neutralized through precision deployed in the onslaughts of offensive actions, ambush bombardments, the concentration of force in the Northern region and sustainability of efforts in the last decade, yet, the terror groups continue to increase in a geometric rate that makes the citizens wonder “are these high-profiled terrorist leaders incapable of being eradicated”?
The terrorists are neutralized daily in their numbers, yet the strength of their fighters is never fully depleted.
How has the counter-terrorism fight through annihilation by the game of numbers fared over the past ten years?
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This may likely indicate that war of attrition may no longer yield the needed results in the counter-terrorism strategy.
Studies abide of overwhelming reports on how great military strategists like Napoleon, Winston Churchill, and business leaders like Bill Gates and Peter Thiel applied the lessons from chess to emerge tops and out-manoeuvre their opponents.
Like in the recent US overnight raid in Syria, the first step to finding the right move in a chess game is to “study the opponent’s position”. The endgame may entail the need to identify all the tactical and strategic peculiarities of the configuration of the terrorists’ leaders, their fighters and families. This may become a critical strategy before even embarking on an offensive action to guide against unnecessary abductions as the enemy’s countermoves and loss of civilians lives from endless retaliatory attacks of the opponents.
Chess is a laboratory for the decision-making process in a short time under pressure, calculation, creativity, evaluation and analysis, strategy and continuous performance development.
What is the performance evaluation and development in counter-terrorism presently adopted?
Can it result in the endgame?
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