Logistics Is Always The B-Word: A Lesson Shekau Is Learning

An Army is only as good as its logistics. This should be a quote military commanders are required to memorize, and it seems to be  a quote  the various Boko Haram factions may need to be taught to understand too.For years the various factions were able to move fast and hit hard, fighting a mobile insurgency that would see them at times mass up hundreds of Toyota technicals to with 12.5mm machine guns and in some cases 60mm mortars mounted atop them to attack hapless towns defended by equally defenseless Nigerian soldiers. This was made possible utilizing cheap and readily petroleum products obtained either via Nigeria’s budding black market, or just over the border in Cameroon, Chad and Niger. But the ongoing offensives on all fronts have severely limited the access of the insurgents to fuel for those vehicles they still have. This acute fuel shortage has particularly affected Islamic State West African Province of Abubakar Shekau which has tried to hit back with guerilla raids on isolated rural communities along the Lake Chad shoreline, unlike the faction led by Khalid Al-Barnawi that has mainly gone to ground and is hitting back with suicide bomb attacks, and the faction of Muhammad Daud that is said to have mostly moved across the border now into Niger.

The Islamic State of West Africa was as usual adapting to this reduced battlefield mobility by requisitioning horses and camels, and according to rumours paying thousands of dollars to mounted Tuareg raiders, as part of a campaign to terrorize the rural populations and divert resources from these offensives.  The hiring of mercenaries was necessitated by a lack of horses caused by another problem, the lack of food. Although the veterans from the old days can bear with the hunger as they trained before 2009 to survive on a date palm fruit(locally called dabino) a day and water, the newer fighters recruited or conscripted since the factions expanded their territory and were marching on to what seemed like a victory at Maiduguri, now make up a majority of the hands on ground for the Islamic State of West Africa. And these newer fighters are not as trained i n hunger management as the older veterans. So you find that whatever horse is captured, requisitioned, stolen by Islamic State West Africa, there is chance it may first end up in the cooking pots rather than as the personal mounts of raiders looking to slaughter innocent villagers and rape and abduct women. Food is always a powerful motivation.

Funny enough, the Islamic State West Africa, is reeking with cash. It has to my limited knowledge millions of dollars it has raked in from taxing rich men across Northern Nigeria in order to not assassinate them, in addition it has received in more millions of dollars from many Nigerian governors seeking to bribe the group to not explode bombs in their states. Most of these deals were arranged by a certain ex-governor known to have aided and abetted them over the years in his craze to be a political king in the North East of Nigeria. He also received his own payment for fixing up such deals. But despite the tons of cash in its possession, Islamic State West Africa cannot manage the logistical nightmare currently facing it.

Firstly, fuel can now only be obtained in the substantial quantities it needs from urban areas like Maiduguri, but while it can arrange payments for the fuel effortlessly, taking possession of the fuel is another matter entirely. The area is a war zone where Islamic State West Africa is in retreat. Nigerian soldiers currently control the roads leading from Maiduguri to the Lake Chad shoreline area. While fuel supplies can be obtained in Niger, transporting them across the border into Nigeria is another matter, as not only are there Nigerien and MNJTF(Multi-National Joint Task Force) soldiers in the area, Muhammad Daud’s faction is also hanging around along the Niger-Nigeria border, and they are not averse to robbing Shekau’s logistical convoys. Cameroon is not an area Shekau’s people are operationally familiar with nor is Harakatul-Muhajiriin any bit more friendly to Islamic State West Africa than Jamaa’atu Ahlis-Sunnah of Muhammad Daud is. Plus recent Nigerian Army advances on the Chadian border areas eliminated the possibility of covert fuel shipments from Chad to the Islamic State of West Africa.

By banning the use of horses as reported here , the Nigerian Army has probably dealt a strong blow to Islamic State West African Province, further compounding a major problem the group has been facing since the start of this offensive. Also this ban on horses will force the insurgents to either rely on their feet for transportation since they cannot use their vehicular transports for non-essential operations, due to fuel shortages, or to give up the current campaign of harassing the civilian populace and instead focus on evading the Army and regrouping for future campaigns.

P.S I have been informed that the bomb attack at the IDP camp in Malkohi close to Yola the Adamawa State capital was carried out by Harakatul-Muhajirin wal-Mujahidiin led by Khalid Al-Barnawi..

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2 thoughts on “Logistics Is Always The B-Word: A Lesson Shekau Is Learning

  1. An excellent & outstanding piece. In an unrelated matter, do you know of any connections between any factions of Boko Haram & the Somalia-based Jihadist organization, AlShabaab; as I have noticed that AlShabaab-affiliated media are still giving Boko Haram favourable broadcasts 7 months after BH pledged Bayah to ISIL. Just to let you know, my site is StrategicIntelligenceFiles.blogspot.com

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