By Ajibola Adeojo
If recent reports of the success recorded by Chadian troops against the Boko Haram terrorists are anything to go by, then it would be taken that the Chadian forces used a new approach that had never been seen before.
Codenamed “Operation Boma Wrath,” Chadian troops were said to have launched an attack on the terrorists, following an attack on their military base on March 23 by Boko Haram in which 98 Chadian troops were killed.
The revenge attack was adjudged a success because the Chadian troops killed many of the insurgents, destroyed five of their bases and many of their bunkers where its top commanders were hiding and recovered thousands of weapons from them.
Few of the surviving insurgents were said to have ran to Nigerian territories to escape been killed.
But if the Chadians had this offensive strategy against the Boko Haram terrorists who have been taking refuge in their territories for several years why are they unleashing it only now?
The answer is not farfetched. Chad did not use any new approach in military warfare.
That it decided to come out against the insurgents now has more to do with the relationship between the Chadian president, Idriss Deby Itno and the insurgents.
Long before now, Chad had been engulfed in internal crisis for many years and many of its rebels frequently found themselves in Northern Nigeria.
Driven by hunger but with guns and other weapons at their disposal, they wreaked havoc on several Nigerian communities, seized their food supplies and extended their heinous criminal activities to highway robberies. They were known as Kwanta Kwanta due to the language they deployed in their operations.
With the advent of the Boko Haram, especially with the killing of Mohammed Yusuf, top commanders of the sect that were seeking revenge against the Nigerian State were mopped in by the Chadian rebels and in no time the latter surrendered to the command of the Boko Haram because it had more resources and an identifiable structure.
Chad therefore became an important operational base of the terrorists with the knowledge of the Chadian government.
The Chadian President had used this relationship to his advantage to demand financial support from Nigeria before.
But the relationship between Boko Haram and Deby went sour in recent times mainly because the Boko Haram were no longer economically useful since nobody was paying to have them kept at bay as was the practice during its early days and secondly, they were becoming a nuisance to their host communities.
The recent killing of the Chadian troops by Boko Haram broke the proverbial back of the camel and the Chadian government had to turn its gun on the terrorists.
The swift manner the exercise was carried out however raised the questions about the approach used which saw the Chadian troops waking up one day to round up the terrorists in a singular attack.
Some say this is because the attack was led by the Chadian President himself and would want Nigeria to emulate that.
Those advancing this line of thought forget that about the same time that the Boko Haram attacked the Chadian troops killing 98 of them, the theater commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole, Major General Olusegun Adeniyi was also ambushed by the insurgents and would have been killed if not for the deployment of superior military strategy that gave the insurgents a bloody nose.
It is recorded that the Boko Haram suffered so much in that attack that they abandoned a large cache of their weapons and fled.
But days after the Nigerian soldiers out-manouvered the insurgents routing them out in their numbers, only a little media attention was given to it unlike the Chadian episode.
The truth is, apart from needless propaganda, Nigeria has fared far better in military operations than the tiny African country, hence has nothing to learn from Chad.
Even judging by the two incidents, it is clear which side gave a good account of itself as far as responding to attacks is concerned.
While Chad was humiliated by the killing of 98 of its finest fighters, said to be the equivalent of its strike force, Nigeria lost only two soldiers in the ambush before reconnoitering to take on the insurgents and blowing them away.
It is obvious that the Chadian military strategy and approach to counter insurgency differs from that of Nigeria in many respects and it would be a great disservice to Nigeria for anybody to suggest that Nigeria should adopt the Chadian approach in its fight against the insurgents.
One, there is not even a clearly laid out strategy that has cast Chad as having an upper hand in the fight against insurgency.
In the history of warfare, before any strategy could be said to be superior, it must have produced the same results over and over again.
This is not the case with the Chadians as what we have seen is a one off tit-for-tat mission that managed to succeed..
But the danger in playing the defensive or counter offensive like Chad has done in an asymmetric warfare like the one involving Boko Haram is that the insurgents are allowed to make their pick of targets before they are replied.
This could be counterintuitive as the insurgents while taking the time to plan and launch attacks would not always assemble in a place waiting to to be struck.
Another thing is that allowing the terrorists to converge at a particular place before taking on them.would be at a great cost to the civilian population along their camps who would be made to bear the brunt of their sustenance and the many humiliations that come with it.
The fact of the matter is that Nigeria is far ahead of Chad and other countries in the fight against insurgency.
Nigeria has been the leader on many counter insurgency operations across the continent including the multinational joint task force currently fighting the Boko Haram.
The Nigerian Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Yusuf Buratai has been leading the fight from the front since he was so appointed in June 2015.
He has personally participated in drills and other military exercises with fighting troops, talked and interacted with them directly and led operations in the theatres of war.
His presence at many operations has served to inspire troops and boosted their confidence in the battle field.
Apart from that, the Chief of Army Staff has been able to win the war by adopting tactics and strategies that suits particular geographical locations which he is quite familiar with.
Troops confidence has further been boosted with the keen interest he has shown in the improved welfare of soldiers and instilling in them a high sense of patriotism.
Chad on the other has had a pact with the insurgents which went sour and were driven by rage of betrayal by an estranged accomplice.
Nigeria however is driven by patriotism and the need to save humanity from catastrophe and disorder.
The two countries are not in the same category.
Nigeria is doing well in the fight against insurgency and has nothing to learn from a one off operation.
*Adeojo, a security analyst wrote this article from Ibadan.