Nigeria seeks MRAPs to step up war on IED terror

Contributor:  Richard de Silva
Posted:  12/13/2012  12:00:00 AM EST
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The Nigerian Army is looking to acquire Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) All-Terrain vehicles to advance its strategy in defeating home-grown terrorism, a source has told Defence IQ.

Commanders from the bomb disposal unit will be attending the International Armoured Vehicles (IAVs) event in Farnborough next year to find out more about procurement options and to exchange counter-IED lessons with other forces facing similar threats.

Today, Nigeria continues to fight its campaign against the loosely structured Jamaatu Ahlil Sunna Lidawati wal Jihad – more commonly known as Boko Haram – which has an anti-West and anti-academic agenda that has claimed thousands of lives over the past decade.

In the first six months of this year, this group is believed to have killed 620 people across the country and its violence is now, like many insurgencies throughout the world, exhibiting signs of being motivated more and more by financial and political gain than by religious zeal.

Despite the high figures, there are also increasing instances of success in efforts to defeat the devices. By mid-August 2012, the police force in Kano – a Nigerian state less than 8,000 square miles large; smaller than the country of Wales – reported that it had spent the year diffusing no less than 963 IEDs, including two suicide-intended car bombs, and arresting 108 offenders.

Major Abdulrazaq Olapeju Kazeem is the Commanding Officer of the Army Headquarters Bomb Disposal Squadron based in Abuja and therefore has a top-level understanding of the changing landscape.

“IED incidents in Nigeria have been quite serious and challenging, however, because of proactive and preemptive measures put in place by the Nigerian Government and Security Forces, the threat is receding,” Kazeem told Defence IQ, citing the reduction in frequency of both attacks and casualties.

Still, it is not all a question of volume – the targets themselves are becoming a concern. When the United Nations building in the Nigerian capital was bombed in 2011, Kazeem escorted President Goodluck Jonathan to see the devastation firsthand and to further highlight the ongoing importance of defeating this threat.

“The Nigerian Army Bomb Disposal is tackling the rising IED incidents by employing global best practices in locating, rendering safe and disposal of IEDs,” he explained.

“The NA Bomb Disposal Detachments are present in all Divisions of the NA, advising commanders at all levels on best target hardening, first response and PBI measures. In addition, the NA Bomb Disposal Unit has also attached a counter IED detachment to each Special Forces Unit operating in IED prone areas to give intimate counter IED support as required. The Unit has so far rendered safe and disposed of more than 300 IEDs, including packaged and VB IEDs, and the unit has also intercepted and captured various quantities and caches of IED precursor materials in transit and at insurgents' hideouts. We are employing state-of-the-art locating, defeat and disposal equipment.

Kazeem also stated that his forces “are looking at acquiring the MRAP” to keep soldiers and specialists safe from opportunists. At present, Nigeria operates a single RG-31 Nyala, the 4x4 MRAP from Land Systems OMC heavily favoured by the UN. However, Nigerian defence company Mekahog is now understood to be on the path of manufacturing Springbuck VI APCs, not only addressing the requirement but also benefiting local industry by establishing the DTM plant from 2013 on Nigerian soil.

With a crew capacity of 10, plus the driver, the South African Springbuck boasts resilience against a 2x TM57 landmine (14kg TNT) or equivalent under any wheel and a 1x TM57 landmine (7kg TNT) directly under its V-hull. There is also rumour that Nigeria will flesh out its mobile C-IED programme with the purchase of DCD-Dorbyl Mountain Lion Armoured Battle Vehicles, which can also ferry up to 10 troops.

Kazeem is a firm believer in the need for multinational consultation on the IED issue, given its growing presence worldwide. Where the knowledge of others can hopefully augment Nigeria’s strategy, Kazeem’s forces are also eager to help allied nations with its own findings, particularly as terror cells and insurgencies are commonly involved in their own exchange of tactics, techniques and procedures.

“There are lessons that other countries more recently engaged in the counter IED battlespace can learn from the Nigerian experience – these range from bombing tactics, [looking at] the types of explosives materials employed, target selection and effects.”

“Our training programme has been upgraded to include IEDD as against the traditional EOD roles of the Combat Engineers and ordnance. We have also included foreign overseas courses for beginners, intermediate and advanced level IEDD trainings for our SNCOs and YOs.”

Richard de Silva Contributor:   Richard de Silva

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