Stakeholders Task Operational Level Commanders on Imperatives of CNAI to Warfare (Civil War Case Study)

.... COAS declares 4th edition of the AWCN Symposium Open in Abuja 

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Faruk Yahaya, participants of Army War College Nigeria Course 7/2023, Academia, members of the Armed Forces and Legionnaires have examined and analysed lessons learnt from the imperatives of critical national infrastructures during the Nigerian civil war, which is assets, services and systems that support the economic, political and social life of a nation.

Stakeholders during the Symposium which was organised for participants of Course 7/2023 on Wednesday 7 June 2023 took place at the College premises located at WU Bassey Barracks, Asokoro, Abuja, Nigeria with the theme “Imperatives of Critical National Infrastructure in the Nigerian Civil War: Lessons for Operational Level Commanders” will be the fourth to be held in the College.

The Special Guest of Honour, while declaring the symposium open said the study of the Nigerian Civil War has huge potentials to bring out valuable lessons that could contribute in addressing the current security challenges confronting the nation. "This informs the inclusion of the study of the Nigerian Civil War in the Army War College Nigeria curriculum aimed at grooming the capacities of operational level leaders in basic military strategic thinking as well as operational planning," Army Chief said.

Lt General Yahaya said, "according to Mark Twain, “history does not repeat itself but it rhymes.” The thoughts, ideas and lessons from the past gleaned from this Symposium can form a rhythm which will prove invaluable in solving the complex adaptive problems in the current security environment.

The COAS noted that the contemporary security environment is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Lessons from the history of the nation shows how quickly critical infrastructure that took years to build and are vital for national development can be destroyed in very little time. "The loss of essential services in the North East due to the activities of violent extremist organisations and its impact on national security and development is proof-positive of the need for the protection of critical national infrastructure.", he stressed.

Lt General Faruk also made a case study of the sudden rampage of hoodlums during the ENDSARS riots of 2020 which led to the destruction of critical national infrastructure to the tune of billions of Naira is another example of how quickly critical national infrastructure can be reduced to smoulders.

"The need to protect these infrastructure is thus crucial particularly as the nation bestirs itself within limited resources to ensure that it keeps up with global advancements in technology for the wellbeing of the citizens. The theme of this symposium which is “Imperatives of Critical National Infrastructure in the Nigerian Civil War: Lessons for Operational Level Commanders” is therefore, apt," he said.

The Army Chief, pleased with the drive of the Army War College Nigeria in using symposium as tool, not only a means of academic excellence but as a viable tool to find solutions to nagging contemporary security challenges as well as a means of attaining and sustaining his vision for the Nigerian Army.  

He therefore commended the Commandant and Members of Faculty and the entire College community for the strides so far in keeping up with the set objectives of the College.  

He urged the participants of Army War Course 7/2023, to use this singular opportunity to learn as much as they can, open up new vistas and perspectives in their mind and find veritable ways of applying the lessons learnt for the good of the Nigerian Army and the nation at large. 

In his opening remarks, the Commandant Army War College Nigeria, Major General Bamidele Ali Alabi noted that the symposium is an important part of Module 6 of AWCN curriculum, Nigerian Civil War (NCW) as part of its Military History curriculum as it provides an avenue for invited guests to share their views on the Nigerian Civil War. 

Maj. Gen Alabi said the objective of the Symposium is to study and teach both operational and strategic level activities of the NCW for better understanding of the battlefield events and operational outcomes as well as all activities that characterized the war. It is in the spirit of this mandate that the College organizes an annual symposium on the NCW to create a forum to bring together erudite scholars, experts in Military History and retired officers who witnessed the war to share their thoughts and personal experiences.

One of the resource persons, Dr Bem Japhet Audu from Centre for the study of Leadership and Complex Military Operations Nigerian Defence Academy noted that the scope of his paper covers the role and utilization of Critical National Assets and Infrastructure (CNAI) during the Nigerian civil war, 1967- 1970.

Lecturing on the concept and Practice of Critical National Infrastructures, he said the purpose of this paper therefore, Critical National Assets and Infrastructure consists of a set of systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so essential to the nation that any disruption of their services could have a serious impact on national security, economic well-being, public health or safety, or any combination like,  Transportation systems which is the Road transport, rail transport, air traffic; border surveillance; inland waterways transport;_ocean and short-sea shipping. The Energy production sources, storage and distribution (oil, gas, electricity) and Information, Communication Technology (ICT): information system and network protection (e.g., the Internet); provision of fixed telecommunications; provision of mobile telecommunication; radio communication and navigation; satellite communication; broadcasting.

The second paper by Dr. Moses Ugbobi Saleh, Research Associate at Army War College Nigeria said the purpose of his paper is to critically examine the imperatives or importance of critical national assets and infrastructure in warfare.

Dr Saleh acquainted the audience of the role and importance of critical national assets and infrastructure during the Nigerian civil war with the view of drawing lessons. He took a critical look at the key concepts of Nigerian Civil War, an overview of CNAI and the Nigerian Civil War, CNAI During the Civil War. Strategic Effect of the Engagement of CNAI by Both Parties, Protection of CNAI and Lessons for Operational Level Commanders.

He enjoined Operational Level Commanders to learn from the Nigerian Civil War, saying Commanders must be proactive and decisive in their thinking in order to avoid unnecessary troop casualty, for instance, the destruction of Onitsha bridge by the Biafra troops brought about the idea of river crossing by General Murtala Monarod and his troops.

He also said another lesson is the blockage policy, he noted that without logistics, there is no victory in war. He said, the destruction of the Onitsha bridge, roads and other CHAI affected logistics supply on both olde during the war.

The exchange of supply between the rear and front is crucial. CHAI helps in the provisioning of the three levels of strategic, operational and tactical logistics supply.

Dr Saleh concluded that critical national assets and infrastructure anywhere in the world are very important to the welfare and wellbeing of the country, this is because CNAI make life easy and also help in creating modernity in the society. The imperatives of CNAI to warfare cannot be overemphasized, and the Nigerian civil war was not an exception. 

"Many CNAI were attacked and destroyed during the Nigeria civil war and the consequence of that was very severe to the people and the entire war effort. The current war between Russia and Ukraine have unveiled the imperatives of CNAI in warfare. Russia have consistently attacked and destroyed CNAI in Ukraine.

Discussants of Papers 1 and 2 with interactive sessions were Professor CBN Ogbogbo as moderator, Professor Useni Jubril, Retired Lt Gen Oboakor, Retired Major General Wahab, Professor UA Tar, and Dr Joel Ebute.

Dignitaries at the symposium were the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Training (Army), Chief of Plans and Policy (Army), Commandant Army War College Nigeria, Director General Nigerian Army Resource Centre, participants of Course 7/2023, participants from academia, members of the Armed Forces, and Legionnaires among others. 

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