How Boko Haram Attack Nigeria Army

“How Boko Haram Attack Nigeria Army” is an article that focuses on “how Boko Haram fights.” The article looks at the Defense strategy and positioning of Boko Haram terrorists, using the May 2015 Nigeria military offensive into Sambisa Forest as a case study.

How Boko Haram attack Nigerian Army
Cross section of Boko Haram terrorists

Since 2009, Boko Haram has been committing widespread human rights abuses in large parts of north-eastern Nigeria. In December 2013, the group extended its attacks to other countries surrounding Nigeria, namely, Cameroon, then the Niger, and Chad.

As Boko Haram attacks worsens, multilateral counter-insurgency measures were instituted by the countries affected by the menace, and In January 2015, an agreement was reached between Cameroon and Chad and between Nigeria and Chad to have robust joint military operations against the common enemy.

Boko Haram/ISWAP Fighters

Many would have thought that this robust joint military operations by Nigeria and the other countries affected by Boko Haram would mean the end for the insutgents. But instead, the group was still very active. Even after the demise of long term leader, Abubakar Shekau, they were still capable of carrying out very dangerous and organized attacks.

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Though the dreaded Islamist militants have several fighting tactics, we’ll be looking at their most common tactics, “the defence strategy”.

This is the strategy they deploy especially when they come under serious attack from the Nigerian security forces.

Boko Haram’s Defense Strategy

Boko Haram’s strength and training are generally inferior to that of massed Nigerian security forces, although the group is collecting an arsenal of weapons that, in some instances, is greater than resource￾deprived outposts. It has difficulties surviving direct confrontations with large Nigerian military forces. 

When attacked, Boko Haram fighters maintain a defensive position long enough to exfiltrate to safer locations. Boko Haram tends to withdraw into another area not likely included in the Nigerian military’s offensive, or to disperse until the offensive is over rather than attempt to attack the flanks or rear of the offensive.

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Tactical defensive actions will most likely use either a simple battle position or complex battle positions. The following describes an example of a Boko Haram defense in a complex battle position.

In May 2015, largely in response to political and public pressure to find and return the Chibok Girls School girls, the Nigerian military began an offensive into the Sambisa Forest. The Nigerian Defense Headquarters stated that on 16 May 2015, its military captured ten Boko Haram defensive positions in the Sambisa Forest using regular army units, special forces, and air assets for surveillance and attack. The attacks resulted in confiscation of vehicles mounted with anti-aircraft weapons and armored vehicles. Boko Haram fighters were not able to carry away all of the many women and girls it had captured, so some were simply left behind with stories of mistreatment and brutality.

Boko Haram fighters roaming freely in an unspecified Nigerian city

Boko Haram had anticipated an eventual offensive against its positions within the Sambisa forest and prepared for the attack. The Nigerian army discovered an outer belt of mines before the attack began when one soldier was killed and another wounded. This and combat security outposts (CSOP) designated as disruption elements provided early warning of an impending attack.

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The main defense element was responsible for defeating the attack, covering a withdrawal, and protecting the support element that consisted of the command and control personnel. Once the attack began in earnest, it was apparent that Boko Haram would not be able to defeat the attackers.

The main defense element covered the exfiltration, after which it withdrew. Some of the withdrawing Boko Haram fighters ran into ambushes along their exfiltration routes and were killed. The Nigerian air force provided surveillance of some of the fleeing Boko Haram fighters.

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