The Place of Armed Forces In The Region - Part 2


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The Place Of Armed Forces In The Emerging Regional Scene

-Part 2 (Final)-

continued from:




Nowamagbe Omoigui



National War College, Abuja, Nigeria

Wednesday, January 19, 2005







To respond appropriately to this question, one must first provide a little background to Force Structure as a concept in Military operational research and then introduce defence economics.


It is important to realize from the outset that “Force structure”, which basically refers to the shape and size of the military, beginning with each individual soldier, sailor or airman, may mean different things to different services, different levels of any one service or different components of the various services.  It is linked to a variety of other concepts such as operational requirements, logistics, combat modeling and strategic mobility. Spatially dispersed services like the Navy and Air Force often do not see things the way the Army does.  


My perspective on Force Structure in this lecture will be that of the Defence Ministry, not at the service and unit level of detail which would require me to make too many assumptions about force readiness and equipment utility. What the Defence Ministry does is to identify to the Services their major combat forces and identify the various scenarios by which those forces should be evaluated and their requirements defined.  The National Assembly has the power to define the total number of service personnel and provide the funding but the military has a professional role to play in guiding the process.  


In the Navy, force structure tends to be based on numbers of individual ships or groups of specific functional ship types, depending on whether the navy concerned is primarily coastal or seagoing and the nature of the operation.  In the Army, which has a wide variety of units, the make-up of each such unit has to be specified with emphasis on supporting forces and projections of expected degree of unit degradation after the projected combat scenario.  The Air Force, like the Navy, also tends to be functionally modular and ties force structure to well defined target specific operational requirements. However, this may be a simplistic overview, because the Navy and Army may have independent air wings, or the navy may have troops onboard. 


Then there is the question of perspective.  While at higher levels planners may concern themselves with numbers of types of units, at lower levels the concern tends to be with the internal structure of component units.  For example, how many and what type of Tanks are there in the Armoured Division or how many ships and of what type are in the battle group or task force or how many aircraft are there in the wing or formation?  Other issues include the availability of support forces, time to mobilization and requirement for additional training. 


When it comes to analysis, the Army approach is to take the primary force specification and scenario as outlined by the Defence Ministry and demonstrate that the forces so specified are sufficient to win the war or perform the task assigned with a given support structure. The next step is to make projections for ammunition, personnel replacements, supplies, fuel, end-items etc.  Support Force analysis is time phased and is meant to estimate the level of support required to sustain the combat force and replace wartime personnel in various scenarios.  Strategic mobility analysis uses a computer model to characterize arrival of forces into the theaters and keep track of resource consumption.  In addition other factors influence Force structure, including availability of Host nation support, whether or not the operation is single service or joint, the degree to which services are outsourced, etc. 


 The Air Force on the other hand bases Force Structure analysis on the specification of the opposing target, including its aim point; weapon and system effectiveness against various targets; and target destruction goals.  This is based on defining the optimum weapon and platform for the task given based on cost, minimization of weapons used, and maximization of target destruction as long as the number of sorties for the given force structure is not exceeded, phasing of missions completed is done and available weapons are not exceeded. Computer modeling assists in testing various forces and structures to see which is optimal. 


Naval ships tend to operate independently once they head out to sea, carrying all their combat and support requirements onboard or in accompanying logistic vessels when in a group until they return to base. It is easy to see how a naval planner’s approach to force structure would differ from his counterparts in other services. 


The Nigerian Armed Forces at a glance.


Broadly speaking, according to the IISS [The Military Balance, 2003 -2004], and other sources, Nigeria’s Armed Forces number 78,500 (approximately).  There is no conscription.


Of this number, the Army is alleged to have about 62,000, Navy 7,000, and Air Force 9500 officers and men.  Precisely how the officers and men are stacked across the duration of their military careers is unclear but preferably the distribution should be pyramidal with many more men at the base than at the middle and many more in the middle than at the top.  This implies detailed attention to career planning, with appropriate systematic attrition at every level.


The Army is comprised of five (5) divisions, of which one is armoured, one is “composite” (comprising motorized, amphibious and airborne elements), and the others mechanized/motorized.  Grossly speaking, the armoured and mechanized divisions have two “core” leading brigades each, supported by one artillery brigade, one engineer brigade and one light armoured reconnaissance battalion.   To this may be added a Brigade of Guards, comprised of two infantry battalions (with support elements), and a “Joint Task Force, Bakassi”, drawn from the three services, tasked for security duties in the disputed Bakassi peninsula.  At this point in time Nigeria has about 4,000 troops outside the country on international peacekeeping duties.  Various efforts have been made to refurbish, retrofit and modernize aging armoured fighting reconnaissance vehicles. 

The Navy is presently organized into two commands, the western and eastern naval commands.  (At one time in the past, there was, briefly, a central command).  Although the state of serviceability has waxed and waned, (with various efforts at local Ship maintenance and refit) it may be observed that at one point in time or another, Nigeria, in recent times, has had up to one (1) Frigate), two (2) corvettes, three (3) missile craft, 5 or more coastal patrol boats; two (2) mine-sweepers, one (1) amphibious landing craft for 220 troops and 5 tanks; five (5) support craft; and four (4) helicopters (of which efforts have been made to revitalize the two (2) older non-operational craft).  More recently, a number of over 50 year old ex-US Coast Guard Balsam-class buoy tenders have been (and continue to be) delivered through a US assistance program, raising the number of Cat-class coastal patrol boats.

The Air Force has a Tactical Air Command (armed with up to three (3) squadrons of Alpha, Mikoyan-Gurevich and Jaguar combat aircraft along with Bolkow-Messerschmitt 105D and Mil 35 armed helicopters), a Training Command, and a Transport Command, comprised of two squadrons of tactical aircraft (including C-130s, G-222s, and Dorniers) and helicopter transports in the Military airlift wing.  There is also a Presidential Fleet, and a Maritime reconnaissance unit.  As is the case with the Naval boats, state of serviceability and air-worthiness of various aircraft has waxed and waned.  With varying degrees of success, efforts have been made (with external assistance) to refit Alpha jet and C-130 aircraft, as well as perform periodic depot maintenance and obtain back-up spares for various aircraft such as the C-130, Alpha jet, L-39, Do 228, Do128-6, ABT-18 etc.  Arguments, back and forth, have spilled over on to the pages of newspapers about the appropriateness of upgrading the aging Mig-21 fleet or purchasing an entirely new platform of fighter-interceptors.  It has been my observation that many of these arguments tend to occur without strategic contextualization.


At this point, let us briefly review the Defence Economics of Nigeria.


Defence Economics


Appreciating the economics of defence requires a grasp of several interrelated issues.  To start with there must be a standard definition of what constitutes “defence spending” and with the caveat that how much a given country spends on “defence” does not necessarily correlate with military effectiveness.   For this purpose, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) provides an international frame of reference.   According to SIPRI,


“……military expenditure data include all current and capital expenditure on: (a) the armed forces, including peacekeeping forces; (b) defence ministries and other government agencies engaged in defence projects; (c) paramilitary forces, when judged to be trained and equipped for military operations; and (d) military space activities. Such expenditures should include: (a) military and civil personnel, including retirement pensions of military personnel and social services for personnel; (b) operations and maintenance; (c) procurement; (d) military research and development; and (e) military aid (in the military expenditure of the donor country). Civil defence and current expenditures on previous military activities, such as veterans’ benefits, demobilization, conversion and weapon destruction are excluded.” (Italics mine)


According to the Budget Office of the Federal Ministry of Finance, in Nigeria, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) is responsible for:


  1. National Defence and Security, including Defence of Territorial Waters and Economic zones.

  2. Clearance of Foreign Military Aircrafts and Warships.

  3. Defence Agreements

  4. Defence Equipment

  5. Liaison with Armed Forces of Foreign Countries.

  6. Local Forces, including Army Cadet Forces and Cadetship.

  7. Matters of Policy, Establishment, Recruitment, Finance, Training and Operations connected with the Nigerian Armed Forces.

  8. Resettlement Schemes for Serving Members of the Armed Forces.

  9. Armed Forces Development Projects.

  10. Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare

  11. War Graves.

  12. Relations with the Defence Industries Corporation, Nigerian Legion, Military Pensions Board, Armed Forces Institute of Nigeria and the Armed Forces University.


That said, our understanding of the economic ramifications of military spending should encompass the following questions:


  1. What is the amount spent?

  2. What is its percentage of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)? The GDP is preferred because it is the best single measure of true cost in public resource terms.

  3. What is its percentage of the total budget?

  4. What are the real historical trends in defence spending, taking into account, standard definitions, methodology, actual disbursement and prevailing foreign exchange rates? 

  5. What percentage of the budget is spent on personnel and overhead, rather than combat operations, equipment procurement and maintenance, research and development?

  6. What is the size of the military, including absolute and relative numbers of officers and other ranks?

  7. What proportion of the military is conscripted?

  8. What is the role of the military?

  9. Are there “off-budget” sources of military funds, including military aid?


One of the frustrations one has experienced in trying to grasp the economics of defence in Nigeria is the problem of inconsistency in economic data, a problem at least in part due to lack of automation of data entry, description and analytic procedures within Nigeria, and lack of uniformity in figures for Nigeria available from international sources (like SIPRI, World Bank, IISS). 


According to SIPRI world and regional military expenditure estimates, from 1991 to 2000, Africa, encased in conflict, actually recorded an increase of 20% while the rest of the world (combined) decreased military spending by 11%.  Since 2001, however, following the terrorist attacks in the United States, and the military expeditions to Afghanistan and Iraq, US defence spending in particular has risen significantly, resulting in an 18% overall increase in world spending as a whole. 


Sub-Saharan Africa spent 2.06 to 2.96% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defence expenditure between 1992 and 2002. As a percentage of GDP, Nigeria spent 0.5 to 1.4 % of GDP on defence between 1992 and 2002.  Nigeria actually spent $171 – $511 million per year at constant US $ (year 2000 value) from 1988 to 2000.  At first glance, the highest amount spent on defence during the period was in the year 1999.  The reason; however, may be that in the years prior to 1999, Nigeria, under military rule, was using a favorable dollar exchange rate in a parallel market.  Thus, the real value of monies spent on defence had been understated and cannot be directly compared with the year 1999 and after.  Another potential problem with interpreting Nigerian defence estimates is that “current expenditures on previous military activities, such as veterans’ benefits, demobilization, conversion …..” are typically included.  While this may not be important in evaluating Nigerian defence expenditure trends over time, it must be taken into account in comparing Nigeria with other countries. 


The table below, adapted from SIPRI, summarizes Nigeria’s defence economic profile in recent years:





Defence spending in billions of (Naira)

Defence spending in millions of

(US dollars $)

Percentage of GDP




















[0.9] (estimate)*

Source: adapted from SIPRI [] 

*this estimate comes from domestic Nigerian sources


However, according to the IISS, when indexed to the US dollar, with an exchange rate that was steadily deteriorating, the total defence budget decreased from N59 billion ($531 million) in 2001 to N61.4 billion ($511 million) in 2002 to N55.4 Billion ($426 million) in 2003.  Simultaneously, however, Police budget increased to N56.2 billion, more than was allocated for defence, reflecting political concern about crime and internal security issues.  Although the Army was and continues to be heavily involved in internal security duties in support of the civil power, this did not reflect in its budget. 


The World Bank estimated Nigeria’s GDP in 2003 at $58.4 billion, up from $46.7 billion in 2002, $21.4 billion in 1993 and $34.9 billion in 1983.  The IISS, on the other hand, projected a GDP for Nigeria of $51 billion in 2001 and $49 billion in 2002. 


Nigeria benefited from increased Oil prices just before and following the second Iraq war but actually deteriorated from a macroeconomic standpoint as a consequence of increasing fiscal deficit and lower growth.  To compound this, the crisis in the Niger-Delta, combined with criminal activities has had implications for the Oil sector and the national economy as a whole. 


The table below, obtained from local sources, outlines Recurrent expenditures on Defence (i.e. personnel and overhead) from 1999 – 2003.  They differ slightly from the IISS figures, (which also differ from SIPRI figures) at least in part because they do not include Capital expenditure. 


It can be surmised from unpublished historical data, however, that personnel and overhead defence costs have, in recent years, typically been over 80% of total defence spending.  Such a high ratio of recurrent to capital expenditure tends to presage even further rises over time as equipment and buildings age and operating costs rise in the absence of an infusion of domestic or international investment funds for new equipment.  Unless closely monitored, this tends to correlate with military decay.




Total Budget

MOD proposal


MOD Budget

Actual amount released

Defence % of Total Budget































Source:  National Assembly [Amounts are approximated in billions of naira.]


In addition to the previous observation in the text about the declining trend in absolute amounts spent on Defence when indexed to the dollar, (which is simultaneously declining in relation to the Euro), the table illustrates a decline in the amount spent as a proportion of the total (recurrent) budget, and beautifully illustrates the discrepancies between what the Ministry of Defence (MOD) requests, what is approved by the National Assembly, and what is actually released by the Finance Ministry.  It should be interpreted, at least in part, in light of an understanding of GDP trends and inflation.  According to Nigeria’s country fact sheet,


“Real GDP grew 4.2 percent in 2001 as compared to 3.8 percent in 2000 and just 1.1 percent in 1999. The inflation rate in 2001 was 12.0 percent, remaining in the same range as in the previous two years. However, a still-unresolved fiscal policy dispute between the President and the legislature threatens to reignite inflationary financing of government deficits. The legislature increased the spending levels in the 2002 budget by more than one-third above the levels proposed by the President. If that budget were actually implemented, the deficit would be in the eight percent of GDP range, far beyond the level consistent with continuing macroeconomic stability.” []


During the planning process for a future budget, the Finance Ministry typically sets budget targets or spending limits when it requests for budget projections from individual ministries.  It is then up to individual government units, including the Armed Forces, to “fight” for more money if necessary, by lobbying appropriate organs of government and other stake-holders.  In the case of the Defence sector, this practice dates back, in the United Kingdom, from which Nigeria has drawn civil service traditions, to the Plowden Committee report of 1961.  The results of the government’s annual survey of public expenditure became the primary determinant of defence policy, rather than prevailing or projected political, social and/or foreign policy considerations.  More recent UK strategic defence reviews have tried to incorporate a greater degree of sensitivity to foreign policy considerations but the baggage of economic considerations remains considerable. 


One major reason why foreign policy and defence budgeting tend to diverge in real time is because of the different time frames in which they function.  The relative short electoral life span of specific administrations imposes a somewhat myopic constraint on foreign policy planning while the Defence establishment typically looks far more distantly into the future. The more consistent successive political administrations are in their foreign and defence policy pronouncements, the less likely there will be major changes in long term defence procurement decisions with attendant financial losses.


Nevertheless, irrespective of what the National Assembly approves (which is Law), the same Finance Ministry under the current dispensation in Nigeria wields a sword of Damocles over what it actually releases based on cash-in-hand or other as yet unqualified factors.  Indeed, in 2003, after he opted out of the second-term cabinet of the Obasanjo government, a one-time Minister of Defence (Lt. Gen. TY Danjuma (rtd)) openly complained of his frustrations as Defence Minister with the Ministry of Finance and what he referred to as a “cabal” within the regime. 


It is in this highly labile context, for the purposes of this presentation, that two specific approaches to the situation have been identified, namely,


a).        Force structure and the associated funding should be adjusted to meet continuing national commitments both internally and externally, and


b).        Foreign policy goals need to be adjusted to prevailing economic conditions.


These approaches are not mutually exclusive.  Indeed, the very essence of a strategic defence review is to carry out both tasks, guided by the constitutional imperative that the Federation shall “equip and maintain the armed forces as may be considered adequate and effective”.  Either way, as we have previously observed, political leaders and managers of “the higher direction of defence” typically expect “more bang for the buck” supposedly by increasing internal defence efficiencies.  Unfortunately, the only true test of military effectiveness is performance in war, less so during military operations other than war.


What are Nigeria’s “continuing national commitments”?


As I pointed out earlier, the entire process of defence policy review has to be reciprocal, top-bottom and bottom-up.  “Continuing national commitments both internally and externally” are defined at a bare minimum by constitutional prerogatives and fine tuned by expressly stated grand strategic policy modified as socio-economic circumstances warrant.  What then are Nigeria’s “continuing national commitments”?


In the absence of a “Vision Statement”, we must fall back to the Constitution. 


According to the 1999 constitution (Part III, Section C, 217 (2)), they are:


“(a) defending Nigeria from external aggression;


(b) maintaining its territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea, or air;


(c) suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authorities to restore order when called upon to do so by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly; and


(d) performance such other functions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.”


Since 1999, however, the National Assembly has not formally prescribed “such other functions” although other sections of the Constitution refer to Nigeria’s commitment to its international obligations.   For example, the preamble says:


“We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria


Having firmly and solemnly resolved:


To live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God, dedicated to the promotion of inter-African solidarity, world peace, international co-operation and understanding. “ (italics mine)


Furthermore, under fundamental objectives and directive principles of State Policy, Chapter II (19) states:


“The foreign policy objectives shall be -


(a) promotion and protection of the national interest;


(b) promotion of African integration and support for African unity;


(c) promotion of international co-operation for the consolidation of universal peace and mutual respect among all nations and elimination of discrimination in all its manifestations;


(d) respect for international law and treaty obligations as well as the seeking of settlement of international disputes by negotiation, mediation, conciliation, arbitration and adjudication; and


(e) promotion of a just world economic order.” (Italics mine)


It is important to note that although the various sections quoted above are individually clear and self-explanatory, with implications for regional force projection and multilateral force inter-operability, there is no explicit statement in the 1999 constitution, defining the military support of diplomatic initiatives as a constitutional role of the Nigerian Armed Forces. However, set against the background of many years of regional involvement dating back to the first republic, there have been ad-hoc “parliamentary approvals” for the deployment of Nigerian troops outside its borders by the President and C-in-C.   What is unclear is the extent to which such ad-hoc approvals have been accompanied by appropriately legislated and released supplementary funds either independently or as a complement to internationally sourced financial support. 


At this point, the seriousness of the lack of consistency in Nigerian economic data earlier alluded to, the volatility of Oil markets, and the world economic picture are brought into sharp relief as we attempt to define “prevailing economic conditions” as an objective mechanism for adjusting funding for force structure to “meet continuing national commitments both internally and externally.”  For example, to do any kind of planning, we must be able to make rational projections of long term trends and key economic ratios based on Trade, Domestic savings, Investment and Indebtedness.  A comparison of such measures over time as outlined by the World Bank is as follows:


Long Term trends in Nigeria’s Economy (








Average annual growth (%)







GDP per capita



- 0.7



Exports of goods and services



- 11.1




Quite apart from the domestic political environment and its intricacies, it is easy to see how and why Nigeria, which, based on its GDP per capita and a variety of other indices of poverty, is a poor country, tends to stumble from year to year in a “fire-brigade” approach to doing things. 


Nevertheless, the current approach to budget planning based on an initial arbitrary budget ceiling for “Defence” and other sectors may be too simplistic, driven, not by an objective process of vulnerability, threat and capability analysis but by knee-jerk financial reaction to subjective perceptions of need influenced by all sorts of domestic and international factors.  A deeper analysis of why overall GDP growth is not encouraging may reveal peculiar security issues related to critical infrastructure sabotage, strategic resource revenue losses as well as a whole variety of issues linked to holistic human security.   It may be that paradoxically, an increase in Defence spending may contribute to nurturing the security environment that is so necessary to economic development, if “Defence” can be understood in more expansive terms and imaginative ways found to fund it.  This approach would require mobilizing stakeholders, agreeing on a plan for defence and security and then lobbying the National Assembly and Executive for implementation. 


Before I respond directly to the question posed to me at the outset, therefore, which was to describe the “extent to which force structure and the associated funding should be adjusted to meet continuing national commitments both internally and externally, or extent to which foreign policy goals need to be adjusted to prevailing economic conditions”, let me suggest a syndicate exercise using the approach outlined by Colonel Rocky Williams, that Force Design Logic should be combined with open-ended consultation.  His approach (which I have modified slightly) lists the following steps:


  1. Determine Nigeria’s national interests, domestic and foreign, adjusted to the local economic and social environment, regional and world scene.

  2. Identify how various instruments of government (military and non-military) can be used to achieve these interests.

  3. Quantify the agreed objectives by defining the appropriate roles for the armed forces in particular.

  4. Each such role should then be stratified into tasks that can actually be carried out by the military (based on its state of readiness) in support of the national objectives.

  5. On the basis of the tasks identified above, options for force structure (as previously discussed) should be suggested by the military.

  6. It is at this point that the required resources should be calculated and negotiated between the military, the executive arm of government, various stakeholders in civil society, and the National Assembly.


The significance of this logical approach to force design can be better appreciated when it is realized that even as this lecture is being delivered, plans are afoot in the National Assembly to set up a “Coast Guard” as an armed forces entity separate from the Navy.  Given all the problems of the Navy as presently constituted, its inability to optimally carry out expected roles and tasks, and the already huge percentage of the declining Defence budget allocated to personnel and overhead, the extent to which the proponents of the bill to create an additional bureaucracy have actually thought through the financial and military implications of the bill, considered alternative approaches, and obtained buy-in from appropriate stake-holders is unclear. 


Integrating Force Structure, Funding, and Foreign Policy Goals


As we noted previously, the very high ratio of recurrent to capital expenditures for defence creates a fiscal slippery slope of ever increasing operating costs for aged equipment and facilities from which it can be difficult to extricate the military without massive infusion of new investments. The situation can be ameliorated somewhat by cutting back the size of the military in exchange for a smaller, presumably more efficient system.  The dilemma, however, is how to adapt such cut backs to the increasingly fragile domestic and external security environment.


In my view, Nigerian Armed Forces structure should, on the basis of our previous discussion of the world and regional scene, be specifically tailored to ensure the following capabilities, no matter how small, in a modular “just-in-time” configuration that can be dynamically repackaged as the situation warrants:



Suggested Types of Units

Peacekeeping, Peace Enforcement and Post-Conflict Peace Building; including the multifaceted civil-military and intelligence networks that are integral to the successful completion of such operations.

Multi-capable Light Infantry (including integrated capacity for flexible airborne, marine, motorized and mechanized deployment as the situation dictates); Helicopter-borne rapid reaction force; Air-portable light armour (wheeled and tracked), medium all terrain artillery and engineer support units.  Integrated civil-military networks (with capacity for joint operations with paramilitary units), Intelligence, military/civic Police and integrated logistic cells – under joint command.


Offshore forward deployed Hospital ship for casualty evacuation along the West African coast.  Rear Referral Medical center of Excellence for strategic evacuation.


Light ground attack aircraft, helicopter gun ships

Border Protection.

Border Guards (Constabulary) with capability for interoperability with Customs, Immigration and Police. Light air patrol unit.

Low Intensity Operations and Asymmetric warfare.

Multi-capable Light Infantry (including integrated capacity for flexible airborne, marine, motorized and mechanized deployment or insertion); Helicopter-borne rapid reaction force; Air-portable light armour (wheeled and tracked), medium all terrain artillery and engineer support units. Integrated civil-military networks (with capacity for joint operations with paramilitary units), Intelligence, public relations, military/civic Police and integrated logistic cells – under joint command. Light air patrol unit.

Counter-terrorism (with the capability for interoperability with designated allies)

Special Forces (Air, Land and Sea elements) including hostage rescue teams


Hazardous Materials (HazMat) teams

Regional Security (with the capability for interoperability with designated allies)

Expeditionary Force (see text)

Safe haven and Evacuation Force operations

Military Sealift and Airlift units

Combined Infantry/Engineer/

Air-defence unit


Integrated civil-military networks (with capacity for joint operations with paramilitary units), Intelligence, public relations, military/civic Police and integrated logistic cells – under joint command. Light air patrol unit.

Maritime protection (with the capability for interoperability with designated allies)

Integrated coastal patrol units (naval, maritime air, marine infantry, and special forces)

Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief and Humanitarian assistance (in concert with other instruments of State).


Military Airlift /Search & Rescue unit

Combined Infantry/Engineer units with all terrain capability under direction of National Emergency Management Agency; Integrated civil-military networks (with capacity for joint operations with paramilitary units), Intelligence, public relations, military/civic Police and integrated logistic cells – under joint command.  Military Center of Medical Excellence.


Psychological Operations and Civic assistance programs

Intelligence, public relations, and Engineer support units


It is only after a careful bottom-up appraisal of the requirements for coverage of ground, air, waterways and sea-lanes that the overall size, number and location of Army Divisions, Air and Naval Commands (and Joint/Unified commands) should be determined.  Nothing should be taken for granted.  For historical reasons, there appears to be more colonial regional politics than rational operational requirement in the way Army Divisions, Air and Naval Commands are currently disposed. 


Furthermore, a strategic investment needs to be made to beef up the technical capabilities of strategic intelligence, signals, engineer, ordnance and logistic units.  Opportunities for closer defence integration with the National Space Agency should be explored because of the force-multiplier effect of satellite intelligence.




I have expressed concern about the current approach to Nigerian defence budgeting, which begins with an arbitrary defence-spending limit and then works backwards to “wherever it may end.”  Without an overhaul or modification of the approach we can never be certain that what we spend on defence is rational.  It is already evident that Nigeria spends less on defence, as a percentage of GDP, than most countries in the world, and, even as the internal security and regional expeditionary demands are increasing, defence spending in real terms is actually decreasing.  I do acknowledge, however, that when corrected for GDP per capita, the relative degree of proportionality of monies spent on defence versus social welfare adjusted for national poverty is better appreciated.  The questions of corruption and the efficient utilization of available resources also need to be kept in mind, knowing the Nigerian environment. 


Nevertheless, in addition to concerns about the top-down mentality of budget planning, there are also disadvantages in the way budgets are negotiated purely on the basis of geographic ministries, rather than functional tasks that may, in fact, be shared, by more than one ministry or government department.  Security, for example, is by no means exclusively the business of the Ministry of Defence.  In fact when viewed holistically, every government department is, at some level, concerned with security. 


Take the issues of pipeline vandalization, Oilrig seizure, Oil Tanker sabotage and smuggling, for example.  These are nebulous crimes with strategic economic and security implications, carried out not by some foreign invader, but by citizens, sometimes in collaboration with foreigners, for a variety of motives.  They do not neatly fall under any of the constitutionally mandated roles of the military, to defending Nigeria from “external aggression”, “maintain its territorial integrity”, “secure its borders from violation on land, sea, or air” or “suppress insurrection.”  However, limited resources allocated to the military for its traditional roles tend to be diverted for use in combating these problems when the military is called upon to assist.  Such criminal activities directly impact national development and, left unchecked will bring social welfare programs in the country to ruin. 


Such a budget item ought to be functionalized under, the title of, for example, “security of critical infrastructure” or “protection of strategic resource chain”. Monies for such operations carried out by any combination of government agencies, including the military, should come from a small “protection tax” deducted at source from the proceeds of that resource.  One (1%) to Five (5%) of Oil revenues could easily fund purchase and maintenance of air, land and sea security/defence equipment and fund operational costs of securing the Oil fields, pipelines, and Oil tankers. When the potential savings to the country in lost revenues are considered, this tax pales in significance.  Although the motive is not the same, there is precedence for the idea in countries like Chile, which has a Copper law.  However, this is not to suggest that the idea has no disadvantages if wrongly implemented, or that government should not be more alive to its political responsibilities to ensure social justice in the Niger-Delta. 


Other avenues for improving the funding situation of the defence sector include exportation of Nigerian made weapons, imaginative use of international peace-keeping opportunities (as has been demonstrated by Ghana and other countries), charging fees to a small number of civilian applicants for dual-use educational programs at the Armed Forces University and Corps Schools (like Supply and Transport, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers etc.), contribution to national development via involvement of specialized military units (like Army Engineers) in civic assistance programs and open competitive bidding for private and governmental developmental projects and security consulting.  The Naval dockyard can commercialize some of its maritime maintenance and refitting capabilities, as can the Air Force for civil aviation.  Even now, one hopes that the Air Force is appropriately reimbursed by the Presidency for its role in managing the Presidential Air Fleet.  If at some point in the future, the National Space Agency were transferred to the NAF/Ministry of Defence, it would also open up opportunities for commercial applications. There is no automatic guarantee that any of these concepts would work, but they can certainly be given a try. We need to “think outside the box.”


Foreign Policy Goals


As noted above, the 1999 constitution betrays how expansive and ambitious Nigeria’s foreign policy goals are.  Unfortunately, no country, no matter how rich, can set limitless foreign policy goals for itself.  There has to be prioritization, matching expectations and goals to resources and relevance to national interests.  Hard choices must be made.  Given the uncertainties in fiscal forecasts of long-term economic indicators and Nigeria’s state of indebtedness, an honest appraisal of foreign policy goals has to be undertaken.  I have previously argued elsewhere, for example, that unilateralism in the sub-region is not fiscally prudent, given our circumstances.  


Whether by deterrence or offensive deployment, at home or abroad, the Armed Forces are not the only means by which foreign policy goals can be achieved.  Indeed, the 1999 constitution does not expressly state that the armed forces are mandated to back up foreign diplomatic initiatives in the absence of an Act of the National Assembly.  Although initially tempted to seek a military solution to the Sao Tome coup, Nigeria and other countries eventually used non-violent multilateral diplomatic pressure to reinstate the ousted leader of that country. 


Indeed, diplomatic approaches can be taken a step further, by optimizing the use of pre-emptive diplomacy, guided by strategic intelligence, to prevent progression to full-scale conflict requiring deployment of military forces. 


In any case, the specific extent to which foreign policy goals need to be adjusted to prevailing economic conditions is a judgment that is best arrived at after a process of open consultation as recommended previously. Such rationalization of goals is likely to affect, not just the deployment of combat units in support of diplomacy, but also defence diplomatic infrastructure and programs.  Under financial pressure, Nigeria has already begun the process of rationalizing not just the number of foreign missions, but also the number of Defence Attaches abroad. 





Finally, let me end this presentation by speculating on possible future demands on the armed forces during the next few years.  It should be evident by now that what I am likely to speculate will be based on premises established earlier during the discussion.


To arrive at my “informed” speculation, therefore, let us revisit the threat clusters we summarized under “National and Regional Trends” above and recall our discussion about “Nigeria’s increasing role as a stabilizing influence in the sub-region”.


Of the major threat clusters I opined that the most likely (in no particular order) were:


  1. Violence within States (including Nigeria), including internecine communal conflicts, ethnic and religious insurgency, genocide, various other human rights abuses, high-profile assassinations etc.


  1. Poverty, Infectious disease, Environmental degradation, and


  1. Transnational organized crime


Furthermore, I speculated that “Terrorism” was of intermediate likelihood, while “War between Nigeria and another Nation-State”as well as “Nuclear, Radiological, Chemical and Bio weapons” were of the lowest likelihood.


It would appear logical, therefore, to conclude that over the next few years, possible future demands on the Armed Forces would encompass a variety of “operations other than all-out inter-state war.” Such may include,


  1. Logistic and “combat” support to domestic security agencies for Internal Security and “Critical Infrastructure Protection” in various parts of Nigeria, including the maritime shelf.  This will involve low-intensity operations and asymmetric “warfare.” 


  1. Resisting the temptation to overthrow constitutional order in Nigeria, for whatever reason, by whatever faction.  Any country with a past history of coups must always contend with the possibility of a future coup. When poverty, infectious disease and environmental degradation intersect with widespread communal violence, transnational organized crime, poor economic growth indicators and a crisis of transition of political power, coup indicators take on added meaning.    


  1. Regional peace-operations. I am particularly concerned about warning signs from Sierra Leone, where, after the final departure of UNAMSIL, there could be trouble.  Low-grade intractable conflict and the sheer relative number of peace operations on the African continent strongly indicate that Nigeria, as a regional stabilizer, will be involved one way or another.


  1. Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS.


  1. Less likely, but still possible, would be a demand for the Armed Forces to either share intelligence about international terrorism, or take direct part, alone or in a multilateral configuration, in counter-terrorist operations, including hostage rescue and bomb disposal.  While Nigeria itself may not be the target, it is rich in potential foreign targets and must, therefore, be vigilant lest she be seriously embarrassed.  This will require coordination with other arms of government.  A situation may also arise in which a foreign power, concerned about “terrorist” activities or breakdown in law and order at some location within Nigeria, and unwilling or unable to conduct joint operations with the Nigerian military, chooses to attack the target herself either with stand-off cruise missiles, high altitude bombing or a special forces operation.  Linked to this could be a safe-haven and evacuation operation for its citizens in Nigeria, as occurred in Cote D’Ivoire through French proxies. 


  1. War between Nigeria and another Nation-State” is highly unlikely between Nigeria and most of her neighbors. However, if border tensions with Cameroon are either inadvertently mishandled or deliberately exploited for mischief, a short intense border skirmish or limited conventional war is possible, which would be rapidly constrained by international diplomatic pressure.  This is by no means inevitable, since the legal and diplomatic framework for resolution already exists [International Court of Justice]. 


  1. Radiological weapons, (i.e. “dirty bombs”), can be made by motivated combatants from careless handling of existing radio-materials within the country or via importation through lax customs and border checkpoints.  The Armed Forces must develop and rehearse the capacity to deal with such a Hazardous Materials crisis if it occurs.  Major Chemical, Biological and Nuclear war is plainly unlikely although terrorist groups operating in the low-security climate of the African backyard may deploy such weapons.


Thank you.





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