The United Kingdom has deployed 35 military personnel in Nigeria as part of ongoing efforts to train Nigerian Armed Forces to combat the Islamist terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The personnel, who were drawn from the Second Battalion, the Royal Anglian Regiment, would provide infantry training for Nigerian soldiers to tackle the extremist group in the northeastern part of Nigeria.
A statement by the Press and Public Relations Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Joe Abuku, on Wednesday in Abuja, said the number of British personnel deployed on training tasks in Nigeria was expected to reach 300.
The personnel are also expected to provide assistance in countering improvised explosive devices, as well as medical training and advice.
The Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, had earlier announced a step up in training to help Nigerian forces to stamp out the threat posed by Boko Haram.
The statement said a new RAF training team to improve the knowledge and skills of the Nigerian Air Force in airfield defence and counter-insurgency, would also be provided.
It said that the 2 RANGLIAN, based in Cottesmore, Rutland, had provided support for the military, adding that the 130 personnel deployed in Nigeria in 2015, performed a wide range of tasks.
These, he said, included training in infantry skills, civil-military affairs, media relations, command and leadership, IED-awareness, and support to Nigerian military training schools and establishments.
The statement partly read, “Almost 1,000 Nigerian Army personnel had benefitted from training to prepare them for counter-insurgency operations in the North-East, and the work by 2 RANGLIAN, known as The Poachers, is now well-recognised across the AFN.
“The UK also supports a Nigerian intelligence and analysis cell focussed on the North-East and based in Abuja, and nearly 30 UK Armed Forces personnel are deployed in Nigeria on an enduring basis in training and advisory roles.”
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has said it has made advanced plans to establish two new divisions in Borno State and part of the South-South geopolitical zone.
The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, said this while delivering a lecture, ‘Nigerian Army: Challenges and future perspectives,’ at the National Defence College, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Buratai explained that the new divisions, to be known as the 8th and 6th divisions of the Army, would be based in Borno North and the South-South respectively.
He added that the new divisions were designed to boost the operational capacity of the military against the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, especially the Lake Chad Basin and other parts of the country.
Buratai stated that while the 8th Division would soon become operational with the deployment of manpower and logistics, efforts were also ongoing to establish the 6th Division in the South-South but he did not disclose the exact location.
He noted that the threats to the nation’s security had been worsened by the emergence of armed groups, which, in turn, increased the task of the military in protecting the citizens.
The COAS added, “Emerging threats to the security of our nation, which have been aggravated by the proliferation of armed groups, have added to the task of the military in protecting the lives of Nigerians and the integrity of its territory.
“The focus of the Nigerian Army today is to find lasting solutions to these contemporary threats posed by the activities of the armed groups and their allies.
“The Nigerian Army therefore remains poised to the extermination of the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria. Today, they can no longer hold any territory as it used to be in the past; that is why they have resorted to the use of IEDs to hit soft targets.
“We have established the 8th Division, located in the northern part of Borno, specifically to clear the area of the remaining terrorists’ elements while another division, the 6th Division, will be established in the South-South.”
Buratai said the Army would increase its personnel strength from the current 100,000 to a force above 200,000 in the next eight years.
Although the COAS stressed that the Army had the capacity to deal effectively with the current challenges facing the country, he believed that the current security needs of the service would require more than the current strength of the Army to surmount.