US resumes training of Nigerian troops for anti-terror war

FILE PHOTO: A Nigerian soldier pull down a Boko Haram flag as a mark of victory
FILE PHOTO: A Nigerian soldier pull down a Boko Haram flag as a mark of victory

Fourteen months after a U.S. army-led combat training for Nigerian soldiers was aborted, American authorities have announced a resumption of the programme.

The American Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said, Tuesday, that the training would resume this February.

Speaking on U.S. strategy against Boko Haram at a meeting in Washington DC, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said U.S. expects would “inaugurate the first round of training for an infantry battalion later this month.”

The resumed training program is part of a broad U.S. strategy against the terror group and, part of the new deal the Obama administration entered with President Muhammadu Buhari during his official trip to America last July.

“Our counter Boko Haram Strategy is an integrated, interagency effort to help Nigeria and its neighbors in their fight to degrade and ultimately to defeat Boko Haram”, said Ms. Thomas-Greenfield adding that the Obama administration engaged Mr. Buhari’s military leadership “to draw up a range of new and continued security assistance”.

“We have stepped up information-sharing efforts, we are jointly evaluating new efforts to counter improvised explosive devices, developing better tools to assess harm to civilians, and assess the potential for U.S. advisory assistance”, the Assistant Secretary of State said.

One of the reasons the Jonathan administration gave for terminating the previous U.S. training program in December 2014 was America’s reluctance to share real-time intelligence with the Nigerian military and refusal to sell Cobra helicopters to Nigeria.

While Ms. Thomas-Greenfield did not indicate specifically if real-time intelligence sharing and sale of military equipment are part of the deal with the Buhari administration, she said the U.S. had already sent 90 combat personnel and was committed to sending a total of 300 soldiers to support “the governments of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria by providing airborne intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations that help our African partners degrade and defeat Boko Haram”.

In apparent reference to Amnesty International’s recent report on alleged war crimes committed by Nigerian soldiers, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield cautioned that the fight against Boko Haram goes beyond the battlefield.

“Equipment and training are only useful when employed by professional forces that respect human rights and earn the respect of the population, our bilateral security discussions will continue to be paired with discussions regarding human rights”, she said, adding that “Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin countries must address the drivers of extremism that gave rise to Boko Haram, these drivers include weak, ineffective governance, corruption, lack of education, and lack of economic opportunities and jobs for the burgeoning young population”.

The previous training programme, which started in April 2014, engaged American soldiers and special operators as instructors for a 650-strong Nigerian ranger battalion to fight Boko Haram.

Itwas the first time ever that US troops would train their African counterparts for a mission other than peacekeeping.  

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield was one of three lead speakers at the Tuesday meeting on regional impact of Boko Haram. It was hosted by Congresswoman Karen Bass with diplomats and diaspora Nigerians in attendance.

All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.


  • Rommel

    With how wealthy the military commanders under Jonathan became,it would have taken a miracle to have a professional military

    • Julius

      You see all their belle . Jonathan used them for political purposes. It was shameful.

    • Otile

      Nigerian military started the declension from arna Gowon regime. The corrupt military has a long way to go, they will still need baby sitting from other countries until the Northern backward rulership is no more with us. You hopeless oduafraudiian slaves do not help matters either, with your staunch support for your masters Nigeria is going no where. Shame.

      • Paul Young

        I see your point. However you just have to deal with it. I can tell you are a PDP sympathizer because you think APC is a northern party and PDP is southern. well i have a question for you. who do you think PDP will field for 2019 presidential election? Northerner or southerner. My brother the answer is a big resounding NORTHERNER. I hope you wont change mind then and vote buhari. It will be a real shame. Except of course you get your biafra before then

        • Otile

          I am thinking leadership but you are thinking party. If a real leader heads Nigeria these heedless bungling will be minimized whether the leader is APC, PDP, Action Group, etc. I do not buy the notion that only a Northerner can win election in Nigeria. The only true semblance of election ever conducted in Nigeria was the June election that was annulled by Babangida. The election was transparent, convincing, and people voted without fear of intimidation. If Jonathan had not acted cowardly to surrender before the votes were counted do you think Imam would have won?

          Imam threatened to spill blood if he lost again, and went ahead to unleash terrorists on Jonathan and the result was a foregone conclusion.

          My brother, think leadership, not tribe, not party. I hate corruption in PDP as much as I hate corruption in APC. Don’t advice to live with it. If we all should play dead one day a corrupt politician will sleep with your wife and show you his dick.

          • Paul Young

            Good point. But the simple answer to your question would buhari have won if GEJ didnt concede is YES!!! Infact Jonathan had basically lost already that was why he conceded defeat. Remember he conceded when it was only a few more states left to be announced of which buhari was already well ahead by over one million votes and the states remaining were majority northern. That said, I personally dont think Buhari is the messiah we need. But i also know for 100% sure that jonathan definitely had to go because if he continued by 2019 the gap between the rich and the poor would have been unprecedented. Let Buhari have his chance. North vs south doesnt matter to me as far as our collective lot is better.

          • Otile

            You know very well that Imam would commit hare kari on the streets if he lost to Dr Jonathan again. So let the sleeping dog lie. You also know that our collective lot is the crude oil in the Niger Delta. If there was justice and fairness there would be minimal agitation and opposition. How do you justify the corrupt practice of Imam Buhari giving 90% of federal position to his tribesmen but leaving the people whose environments are polluted by Danjumas, foreigners and other Northerners without? The practice is ungodly.

  • Julius

    The Unites States refused selling us weapons because they knew what Dasuki and Jonathan were doing.They were not serious and it was a money sharing enterprise fighting BK. It was wicked and down-right evil. Now they have someone they trust and can work with.

  • bigbang

    So basically the same policy nothing has changed. They just tried to spin it with new words.

    What I gathered from this article is

    1. The yearly Flintock training will start in Senegal this month
    2. US will not sell military hardware to Nigeria
    3. The US will not share real time intelligence with Nigeria

    • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

      They do not trust the Nigerian army at all because of human rights abuses. Every country dealing with our army in particular does that with suspicion.

      • bigbang

        Most Nigerians don’t trust the US government for human rights abuses in places like Cuba, and Iraq.

  • MushinSpeaks

    We lost this in the last era. We are now regaining lost favour and gaining more military support from superior countries. CHANGE is truly here.

    • Otile

      Shame, Nigeria ought be training others by now but Northern rulers set Nigeria back for many years. When will Nigeria get full independence. Shame.

  • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

    The US MUST train the Nigerian army on how to handle civilians. The Nigerian army’s culture of killing and brutalizing unarmed civilians must end. If that does not happen the USA will be culpable as well because at the moment we have an army which takes delight in killing those they are meant to protect on the streets and without consequence of any sort.

    The average US soldier cannot take aim and kill unarmed women ,children or even enemy combatant who has surrendered or unarmed,we want such culture in our army,it is not enough to teach them how to kill terrorists alone.

    • Otile

      It is only in a backward country like Nigeria can you see the military doing the work of the police. In Europe, Asia and the Americas the military never meddles in civilian affairs. Neither will a civilized country tolerate a coup plotter who seized power to run for elections again. In a sane society Buhari belongs to the graveyard.

    • shola

      Lets talk about the war in Irak and waterboading at Guantanamo bay prison yard. Note please, All that glitters is not gold.

      • TAWANDA INCOMMUNICADO

        At least they do not kill US citizens en mass extra-judicial executions on US soil. The incidents you cited were during war and they were properly investigated and the culprits tried ,convicted and sentenced.

  • bigbang

    Nigerian army should reject US training. We should get more training from the South African private military contractors and Russia. The countries that were actually effective in training our troops. Buhari don’t waste your time. It is an obvious waste of time and energy. The US is not interested in empowering Nigeria. They want a dependent country. We should strengthen our ties with China. Do what is best for Nigeria.

    • Paul Young

      Good point, but i think its kind of an insult for the self proclaimed ‘Giants of Africa’ to receive military training from SA mercenaries. Russia is best

      • Otile

        As long as backward Northern rulers rule Nigeria the country cannot call itself Giant of Africa. Nigeria is going to remain underdeveloped under the illiterate myopic leadership of the North.

      • bigbang

        It is not an insult to receive training from the best in Africa. The 72nd mobile strike force is one of our best fighting unit today fighting Boko Haram. They were trained by South Africans.

        • Otile

          If they are that good why haven’t they defeated Boko Haram? Many of our military brass are mere paper tigers.

          • bigbang

            If the US training was so good. The Iraqi army would not have lost Ramadi and Mosul. The Nigerian army has reclaimed all lost territory. This was done without US training. This was done by Nigeria troops trained by South Africans and Russians.

          • Otile

            Nigerian military only technically reclaimed lost territories. Don’t boast your head off for our military gallantry. Boko boys are still as strong as they have ever been. Despite the huge money Imam borrowed to settle them, they are determined to actualize their Islamic Caliphate. In short the Nigerian SA/Russian trained troops are mere paper tigers. They have achieved nothing tangible yet.

          • bigbang

            No they are not. They are now resorting to suicide attacks. They can’t hold onto any territory. We don’t need or want US training. I can’t recall any conflict that was successfully resolved by the Americans. Please stay away from Nigeria.

          • Otile

            What do you mean by them resorting to suicide attacks? Why can’t Imam train up his own suicide bombers to counter Boko Haram? Is Imam no longer a good Muslim? Someone said that Imam has more Muslims in the military and police than Christians. What are those Muslim soldiers waiting for?

          • bigbang

            I can’t recall the last conflict resolved by the US. We don’t need them.

          • Otile

            You can’t remember but US has indeed resolved many world conflicts. US helped the Allies to defeat Hitler in both WWI an WW2. US helped to cure Libya of Gaddafi’s madness. Without the peaceful mediation of the United States Palestinian terrorists would still be throwing rockets at Israel today. Do you want me to go on?

          • bigbang

            My recollection of history is different. It was Russia or former soviet Union that resolved WW2. The US created a mess in Libya. Gaza is a mess. Israelis and Palestinians are still killing each other. Please US stay away from Nigeria.

          • Otile

            Where did you get your own education? I can’t help that you studied in a wrong country and they taught you wrong.

          • bigbang

            Where did you get your education?

            @Otile

            Don’t rely on western historical texts. Do your own research.

  • Paul Young

    ”One of the reasons the Jonathan administration gave for terminating the previous U.S. training program in December 2014 was America’s reluctance to share real-time intelligence with the Nigerian military” Isn’t this a shame? So the US has more knowledge and intelligence about boko haram than the Nigerian intelligence services. We are even begging them to share their intel with us.

  • shola

    There must also be a regular training program from the FBI for our EFCC. If Nigeria catches cold, the rest of Africa might be suffering under chronic bronchial catarrh.

    • Paul Young

      I concur. Not only EFCC, we need CIA to come and teach DSS how to infiltrate a terrorist group and plant spies in their midst. Instead in Nigeria it is the opposite with spies in the military

      • shola

        Infiltration of course, I’m with you. And where this is not possible, for example in the NASS, create a budget for bounty and whistle blowers, provided the information is waterproof, to avoid been sued for libel.

      • Otile

        You are not a moslem, you do not understand. A kafir cannot train a moslem to spy on one of their own. Blood is thicker than water.

        • Paul Young

          Not true. America sends lots of muslims to infiltrate Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, ISIS etc. try and watch the documentary ; Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA

          • Otile

            Are you saying that blood is not thicker than water or what? Let me see you as a Christian man enter an Islamic mosque to teach the youths how to spy on their fellow moslems.

          • Paul Young

            The military and other pars military agencies in Nigeria probably have more Muslims than Christians. Stop the hate. There are bad Muslims and there are bad Christians too. You are not qualified to judge

          • Otile

            Do not advice me to let bad Moslems and bad Christians flourish in our land. Yes, I hate wicked people. Paul, pray with me that wicked people will all perish. Will you?

          • Paul Young

            Lol. Yes I will

          • Otile

            God bless you, Paul. You are a good guy. Some other folks would have resorted to insult.

    • bigbang

      We should only engage in training that will add value. For example training in the use of new intelligence gathering tools or forensic accounting. We shouldn’t engage in redundant training.