America Helping Nigerian Commandos Target Kidnappers
U.S. Army Africa to train troops hunting Boko Haram
U.S. Army Africa has announced that American commandos and other forces will begin training Nigerian army rangers.
The American military trainers in Nigeria are part of a larger group that includes members of the intelligence community and the FBI. The team deployed this week in response to the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram in April.
Washington has been looking for ways to help the giant West African nation fight the nebulous Islamist terrorist group.
USARAF says this is the first time it will train the Nigerian rangers for “decisive action”—milspeak for open combat—against “a real threat.” The Nigerians have trained with Americans in the past, but generally for peacekeeping operations rather than hunting down terrorists.
The Nigerian army asked for the training help after touring the Army’s Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia last fall. At that time, the West African nation was already bogged down fighting Boko Haram, which has waged a bloody insurgency in northern Nigeria since around 2009.
Now, American forces will run the Nigerian rangers through a training regimen based on the U.S. Army’s own Ranger Course. The program is set to begin in late May and will last 35 days.
According to USARAF, the courses will take place at the Nigerian Army Training Center. The Nigerian government is also reportedly footing the entire $400,000 bill to have the Americans run the training.
The Nigerian army came up with the budget and their American counterparts worked out how much training could be squeezed in for that amount. We don’t know if any of that money will be used to to upgrade the apparently dilapidated training facilities.
Whatever the case, Army personnel are already in Nigeria conducting six so-called “military-to-military” engagements. These meetings will help the American soldiers figure out what the Nigerian rangers can and can’t already do.
The 650-man Nigerian ranger battalion that will receive the training formed up only in the past few months. The Nigerian government has rapidly expanded its military as it struggles to contain Islamic insurgents.
The U.S. itself has become increasingly worried about Boko Haram. Last November, Washington officially designated the group and splinter faction Ansaru as terrorist organizations.
Since then, the Pentagon and other agencies have stepped up cooperation with Nigeria. In January, Nigeria announced it had set up its own Army Special Operations Command with American help.