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20,000 US troops to Support Yar’adua regime as Boko Haram claims al-Qaeda link

Source: huhuonline.com

Nigeria is the sixth largest supplier of America's oil imports. The United States is therefore prepared to deploy as many as 20,000 troops to shore up the Yar'adua regime and protect oil installations in response to any future crisis in which the Nigeria government is near collapse, and rival factions and rebels are fighting for control of the oil fields of the Niger Delta and vying for power, Huhuonline.com has learnt from US State Department sources.Details of the plan that was designed to test how the United States would respond to a crisis in Nigeria – set in 2013 – were crafted last year at the Center for Strategic Leadership at the United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, as part of the army's annual war games to test the American military's ability to deal with the kind of crises that it might face in the near future. The US Army is propagating its assessment of an era of 'persistent conflict' around the globe through 'Unified Quest 2008', a series of seminars and war games sponsored by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC).

As part of the Pentagon's plan to create a new military African command; or Africom, US military and intelligence officers, joined participants from the State Department and other US government agencies, and foreign military officers (including military representatives from several NATO countries, Australia, and Israel), along with the private military contractors who examined the list of options for the Nigeria scenario ranging from diplomatic pressure to military action, with or without the aid of European and African nations.

For the Nigerian scenario, a blue team, red team and green team played out the conflict. The blue team represented the United States and its allies. The red team represented the enemy, - a terrorist organization like Boko Haram or a rival tribe vying to overthrow the Nigerian government. The green team acted as the populace caught in the crossfire.

One participant, US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stanovich, drew up a plan that called for the deployment of 20,000 US troops within 60 days, to shore up the Nigerian government. But this proposal was criticized by the former US ambassador to Fiji, Ambassador David Lyon who argued that direct US military intervention would send the wrong message about American support for an unpopular government which was the large part of the problem.

Ambassador Lyon's position was echoed by Professor Sarah Sewall, of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, who underscored the need for building partnership capacity with the African Union and countries like Ghana and South Africa to help the US Army formulate a comprehensive response strategy that would avoid putting US troops on the ground in Nigeria. Her view was shared by some of the army top brass who expressed reservations about the prospects of US troops fighting in the creeks of the Niger Delta. "If we have to put troops on the ground, something has failed," Lt. Col. John Miller, deputy chief of future warfare at the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) was quoted as saying.

Although the scenario was part of an exercise to plan US response to a fictional conflict set in Nigeria in 2013, and how to be better prepared for them, US State Department sources told Huhuonline.com that the Army's Chief of Staff, General George Casey, had briefed and signed-on President Barack Obama on the plan, which was presented to President Umaru Musa Yar'adua at talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit to Nigeria. Clinton's visit came weeks after the violent crackdown on the extremist Islamic sect Boko Haram.

The violence claimed over 800 lives, including Mohammed Yusuf, the sect's leader, killed in police custody. The group has declared a jihad in Nigeria, pledging loyalty to Osama bin Laden and threatening full scale attacks against what they called the “Yoruba, Igbo and Ijaw infidels.” "We have started a Jihad in Nigeria, which no force on earth can stop. The aim is to Islamize Nigeria and ensure the rule of the majority Moslems in the country. We will teach Nigeria a lesson, a very bitter one,” Boko Haram said in a statement.

According to a statement by Mallam Sanni Umaru, Boko Haram is not limited to Northern Nigeria. "In fact, we are spread across all the 36 states in Nigeria, and Boko Haram is just a version of the Al Qaeda, which we align with and respect. We support Osama bin Laden, we shall carry out his command in Nigeria until the country is totally Islamized, which is according to the wish of Allah," the group said.

The group added: "Mallam Yusuf has not died in vain and he is a martyr. His ideas will live forever… From the month of August, we shall carry out a series of bombings in Southern and Northern Nigerian cities, beginning with Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu and Port Harcourt. The bombings will not stop until Sharia is established and western civilization wiped off from Nigeria. We will not stop until these evil cities are tuned into ashes.

"We shall make the country ungovernable, kill and eliminate irresponsible political leaders of all leanings, hunt and gun down those who oppose the rule of Sharia in Nigeria and ensure that the infidel does not go unpunished.

With Boko Haram pledging its loyalty bin Laden and al-Qaeda and promising to make Nigeria ungovernable, the chickens appear to be coming home to roost for the Yar'adua regime and highlighting the prospects of full spectrum operations for “Unified Quest 2008” to be put in motion; including the use of Irregular Warfare, to establish persistent security within a strategic environment of persistent conflict like the Niger Delta.

The recommendations and lessons learned from “Unified Quest 2008” were crystallized and given directly to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey as well as other Army leaders for their consideration as they plan for the Army's future, said Maj. Gen. Barbara Fast, deputy director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, (ARCIC).

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