US Army Prepares For Nigeria’s Possible Break-up

Listen to article

By Paul Ohia with agency report
The United States military had, in May 2008, conducted a war games test called Unified Quest 2008, to ascertain how its military might respond to a war in parts of Africa including Nigeria and Somalia.

According to an article written by Director of the African Security Research Project in Washington, DC and Guest Columnist of AllAfrica Global Media, Mr. Daniel Volman, the Nigerian scenario was predicated upon a possible war in 2013.

The article observed that it was the first time the African scenarios were included, as part of Pentagon's plan to create a new military command for Africa: the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM). It also emerged that “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market” was one of the “guiding principles” of AFRICOM, as articulated by Vice Admiral Robert Moeller at an AFRICOM conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008.

The 2013 war date, the article said, was a test of how AFRICOM could respond to a crisis in Nigeria in the event that rival factions and rebels fight for control of the oil fields of the Niger Delta and the government was near collapse.

Among scenarios examined, Volman said, were the possibility of direct American military intervention involving some 20,000 US troops in order to "secure the oil,” bearing in mind that Nigeria is a major supplier of US oil needs.

Also, the question of how to handle possible splits between factions within the Nigerian government was tested.

Other options included diplomatic pressure, military action, with or without the aid of European and African nations.

One participant, US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stanovich, drew up a plan that called for the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops within 60 days, which even he thought was undesirable, Volman stated.

"American intervention could send the wrong message: that we are backing a government that we don't intend to," Stanovich said. Other participants suggested that it would be better if the U.S. government sent a request to South Africa or Ghana to send troops into Nigeria instead,” the article stated.

According to Major Robert Thornton, an officer with the Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, "it became apparent that it was actually green (the host nation government) which had the initiative, and that any blue [the U.S. government and its allies] actions within the frame were contingent upon what green was willing to tolerate and accommodate.”

“As the game progressed, according to former U.S. ambassador David Lyon, it became clear that the government of Nigeria was a large part of the problem. As he put it, 'we have a circle of elites [the government of Nigeria] who have seized resources and are trying to perpetuate themselves. Their interests are not exactly those of the people,” said the article.

“The recommendations which the participants drew up for the Army's Chief of Staff, General George Casey, do not appear to be publicly available, as what the participants finally concluded was not known. But since the war games took place in the midst of the presidential election campaign, General Casey decided to brief both John McCain and Barack Obama on its results,” the article stated.

The game ended without military intervention because one of the rival factions executed a successful coup and formed a new government that sought stability.

AFRICOM representatives were said to be in communication throughout the test, but non of their officers were part of the event, said Volman.

Volman observed that neither the General of AFRICOM William Ward nor Vice Admiral Mueller “were under illusions about the” purpose of the command.

“Thus when General Ward appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on March 13, 2008, he cited America's growing dependence on African oil as a priority issue for AFRICOM and went on to proclaim that combating terrorism would be “AFRICOM's number one theatre-wide goal.” He barely mentioned development, humanitarian aid, peace-keeping or conflict resolution.”

“Since then, as General Ward has demonstrated in an interview with AllAfrica, he has become more adept at sticking to the US government official public position on AFRICOM's aims and on its escalating military operations on the African continent,” stated the piece. Volman argued that contrary to expectations, President Obama had chosen to increase US military intervention in Africa by providing arms and training to the Transitional Government in Somalia, an attempt to make the continent a central battlefield in the “global war on terrorism.”

He further argued that the operations of AFRICOM had been expanded through a proposed budget for financial year 2010, which will provide increased security assistance to repressive regimes in Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and key US allies such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda and Uganda.

The war game test drew various participants from the State Department and other US government agencies, foreign military officers (including military representatives from several NATO countries, Australia and Israel), journalists, academics, and the private military contractors that helped run the war games: the Rand Corporation and Booz-Allen.

Another of the four scenarios that were war-gamed was a test of how AFRICOM could respond to a crisis in Somalia — set in 2025 — caused by escalating insurgency and piracy. Unfortunately, no information on the details of the scenario is available.

The five-day game was designed to look at what crisis might erupt in different parts of the world in five to 25 years and how the US might respond. Back in 2005, the US had predicted that Nigeria would break-up in 2015. The report was highly criticised by Nigerian leaders.

| Article source