Exposed! American Commandos to tackle MEND & Recalcitrant Militants

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If the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) intends to make good its threat to resume attacks at the end of the 60-day amnesty period – (September 15) offered by the

Federal Government, let Government Ekpumopolo aka Tompolo and his men remember this: they would be up against not the usual rag-tag Nigerian army. Rather, they will be confronting a highly trained and sophisticated, well equipped, battle-tested contingent of American commandos and South African Special Forces who are poised to take over security of oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta region.

Faced with the threat of renewed militant attacks and economic sabotage that had seen Nigeria's oil production drop by almost one-fifth, President Umaru Musa Yar'adua and his top advisers are now considering a proposal to strengthen Nigeria's security for its oil fields and installations. The project: “Nigeria Delta Onshore and Offshore Oil Security Plan” will be led by the former NATO Supreme Allied Commander; an American 4-star General; Wesley K. Clark (Rtd).

Gen. Clark will receive “Strategic advice” on the project from Richard A. Clarke who spent eleven years at the White House advising three American Presidents on national security and counter-terrorism. Mr. Clarke, who also spent 19 years in the Pentagon, the US intelligence Community and the State Department, is now a partner in Good Harbor – a Virginia based global strategic security consulting firm with expertise in oil and gas security. In a letter addressed to Senator Polycarp Nwite, Senior Political Adviser to President Yar'adua, (See copy attached)please copy and paste into browser

Gen. Wesley Clark indicated that the proposed security assessment for the offshore and onshore oil facilities will be done in three phases: threat assessment, on-site security surveys and gap analysis and risk mitigation. He outlined the full range of different threat scenarios to Nigeria's oil and gas installations “including armed conflict, insurgency, terrorism, sabotage or insider action, as well as the possibility that these threats could occur simultaneously or in conjunction with one another.”

Aso Rock is treating the proposal as top secret but barring any serious domestic opposition, there are strong indications that President Yar'adua will outsource the security of the Niger Delta to safeguard oil and gas installations, while sending a strong message to recalcitrant unrepentant militants that their days of glory are over. Going forward, peace will reign in the Niger Delta at all costs! also learnt from sources close to Good Harbor Consulting that recruitment of the commandos and private military contractors for the Niger Delta assignment is currently underway in the United States. The team is expected to comprise mostly battle-tested US ex-marines and Special Forces from the Iraqi and Afghan campaigns whose task would be to comb the Niger Delta region with instructions to shoot-to-kill anyone suspected of trying to sabotage oil and gas installations.

Good Harbor Consulting intends to “assist the Nigerian government in developing a plan to secure its onshore and offshore facilities.” Details of the Niger Delta Security plan; a copy of which was obtained exclusively by from impeccable K-Street sources in Washington DC makes for very interesting reading as it is based more on official western assumptions including assessments by the US Navy of maritime threats in the Niger Delta region than the practical realities on the ground.

The plan also considers such non-conflict related risks – direct action groups, labor unions, refugees or migrant exodus from the Niger Delta and piracy. It examines patterns and precedents for targeting and tactics used by militants to attack offshore and onshore oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta and assess how these are likely to evolve over a ten-year period. The central nexus of the project is to identify, design and employ risk reducing systems and technologies to remove, reduce or mitigate threats and risks, including procedures and protocols which may be required for additional security teams escorting vessels.

The aim is to provide a “comprehensive system of sensors and communications technology to improve security of Nigeria's oil and gas infrastructure.” Such a system will involve the use of UAVs – Unmanned Aerial Vehicles linked to satellites and Aerostats, maritime radar, motion and pressure sensors and GPS cameras linked to a regional command center to monitor oil tankers and offshore and onshore platforms. Special operations patrol boat units will provide back-up but the technological components will be inter-operable and fully integrated into what the project documents described as C4ISR - (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) centers at appropriate locations in the Niger Delta. (See diagram illustration below)

Although the possibility of private US and South African military contractors (ex-marines and Special Forces) battling militants in the creeks of the Niger Delta with civilians caught in the crossfire evokes memories of the ongoing guerrilla warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan and raises very grim prospects of escalating the conflict into open civil war, hawks within the Nigerian government led by Defense Minister, Major General Godwin Abbe (Rtd) are said to back the plan.

Nigerian defense sources told that Abbe is bent on retaliating that attacks on the Oil installations in Lagos (blamed on militants) that he is prepared to give the Americans a free hand to turn the Niger Delta inside out, including killing innocent civilians as collateral damage, if that is what it will take to pacify the region and rid it of militants. In both his public and private statements, Abbe is quoted as warning the militants not to resume attacks on oil installations, saying they have lost the support and sympathy of Nigerian public opinion.

Whether or not the defiant MEND militants decide to go back to militancy is their choice, the Defense boss has been saying to anyone who cared to listen, but he warned that the authorities would not fail to deploy the armed forces to curtail insurgence from any part of Nigeria and provide security to its citizens and oil facilities.

Bayelsa State Governor, Timi-pre Sylva, who has been briefed on the project, and wholeheartedly supports it, has suddenly become a hardliner; telling the defiant MEND militants that they have much more to lose if they fail to accept the amnesty deal before expiration. He has even dared the militants to make good their threatened resort to violence which he dismissed as empty rhetoric.

MEND had vowed to resume attacks on oil installations on September 15 in order to prove that the guns being surrendered by militants were owned by the government. The threat came on the day repentant militants in Bayelsa State returned over 95,970 rounds of ammunition and 520 rifles at a colorful ceremony held at the Isaac Boro Peace Park in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

How much the project will cost the Nigerian tax payer and how the government intends to pay for the project is yet to be determined. Above all, whether the American commandos and Special Forces will succeed in ending militancy in the Niger Delta remains to be seen. One thing is certain: investigations into the project will continue.

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