Sunday Sermon – Reserve Force
The military is an instrument of national power. A Reserve Force is an integral part of a nation’s defense capability. A nation without a well defined and active reserve force constituted along several dimensions, including force structuring, mobilization planning, and operational evaluation within the total-force system is like a man without a saving. The effectiveness of the Nigerian military establishment must be anchored on the military doing what it is designed to do, and, do it well. This includes having sufficient numbers of individuals appropriately trained and adequately equipped to respond in a timely way to a likely threat to our national interests. The problems created by the emergence of Boko Haram and the possibility that other similar insurgency groups may spring up in the future is enough for the establishment of a total-force through necessary legislation which must defined what is sufficient, adequate, timely and likely for the overall interest of Nigeria.
The Boko Haram insurgency in northern Nigeria and threat to the national economy arising from oil theft in the Niger Delta coupled with other military operations in and outside the country is already having its tolls on the military with the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Onyeabo Azubike Ihejirika recently complaining of over stretching the military. The military requires mobilization on a scale beyond the numbers of the regular army. Besides, the reliance on volunteer youths which the Nigeria Press hurriedly nick-named “Civilian JTF” is a bad precedent capable of generating more problems than the one we intend to use them to solve.
The dangers of grooming the youths in the art and act of violence cannot be overemphasized. The military manpower constraints manifested in the use of youths in military operations in the north, raising the questions of envisioned debriefing and demobilization of such volunteers. A band of youths raised by the chaos strategists in government in preparatory for elections rigging using the instruments of violence and thuggry is not what we need now.
On the other hand, the Nigerian Legion cannot be said to constitute the Nigerian’s reserve force; a central body for land reserve, naval reserve and air reserve personnel. Far from it, the Nigerian Legion’s enabling legislation and its structural deformity makes it unfit as a reserve force constituency. It also lacks mobilization, deployment and employment capability. Above all, the Nigerian Legion has been infiltrated by quacks, impersonators and fakers who parade as genuine, thus needing total cleansing and reorganization in keeping with the changing times.
It must be pointed out here that our conceived larger force, if we eventually recruit more able bodied men and women into the armed forces as is being planned, will not be large enough to execute the emerging defense strategy in the face of rising security challenges.
One of the promises of democracy is freedom from the burden of maintaining large standing armed forces. Modern day reserve components serve as an integral part of the defense system, prepared to participate in the earliest phases of any crisis. Therefore, before the lessons of the ongoing crisis are forgotten let us consider a standard reserve force for the country. That is, constituency for readiness!