Asymmetric Warfare: Reflections on the Responses of Security Forces to Boko Haram Insurgency in Northern Nigeria

The Nigerian government has undertaken a range of actions to combat Boko Haram’s asymmetric insurgency in the country’s northeast: roadblocks, raids, surveillance, patrols, and deradicalization. Nearly all have followed an enemy-centric rather than population-centric approach, despite the fact that many of the factors constraining success are tied directly to the security forces’ operational capacity. For instance, poor coordination, inability to effectively deliver appropriated funds and equipment, enemy penetration, and porous borders all hindered successful counter-enemy actions. However, if Nigeria had instead emphasized a population-centric approach to counterinsurgency, it is possible that such efforts would not have faced as many headwinds.

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