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Military scaling up use of soft power in counter-insurgency operations, says CDS

The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Gen. Christopher Musa, has said the military had up-scaled the use of hard and soft power in counter-insurgency operations to contain emerging and changing nature of adversaries.

Musa said this while delivering a lecture, titled: Non-Kinetic Operations and the Nigerian Armed Forces, at the opening of a national security course on “Psychological Operations and Strategic Communication (PSYOPS)” yesterday in Abuja.

The course, with the theme: Winning Hearts and Minds for National Cohesion and Development, was organised by the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Represented by the Director of Training at the Defence Headquarters, Rear Admiral Daupreye Matthew, the CDS noted that the use of non-kinetic efforts under Operation Safe Corridor led to the surrender of more than 2,000 Boko Haran members between 2016 and 2017.

He said 67 per cent of those who surrendered were of the Abubakar Shekau faction of the insurgents.

Musa added that 1,543 repentant terrorists graduated from Mallam Sidi Camp in Gombe State and 1,935 others were released from Bulumkutu camp in Borno State between 2016 and 2022.

According to him, from July 2021 to May 4, 2022 alone, no fewer than 51,828 terrorists and their family members surrendered, out of which 13,360 were fighters.

Musa said 106,000 terrorists and their family members had so far surrendered in the Northeast.

The defence chief called for assessment and content analysis of the security policies, legal and operational frameworks.

He also called for the up-scaling of government support, including developing and implanting of vetting systems, as well as capacity building for government service providers and direct assistance to transitional facilities working with low-risk individuals.

Musa also sought individual case management and referral services as well as community-based peace building, reconciliation and reintegration.

The Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI), Maj.-Gen. Emmanuel Undiandeye, explained that the five-day programme was to boost security experts’ understanding of the dynamics of psychological operations and strategic communication.

Undiandeye described the psychological operation and strategic communication as an integral element of modern warfare but widely neglected by communication science, despite its importance.

According to him, it is now used not only to manipulate an enemy’s will to fight but also in influencing public opinion.

He said the employment of strategic communication influences operations and non-kinetic tools to win hearts and minds, and enhance national security and cohesion.

“Suffice to say, that the importance of PSYOPS as an instrument of statecraft, governance and national security cannot be over-emphasised.

“The agency is more intentional about the benefits of the application of PSYOPS instruments which include the use of soft power in attainment of national security objectives.

“I am fully aware that the distinguished participants of this course were drawn from the various Federal and state MDAs, including the Armed Forces, police, other sister intelligence and security agencies as well as the media,” he said.

Source: The Nation