Nigeria asks US to cancel battalion training programme

1 December 2014 (Last Updated December 1st, 2014 18:30)

The Nigerian Government has requested that the US discontinue efforts to train its soldiers to fight the Boko Haram terrorist group.

The Nigerian Government has requested that the US discontinue efforts to train its soldiers to fight the Boko Haram terrorist group.

The US Embassy in Abuja's Information Office said in a statement: "At the request of the Nigerian Government, the US will discontinue its training of a Nigerian Army battalion.

"The first two phases of training were conducted between April and August 2014, and had provided previously untrained civilian personnel with basic soldiering skills.

"The first two phases of training were conducted between April and August 2014, and had provided previously untrained civilian personnel with basic soldiering skills."

"Based on mutual assessment of the Nigerian Army and US trainers, a third iteration of training was agreed upon with the intent of developing the battalion into a unit with advanced infantry skills."

In an email to Military Times, US State Department spokesperson Rodney Ford said: "We regret [the] premature termination of this training, as it was to be the first in a larger planned project that would have trained additional units with the goal of helping the Nigerian Army build capacity to counter Boko Haram.

"The US Government will continue other aspects of the extensive bilateral security relationship, as well as all other assistance programmes, with Nigeria."

In May, the US sent military personnel to train a 650-man Nigerian Ranger battalion to fight Boko Haram, which kidnapped hundreds of school girls from the north-eastern town of Chibok in April.

While Ford refused to disclose the reason for the cancellation, a source from a strategic office close to Nigerian Government operations told Punch that the country needs weapons, not training.

"Nigeria is facing more pressing problems now. We need weapons to combat Boko Haram and not training," the source said.

"The Americans are supplying weapons and assisting Iraq to fight ISIS, but they are talking of training here.

"Is Nigeria not facing the same threat as Iraq that they are assisting? What we need are weapons and not training, our security personnel have all the training they required."

Last month, Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye, Nigeria's ambassador to the US, criticised the US for not providing enough support to Nigeria in its battle against the terrorists.

Washington has recently refused to sell lethal weapons to Nigeria, including Cobra attack helicopters, citing the country's dubious human rights record and its ability to protect civilians during operations.

Nigeria insists that the weaponry would have useful in the fight against Boko Haram.

Defence Technology