Monday, September 22, 2008

Riverine warfare in the oil war

This is the kind of thing we need to be expending more effort on - this is the future. This is also the past. This is part of our "domain" that we are supposed to be keeping "awareness" of. We need our Flag Officer intellectual capital expended in seeing how, when the nation needs it, the Navy can respond. We failed the first few years in Iraq - will we keep our rebuilt RIVERINE forces for the next war - or will we let it wither like we did post-Vietnam?
As at last Thursday when the Niger Delta militants carried out the last of their attacks in continuation of the ‘oil war’ declared by them, about 60 persons, many of them militants, were feared to have been killed.

NO FEWER than sixty persons may have lost their lives within seven days, that is, between penultimate Friday and last Thursday, in the creeks of Rivers State to the ‘oil war’ declared by the Niger Delta militants. The guns boomed, dynamites detonated and grenades freely hauled by the warring groups.

It all started penultimate Friday when men of the Joint Task Force, JTF, in the state were on routine marine patrol on the waterways in Elem Tombia. And suddenly, according to spokesman of the security body and the army in the state, Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, suspected militants opened fire on their boats. And, in self defence, they retaliated.

At the end of this encounter, about fifteen persons reportedly lost their lives.
About 0100 hours, today, September 14, 2008, Hurricane Barbarossa commenced with heavily armed fighters in hundreds of war boats filing out from different MEND bases across the Niger Delta in solidarity to carry out destructive and deadly attacks on the oil industry in Rivers State.”

The statement further claimed that the militant group killed about twenty two soldiers and fled with their rifles. They also allegedly blew up oil facilities in Soku and some other parts of the state. “By dawn, we have destroyed oil flow stations, gun boats, burst pipelines; dead and injured soldiers trailed in the aftermath of the “hurricane.” Some specific locations include the Soku Gas Plant, Chevron Platform at Kula; over 22 well armed soldiers sent as reinforcement were intercepted, killed and dispossessed of their weapons, a major crude trunk pipeline at Nembe creek was blown up at several points.
But in a swift reaction, the army spokesman said the militants lied on the claim of death of security personnel. According to Sagir, they foresaw the action of the militants coming, so they quickly put their men on red alert in all oil facilities locations in the state. So it was no surprise when the militants stormed Soku in several speed boats. He, however, confirmed that a soldier sustained gun shot wound.

“As a result of yesterday’s attack on our troops on marine patrol at Elem Tombia which led to an exchange of fire with heavy casualty on the militants, as anticipated, the bandits staged an attack in the early hours of today (yesterday) between 3.00 and 4.00 a.m, at Soku facility and Robertkiri where they met active resistance from the troops guarding the facilities. It was heroically and successfully repelled with casualty on the miscreants side. A soldier was, however, wounded and no death recorded. This message is necessary to pre-empt and avoid mischievous propaganda from the militants”, the spokesman said.

An official of Chevron who later spoke anonymously said one of its facilities was actually attacked in the fighting areas. In the early hours of Monday again, in about six speed boats, the militants headed straight to a Chevron flow station in Idama. But they met stiff resistance here.

The army spokesman said security operatives on ground sunk three of their boats with the aid of RPG. “Militants in six speed boats attempted to attack Chevron Idama flow station at about 1.00 a.m. today. Attack was heroically and commendably thwarted by the JTF troops on guard at the station. Three militants’ boats were shattered when our own troops unwillingly used RPG to foil the attack. Two boats were sunk with all the occupants on board. It is greatly and unfortunately feared that many of them might have lost their lives in the process. One soldier was, however, wounded and is in stable condition. No damage done to the flow station”, Sagir said in a statement.

He declined to speak on the casualty rate on the part of the militants, saying since it was an internal skirmish the army was not in the mood to celebrate any victory.
This is the Navy version of what the Army and Marines have been dealing with since 9/11. We should ponder.

LCS can't do this. RIVRON will have to, but they need more and better craft to do it. More and faster to NECC please.

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