A new U.S. defense strategy unveiled in January calls for a resized, refocused military. Proceedings asked the leaders of the world’s sea services: In an era of austere defense budgets and rapidly increasing technologies, what are the strategic objectives for your naval force over the next 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?
Vice Admiral OS Ibrahim
For many nations the reality of reduced government spending—and thus keener competition for budget allocations—appears far from over. Amid that challenge is the imperative of exploiting cost-effective technologies and protecting one’s defense forces and interests against undesirable consequences of technological disadvantage. In the maritime domain, the evolving economic, terrorist, and cross-border nature of threats demands more persistent monitoring technologies and effective cooperative strategies. Because the Gulf of Guinea continually attracts diverse threats to shipping and other economic activities, the Nigerian Navy must make full use of such tools.
Given the expensive nature of platform acquisition and sustenance, therefore, the wake-up call for a prudent and technologically driven concept has been sounded and heard. Our strategic response was the development of a ten-year capacity-building program, “The Nigerian Navy Transformation Plan 2011-2020.” Anchored on eight strategic objectives, and backed by time-lined activities, the plan emphasizes a balanced fleet to meet the military, policing, and diplomatic imperatives of our roles. The objectives encapsulate review of extant structure and operational concept toward increased focus on deterrence, policing duties, and operations other than war.
Preference for multirole offshore-patrol vessels, sealift capability, and coastal/inshore patrol craft sits well with our strategic objectives. So do many projects aimed at improving maintenance capacity and developing new bases to reduce our response time. Enhanced capacity for remote maritime domain surveillance is also a critical focus in the exploitation of new technologies. In addition to recent activation of new platform construction locally and abroad, we rely on excess capacity releases from friendly governments. Significantly, future acquisitions will be guided by joint-venture arrangements aimed at achieving cost savings and using local production capacity.
Apart from improving personnel efficiency, the objectives of the ten-year program recognize interagency and internavy cooperation. The predominant requirement for policing operations propels the current drive for effective synergy with sister armed services and relevant national agencies. The relationships emphasize efficient operational coordination and resource sharing. So far, the new mechanisms are encouraging. The presence of Nigerian patrol ships in the Republic of Benin waters since September 2011, under the combined antipiracy Operation Prosperity, reinforces our practical commitment to internavy synergy. The same goes for our active participation in the annual Exercise Obangame with neighboring navies to the east. We hosted the 2012 edition in February.
In sum, the Nigerian Navy looks forward to improved support for its recapitalization program while remaining committed to optimal exploitation of cost-effective technologies and efficient partnerships.
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