The 10,000-man Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is a combined military effort by Lake Chad-member states—Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger—as well as Benin and us charged with defeating Boko Haram in the region. Boko Haram continues a war against Christians that has killed hundreds of thousands and been labeled a genocide.
Sophisticated weapons and equipment belonging to the insurgents—including AK-47 rifles, gun trucks, ammunition, canoes, improvised explosive devices, and cell phones—have also been destroyed during the so-called “Operation Lake Sanity” launched in March 2022, in the Lake Chad region.
The latest victory occurred on May 25 “deep inside the Lake Chad Islands,” when the combined force killed scores of Islamist terrorists.
“The task force continues to make impressive gains in the ongoing operation,” Lt. Col. Kamarudeen Adegoke, chief military public information officer, said.
The Boko Haram insurgency started in north-eastern Nigeria in 2009 and later spilled over to neighboring countries in 2013. Boko Haram—which translates literally to “Western education is forbidden”—remains one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups and primarilly targets Christian churches, schools and villages.
The United Nations estimates nearly 350,000 people have so far died from Boko Haram atrocities that have also displaced more than 3 million people.
Cameroon recorded the highest number of Boko Haram attacks against civilians in 2020—totaling 234—slightly higher than Nigeria (100), Niger (92), and Chad (12) combined, according to the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, a U.S. think tank.
Freedom Onuoha, a senior lecturer at the University of Nigeria, says firepower and noticeable individual and regional state improvement in operational capacity, boosted the regional force’s recent successes.
Onuoha says, “the ramping up of air assets of member states, especially Nigeria with the deployment of Super Tucano aircraft,” along with better cooperation between land, sea and air units; and increasing use of local civilian defense groups, could account for these successes.
“One of the weakest elements of military operations against the terrorists is the tendency of national and regional security forces to adopt a defensive posture against the insurgents.
“The recalibration of operational posture to assume a more offensive mode is critical to seriously degrading the terrorists and denying them the opportunity to plan actions or regroup to fight.”
Sustaining the momentum to break the terrorists’ resilience is critical at this point, according to Onuoha.