2015 brought a dramatic increase in Boko Haram violence to Niger. The southern Diffa Region was particularly hit hard, as Boko Haram militants easily moved across the porous Nigeria-Niger border from their remote forest hideouts, especially in the dry season when the Komadugu Yobe River is at its lowest. Suicide bombings, attacks where women and children are burned alive in their homes, and other unthinkable horrors have become almost regular occurrences in many vulnerable frontier villages. The Nigerien military (FAN) is fighting back with the help of their US advisors but there remains a lot to be done. While the US is not at war in southern Niger, our African partners most certainly are.
The struggle against Boko Haram centers on populations and territory. The terrorists seek to exert control of both of these through fear, intimidation, and ruthless violence. The Nigerien military is countering these tactics through positive engagement and interaction with local villages and communities as well as through kinetic military operations enabled by local information and early warning systems.
This population-centric effort is being led by the local Action Civil‐Militaire (ACM) team. The team’s leader, Sergeant Fougou, is on the forefront of these efforts and has, over the past few months, become the primary link between the local population and the military. SGT Fougou, a member of the Kanuri Tribe born and raised in Diffa, has knowledge of the area and relationships with community leaders that are invaluable to the counter‐Boko effort. His easy smile, sense of humor, and gentle nature belie his warrior spirit and dedication to winning this fight. Fougou’s tremendous efforts and those of his team have strengthened community resolve, empowered local leaders, developed early warning systems, and put Boko Haram on their back foot. However, despite their efforts and successes the ACM remain underfunded and under-resourced. You can read about some of the ACM’s other efforts here.
The ACM lack the ability to communicate with their headquarters and other FAN elements while conducting missions, support and maintain contact with their early warning and vulnerability network, or properly document the incidents and atrocities they observe. This limits their effectiveness by limiting their ability to move and operate independently. By providing cell phone credits, radios, and a camera to the ACM, Spirit of America will enable the team to support and run their early warning system network, communicate with their HQ and other FAN elements, communicate internally while on team missions, and properly document and report the information they are gathering. Increased communications ability will also improve the safety of the ACM team when they are working independent of their US SOF partners and other Nigerien military units.
With your help Spirit of America can support the incredible efforts of SGT Fougou and his ACM team. Improved communications and documentation abilities will ensure that the FAN can continue to engage the vulnerable populations that are critical in the fight against extremism. Ultimately, your support will help defeat Boko Haram.
Greetings from Niger, Over the past few months, Spirit of America has provided non-lethal support to a Forces Armées Nigeriennes (FAN, the Nigerien military) team working to counter Boko Haram influence and to increase security in the Diffa Region of Southern Niger. This support is part of an ongoing effort by SoA to assist in … Continued