In an era defined by the convergence of technology and military prowess, the Nigerian Army is embracing the future of warfare with open arms. The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja, recently unveiled a significant stride in the Nigerian Army’s arsenal – electronic warfare capabilities, coupled with a strategic foray into the world of cyber warfare. This announcement came during the inauguration of the Maiden Cyber Security Workshop of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare School (NACWS) in Abuja.
Electronic warfare, also known as electromagnetic warfare (EW), involves the utilization of the electromagnetic spectrum or directed energy to control, disrupt, or counteract the enemy’s use of this spectrum. The primary goal of electronic warfare is to prevent adversaries from gaining an advantage while ensuring that friendly forces enjoy uninterrupted access to the electromagnetic spectrum.
Represented by the Deputy Director-General, Nigerian Army Heritage and Future Centre (NAHFC), Maj.-Gen. Sanusi Dahiru, the COAS said the Nigerian Army had in the past, made very limited inroad in its attempt at acquiring electronic warfare capabilities. Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja stressed that Nigeria had previously made limited progress in acquiring electronic warfare capabilities. The constraints primarily revolved around the high cost of devices and a deficiency in technical expertise within the army.
“This is because ICT networks are also dependent upon the myriad properties of the Electromagnetic Spectrum for their essential connectivity in cyberspace, an environment where a number of actors operate to create exponential effects when compared to other domains.” Lt.-Gen. Taoreed Lagbaja said.
While it remains undisclosed precisely which electronic warfare equipment has been acquired, acquired for its electronic warfare operations, as well as the structure that is, if it’s field deployable or at the national level. Nevertheless, Electronic warfare generally consists of three components:
- Electronic Attack (EA): This facet involves offensive measures, using electromagnetic energy weapons, directed energy weapons, or anti-radiation weapons to target enemy personnel, facilities, or equipment. The primary goal is to neutralize or degrade the enemy’s combat capability.
- Electronic Protection (EP): Also known as electronic protective measures (EPM) or electronic counter-countermeasures (ECCM), this aspect serves to shield against electronic attacks while protecting friendly forces from inadvertently launching electronic attacks on their own troops.
- Electronic Warfare Support (ES): ES revolves around activities undertaken to detect, intercept, identify, locate, and localize the sources of intended or unintended electromagnetic energy. This facet aids in immediate threat recognition and plays a pivotal role in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).
The establishment of the Nigerian Army Cyber Warfare School further amplifies the significance of this leap. It underscores Nigeria’s commitment to not only maintain military technological parity but also to secure critical infrastructure in the face of evolving threats, such as counter-terrorism, militia attacks, armed banditry, and pipeline vandalism.
This move is timely, reflecting the global shift towards cyber warfare. Cyberwarfare involves cyberattacks against enemy states, which can cause comparable harm to traditional warfare while disrupting vital computer systems. The potential outcomes of cyber warfare encompass espionage, sabotage, propaganda, manipulation, or economic warfare.
The Nigerian Army’s cyber command is poised to bolster national defence by monitoring military networks and guiding field commanders in utilizing newly procured computer-based weapon systems. Additionally, it will play a pivotal role in protecting critical national infrastructure.
The Cyber Command subsequently acquired several SVSAT120 Ka-Band Motorized VSAT Antenna mounted on Toyota Land Cruiser trucks for enhanced battlefield communications. Designed in Turkey, the SVS Satellite Systems would help improve communications and enhance combat coordination for the Nigerian forces currently battling various security threats in the country.
Last year, Nigeria’s Minister of Defense, Maj Gen Bashir Salihi Magashi, reiterated the government’s commitment to promote cybernetics in national defence and security. In doing so, he recognized the evolving threat landscape posed by non-state actors that are technologically driven and continually advancing in sophistication and complexity.
As the Nigerian Army embarks on this transformative journey into electronic and cyber warfare, it positions itself at the forefront of a digital battlefield, primed to tackle modern threats and safeguard the nation’s security imperatives. This strategic move underscores Nigeria’s commitment to ensuring the nation remains on the cutting edge of defence capabilities, ultimately securing the future of its military landscape.