ATbar Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram – Reflections

Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) against Boko Haram – Reflections

05/01/2021 | by Doukhan, David (Dr.)  

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The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) is a joint military effort created by countries of the Chad Basin - Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Benin (without sending military forces) to fight Boko Haram and the ISIS affiliate - West African Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), which threaten the stability of these countries and the entire region. The deterioration of the security situation in the Chad Basin (an area of about 25,000 square kilometers), its humanitarian and developmental consequences, are the motive for the set-up of the joint military force.[1]

The history of MNJTF begins in 1994 when it was established with headquarters located in the city of Baga in the state of Borno in Nigeria. The force was made up mainly of Chadian and Nigerian forces. Its main mission was to curb arms smuggling around the border of Lake Chad. The mandate of the force was extended in 1998 to all cross-border security concerns among Nigeria, Chad and Niger.

The proliferation and intensification of Boko Haram's terrorist attacks in Nigeria and in parallel Ansaru's attacks (a branch that split from Boko Haram due to ideological differences) have forced decision-makers in Nigeria, Chad and Niger to reverse the force's designation from dealing with common cross-border security issues in the Lake Chad region and expand it.[2]

In April 2012, the mandate of the MNJTF was expanded to include anti-subversive combat (COIN- counterinsurgency). The force, after undergoing necessary adjustments, was activated from July 30, 2015 as a combined military force against Boko Haram with the participation of military forces from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin and Nigeria under a U.S. mandate.[3] The structure chosen was a 'coalition of the willing', i.e., a model of security and military cooperation that 'suffers' from the disposition of its members, state dynamic interests, etc. This model, therefore, is subject to lack of funds, inconsistency in the operational agenda resulting from changes in state interests, multiple volatility in positions of the international sponsors, like the EU,[4] the African Union, the U.S. and others.[5]

From the beginning of 2020, the joint force (about 10,000 fighters) is commanded by the Nigerian general Ibrahim Manu Yusuf.[6] The headquarters is in Ndjamena, Chad.

To ease operations and prevent sovereignty problems, the combat zone in the region where Boko Haram and other organizations are operating was divided into 4 sectors and each member state was given responsibility for a sector, as follows: Sector 1 (Cameroon) headquartered at Mora; Sector 2 (Chad) headquartered at Baga-Sola; Sector 3 (Nigeria) based in Baga; and Sector 4 (Niger), based in the town of Diffa. 

In general,  it can be evaluated that the MNJTF, from the very beginning, suffers from structural limitations. The chain of command is weak, even by the standards of multinational forces, because it includes units of national forces that are limited in operating specifically in a cell/sector belonging to their countries as agreed in the force mandate. Each force operates in its sector and may operate outside the borders of the sector, in case of a hot pursuit, up to 25 km beyond the border of the neighboring state.[7]

[1] The African Union (AU) is the entity that provides support to the multinational force in the field of financial administration.

[2] Ansaru - Vanguard for the protection of Muslims in Black Africa - an organization that split from Boko Haram on January 1, 2012 the organization focused on kidnapping Westerners and conducting ransom negotiations, the organization is affiliated with the Al-Qaeda branch of the Maghreb (AQIM). The (Lokoja) commander of the Nigerian army, Khalid al-Barnawi, was given a $ 5 million cash prize by the Americans, and for the capture of the organization's leader, see the link: https: //www.reuters com / article / us-nigeria-violence-idUSKCN0X10NK.

[3] For more on the MNJTF, see the MNJTF website at the link:

[4] This month, on December 12, the European Union provided the Multinational Force, as promised, Command, Control, Communications and Information Systems (C3IS). The training will take place in Chad for Chadian soldiers who will - - (phrase not clear) operate, later, within the sectors of the multinational force. For more information refer to: European Support Continued in Fight Against Boko Haram Insurgency, Second Line Info (20.12.2020).

[5] American support for the multinational force is operational - through the deployment of drones from the air base in Niger and Cameroon - and economic: The United States is an important financial contributor. Between 2015 and 2017, the United States contributed a total of $ 363 million to the MNJTF's terrorist effort.

[6] Timothy Antigha, General Ude Assumes Duty in MNJTF, Press Release Nigeria (19.8.2018).

[7] Babatunde F. Obamamoye, “Counterterrorism, Multinational Joint Task Force and the missing components,” African Identities, Volume15: Issue 4 (2017) pp. 1-13.

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