A five-day retreat for past field Commanders of the ongoing counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North East opened in Abuja, Nigeria's capital city on Monday.

The retreat was declared open by the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai.

It is a platform that will offer the Nigerian Army an opportunity to share experiences, particularly as it will identify operational, command, leadership and logistics challenges of the various field commanders for an effective and efficient future counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency campaign.

Buratai hopes that after the retreat, ideas that would contribute positively to the operations of troops in the northeast would emerge.

"This is with a view to drawing lessons for an improved future counter terrorism operation engagement by the Nigerian army.

"Furthermore, the lessons learned from the retreat will be documented and produced as a compendium to serve as a reference material for future Nigerian army counter insurgency operation.

"And indeed, this can be equally exported to our neighbouring countries,’’ he told the gathering.

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Buratai further urged the commanders to freely share the various experiences, including “tangible and intangible’’ experiences they had while on the field.

“I know that you have all experienced different challenges.

“When you look back at when you were in theatre and indeed those that are still there, please put at the back of your mind that there are several factors that will contribute to your success, especially in this type of operation.

“Intelligence is one, morale is another and so many other intangible factors that will contribute to your success.

“If you concentrate only on the logistics and other factors that are obvious, then we may be missing the point.

“Training is another very important factor, so you must look at it in totality, in the whole context, both the tangible and intangible factors as you discuss your various experiences in the counter insurgency operations in the North East.

“The retreat is not about fault finding, but an opportunity to have an honest reflection on the various counter terrorism and counter insurgency campaigns the Nigerian army has conducted in the North East.

“I, therefore, implore all of you to be frank in your submissions as it is only through this that we will be able to improve our future counter terrorism and counter insurgency engagements.

“This is particularly important because asymmetric warfare has become the defining feature of the 21st century security challenges that we will be contending with,’’ he said.

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He reminded them that neighbouring countries - Niger, Cameroon and Chad were equally pushing to end Boko Haram activities in the region and expressed optimism that the activities of the terrorists would end soon.

“The Boko Haram may go any moment, but there are other forms of criminality and other criminal activities may spring up within that Lake Chad region.

“So, it is not just a one-off solution that we should expect, but it is going to be a continuous operation, especially within the Multinational Joint Task Force environment,’’ the army chief added.

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