FORWARD OPERATING BASE AND LOGISTICS SUPPORT OPERATION: ISSUES AND PROSPECTS

FORWARD OPERATING BASE AND LOGISTICS SUPPORT OPERATION: ISSUES AND PROSPECTS

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ABSTRACT

1.     The research is about the development of agriculture in Nigeria: challenges for the North West Zone of Nigeria.  The study set to determine the efforts made by past and current governments at agricultural development in the country.  The research assessed the performance of the sector and effects of these on the economy.  The challenges of agricultural development were also identified.  The ways of developing the sector so that it can compete with the oil sector was then proffered.

2.     The researcher used both primary and secondary sources of information for the study but with a greater reliance on the latter. The analysis of data and Interview was used as part of the information to collate the challenges to agricultural development in the rural areas.  The study revealed that there had been several efforts at agricultural development.  The measures include policies and programmes.  An assessment of the effects of these measures shows that agriculture declined from its premier position giving way to oil as the dominant sector of the economy.

3.     Some challenges to agricultural development in the North West Zone were also identified.  They include low budgetary allocation, inaccessibility to credit by farmers, and inadequate supply of inputs.  The strategies for agricultural/development in the North West Zone of Nigeria, an antidote to these challenges like increased budgetary allocation, accessibility to credit and adequate supply of inputs to farmers were discussed. The Government should also adopt favourable policies in order to increase agricultural production.

4.     Finally, the study made recommendations which would improve agricultural development in the North West Zone of Nigeria. This is with the aim of developing the Nigerian Economy in addition to the oil sector.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE AND LOGISTICS SUPPORT OPERATIONS: ISSUES AND PROSPECTS

INTRODUCTION

1.    The practice of logistics, as understood in its modern form, has been around for as long as there have been organised armed forces. In as much as the application of logistics covers many areas and organization in human activities the military remains outstanding in its use of logistics support. This could be based on the fact that logistics form an integral part of the elements of military science, which include tactics, strategy and intelligence. The provision of adequate logistics support has been vital to the success of military operations for centuries. The Persian Army successfully invaded Greece in 481 and 490 BC due to their superior logistics support.[1] In recent times, during the Gulf War of 1991, the Coalition Forces were victorious due largely to the provision of logistics resources.[2] This made the Commander of the Coalition Forces, General Schwarzkopf to refer to the war as “a logistician’s war”.[3]

2.    The term logistics, in its military application is defined by Jane’s Dictionary of Military Terms as ‘science of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of forces.[4] It involves those aspects of military operations which deal with the design and development, acquisition, storage, movement, distribution, maintenance, evacuation and disposition of material’.[5] As part of the disposition of the military on logistics operation, forward operating bases (FOB) are established, whose primary role is to increase on time on task for military personnel platforms.[6] FOB is any secured forward position that is used to support tactical operations. An FOB may or may not contain an airfield, hospital, or other facilities. The base however may be used for an extended period of time.[7]

3.    The Nigerian Navy (NN) as an integral part of the Nigerian Armed Forces has taken advantage of the importance of logistics in military operations. Part of the development of the NN logistics system led to the establishment of FOBs.[8] These FOBs serves as an important and strategic logistics support infrastructure. They aid re-supply and quicken fleet’s reaction time as well as increase time on task. The FOBs in the NN are located in Ibaka, Formoso, Bonny, Igbokoda, Escravos and Badagry.

4.    These FOBs, in spite of their importance to the NN operates below capacity. This is mostly due to some problems such as lack of storage facilities, inadequate skilled manpower, inadequate infrastructures, inadequate funding and agitation for compensation by host communities. As a part of the inadequacies of infrastructures, the FOBs lack adequate platforms, water supply, maintenance facilities and jetties. As such, these FOBs operate only under the name and not on its proper functions. This therefore calls for a reassessment of the facilities of the FOBs to put them in proper position for effective and efficient logistic support.

4.    The purpose of this paper is to suggest ways of enhancing the effectiveness of FOB in NN logistics support operation. The paper is limited to logistics support in the NN. It is assumed that FOBs in the NN would continue to be an integral part of military operations. The paper will discuss the logistics support in the NN and give an overview of FOBs in the NN. It will thereafter examine the issues confronting FOBs in the NN and finally proffer a way forward.

AIM

5.    The aim of this paper is to assess the effectiveness of FOBs in NN logistics support operation with a view to making recommendations.

LOGISTICS SUPPORT IN THE NIGERIAN NAVY

6.    The NN commenced operations as a coastguard navy. However, in the 1980s, the NN witnessed major transformations to a contiguous navy.[9] This led to the acquisition of more ships to meet the needs of the NN. These ships include corvettes, survey ship, coastal patrol boats, landing ship tanks (LSTs), fast attack craft (FAC), general purpose frigate (GPF) with lynx helicopters and mine counter measure vessels (MCMVs).

7.    The need to expand and modernize the NN support facilities became paramount when NN budgetary allocation could no longer support overseas refit of ships. There was also the need to reduce over dependency on foreign countries and move towards self reliance. Thus the NN started embarking on developing and acquiring its own facilities for operational efficiency. In 1988, the NN Logistics Branch was established. In 1990, the Fleet Support Group (FSG) was also established to cater for the maintenance of NN ships.

8.    The FSG later metamorphosed into the Fleet Maintenance Corps (FMC). Three other corps were also established to perform logistics functions. These include the Naval Material Supply Corps (NMSC), the Building and Services Engineering Corps (BSEC) and the Naval Ordinance Corps (NOC). These corps were however scrapped in 1992. The scrapping of these corps led to the establishment of the Nigerian Navy Logistics Corps (NNLC), vide NNO 08/92. This arrangement brought about engineering and other logistics support functions under one command.[10]

9.    The NNLC was however scrapped in 1994 paving way for the establishment of the Fleet Support Branch (FSB) to perform their maintenance function. The FMC was also re-established to complement the functions of the FSB in the field. In 2001, the FSB was renamed the Naval Engineering Branch (NEB).

10.   This arrangement did not achieve much, as materials were procured only when urgently needed which meant that NN logistics arrangement lacked focus. The need for a harmonized logistics system which would guarantee proper procurement, storage and distribution process led to the establishment of the Nigerian Navy Logistics Corp (NAVLOC) on 31 Jan 02, vide
NNO 02/02. There is however the need to concentrate providing the necessary facilities and equipment for an effective logistics arm of the NN instead of name metamorphosis.

11.   It is obvious that for about 49 years of NN existence the organization of logistics support system still leaves much to be desired. The system has remained an insignificant and undervalued section of the NN as it has been organized only to meet needs as they arose. This has made it largely inefficient. There is therefore the need to evolve an efficient logistics system that would be all encompassing in the provision of logistics support to the NN.

OVERVIEW OF FORWARD OPERATING BASES IN THE NIGERIAN NAVY

12. The first NN FOB was established at Ibaka near Oron
in Akwa Ibom state in 1993. It was conceived as a forward observation post and logistic support base for Eastern Naval Command (ENC) fleet. It was also meant to serve as the first line of defence in the event of any seaborne attack in ENC Area of Responsibility (AOR). Another FOB was established in Igbokoda, Ondo state, in Western Naval Command (WNC) AOR in 2005 under similar considerations. Three additional FOBs were to follow in Bonny, Formoso, and Escravos between 2005 and 2006 bringing the total NN FOBs to five. They are all situated along Nigeria’s coastline to enable NN ships operating anywhere within her EEZ quick and easy access to logistic support. See Annex A for extract map of WNC AOR showing location of the FOBs.

13.   FOB IBAKA is located in the coastal town of Ibaka in Akwa Ibom state between Long 007°35'E and 008°17'E. It overlooks the Bakassi peninsula and several oil wells. The FOB is easily accessible to the sea and other inland creeks which were hitherto used as smuggling routes. The FOB is therefore well situated for some of the purposes it was created to serve. FOB Bonny is located on a stretch of land along the Ogugumanga creek in Akiama community. The Base lies within Long 006°50'E
and 007°35'E.  It is separated from the waterfront by a stretch of thick mangrove forest extending to a distance of about 1.5 km. This prevents direct access to the creek leading to Bonny River via the Bonny Coal Beach. There is the need to clear the intervening mangrove in order to create easy access the sea for NN Boats. See annex B for map extract of ENC AOR, showing the location of the FOBs.

14.   FOB FORMOSO is located in Brass local government area of Bayelsa state. Nembe is one of its neighbouring communities. The FOB is located within Long 006° E and 006°50'E. It is easily accessible to the sea and overlooks the Nigeria Agip oil company (NAOC) oil loading terminal in Brass town. As a logistic outpost, FOB FORMOSO could be easily restocked using NAOC terminal facilities while its proximity to the sea provides

15.   FOB ESCRAVOS is located within Long 004°50'E
and 005°30'E. It is situated in Madagho community which lies close to the Escravos River. The Base has Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) and the riverine communities of Ogedengbe and Okerenkoko as neighbours. The proximity of CNL facilities offers strategic advantage for stocking POL products and replenishment of NN ships on patrol in the area. FOB Igbokoda is located temporarily in the Federal Fishing Terminal, Igbokoda, Ondo state.  A permanent site has however been approved for the Base at Eruna though work is yet to commence there. Its present location is rather far inland to effectively serve as an FOB. This is because the inland waterways and creeks are not navigable to sea-going vessels.

STATE OF FACILITIES IN NN’S FOBs





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