In the time that I have spent to ruminate over the disdain that so many of our youths, elites and other public commentators have for the Armed Forces, I have come to the safe conclusion that the solution to this is the building on armed forces reserves programme – with the twin objectives of changing the perception Nigerians have for the armed forces and providing the nation the opportunity to have some our finest products serve in the military.
I would like for the current NYSC programme to be adapted for this purpose providing a base to build this even as it would also continue to serve the current purposes of jobs/employment at the same time – that for me is perhaps the only way we can get our Youths and indeed other Nigerians towards changing the way the look at the Nigerian Armed Forces – from one that is currently tending towards ridicule to that of respect – this would make help young Nigerians understand that the MOST PATRIOTIC endeavour you can ever embark upon as a citizen of any nation is to defend it!
Furthermore, it would help erase this age-long distrust that the average Nigerian has had for the Military – something that stems from the number of years they spent interwoven into our nation’s politics and leadership – something that as a nation we must overcome and in fact quickly let go off if we are to deepen rule of law and democracy in this nation – we can’t keep looking at the Armed Forces of 2014 that like it was the same one that threw the nation into crisis in 1963 – or as though it is the same one that helped deepen corruption within our national life in the 80s and 90s.
This carried-over perception must change – and one of the best ways to engender that is to have “practically every family” in this nation have a feel of the Military by the introduction of these reserve programme – that way you can support the Military more – knowing they are just not some of occupation force that dropped in from another planet but one that you have also have relatives in – that you are familiar with its internal workings and development – and we have all seen how nations like the U.S. get to remain very proud to be able to have sons and daughters serving in the military as possibly the biggest honour their families can have.
Interestingly Nigeria currently has a ZERO percent Reserves system to Active Forces [AF] ratio; and I have chosen to do a comparison of that for a select number of 10 nations including the BRICS and two other African nations thus – in the ratio of AF to Reserves thus:
|Sno||Country||AF||Reserves||% AF: Reserves|
In these listed and other nations, Reserves are used and employed in many ways. In wartime they may be used to provide replacements for combat losses to in-action units and formations, thus allowing these to remain battle-worthy longer. They can also be used to form new units and formations to augment the regular army. In addition, reservists can undertake tasks such as garrison duty, manning air defence, internal security and guarding of important points such as supply depots, prisoner of war camps, communications nodes, air and sea bases and other vital areas, thus freeing up regular troops for the front. A combination of these can be used.
In peacetime, reservists can be utilised in internal security duties and disaster relief, sparing reliance on the regular military forces, and in many countries where military roles outside of warfare are restricted, reservists are specifically exempted from these restrictions – something that we really need in these unique times that we live in.
One of the primary advantages in having military reserves is that they increase the available manpower by many fold in a short period of time, unlike the months it would take to train new recruits or conscripts, since reservist are already trained. Reservists are often experienced combat veterans which can increase not only the quantity, but the overall quality of the forces. Having a large reservist pool can allow a government to avoid the costs, both political and financial, of requiring new recruits or conscripts. The reservists are usually more economically effective than regular troops, as they are only called up when they are most needed. On the other hand, preparations made to institute a call up (which are obvious to adversaries) can be used as a display of determination. Reservists are also many times trained professionals in the civilian side. The skills attained in many professions are also many times useful in the military side. Furthermore, in many countries reserves have also very capable people who would not consider career in the military. They take voluntary training as their hobby, and are therefore very cheap to train. People considering reservist activity as their hobby tend to be very motivated unlike many professionals. In peacekeeping, the skills of reservists have been shown to be valuable, because they can be employed for reconstruction of infrastructure, and so tend to have better relations with the civilian population than pure career soldiers.
Aside from what these apparent advantages; chief of which is that of our YOUTHS appreciating the nation the more, as a Nation that seeks to be a regional power of prominence around the world, we couldn’t possibly achieve that without a scheme like this in place – in the medium to the long term – this would be a good time for our elite to kick-start this discussion even as the top echelon of our Armed Forces should seriously begin to discuss this with the Ministries of Education and Labour.
I would appreciate your thoughts on this in the comment box below.