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ICT TRAINING IN NIGERIAN ARMY: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS FOR OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY AND EFFECTIVENESS
The armed forces of nations are required to protect the territorial integrity, contribute to internal security and uphold the constitution. The performance of these tasks warrants their being dispersed and commanders need to pass instructions to subordinates in order to direct the course of war, administer and for coordination with other Services. The means of passing these instructions had been a subject of concern to commanders and their subordinates.
Before the Industrial Age, instructions were passed on the battlefield through runners but visual signals endangered the lives of signalers and were inefficient for long distance messages (EJASL Vol 8, 2005:9).The industrial age brought a little relief as radios and telephones were used for communication between the rear and frontline troops. However, the radios were too bulky for mobile operation during World War 1 (WWI) (Makane, 2000:28-30).
These cumbersome communication arrangements generated additional friction apart from the fog of war. These problems consigned commanders to the delays and uncertainties of war (Makane, 2000:14). Furthermore, commanders could not be sure of security of the messages (Boltz, 2007:84) Thus, command and control as a major problem during WWI because the technology available at that time could not offer the opportunity of frequent and immediate communication (Boltz, 2007:89).
The state of communication and information management prevalent during WWI was improved upon during WWII. The aeroplane became a platform for ground-to-air and air-to-ground communication using on board wireless radios. Apart from revolutionizing the war logistically, it relieved commanders of depending on bulky communication equipment (Thomas, 2008). After WWII, advanced countries such as the United States (US) continued to research in communication.
The US Department of Defence (DOD), thus created the Advances Research Project Agency Net (ARPANET) as an alternative means of communication in case of nuclear attack by the then Soviet Union in 1969 (UN,2005). The Internet was later discovered by Leonard Kleinrock, which provided e-mail and web facilities used for military and non-military purposes (Ajayi,2009). This gave impetus to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) which has now become a worldwide phenomenon. During the Gulf wars, the US and its allies displayed improved communication capabilities. For instance, their tanks used in the ground offensive were fitted with ground terminal equipment, such as cyclone antennae to establish a link with orbiting satellites. These satellite connections allowed the commanders in the tanks to share audio, voice and data with command centres practically anywhere in the world (MacGroddy etal, 1999).
There had been continuous and rapid technology advancements such as miniaturization thus making the production of smaller weapons and equipment possible (Richard, 2010). As many armed forces in Africa are struggling to acquire ICT infrastructure in the face of dwindling defence budgets, ICT assets are becoming obsolete within a short time due to technological advancement. Furthermore, the advanced countries have moved to the realm of stealth and precision weaponry as displayed in the Kosovo and Gulf Wars, an act that is creating a digital divide between the developed and developing countries (Eyo, 2001).
The use of ICT infrastructure is gradually being introduced into the Nigerian Army (NA). This is exposing NA personnel to a gamut of information and commanders could have access to field and long distance communications. This has bestowed some advantage on its communications such as battlefield transparency, intelligence gathering, propaganda, use of sensor, ICT-enabled weapon system and in Peace Support Operation (PSO). However, these advantages have their setbacks in the form of insecurity. The use of codes and firewalls by the NA may be inadequate and could open its information to hackers and other mischievous element in the virtual community. The consequences of the risks created manifest themselves in the possible failure of systems and assets whose incapacity or destruction would have a serious impact on national security.
During the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) operation in Liberia and Sierra Leone, NA personnel had the problems of communication insecurity, poor interoperability and was plagued by obsolete equipment (Dike, 2003). War fighting equipment such as mobile radar and simulators demand the knowledge of ICT for effective and efficient operations. It is therefore imperative that the problem and prospects of ICT in the NA be examined and probable solutions proffered in order to have adequate, efficient and effective communication support. These are the motivation for the study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Nigeria is still grappling with the fast rate of development of ICT, but the national policy on ICT had been put in place to steer its development. Despite the fact that the NA rely on communication for its routine, logistic, administrative, and operational activities, the ICT infrastructure and Knowledge through which it can be achieve is inadequate.13 According to Adewoye, “no military can develop except it develop its technology”.
Based on the foregoing, this study shall seek to proffer answers to the following:
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are:
To examine the relationship between ICT training and the conduct of military operations.
Ascertain the level of ICT training and it applications in the NA.
Examine the challenges and prospect of ICT training as it affects the operational effectiveness and efficiency of the NA.
1.4 RESEARCH ASSUMPTION
There is a general consensus that there is a relationship between ICT training in the NA and the efficiency and effectiveness of her operations. ICT training in the NA is the independent variable that determines the operational efficiency while effectiveness of the NA operations is the dependent variable.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study is significant due to the fact that it would contribute to the advancement of knowledge on ICT training in the NA. Also it is being carried out at a period of unprecedented global technological explosion, and the NA appears to be lacking. Consequently, it would seek to redress the apparent technological stalemate, with particular reference to military operations in the NA.
The outcome of the study would be of assistance to scholars, researchers and students who wish to explore more in this field of study. It could thus be a useful guide to policy makers and planners at the Nigerian Army Headquarters (NAHQs) in establishing an integrated ICT system among all its divisions across the country. It will also assist in making realistic projections for future applications of ICT and serve as reference material for a wide range of users especially defence information managers.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
This study shall cover the application of ICT training to military operations in the NA from the period of 1990 to 2010. The period marked the development of military technological developments such as the internet, satellites and their global accessibility. The Gulf Wars marked a defining moment in the history of military operations as the wars were truly digital war. In Nigeria, there has being a concerted effort by the army to procure ICT systems, though the process remains inconclusive. The army has however trained some officers in space technology to enhance its application and use of ICT.
1.7 LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
The use of data generated from a relatively small number of personnel of the NA to generalize for the whole NA constituted a limitation. This is coupled with the fact that ICT is relatively new to some members of the NA. However, questionnaire were shared to reflect a fair representation of the NA personnel hence it will not adversely affect the result of this study.
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