5 Reasons Why Selling the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Attack Aircraft to Nigeria is a Good Idea

5 Reasons Why Selling the Embraer A-29 Super Tucano Attack Aircraft to Nigeria is a Good Idea

AGENCY REPORT

The fight against violent Islamic jihadists truly has become a global
war on terror.  The threat has metastasized like a cancer and is
proving just as difficult to defeat. ISIS, which originated in Iraq
and Syria, has conducted some 140 attacks in 29 countries just in the
last two years. It has active combat forces in more than a dozen
countries. Al Qaeda, once declared dead, has returned to life with a
vengeance. It is reported to have six regional groupings with 14
affiliated organizations.
We have been at this long enough to know that defeating the global
Islamist terrorist threat requires a multifaceted response strategy
that must unfold over time. One key aspect of such a strategy is
building the capacity of partner countries, particularly those
fighting a local battle with terrorists. Partners can require
assistance with equipment, organization, logistics and transportation.
It should not be surprising that some of these countries—with
fragmented societies, weak governments and relatively little
experience with the rule of law—also need help learning to modulate
the behavior of security forces in the conduct of counter-terrorist
operations.
Nigeria is one nation that badly needs U.S. assistance in fighting a
domestic Islamic insurgency, Boko Haram. As part of its assistance
program for Nigeria, the United States has offered to sell that
country 12 A-29 Super Tucanos, an aircraft that the Air Force paid to
develop precisely for partner countries that needed air support for
their counter terrorism operations.
Almost inexplicably, there has been opposition from some quarters for
this sale. The critics offer a mix of criticisms based largely on an
under-appreciation of the threat, a poor understanding of the combined
arms nature of successful counter terrorism operations, ignorance
regarding the capabilities of the A-29 and misplaced policy
priorities.
Here are five reasons why the proposed sale should proceed.
Priority one must be to destroy Boko Haram
Some critics of military assistance to Nigeria argue that priority
needs to be given to reforming that country’s government, ending
corruption and preventing excesses by Nigerian counter-terrorism
forces. Are they kidding? Boko Hara is pure evil. Since its founding
in 2009, it has kidnapped thousands, killed more than 20,000 and
created early 3 million refugees. In 2015 it won the world’s deadliest
terrorist group trophy from the World Terrorism Index. In that year,
it also pledged allegiance to ISIS. Boko Haram has not limited its
activities to northeastern Nigeria. It is active in neighboring Chad,
Niger and Cameroon. Talk about your violator of human rights! Whatever
legitimate criticism there is of the Nigerian government pales in
comparison with the crimes committed by Boko Haram.
Air power is critical to a successful counter terrorism campaign
To say, as some critics have, that airpower won’t be in effective in
the fight with Boko Haram is just stupid. As has been demonstrated in
virtually every counter terrorism fight from Afghanistan to Libya and
Somalia, exploitation of the third dimension is the best means of
countering the terrorists’ advantages on the ground. Even in complex
terrain such as forests and jungles, aircraft with the appropriate
sensors and weapons can provide effective firepower. Attack aircraft
can serve as a deterrent to terrorist’ efforts to mass forces for
large scale attacks. In addition, airpower is not just about bombing.
It is vital also to winning the intelligence battle. Airborne
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) is one of the most
useful tools in the arsenal of counter terrorism forces.
The A-29 is the right aircraft for Nigeria.
The A-29 is a derivative of the Embraer Tucano that has proven itself
with a number of air forces. The Columbian military used theirs
against the FARC terrorist organization, which operated largely in
that country’s jungles. The A-29 is specifically designed for today’s
counter-terrorism fight and for employment by partner countries with
relatively little money, infrastructure or trained manpower.  The
sturdy, propeller-driven Super Tucano also is a perfect fit for
environments such as Nigeria. It is a relatively simple, sturdy
aircraft, able to operate from austere airfields and is easy to fly
and maintain. The A-29 carries advanced electro-optical sensors,
modern avionics, a laser target designator and a wide variety of
precision munitions. The Afghan Air Force is very successfully
operating the first four of some 20 aircraft on order. Inexpensive to
buy and with lower operating costs than any other light attack
aircraft, the A-29 is the right aircraft for cash-strapped partners.
Withholding vital military assistance will do nothing to address
weaknesses of Nigerian government
There is no question that Nigeria has much work to do to strengthen
governmental institutions, root out corruption and institute the rule
of law. But indirectly punishing the Nigerian military for problems
with deep roots in that country is misguided. Moreover, it will not
work. It might make frustrated ex-diplomats and NGOs feel good, but it
will not cause a substantive change in the level of corruption in
Nigeria or temper any excesses by the military.
Working with partner countries is the best way to help them reforce

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