Small Wars Journal

Ensuring U.S. Prosperity and Security: The Case for Nigeria

Sun, 08/18/2013 - 10:10am

Ensuring U.S. Prosperity and Security: The Case for Nigeria

Christopher Cruz

Aaron Bazin

Charles Hewins


Despite the United States’ ongoing transition from the Middle East toward the Pacific, Africa remains strategically important to U.S. interests.  During the current restricted fiscal environment, all components of the U.S. government should focus their efforts to those areas most critical to the nation’s vital interests - security and prosperity. In Africa, it all begins with Nigeria.  Nigeria is critical to ensure U.S. prosperity and security for two key reasons: economic interests and regional influence.  Nigeria’s massive population, growing economy, and wealth of natural resources provide a vast opportunity for expanded economic cooperation.  Economic prosperity will not grow without security; therefore, improving security in a deliberate manner is critical.  To effectively execute this, the U.S. should: refocus strategic communication; conduct bilateral planning; increase partnership capacity; establish an intelligence and information fusion center; enhance counter-terrorism force capability; and develop a regional training center of excellence.  During the current of age of fiscal austerity, the U.S. is armed with limited resources to commit toward intractable issues on the African continent.  It is time for the U.S. to condense its focus in Africa in order to ensure its security and prosperity; and focus on Nigeria as the partner of choice.

Ensuring U.S. Prosperity and Security: The Case for Nigeria

Despite the United States’ (U.S.) ongoing transition from the Middle East toward the Pacific, Africa remains strategically important to U.S. interests.  Looming fiscal realities will drive all components of the U.S. government to focus their efforts toward those areas most critical to the nation’s vital interests of security and prosperity. In Africa, it all begins with Nigeria.  On a continent as vast and diverse as Africa, the U.S. must avoid spreading its dwindling resources throughout the expansive continent to the point of ineffectiveness, but rather focus its cooperation efforts on Nigeria in order to build its capacity as a critical partner on the African continent.  Nigeria’s massive population, growing economy, and wealth of natural resources provide a vast opportunity for expanded economic cooperation.  Also, Nigeria’s reputation and involvement in international organizations provide it a high degree of influence across Africa.  These strategic reasons are the basis for the low cost, small footprint, whole-of-government approach the U.S. must implement to further its security and prosperity interests.

The Case for Nigeria: A Burgeoning Economy

In the 2010 National Security Strategy, President Barack Obama stressed how vital the economy is to the U.S.  “At the center of our efforts is a commitment to renew our economy, which serves as the wellspring of American power.”[1]   Subsequently, Africa presents numerous opportunities for interdependent economic development and growth that cannot be ignored regardless of growing concerns in the Pacific.  “Six of the world's ten fastest-growing economies over the last decade are in Africa, creating extraordinary opportunity for American manufacturers,”[2] and Nigeria is one of them.  Additionally, with a 2012 estimated population of 170.1 million, approximately one out of every six Africans is Nigerian.[3]  As Africa’s most populous nation, it offers the largest potential market on the continent for U.S. exports.  In 2011, Nigeria was the 23rd-largest trading partner for the U.S. and the second largest in African with a total of $4.0B.[4]  Moreover, U.S. exports to Nigeria experienced a massive increase of 18.4% from 2010, consisting primarily of cereals, vehicles, machinery, mineral fuel, and plastic.[5]   As Nigeria’s population and economy grow, so will its demand for these goods.  For this reason alone, the U.S. should further its interests by facilitating the development of Nigeria’s market.  Not only is Nigeria an important market for U.S. goods, its natural resources are also an important factor to U.S. prosperity and security.

In 2010 Nigeria was the top African U.S. import supplier ($30.5B).  Imports from Nigeria included cocoa, beans, and rubber, but the vast majority was crude oil.[6]  With the world’s tenth largest proved reserves of oil and eighth largest reserve of natural gas, Nigeria is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a critical U.S. partner.  Accordingly, 5.2 percent of all U.S. oil imports come from Nigeria, making it the fifth largest supplier of U.S. oil and greater “than any Middle Eastern country except Saudi Arabia.”[7] However, Nigeria suffered a 22 percent drop “from the year before, as oil production was disrupted by civil unrest.”[8]  Efforts must be continued to strengthen Nigeria’s capacity to increase oil production from the current average of 2.21 million barrels per day to its potential capacity of 3.2 million.[9]  Thus far, the “United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria. The stock of U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nigeria in 2010 was $5.2 billion, down slightly from $5.4 billion in 2009. U.S. FDI in Nigeria is concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors.”[10]  This improved flow will supply the lifeblood of Nigeria’s development while it fulfills a critical need to U.S. prosperity and security, thus strengthening the economic interdependency of the two nations.  More oil production from Nigeria and increased economic investment between the U.S. and Nigeria may translate to the U.S.’ decreased dependency on oil from the Middle East.

In addition to being an important trade partner, Nigeria has also been ardently pursuing economic reform which will improve interdependent prosperity.  In the last decade, Nigeria has taken many steps to improve its financial system and economy.  In 2006, it made a “major overhaul” of its banking system and took additional “significant steps” in 2009 in the banking sector.[11]  Nigeria has also worked diligently to draw down its national debt, reducing it “from 36% of GDP in 2004 to less than 4% of GDP in 2007.”[12]   Additionally, in March 2009 it met with the U.S. “under the existing Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to advance the ongoing work program and to discuss improvements in Nigerian trade policies and market access.”[13]  The “country possesses many positive attributes for carefully targeted investment and will expand as both a regional and international market player.”[14]  Subsequently, as Nigeria’s economic system progresses, the expectation is that the improved conditions will attract even more U.S. and international investment.  Moreover, as Nigeria’s economy grows, so will its regional influence, which is the other strategic reason the U.S. should concentrate its efforts on this critical partner.

The Case for Nigeria: Regional Influence

The second major criterion supporting Nigeria as the primary recipient of continued U.S. support and cooperative investments is its regional influence on the African continent.  Nigeria’s influence is vital to reducing conflict and strengthening economies across Africa, and will be critical to U.S. efforts to ensure its security and prosperity.  Just as the U.S. economy is its wellspring of power, Nigeria’s vast wealth of natural resources and its large population “have made the country a power in West Africa and a political force across the continent.”[15]  Since its independence from Great Britain in 1960, Nigeria has embraced its leadership role on the continent and focused its efforts on four essential principles -  “African unity and independence; peaceful settlement of disputes; nonalignment and nonintentional [sic] interference in the internal affairs of other nations; and regional economic cooperation and development.”[16]  Nigeria was a founding member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which seeks economic and development cooperation amongst its 15 nation members.  Additionally, the Nigerian military has deployed in support of numerous peacekeeping operations and “currently has about 6,000 peacekeepers deployed in 12 United Nations (UN) missions worldwide.”[17]   Furthermore, Nigeria has dispatched diplomats and “committed resources to organizations that promote development and economic cooperation between African countries.”[18]   In addition to these accomplishments, the country has devoted a large amount of capital toward propagating Nigeria as the “Heart of Africa” and that it is a good “place to do business.” [19]  More so, it has used “musicians, film makers, artists, writers, [sic] and cultural ambassadors to help improve the country's image abroad.”[20]

Nigeria’s influence also resonates in its commitment to regional and international institutions.  It is a member of the UN and “has provided the bulk of troops for the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), [and] the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).”[21]  In the economic sector, Nigeria is a member of the African Development Bank and was “the only country to set up a trust fund in the African Development Bank for poorer countries to borrow money.”[22]  Nigeria is also a member of the World Bank/International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), World Trade Organization, and the International Monetary Fund.  Nigeria was able to aid other nations make successful economic reforms using examples from their own country.[23]  Nigeria is also a powerhouse in the African Union and was instrumental in creating the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).  Finally, Nigeria is also committed to INTERPOL, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).[24] Thus, Nigeria’s power to persuade and direct action, reform, and behavior throughout the continent solidify its importance as a critical partner and contributor to U.S. efforts to ensure mutual prosperity and security interests in Africa.


Despite these impressive accomplishments, Nigeria has a growing number of security, health, and economic problems that are beginning to degrade its influence in the region.  Corruption and the rule of law remain important issues.  There is a perception that certain segments of the government are “rife with corruption and kickbacks, and that many state and local officials continue to steal public monies outright.”[25]  On Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, which ranks countries “based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be,” Nigeria had a score of 2.4 and was listed as number 149.  A zero means the nation is considered to be highly corrupt and a 10 means it is very clean.[26]   In the case of Nigeria, 148 other nations are considered to be less corrupt.  For comparison, the least corrupt country on the continent was Botswana at 32, with Somalia being the worst overall at 182.  The U.S. was 24, and Canada was 10.  Corrupt governments impede economic progress and create resentment among its people and between governments, which in turn will degrade U.S. efforts.

There are also numerous social challenges that will have to be dealt with in Nigeria. With a median age of 17.9, an average literacy rate of 61%, and unemployment at 21%,[27] the youth bulge poses a significant problem to Nigeria.  Further exacerbating these challenges, Nigeria has the second worst rate of death due to HIV/AIDS in the world,[28] and the greatest tuberculosis burden on the continent.[29]  Additionally, the country has been dealing with ever increasing violence from Boko Haram, an Islamic sect that is waging “a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law.”[30]  Subsequently, the primary focus of Boko Haram has not been on western influence or interests, despite an attack on the UN compound in Abuja.  These destabilizing factors could reduce and even cripple economic prosperity while also contributing to instability and insecurity in the country and region.

Another security concern for the nation is the increasing incidents of piracy off the Nigerian coast.  The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) stated there were 10 piracy attacks in the first quarter of this year - a number equivalent to the total attacks in 2011.[31]  Moreover, the IMB director stated "Nigerian piracy is increasing in incidence and extending in range."[32]  While there are other issues in Nigeria, these are the principal concerns for the U.S. because they are the major causes of waning Nigerian influence in the region and should be the primary impetus for U.S. efforts.  Not only does piracy have a direct economic impact on both Nigeria and the U.S., it has a destabilizing and delegitimizing impacts on Nigeria’s influence and credibility.

There are additional concerns at the regional and strategic levels that must also be considered.  One major concern is that by focusing U.S. efforts on a single key partner, the possibility exists that the U.S. may unintentionally alienate other important African nations.  As China continues to exert its economic influence on the continent, it may find willing partners with countries that feel neglected by the U.S.  Therefore, an important aspect of this change to U.S. strategy in Africa will be a thorough whole-of-government strategic communications plan that transparently conveys the reasons necessitating such a shift.  Subsequently, as the U.S. economic wellspring experiences a prolonged drought, diplomatic efforts should welcome, and even collaborate with, other interested nations in order to prevent opposing or competing efforts.  This strategic communications plan will encourage complimentary efforts whenever and wherever possible.  For instance, China has already invested over $10 billion in infrastructure and other projects within Nigeria and recently pledged an additional $20 billion to Africa over the next three years.[33]  The U.S. should strive to leverage these resources support mutual interests.

Other competing conflicts and concerns in Africa may complicate the execution of focusing U.S. efforts on Nigeria.  For instance, the ongoing conflict in Mali, and the subsequent expansion of al-Qaeda, present growing concerns.  The atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Great Lakes Region also pose challenges to U.S. interests in Africa.  Also, the only enduring U.S. presence on the continent is at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, where the primary mission is to combat violent extremism in the Horn of Africa.  Additionally, humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions can occur anywhere on the continent.  The reality is that significant issues on the continent will persist, which is why Nigeria cannot be the sole focus of U.S. efforts.   However, the U.S. must prioritize and concentrate its major efforts on those most pertinent to its vital interests.   By bolstering Nigerian security, stability, and development, the U.S. can significantly enhance economic integration while also securing an influential partner for continued regional development, investment, and security.   As its resources continue to diminish, the U.S. should employ an indirect approach to building partnership capacity with Nigeria by using low cost, small footprint operations, and enlisting all instruments of national power.

A Sound Approach for Building African Security and Prosperity

Determining just how to consolidate the focus of efforts on Nigeria is not a simple task.  Security is always a perquisite for prosperity to grow.  This approach will reinforce success and allow the U.S. and Nigeria to address shared interests and serve as a catalyst to reinforce positive affects across the entire region.  The U.S. should not forget that Nigeria gets the final vote for this focused strategy.  The will of Nigeria holds a position of prominence for this, or any approach.  This is especially important in Africa where history has created strong anti-colonialism sentiment throughout the continent that persists to this day.  To effectively execute this proposed approach, the U.S. should: refocus strategic communication; conduct bilateral planning; increase partnership capacity; establish an intelligence and information fusion center; enhance counter-terrorism force capability; and develop a regional training center of excellence.

Strategic Communication: Explaining the Shift

In the contemporary operational environment, any action plan that ignores the impact of strategic communication is questionable.  Therefore, the U.S. should revisit its strategic communication themes and messages to clearly communicate intent and address potential concerns that the consolidation of U.S. focus on Nigeria could bring.  The U.S. must carefully tailor these messages to all critical stakeholders including internal and external audiences.   Done properly, strategic communication can garner support from the international community, non-governmental organizations, and intergovernmental organizations.  Done poorly, increased emphasis on Nigeria could have the unintended consequences of alienating other African partners, emboldening Boko Haram, or perhaps driving a wedge between Nigeria and its neighbors.  America should therefore put emphasis on explaining that the approach of bolstering Nigeria is to create structures and processes that are advantageous to the region as a whole, not just Nigeria.

Moreover, honesty builds trust and understanding, and is thus the foundation for long term partnerships.  The U.S. should not be afraid to explain through speeches, demarches, and other media that during this period of financial strain the U.S. must focus its efforts where they can have the most impact to the region as a whole.  This message must convey that Nigeria’s resources and regional influence combined with previous investments make it the right choice as a nucleus of security, stability, and economic development that will support the spread of improvements throughout the region and ultimately the continent.  The U.S. must also highlight that once there is encouraging momentum in Nigeria, it plans to subsequently broaden its focus on other partner nations.  Communicated properly throughout the effort, these messages would increase understanding and create an incentive for other nations to improve and seek the enviable position of being the next partner for U.S. focus.

Develop Bilateral Plans to Create a Common Vision of a Shared Future

The next step to reinforcing a relationship with a critical partner like Nigeria is for the U.S. to engage in bilateral discussions to address shared security interests.  Bilateral planning is a very effective way to increase interoperability and the potential success of unified effort between partner nations.[34]  Security issues such as Boko Haram, crime, and border control, combined with the environmental dynamics in Nigeria, drive the potential need for military missions such as counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance / disaster relief response, pandemic disease response, peace keeping, or peace enforcement missions.  In a series of combined planning sessions, planners can validate facts, investigate shared assumptions, and come up with a common operational approach based on a cohesive view of the strategic factors and the overall environment.  Over a period of months, the planning process will serve to clarify common interests, identify shared risks, and bring to light where the partners can best spend capacity building and development dollars. 

This planning effort must be done through the U.S. Embassy country team with representatives from all key organizations within the U.S. and Nigerian governments, to include commerce, education, transportation, justice, energy, military, and homeland security.   Moreover, requests for similar representation from other African and international governments should be ardently pursued.  As always, the true value is in the dialogue of planning and not the plan itself.  The tangible benefit will be a common understanding, a closer bond, and a foundation for subsequent engagements to achieve a common future based on a shared vision. Holistically, to win the battle of the narrative, the U.S. must engage in continual dialogue with Nigeria, regional partners, and other key stakeholders and, as a common African proverb suggests, “talk little and listen much”.[35]

Increase Building Partnership Capacity Funding, but Spend Wisely

The next step is for the U.S. and Nigeria to reassess security assistance (SA), security cooperation (SC), and other partnership capacity building efforts to ensure they are properly synchronized with the multinational plans developed in the previous step.  Similarly, efforts to build partnership capacity should include increased funding for developing Nigerian leaders through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program where military officers are given the opportunity to attend various military courses in the U.S.  Another specific solution is to stockpile humanitarian assistance and medical supplies in Nigeria that the U.S. and the African Union could use for disaster response contingencies anywhere in Africa.  Finally, the U.S. should refocus its security assistance efforts through the Africa Partnership Station (APS) program.  New initiatives in APS should be executed that will specifically address Nigeria’s capability to thwart the growing piracy threat and enhance overall maritime security and capability.  These cooperative engagements must include hands-on training and exercises during ship and port visits between Nigerian military, U.S. Navy, and U.S. Coast Guard members.  Training topics should include ship maintenance, maritime security, anti-trafficking, ship boarding, escort and patrol procedures, and maritime safety.  This program is key to building partnership capacity with Nigeria which impacts mutual security and prosperity.  Additionally, combined law enforcement training on piracy, illegal fishing, and rule of law impacts the economic arena in a positive way.

Establish an Intelligence and Information Fusion Center to Build Shared Knowledge

In other theaters of operation, the U.S. military has had success in intelligence sharing efforts with partner nations.[36]  These centers build confidence between partner nations, increase communication, and give the U.S. strategic access that is impossible without regular contact.  These centers typically have intelligence and operations cells from both nations in the same room, each with their own secure communications systems.  The nations staff these cells 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, and serve as a communication hub for all military-to-military communication.  These centers can range from multi-million dollar facilities with full-motion video capability to two officers in a room with reach back capability.  What is most important here is the day-to-day interaction and communication between countries so that when a crisis occurs or time-sensitive intelligence becomes known, intelligence officers can pass information quickly to their counterparts for action.  The overall goal of establishing such a center is to create a shared workspace in the hopes that it will help build common understanding, increase interoperability, and create a mechanism for unified action to address shared concerns.

The U.S. should collaborate with Nigeria and other interested African nations to create such an organization in order to foster these relationships while gathering vital information on mutual threats, specifically violent extremist organizations (VEO).  Therefore, this fusion center should include a cell with representation from Mauritania, Mali, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Niger with a focus on al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).  Another cell should focus on the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and include delegates from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.  Additionally, Somalia, Djibuoti, Ethiopia, and Kenya should create a cell that shares information and intelligence on the operations of al-Shabaab. This organization would foster regional participation and cooperation and would be a key component of the strategic communication campaign because it is built on the mutual interests of all nations involved.  Moreover, these cells would provide the nodes from which an African-wide network of collaboration would be developed, facilitating a system-of-systems analysis of the interconnectedness of VEOs. With a common understanding of the operating environment, effective planning would lead to efficient combined operations to defeat these organizations bringing stability, security, and prosperity to a large swath of the continent.

Enhance Counter-Terrorism Forces to Make the Best-of-the-Best Even Better

Nigeria has an elite force to conduct counter-terrorism missions against Boko Haram and other irregular threats.  Commonly, the U.S. military has found more success in equipping and training elite units such as these, rather than training general-purpose forces alone.[37]  By definition, when these soldiers volunteer and their military selects them, one can assume they are the best-of-the-best.  Through focused training, equipping, mentoring, and professionalizing of these units, the best-of-the-best become even better; and the force becomes even more capable of tactical action with direct strategic impact.  This should also include instruction and direct mentoring from the U.S. on the law of armed conflict and the mitigation of civilian casualties during military operations.  Furthermore, this force and similar elite forces from around the continent must be connected to the intelligence / information fusion center mentioned earlier, creating a potent capability to find, fix, and finish strategic threats shared by Nigeria, U.S., and other partner nations in an efficient and effective manner.  It would also serve as a conduit for pooling U.S. and international counter-terrorism efforts in order to have a direct impact on terrorist threats emanating from continental Africa.

Develop a Regional Center of Excellence - Training for Africans, by Africans

The ultimate goal of the above efforts should eventually culminate under a U.S. supported, Nigerian led, regional center of excellence. The intent of this organization would be to create a centralized location where African partners can receive training, resources, share information, and cooperate on shared interests - specifically, Africans helping Africans to solve African issues.  Regional training centers established with key partners have proven successful in other areas of the world.[38] Because there are many problems in Nigeria and the region without obvious military solutions, training should cover topics such as AIDS awareness and prevention, anti-corruption, and public health.  Effectively, this center would act as a hub for the entire region whereby the entire U.S. interagency and international community could access and positively impact key stakeholders in Nigeria and the region as a whole.  The main idea is that first, the U.S. trainers would provide instruction to Nigerian cadre, and, in turn, this cadre would then train other Nigerian units and, eventually, other regional partners as well.  The train-the-trainer concept would then increase the professionalism and interoperability not only for Nigerian forces, but enhance any U.S. partner that comes to Nigeria for training.

Instead of providing training on a wide array of tasks, the U.S. and partner nations should focus this center only on a few specific areas of specialization where there is the greatest operational need, such as counter-terrorism, peacekeeping operations, and English language training.  This center would provide classrooms and materials for instruction, training facilities, and a conduit for funding.  This center would provide another avenue for the Department of State’s Africa Contingency Operations Training & Assistance (ACOTA) program.  Additionally, the center should leverage the English language skills of Nigeria and other Anglophone nations to create a language education college that would be supported by U.S. Foreign Service officers and military instructors.  Expanding the range and capability of English in Africa obviously promotes major benefits to security and prosperity interests.  As the model proves successful, the U.S. and partners could establish other regional training centers of excellence focused on other critical missions on the continent, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

Conclusion – A Hunter with One Arrow

There are no simple solutions in Africa.  It is a complex and dynamic operational environment that requires creative and cooperative solutions.  What is known is that Nigeria will remain in the U.S. interest into the future because of the key role it plays in the global dynamics of economics and security.    There is a old Nigerian proverb that advises that, “a hunter with only one arrow must not take careless aim.”[39]  The U.S. cannot afford to squander scarce resources by trying to be everything to everyone all the time.  It must have the courage to take the difficult path of aiming on Nigeria as a critical regional partner, in order to positively impact the entire region through the creation of security as the necessary perquisite for prosperity. During the current of age of fiscal austerity, much like the Nigerian hunter, the U.S. is armed with limited resources to commit toward intractable issues on the African continent.  It is time for the U.S. to condense its focus in Africa in order to ensure its security and prosperity; and it should aim its arrow at Nigeria as the partner of choice. 

End Notes

[1] 2010 National Security Strategy, 2.

[2] Koski, Ian. Charts from SFRC hearing on China's role in Africa, 1 November 2011. Retrieved from

[3] Central Intelligence Agency, “The World Factbook: Africa: Nigeria.” 31 July 2012. Retrieved from

[4] Office of the United States Trade Representative, Africa. Retrieved from

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Flintoff, Corey. Where Does America Get Oil? You May Be Surprised, 12 April 2012. Retrieved from

[8] Ibid.

[9] Economy Watch, “Africa Trade, Exports and Imports,” 30 March 2012. Retrieved from

[10] Bureau of African Affairs, U. S. Department of State, “Background Note: Nigeria,” 19 April 2012. Retrieved from

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Shoup, Anna.  Public Broadcasting Service, “Regional Giant Nigeria Looms over West Africa,” 5 April 2007. Retrieved from

[16] Bureau of African Affairs, U. S. Department of State, “Background Note: Nigeria,” 19 April 2012. Retrieved from

[17] Ibid.

[18] Shoup, Anna.  Public Broadcasting Service, “Regional Giant Nigeria Looms over West Africa,” 5 April 2007.  Retrieved from

[19] The British Broadcasting Corporation, “How deep is Nigeria's cultural influence on Africa?” 29 September 2010. Retrieved from

[20] Ibid.

[21] Bureau of African Affairs, U. S. Department of State, “Background Note: Nigeria,” 19 April 2012. Retrieved from

[22] , Anna.  Public Broadcasting Service, “Regional Giant Nigeria Looms over West Africa,” 5 April 2007.  Retrieved from

[23] Ibid.

[24] Bureau of African Affairs, U. S. Department of State, “Background Note: Nigeria,” 19 April 2012. Retrieved from

[25] Ibid.

[26] Transparency International, “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011.” Retrieved from

[27] Central Intelligence Agency, “The World Factbook: Africa: Nigeria.” 31 July 2012. Retrieved from

[28] Ibid.

[29] Bureau of African Affairs, U. S. Department of State, “Background Note: Nigeria,” 19 April 2012. Retrieved from

[30] Walker, Andrew. What is Boko Haram? USIP. Summary.

[31] Saul, Jonathan.  Reuters.  “Global pirate attacks down in Q1, Nigeria risk grows.” 23 April 2012.  Retrieved from

[32] Ibid.

[33] STRATFOR Global Intelligence, “China: President Pledges $20 Billion To Africa.” 19 July 2012.

[34] Kal Holstia and Thomas Levy, “Bilateral institutions and transgovernmental relations between Canada and the United States”, International Organization, 1974, Cambridge University Press.

[35], “African Proverbs.”  Retrieved from

[36] Richard Aldrich, “Transatlantic intelligence and security cooperation”, International Affairs, Jun 23, 2004.

[37] J. Corum, Training indigenous forces in counterinsurgency: A tale of two insurgencies, 2006, Strategic Studies Institute.

[38] Anwar Ayasrah, Jordan stands at the front line of combating terrorism, Mar, 112009, Strategy research project Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA.

[39] Special Dictionary World Proverbs.  Retrieved from


About the Author(s)

Commander Christopher A. Cruz, U.S. Navy, has served in numerous command and leadership positions and is currently en route to serve in the J9 Partnering Directorate at U.S. Southern Command.  He was commissioned through ROTC and received a BS in Civil Engineering from the Virginia Military Institute in 1991.  In addition, CDR Cruz earned a MA in National Defense and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.  Prior to his current assignment, CDR Cruz served as the Major Staff Placement Officer for Navy Personnel Command.  He has over 2,500 flight hours and over 850 carrier arrested landings flying the S-3B Viking.

LTC Aaron A. Bazin is a U.S. Army FA 59 Strategic Plans and Policy officer. He was commissioned as an infantry officer through ROTC at Wentworth Military Academy.  He has served in a variety of strategist and planner positions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and with the U.S. Central Command J5 division.

Major Charles E. Hewins, U.S. Air Force, is currently en route to serve in the J5 section of U.S. Africa Command Staff.  He was commissioned through ROTC and received a BS in Civil Engineering from at Colorado State University in 1999. In addition, Maj Hewins holds an MBA with an emphasis in Finance from TUI and a MA in Military Operational Art and Science from the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, AL.  Prior to his current assignment, Maj Hewins served as the Chief of Executive Services for the 27th Special Operations Group, Cannon AFB, NM.



Fri, 08/30/2013 - 7:42am


Thank you for your commentary on our article, and you are correct in many ways. When looked at the reality of diminishing budgets, the vast expanse and complexity of problems in Africa, and the rise of Nigeria as a leader in the region, we saw them as a natural partner to the U.S. for focus. It seemed that with fewer resources available, we could easily spread ourselves too thin, and picking a focus may be the right way to go.

You are right of course, any miltary-to-military effort must be done as part of a closely coordinated whole-of-government approach or it will be disjointed from diplomacy and development efforts.

In your view, what are the other partners that the U.S. should focus on?

(given our budget realities of course)




Mon, 08/19/2013 - 7:59pm

Is this a 419??

I think that authors discount some of the more problematic downsides of a "Nigeria Heavy" engagement model. First, the approach pre-supposes that the Nigerian Government, military, and society would eagerly embrace this level of cooperation, which I don't believe would be quickly forthcoming. Second, by tying so heavily into Nigeria, the US assumes all the negative political and stereo-typical baggage that comes with in when working with the other 50+ nations on the continent. Third, for all of Nigerias' potential there exists the real risk that the country can fragment along ethno/religious/regional lines; leaving us without a partner, having to take a side, and probably burning significant amounts of equity in terms of relations with its neighbors in the process.

Why the need for a large "enduring presence" on the continent? We actually have had an enduring presence for years as represented by our 50+ Embassies on the continent and their 30+ Defense Attache and Security Cooperation Offices that can be scaled up or down rather rapidly to meet bi-lateral and multi-lateral needs.