SPLA: Still Using Hit and Run Tactics
South Sudan army (SPLA) made up of tribal and undisciplined militias has no military or fighting conviction because it was set up for being hostile to Sudan at first place, in addition to tribal interests. these militias were not able to take control of any town in South Sudan during the two decade war with South Sudan despite material and training support they had received from countries hostile to Sudan. They relied on guerilla war. The recent fighting in Heglig where SPLA suffered a defeat, Sudan army demonstrated its ability to repulse any aggression no matter what it may be.
It is the SPLA that established Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and then established a state in the South. Its military mentality and conviction has not change. Such conviction is built on the assumption that the arch enemy is the North. It has not changed even after the Naivasha Agreement. Therefore, South Sudan state has expansionist interests in the North. South Sudan officials’ remarks mostly revolve around geographical borders and the necessity to infiltrate them. The SPLA was preparing for possibility of renewal of conflict with the North, common objective of all sects who harbor hatred towards Sudan. The SPLA has gone through interesting transformations and joined by big groups such as Paulino Matip, Peter Gadet and Riak Machar, these groups have caused confusion at the levels ranks and salaries as well the command of SPLA. The SPLA has been reliant on foreign aid, which has laid down strategy for it and sometimes tactics, specifying types of weapons, officers’ ranks and operation zones. Therefore, the building and developing the army is controlled by Western nations that sharing set role regarding training with some organizing administrative affairs regarding SPLA and other are assigned with plans for military operations against the North. To the degree many research centers in major countries are dedicated to strengthening the SPLA.
All those efforts and support produced no results considering the size of the South Sudan army due to its tribal structure and prevalent illiteracy among its members as most of high ranking officers are illiterate. Therefore, the SPLA has failed to digest strategies which were drawn up for it in addition managerial and structural organization and operations. The lack of tight defensive strategy has prevented SPLA from transforming into a regular army.
The fighting conviction of SPLA
Hassan Bayoumi, security expert, stated that SPLA lacks fighting conviction because it was formed on tribal basis different from Sudan’s patriotic army which was formed and trained to defend the homeland in addition to its structural organization and advanced training on military sciences. Bayoumi adds that SPLA was made up of Ayanya One in 1970s of the last century, who were absorbed in the armed forces in 1972 in accordance with Addis Abba agreement signed during the era of late President Jaafer Numeiri. However, in 1981, rebellion erupted led by Carbino Kowanin and John Garang, who were not trained at the military college in the North but received training solely on guerilla war as tribal militias harboring hatred for the North with internal conflicts which are still evident in interethnic clashes there claiming more lives in addition to the victims of previous North-South civil war. Bayoumi added that intertribal conflicts are likely at all times between Nuer and Dinka, on one hand, and Chuluk and Dinak, on the other
Major General Al-Abbas, security analyst, sees that SPLA was formed on the basis of guerilla war to inflict loses and withdraw. It operates on the basis of “hit and run”, adding that throughout its war with Sudan’s army, SPLA had not been able to control any town in South Sudan. Al-Abbas said that Higlig battle was the first international fighting South Sudan army has ever waged to gauge its might but failed because Sudan’s army has all ingredients of victory with no record of defeat even in tough circumstance. Sudan army has proved excellence despite support and development that happened to SPLA.
Al-Abas attribute SPLA’s suffering of defeats in all war it fought to its being engulfed in tribalism and regionalism; in addition to deeply rooted administrative corruption, unfair distribution of wealth among its components and domination of power in the South by certain tribes, which lowered morale among SPLA fighters.
By Ibrahim Al-Jack, 29/04/2012