Asymmetric warfare, as we know it today, particularly through terrorism, has come to challenge doctrinal concepts that were previously oriented towards the concentration of forces, in anticipation of frontal engagements of varying degrees of intensity, in the face of a predictable enemy, in a theatre that is catalogued in all its dimensions: terrestrial and subterranean, aerial, spatial, maritime and subaquatic.
However, large-scale troop deployments have reached their limits, massive bombardments have proven to be relatively effective, and the absence of a front line has rendered the concept of saturation of the theatre of operations anachronistic.
In the management of aggressions currently in fashion and faced with an unstructured enemy in his unpredictable personality in his manifestations and his fluctuating methods, States find themselves confronted with the convenience of the means of struggling with the opposing modes of operation, given the persistence of a real degree of uncertainty as to the achievement of the expected effects, despite the consideration of success factors in the process of defining the response to the threat.
It goes without saying that the resolution of this system of equations attests to an irrefutable level of power, which is not only a question of quantities of energy or potential, even less of hierarchy, but also and above all the capacity to mobilise, at the right moment, the resources necessary for the realisation of the goals set.
Seen from this angle of adequacy, Cameroon can proudly assume the status of a power, as it is one of the very few countries that have managed to avoid a possible doctrinal or functional disruption of their security architecture, which was thought to be exclusively formatted according to the codes of regular conflict. In order to do this, it was necessary to find the balance between the structural and environmental aspects of a given situation and the most appropriate response to it.
This is a real exercise in alchemy, which is all the more complex given that the response to the jihadist threat cannot be transposed as it stands to separatist impulses, and especially not to maritime piracy, cattle theft, hostage taking or poaching. Based on the precept that you don't need a hammer to swat a fly, the use of force and civil-military actions have always been methodically calibrated to have the desired impact on the objective to be addressed, or in meeting the needs of the population, while minimising the occurrence of possible accidental harm to people or the environment.
Thus, in addition to the rules of engagement of universal authority, much more restrictive principles of action guide Cameroonian forces in operations, in particular, the priority given to the accuracy of intelligence to avoid generalised suspicion and the dangerous amalgams likely to result from it, the concise use of fire instead of the often indiscriminate shooting, the disarmament of the enemy rather than its annihilation, the protection and psychological support of ex-combatants.
The results of this successful proportionality are, among others, the low rate of human casualties, the rapid return to social normality in areas previously in acute crisis, no group of the international terrorist movement being able to claim any control over any part of the Cameroonian territory.
For having made quantitative, qualitative and temporal adequacy the fundamental element of the action of its Defence and Security Forces, the merit of Cameroon lies in its mastery of the unleashing of legitimate violence, and of violence in general. This is a textbook case that will inevitably lead to numerous requests for cooperation in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency.
Navy Captain Cyrille Serge ATONFACK GUEMO Head of Communication Division / MINDEF