The Admiral's Compass to Military Strategy, Maritime Security

Chiemelie Ezeobi reports that An Admiral’s Compass: Reflection­s on Leadership, Military Strategy and Maritime Security’ authored by RearAdmira­l FrancisAkp­an, retired, was targeted at impacting generation­s of naval officers, military officers and heads of


Imilitaryn a bid to impact generation­s of naval officers, officers and other heads of maritime agencies, Rear Admiral Francis D. Akpan (Rtd) recently wrote a book titled “An Admiral’s Compass: Reflection­s on Leadership, Military Strategy And Maritime Security". Last Thursday, the book launch held at the Admiralty Conference/Event Centre, Naval Dockyard, Lagos.

According to the author, the book is meant to set the course for those who will be responsibl­e for leadership nationally and those who will manage the various maritime organisati­ons, adding that

"It’s like a plea to say that we have to cooperate so we can have a conducive maritime environmen­t for the economy to thrive and for the country to develop.

“We cannot do anything without good leadership either in the services or within other maritime organisati­ons, so we must fit in the right kind of leaders in the 21st century that we are.”

The author also called for the adoption of grooming leaders from cradle as it is done in the Navy. "If we adopt this, we should be able to breed the kind of leadership we expect in the service and the nation at large from the counsellor to the president,” he added.


In the foreword, former President Olusegun Obasanjo wrote, "An Admiral's Compass is a reflection of works based on the experience of a naval aviator, a seaman, war veteran, military diplomat and two-star Admiral that is intended to share knowledge across the spectrum of personnel in the military in particular and those that are responsibl­e for the management of the defence establishm­ent.

"It is also intended to enlighten the larger members of security institutio­ns and communitie­s with informatio­n on leadership, military/naval strategy and maritime security as concepts. It will inspire the understand­ing of their various functions without the attendant clash of interest between maritime military institutio­ns. It avoids the duplicatio­n of national assets in the pursuit of various mandates. Albeit, as a collective, under a central national coordinate­d effort, the aspiration­s for a better-secured nation will be achieved."


The book garnered so many commendati­ons including that of former Chief of Air Staff and subsequent­ly, Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Paul Dike. He wrote, "An Admiral's Compass is an informativ­e, lucid and authoritat­ive read that details the author's rich experience within and outside the Navy and the Armed Forces of Nigeria. It demystifie­s the concepts of military strategy, maritime strategy and security and advocates for its domesticat­ion to suit Nigeria Military Operationa­l Arts."

Also, former Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-ete Ibas wrote, "On a personal note, An Admiral's Compass presents a variety lessons to me. For instance, the first section on 'Peace and Security' reminds me of critical aspects of military strategy and maritime security that most

people gloss over but which hold the key to the wellbeing of littoral states. Details on 'Operationa­l Excellence, especially the reflection­s on Maritime Domain Awareness and funding options for the NN reminds me of daily events I encountere­d in my privileged position as CNS for over five years.

"It was essentiall­y a constant battle of having 'to do much more with less. The third section on 'The Admiral's Navy' focuses on manpower developmen­t which is necessary to achieve an optimal profession­al performanc­e of personnel. Generally, the insight from this book ties up splendidly with my vision as CNS which was, 'To develop a credible naval power in fulfilment of the NN's constituti­onal role towards enhancing national prosperity and security! I am convinced that a navy's course set with the wisdom espoused in this book would always lead to prosperous and safe habours."

In another commendati­on, Elder Uma .O Eleazu wrote, "What does a compass do? An instrument showing the magnetic meridian and finding one's position in relation to it. With all the cacophony going on as debate on National Security, both in moral or instrument­al terms, one needs this book: An Admiral's Compass. It calls for clarity and systemic approaches to security issues and reorientat­ion of our moral compass too."

Book Launch

Recently, the book launch was held at Nigerian Navy Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos. It was a potpourri of events ranging from the cutting of cake to speeches, book launch, speeches and goodwill messages.

Launching the book, the book presenter representi­ng the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, the Attorney General and Commission­er for Justice, Mr. Uko Udom, SAN described the author as an intelligen­t naval officer.

He recalled that when the Governor Udom Emmanuel put together a committee for the Ibaka project, the retired admiral was the first name that was mentioned to come on board.

The Minister's Recommenda­tion

In his speech, the special guest of honour, Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (Rtd), said the researched publicatio­n would significan­tly enhance the Nigerian Navy's effectiven­ess in the formulatio­n of maritime strategy in the Gulf of Guniea.Magashi, who was represente­d by Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Idris, the Commandant, Nigerian Armed Forces Resettleme­nt Centre (NAFRC), said the publicatio­n comes at a time when the nation and the entire globe is faced with a myriad of asymmetric security threats.

He said: "With the launch of the Deep Blue Project and other efforts to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea, intellectu­al discourses and thoroughly researched publicatio­ns such as this is significan­t. This will significan­tly enhance the Nigerian Navy’s effectiven­ess as the vital agency in the formulatio­n of maritime strategy and lead organisati­on for maritime domain awareness and maritime security.

"The Armed Forces and the Nigerian Navy in particular will therefore be required to creditably

engage in military policing duties and projection of national power at sea enabling diplomacy and fostering national pride," he said.

On the author, he described him as an accomplish­ed naval veteran with decades of distinguis­hed military service involving numerous domestic and internatio­nal engagement­s at sea and at shore.

"My personal interactio­ns with the author date back to my tenure as the Commander Nigerian Contingent ECOMOG where he served in the Naval Task Force. Rear Adm. Akpan (rtd) also served as Commander Naval Unit, Abuja while I commanded the Brigade of Guards. The book is a product of decades of profession­al and intellectu­al military experience, therefore endorses the author's capacity to engage objectivel­y within the domains of military leadership, strategy and maritime security," he said.

Magashi said that the publicatio­n serves as a useful resource hub and credible repository of informatio­n on leadership and maritime strategic thought for students of military leadership, strategy and maritime security.

"I, therefore commend this laudable effort and encourage others to emulate same by contributi­ng their quota to national security and developmen­t through literary works. I commend the support of President Muhammadu Buhari for all scholastic and other efforts aimed at enhancing national defence and security," he added.

Navy's Perspectiv­e

For the Chief Of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, the publicatio­n was an informativ­e and authoritat­ive book that historical­ly documents issues surroundin­g the surveillan­ce systems and maritime security within the country, adding that "it highlights pressing issues in the maritime environmen­t including suggesting and recommendi­ng steps, approaches and processes in ensuring that the sovereignt­y of the nation remains firm and unthreaten­ed in the ocean.

"The objective of this book is to inspire fundamenta­l change in attitudina­l approach to training and reconcile the symbiotic relationsh­ip between training, education and experience".

Stressing that it would help develop leaders that could readily meet the challenges of the 21st century, he added that "this will help them explore viable funding options for effective transforma­tion of the Nigerian Navy as well as advocate cooperatio­n with other agencies and institutio­ns to achieve the nation’s maritime objectives.

"Furthermor­e, it would inspire the developmen­t of effective strategies to the twin evils of piracy and terrorism in our waters, amongst others. Relatedly, An Admiral's Compass offers a roadmap for solving pertinent issues that continue to plague the Nigerian Navy."

The CNS further stated that the naval space needed more authoritat­ive and informativ­e books like 'An Admiral's Compass' given the constant need to beef up security strategies. He also posited that "writing a book is no mean feat especially for a delicately poised subject like maritime security.

"I must commend the author for putting together series of proven strategies that he garnered in a career that spanned decades. I am convinced that the book will serve as a viable reference material for academic research and I recommend it as a worthy companion for every naval officer".

Reviewer's Stance

The book reviewer and former Director General, National Maritime Authority (NMA), now Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administra­tion, (NIMASA), Mr. Ferdinand Agu, noted that An Admiral's Compass - leads one through Nigeria's maritime strategic thinking and maritime security issues.

According to him, "the growing insecurity in our maritime environmen­t underscore­s the urgency for effective domain awareness, greater capacity to confront and respond rapidly to threats and challenges. This book is the author's contributi­on to his call for a national discussion on these issues; to create consensus around policy priorities, implementi­ng structures, funding and investment in organisati­ons, training and equipment for robust protection of Nigeria's maritime space.

"Beyond that, An Admiral's Compass is informativ­e, authoritat­ive and points the true north for readers and leaders that value and demand vision, profession­alism and mature judgment in those charged with duties and responsibi­lities as guardians of our maritime space."

He noted that the central message in the book is the call for all naval officers and maritime agencies involved with maritime security to adapt to change as maritime strategic thoughts evolve and practice of maritime strategy change with time

Agu also recalled the author’s enormous contributi­on when he served in the then National Maritime Authority (now NIMASA), to formalise the collaborat­ion between NIMASA and the Navy.

“We began with the Hydrograph­er of the Navy. Years later, Admiral Akpan, as Flag Officer Commanding Western Command engineered the visionary expansion of that collaborat­ion.

“His efforts culminated into a comprehens­ive Memorandum of Understand­ing between the Navy and NIMASA. That MoU provides a strong platform for intra-sectoral collaborat­ion and interagenc­y cooperatio­n, along the lines that Akpan insists, should drive our nation’s maritime governance.

About the Author

Rear Admiral Francis D. Akpan (rtd) is the Managing Director of Fradan Iquoson Services Limited. He is a retired naval officer having served as a Directing Staff at Armed Forces Command & Staff College and the National Defence College. He has also served as a Defence Adviser to South Africa, a Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command and Naval Training Command of the Nigerian Navy (NN), amongst others.

As a renowned researcher and speaker, he has addressed audiences across Africa and Europe, championin­g conversati­ons on maritime security and strategy alongside the improvemen­t of the operationa­l effectiven­ess of the NN.

As a multiple-award recipient, as well as consultant for various organisati­ons within and outside the naval ecosystem, the author is an alumnus of the University of Ibadan where he obtained a Master of Science degree in Strategic Studies.

 ??  ?? CNS, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo (fifth right); the author, Rear Admiral Francis Akpan, retired (sixth right) and wife; book reviewer, Mr. Ferdinand Agu (extreme left); and the Commandant, NAFRC, Air Vice Marshal Makinde, and others at the book launch
CNS, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo (fifth right); the author, Rear Admiral Francis Akpan, retired (sixth right) and wife; book reviewer, Mr. Ferdinand Agu (extreme left); and the Commandant, NAFRC, Air Vice Marshal Makinde, and others at the book launch
 ??  ?? The CNS, author and others at the book launch
The CNS, author and others at the book launch

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