The Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD), Major General Bashir Salihi Magashi (retired) has commended the leadership of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), led by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for its capacity building initiatives and infrastructural development efforts towards improving the living standards of personnel for enhanced professional performance.
This commendation was made during the combined graduation ceremony of 162 personnel from Special Forces (SF) Course 5/2019 and 46 from the Helicopter Backdoor Gunners (HBDG) Course 5/2019 at the Regiment Training Centre (RTC) Annex in Bauchi State on Friday.
According to him “I believe that the achievements recorded by the NAF are results of your intensive efforts towards repositioning the Service to adequately respond to Nigeria’s security imperatives. I must say that we are proud of you and we urge you not to relent in your efforts.
He also specially applauded the NAF for training 10 Nigeria Police Force (NPF) officers alongside NAF personnel as HBDGs. “This singular act, not only promotes inter-Service cooperation but will go a long way in substantiating the fact that no Service can single-handedly prosecute a war or conduct an operation without the support of the other”.
Speaking further, Major General Magashi, who was the Special Guest of Honour (SGOH) at the occasion, added that the efforts of the NAF in building capacity of personnel, were obviously yielding desired results.
He said this could not have come at a better time as the country was experiencing security challenges that were increasingly requiring the intervention of the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN). “Countering these threats, which are synonymous to asymmetric warfare methods, requires a different approach including the use of Special Operations Forces”.
He therefore commended the NAF’s efforts at rapidly developing special operations capabilities to a strength of over 1,000 SF personnel, deployed in various theatres of operation within the country.
He expressed delight with the display exhibited by the graduating personnel, the HMOD equally lauded the proactive steps taken by the NAF in protecting its helicopters from flank attacks during internal security operations with the training of the HBDGs.
He urged the graduands to use their newly acquired skills to attain the operational objectives of their respective Services in future deployments. He also enjoined them to continue improving their proficiency in their respective areas of expertise as they play their part towards ensuring a safer and more secure Nigeria.
The HMOD stated that the Ministry, on its part, would continue to make concerted efforts to ensure that the AFN is well equipped with modern equipment to effectively carry out its constitutional roles. Earlier in his remarks, the CAS recounted how, upon assumption of office, he realized the capability gap in SF operations which necessitated the expansion of the NAF Regiment Speciality, scaling-up of SF training as well as the establishment of Quick Response Units across Nigeria for rapid response and deployment of air assets during crises.
He noted furthermore that, in its quest to look inwards for the purpose of minimizing the cost of training, the NAF had made efforts to localize the training of SF and HBDG personnel using its own personnel. He said this was achieved through collaboration with the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) and an Israeli Firm, the Four Troops Company, for initial in-country training of SF personnel as well as the eventual training of SF instructors.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted that, so far, the NAF had trained a total of 3,143 personnel on Force Protection in Complex Air-to-Ground Environment (FPCAGE) and 778 SF personnel, in-country. Out of these numbers, he explained that a total of 330 SF and 950 FPCAGE personnel were trained solely by the NAF’s SF Instructors.
These efforts, he said, were in line with one of the key drivers of his Vision, which focusses on “robust and result oriented training for enhanced professional performance”. The CAS stated furthermore that, in order to reduce the pressure on training facilities at the RTC Main Campus in Kaduna, the Service decided to create an RTC Annex at Bauchi.
He said the objective is to ensure that personnel train in a realistic North-East environment which is currently the hot bed of security challenges.
Speaking further, the CAS noted that the NAF has once again demonstrated the importance of synergy in training, with the involvement of 10 personnel of the NPF on the course. “It is believed that other sister security agencies would key in to this arrangement in the future.
He pledged the unwavering dedication of the Service towards ensuring the security of Nigeria and Nigerians, Air Marshal Abubakar seized the opportunity to thank the President.