The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated another batch of Special Forces (SF) and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) personnel in furtherance of its aggressive capacity building efforts to tackle various internal security challenges in the Country, also inspection of a 20-bed Isolation Ward at the 261 NAF Reference Hospital as well as the commissioning of an Olympic Size Swimming Pool for training of Regiment/SF personnel.
The combined graduation ceremony, which took place on Friday, 15 May 2020, at the Regiment Training Centre (RTC) Annex in Bauchi comprised 94 trainees of the SF Course 6/2020 and 32 trainees of CSAR Course 2/2020. The graduating SF Course is the eighth set to be trained by the NAF as SF in the last 5 years, having conducted 5 SF Courses and 2 SF Instructors’ Courses while the graduating CSAR Course is the second batch, following the graduation of the first set in December 2018.
The day’s activities also featured the inspection of a 20-bed Isolation Ward at the 261 NAF Reference Hospital as well as the commissioning of an Olympic Size Swimming Pool for training of Regiment/SF personnel. The Isolation Ward would ensure that the Hospital is equipped to face the contemporary challenges of medical practice in today’s world, especially in response to emerging infectious disease threats like COVID-19, while the Pool was constructed to ensure that SF trainees receive robust, well-rounded training, including watermanship skills, to enable them operate effectively in marine and riverine terrains. Speaking at the Graduation Ceremony, the Special Guest of Honour, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, noted that the SF and CSAR personnel were graduating at a time when the Nation was in dire need of their skills to add impetus to operations being conducted to restore normalcy in restive parts of the Country.
He urged them to imbibe the attributes of honesty, courage, perseverance and adaptability as they would be required to operate in hostile environments to ensure that the NAF achieved its objectives. He also charged them to endeavour to justify the huge investment in their training by ensuring greater commitment to the security of Nigeria and Nigerians. Air Marshal Abubakar stated that the capability gap in SF and CSAR operations informed the decision to establish the Special Operations Command (SOC) in Bauchi along with its complement of Quick Response Groups and Wings in Gusau, Owerri, Ipetu-Ijesha, Katsina, Birnin-Gwari, Agatu, Nguoroje and Doma as well as the CSAR Group in Kerang, Plateau State.
The NAF, he remarked, has subsequently trained over 1,060 personnel both overseas and locally in its bid to generate SF and CSAR teams to man the established units. The consideration to train CSAR operatives locally, the CAS revealed, was as a result of insufficient training slots and high cost of overseas training. He further disclosed that the Directorate of Regiment was therefore tasked to develop a local training curriculum with the objective of ensuring that the NAF had personnel capable of rescuing downed aircrew in all terrains and weather conditions anywhere in Nigeria.
“I am happy to note that our SF personnel have performed commendably well when deployed for operations in conjunction with other security agencies in various areas of operation, thus, returning sanctity to distressed areas in the North West, North East and North Central. This shows that enhancing the capacity and capability of our personnel is the best way of ensuring the attainment of our operational goals”, the CAS said.