By Augustine Ehikioya
Glad with the activities of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), the Minister of Defence, Dr Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, has praised the formidability of air power projected by NAF in the ongoing operations in the country.
According to him, NAF has been a decisive and indispensable aspect of the physical component of combat power critical to the preservation of Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
The Minister made the remarks on Tuesday, 19 September, 2023, as the Special Guest of Honour at the graduation ceremony of Air War College (AWC) Course 9/2023 held in Makurdi, Benue State.
Dr. Badaru, according to a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore, Edward Gabkwet, and made available to Security Watch Africa (SWA), was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa.
The statement said that “Dr Badaru also noted that over the years, the NAF has continued to attract tremendous goodwill and credibility to the nation through the provision of airlift and humanitarian support for the United Nation, African Union, and friendly African countries.
“The Minister further noted that NAF’s premium on operational art, critical thinking and other pragmatic frameworks for military decision-making processes in the curriculum of the AWC would, no doubt, enhance the culture of proactiveness in operational planning and management in the NAF.
“This, he said, is indispensable to ensuring national security which is pivotal to the socio-economic development of the nation.
“He then went on to praise the efforts of NAF personnel whom, he said, have continued to contribute immensely to the successes of ongoing joint operations.
According to him, “I must also place on record that the NAF has been playing significant and crucial roles in the ongoing counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations where its officers and airmen have performed gallantly.”
Also speaking at the Ceremony, the Executive Governor of Benue State, Reverend Father (Dr) Hyacinth Alia, commended the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) for their efforts towards peace restoration in Nigeria.
He also expressed his appreciation to the NAF for their efforts at sustaining and maintaining peace and security in Benue State.
According to Governor Alia,”The presence of the NAF in Makurdi gives the people of Benue State a sense of security and an assurance of their safety.”
In his remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, stated that the graduation of another set of participants of the Air War College was a major stride in human capacity development in the Service, which is critical to the fulfilment of NAF’s constitutional mandate.
Air Marshal Abubakar also noted that the NAF would be inducting additional platforms before the end of the year to boost training, air power employment and projection.
These platforms, according to him, include 2 x Agusta 109 Trekker Multi-role helicopters, 2 x Beechcraft King Air 360, 3 x Diamond DA-62 surveillance aircraft and 6 x T-129 ATAK helicopters.
Other pending acquisitions include 2 x CASA 295 medium airlift/surveillance aircraft, 12 x AH-1Z attack helicopters and 24 x M-346 attack aircraft.
These acquisitions, according to the CAS, demonstrate Government’s deep commitment to equipping the NAF for the safe conduct of training and agile airpower employment to meet the nation’s security challenges.
He then praised the unwavering support of the Federal Government under the amiable leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in equipment procurement and training, which has enabled the NAF to maintain consistency in conducting operations to curtail contemporary threats.
The CAS also echoed the importance institutions like the AWC play in enhancing jointness and synergy in ongoing operations.
According to him, “Institutions like the AWC and other Services War Colleges must continue to produce officers whose understanding and beliefs in joint operations would guide the AFN towards efficient use of available military resources.”
He then stated that the successes so far recorded in ongoing joint operations signified the benefits and necessity of joint force employment in contemporary military operations.
To optimize combat strength of joint forces in operations, he added, the Defence and Services Headquarters must continue working to eradicate all impediments to jointness by the armed forces.
Speaking further, the CAS noted that the AWC has, since inception, been consistent in fulfilling its mandate of developing the capacity of middle cadre officers in the AFN in leadership and effective employment of air power.
He also stated that the emphasis placed by the College on critical thinking and its application to operational planning as well as net assessment and future studies have greatly enhanced the quality of the course content, while attracting wider patronage from other services and friendly nations.
Earlier, the Commandant of the College, Air Vice Marshal Abayomi Kehinde, informed guests that the College Course curriculum as well as those of the Army and Naval War Colleges were harmonized by the Defence Headquarters some years back to promote jointness.
Since the harmonization of the curriculums, he continued, participants from the 3 War Colleges annually converge in Abuja to conduct a joint operational planning exercise nicknamed EXERCISE SKYLOCK, aimed at promoting inter-service synergy and collaboration as well as interoperability at the operational level within the AFN.
He then expressed optimism that the knowledge gained by the participants from their exposure to joint operations planning and execution would no doubt broaden their knowledge as well as strengthen their understanding of unified and multi-agency approaches to the conduct of warfare as well as crisis management and resolution.
Amongst the 15 graduands is a Cameroonian officer, 2 Nigerian Army Officers and 2 Naval Officers, which is a clear testament that the College is indeed a Tri-Service institution as well as a multi-national institution.