Trains over 4,000 in 4 years.
By Kingsley Omonobi
Following emerging and more sophisticated security challenges confronting the nation, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the training of another batch of Special Forces (SF) personnel to boost internal security operations.
Consequently, the Special Forces Course 5/2019 was inaugurated on Wednesday, 9 October 2019, at the Regiment Training Centre (RTC) Annex in Bauchi.
A statement by Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, Director, NAF Public Relations and Information said, “The Course, which is the seventh of such training programmes by the current NAF administration, is the first to be conducted at the newly established RTC Annex in Bauchi.
He said, “The choice of Bauchi is to enable the trainees acclimatize to the arid conditions prevalent in the North East, as well as decongest the RTC’s main training facility in Kaduna”.
Inaugurating the Course, the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command (AOC GTC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Idi Amin, stated that the training programme was yet another glowing demonstration of the realization of the CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar’s, vision of repositioning the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
He stated that the building of capacity of NAF Special Forces was borne out of the need to ensure the robust defence of NAF Bases and air assets to enable the Service continue to project air power effectively, thereby bridging the gap between Air Power projection and force protection.
“The robust capacity built has also enabled the Service to more effectively contribute to the protection of critical national assets, like our Airports, as well as provide support to sister Services and other security agencies in internal security operations across the Country”, he added.
The AOC GTC stated further that SF capabilities hold great importance to military operations worldwide adding that, the SF are highly trained and motivated forces who possess an array of skills and are capable of operating in all types of terrain and weather conditions in order to achieve favourable resolution of security threats.
He noted that the CAS has made the development of SF capability a priority to ensure that the NAF Quick Response Groups (QRGs) and Wings (QRWs) as well as Forward Operating Bases at Gusau in Zamafara State, Agatu in Benue State, Brinin Gwari in Kaduna State, Ipetu-Ijesha in Osun State and Gembu in Taraba State, amongst others, are properly manned.
These units, he said have continued to contribute significantly to security efforts at the various locations, working in synergy with personnel of other security agencies, to ensure the protection of lives and properties of Nigerians.
AVM Idi Amin emphasized that the need to further expand the NAF’s capacity to train more Regiment and SF personnel as well as reduce the strain on facilities at the RTC, Kaduna, had informed the establishment of the RTC Annex in Bauchi.
He further disclosed that an Annex had also been established at Ipetu-Ijesha in Osun State, which would commence training activities in the First Quarter of 2020, while another Annex would soon be established in Owerri, Imo State.
He highlighted that, apart from conducting the normal Regiment and SF courses, the Annexes would also conduct specialized terrain training for desert warfare, jungle warfare and amphibious operations.
While congratulating the 200 trainees for scaling through the rigorous screening and selection process that qualified them to attend the course, the AOC GTC charged them to be prepared to put in their best and draw on every ounce of determination and resilience in them to excel.
He equally lauded the CAS for his exceptional sense of purpose and dedication to capacity building and unflinching support towards providing highly skilled and professional manpower to meet the NAF’s operational requirements.
Recall that under the current NAF leadership, the Regiment/SF specialty has witnessed tremendous boost in capacity with increased manpower as well as robust training and provision of modern equipment.
Since 2015, the number of SF personnel has more than tripled to a 1,000-strong well-trained, well-kitted and well-motivated force capable of conducting specialized operations, either independently or in concert with other Services.
The overall strength of NAF Regiment personnel has also been increased from less than 1,000 as at 2015 to over 4,000, with about 2,500 of them trained in Force Protection in Complex Air Ground Environment (FPCAGE) by the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT).