June 19, 2024

Russian-Ukraine war, Middle-East crisis affecting our operations against insurgents – CAS

Chief of Air Staff, Hassan Bala Abubakar

**Withdrawal of 2000 Chadian, Niger Troops from MNJTF and UN Troops from Mali, causing influx of Weapons, Terrorists into Nigeria

By: Kingsley Omonobi – 

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Hasan Bala Abubakar has expressed concern over the negative impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the war between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East saying it has constrained the procurement of needed spares for its fighter aircraft to combat insecurity

“Additionally, the withdrawals of UN troops from MINUSMA, 2000 Chadian troops from Mali as well as Niger Republic troops from the Multi-National Joint Task Force could aggravate the security challenges in the Sahel Region, causing the influx of more weapons and terrorists into Nigeria”. 

The Air Chief stated this during a meeting he summoned with branch chiefs, Air Officers Commanding, Commanders and Commandants of Training Institutions on the occasion of his one year in office, noting also that the expansionist influence of USA, China and Russia in Africa is also making African economies vulnerable.

He said, “The Russian-Ukraine war created a significant economic disruption that negatively affected world food prices and led to higher costs of living, especially in vulnerable economies such as Nigeria. 

“These dire economic situations fuel insecurity. 

“For the Nigerian Air Force, the Russia-Ukraine War has constrained our sourcing of aircraft spares and maintenance of the Mi-series helicopters that are crucial in our counter-terrorism/counter-insurgency operations.  

“Furthermore, examining the Hamas attacks against Israel on 7 Oct 23 and the sporadic attacks by the Houthi rebels on shipping lines through the Red Sea show the devastating impact of non-state actors’ access to emerging technologies such as autonomous drones, satellite communications and Artificial intelligence. 

“We should thus be concerned that the actions of these non-state actors would be copied and replicated by other insurgents and terrorists in Nigeria.  

“There is also the impact of great power competition. The  USA, China and Russia, have been actively involved in Africa seeking to expand their spheres of influence and secure strategic interests.

 “Looking at the security impacts, Russia has expanded its influence beyond its near abroad through military interventions and the deployment of private military contractors in the Central African Republic, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali and recently Niger.

 “As Nigeria faces security challenges, the USA has provided support for the acquisition of aircraft and associated munitions for counterterrorism operations. 

“Likewise, the Nigerian Air Force has acquired aircraft and munitions from China and Russia and continues to engage in military cooperation. Consequently, balancing these relationships is crucial for Nigeria’s security interests.

“Looking at the West African sub-region, the upsurge in coup detat and the withdrawal of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have negative impacts on our collective regional security architecture. 

“Citing the failure of ECOWAS to address jihadist violence in their countries, the military junta have turned to Russia for security assistance. 

“All these threats have global and regional perspectives and attendant impacts on Nigeria’s national security. Hence the implications of the broader strategic external security outlook must never be overlooked.  

“Invariably, this situation militates against our counterinsurgency efforts. Consequently, we would likely witness a continued growth in the pattern of threats I have previously highlighted.

“Hence, it is no gainsaying that we must be proactive and intensify our efforts to meet the Federal Government and Nigerian citizens’ expectations for an expeditious actualization of a peaceful, safe and secure nation for prosperity to thrive. 

“One year ago, I reiterated that the Nigerian Air Force alongside sister services remained committed to reinvigorating our fight against terrorism, insurgency, banditry and other security threats facing our dear Nation. 

Continuing, the CAS said, “In the past 12 months, to enhance our gains against these  threats of terrorism, insurgency, banditry and other criminal activities,  we have re-strategized  and  adopted new air power measures in line with my command philosophy: To transform the Nigerian Air Force into an agile and resilient force that effectively meets the airpower demands of national security in all operational environments.”

“The NAF, so far has achieved modest but significant progress in fighting insurgency, terrorism, banditry, oil theft and other criminal activities in the country. Therefore,  I wish to use this opportunity to commend you all for your efforts. I also sincerely thank you for your support over the last 12 months, since my assumption of office.

“Yet,  there is so much more to do. The harsh economic realities: high rate of youth unemployment, increasing inflation and high multi-dimensional poverty have further aggravated the security situation in the country.

“Therefore, it is crucial that we have this leadership meeting, to holistically review our performances and actions in the past 12 months in transforming the Nigerian Air Force to effectively meet the air power demands of Nigeria’s security. 

“Accordingly, the purpose of this meeting is to look back at our set objectives in line with my Command philosophy and key enablers, discuss our performance and achievements as well as the militating challenges. This meeting will also allow us to directly interact and exchange ideas towards achieving more in the coming year, going forward.”