In a renewed onslaught against Boko Haram Terrorists, the Nigerian Air Force launched Operations Long Reach I and II aimed at decimating the terrorists’ hideouts bringing them to their knees, TARKAA DAVID writes.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) after a critical deliberation embarked on Operation LONG REACH to totally destroy major identified terrorist enclaves and force them out of the country’s territory.
The operation which began on 16 June, 2020 has recorded tremendous successes against the terrorists and other criminals in the Northeast.
On 16 June, 2020 the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE commenced operation Long Reach and destroyed a compound housing some High-Value Boko Haram Terrorist (BHT) leaders and neutralised some of their fighters at Garin Maloma on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State.
The massive airstrikes were executed to mark the launch of Operation LONG REACH, a new subsidiary operation in the theatre targeting major identified terrorist locations.
Military authorities in a statement said the attack at Garin Maloma, a major node in the BHT’s line of communication in the Sambisa Forest axis, was carried out following credible intelligence reports as well as days of surveillance missions indicating that the terrorists had begun using one of the compounds in the settlement for accommodation and training of their fighters.
“The ATF dispatched an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft and fighter jets to attack the location. Overhead the target area, many BHT fighters were observed in the vicinity of the settlement, with a few around the solar panel-mounted, High-Value Target (HVT) locations. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets engaged the location in successive waves of attacks leading to significant damage to numerous structures as well as the killing of several terrorists.
“Some terrorists, who survived the first few waves and converged around the rubble near the damaged HVT compound, were taken out in subsequent follow-on attacks,” military authorities said.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was in Maiduguri to flag-off Operation LONG REACH commended the Air Task Force and directed them to intensify the air offensive against the terrorists and all other enemies of the state.
On 17 June, 2020 the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in continuation of Operation LONG REACH destroyed BHTs’ Tactical Command Centre and neutralised some of their fighters at Yuwe in the Sambisa Forest area of Borno State.
The operation was executed after series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions observed significant presence of BHTs in the settlement and also established that a prominent compound with solar panel-mounted rooftop and a large tree in the middle with a nearby flag-mounted sentry post was being used by the BHTs to coordinate their operations in the area.
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets dispatched by the ATF to take out the Command Centre took turns in attacking the location scoring accurate hits, leading to the destruction of the Centre and surrounding structures as well as the neutralisation of several fighters.
The ATF in continuation of the subsidiary Operation LONG REACH between 18 and 19 June 2020 obliterated Boko Haram Terrorist facilities and killed many fighters at Bula Bello and Ngoske on the fringes of Sambisa forests in Borno state.
The air interdiction missions were executed following credible intelligence reports indicating that the terrorists had resumed use of the closely linked settlements as staging points to launch attacks against friendly forces’ locations and surrounding civilian settlements.
The Air Task Force, therefore, dispatched a force package of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets as well as an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to engage the two locations.
“The NAF jets scored devastating hits in their multiple waves of attacks resulting in the obliteration of designated portions of the terrorists’ hideouts as well as the neutralisation of several of their fighters.
Furthermore, on 25 June, 2020, the ATF destroyed a Boko Haram Terrorists’ (BHTs) logistics base and neutralised scores of their fighters in another set of successful air interdiction missions executed under the subsidiary Operation LONG REACH.
The airstrikes took out the terrorist facilities at Tongule and Bukar Meram in Borno state after a series of surveillance missions indicated a resurgence of terrorists’ activities at the two settlements.
The Air Task Force in its usual manner dispatched NAF fighter jets to engage the two locations.
It was reported earlier that at Tongule, about 35 terrorists were spotted by the NAF surveillance aircraft in different parts of the settlement as it vectored the fighter jets to attack the target area.
The munitions from the jets hit designated areas within the settlement, destroying some structures and taking out many of the terrorists.
Similarly, at Bukar Meram, a BHT logistics hub on the fringes of Lake Chad, the airstrikes, which were carefully timed and executed in multiple waves for maximum effects, resulted in the obliteration of designated portions of the terrorists’ facilities. Several BHTs fighters were also killed in the process.
The Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE on 27 June, 2020 dealt another decisive blow on Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in the North East of Nigeria with the destruction of several of their structures and neutralisation of their fighters at Warshale in the Northern part of Borno State.
This was achieved through airstrikes executed after credible intelligence reports as well as days of aerial surveillance missions established that the settlement was being used as a staging area to launch attacks against friendly forces’ locations and surrounding civilian settlements.
Accordingly, the Air Task Force dispatched a force package of Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets as well as an Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft to engage the location.
The NAF jets scored devastating hits in their multiple waves of attacks resulting in the destruction of several structures in the settlement as well as the killing of some of the terrorists.
Following the successes recorded in the first phase, the NAF launched operation Long Reach II in July, 2020.
The air mission which was executed on 2 July 2020 to mark launch of the Operation Long Reach II destroyed a Boko Haram Terrorist meeting venue at Mainyakare on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest.
The air interdiction mission was executed after a series of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions had established that a prominent building in the middle of the settlement was being used as a meeting venue, where the terrorists plan and launch attacks as well as house some of their fighters.
The ATF, therefore, dispatched some Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets to attack the location.
The first jet in the first wave of the attack recorded a precision bomb strike on the designated target, destroying it while other compounds, which were also designated for destruction, were taken out by subsequent passes of the NAF fighter jets.
The maiden mission also led to the neutralisation of many of the BHTs.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was in Maiduguri to personally oversee the conduct of Operation LONG REACH II, commended the ATF for their dedication, dexterity and professionalism.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was in Maiduguri to see the progress of the operation on 3 July 2020, hosted the Senator representing Borno South, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, at the Headquarters, Air Task Force (HQ ATF), Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Maiduguri.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola in a statement said the Senator was at the HQ ATF to identify with the NAF on the successes recorded in recent subsidiary air interdiction operations targeting terrorists’ locations in the North East, particularly Operation LONG REACH I, which was conducted from 16 – 27 June 2020, and the ongoing Operation LONG REACH II, which commenced on 2 July, 2020.
The Senator, who was conducted on a tour of some operational facilities at the HQ ATF, used the occasion to appreciate the Nigerian Air Force’s (NAF’s) efforts at launching such massive air campaigns that have further degraded the capacity of the insurgents in North East, whilst also sustaining the onslaught against armed bandits in the North West of the country.
As the battle waged further, the ATF on 3 July 2020 destabilised the terrorist leadership structure with the destruction of logistics supplies and the neutralisation of several fighters in airstrikes executed at Mina along the Gulumba Gana-Kumshe Axis in the Northern part of Borno State.
The feat which further curtailed the terrorist freedom of action was achieved on 3 July 2020 as part of missions executed under the subsidiary Operation LONG REACH II.
The airstrikes were carried out sequel to Human Intelligence reports indicating that the BHT location had been reinforced with fighters and logistics supplies to provide resistance against nearby friendly ground troops’ positions.
Confirmatory surveillance missions also observed significant numbers of terrorists in the settlement.
According to the military, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets detailed by the ATF to engage the location scored accurate hits in their bombing runs, neutralising some of the BHTs and destroying some of their structures, including one of the terrorists’ logistics’ huts which were seen engulfed in flames.
Some of the fighters who escaped the bomb attacks were mopped as the jets strafed their hiding positions.
The Air Task Force in continuation of the Operation LONG REACH II, on 3 July, 2020 destroyed the dwellings of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) leaders and neutralised some of their fighters in separate airstrikes conducted at Parisu and Bula Bello in the Sambisa Forest Area of Borno State.
The air interdiction missions were executed after intelligence reports indicated a resurgence of terrorist activities in the two settlements.
The official statement by the military said Parisu, with its booby-trapped access routes, fortified checkpoints and structures camouflaged under the forest vegetation, served as a stronghold for the BHT Commanders, while recent aerial surveillance missions showed increased activities of the terrorists in a cluster of structures in the middle of Bula Bello.
“Consequently, the Air Task Force dispatched its fighter jets to attack the 2 locations. The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) jets, while taking turns to engage the targets, scored accurate bomb and rocket strikes, resulting in the destruction of some of the structures as well as the killing of several terrorists,” it said.
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who spent time in Maiduguri to supervise the Operation Long Reach I and II missions commended the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE (OPLD) for the successes recorded in its renewed offensive against Boko Haram Terrorists (BHT)/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) elements in the North East of the country.
The CAS gave the commendation on 4 July 2020, while addressing personnel of the ATF at the end of his 3-day operational visit to Maiduguri to assess the conduct of the Counter-Insurgency Operation.
Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar, while conveying the appreciation of the entire NAF family to the ATF for its relentless efforts in the fight against insurgency, remarked that Operations LONG REACH I and II had been very fruitful in further destabilising the BHTs’ new leadership and curtailing their freedom of action within the Theatre.
The Air Chief while expressing appreciation to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, as well as the National Assembly for their support to the NAF towards meeting its airpower goals also thanked the Governments and people of the frontline states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa for their continued support to the service.
It would be recalled that the ATF of Operation LAFIYA DOLE conducted subsidiary Operation LONG REACH I from 16 – 27 June 2020 and commenced the currently ongoing Operation LONG REACH II on 2 July, 2020.