The Nigerian Air Force strategy of deploying assets closer to the areas of threat, has constantly paid off in boosting operations, TARKAA DAVID writes.
The deplorable security situation in the country has necessitated the deployment of the military to support the police to ward off criminal elements. The Nigerian Air Force has been making efforts to bring security closer to the people with the establishment of Specialised units in various States to boost its response efficiency. The presence of the military around communities has a confidence-building effect with the show of force.
Since 2015, the Nigerian Air Force under the leadership of the current Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has been transforming and reorganising with the creation of special units in different parts of the country.
On 1 September, 2020 the Service commenced the construction of an aircraft maintenance hangar at the Special Operations Command (SOC), Bauchi.
The director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed that the hangar which sits on a plot of land donated by the Bauchi State Government straddling the NAF Base and the Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport (ATBIA) Bauchi, when completed, would not only serve the NAF and the aviation industry nationwide but would also drastically reduce the timeframe for turnaround maintenance of NAF platforms, thereby improving the effectiveness and efficiency of Air Power employment in the fight against insurgency.
The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, also noted that the hangar would significantly add value to the NAF’s operations in the North East, North West and indeed the entire Country.
He added that the emplacement of the hangar would also ensure that the NAF engineers, technicians, aircraft and other equipment that were to be deployed to Bauchi would be protected from the vagaries of weather and thus operate in a conducive environment.
“By its strategic location, Bauchi provides our aircraft with the reach required to adequately respond and provide support to our troops fighting against insurgency/terrorism in the North East, banditry in the North West as well as other security challenges in North Central.
“I am optimistic that the construction of the aircraft maintenance hangar will add significant value to efforts at tackling the current and emerging security challenges in our Nation. This is because downtime for aircraft maintenance will not only be greatly reduced but precious flying time used to ferry aircraft to bases in the South will be preserved”, he said.
The CAS noted that the establishment of the Command, as well as the Helicopter Overhaul Centre and Special Operation Forces Training in Bauchi, were clear testimonies of the federal government’s commitment to ending insecurity in the North East and indeed the entire country.
He added that the new facility would ensure a quick turnaround time for NAF aircraft to allow more hours for operations against terrorists as well as in support of other Government efforts at providing security.
The governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, while commending the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for his exemplary, result-oriented leadership of the NAF, acknowledged the supreme sacrifice of Service personnel, not only in ensuring the unified existence of the Country but also in preserving the Country’s nurtured democracy.
“The success as well as the performance of the NAF is determined by how well its aircraft are maintained and sheltered. Therefore, it is indeed a good opportunity to be part of this epoch-making event as this aircraft maintenance hangar would serve as a storehouse and maintenance shelter for the precious platforms of the NAF and other aircraft that could be maintained at the hangar,” he said.
The governor further noted that Bauchi State would benefit both during and on completion of the project through employment opportunities for members of host communities and therefore thanked the Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, and members of the National Assembly for appropriating and approving funds for the building of the aircraft hangar in Bauchi.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated his commitment to continually support ongoing operations against Boko Haram, banditry and other forms of criminality in the country and to equip the military adequately to completely end insurgency and overcome all other threats to Nigeria’s national security. The approval for the construction of this hangar is a testament of his promise”, he said.
As part of efforts to emplace structures to more effectively deal with the security challenges in the Northeast and indeed the entire country, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on 7 September 2020 also flagged off the construction of infrastructure for a newly established Unit, the 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group (203 CRG), in Gombe State.
The new Unit, which would serve as the Base for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and other air assets, is expected to bring new capabilities to the spectrum of the NAF’s operations thereby further enhancing the ability of the Service to contain threats to the Nation and its citizenry.
Air Marshal Abubakar, stated that the newly-established Base which sits on 230 hectares of land donated by the Gombe State Government, is strategically located to enable the NAF more effectively to respond to contingencies in the Northeast.
The CAS stated further that, in line with his Vision for the Service upon assumption of Office in 2015, the NAF organisational structure had been expanded from the erstwhile four Commands to six with the creation of two new Field Commands, one of which is the Special Operations Command (SOC) headquartered in Bauchi, as well as several new units including some Quick Response Groups and Quick Response Wings, to bring security closer to the people of Nigeria.
These new units, he said, included those located at Gembu in Taraba State; Gusau in Zamfara State; Owerri in Imo State; Agatu in Benue State, Kerang in Plateau State; Ipetu Ijesha in Osun State; Lafia in Nasarawa State as well as Birnin Gwari in Kaduna State, amongst others.
Air Marshal Abubakar also noted that, in response to the security imperatives in the North East of the country, the NAF had particularly expanded its facilities at the Headquarters of the Air Task Force of Operation LAFIYA DOLE in Maiduguri, Borno State as well as at the NAF Base in Yola, Adamawa State, while a Unit had been established in Damaturu, Yobe State.
“These new units and expansions, coupled with other projects carried out across the Country, have undoubtedly enhanced the capacity of the NAF to ensure that Nigeria is secured and our citizens are able to pursue their legitimate aspirations without
Speaking further, the CAS noted “The Commander, as well as the first set of personnel to man the Unit, are already posted to Gombe and, in the days and weeks ahead, they will work with the State Government to ensure that the Group is ready to commence active operations in the shortest possible time”.
The governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, while commending the CAS for his excellent record and sterling leadership of the NAF which had resulted in giant strides, expressed great delight at the efforts put in place by the Service to fast-track the establishment of a Base in Gombe State on the land that was allocated barely a month ago.
The governor also applauded the quality of Air Marshal Abubakar’s leadership of the NAF as portrayed in the prudent management of scarce resources. He noted that the NAF had been involved in numerous operations to restore security across the Country with commendable results. He added that the 203 CRG would surely change the dynamics of combating insurgency in the North East and internal security operations in Gombe State.
Meanwhile, the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command (AOC SOC), Air Vice Marshal Charles Ohwo stated that the proposed aircraft maintenance hangar would undoubtedly improve security response time in the Zone.
This, he said, was because some maintenance activities, which are currently being carried out at NAF facilities in Kaduna, Port-Harcourt, Lagos and Enugu would, upon completion of the project, be carried out in Bauchi.
He noted that this would save vital time required to ferry aircraft to these locations and ultimately improve response time in the various theatres of conflict. He highlighted that the project would also serve as an avenue for collaboration between the NAF and various higher institutions in Bauchi in the area of technology exchange and capacity building thereby positively impacting the host community.
The Air Officer Commanding (AOC) SOC also noted that the 203 CRG Gombe would further enhance the NAF’s ability to meet the demands of the changing security environment while covering some of the capacity gaps in its counter insurgency and anti-banditry operations.
“The actualisation of this Group would ensure that adequate situational awareness is maintained across the various theatres, thereby enhancing our air operations in the fight against insecurity for the overall well-being of the citizens,” he said.
The AOC added that the siting of the Group in Gombe would also add to the maintenance of internal security posture in the State, in collaboration with other security agencies, whilst also impacting positively on the host community, through various civil-military relations activities.
It is expected that these steps, coupled with other strategies, will help to bring insecurity to an end and restore the much desired lasting peace for the progress and prosperity of the nation.