The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is not only decimating the capacity of rogue elements in the country through its constant deployment of air powers so as to deny them freedom of action, but is also emplacing structures across Nigeria, especially in North East zone to crumble the criminal empire of terrorist groups, armed bandits and other emerging rogue elements writes LINUS ALEKE.
The Nigerian Air Force NAF is not only decimating the capacity of rogue elements in the country through its constant deployment of air powers so as to deny them freedom of action, but is also emplacing structures across Nigeria, especially in North East zone to crumble the criminal empire of terrorist groups, armed bandits and other emerging rogue elements.
Plateau state is one of the states where rogue elements are constantly stoking crisis and unrest in the north central zone, while Gombe State is part of the states affected by Boko Haram terrorists’ evil empire in the North East.
It is however, on the premise of the above stated fact that the hierarchy of the Nigerian Air Force in its wisdom and strategy decided to emplace structure that will facilitate the uprooting of the evil industry in that part of the country.
This structure, a source close to the service said is aimed at supplementing the ongoing aerial bombardment of identified terrorist enclaves within the zones.
Recall that on the, 9 September 2020, while commissioning some infrastructure projects for NAF personnel at the 205 Combat Search and Rescue Group (205 CSARG) and the newly established Air Provost Training Centre (APTC), at NAF Base Kerang, Mangu Local Government Area (LGA) of Plateau State, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar revealed that the reason for establishing the 205 CSARG was primarily to further bring security closer to the people of Plateau State.
He noted that this was in keeping with his vision upon assumption of office in 2015 which was to reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of airpower in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
He further disclosed that, after assessing the structure of the Service, at the time it was observed that it was inadequate to properly actualize the vision.
The CAS posited that deliberate steps were taken to expand the organizational structure of the Service with the creation of 2 new Field Commands, the Special Operations Command (SOC) headquartered in Bauchi and the Ground Training Command (GTC) in Enugu, as well as several specialized Units, including those at Owerri in Imo State; Gusau in Zamfara State; Lafia in Nasarawa State; Agatu in Benue State, Gembu in Taraba State and Bauchi in Bauchi State.
Others, he said, included the NAF Detachment in Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State; a Forward Operating Base in Damaturu, Yobe State; Quick Response Wing in Lafia, Nasarawa State as well as the newly established 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group in Gombe, Gombe State and the 205 CSARG Kerang.
The CAS noted that the upgraded structure has positioned the Service to more effectively ensure the security of Nigeria and Nigerians, working in synergy with sister Services and other security agencies.
In his address at the occasion, the Governor of Plateau State, Rt Hon Simon Bako Lalong commended the visionary leadership of the Chief of Air Staff, as well as his outstanding diligence in the discharge of duties, which would surely transform the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to become the best Air Force in Africa.
“We are witnesses to the great attention the CAS has paid to the welfare and training of personnel of the NAF throughout the country. He has also ensured the acquisition of air platforms and other equipment necessary for the operations of the Force,” he said.
Earlier, on 7 September 2020, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) flagged off the construction of infrastructure for a newly established Unit, the 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group (203 CRG), in Gombe State.
Director of Public Relations & Information, Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola in a statement explained that the established Unit is part of its concerted efforts to emplace structures to more effectively deal with the security challenges in the North East and indeed the entire country.
He averred that 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 citizens.
In his remark at the ground breaking ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar said 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 respond to contingencies in the North East.
He posited that the establishment of the Unit would add significant value to the operations of the Service in the fight against insurgency and other security challenges in the country.
Air Marshal Abubakar reiterated that upon assumption of Office in 2015, he expanded the NAF organizational structure from the erstwhile 4 Commands to 6 with the creation of 2 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.
He disclosed that in response to the security imperatives in the North East, 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.
He said: “These new units and expansions, coupled with others 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 fear.
“The establishment of the Base in Gombe is yet another clear testimony of the Federal Government’s commitment to overcoming the security challenges in the North East and indeed the entire country.
“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,” he added.
While, pledging that the NAF would continue to work assiduously for the security and unity of the nation, the CAS thanked the President for his continued support to the Service towards the achievement of its desired Air Power objectives.
Air Marshal Abubakar also specially appreciated the Gombe State Governor for allocating the 230 Hectares of land to the NAF as well as for the support of the Government and good people of the State towards the actualization of the project.
The CAS equally commended the dedication, sacrifices and commitment of NAF personnel while urging them to remain focused and redouble their efforts to ensure that peace is restored to all troubled parts of the country.
The Governor of Gombe State, Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya expressed great delight at the efforts put in place by the Service to fast-track the establishment of a Base in Gombe State on land that was allocated barely a month ago.
He commended the CAS for his excellent record and sterling leadership of the NAF which had resulted in giant strides, while also applauding his prudent management of scarce resources. He said the NAF had been involved in numerous operations to restore security across the country with commendable results.
He expressed optimism that the 203 CRG would surely change the dynamics of combating insurgency in the North East and internal security operations in Gombe State. Governor Yahaya assured that the take-off of the Base would result in job opportunities for the host communities while further boosting the excellent relationship between the NAF and the Gombe people. He further assured that the State Government, on its part, would continue to provide necessary support to ensure the smooth operations of the Unit.
Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) SOC, Air Vice Marshal Charles Ohwo said 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. He appreciated the CAS for his untiring support which had enabled the command to keep pace in tackling the various security challenges within its Areas of Responsibility.
According to him, “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”.
The AOC added that the sitting 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.
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