In continuation of its capacity building initiatives to effectively tackle various security challenges confronting the Nation, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has commenced the training of another batch of Special Forces (SF) personnel. The SF Course 5/2019 was inaugurated today, 9 October 2019, at the Regiment Training Centre (RTC) Annex in Bauchi. 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. The choice of Bauchi is to enable the trainees to 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 Chief of the Air Staff (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 airpower in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives. He stated that the building of capacity of NAF SF was borne out of the need to ensure the robust defence of NAF Bases and air assets to enable the Service to 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. According to him, 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 a 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 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.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commandant RTC Annex Bauchi, Wing Commander Kehinde Akinyosade, thanked the CAS for convening the Course and for his tremendous strides in the areas of infrastructural development at the NAF Base Bauchi. He noted further that the Course curriculum entails intensive training in shooting skills, unarmed combat, navigation, field tactics, communications, endurance and swimming, amongst others. These areas, he said, were intended to ensure that only the fittest complete the Course and graduate to join the NAF SF, also known as the “Panthers”. He therefore tasked the trainees to work hard, endure the rigours and present the right attitude in order to successfully graduate from the Course. One of the highlights of the ceremony was the live small arms firing exercise executed by the AOC SOC, Director Regiment Headquarters NAF as well as the Commandant RTC Annex and his SF instructors to mark the commencement of the training.
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).
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