The Nigerian Airforce has so far trained a total of 3,143 personnel comprising 110 officers & 3,033 airmen on Force Protection in Complex Air-to-Ground Environment (FPCAGE) and 778 Special Operations Force (SOF) personnel made up of 40 officers & 738 airmen.
Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar who made the disclosure at the graduation of NAF Special Forces and Helicopter Backdoor Gunners in Bauchi noted that out of these numbers, NAF own SOF Instructors have trained a total of 330 SOF and 950 FPCAGE personnel.
In his address at the address, he said, “The use of Special Forces by air forces dates back to the First World War when the Royal Naval Air Service used armoured cars to rescue downed aircrew.
Since then, air forces around the world have used specially trained ground forces to enhance airpower projection for aircrew while enhancing the safe conduct of air operations.
Similarly, the use of helicopter backdoor gunners started during the Vietnam War when the United States Army began large scale deployment of helicopters in combat role.
In modern times, these gunners provide stand-off security for the vulnerable flanks of helicopters.
On my assumption of office and realising our capability gap in Special Forces operations, the Nigerian Air Force through a deliberate policy of force protection, expanded the Regiment Speciality and began to build capacity in Special Forces training.
We went further to establish Quick Response Units across Nigeria for rapid response and deployment of air assets during crises. I am satisfied that the graduation we are witnessing today is the result of that policy.
In our quest to look inwards for the purpose of minimising the cost of training, we have made efforts to localise the training of the Special Forces and backdoor gunners using own personnel.
Accordingly, we embarked on in-country Special Forces training in collaboration with the British Military Assistant Training Team and Four Troop Israeli company.
So far, the NAF has trained a total of 3,143 personnel (110 offrs & 3,033 airmen) on Force Protection in Complex Air-to-Ground Environment (FPCAGE) and 778 Special Operations Force (SOF) personnel (40 offrs & 738 airmen).
Out of these numbers, NAF own SOF Instructors have trained a total of 330 SOF and 950 FPCAGE personnel.
These efforts are in line with one of the key drivers of the NAF Vision which is robust and result oriented training for enhanced professional performance.
Also, in order to reduce the pressure on training facilities at RTC and other amenities at NAF Base Kaduna, we decided to create an RTC Annex at Bauchi for training of Special Forces.
The objective is to ensure that personnel train in a realistic North-East environment which is currently the hot bed of our security challenges.
I am happy to observe that our Special Forces personnel and the backdoor gunners have performed commendably when deployed for operations in conjunction with other security agencies.
Thus, I am fulfilled that our efforts at enhancing the capacity of our personnel are achieving the desired results.
I must also note that we have once again demonstrated the importance of synergy in training with the involvement of 10 personnel of the Nigeria Police Force on this course.
It is believed that other sister security agencies would key in to this arrangement in the future.
Let me commend the AOC Ground Training Command, Commander of Regiment Training Centre and their team of instructors that have worked tirelessly to mould these personnel into Special Forces operatives and helicopter backdoor gunners.
I encourage you to continue with the excellent work and we will continue to provide adequate support within available resources.
We will continue to expand the training facilities while I implore you to be innovative and also keep abreast of modern training techniques in line with global best practices.
Let me also seize this opportunity to thank the Executive Governor of Bauchi State and indeed, the entire people of Bauchi being the host community for the support you have continued to render to the Nigerian Air Force in ensuring the successful training of these graduands.
The Nigerian Air Force will continue to partner with the State Government in securing lives and property as well as creating a conducive environment for socio-economic activities in the State and indeed, every part of Nigeria.
Special appreciation also goes to the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari for his untiring support for the Nigerian Air Force.
The commitment displayed by the current administration towards increasing the airpower capabilities of the NAF through acquisition of platforms is being paid back by personnel with enhanced professionalism on our part.
In his welcome address, Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin said, “It is an honour and privilege for me to welcome you all to Commando Village NAF Base Shooting Range Bauchi, venue of the combined graduation ceremony of the NAF Special Forces Course 5/2019 and Helicopter Backdoor Gunners Course 5/2019.
” I want to particularly welcome the Honourable Minister of Defence who is also the Guest of Honour for gracing this event. In the same vein, I want to welcome His Excellency the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Mohammed, members of the National and State Assemblies, Service Chiefs and the Inspector General of Police for being with us today.
“Let me also express our profound gratitude to his Royal Highness the Emir of Bauchi for accepting our invitation.
May I also specially welcome and appreciate the chief host of today’s event, the Chief of the Air Staff, for his continuous support to training of Regiment personnel in the Nigerian Air Force.
“Apart from the course highlights which will be given shortly by the Commander Regiment Training Centre Annex Bauchi, the Guest of Honour sir, permit me to reiterate that Ground Training Command is committed to fulfilling the vision of the Chief of the Air Staff which is: “To reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives”.
“Our task as a Command is to train quality manpower in non-technical specialities of the NAF for optimum productivity and efficiency.
“The graduation we are witnessing this morning is a fulfilment of this task.
“It would be recalled that in the nineties, the NAF trained few of its personnel in Special Forces techniques in the Nigerian Army School of Infantry, Jaji.
“However, given the critical roles Special Forces plays in non-conventional warfare, the current leadership of the NAF of Air Mshl SB Abubakar DFS began the in-house training of Special Forces personnel in NAF training facilities.
“Accordingly, the first set of in-house Special Forces training started at Regiment Training Centre, Kaduna in 2017 in partnership with an Israeli company Four Troops Limited.
“In line with the philosophy of the Chief of the Air Staff to do more with less resources, the NAF conducted 2 courses of Special Forces Instructors’ training in 2018.
“Today it is gratifying to note that the course graduating now are wholly trained by Nigerian instructors.
“Another significant aspect of today’s graduation is the joint training of the Nigerian Police with NAF personnel in the Helicopter Backdoor Gunners Course.
“This is also in line with another key driver of the Chief of the Air Staff vision which focussed on comradeship, regimentation and inter-Service cooperation.
“As security agencies with common objective, the need to train and exercise together cannot be overemphasized.
“This was evident today through the combined demonstration exercise by NAF and Police Special Forces teams that we have just witnessed.
“The Command noted with satisfaction that the conduct of the police personnel were consistent with NAF core values of excellence, integrity and Service before self during training activities.
“I therefore want to commend the Nigerian Police personnel on this good conduct and urge them to sustain these high values after graduating from Regiment Training Centre.
“Let me use this opportunity to thank the Chief of the Air Staff for his continuous support to the Command to enhance our training efforts.
“It is worth noting that this is the first time Special Forces training is done in Bauchi here.
“In order to ensure this training, the Chief of the Air Staff built this Commando Village and constructed 4 blocks of accommodation with a capacity of housing 240 students.
“Apart from the students’ welfare, the Chief of the Air Staff renovated and furnished blocks of building at CBN quarters for staff and instructors.
“In addition, the construction of an Olympic sized swimming pool, state of the art obstacle course and rappelling tower are ongoing in NAF Base Bauchi.
“Once these projects are completed, they will improve the quality of our programmes and make our training more competitive in line with best global practices.
“Apart from infrastructural upgrade at Regiment Training Centre Annex Bauchi, the Command also benefitted from other massive infrastructural development and upgrading of training facilities as various constructions are ongoing in MTC, 551 NAF Station Jos, 553 NAF Base Enugu, AFGMS and AFMS Jos among others.
“On behalf of officers and men of the Ground Training Command, I want to thank the Chief of the Air Staff for these transformative projects.
“Indeed your forthrightness, thoughtfulness and commitment to service has not only instilled discipline in us but made us ever willing, able and ready to die for the cause of this Nation.
“To the graduating students of Special Forces operatives and Helicopter Backdoor Gunners, you have trained hard to reach this point today.
“You must not rest on your oars but continue to honestly evaluate your performance in operations and strive for self-improvement. You must remember that there is no finishing line in the race to add value to humanity.”
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