Barely 2 weeks after the successful conduct of Exercise NA ZO along the Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road to prepare personnel to more effectively checkmate the activities of bandits and kidnappers, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has conducted another counter terrorism (CT) Simulation Exercise, nicknamed Exercise Babban Haushi, along Minna-Zungeru Road, Niger State.
The Exercise, which involved the employment of NAF Special Forces (SF), “The Panthers”, operating in concert with air assets as well as support elements, is another in a series aimed at improving NAF CT posture to effectively respond to any security threat within the country.
In his remarks during the event, the Special Guest of Honour (SGOH), the Governor of Niger State, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, who was represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alhaji Ibrahim Matene, commended the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and all personnel of the NAF for executing a well coordinated training exercise.
He observed that the current NAF leadership has demonstrated laudable resolve to ensure that its officers and airmen/airwomen have the required capacity for the effective performance of their duties.
He added that the Exercise was timely and well thought out as it would have a long-lasting effect towards enhancing the security of Niger State and its environs.
“We commend the Chief of the Air Staff for his visionary leadership that has led to significant transformation in virtually all areas of the Service in the last 4 years”, he said.
Speaking further, Governor Abubakar stated that, despite its best efforts, Niger State had also had its fair share of security challenges, especially in 4 Local Government Areas (LGAs).
He however noted that in the last few months a number of joint operations, involving the NAF as well as sister Services and other security agencies, had been conducted to dislodge armed bandits from the affected areas, with commendable successes recorded.
He however requested for the deployment of additional air assets to Niger State to give more potency to the joint operations against the bandits. Governor Abubakar said he was impressed by the effective execution of the exercise as well as the precision of the air strikes by the NAF attack aircraft.
“Exercise Babban Haushi could signal the end of armed banditry in Niger State. We have seen the impact of your air operations and we need more”, he said.
The SGOH emphasized that the Niger State Government, on its part, would continue to support the NAF, sister Services and other security agencies to enable them perform their duties more effectively.
In his remarks, the CAS recalled that since assumption of office his desire has been to bequeath 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”.
He noted that this necessitated having the right organizational structure, the right platforms and equipment as well as the right institutional and human capacity.
He observed that much had been done, in the last 4 years, to restructure the NAF for better service delivery; through the establishment of 2 new staff branches at Headquarters NAF as well as 2 new field Commands, including the Special Operations Command, the host of Exercise Babban Haushi.
As for the right mix of platforms and equipment, the CAS reported that the NAF was extremely fortunate because through the Federal Government’s immense support, the Service had been able to acquire 19 new platforms and reactivate 20 erstwhile unserviceable ones, with another 18 aircraft already ordered awaiting delivery.
This, he said, had made it possible for 10 aircraft to be deployed for Exercise Babban Haushi.
Air Marshal Abubakar noted, however, that it was in the area of having the right human capacity that his Administration had invested most significantly, with an unprecedented number of personnel trained in different categories of air and ground operations both locally and abroad.
He observed that series of simulation/training exercises, like Babban Naushi, were being conducted to sharpen the skills of NAF SF personnel and flying units to enable them be more effective and efficient in the conduct of their operations.
He said the exercises afford opportunities to interrogate processes and procedures in order to identify gaps with a view to bridging them for enhanced performance in real combat scenarios.
While reiterating the primacy of Air Power as a critical requirement for victory in modern warfare, the CAS remarked that such exercises also provide opportunities to test the efficacy of force protection measures in order to ensure that NAF Bases and air assets are properly secured to enable unhindered Air Power employment for optimal effects.
He said the NAF would therefore continue to carry out such exercises because of the derivable benefits, while highlighting that the next one would be conducted in the Southwest of the Country.
Air Marshal Abubakar restated the NAF’s unalloyed commitment towards ensuring the safety and security of Nigeria and Nigerians.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding Special Operations Command (AOC SOC), Air Vice Marshal James Gwani, said the Exercise, which was the second to be conducted within the last 2 weeks, was driven by the obvious need to develop tactics and doctrine of the NAF SF.
He said the Exercise would further enable troops to appreciate the importance of timely logistics for enhanced combat effectiveness as well as perfecting the skills of the NAF SF, “The Panthers”, in responding to any act of unrest within the Country.
The Exercise, according to him, was a culmination of several weeks of training by the elite SF personnel and had been put together to showcase the capability of the NAF, in combating terrorism.
Highlights of the occasion included the operational briefing and giving of orders by the Commander 271 NAF Detachment Birnin Gwari, Group Captain Idorenyin Bassey, along with his sub-unit and component commanders, which was held behind closed doors.
This was followed by execution of the operational plan which featured live firing of rockets from NAF fixed and rotary wing attack aircraft; insertion, by fast-roping, of NAF SF elements and movement of teams into the objective area as well as subsequent arrest of the suspected armed bandits; extraction of the assault team by road and evacuation of a casualty by air, while being provided with close air support by an attack helicopter overhead the objective.
A special feature of the exercise was the logistics re-supply by tactical air drop to replenish the assaulting forces who were simulated to have run out of ammunition during the raid.
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