On assumption as Nigeria’s Chief of the Air Staff in 2015, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar met a nation grappling with myriad security challenges occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents and other violent non-state actors.
As a thorough-bred professional, Abubakar’s first step was to reposition the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) into becoming a highly disciplined Force with advanced knowledge to effectively combat current and future security challenges and confronts the ever-changing nature of contemporary warfare.
One of his key drivers of the Chief of Air Staff was human capacity development through robust and result-oriented training for enhanced performance.
He initiated a robust Special Operations Unit to respond to any contingency vital to Nigeria’s contemporary security environment.
These Special Operations Forces are to bridge the gap between airpower projections and forces protections; their capacity would be developed to fight under all types of conditions and in all terrains.
They would also be deployed to defend NAF air assets and bases as well as critical national infrastructure; in addition to taking the battle to the adversaries whenever necessary.
On the 7th August, 2017, NAF kick-started the training of its Special Operations Forces as a blend of the Army Infantry and Artillery Corps, these personnel are an invaluable adjunct to conventional forces that are capable of sophisticated specialised and measured response in a complex an air-ground environment covering both land and sea areas.
Already, batches of these forces were deployed to bolster security in various theatres of war in North East where Boko Haram terrorists hold sway and North-West where bandits and marauders have unleashed terrors on helpless villages and communities.
Another milestone was achieved on Friday, September 18, 2020 when 28 Special Forces instructors were inaugurated for the Intermediate Rappelling Course at the Regiment Training Centre, Annex, Bauchi State.
The Rappelling Course is designed to adequately equip the instructors in their tasks of moulding the trainees to be the best Special Forces operatives ready for deployment as the need arises.
The event of the day started with the elite Rappelling corps parachuted into the arena, where they displayed tactical offensive through aggressive projections of hunting down a perceived enemy in a systematic and lethal pattern attuned to the elite corps they were trained to be.
Speaking during the event, the Chief of Air Staff, represented by the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin, charged the new SF trainees to imbibe the attributes of NAF Special Operatives which include honesty, courage, perseverance and adaptability during the training.
He said: “The task of nation-building is a collective responsibility especially with the dynamics of the current security challenges facing our country.
“As part of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the NAF is constitutionally obligated to protect the lives and property of Nigerians so that they can go about their legitimate businesses unhindered.
“Currently, the NAF is recording significant successes in the fight against insurgency in the North East as well as banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in the North West and North Central.
“In order to consolidate the gain made so far, the service recently activated the 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group in Gombe State for enhanced capability in providing timely and actionable intelligence to contain insecurity.
“The training of selected Regiment personnel as Special Forces has become even more crucial. This is in line with the practice of modern air forces around the world which now deploy specially-trained ground forces to provide situational awareness for aircrew, thereby reducing collateral damage and enhancing the safe conduct of air operations,” the CAS noted.
Mr Abubakar added that it is on record that the training of NAF Special Operations Force and the provisions of critical infrastructure for the NAF would not have been possible without the immense support of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said: “Let me express the profound gratitude of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF to the President. As a service, we shall continue to strive to meet the expectations of the country, by providing the citizenry and discharging our constitutional responsibilities to the nation.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commandant, Regiment Training Centre, Annex, Bauchi, Squadron Leader James Jantiku thanked the Chief of Air Staff for his unwavering support for training activities in the centre, especially for the construction of a 23-Apparatus Special Forces Obstacle Court, Rappelling Tower and Regiment Training Pool to further boost training activities at the centre.
He added that 357 Regiment and Intelligence personnel were nominated for the Special Forces screening, 111 were reported to be medically unfit for SF engagements, 18 voluntarily withdrew from the course and 9 failed to report due to service exigencies.
“This morning, only 219 personnel comprising 14 officers and 205 airmen/airwomen would be inaugurated. 28 Special Forces Instructors were nominated for Intermediate Rappelling Course, however, those who could not meet with the course standards were disqualified,” he added.
The event also featured the commissioning of a furnished block of 10-single bedroom flats for personnel to enhance their welfare and motivate them to significantly contribute to the accomplishment of the NAF’s assigned tasks.
Some visible features that make Bauchi Command unique are the general neatness and orderliness in the whole environment, the streets are fully illuminated, there wasn’t any sign of rowdiness associated with most Nigerian barracks.
The officers and airmen/airwomen’s visible imprints of competence, commitments, high moral and ethical conducts were noticeable in the whole command.
As a result, the visions of Air Marshal Abubakar of modernising NAF to a versatile and multi-faceted institution are becoming a reality.