Chief of Air Staff Sadiq Abubakar has charged the 2,079 recruits of the Nigerian Air Force to be resilient, tough and courageous in discharging their constitutional duties.
Mr Abubakar gave the charge on Saturday during the Passing Out Parade, POP, of the Basic Military Training Course 40, on Saturday in Kaduna.
News Agency of Nigeria reports that the CAS was the reviewing officer during the POP.
Mr Abubakar said that the new recruits would substantially bridge the wide gap in the manpower disposition of the NAF.
He stressed that their enlistment into the air force was in line with the efforts of the leadership to reposition the NAF into a highly professional service that is appropriately manned and adequately trained to defend Nigeria’s territorial integrity.
Mr Abubakar added that their main task was to ensure that Nigeria’s “national sovereignty is not undermined or subverted by any individual or group of individuals.”
He therefore, reiterated his vision of repositioning the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building, for effective, efficient and timely employment of airpower in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives.
According to him, the establishment of the Special Operations Command was deliberately done to address the challenges of asymmetric warfare, such as the one posed by Boko Haram terrorists.
“It became necessary to expand the NAF Regiment Specialty with many of these personnel trained in Force Protection in Complex Air and Ground Environment (FPCAGE).
“The FPCAGE training has consequently equipped NAF personnel with the skills required to adequately protect NAF bases and critical national assets against attacks by Boko Haram terrorists and other criminal elements.
“In the last four and half years, the Federal Government has facilitated an unprecedented increase in the number of aircrafts available for NAF operations.
“It is noteworthy that the aircraft serviceability rate across platforms has improved from 35 per cent in July 2015 to 82 per cent as at today.
“This humble achievement was brought about by intensive training and retraining of aircraft maintenance engineers and technicians who subsequently play crucial roles in the reactivation of platforms and maintenance of equipment,” he said.
Mr Abubakar recalled that 22 platforms were inducted into the NAF since 2015.
“These platforms had since been launched into operations.
“More so, the NAF is in the process of acquiring the JF-17 Thunder aircraft and the Super Tucano (A-29) light attack aircraft.
“The JF-17 is due to arrive in November 2020 while the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is expected to be inducted into service by 2022.
“This will no doubt further boost operational capabilities of the NAF by bridging the hitherto wide gap in platform disposition of the service. While appreciating the federal government, I must say that we are not there yet,” he said.
The air chief, sad that the unprecedented achievements needed to be sustained for the next 10 years, “if the NAF is to be adequately positioned to defend the territorial integrity of the nation.”
“The NAF had also made deliberate efforts to increase its infrastructure which included the upgrading and provision of additional housing, schools, hospitals, operational and recreational facilities.
“These efforts have led to the provision of accommodation to over 6,500 families, thus enhancing the welfare of personnel which has in turn reflected on the quality of their outputs.”
Mr Abubakar said the enlisted recruits joined the military at a time when the armed forces was involved in several internal security operations across the country.
“Your training has been rigorous and deliberate so as to expose you to the near real-life scenario of what the nation expects from you when deployed for operations.
“You must embrace the core values of integrity, service before self and excellence in all you do as essential ingredients of high reputation, which the service has earned over the years.
“In the course of consolidating on the operational gains of the NAF, you will be appropriately deployed to contribute your quota to national security.
“You must also respect and protect the innocent and law-abiding civilians whom you are paid to defend.
“You must submit yourselves to civil authority in accordance with democratic tenets.”
NAN reports that Mr Abubakar also inaugurated some projects named after some fallen heroes at NAF Base Kaduna.