The Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru, has praised the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) for providing a formidable air power in the ongoing joint operations in defence of Nigeria.
He stated this at the graduation of participants of the Air War College (AWC) Course 9/2023, on Tuesday in Makurdi, Benue.
This is contained in a statement by the Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, on Tuesday in Abuja.
The minister said that NAF had over the years, continued to attract tremendous goodwill and credibility to the nation through the provision of airlift and humanitarian support for the United Nations, African Union and friendly African countries.
Represented by the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Christopher Musa, the minister said that NAF’s premium on operational art, critical thinking and other pragmatic frameworks for military decision-making processes in the curriculum of the AWC would, no doubt, enhance the culture of proactiveness in operational planning and management in the NAF.
This, according to him, is indispensable to ensuring national security which is pivotal to the socio-economic development of the nation.
Badaru also commended the NAF personnel who continued to contribute immensely to the successes of ongoing joint operations.
“I must also place on record that the NAF has been playing significant and crucial roles in the ongoing counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations where its officers and airmen have performed gallantly,” he said.
Gov. Hyacinth Alia of Benue State, commended the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) for their efforts towards peace restoration in the country.
Alia also expressed appreciation to the NAF for their efforts at sustaining and maintaining peace and security in the state.
According to him, the presence of the NAF in Makurdi gives the people of Benue a sense of security and an assurance of their safety.
In his remarks, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Hasan Abubakar, described the graduation of another set of participants of the AWC as a major stride in human capacity development in the Service.
Abubakar said that capacity development was critical to the fulfilment of NAF’s constitutional mandate, adding that the NAF would be inducting additional platforms before the end of the year to boost training, air power employment and projection.
According to him, these platforms include two Agusta 109 Trekker Multi-role helicopters, two Beechcraft King Air 360, three Diamond DA-62 surveillance aircrafts and six T-129 ATAK helicopters.
“Other pending acquisitions include two CASA 295 medium airlift/surveillance aircraft, 12 AH-1Z attack helicopters and 24 x M-346 attack aircraft.
“These acquisitions demonstrate government’s deep commitment to equipping the NAF for the safe conduct of training and agile airpower employment to meet the nation’s security challenges,” he said.
Abubakar thanked President Bola Tinubu for his unwavering support to the NAF in equipment procurement and training, which had enabled it to maintain consistency in conducting operations to curtail contemporary threats.
He said the war college had played important role in enhancing synergy in the ongoing operations, noting that institutions like the war colleges must continue to produce officers with broad understanding and beliefs in joint operations.
He said the successes so far recorded in ongoing joint operations signified the benefits and necessity of joint force employment in contemporary military operations.
The CAS added that the defence and service headquarters must continue to work towards eradicating all impediments to joint operational planning and execution to optimise combat strength of joint forces in operations.
He said the AWC had since inception, been consistent in fulfilling its mandate of developing the capacity of middle cadre officers in the AFN in leadership and effective employment of air power.
He said the emphasis placed on critical thinking and its application to operational planning as well as net assessment and future studies had greatly enhanced the quality of the course content, while attracting wider patronage from other services and friendly nations.
Earlier, the Commandant of the College, AVM Abayomi Kehinde, said the college course curriculum as well as those of the Army and Naval War Colleges were harmonised by the DHQ to promote synergy.
Kehinde said that participants at the three war colleges had since the harmonisation of the curriculums, converged on Abuja to conduct a joint operational planning exercise nicknamed EXERCISE SKYLOCK annually.
He said the exercise was aimed at promoting inter-service synergy and collaboration as well as interoperability at the operational level within the armed forces.
Kehinde expressed optimism that the knowledge gained by the participants from their exposure to joint operations planning and execution would broaden their knowledge as well as strengthen their understanding of unified and multi-agency approaches to the conduct of warfare, crisis management and resolution.
He said the participants comprised one Cameroonian officer, two Nigerian Army officers and two Naval Officers.
“It is a clear testament that the college was indeed a tri-service as well as a multi-national institution,” he added.