Boko Haram: Air Force Explains Its Efforts In Securing Nigeria
SAN FRANCISCO, December 03, (THEWILL) – The Nigeria Air Force, NAF, on Saturday revealed how it is contributing to the fight against insecurity in the country, spelling out how it has gone about the ongoing war against Boko Haram insurgents in the Northeast.
Speaking with select online journalists in Abuja, the Chief of Air Staff, CAS, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar disclosed that the Service assists in fighting insecurity through: operations strategy, air interdictions strategy and the non-operations or soft-core strategy.
He explained that the opertions strategy is about getting the airforce equipped with all that is necessary including missiles, rockets, identifying training and the reactivation of air planes as sub-strategies in operations.
Abubakar said, “We believe that you can only give what you have. If you don’t have the required skills. If you don’t understand the system, the chances are that you won't be effective and that is why this substrategy is very very important. That is why in the past 18 months, we have sent over 700 personnels of the NAF to different parts of the world to train and acquire the skills required for them to be effective.
“Another substrategy under this is the reactivation of airplanes. We have embrked on the reactivation of airplanes and today as I speak to you we are on the thirteenth aircraft. What I mean by reactivation is that aircrafts that were not in involved in any fight before the coming of the present federal government; they were parked before but are today part of the fight.
“The thirteenth aircraft as I speak to you is being worked upon in Yola and we are hoping that before the end of this month that airplane will be flying. When you train, you must reactivate the platform to be used in flying.”
While explaining the main objective of the first strategy, he said it is to create an enabling environment for the ground and surface forces, which includes both the army and the navy, to be able to operate with little or no hindrance.
“We cannot eliminate all threats to surface forces, what you can do is to soften the ground sufficiently so that the army and the navy can move in to conduct their opertions,” he said, adding that “this is more glaring in the Northeast where before the army can move we have to soften the ground. make sure we pick out threats to their opertions.”
The CAS revealed that the air force does this by using the surveillance airplanes to identity targets that are likely to interfere with the effectiveness of the land operations, pointing out that these are operations that require very close coordination with the Nigerian army.
Citing an example with the recapture of Dikwa in Borno state, he said, “we discovered tht Boko Haram members were laying ambush and the army were advancing to recapture the town. We had to communicate with the Nigerian army to hold their positions and then we called in the fighter aircraft from Yola and that cleared the threat after which we communicated the information to the army and they were able to move in.
“Even right now as we are moving into Sambisa forest, we conducted air operations for about 48 hours first to soften the ground and make sure we were able to take out whatever threat we can see and then give army the information,” he said, adding that the advantage of height gives air men and officers the unique position to be able to see what is happening in the battle space and then advise the army accordingly.
Speaking about the second strategy used by the airforce in securing the country, the Air Chief said the Service operates on its own through air interdiction, explaining this as operations that are targeted at the eliminating the capacity of the enemy.
He disclosed that air interdictions are “conducted deep into enemy territory where you see their arms deport or where they have their logistics base. That one does not require coordination with the army. When you just see it, you know that these things can be used by the enemy and you go ahead to pick it out.”
Abubakar however pointed out that the overall objectives of air interdiction missions have to allign with the overall objectives of the operations, which is to degrade nd defeat Boko Haram in the case of the Northeast.
He also talked about the other strategy, explaining that the non-operation or soft core strategy is directed towards human beings that are involved; “either members of the communities or your own soldiers; air men and officers. It is targeted at these two groups”.
The Air Chief further told the journalists how the air force has been able to positively impact on the lives of people in the communities, as well as take care of the welfare of its officers and men.
Story by Ugonnabo Ngwu