In furtherance of its efforts to advance its Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) capabilities, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 2 October 2020, inaugurated another CSAR Course (CSAR 3/2020) at the Regiment Training Centre Annex (RTCA), Ipetu-Ijesa. The CSAR course is an advanced Special Forces (SF) course designed to improve the fighting capability and skills of selected SF elements, whilst equipping them with the principles and techniques required to track, search for, locate and rescue occupants of downed combat aircraft or personnel in distress, who are remotely located and require assistance, even in denied environments.
Speaking during the inauguration ceremony, the Guest of Honour (GOH), the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command (AOC GTC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Idi Amin, disclosed that the idea of having trained CSAR Operatives was first mooted in 2014 after a NAF combat helicopter crashed in the North East and the crew went missing for more than 48 hours, but eventually survived. He noted that the lack of adequate capacity, at that time, to search for, locate and rescue the crew within a stipulated timeframe brought to fore the need to develop CSAR capacity for the Service. He further revealed that, due to limited number of training slots abroad as well as the high cost of the foreign training, NAF took deliberate steps to develop its own homegrown CSAR course, with first course conducted in 2018 and another held in May 2020. He stated that a total of 52 NAF CSAR personnel had so far been trained and deployed to various theatres of operation across the country. He further noted that this has significantly boosted the morale of NAF aircrew, because they now have confidence that, in the event of a mishap, they would be promptly located and rescued.
Speaking further, the GOH stated that the development of CSAR capability was part of the overall efforts of the current NAF leadership to build capacity to effectively and efficiently respond to emerging security challenges. He noted that this strategic outlook had led to significant boosting of the capacity of NAF Regiment and SF elements, with the strength of SF personnel more than tripling in the last 5 years to a 1,300-strong well-trained, well-kitted and well-motivated force capable of conducting specialized operations. He added that, in order to further boost this number to meet the exigencies of emerging security challenges, the NAF recently inaugurated another SF Course for 219 Regiment personnel at the RTCA Bauchi.
While congratulating the 50 trainees of CSAR 3/2020, comprising 3 officers and 47 airmen, for successfully scaling through the rigorous screening process, the GOH urged them to imbibe and exhibit the attributes of NAF SF Operatives, which include honesty, courage, perseverance and adaptability during the training. He reiterated that the trainings and provision of critical infrastructure for the NAF had only been made possible through the immense support of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. “I therefore wish to express the profound gratitude of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF to the President. We shall continue to strive to discharge our constitutional responsibilities to the Nation with wholehearted commitment”, he added.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Commander 209 Quick Response Group, Group Captain Idowu Ayo, while thanking the CAS for his support and timely response towards training activities at Ipetu-ljesa, assured that the RTCA Ipetu-Ijesa would do its best to produce professional, dogged, trustworthy as well as mentally and physically sound CSAR operatives, who would operate effectively in any terrain they are deployed.
The event, which had senior NAF officers and heads of paramilitary organizations in Ipetu-Ijesa in attendance, ended with a live shooting exercise.