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In furtherance of its sustained efforts to enhance the capacity, professionalism and combat readiness of its personnel to tackle various internal security challenges and secure the lives and properties of Nigerians, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 2 January 2021, conducted a Joint Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Special Forces (SF) and Air Police K-9 Simulation Exercise (JCSAEX) at Rijana Village along Kaduna-Abuja Highway. The Exercise, code named “TAIMAKO YAZO”, was aimed at simulating tactics, doctrine and synergy amongst first responders for effective CSAR operations of downed aircrew or other NAF personnel who have had to eject or abandon their aircraft in emergency situations. The ability to rescue crew from hostile environments is particularly important as it can be adapted for anti-kidnapping operations as was recently done by the NAF in concert with other security agencies in the rescue of the kidnapped boys of Government Science Secondary School Kankara.
Speaking during the Exercise, the Special Guest of Honour, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that the overall desire of the NAF is to ensure that personnel are trained and equipped to maintain very high levels of combat readiness and operational effectiveness. According to him, in a bid to better reposition the NAF SF through robust capacity building for more effective response to the various security challenges bedeviling the country in the areas of counter-terrorism, airport security and anti-banditry operations, the NAF in 2019 conducted several counter-terrorism exercises in Kaduna, Kano, Niger and Osun States. The CAS noted that the importance of training to a fighting force like the NAF cannot be over emphasized as regular purposeful training remains the cornerstone of military combat readiness. “It is in realization of this that the NAF ensures that its personnel are mentally alert and physically fit at all times, through regular training and exercises so that we remain continually willing, able and ready to defend the nation”, the CAS said.
Air Marshal Abubakar stated that, even with today’s modern weapons systems, it is the personnel with competence that would make the difference in any current or future conflict situations. This philosophy, he said, had been incorporated into the NAF policies and regulations so that every personnel maintains a high level of combat readiness to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in the conduct of a wide spectrum of military operations. The CAS highlighted that, in the quest to achieve professionalism, Service members are subjected to excruciatingly difficult training procedures and exposed to various terrain conditions to enable them develop and sustain a high level of combat effectiveness. “This, no doubt, will help our personnel perform at the highest standards throughout their career”, he said.
The CAS further remarked that the timing for the conduct of the exercise was apt as it readily tests the combat and physical readiness of NAF personnel to face the very difficult security challenges currently confronting the Nation. Air Marshal Abubakar, who expressed satisfaction and excitement over the Exercise, noted that the resources being expended on a daily basis to ensure that NAF personnel are given the skills required and training needed to conduct operations successfully were yielding tangible results. Speaking further, the CAS said he was highly impressed with the Exercise in terms of coordination between the air and ground elements. According to him, “security is not only about bullets, bombs and rockets, it is about everybody putting hands on deck to ensure that the Country is secured. This Exercise will be a continuous one, we have done one here. From now to June 2021, we will have 6 of these Exercises. Most of these Exercises will now move to the Northwest, particularly in Zamfara and Katsina States. We are also about to activate the NAF Unit in Funtua to further reduce our response time as well as bring security even closer to the people”, the CAS revealed.
The CAS seized the opportunity to express his profound gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari for his unflinching support to the growth and development of the NAF. He also thanked members of the National Assembly and the Honourable Minister of Defence, the Chief of Defence Staff and other Service Chiefs for their continued support to the NAF. The CAS reassured Nigerians that the NAF remains fully committed to the successful execution of its constitutional roles and would continue to meet its statutory responsibility of defending the territorial integrity and national sovereignty, whether acting singly or in unison with surface forces and other security agencies. Conducting the Exercise along Kaduna-Abuja Highway, the CAS said, would impact positively and deter criminals from coming out to attack innocent citizens.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), Special Operations Command (SOC), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Charles Ohwo, stated that the Exercise was in line with the CAS’ deliberate efforts to boost human capacity development through robust and result oriented training for enhanced professional performance. The event, he said, would enhance NAF’s combat efficiency, which is borne from the right combinations of man and machine integration as well as effective methods, tactics and doctrine.
Highlights of the Exercise included the operational briefing and giving of orders by the Commander 013 Quick Response Force, Squadron Leader Victor Uba along with his sub-unit and component commanders, which was held behind closed doors. This was immediately followed by seamless execution of the operational plan, which featured live firing of canons and rockets from NAF fixed and rotary wing attack aircraft, followed by insertion of CSAR operatives as well as fast-roping and rappelling of NAF SF (the PANTHERS) and K-9 elements and movement of teams to the objective area. There was also logistics re-supply of ammunition to the assaulting forces by tactical air-drop from a helicopter and subsequent rescue of the downed pilots in hostile environment, extraction of the assault team by air while being provided with close air support by an attack helicopter overhead the objective area.
Among other dignitaries that graced the occasion were the Branch Chiefs form Headquarters NAF, General Officer Commanding 1 Division, Nigerian Army, Air Officers Commanding, Commandant Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Deputy Commandant Nigerian Defence Academy, Directors from Headquarters NAF, Commanders of NAF units as well as the Community Leader of Rijana, Dagacin Rijana, Fadan Achi, Mr Ayuba Dodo Dakolo, among many other serving military officers.