The Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD), Major General Bashir Magashi (retired), has charged graduands of the Air Force War College (AFWC) Course 5/2019 to be innovative and inject fresh ideas into the nation’s security system. According to him, this is where their knowledge of joint operations and application of Air Power would be required to further ensure that peace returns in earnest to trouble spots in the Country. This charge was given today, 13 December 2019, during the Graduation Ceremony of AFWC Course 5/2019 held at the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Base Makurdi.

The HMOD, who was represented by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Gabriel Olonisakin, as Special Guest of Honour (SGOH) at the occasion, said “the changing nature of warfare poses new challenges to security forces. Sub-conventional threats are on the rise creating a significantly more complex strategic environment, both at the global and regional levels. The nature of these challenges makes it necessary to be innovative and explore contemporary ways and means to tackle them. Invariably, doctrinal development, force structure, planning and equipment provisioning for asymmetric warfare become much more challenging problems than what is obtainable in a conventional war. To this end, I must commend the efforts of the NAF at focusing its force structure to address the widely dispersed challenges, while at the same time, exploring local talents and resources to address equipment maintenance through research”, he added.

The SGOH also lauded the efforts of the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, for not only being the first to establish a single Service War College, but also for graduating the fifth set of senior officers from the College. According to him, there is no doubt that the AFWC is now an established citadel of knowledge for transiting tactical level officers into operational level commanders. The transition, he said, aptly fits into the needed security architecture of the country in the wake of current security challenges. Speaking further, the SGOH noted that the Armed Forces of Nigeria (AFN) had continued to perform creditably well in addressing the various internal security challenges facing the nation. He said the NAF’s role in employing Air Power, being a critical component of the military instrument of National Power, has remained a formidable force in dealing with these challenges and preserving the nation’s territorial integrity. He therefore commended the efforts of the NAF, especially for the crucial role it has been playing in the ongoing counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism operations, while noting that “the Service has also attracted tremendous goodwill and credibility to the nation through the provision of airlift and humanitarian support for the African Union, United Nations and friendly African countries”.

In his remarks, the CAS stated that the event marked a major milestone for the participants as well as the College as it graduates the fifth set of well-trained operational level officers of the NAF and sister Services. He said the unstructured, dynamic and complex nature of security threats facing the country necessitated a reorientation of the Nation’s security apparatus to enable it effectively contain the emerging challenges. According to him, a major component of the required paradigm shift is task-defined training. The AFWC, he said, fulfills this role through its Air War Course that translates tactical level reasoning to operational level thinking. He added that the effectiveness of the training at the College has had significant positive impact on the quality of officers in the NAF with products from the College effectively holding forth in both staff, instructional and command appointments. “I am therefore fulfilled that we had the foresight and took the initiative to commence the AFWC in November 2016,” he added.

Speaking further, Air Marshal Abubakar explained that nations desirous to project military power must equip and structure their air forces to effectively apply Air Power in a variety of roles. This, he said, requires the availability of an appropriate mix of aircraft as well as a motivated and well-trained manpower to operate the platforms. In terms of aircraft acquisition, the CAS noted that the NAF had witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of aircraft available for operations. He disclosed that, since 2015, a total of 47 additional aircraft had either been inducted into the NAF or ordered for the Service. He noted that these included 19 brand new aircraft already inducted, 17 new ones (12 Super Tucano, 3 JF-17 Thunder aircraft and 2 Agusta 109 helicopters) ordered with delivery being awaited and 11 others handed over to the NAF by other Federal Government agencies like the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS). In the same vein, he said, over 20 previously grounded aircraft had been reactivated within the past 4 years. He highlighted that the platform acquisitions and reactivation as well as the emplacement of robust logistics support structure, had enabled the Service to raise the serviceability status of operable aircraft from about 35 per cent in 2015 to an average of 75 per cent in November 2019. Regarding human capacity development, he noted that the Service had stepped up training of personnel in all NAF specialties, winging over 100 pilots in just over 4 years with many others undergoing various forms of flying courses in local and foreign training institutions.

While appreciating the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the strategic guidance that had made the establishment of AFWC realizable, the CAS stated that the NAF would continue to work assiduously, along with sister Services and other security agencies, to ensure a secured and prosperous Nigeria. He equally expressed his gratitude to the HMOD and CDS for their continued support to the NAF. While congratulating the graduands and their families for surmounting another hurdle in the quest for professional excellence, the CAS challenged them to bring the skills and lessons acquired during the course to bear in their future deployments. He also commended the Commandant, members of faculty and the entire staff of AFWC for their efforts in ensuring the successful conduct of the course.

In his welcome address, the Commandant AFWC, Air Vice Marshal Charles Oghomwen, stated that the College strived to effectively fill the gap in qualitative manpower in the field of Air Power for the effective conduct of air operations. He said the College is playing a leading role in the articulation of strategy and doctrine that is guiding the development of Air Power in the NAF. According to him, the feedback reaching the College from the field on the performance of its alumni had been pleasant and encouraging. “I am optimistic that in the near future, the Service would further begin to feel the impact of establishing the College through better application of strategic planning and implementation of doctrines”, he added.

The AFWC Course 5, which was inaugurated on 27 May 2019, exposed the 20 graduating participants; 17 from the NAF, 2 from the Nigerian Navy (NN) and one from the Nigerian Army; to an appreciable level of training and research in security and defence studies as well as various assessed exercises, war gaming and simulation, individual research papers as well as general knowledge on warfare, with emphasis on Air Power. Highlights of the graduation ceremony included the conferment of fellowship and presentation of AFWC certificates to the graduands as well as presentation of awards to participants who distinguished themselves on the course. Wing Commander Ifeanyi Ugbene bagged the CAS Award for emerging best overall participant on the course while Wing Commander Fatai Ganiyu won the CAS Award as the best in Air Power. Commander Ismail Lawal of the NN received 2 awards; one for the best overall research paper and the other for emerging as the best student from the sister Services. Another major feature of the occasion was the unveiling of the maiden edition of “The Air-Mindedness” Magazine, a new publication of the AFWC that features articles, research papers and lectures on leadership as well as Air Power and joint operational studies.

Among the many dignitaries at the colourful event were; the Director Air Force Ministry of Defence, representative of the Benue State Governor, the Chief of Defence Intelligence, representatives of other Service Chiefs as well as representatives of the Tor Tiv and Ochi Idoma, Branch Chiefs from NAF Headquarters, Air Officers Commanding and Commandants of the Army and Naval War Colleges.

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