In view of the need to sustain the awareness among personnel on the imperatives of strict observance of the Laws of Armed Conflict (LOAC) during military operations as well as ensure Commanders remain conversant with their responsibilities, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) Ground Training Command (GTC) today, 2 December 2019, commenced its Maiden LOAC Seminar. The two-day Seminar, with the theme “Observance of LOAC: A Panacea for Successful Military Operations'', is holding at the 551 NAF Station Jos.
In his remarks during the opening ceremony, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who was represented by the Air Secretary Headquarters NAF, Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Mohammed Ahmed, noted that one of the focal points of his vision is the development of human capacity for enhanced professional performance. This, he stated, was premised on the fact that he is a firm believer that an individual can only give what he/she has and a human being can only add value to society if he/she has what it takes to do so. Besides, he observed that an individual’s value to any community is substantially defined by how much knowledge and capacity he/she has. He said this focus has had tremendous impact on the ability of the Service to effectively discharge its constitutional roles. “I am happy to note that we have made substantial progress in the development of human capacity in all specialties within the NAF. This Seminar is one case of such efforts”, he said.
While recounting that the NAF Directorate of Legal Services had organized a similar Seminar in March 2019, the CAS emphasized that the GTC Seminar was aimed at further expanding the target audience in the wake of increasing observations of human rights abuses within the theatres of operation and their attendant negative consequences on military operations. According to the CAS, “it has become increasingly important to constantly remind ourselves on the rules and regulations guiding the use of arms in crises situations particularly during internal security operations”. Air Marshal Abubakar, who expressed confidence in the calibre of resource persons at the Seminar, urged participants to be broad minded and come up with innovative ideas that would improve the observance of human rights by the NAF in the performance of its constitutional roles. He added that the NAF, in keeping with its usual practice, would use the recommendations of the seminar to improve its processes and procedures.
In his welcome address, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) GTC, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin, said the Command was aware that the products from its various training institutions, particularly Regiment and Special Forces personnel who are deployed mainly for ground operations in various theatres of conflict within the country, need to be equipped with requisite knowledge that would guide their conduct. He said the Seminar was accordingly being held to increase awareness among the personnel as well as create consciousness among Commanders of their responsibilities with respect to LOAC. He said the outcome of the Seminar would also be used to enhance the training curricula of both the Military Training Centre and the Regiment Training Centre. While thanking the CAS for his guidance, support and visionary leadership, the AOC pledged the commitment of the officers and airmen/airwomen of the Command to continue contributing their quota towards the accomplishment of the NAF’s Mission.
The first paper titled “Observance of the Law of Armed Conflict During Military Operations” was delivered by AVM Ahmed and discussed by Professor CJ Dakas of the University of Jos, Brig Gen FJ Udaya (rtd) of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) and Major AB Bello (rtd) of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Other papers to be delivered during the Seminar are "Command and Individual Responsibilities during Asymmetric and Internal Security Operations” and “Ensuring Human Rights and Public Trust during Military Operations in Internal Security”. In attendance at the Seminar are Branch Chiefs from Headquarters NAF, Air Officers Commanding as well as many other senior military officers, both serving and retired, and personnel from units under GTC.