In furtherance of its efforts to ensure combat readiness for effective response to security threats to Nigeria’s Airports and other critical national assets, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), today, 31 October 2019, conducted a Counter Terrorism (CT) Simulation Exercise at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano. The Exercise, codenamed ‘Exercise STEEL DOME 2’, was organized in collaboration with other security agencies at the Airport and entailed insertion and extraction of NAF Special Forces (The Panthers) within the terminal buildings to retake the Airport from terrorists. The Exercise, which would be replicated in other major airports across the country, had earlier been conducted at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos in 2016. The simulation exercise is coming barely 3 days after the successful conduct of another CT Exercise, code named ‘EXERCISE NA ZO’, along Kaduna-Birnin Gwari Road.
Speaking during the Airport Security Simulation Exercise (ASEX), the Guest of Honour (GOH), the Executive Governor of Kano State, Dr Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, disclosed that he was very impressed by the performance, zeal and foresight of the current leadership of the NAF in steering the Service towards fulfilling its mandate of protecting the territorial integrity of a united Nigeria. According to him, without any doubt, the NAF had been consistent in demonstrating the capacity to effectively and efficiently bring to bear, its combat capability to decisively deal with terrorism and banditry activities within the country and entire sub-region. Governor Ganduje noted that Kano State had continued to enjoy immense support from the NAF as well as other security agencies, which had resulted in the emergence of Kano as one of the most peaceful States in the North. The Governor particularly appreciated the NAF for the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions and other air operations conducted over the Falgore Forest to deny armed bandits and other criminal elements the use of the place as a safe haven. He pledged that the Kano State Government would continue to build on the existing synergy with the NAF and other security agencies to sustain the relative peace and tranquility enjoyed in the State.
While congratulating the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, and his team for what he described as the “well-planned, well-coordinated and effectively executed Exercise”, Governor Ganduje lauded the innovativeness of the CAS and enjoined him to continue to build on the gains so far recorded in order to continue discharging NAF’s constitutional responsibilities creditably. He further disclosed that the State Government, on its part, had provided scanners and CCTV cameras to enhance the security of the Airport and, with these in place, had also persuaded Emirates Airlines to commence operations from MAKIA in the coming weeks.
In his opening remarks, the CAS stated that Exercise STEEL DOME 2 was aimed at testing the combat readiness of the NAF, as well as its collaboration with other airport security stakeholders, to achieve the synergy required to jointly counter terrorist attacks at the airports. He disclosed that the exercise was initially planned to hold in Port Harcourt but had to be rescheduled for Kano because of the ongoing renovation work at the Port Harcourt International Airport. He also revealed that an ASEX was being planned for the Airport at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. According to him, the conduct of Exercise STEEL DOME 2 and other CT exercises was demonstrative of the NAF’s unflinching resolve, as a fighting force, to collaborate with sister services and other security agencies to purge the country of the menace of terrorism and insurgency. “I believe that sustaining the exercises across other major airports and other trouble spots in the country on a regular basis, would constantly put security personnel and other stakeholders in good stead to effectively counter terrorism and other security threats. To this end, the NAF is motivated to conduct more of these operational exercises in other selected parts of the country in the nearest future. This is more so, considering that our dear nation is currently experiencing a myriad of security challenges, which require us, as a fighting force, to be on top of the situation in order to ensure security of our people and our country”, he said.
Speaking further, the CAS disclosed that the NAF was not unmindful of the sacrifices made by personnel in continuously tackling security challenges, some of whom, he noted, had paid the supreme price. He assured that their sacrifices would not be in vain and the NAF would continue to forge ahead until every part of the country was safe and secured. The exercise, he said, would further boost the confidence of passengers and staff working within the airport environment. Air Marshal Abubakar therefore expressed his profound gratitude to the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for making tackling insecurity in the Country one of the cardinal points of his agenda as well as for providing the requisite resources for the NAF to effectively conduct its operations. He also expressed gratitude to the Executive Governor of Kano State and the Honourable Minister of Defence as well as the Chief of Defence Staff for their support towards the successful conduct of the exercise. While appreciating the goodwill of other participating security agencies and staff of MAKIA as well as the air passengers during the conduct of the exercise, the CAS used the opportunity to reassure all 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 of the Nation, whether acting singly or in concert with sister Services and other security agencies.
In his welcome address, the Chief of Training and Operations, Air Vice Marshal Oladayo Amao, noted that Exercise STEEL DOME 2, which was the third ASEX conducted by the NAF, was conceived by the CAS to improve the CT posture of the Service to effectively respond to any security threat within the airport environment. He added that the conduct of the exercise was driven by the need to reduce the vulnerabilities of airports in Nigeria and was a culmination of several weeks of training by “The Panthers” and other personnel to showcase the capability of the NAF in dealing with terror threat to the Airport.
The event also featured the conduct of operational briefing and giving of orders by the Exercise Team Leader, the Commander 013 Quick Response Group (013 QRG) Minna, Group Captain Caleb Olayera, along with his sub-unit and component commanders, which was held behind closed doors. This was followed by the execution of the operational plan, which featured airfield defence and force protection measures executed by a combination of ground-based blocking forces and Mobile Air Defence Teams (MADT) as well as an attack helicopter; insertion, by rappelling and tactical drop-off of NAF Panthers and K-9 elements; movement of teams into the terminal building as well as subsequent rescue of hostages, arrest of the suspected terrorists, extraction of the assault teams by road and evacuation of casualties as well as detection and diffusion of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) by NAF K-9 and Nigeria Police Force Explosive Ordinance Detonation (EOD) Unit.
Director of Public Relations and Information