The need for continuous capacity development to meet the evolving imperatives for specialist skillsets, such as Force Protection, required in the ongoing counterinsurgency and anti-armed banditry operations cannot be overemphasized. In line with these imperatives, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) today, 15 June 2019, graduated 707 Regiment and Air Police personnel trained in Force Protection in Complex Air-Ground Environment (FP-CAGE). In addition to the FP-CAGE Course 8/2019, the combined graduation ceremony, which took place at the Regiment Training Centre (RTC) Kaduna, also marked the completion of the Basic Regiment Officers’ Course 14/2019, Advanced Regiment Airmen’s Course 3/201 as well as the Basic Regiment Airmen’s Course 27/2019. The ceremony, which featured simulation demonstrations by the graduating students, brings the total number of personnel trained in FP-CAGE, since the NAF entered into partnership with the British Military Advisory Training Team (BMATT) in 2015, to 2,872.
Speaking during the graduation ceremony, the Guest of Honour, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, stated that the graduation marked another milestone in the progress made towards revitalizing the NAF Regiment and repositioning the Specialty to play its roles of Force Protection and security of NAF assets. He noted that the inclusion of some Air Police personnel in the FP-CAGE training was another initiative aimed at improving the security of bases and especially the personnel. The CAS further noted that the current security environment, with its attendant threats and challenges to NAF bases and infrastructure, had brought to the fore the need for the NAF to be able to not just project air power but also adequately ensure the protection of NAF air assets in furtherance of national security imperatives. According to him, “Our pragmatic approach to training has improved our capacity to secure our Bases as well as critical national assets and infrastructure while at the same time improving the capacity of the NAF to respond to national emergencies and crisis situations”.
While congratulating the graduands for the successful completion of the training programme, the CAS reminded them of the need to remain disciplined and vigilant, whilst always guarding their utterances and ensuring they avoid any acts capable of denting the image of the NAF. The CAS also charged them to abide by rules of engagement when deployed and submit themselves to civil authority as they would be operating at a time when the nation is facing numerous security challenges. He further urged the graduands to keep giving their best in the service of the Nation. “Always remember that your duty is to protect all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic background or religious inclination”, he added.
Air Marshal Abubakar also expressed gratitude to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the priority attention given to the requirements of the NAF. The support provided by the Federal Government, he said, had positively impacted on the NAF especially in the areas of training, enhanced operational efficiency as well as improved provision of welfare and other services. He also commended the efforts of the Chief of Training and Operations Headquarters NAF and Director of Regiment as well as the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command (AOC GTC) and the Commandant and staff of RTC for their efforts towards ensuring that the aims for which the Centre was established were being achieved. While also commending the BMATT instructors for their dedication, hard work and commitment to the training package in the RTC, the CAS noted that the seamless execution of the force protection exercise demonstrations by the graduands were a testimony to the collaborative efforts and synergy that has been achieved in partnership with NAF instructors.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, the Commandant RTC, Wing Commander Kehinde Akinyosade, stated that the commendable achievements recorded by the RTC were made possible due to the unwavering support of the CAS and the commitment of the AOCs of GTC and the Air Training Command (ATC). He therefore expressed his profound gratitude and appreciation to the CAS for his keen interest in capacity development of NAF personnel, which, he said, had ensured an enabling environment for the timely, qualitative turn out of well-trained Regiment personnel.
As part of the ceremony, the graduating students conducted an exercise simulating the countering of an insurgent threat to the Base by an FPCAGE Team supported by an Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platform. Another highlight of the graduation ceremony was the presentation of awards to students who distinguished themselves during the various courses. Dignitaries that graced the occasion included the Commandant Armed Forces Command and Staff College, AOCs ATC and GTC, Commander Nigerian Army Infantry Corp, Commanders of co-located NAF Units in Kaduna as well as other serving and retired senior officers.
Director of Public Relations and Information