Air Marshal Sadique’s Critical Decisions for Critical Times

Hyacinth Chinweuba

On assumption as Nigeria’s Chief of Air Staff on July 13, 2015, following his appointment by President Muhammadu Buhari, Sadique Abubakar met a nation at the throng of a precarious situation mired by myriad security challenges occasioned by the activities of Boko Haram insurgents and other violent non-state actors.

As a thorough-bred professional, Abubakar’s first step was to reposition the NAF into becoming a highly disciplined professional force with advanced knowledge to effectively combat current and future security challenges and confront the ever-changing nature of contemporary warfare.

One of his key drivers as the Chief of Air Staff was human capacity development through robust and result oriented training for enhanced performance.

He reasoned among other initiatives that as conflict becomes more complex and diverse, NAF needed a robust Special Operations Unit to respond to any contingency vital to Nigeria’s contemporary security environment.

“There is an increasing awareness that the resolution of complex security issues requires a thorough understanding of the dynamics of conflict and the achievement of socio-political change. This has led to a re-evaluation of the role, functions and utility of the military power.

“However, if we are to use it to full effect in the complex security environment of the 21st century, we must learn to use it with the sill and innovation, looking beyond its technology to the way that technology can best applied to alleviate or address the causes of conflict and insecurity,” he added.

This Special Operations Forces are to bridge the gap between air power projections and forces protections; their capacity would be developed to fight under all types of conditions and in all terrains. They would also be deployed to defend NAF air assets and bases as well as critical national infrastructure; in addition, they would be required to take the battle to the adversaries whenever necessary.

“The future of the NAF lies in developing the requisite air power capabilities to meet both current and future demands of Nigeria during peace, crisis and war time situations,” he announced.

On the 7th August, 2017, NAF kick-started the training of its Special Operations Forces as a blend of the Army Infantry and Artillery Corps, these personnel are an invaluable adjunct to conventional forces that are capable of sophisticated specialised and measured response in a complex air-ground environment covering both land and sea areas.

Already batches of these forces were deployed to bolster security in various theatres of war in North East where Boko Haram terrorists hold sway and North-West where bandits and marauders have unleashed terrors on helpless villages and communities.

Another milestone was achieved on Friday, September 18, 2020 when 28 Special Forces instructors were nominated for the Intermediate Rappelling Course and they have successfully finished. The Rappelling Course is designed to adequately equip the instructors in their tasks of moulding the trainees to be the best Special Forces operatives ready for deployment as the need arises.

The event of the day started with these elite Rappelling corps parachuted in to the arena, where they displayed tactical offensive through aggressive projections of hunting down perceived enemy in a systematic and lethal patterns attuned to the elite corps they were trained to be.

In his welcome address, the Commandant Regiment Training Centre, Annex, Bauchi, Squadron Leader James Jantiku thanked the Chief of Air Staff for his unwavering support for training activities in the centre, especially for the construction of a 23-Apparatus Special Forces Obstacle Court, Rappelling Tower and Regiment Training Pool to further boost training activities at the centre.

He added that, 357 Regiment and Intelligence personnel were nominated for the Special Forces screening, 111 were reported to be medically unfit for SF engagements, 18 voluntarily withdrew from the course and 9 failed to report due to service exigencies.

“This morning only 219 personnel comprising of 14 officers and 205 airmen/airwomen would be inaugurated. 28 own Special Forces Instructors were nominated for Intermediate Rapelling Course , however, those who could not meet with the course standards were disqualified.” He added.

Speaking during the event, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, represented by the Air Officer Commanding Ground Training Command, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin charged the new SF trainees to imbibe the attributes of NAF Special Operatives which include honesty, courage, perseverance and adaptability during the training.

He said: “The task of nation building is a collective responsibility especially with the dynamics of the current security challenges facing our country. As part of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, the NAF is constitutionally obligated to protect lives and properties of Nigerians so that they can go about their legitimate businesses unhindered.

“Currently, the NAF is recording significant successes in the fight against insurgency in the North East as well as banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling in the North West and North Central.

“In order to consolidate the gain made so far, the service recently activated the 203 Combat Reconnaissance Group in Gombe for enhanced capability in providing timely and actionable intelligence to contain insecurity.

“The training of selected Regiment personnel as Special Forces have become even more crucial. This is in line with the practice of modern air forces around the world which now deploy specially-trained ground forces to provide situational awareness for aircrew, thereby reducing collateral damage and enhancing the safe conduct of air operations,” the CAS noted.

Air Marshal Abubakar added that it is on record that the training of NAF Special Operations Force and the provisions of critical infrastructure for the NAF would not have been possible without the immense support of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “Let me express the profound gratitude of officers, airmen, airwomen and civilian staff of the NAF to the President. As a service, we shall continue to strive to meet the expectations of the country, by providing the citizenry and discharging our constitutional responsibilities to the nation.”

The event also featured the commissioning of a furnished Block of 10-single bedroom flats for personnel to enhance their welfare and motivate them to significantly contribute to the accomplishment of the NAF’s assigned tasks.

Some visible features that make Bauchi Command unique is the general neatness and orderliness in the whole environment, the streets are fully illuminated, there wasn’t any sign or rowdiness associated with most Nigerian barracks.

The officers and airmen/airwomen visible imprints of competence, commitments, high moral and ethical conducts were noticeable in the whole command. Indeed, the visions of Air Marshall Abubakar of modernising NAF to a versatile and multi-faceted institution is achieving positive results. Musa was at the graduations/inductions event held at Air Force Base. Bauchi.

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