By Ahmed Mohammed Kaigama
Bauchi – The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on Friday graduated 126 Special Force and Combat Search and Rescue Personnel in Bauchi.
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Saddique Abubakar at the combined graduation ceremony in Bauchi, said the graduates comprised of Special Force and Combat Search Rescue Personnel for safe conduct of air operations.
He said the use of Special Forces operatives by Armed Forces around the world dated back to the First World War when the Royal Naval Air Service used armoured cars to rescue drowned air crew.
”Since then, air forces around the world have deployed well trained Special Forces to provide situational awareness for air crew with a view to reducing collateral damage and enhancing the safe conduct of air operations,” he said
According to him, in realising the capability gap in Special Forces and Combat Search and Rescue operations, the Nigerian Air Force established the Special Operations Command with its headquarters in Bauchi and Quick Response Groups.
”We have Wings in Gusau, Owerri, Ipetu-Ijesa, Katsina, Birnin-Gwari, Agatu, Nguroge and Doma, as well as the Combat Search and Rescue Group in Kerang, Plateau State,” he said
Abubakar explained that the NAF trained over 1,060 personnel both overseas and locally in its bid to generate special operations forces and CSAR teams to man the units.
”Hence, international training partners were engaged to train our personnel so as to stimulate and sustain Special Forces training in the Nigerian Air Force,” he said
He commended the graduates for being worthy to become members of the Panthers and CSAR operators of the NAF.
”You are graduating at a time when the nation is in dire need of your skills to give impetus to operations being conducted to restore normalcy in restive parts of the country.
“Your job will not be an easy one as you will be required to operate in hostile environments to ensure that the NAF achieves its objectives,” he said.
The CAS urged the graduates to imbibe the attributes of honesty, courage, perseverance and adaptability expected of them.
He also implored them to always remember the core values of integrity, service and excellence when deployed, as these would ensure success.
Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Ground Training Command, Air Vice Marshal Idi Amin, said the combined graduation of the Special Forces Course 6/2020 and Combat Search and Rescue Course 2/2020, had successfully completed rigorous training at the entre.
”Although the Combat Search and Rescue course have earlier had other training sessions in Ipetu-Ijesa and RTC Kaduna, they only underwent the concluding part of their training in Bauchi,” he said.
Amin explained that the curriculum of the Special Force course entailed intensive training in shooting skills, unarmed combat, navigation, field tactics, communications, endurance and combat swimming, amongst other areas.
He added that the trainees were also taught to operate the RGD 5 grenade, PKM gun and the RPG 7 launcher, which were recently acquired by the present administration of the NAF.
AVM Amin reiterated that trainees underwent a month long practical and theoretical combat medic course, in addition to other advanced SF modules.
He pointed out that out of the 275 personnel screened for SF 6/2020, only 117 were inaugurated to start the course,
”While 94 personnel comprising 5 officers, 89 airmen and airwomen are graduating today, it is indicating a success rate of about 50 per cent.
”Similarly, 35 personnel comprising 5 officers and 30 airmen were initially nominated for the CSAR course and only 32 students completed the requirements to be CSAR operators,” he explained.
The AOC reiterated that only the fittest trainees equipped with the right attitude were able to complete the course to qualify as Special Operation Forces also known as Panthers and CSAR operators of the Nigerian Air Force.
Amin commended CAS Abubakar for convening the course in addition to the tremendous strides in the NAF operations and infrastructural development of all the NAF Bases.