NAF Sends 20 Pilots to UK, S’Africa for Training on Counter-Insurgency

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•Likely to deployed to North East, N/Delta operations

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) is sending 20 officers to United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa for special training on combat operations aimed at sustaining the capacity of the military to deploy aerial forces to troubled parts of the country.

The Flying Officers who were selected after the completion of their courses at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) are expected on return to beef up the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram in the North East and if necessary, drafted against the resurgent militants in the Niger Delta.

The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday at NAF Headquarters, Abuja, charged the junior officers to take their trainings seriously in honour of the country and air force.

Abubakar who was represented by the  Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Ahmed Iya, said that the officers were to be dispatched in two batches of 10 to UK for a six-month training course and South Africa for a one-year training respectively.

“NAF is sending another batch of officers abroad for pilot training in South Africa and UK.  And this is to formally inform you that you are departing to represent Nigeria and as well as the NAF. You should remember this is the beginning of your career and if you lay a solid foundation you will be rewarded but if you go out there to mess up, you will only have yourself to blame. So I urge you to go there and do your best for the country.

“There are 20 officers that are going for the training with 10 of them going to South Africa and another 10 in UK”, he said.

The Air force chief, while fielding questions from journalists, said the training is a “deliberate effort to build capacity in view of the security challenges across the country”.

“It’s with the vision of the CAS to continue training and you know the challenges we are facing particularly in the North East. So we are training to beef up with the ongoing or subsequent operations in the country.

“These are fresh graduates from the NDA. So what we are giving them now is basic trainings and when they come back we will assign them to other platforms based on their performance,” he said.

Also speaking, one of the Pilots, Flying Officer Kolade Alao, assured that they would utilise the opportunities provided by the training.

Alao said that “it’s very rare opportunity as a young pilot officer to be given training outside the country”.

“We are selected to train as a qualified pilot for the country and we are confident that when we come back we are going to apply what we have learnt.

By the grace of God we will do our best to complete our Certification,” he said.