Without a doubt, the war against insurgency has gone beyond conventional warfare. Inevitably, the military keeps brainstorming on
and test-running various dynamics to counter such acts of insurgency. One of such measures was the recently held International Air Power seminar organised by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), which was an opportunity to engage allies from other nations, who have conquered or are also battling insurgency.
Although the maiden event might have come and gone, the gains still lingers in the minds of the participants, who were drawn from 20 countries of the world including
Pakistan, Jordan, the United States of America, Great Britain, Morocco, Niger Republic, Chad and Cameroun,
amongst several others.
It would be stating the obvious to note that the NAF is constantly striving to maintain it’s strategic advantage through the evolution of new strategies for the employment of air power to more effectively prosecute the ongoing war against insurgency/terrorism in the North-east of Nigeria, as well as curb acts of criminality in other parts of the country.
With this imperative firmly in view, the NAF on November 19, 2018, organised a three-day International Air Power Seminar at the NAF Officers’ Mess and Suites, Kado, Abuja. The theme of the Seminar was “Air Power in Irregular Warfare: a Framework for Understanding and Responding”. The first of its kind in the country, the seminar attracted air power experts from around the globe who brainstormed with Nigeria’s foremost air power practitioners to develop innovative approaches for dealing with the challenges of irregular warfare and how air power could be employed to address these challenges.
According to NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodire Ibikunle Daramola, immediately after the event was declared open, the president, in company of other dignitaries, toured the historical photo gallery, which displayed pictures showcasing the activities and achievements of the NAF over the years.
Two papers were presented after the Opening Ceremony. The first paper titled “The Role of National Power in Irregular Warfare” was delivered by Professor Usman Tar, from the Nigerian Defence Academy. The second paper, which was presented by Major General Yousef Al-Hnaity, the Commander of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, was on topic “Understanding Irregular Warfare and its Challenges to Air Power Application”.
The event, which had representatives from about 20 allied air forces, also featured a cultural night at the end of day one that showcased Nigeria’s rich cultural heritage, while days two and three featured the presentation of papers from other air power professionals and security experts from Nigeria and other parts of the world.
While declaring the seminar open, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, who was also the Special Guest of Honour, commended the leadership of the NAF for bringing together air power practitioners from all over the world to Nigeria to discuss and find practical ways to reinvigorate the fight against insurgency.
He noted that the seminar is quite timely, in that, since the outbreak of the Boko Haram crisis in the North-east of Nigeria, the NAF and indeed the Armed Forces of Nigeria have been engaged in conducting counter insurgency operations that have challenged the services’ doctrine, tactics, training, Order of Battle and Force Protection architecture.
According to him “seminars like this are necessary for Armed Services like the NAF to draw from the experiences of other armed forces that have either previously or are currently engaged in counter insurgency operations”.
The president, who used the opportunity to canvass for the “whole of the nation approach” for a successful counterinsurgency operation, noted that there must be unity of efforts across multiple Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).
Optimum Utilisation of Resources
Earlier in his opening address, the Honourable Minister of Defence (HMOD), Mansur Dan-Ali, extolled the contributions of the NAF in the defence of the territorial integrity of Nigeria, while noting that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) was not unaware of both the kinetic and non-kinetic efforts the NAF has been expending in support of the counterinsurgency operations, which he stressed have been instrumental in curtailing the insurgents and making life more meaningful for the victims. The HMOD also seized the opportunity to reaffirm the readiness of the ministry to continue to ensure the optimum utilisation of resources in the procurement of equipment and other requirements for the services in prosecuting the counterinsurgency operations.
He also used the opportunity to thank all officers, airmen and airwomen of the NAF for the consistent and professional manner in which they have been handling all the operations in which they are involved. He added that the International Air Power Seminar perfectly fits into the MOD’s vision of ensuring synergy and cooperation, not just within the services but across MDAs, in support of the nation’s political objectives.
Changing Dynamics of Warfare
The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, who welcomed dignitaries to the event, stated that the hosting of the maiden edition of the NAF International Air Power Seminar was necessitated by the security situation in Nigeria, the rapidly changing dynamics in the international arena and the evolving approach to warfare, which requires careful understanding of the threats and response options available for the projection of air power in addressing national security imperatives. According to him, the changing character of warfare has emphasised the need for a change in the way armed forces approach warfare engagements.
“While the engagement in conventional or regular warfare remains a possibility, the global predominant threat to nations has become more irregular in nature”, he added. Air Marshal Abubakar took the opportunity to thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for creating the enabling environment for the enthronement of professionalism in the service, which has led to enhanced operational effectiveness as well as the optimisation of local technology through research and development.