Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that intensive air strikes by the Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole, under the auspices of Operation Green Sweep 3, have yielded more successes in the onslaught against acts of terror in the North-east
In continuation of its sustained efforts to decimate the remnants of Boko Haram Terrorists (BHTs) in North-east of Nigeria, using its aerial power, the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has recorded several successes through Operation Green Sweep 3. The operation which is under the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, has severely damaged the flanks of the terrorists going by the several videos captured after each assault.
Deployed for this operation is the Alpha Jets and the Mi-35M attack helicopter. The Alpha Jets are a light attack aircrafts, which were developed specifically to perform the trainer and light attack missions, as well as to perform these duties more ideally. The Mi-35M on the other hand is for day and night Air Interdiction (attack), Close Air Support and Armed Reconnaissance (Surveillance) missions.
Just this month of August, on Thursday 1, to be precise, NAF fighter jets destroyed BHT hideouts, just as they neutralised the terrorists at Alafa in Borno State. According to NAF Director of Public Relations and Information, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, the operation was in continuation of its sustained efforts to wipe out remnants of BH in the North-east of Nigeria.
He disclosed that the Air Task Force (ATF) of Operation LAFIYA DOLE had carried out the onslaught on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State, adding that the air strike was conducted following Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions that revealed the presence of the terrorists, along with their logistics supplies and equipment, in a group of structures within the settlement.
Accordingly, he said the ATF dispatched two Alpha Jets to attack the location, scoring accurate hits in the target area, which led to the destruction of some of the structures and equipment as well as the killing of several terrorists.
On that foregoing, he said the NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, will sustain its operations against the terrorists in the North-east. In the short video clip, which was declassified, part of the attack on the BHTs was shown.
Not done, on Friday, August 9, NAF jets destroyed the terrorist’s command centre at Dusula in Borno State. This was achieved with the launch of Operation Green Sweep 3. For this operation, the DOPRI said it was further aimed at eliminating remnants of Boko Haram and Islamic State of West Africa Province terrorists (BHT/ISWAP) in the North-east.
He said the ATF of Operation LAFIYA DOLE launched Operation Green Sweep 3, to target some identified terrorists’ positions in Borno State. Again, in furtherance of the operation, it was executed after series of ISR missions led to the identification of the Command Centre with its solar panels, communications equipment and other facilities.
The three Alpha Jets dispatched by the ATF engaged the location in multiple passes, recording accurate hits on the target area. The structures housing the Command Centre were completely destroyed by the strikes while several of the terrorists were neutralised. The few surviving terrorists, who were seen attempting to flee the area, were taken out by follow on attacks. Again, the NAF, operating in concert with surface forces, vowed to sustain its operations against the terrorists in the North-east.
On Saturday, August 11, the newly launched Operation Sweep 3 of ATF again neutralised several ISWAP fighters at multiple locations within Kollaram, a settlement on the fringes of Lake Chad in the Northern part of Borno State. The operation, which was conducted as part of the ongoing Operation Green Sweep 3, targeted three compounds in the village, where Human Intelligence (HUMINT) reports had earlier indicated that the ISWAP fighters were concentrated.
Consequently, following confirmatory ISR missions, which showed significant presence of the terrorists in the designated areas, the ATF scrambled three Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the locations. The munitions of the jets hit the desired points of impact of the targets causing damage to the buildings and neutralising dozens of the terrorists.
Also, on Monday, August 12, same Operation Green Sweep 3 scored another major success as its jets decimated the tactical base of terrorists at Izza in Borno State. The location was designated for attack after series of ISR missions had established that the location was being used as a staging area from where the BHT elements launch their attacks.
Consequently, DOPRI said the ATF scrambled three Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the location, with the timing synchronised to inflict maximum damage and mortality on the terrorists. As a result, there was massive devastation on the affected target while scores of terrorists were killed in the process.
In yet another operation, air strikes being conducted by the ATF destroyed a BHT’s Logistics Base/Assembly Area at Bula Bello on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State. The operation was executed on August 22, 2019, after ISR missions revealed that the settlement was being used by BHT elements as a staging area to launch attacks against own troops.
Consequently, the ATF dispatched two Alpha Jets and an Mi-35M helicopter to attack the identified buildings within the settlement. Overhead the target area, several BHT fighters were seen within the settlement. The two Alpha Jets therefore took turns attacking the target area, scoring direct hits on the desired points of impact. The structures were damaged by the strikes while several of the terrorists were neutralised. The few surviving fighters were taken out in follow-on strikes by the MI-35M attack helicopter.
On August 23, Operation Green Sweep launched devastating air strikes on Bulla Korege in Borno. In that operation, scores of BHTs were neutralised and their hideout destroyed at Bula Korege on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno State. This was achieved in the devastating air strikes conducted by the ATF of Operation LAFIYA DOLE as part of missions in the ongoing Operation Green Sweep 3.
According to the DOPRI, the target was designated for attack based on credible Intelligence reports, which were further corroborated by series of ISR missions, that established the settlement as a major hub of BHT activities. The ATF therefore detailed two Alpha Jets to attack the target area. The air strikes were synchronised for maximum effect, recording devastating hits on the BHT hideout and killing several of their fighters, as captured in the Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) footage.
All these successes being recorded didn’t just start today. In November 2018, the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, thought it wise to launch Operation Green Sweep through the ATF of Operation LAFIYA DOLE. The operation, which commenced on Wednesday, 14 November 2018, is an Air Interdiction Operation targeting selected BHT locations within the fringes of Lake Chad as well as areas around the Alagarno Forest near Sambisa in Borno State, with a view to further degrading the remnants of the terrorists, curtailing their freedom of action and denying them bases from which they could launch attacks.
In the morning of Day One of the operation, air strikes by NAF aircraft resulted in the destruction of a BHT hideout and neutralisation of several terrorists at Sharama on the Lake Chad Green Fringes in Northern Borno. Again, the attack was conducted following series of ISR missions, that showed the presence of significant number of BHT fighters in buildings under trees spread across the settlement.
Consequently, the ATF dispatched two NAF Alpha Jet aircraft to attack the camp, leading to destruction of some of the structures and equipment as well as the killing of several BHTs. Since it’s launch in 2018, it has become so successful in its operations that the AirForce has since gone to launch phases two and three.
In fact, acknowledging the efforts of the personnel in the renewed onslaught, Governor of Adamawa State, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, during the recent Eid-El-Kabir with the frontline troops in Yola, the Adamawa State capital commended the troops of the ATF for their immense sacrifices in the fight against insurgency as well as securing the territorial integrity of the country.
The governor was the special guest of honour at the luncheon organised by the NAF to celebrate the Eid-El-Kabir with the frontline troops in Yola, and it was in keeping with the Chief of the Air Staff’s tradition of spending festive periods with the NAF troops in the frontlines.
Speaking further, the governor said the contributions of the NAF troops in the ongoing counterinsurgency operation could not be overemphasised, adding that whatever he is doing in the wider society, he would also extend it to personnel of the NAF, particularly in terms of provision of infrastructure.
While addressing the troops, Air Marshal Abubakar appreciated them for their contributions and sacrifices in order to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians are secured. He urged them to work much harder to ensure that the country is safe, as security was a prerequisite for national development. He therefore charged the troops not to be distracted by what they see or hear on the social media but to remain focused.
According to him, “Nigeria’s greatness cannot be interfered with by any individual or group of individuals. Therefore, as an air force and as members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, we will continue to work round the clock to ensure that our country is secured and no individual or group of individuals succeeds in undermining the territorial integrity of Nigeria.”
Abubakar reminded the troops of the need to ensure a stable and secured country where every Nigerian, irrespective of political, ethnic, regional or religious affiliation, would be able to express his or herself, and pursue his or her legitimate aspirations.
The CAS noted that the substantial progress made in securing the nation Nigeria could not have been possible without the high level of aircraft serviceability enjoyed in the last four years. He remarked that this had enabled the NAF to deploy to different parts of the country including the North-east and North-west in order to continue to ensure a united, prosperous, stable and peaceful Nigeria.
He stated that, although, a few challenges had recently emerged, the service was working very hard, along with other security agencies, to surmount them. In the same vein, he commended President Muhammadu Buhari for his unwavering support to the NAF in the last four years and his support in terms of aircraft acquisition, reactivation of grounded platforms and unprecedented training opportunities for pilots and personnel of other NAF specialties.
Given the numerous successes recorded by the NAF, albeit with a few downsides, it would be pertinent to point out that credit should be given to the unified use of ISR, efficient platforms and one purpose of mind of the taskforce egged by NAF leadership.