The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has graduated 676 personnel in an effort to improve operations.
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar, gave the figure at the Regiment Training Centre (RTC), Kaduna, on Saturday.
He said that NAF would continue to recruit and train more personnel to boost air operations across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN ) reports that the 676 personnel include Basic Regiment Officers, Regimental Sergeant Majors, Force Protection in Complex Air and Ground Environment (CAGE), as well as the Basic and Advanced Regiment Airmen/Airwomen.
Abubakar assured that NAF would continue to pursue improvement of force protection capabilities of personnel to meet the country’s defence requirements.
“Evidently, these trainings and subsequent deployments of force protection elements have contributed to bridging gaps in the protection of Nigerian Air Force critical assets and base defence,” he said.
Abubakar said that monumental investments by the Federal Government in the acquisition of new platforms and other critical infrastructure were better secured than in the past.
According to him, NAF has also expanded its regiment structure to meet contemporary security challenges.
“This administration recently restructured the 407 Air Combat Training Group and established the 41 Force Protection Wing in Kainji.
“The wing is to serve as a dedicated unit to ensure credible force protection and base defence for units in Kainji which has just been expanded with the planned induction of the A-29 Super Tucano aircraft.
“Also, 65 regiment personnel made up of 20 officers and 45 airmen have been nominated to attend various specialised regiment courses in Egypt to further improve the capacity and quality of NAF regiment personnel,” he said.
He gave the assurance that plans were being made to train more regiment personnel overseas to sustain capacity development in the regiment specialty.
“In keeping up with this trajectory, the Nigerian Air Force will reinvigorate capabilities that hitherto declined, develop new capabilities for the changing security environment and adopt processes to reflect the broad range of security requirements.
“It will also continue to invest in capacity building initiatives aimed at generating combat forces not only capable of securing own bases against all forms of hostile elements, but poised for effective, efficient and swift response to our national security challenges,” he added.
The NAF boss charged the personnel to uphold the values of the military including loyalty, discipline, honesty, intelligence, motivation, accountability, judgment, decisiveness, teamwork and courage.
He said that NAF’s leadership remained committed to enthroning professionalism, urging the personnel to put what they learned from the course to maximum use in order to safeguard more lives and property within their areas of responsibility.
He told the graduating students to always guard their utterances and conduct at all times, and not allow themselves to be used by ‘disgruntled and criminal elements’.
“You must always submit yourselves to civil authority, and protect our democracy.
“The safety and security of our precious people and communities must remain our primary priority.
“Always remember that your duty is to protect all Nigerians irrespective of ethnic background or religious inclination,” he said.
Abubakar expressed confidence that, with continued commitment and sustained efforts, Nigeria would overcome threats to its peace and security.
He also expressed NAF’s loyalty to Nigeria, and praised President Muhammadu Buhari for unwavering support for NAF.
Earlier, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) Ground Training Command, AVM Idi Amin, said the graduation was in line with NAF’s core objectives.
According to Amin, three of the 676 students are for regiment officers course, 40 for regimental sergeant majors course and 55 for advanced regiment airmen/airwomen course.
Others are 114 students of intermediate regiment airmen/airwomen course and 464 for basic regiment course.
The AOC noted that the force protection in CAGE was hitherto handled by British Military Advisory and Training Team but was being handled exclusively by RTC instructors after years of capacity building.
NAN reports that prizes were given to those who distinguished themselves during the course. (NAN)