Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Chief Of Air Staff Personally Flies Fighter Jet To Maiduguri To Join In The Battle Against Boko Haram

Incensed by the rising number of deaths arising from attacks by the terrorist Boko Haram group, the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Adesola Amosu, personally entered the battle zone last weekend when he flew one of the Alpha jets of the 75 Strike Group of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to conduct air strikes against enemy positions in the North-east.

But despite the air and ground assault by the military, the sect's onslaught on North-eastern Nigeria continued with the fourth attack in the last three days on the troubled Borno State, leading to the death of at least 40 persons in Jakana, a village 35 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the state capital.

With the latest attack, the death toll in the state since Saturday had risen to 166 by Monday, comprising 91 persons who were killed in Ajilari-Bintu Sugar in Maiduguri and Mainok village on Saturday by the terrorists and another 35, including three policemen, who were killed in Mafa on Sunday.

However, a security source, who informed THISDAY of Amosu's involvement in the air bombardment of Boko Haram hideouts in the North-east, said the air force chief was galvanized by the barbaric acts of the insurgents and the need to lead by example.

According to the source, the air force chief, who trained as a combat pilot, was moved to lead by example in a symbolic operation conducted last weekend to show other pilots that "it is doable".
"You know that air force has come under severe criticism recently for not doing enough to provide air cover for the ground troops and more importantly, surveillance and intelligence to the overall success of the operation," the source said.

Continuing, the source added: "When you look at it, he (CAS) is an Alpha jet pilot. He flew an Alpha jet when he went to Air Weapons School in Kainji. So what he did was as a commander leading his troops to battle, just to set an example.
"He did that to set an example to the pilots involved in the operations that they can do it. He therefore flew to Yola with the 75 Strike Group to show to the pilots the seriousness of the national assignment they are handling and to encourage the crew and technicians."

When THISDAY contacted, the air forces' Director of Information and Public Relations, Air Commodore Yusuf Anas, did not deny or confirm the information, stating: "Although I cannot confirm whether he flew or not because I was not there, but if indeed he flew an Alpha jet, he must have flown it to give encouragement to the pilots involved in the air operations.

"You know there are many things a leader could do and the crucial one among them is to lead by example. That is why he has visited the place for the fourth time."
However, Amosu has assured Nigerians that the air force has the capacity to bring to a speedy end the insurgency in the North-east.

He said this yesterday when he received the Commandant of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC), Jaji, Air Vice Marshal John Ifemeje, who paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
"In the bid to sanitise the North-east situation, I have since been synergising with the Chief of Army Staff, where both of us recently embarked on operational visits to Borno and Adamawa States to address members of the forces at the frontlines," he said.

"We also used the opportunity of the visit to interact with the troops, received briefings from commanders on the ground and also got a first hand perspective of the situation there," he added.
Amosu revealed that the impression they got from the field was of a force truly inspired and determined to bring the insurgency to a speedy end.
He noted that the military through effective collaboration with other security agencies was exerting enormous pressure on the insurgents and is determined to rout them out quickly so that life could return to normal in the affected states as soon as possible.

The CAS further stated that the armed forces were already thinking of the post-insurgency phase and strategising on ways to
"keep the place clean" to avoid a relapse into the violent past.

He said the task ahead was even harder as more technology-based platforms would be required, and assured Nigerians that while the government was determined to provide more funding and support to the armed forces, more sacrifice and commitment would be required from all.
The CAS therefore urged the commandant to ensure that the college's curriculum is tailored to meet the current challenges and demands facing the armed forces.

Earlier, Ifemeje had informed the CAS that he was in his office to inform him of the college's commitment to train mid-level officers that are adequately prepared to take command level positions in fulfillment of the mandate of the armed forces of Nigeria.

He stated that the college had since adopted the manouverist approach to warfare in tandem with the current teachings of international armies as is best suited for resolving contemporary peace and security challenges.
The commandant said he would bequeath an enduring legacy by making the college the pride of place among its contemporaries across the world.

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