The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, on Monday says the role of the population where insurgency is fought is very critical to succeeding in irregular warfare.
Abubakar said this at the ongoing maiden edition of the Nigerian Air Force International Air Power Seminar in Abuja.
The theme of the seminar is “Air Power in Irregular Warfare: A Framework for Understanding and Responding”.
He said government forces and the general population must see themselves as partners in progress, working together to restore peace and security.
He said: “We must debunk the narratives of the insurgents and endear ourselves as patriots in the hearts and minds of the people.
“Based on our understanding of the nature of irregular warfare, the Nigerian Air Force and indeed the military, have deployed massive non-kinetic means in the theatre of operations.”
“Consequently, civil-military coordination activities are carried out simultaneously alongside air operations.”
Abubakar added that the changing character of warfare had imposed the need for a change in the way armed forces approached warfare.
He said: “While the engagement in conventional or regular warfare remains a possibility, the global predominant threat to nations has gone more irregular in nature.
“Irregular warfare by its nature is asymmetric, and it covers a wide range of activities with insurgency and counter-insurgency operations at its core.”
He noted that the Nigerian military had been engaged in irregular warfare of recent, particularly in its fight against the insurgents.
He said: “The security situation in Nigeria, the rapidly changing dynamics in the international arena and the changing approach to warfare requires careful understanding of threats/response options available for projection of air power in addressing national security.
“We, therefore, deemed it necessary to host this International Air Power Seminar to serve as a platform for exchange of ideas on the way forward.
“Between June 1, 2015 and Oct. 31, NAF flew a total of 51,582 hours 15 minutes in 39,807 sorties to deliver the air power that has helped to keep the insurgents at bay. as well as creating an enabling environment for our surface forces to conduct their operations.
“We have provided medical services to over 295,000 patients and have conducted 661 general surgeries and 848 eye surgeries among the displaced persons across the country with well over 80 per cent of these being carried out in the North-Eastern parts of the country.”
Abubakar explained further that the seminar was conceptualised to provide a forum for cross think-thank domain discussions where experienced air power practitioners would interact.
He said those in the academics in related fields working in similar emerging threat environments would interact with air power practitioners of the service.
Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, said the seminar perfectly fits into the ministry’s vision of ensuring synergy and cooperation within the services.
He added that not just within the services but across ministerial boundaries in support of the nation’s political objectives.
The minister appreciated the CAS for his efforts in bringing this idea of the seminar to fruition.
He said: “We at the ministry are quite appreciative of the role the NAF has played in the counter-insurgency operations in the North-East.
“We are aware of both the kinetic and non-kinetic efforts the NAF has been expending, and is still expending, in support of the counter-insurgency operations.”
He said all of these had been instrumental in curtailing the insurgents and making life more meaningful for the victims.
Dan-Ali said: “I believe this seminar will further provide new options for the service in its counter-insurgency operations based on experiences from other countries.’’