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THE NIGERIAN AIR FORCE IN CONTEMPORARY WARFARE

THE NIGERIAN AIR FORCE IN CONTEMPORARY WARFARE: CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF’s VISION FOR FUTURE ENGAGEMENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1.       The use of physical force or the threat of it in the resolution of social problems is as old as the existence of mankind. Societies have over the years, continued to rely on individuals or groups of specialists to assume the burden of fighting, killing, and dying for the larger group. Notwithstanding the formal title or name given to these individuals or groups, theirs is a profession of arms which exists to serve the larger community, accomplish its purposes and objectives, and protect its way of life. The justification for maintaining and employing these individuals or groups, and indeed any modern military force, is the political ends of the society or state. For the political scientist Samuel P Huntington, the function of the profession of arms is “the ordered application of force in the resolution of a social or political problem.” Thus, the armed forces must prepare for the conduct of war and secure military victories until peace is restored politically. Indeed, the war fighting mission of an armed force will determine how it is organized, equipped, and trained.

 

2.       In a world, where new threats have thrust new missions and new types of combat on our armed forces, and wars now seem to have indefinite duration, with shadowy enemies and ambiguous transition points between war and peace, additional burden is placed on the armed forces and the society they seek to protect. Certainly, the everchanging character of war and conflict infers that, “in the race to add value to our society and secure our communities, there is no finishing line.”

 

3.       The unending requirement to safeguard our communities therefore, underscores the need for adaptive strategies that will provide the comparative advantage over our current and future adversaries. The ability to constantly formulate such strategies lies in a sound vision, which is vital to strategic leadership. Drawing from the perspective of General David Petraeus, one-time commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, strategic leadership is “leadership exercised at a level of an organization where the leader truly determines the azimuth for the organization, charts the organization’s path and develops the direction that the organization is going to go. It entails conceiving the right vision, communicating the vision effectively through the breadth and depth of the organization, overseeing the implementation of the vision, and determining how the vision needs to be refined, changed, augmented, and then repeating the process over again.” Accordingly, to set and actualize a vision requires a constant interplay of the inseparable triad of strategic leadership, strategy formulation and influence. Likewise, a vision can be regarded as a precursor to mission command in that it takes into account the military problem, and visualizes the end state in ways that harnesses the initiative and innovation of all members of the team.

 

4.       I am aware that part of the deliverables of this lecture is to enable you, students of Senior Course 40, to reflect on my vision for the Nigerian Air Force, so as to gain strategic insight into contemporary challenges and the future direction of the Service. Whereas, most of your engagements here in the college are centered around the operational level of war and warfare, an understanding of the strategic level is imperative because successes achieved at the tactical and operational levels, that do not support the aim at the strategic level, are short-lived and without meaning. As observed by the great theorist and military strategist Carl von Clausewitz “the purpose of war is to serve policy. Unchecked by reason, unguided by policy, the nature of war is to serve itself.” Indeed, events of World War 1, the war in Iraq and the strategic stalemate in Afghanistan are simple contemporary examples of war for war’s sake. On this note, this presentation will provide an avenue to evaluate the preparedness of the NAF in response to Nigeria’s current and future security imperatives. I will however, make emphasis on counter-terrorism/counter- insurgency and counter-militancy operations in the North East and Niger Delta regions respectively, since these threats remain heavily reliant on air power for their resolution.

 

AIM

 

5.       The aim of this presentation therefore, is to acquaint you with my vision for the Nigerian Air Force of the future that will optimally meet Nigeria’s evolving security imperatives.

 

SCOPE

 

6.       To achieve this aim, I shall cover the following:

Starting with

a.Conceptual Clarification.

And followed by

b.Nigerian Air Force Mission Statement and State of the Nigerian Air Force.

Then I shall look at

c.Contemporary Challenges for the Nigerian Air Force.

And thereafter

d.My Vision and Policy Thrust for Nigerian Air Force of the Future.

I shall begin with conceptual clarifications

 

CONCEPTUAL CLARIFICATIONS

7.       The concepts to be clarified in this presentation are warfare and vision. Let me begin with warfare.

 

WARFARE

 

8.       Every culture develops its own way of war. While the Aztecs and the “amok” combatants of Indonesia favoured a ritualistic conflict fought by a few champions to cause relatively little bloodshed, the Chinese military theorist, Sun-Tzu asserted that “to subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” For the British military historian, Geoffrey Parker, the western way of war rests upon the principal foundations of reliance on superior technology to compensate for inferior number; discipline as the primary instrument that turns bands of men fighting as individuals, into soldiers fighting as part of an organized unit; and a capital-intensive military system. In his book, The Scientific Way to Warfare, Antoine Bousquet posits that modernity has transformed the practice of warfare and produced 4 regimes of the scientific way to warfare.

 

9.       First, is the Mechanistic Warfare which emphasizes rehearsed synchronous movements and lack of autonomy by armies, thereby requiring unflinching obedience to predetermined sequence of battle decided upon by their commanders. Accordingly, this kind of warfare as typified by Frederick the Great’s Prussian army, made armies devoid of any capacity for reactivity to actions of opposing forces, and victory was subject to the commanding officer’s meticulous plan. Second, is the Thermodynamic Warfare which saw the channeling of greater energy into war in the of form motorized energy propelling vehicles on land, sea and air with destructive capacities as observed in the Second World war and the detonation of the atomic bomb.

 

10.     Third, is the Cybernetic Warfare. As the intensity and breadth of the battlefield grew along with its logistical requirements, communication technologies became necessary to achieve the required coordination of increasingly large and intricate military systems. The drive for complete predictability and centralized control over armed conflict therefore, became renewed under cybernetic warfare as evinced in the first Gulf war- Operation Desert Storm. Fourth, is the Chaoplexic Warfare which is crystallized in the theories of chaos and complexity. Whereas information remains a central concept in this form of warfare, its key notions are those of non-linearity, self-organisation, and emergence, leading to the adoption of the doctrine of network-centric warfare in the late 1990s. Accordingly, the impetus towards more decentralized and autonomous forms of military organisation in warfare is clearly visible, no doubt accelerated by the successes of the insurgencies and terrorist networks that have adopted similar modes of warfare. From the foregoing, this presentation views warfare as the ways in which war is fought against an enemy.

Next is Vision

 

VISION

 

11.     In his analysis of the nature of war, and what became known as part of the “Clausewitzian trinity,” Carl von Clausewitz observed war to be defined by chance and uncertainty which the creative spirit is free to roam. In this, Clausewitz draws our attention to the fact that the kind of war we expect is never what we will experience in reality. Thus, the ability to be creative in the prosecution of war portends the likelihood for success, by being able to overcome the conditions that seek to significantly alter the course of war from the commander’s perception.  Undoubtedly, because creativity is an outcome of vision, the import of a vison therefore, is to help navigate an organisation through the fog and friction that exist not only in times of crises, but, also in routine schedule.

 

12.     Visioning as a process is creative and action oriented to produce the focus and energy to make change happen. It involves creating compelling images of the future by producing a mental map of what could be, and more importantly, what a leader wants the future to be. Indeed, a vision is not a static thing, it is a dynamic and collaborative process of articulating what members of an organization want to create together. In this regard, a vision gives people a sense of meaning in their work, thereby helping to crystalize the leader’s idea.

 

13.     Although in advancing a vision, a leader not necessarily has to have a comprehensive plan for actualizing the vision, the acceptance of a vision lies in it being credible, compelling, and connected to the everyday reality of the organization in ways that emphasizes creativity to conceive, design and put into practice new behaviors of interacting and organizing. Accordingly, in this presentation, vision means the dynamic, collaborative, creative, and action oriented process through which a leader sets the future outlook for an organization, in ways that synergize credibility, reality and innovation to conceive new behaviours of interacting and organizing. Having conceptualized the terms in this presentation, let us now look at the Nigerian Air Force Mission Statement and State of the Nigerian Air Force.

 

NIGERIAN AIR FORCE MISSION STATEMENT AND STATE OF THE NIGERIAN AIR FORCE

 

14.     A mission statement is a written declaration of an organization’s mandate or the central purpose for its establishment. The organization’s mission usually remains unchanged over time, and is worded in ways that permit ease of communication and comprehension by all stakeholders.

Section 217, Sub-section 2, of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria charged the Nigerian Air Force with the following:

 

a.       Defending Nigeria from external aggression.

b.       Maintaining Nigeria’s territorial integrity and securing its borders from violation on land, sea and in the air.

c.       Suppressing insurrection and acting in aid of civil authority to restore order when called upon by the President, but subject to such conditions as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly, and

d.       Performing such other functions as may be prescribed by an act of the National Assembly.

 

15.     Having highlighted the Nigerian Air Force Mission Statement, let me now briefly acquaint you with the state of the Nigerian Air Force.

 

16.     At the height of its glory between 1975 and 1988, the Nigerian Air Force had developed into a well-trained and robust force, capable of undertaking operations across the tactical spectrum of air power, with the exception of air-to-air refuelling. However, with the military’s incursion into politics, the Nigerian Air Force witnessed a decline and decay in the state of its air assets and operational capabilities. Following the return to democracy, the Nigerian Air Force has witnessed a steady increase in its operational capabilities. Accordingly, the current ORBAT of the Nigerian Air Force comprises the fighter fleet, Helicopter fleet, Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Surveillance fleet, transport fleet and trainer fleet.

 

17.     It is pertinent to mention that aircraft in the Presidential fleet, although staffed and commanded by the Nigerian Air Force, are not listed as part of Nigerian Air Force inventory. Currently, the serviceability status of operable aircraft in the Service is well over 60 per cent, which although adequate for our requirements, still needs to be improved. In the same vein, the array of platforms available falls far short of our optimum requirement. Equipping and sustaining a balanced air force, therefore, is one of the greatest challenges facing the Nigerian Air Force today. Having highlighted the air assets available to the Nigerian Air Force, let us now consider the Nigerian Air Force’s response options in times of intervention. These options are in 3 broad situations: peacetime, crisis and war.

Let us look at the Peacetime situation

 

PEACETIME

 

18.     Notwithstanding the fact that conceptually and by orientation, air forces are war-fighting tools of statecraft, they also have the capacity to respond to threats in peacetime. These responses include among others: Deterrence, Disaster Relief operations, Air Transport, as well as Maritime and Border patrols. I will however focus on deterrence and disaster relief operations. Starting with deterrence.

 

a.       Deterrence.  Deterrence is “the prevention from action by fear of consequences….a state of mind brought about by the existence of a credible threat of unacceptable counteraction.” While it is likely that some contemporary adversaries may not be deterred by the military means available to a state, the nature of contemporary security threats infers a deeper synergy in the use of all elements of national power to strengthen deterrence. Whether or not airpower can deter people from joining an insurgency or terrorist group remains an open question. While there is no technological “quick fix” to the problems of terrorism and insurgency, airpower could provide the persistent surveillance and attack capability needed as part of any comprehensive strategy to counter these non-state challenges. Accordingly, Nigerian Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions in collaboration with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) have deterred illegal activities in the nation’s maritime environment, and provided a safer environment for stakeholders in the maritime sector to operate, thus, increasing economic prosperity for the country. Next is Disaster Relief Operations.

 

b.       Disaster Relief Operations.   When disasters strike in any form, speedy response is vital.  Air power can play a key role in alleviating human suffering, by providing search and rescue services, medical evacuation of the sick and injured, as well as delivering food, medicines, and other supplies in the shortest possible time. For example, the NAF took active part in the relief effort of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in delivering relief materials to victims of floods in various parts of the country in 2012. Similarly, the NAF recently airlifted relief materials for victims of the mud slide disaster in Sierra Leone. Currently, the NAF provides similar responses in the various theatres of operations across the country.

Over to

 

CRISIS SITUATION

 

19.     Air power offers a wide range of response options during crises situation, some of which include: punitive air strikes, aid to civil authority and support for friendly governments. I shall begin with punitive air strikes.

 

a.       Punitive Air Strikes. In crisis situations, air power could be used for punitive air strikes short of full-fledged war. This can be as a response or reprisal against attacks by state-sponsored guerrilla or terrorist groups. Within this context, punitive air strike is an instrument of military coercion. The American political scientist and scholar of the coercive strategies of airpower, Robert Pape, defines coercion as “efforts to change the behavior of an adversary by manipulating costs and benefit.”  Coercion and deterrence focus on influencing the adversary’s calculus for decision making. However, while deterrence seeks to maintain the status quo by discouraging an adversary from changing his behavior, coercion seeks to force the opponent to alter its behavior. Nigerian Air Force air strikes in the North East have devastated and coerced the insurgents by limiting their freedom of action to operate openly and in mass, as was the case before. Equally, these punitive strikes have eradicated the insurgent’s “frontline” leadership and logistics bases, thereby reducing their operational capability as seen in the video clip.

 

b.       Aid to Civil Power. Airpower is a powerful instrument that could be employed during crisis to aid civil power especially when tackling non-state actors and dangerous criminal gangs.  To this end, the NAF has deployed its air assets in active support of various Internal Security (IS) operations nationwide.  Accordingly, NAF ISR and ground attack assets have decimated some criminal camps and hideouts harboring pipeline vandals in the Southern axis of Nigeria, while several cattle rustlers have been apprehended and neutralized in the ongoing Operation AWATSE. Before then, security agencies could not penetrate the camps to engage the heavily armed criminals because of fear of sustaining very high casualties.  Airpower, however, paved the way for surface forces.

Next is

 

c.Support for Friendly Governments. The deployment of air assets to a friendly government under internal or external threat can help tilt the balance of power in favour of such government. This is a useful crisis management ploy, to provide timely moral and physical support to such friendly governments, thereby strengthening their resolve in times of tension. Undoubtedly, the deployment of NAF air assets to Senegal as part of the Nigerian contingent of Economic Community of West African States Military Intervention in Gambia (ECOMIG), to enforce the 1 December 2016 Election mandate provided the impetus that led to a quick and peaceful resolution of the problem.

What then is the Nigerian Air Force’s options in Wartime?

 

 

 

WARTIME

 

20.     The unique ability of air power to concentrate military power, when and where it is needed is a dominant feature of modern warfare. In war, airpower can strike at the sources of an enemy’s power, the links between the enemy’s sources of power and fielded forces, the fielded forces themselves, or all 3 types of targets simultaneously. Accordingly, airpower offers commanders a wide range of options across the operational spectrum. This spectrum ranges from independent operations aimed at achieving the immediate operational objectives of the air campaign to other missions in support of the operational requirements of surface forces.

 

21.     These missions could take one of many forms, ranging from Command, Control, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C2ISR), to Air Defence, Ground Attack, Deep and Battle Field Interdiction, Close Air Support, and the Airlift of Personnel and Materiel. I am aware that you will delve more on these concepts as you progress in your course. Indeed, looking at the essence of airpower, which holds that only airpower can apply great power quickly to any tangible target, it is evident that options for using airpower in peace and war are virtually unlimited. Airmen have long regarded flexibility as the key to airpower whereas in reality, the reverse is closer to the truth: airpower is the key to flexibility. Unfettered by geography or topography, only an airman’s global worldview can fully capitalize on the unlimited options and opportunities that airpower presents.

 

I will now highlight some of the contemporary challenges for the Nigerian Air Force

 

CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES FOR THE NIGERIAN     AIR FORCE

 

22.     The challenges for the NAF in contemporary conflicts lie primarily in the fact that every crisis and war has its own quantitative and qualitative features, and a combination of known and unknown variables that are likely to change as the involved parties attempt to influence each other.  Equally, because today’s threat environment is violent, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, it is impossible to describe and analyze it through a single model. Reflecting on the challenges for wars in the future, General James Mattis observed that

“…operations in the future will require a balance of regular and irregular competencies….the enemy is smart, and adaptive….all operating environments are dynamic with an infinite number of variables; therefore it is not scientifically possible to accurately predict the outcome of an action. To suggest otherwise runs contrary to historical experience and the nature of war….we are in error when we think that what works in one theatre is universally applicable to all theatres.”

 

23.     Akin to the operational challenges identified above, there is the challenge of limited access to structures, institutions, and personnel with the analytical flexibility to sufficiently recognize the unique qualities of each war, and act accordingly. Indeed, airpower’s flexibility must transcend mere characteristics and reflect in military planning and strategic thinking in ways that best use force to interact with the broad array of political, diplomatic, economic, cultural, sociological and other factors that might produce a favourable strategic outcome. Accordingly, the contemporary challenges for the NAF are in 2 broad categories, namely tangible and intangible challenges. The tangible challenges are in the areas of insufficient platforms and low aircraft serviceability, as well as lack of military industrial complex and inadequate qualitative manning. Intangible challenges comprise the changing character of warfare and the amorphous construct of victory.

 

The first is

 

INSUFFICIENT PLATFORMS AND LOW AIRCRAFT SERVICEABILITY

24.     Intensive air operations across different theatres in the country and the need to meet the requirements for training have placed high demand on the limited number of platforms available to the Nigerian Air Force. The insufficiency of platforms to meet assigned tasks, coupled with a substantial number of aged offensive air assets in the Nigerian Air Force have compelled the Service to look inwards at indigenous Research and Development to maintain, revive and employ these assets in various theatres of operation.

 

25.     This effort notwithstanding, the discontinuation of production of spares for some of the Nigerian Air Force aged fleet such as the Alpha Jet and L-39ZA will continue to pose a challenge of insufficiency of spares thereby leading to low aircraft serviceability rate. Already, the Nigerian Air Force has acquired 2 x Mi-35M attack helicopters, and there is an indication of the sale of the Super Tucano aircraft by the United States Government to enable the Service efficiently orchestrate future operations. Also, out of the expected 10 x Super Mushshak primary trainer aircraft procured, 5 x aircraft have been inducted into the Nigerian Air Force inventory to enhance flying training. The enormous cost of aircraft acquisition and maintenance infers that such undertakings would need to be carved out as extra budgetary expenditure, while platform maintenance and upgrade be excised from recurrent expenditure to capital expenditure.

Next is

 

LACK OF MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

 

26.     The nexus between Industrial innovation and organization to military power dates back to the early origins of modern industrialization. Since both domains supply each other with worldviews, ideas and schemes of action, the division of what is military and what is civilian in terms of technology, techniques and practices is largely a construed one. Whereas the quality of manpower engaged in the security and defence of a state is vital to the success in responding to threats, the availability of the necessary equipment, weapons and ammunition needed to perform the assigned task is also important.

 

27.     In a bid to secure their territorial integrity and sovereignty, states leverage on their Military Industrial Complex to arm their armed forces, or undertake weapons acquisition abroad. Notwithstanding the means utilized to meet the demands for military hardware, the cost of modern airpower is staggering, and as a result the number of aerial weapons systems available has dwindled over time. Indeed, the absence of a Military Industrial Complex in Nigeria makes the Nigerian Air Force dependent on purchase of most of its defence equipment from foreign countries. This has economic and security costs for the nation especially in terms of depletion of foreign exchange and low operational readiness.

Akin to the lack of a Military Industrial Complex is

 

INADEQUATE QUALITATIVE MANNING

 

28.     The quality of the human resource available to an organization, if judiciously utilized can have significant impact on effectiveness and efficiency. While there is a high demand for qualitative manpower in every sector of endeavour in Nigeria, qualitative manpower is scare and difficult to develop. For the Nigerian Air Force, this challenge is further exacerbated by the high demand for skilled workforce in both the local and international aviation industry. The Nigerian Air Force must therefore, compete within the larger aviation sector to retain its skilled workforce, as well as develop its unskilled manpower, with a view to bridging inadvertent attrition in skilled manpower.

 

29.     Notwithstanding poaching of workforce within the aviation sector, the Nigerian Air Force has a dearth of qualitative manpower to cover all facets of its routine schedule. Suffice to state that our exploits in the ongoing counter insurgency operation has further reinforced the urgency to develop personnel with a broad body of professional knowledge and habits central to the military profession. Accordingly, qualitative manpower for the Nigerian Air Force of the future will entail personnel who can think critically, have the ability to understand current and future security environments, can respond to uncertainty, can anticipate and lead transitions through change, as well as operate with trust, understanding, and empathy.

Another Challenge is the Changing Character of Warfare

 

CHANGING CHARACTER OF WARFARE

 

30.     Modern era imposes 2 types of warfare on the Nigerian Air Force, namely conventional and unconventional warfare. Both kinds of warfare are fundamentally different in that they require different strategies, force structure, weaponry, training and tactics. Also, they both require different mental approach, differ in ways ranging from the conceptual to technical, and have their own purposes, control mechanisms, centers of gravity, operational methodologies, and measures of effectiveness.

 

31.     Conventional warfare emphasizes large unit operations and a reliance on firepower. Strategies in conventional warfare revolve around perceived centers of gravity of the antagonists, and both sides struggle and maneuver their forces to defend their own centers of gravity while attacking those of the enemy. The military objective in conventional warfare is to bring the struggle to a quick and decisive conclusion. Unconventional warfare on the other hand is revolutionary, fought for political control of states, and requiring a mix of political, economic, psychological and military operations to drain support away from the government and build support for the insurgents. Indeed, the military portion of the mix often plays a supporting role, and therein lie both a dilemma and an advantage. Time is a key weapon for insurgents as they seek a protracted conflict that heaps more discredit upon the government. Accordingly, the most important difference between unconventional and conventional warfare is that the centers of gravity for both sides are the same- the population of the nation under siege.

 

32.     In the face of these forms of warfare, numerous military functions in situations short of war such as humanitarian relief, rescues, raids and peacekeeping also task the capabilities of the Nigerian Air Force. Whereas airpower can provide dominance in conventional warfare, the impact of airpower is not nearly so self-evident in unconventional warfare for several reasons. First, the duality of insurgencies which encompasses the equal importance of military and nonmilitary struggles dilutes the impact of all military efforts including airpower. Second, insurgents’ tactics minimize lucrative targets for massive firepower that the Nigerian Air Force can bring to bear. Third, and most important, compared to other forms of war, few resources and insufficient thinking have been turned to the subject of defeating well-run classical insurgencies. These challenges to the Nigerian Air Force notwithstanding, airpower will remain the key ingredient in the 2 fundamentally different kinds of warfare with which Nigerian military forces may be forces to deal in the new world order.

Inherent in the changing character of warfare is the challenge of the amorphous construct of victory

 

 

AMORPHOUS CONSTRUCT OF VICTORY

 

33.     The perception of the meaning of victory relative to the changing nature of war and warfare is a contentious notion among scholars of military history. It is argued that expectations as to the meaning of victory in war remains profoundly shaped by past conventional conflicts characterized by unconditional triumph and a total remaking of enemies into allies. Indeed, this perception divorces from the realities of contemporary conflicts. Accordingly, this raises 3 pertinent questions: Why then is it important to have a coherent definition victory? Who should determine how victory is defined? What are the consequences of failure to define the conditions that govern victory?

 

34.     In the first instance, a coherent definition of victory is essential to provide a statement of a state’s goals in terms of outcomes when it uses force. In this regard, it gives a more accurate sense for policymakers and the public on how long it would take to achieve victory, the cost of lives and national treasure, and the risks when the state confronts such decisions. It also helps to mobilize public support, build domestic consensus, and adapt policy accordingly. Secondly, policymakers have the primary responsibility for determining what victory means, how to define it, what the state seeks to achieve, and how precisely the use of military force will meet those goals. Thirdly, a failure to define conditions for victory may contribute to the loss of public support, particularly when military intervention confronts difficulties, and reinforce the nature of the public debate in ways that magnify any perception of failure. Equally, policymakers may lose control over the policy narrative as they face inevitable setbacks.

 

35.  In the midst of the confusion in the scholarship about victory, there is no precise concept or theory that permits scholars, civilians and military policymakers, and the public to agree on what victory means, when it is attained, or when the state fails to achieve it. Consequently, the NAF as an instrument of statecraft, is bedeviled by the quagmire of the amorphous construct of victory in operations, especially with the fluid nature of insurgency and terrorism.

 

Having walked you through the NAF’s mission statement, state of the Nigerian Air Force and its contemporary challenges, what then is my vision for the Nigerian Air Force of the future?

 

CAS’ VISION AND NIGERIAN AIR FORCE POLICY THRUST

 

CAS’ VISION

 

36.     When I assumed office as the 20th Chief of the Air Staff, I articulated my vision for the NAF to be:

“To reposition the NAF into a highly professional and disciplined force through capacity building initiatives for effective, efficient and timely employment of air power in response to Nigeria’s national security imperatives”

Certainly, to realize this vision, there needs to be visible signs and works that would bring about the desired impact on the NAF, as well as serve as guides and benchmarks for assessing my stewardship. Accordingly, I incorporated 6 key drivers towards actualizing my vision. These drivers are as shown on the screen.

a. Human capacity development through robust and result oriented training for enhanced professional performance.

b. Robust logistics support and maintenance culture to sustain platforms and equipment serviceability.

c. Reinforce a culture of self-reliance and prudent management of resources.

d. Strategic partnerships with MDAs for enhanced research and development.

e. Promote and inculcate the core values of integrity, excellence and service delivery.

f. Focus on comradeship, regimentation and inter-Service cooperation.

 

37.     Having gone through my vision statement and the key drivers to give impetus to the vision. I will now delve into the Nigerian Air Force policy thrust as it pertains my vision for the Service. For time constraint, I shall look at precision munitions in operations, information warfare, power projection, force structure, logistics and maintenance, human capacity development, and aid to civil authority.

The first policy thrust pertains to the use of precision munitions in operations

 

PRECISION MUNITIONS IN OPERATIONS.

38.     A central focus in the policy thrust for the Nigerian Air Force of the future is the development a new sense of “airmindedness,” and bringing the mature capabilities of air power to bear in joint operations. Of special interest is the employment of precision guided munitions which have redefined the principle of mass for Airmen. Air power missions for the Nigerian Air Force are conducted in some of the classic mission concepts as shown on the screen. This infers a horizontal conceptualization of the elements of air campaign due to the need to mass sufficient resources to accomplish a mission.

 

39.     With precision munitions redefining mass, the Nigerian Air Force of the future should be able to undertake air campaigns integrated vertically. Vertical integration infers the simultaneous, coordinated, and integrated execution of strategic, interdiction, and other air power missions to build synergies that would make air campaigns far more effective than they have ever been in the past. Indeed, achieving this synergy will require a full integration of space capabilities and plans with traditional air and surface operations.

 

40.     The use of precision munitions coupled with control of the air portends air power’s ability to provide heavy firepower for light specialized surface forces, round the clock with accuracy equaling or exceeding that of heavy surface weapons. This could bolster the capacity of the Special Forces to fight on equal terms with heavy enemy deep behind enemy front lines.  The synergy between air and ground forces could change the face of air-land operations in two ways.

 

41.     First, it could blur the frontlines of theatres of operation, thereby forcing the enemy, no matter how strong, to fight at the times and places of our choosing, thus, making the enemy vulnerable everywhere all the time. Combined with other portions of air campaign, any forward deployment of insurgents would be a disadvantage as attempting to hold the ground could be a disastrous strategic mistake. Secondly, although difficult, the synergistic mating of air and ground forces portends the ability to insert and support light specialized surface forces thus, providing the possibility of seizing important targets rather than destroying them from the air. The military result from such successes could vastly improve postwar political result, as for instance, after victory; it could be politically advantageous to simply reopen key bridges than rebuild them. In furtherance of this policy thrust, from a total of 10 x Mi 35M helicopters expected, the Service has already acquired 2 x Mi-35M Attack Helicopters, while additional two helicopters are in the production line and are expected to be delivered soon. In the same vein, efforts are ongoing for the acquisition of the Super Tucano Light Attack Aircraft and delivery of the Yabhon      Flash 20 Remote Piloted Aircraft.

The Next policy thrust is on Information Warfare

 

INFORMATION WARFARE

42.     The growth, proliferation, and application of information technology infers that an information campaign is integral to any current conflict, and will dominate future wars. Wars will be won by the side that enjoys and can exploit cheap information while making information expensive for its opponent. Equally critical is the ability to obtain accurate information within own organization while providing or inserting inaccurate data in the adversary’s systems. Akin to this is the relevance of near real-time information while delaying the enemy’s information loop. In his analysis of future warfare, the Russian Military Theorist Major General Vladimir Slipchenko asserted that “The impending sixth generation of warfare, with its centerpiece of superior data-processing to support precision smart weaponry, will radically change military capabilities, and once again, radically change the character of warfare.” Given this envisaged dominance of information warfare, what then is the outlook for information warfare in the Nigerian Air Force of the future?

 

43. Russian operations in Crimea proved that with proper timing, messaging, and targeting, social media has the potential to manipulate the outcome of a conflict and “win” a complex engagement. The Nigerian Air Force in the future should have the capability to disrupt the flow of information over networks and electromagnetic spectrum as well as manage human-to-human information. In this regard, information warfare in the Service would comprise activities to encourage a desired audience to act or not act in a manner that is beneficial to the interest of the nation. On the part of the Nigerian Air Force, this will require integrating the narrative for information warfare in the military decision-making process for operations. Also, it would need an increased potential for responsibility among airmen to make the right decision at the right time; and an obligation to take up the mantle of the “strategic corporal” knowing that their actions are open to public and could have second and third order effects.

Another policy thrust has to do with power projection

 

POWER PROJECTION

 

44.     Nigeria currently faces security threats such as humanitarian disasters, resources conflicts, terrorism and insurgency. These and other potential security threats necessitate the need for hard or soft flexible power projection at the national, Sub-regional and Continental contexts to meet Nigeria’s security imperatives. Power projection is “the ability of a nation to apply all or some of its elements of national power to rapidly and effectively deploy and sustain forces in and from multiple dispersed locations to respond to crises, to contribute to deterrence, and to enhance regional stability.”

 

45.     For the Nigerian Air Force of the future, the policy thrust to meet the imperative for power projection requires that the force structure and force development programs must emphasize integration of manned, remotely piloted, space and cyber (offensive and defensive) power projection capabilities. This approach will position the Service to capitalize on technological developments within and beyond the 10-year strategic plan of the Nigerian Air Force. It will also require near term changes in organization, doctrine, training, education and force management. Accordingly, in the future, airmen operating in a joint environment will be expected to present comprehensive options that integrate the full capabilities of the Air Force rather than present compartmentalized solutions that represent only air, space or cyber aspects of the Service’s capability.

Akin to power projection is the policy thrust on force structure

 

FORCE STRUCTURE

46.     In the face of a very uncertain future, the Armed Forces of Nigeria must be prepared to deal with conventional warfare and unconventional warfare. Armed with the definition of the two fundamental threats with which our military forces would have to deal with, we can begin to estimate the size and kind of forces we will need. Effective military forces cannot be designed, built, procured, trained and educated quickly. A standing force made too small, a reluctance to recognize an emerging threat, and a prolonged decision to react could combine to give an aggressive adversary an insurmountable lead in military capability. Thus, a robust and offensive force structure is key to the effectiveness of the Nigerian Air Force of the future.

 

47.     At least three major factors should influence this decision- threat analysis, geography and funding. The future force structure of the Nigerian Air Force is important lest the Service be caught with the wrong force at the wrong time and be unable to get to the right place. The size of the Nigerian Air Force future force must therefore, provide the most accessible and effective force person-for-person and weapon-for weapon. This will require extensive infrastructure, including manning and funding for intense and realistic training and professional education of Nigerian Air Force personnel. Additionally, it will be hinged on a robust Research and Development program to produce the needed requirements for the force.

 

48.     Having evaluated the Nigerian Air Force’s exploits in the operations in the North East, it was observed that the Service was not properly structured to bring about the desired results. Accordingly, the Special Operations Command was established in Bauchi while the defunct Training Command was unbundled into the Air Training Command in Kaduna and Ground Training Command in Enugu. Under the Special Operations Command, Quick Response Groups, a Regiment Group and a Composite Group were established to increase the Nigerian Air Force’s reach, and shorten response time to emergencies. In the same vein, the recruitment infrastructure of the Service was expanded to support the training of 3,500 recruits biannually as against 500 recruits in the past. With this turnout from the recruitment process, it is envisaged that the new Commands and units will be populated sufficiently for the Service to derive the expected benefits. Likewise, the establishment of the Air and Ground Training Commands is aimed at boosting specialization in training by increasing the focus, depth and extent of training for Nigerian Air Force personnel.

Of vital importance is the policy thrust on logistics and maintenance

 

LOGISTICS AND MAINTENANCE

49.     Countries whose overall level of economic development and relative backward aviation industry limit their aircraft production capability have three basic options of purchase (buy), indigenous development (build), or espionage (steal) in their efforts to develop a modern air force. For countries in this situation, all three options have significant limitations. Buying imported aircraft allows a developing country to obtain more advanced fighters than its indigenous aviation industry can produce. It also offers a relatively fast way to build its air force’s combat capability, although in practice it may take 4 to 5 years from the time a deal is signed until a unit equipped with a new fighter reaches initial operational capability.

 

50.     Equally the purchase option can improve the acquiring air force’s human capital and overall capabilities. However, the relatively high cost of purchase, limited transfer of technology to the aviation sector, and continuing dependence on foreign suppliers portend disadvantages to this option. Similarly, buyers are limited to the aircraft that the supplying countries are willing to sell, thus, making the supplier maintain a long term competitive advantage in military aviation technology and a measure of airpower dominance over their customers.

 

51.     The indigenous development option requires significant investment in research and development, thus, demanding both capital and human knowledge. The key advantages of this option are that a developing country can master the technologies required to design and build an aircraft, limit its reliance on imported spares and technologies, and diffuse some benefits of aircraft research and development, and production into the broader economy. Overtime, indigenous production can lay the foundation for a domestic aviation industry capable of designing, producing, and potentially exporting complete fighter aircraft.  However, a developing country’s aviation industry may only be able to produce low-quality aircraft with limited combat capability, and the long period required to learn to develop and produce a modern fighter may yield aircraft that are obsolete before they are fielded.

 

52.     A developing country can use clandestine means to steal design and technology information on aircraft and aircraft components that it lacks the knowledge to design and produce domestically. The “steal” option can be used to gain blueprints or examples of weapons to use in reverse engineering a subsystem or to develop countermeasures that make a threat aircraft less effective in combat. This option offers the potential to acquire advanced systems or technologies that other countries are unwilling to sell.  In some cases, it could allow a country acquire advanced technology without spending funds on its own research and development.  However, the “steal” option cannot provide a developing country the ability to absorb or replicate stolen systems or technologies without technological support from the manufacturer. Also, surreptitious means of access can at best provide haphazard and potentially incomplete access to systems and technology which could send a country’s aviation industry down a blind alley. Of the three main avenues to technology procurement, the indigenous development or “build” option is the only one with the potential to stimulate innovation and create a broad-based domestic aviation industry from a low initial starting point.  Simply buying aircraft from other countries, without plans to reverse engineer or coproduce, does not help a developing country move towards self-reliance.

 

53.     The policy thrust for the Nigerian Air Force of the future in terms of logistics, aircraft and equipment maintenance therefore, is a hybrid approach that integrates and synergizes the benefits of the “buy” and “build” options. In this regard, indigenous development founded on the frameworks of reverse engineering and coproduction is the envisaged aim. In realization of the fact that the effectiveness of the Nigerian Air Force in the long term is hinged on the extent of the growth of Nigeria’s home-based technology, especially the development of a Military Industrial Complex, the NAF Research and Development Policy was formulated. This policy led to the establishment of the Air Force Institute of Technology which runs postgraduate engineering and other logistics related programs in various aeronautical, aerospace and allied disciplines; and the establishment of the Air Force Research and Development Center in 2015 for large scale research activities.  Furthermore, the Nigerian Air Force fosters the innovative talents of its personnel through the Inter-Command Research and Development competition; and has signed 24 Memoranda of Understanding with selected Universities and research institutes to tap into the intellectual capacity and skill sets abound in these organizations.

 

54.     Accordingly, these policy thrusts have solved some specific maintenance problems facing the Nigerian Air Force. Firstly, the Service now produces a better version of the hydraulic accumulator diaphragms for its Mi-35 Helicopter fleet at a cost of twenty-five thousand Naira each as against the cost of $106,000.00 demanded by the Original Equipment Manufacturers for 6 diaphragms. Secondly, the incompatibility problem of the camera and multi-function display on the Agusta Helicopter was modified and resolved at a cost of 5 Million Naira as against the cheapest offer of 158 Million Naira demanded by foreign maintenance firms. Thirdly, the Service now has local capacity to replace the electrolyte for the airborne alkaline batteries of its F-7Ni aircraft, and has produced anti-skid test benches to rectify anti-skid related snags on the Alpha Jet aircraft. In the same vein, the Nigerian Air Force now collaborates with Innoson Group of Companies to mass produce brake pads and rivets for the Alpha Jet aircraft which were unavailable due to closure of its production lines abroad.

 

55.     Indeed, the Nigerian Air Force has made breakthroughs in the field of armament such as:

 

a.Locally weaponizing and reconfiguring 3 x Alpha Jets to carry both western and eastern bloc rocket launchers.

b.Weaponizing 2 x EC-135 civil helicopters.

c.Weaponizing the L-39ZA trainer aircraft to deliver weapons as shown in the video clip.

 

56.     Other achievements embarked upon in the quest for indigenous development as shown on the screen.

a.       NAFSA Eagle Aircraft Project.

b.       Repair of ATR-42 MPA Components.

c.       Repairs of RC Mugin RPA.

d.       Development of Rocket Launchers.

e.       Production of Operational 30.1mm Rocket and Launcher.

f.       Modification of 22 Tube Alpha Jet Rocket Launcher Using Super Puma Rocket Pod System.

g.       Development of Rocket Parameter Measuring System.

h.Production of Unmanned Ground Vehicle which the Nigerian Air Force has acquired patent right from National Office for Technology Acquisition and Production (NOTAP).

 

57.     The indigenous development drive of the Nigerian Air Force has reduced the Service’s dependence on foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers for some components of its platforms and equipment. It has also saved cost and foreign exchange as indigenous production is undertaken at a relatively lower cost and spares delivery are timely. Accordingly, the operational readiness of the Service is enhanced and the limited platforms available are utilized efficiently to project airpower in fulfilment of Nigeria’s security imperatives.

To give impetus to the policy on logistics and maintenance is the policy thrust on human capacity development

 

HUMAN CAPACITY DEVELOPMENT

 

58.     Humans are the most important resource to an organization. The quality of personnel in the Nigerian Air Force will to a large extent determine the effectiveness of the Service in meeting its constitutional roles. For the Nigerian Air Force of the future, nowhere is the importance of quality human factor crucial like in the spheres of operational design and strategy formulation. Operational design is a process of iterative understanding and problem framing that supports commanders and staff in their application of operational art with tools, and a methodology to conceive of and construct viable approaches to operations and campaigns.

 

59.     Commanders who are skilled in the use of operational art provide the vision that links tactical actions to strategic objectives.  More specifically, the interaction of operational art and operational design provides a bridge between strategy and tactics, linking national strategic aims to tactical combat and noncombat operations that must be executed to accomplish these aims.Sir Winston Churchill aptly captured the murkiness of war and warfare to leaders when he stated “…The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy, but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events. Antiquated war offices, weak, incompetent or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations – all take their seats at the council board on the marrow of a declaration of war.” Indeed, while Churchill’s caution is focused at the grand strategic level, it also holds true at the military strategic and operational levels.

 

60.     Developing human capacity also requires acquiring the critical skill set necessary to discharge a function, as well as providing the enabling environment for a balanced mental, physical and spiritual state of being for personnel. In terms of skill sets, the Nigerian Air Force has trained about 1,351 personnel in air force specific areas of specialization abroad. From December 2016 till date 32 pilots have been winged to support operations across the country, while the Service, for the first time in 20 years resumed the annual air weapons competition in Makurdi. Furthermore, the Service was able to graduate 16 Nigerian Defence Academy air force cadets from ab-initio training at 401 Flying Training School Kaduna – a feat last achieved 30 years ago.

 

61.     To boost personnel effectiveness, the Nigerian Air Force placed emphasis on upgrading personnel accommodation, health care, sporting activities, dependents education, and post retirement life. Accordingly, 66% of the Service’s personnel are now accommodated in the barracks as against 25% in 2015. Nigerian Air Force schools and hospitals have been upgraded and equipped with state of the art facilities, sporting facilities have been provided in Nigerian Air Force Bases, while the Non-Commissioned Officer’s Post Housing Scheme was introduced with 60 personnel being the pioneer beneficiaries. Indeed, the Nigerian Air Force will continue to place premium on Professional Military Education and human capacity development now and in the future.

 

Lastly is the policy thrust on Military Aid to Civil Authority

 

MILITARY AID TO CIVIL AUTHORITY

 

62.     Current capabilities for disaster response in the Nigerian Air Force are insufficient, thus, making Military Aid to Civil Authority a critical capability for the Air Force now and in the future. Military Aid in this regard most often refers to consequence management after a disaster. In the face of insufficient assets for military operations, the Nigerian Air Force must be poised to aid civil authority when called upon. Accordingly, the policy thrust of the Service is in three folds. First, to posture its medical services to conduct immediate medical support missions. Secondly, to increase the number of airlift assets in its future inventory to provide first-response airlift. Third, to build a highly robust Regiment Specialty that would effectively and professionally undertake Internal Security operations on behalf of the Service.

 

63.     Already, the Nigerian Air Force is making inroads to meet these objectives in a vigorous way. For instance, in terms of medical services, the Nigerian Air Force has established level 2 hospitals in Bama and Dalori where surgical intervention services are provided for Internally Displaced Persons, while medical outreach programs are ongoing in Rann and Banki. In the same vein, the Nigerian Air Force conducted skills acquisition programs for IDPs, airlifted relief materials for distressed persons, and extracted vulnerable and aged person from high risk areas. These efforts which are aimed at winning the “hearts and minds” of the populace do not only endear the people to the Nigerian Air Force, but also create effects in ways that reinforce the will and commitment of the civil authority to the wellbeing of the citizenry. In sum, the long-term focus of the Nigerian Air Force’s vison in terms of aid to civil authority is to develop the capacity and capability to efficiently engage in a 3-Block war on a limited scale, where humanitarian, peacekeeping/stabilization and combat operations are conducted simultaneously.

 

CONCLUSION

 

64.     I have discussed the Nigerian Air Force and its place in the national security matrix, highlighting the Nigerian Air Force’s mission, its current state and contemporary challenges. Thereafter, I delved into my vision for the Nigerian Air Force and the policy thrust of the Service towards actualizing my vision. At the top of the hierarchical layers of decision making and planning relating to conflict is vision, followed by strategy, operations and tactics.Achieving effective vision and strategy is more difficult and more important than having good operations and tactics. For it is possible to win at the tactical and operational levels of war and at the same time lose at the vision and strategy level as evinced in the Vietnam War. Without a clear vision of what we hope to accomplish, a strategy for bringing all elements of national power to bear to achieve an objective cannot be developed.

 

65.     Accordingly, the Nigerian Air Force needs to be repositioned to cope with emerging challenges now and in the future. Judging by all I have said so far, I foresee a transformed Nigerian Air Force, with overwhelming accomplishments through technological innovation and partnerships, as well as reinvigorated with strategic thoughts to develop an understanding of the critical capabilities the Service must be prepared to provide in the future. Before I take my seat, let me leave you with these words from the Greek historian and General Thucydides who during the Peloponnesian war observed the import of Professional Military Education such as what you are embarking on here in the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, and I quote “The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools”

 

66.     On that note, may I use this opportunity to wish you a most fulfilling course of study as you redouble your efforts to actualize your individual career aspirations and add value to our society. Thank you for your attention and God bless.​

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