(Yahaya Isah, NAN)
The Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has tasked operation ‘Kashe Mugu 2’, the air component of operation ‘Thunder Strike’ (OPTS), to intensify airstrikes against bandits and other criminal elements in Kaduna and neighbouring states.
Abubakar said that this would ensure the return of normalcy to the troubled parts of the North-West and North-Central zones of the Country.
The Director of Public Relations and Information, NAF Headquarters, Air Commodore Ibikunle Daramola, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
CAS stated this in Kaduna while assessing the progress of the newly inaugurated operation ‘KASHE MUGU 2’, a subsidiary of air interdiction operation aimed at neutralising identified armed bandits’ in the forests.
Abubakar, who witnessed the conduct of one of the waves of the attack missions, commended the pilots and support personnel for their efforts and the commendable results so far recorded.
He, however, urged them to sustain the momentum of operations to ensure that there was no hiding place for bandits.
“You must continue to work assiduously in synergy with sister services and other security agencies to smoke the criminals out of their enclaves.
“And ensure that they are no longer able to stop law-abiding citizens from pursuing their legitimate aspirations,” he said.
Abubakar said that the air component would continue to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions to identify all other camps which would be similarly taken out.
Abubakar noted that the overall objective was to ensure that Nigeria was secured and that no individual or group, whether terrorists or otherwise, undermines Nigeria’s sovereignty.
He, however, commended the efforts of the young pilots who conducted the missions.
CAS also noted that due to the ongoing aggressive capacity-building efforts in the service, NAF now had a good number of competent young pilots across all its aircraft types.
“With officers in their twenties and early thirties being captains on the C-130H aircraft fleet and on aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet, which was a marked departure from what obtained in the recent past.
“Where Air Commodores and AVMs were the only captains on such fleets. It’s all about capacity building. Once the capacity is there; the opportunity is given for young people to train and acquire the necessary skills.
“Then the sky is the limit and that is what we have seen these young pilots do over the past few years.”
Abubakar also inspected facilities at the 061 NAF Aeromedical Hospital as well as infrastructure at the Regiment Training Centre Kaduna.