Personnel from the Royal Air Force Regiment’s No 5 Force Protection Wing (5 FP Wg) recently returned from Nigeria, where they helped train the Nigerian Air Force to protect its personnel and aircraft involved in counter-insurgency fighting. A team from 5 FP Wg and 51 Squadron RAF Regiment, usually based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, deployed to Nigeria to deliver bespoke military training at the request of the British Military Advisory and Training Team (BMATT) in Nigeria
Working with the RAF Force Protection Centre at RAF Honington, 5 FP Wg designed a programme to train 100 newly qualified airmen and 8 officers of the Nigerian Air Force Regiment to defend Nigerian Air Force forward operating bases involved in the fight against insurgent activity in Nigeria. RAF Regiment trainers also mentored their Nigerian counterparts at the Nigerian Air Force Ground Training Centre so that they can replicate the RAF Regiment’s training, and to enhance their own training capability for the future.
Wing Commander John Rees, Officer Commanding 5 FP Wg, led the RAF Regiment’s training team. He said: “We had a great, traditional welcome from the Nigerian staff and Air Force personnel when we arrived at the base. Everyone was very accommodating – helping us to settle in to our facilities and getting the training areas prepared.
“The senior Nigerian Air Force officers were fully committed and supportive of us as we began to deliver this busy and exciting programme of training. As well drawing on our expertise and experiences from recent combat operations to provide this training, we were able to learn from the Nigerian Air Force personnel as they combat terrorist threats.”
Training happened in three phases. During the Foundation training package, RAF Regiment instructors worked to confirm and enhance the Nigerian Air Force Regiment’s life-saving ‘ground-sign awareness skills’. During this phase, Nigerian Air Force Regiment officers were given focused training on planning for force protection operations.
The next phase included minefield extraction training, vehicle and personnel searches and the ability to locate and react to improvised explosive device strikes and indirect fire attacks. RAF Regiment instructors also refreshed their counterparts’ navigation skills and delivered battlefield exercises and training. Nigerian personnel also went through exercises to enhance the ‘soft skills’ needed by Nigerian Air Force Regiment teams working among villages on counter-insurgency operations.
The final phase of training included a physically and mentally demanding four-day exercise, based on all the training the Nigerians had received to date. Wing Commander Rees said: “The exercise was as realistic as we could make it to test and confirm the training we were able to provide to the Nigerian Air Force through the British Military Advisory Training Team.
“We’re grateful for the support provided by the Nigerian Air Force in enabling us to make the most of the short term training task. Our RAF Force Protection instructors have provided a professional and challenging bespoke training package that has drawn on the RAF Regiment’s operational experiences. We have worked closely with the Nigerian Air Force to enhance the counter-insurgency skills needed to combat terrorists that threaten this, and neighboring countries.”
Editor: Sqn Ldr Paula Willmot
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