Nigerian Air Force begins training special forces unit
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has begun training a new group of Special Forces (SF) in conjunction with an Israeli contractor, it was announced on 31 July.
The new 150 strong intake was flagged off over the weekend of 29-30 July and is the first group of three totalling 450 men that are to undertake SF training over the coming months.
The personnel selected for training all hail from the NAF Regiment, which is tasked with force protection and air base security duties, in a similar manner to the Royal Air Force Regiment.
The SF training course is taking place at the NAF Regiment Training Centre at Kaduna Air Base, Kaduna State.
As the NAF highlighted, the Israeli private military company Four Troop is serving as the contractor for the nine-week training course, providing a team of instructors which will oversee the SF course alongside Nigerian instructors.
Four Troop has already worked in 2016 with the NAF on ground troop training, as photographs accessed by Shephard revealed.
According to the NAF, having a team of foreign instructors provide training in Nigeria instead of sending personnel abroad to take the SF course was preferred as it allows the service to further develop its training capabilities while ensuring significant costs savings.
The training course is being undertaken under the oversight of the new Ground Training Command, which was set up in July 2017.
The NAF SF course is intended to provide trainees with the skills to operate and fight in all types of terrain and weather conditions, allowing them to conduct offensive as well as defensive operations and specialised missions which fall outside the scope of duties performed by the NAF Regiment.
These comprise CSAR, direct action, reconnaissance or forward air control.
As detailed by the NAF, at the end of their training, the new SF will be deployed in support of ongoing combat operations (such as Operation Lafiya Dole, in the North East, against Boko Haram or Delta Safe, in the Niger Delta), as well as to protect NAF facilities and critical national infrastructure such as airports or oil installations.
While little information is available on the organisation and capabilities of the NAF SF, Shephard understands that the unit comes under the authority of the NAF Special Forces Command, which was established in January 2017.
The command is also understood to exercise control over a number of special operations helicopter squadrons flying Mi-24s and Mi-35s.
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