Nigeria’s role in Mali is beyond deploying ground troops from the Nigerian Army to help the West African country in its fight against rebels as the Chief of Air Staff, AM Alex Badeh, has said that 300 airforce personnel have also been deployed.
The Air Chief spoke to newsmen during the passing out parade and commissioning ceremony of the Direct Short Service Course 21/2012 Cadets of the 325 Ground Training Group at NAF Base in Kaduna at the weekend.
He said the deployment was done in compliance with a presidential directive. “It’s not a secret that the Nigerian Airforce is involved in Mali, the President directed that we should contribute 300 troops in addition to our war players, so we have 300 in addition to our war players and transport players that we have in Mali.
“The war has not actually begun on our side, having been briefed; but what we are doing now is setting out the concept of operations, I spoke with the Force Commander, Major General Shehu Usman Abdulkadir and he assured me that very soon the concept of operation will commence in earnest.
“Nigeria is a member of ECOWAS and so they instructed that we also contribute troops to Mali, our planes are in Mali and our troops are also there, very soon the war will begin and our troops will move in to rid the state of the rebels in northern Mali”, he said.
He emphasized that the significant performance of the Air Force in the on-going effort to flush-out rebels in northern Mali has earned the service the reputation of an effective and dependable force.