Breathing fresh air into the force

In the past six months, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Isiaka Oladayo Amao has been working with other service Chiefs, ensuring security of lives and property and delivering on their mandate.  No sooner had Amao taken over as the 21st Chief of Air Staff on January 26, 2021 than he set the ball rolling on his new journey to improve the rating of Nigeria Air Force and make it a force to reckon with in the nation’s efforts to end the current insecurity.

At the taking over, Amao expressed his gratitude to the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari and said, “It is no mean feat and I, therefore, take this opportunity most seriously. Let me specially thank the outgone Air Chief for his unprecedented and exemplary leadership throughout his tenure. Sir, you have, no doubt, left indelible marks in the sands of time. Your undeniable drive for human capacity building, infrastructural development, research and development amongst others is testament to your desire for a better NAF.”

His vision is “to enhance and sustain critical air power capabilities required for joint force employment in pursuit of national security imperatives.”

The mission of the Nigerian Air Force is “To ensure the integrity of the airspace by gaining and maintaining control of the air while retaining a credible capacity to fulfill other airpower tasks demanded by national defence and security imperatives.”

Key drivers of the Chief of Air Staff vision are: Focus on doctrinal development and application of airpower in joint military operations; Pursue purposeful training and human capacity development; Sustenance of platforms and equipment serviceability through innovative maintenance methods and logistics support systems and Foster a disciplined workforce essential for combat readiness.

Amao said, “We will deploy some brave efforts to rescue our country from the despair that have been our lot. While i will sustain the strides attained by my predecessor, I will join hands with sister agencies to take Nigeria to the status of a work-in- progress. It’s very important to state here that we still need concerted effort to strike out in new direction. It is, therefore, with deep sense of responsibility that I promise that we must move determinedly and at great speed too to achieve the set goals the president and people as well as our resources have clearly marked for us. In all, we will make the country proud.”

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Since January, he has been trying to add more value to the service; a lot of attention has been given to training and motivation of the officers. The mood is commendable now. Recently the nation has ordered for more aircrafts for the Air force to boost its operations. The CAS further said; ”It is worth mentioning that we are expecting eight aircrafts in July, consisting of 6 x A-29 Super Tucano aircraft from the United States of America and 2 x Wing Loong Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles from China. The Remaining 6x A-29 Super Tucano are expected in September while 2Xch -3 and 4x CH-4 UCAV will arrive in the country before the end of the year.”

According to airforce.mil.ng/news, “The President specially commended the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao, for not only remaining at the forefront of the fight against all enemies of Nigeria but also for his numerous initiatives towards bridging NAF human capacity gaps as well as exploiting Research and Development (R&D) for improved self-reliance. The President went further to commend the resilience and commitment of members of the AFN and other security agencies for ensuring the sovereignty of Nigeria and its indivisibility. “

At the celebration of the 57 anniversary of NAF, Amao stated “Through synergy with surface forces, the freedom of action of the insurgents/terrorists in the North East has been effectively curtailed. Consequently, NAF combat and combat support operations, energized by our up-scaled Order of Battle, have contributed to improving the security situation in the North East, whilst also contributing significantly to dealing with threats in the North West, North Central and other parts of the country.”

The Chief of Air Staff is an indigene of Osogbo in Osogbo Local Government Area in the State of Osun, South West Nigeria. He joined the Armed Forces of Nigeria as a cadet of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 35 in January 1984 and, upon completion of his training at the Academy, was commissioned a Pilot Officer in the Nigerian Air Force in December 1986. He has served in diverse roles,   cutting across Operational, Instructional, Command, Staff, Diplomatic, Policy and Strategic Leadership functions.

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Operationally, as a seasoned Fighter Instructor Pilot on the Alpha Jet, Amao served as a Squadron Pilot at the 99 (now 407) Air Combat Training Group Kainji. He subsequently worked as an Instructor Pilot at both the 301 (now 401) Flying Training School Kaduna and the 303 (now 403) Flying Training School Kano, with over 1,500 Jet and Instructional Hours to his credit. Notable in his operational experiences are his participation in the draw-down of the Africa-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA), as well as the counter-insurgency Operations ZAMAN LAFIYA and LAFIA DOLE in the North East of Nigeria. His Command experiences cover the spectrum from the tactical, through the operational to the strategic levels, endowing him with a holistic appreciation of the complexities of leading a fighting force.

Significantly in this regard, he commanded the 407 Air Combat Training Group Kainji and the 75 (now 103) Strike Group Yola. He went on to become Air Component Commander for both Operation ZAMAN LAFIYA and Operation LAFIYA DOLE, also serving as Deputy Theatre Commander for the latter. In these roles, he oversaw a synergistic employment of Air Power to effectively support land forces in sustaining stabilization operations across the North East Theatre. The Air Marshal then rose to the position of Air Officer Commanding Tactical Air Command, the lead combat element (often referred to as the “teeth”) of the Nigerian Air Force.

In terms of staff experience, he was privileged to have served in critical capacities which enabled him to contribute significantly to development of the service while acquiring unique perspectives and insights which have shaped his strategic thoughts. He was, at various times; Air Assistant to the Chief of the Air Staff, Assistant Director of Operations, Director of Policy, Director of Training as well as Director of Operations, all at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. This rich bouquet of Strategic-level Staff experiences instilled in him a deep appreciation of developmental imperatives of the Service.

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He also possesses a keen understanding of international relations as they affect defence matters, acquired through service as Deputy Defence Adviser and Acting Defence Adviser at the Nigerian High Commission in London, United Kingdom. In the area of Policy and Strategic Leadership, he has developed vital competencies in the course of his service as Chief of Training and Operations and subsequently Chief of Policy and Plans at Headquarters Nigerian Air Force. Most recently, until his appointment, he was the Commandant of the Armed Forces Resettlement Centre, Oshodi, a key institution tasked with the responsibility of training and empowering military personnel for post-service re-integration into the civil society.

Amao is decorated, among others, with the Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star and General Service Star, in addition to the General Service Medal and the River Benue Star, which were awarded for his service in various military campaigns. He has also been privileged to benefit from strategic leadership development training in notable indigenous and international institutions; he is an alumnus of the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji-Nigeria as well as the Defence Services Staff College Wellington, India. He is a Fellow of the National Defence University of China and holds a Master of Science in Defence and Strategic Studies from the University of Madras India as well as a Master of Military Science and Strategy from the National Defence University China. He is also a certified aircraft accident investigator trained in Karachi, Pakistan and at the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Zaria, Nigeria as well as being a Qualified Flying Instructing (QFI).

He is happily married to Mrs Elizabeth Olubunmi Amao, and the union is blessed with three sons.

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