Aiyemowa Bamidele

Department of History & International Studies

Federal University Lokoja, Kogi State



Oluwaseyi Janet Orih

Swansea University

Department of Digital Media

SA2 8PP Singleton Park, Sketty

Swansea, United Kingdom



Insurgency, terrorism and guerilla warfare are a category of combat within contested environment between national forces against peer adversary. This paper is aimed at discussing and contributing to the historical reconstruction of the Nigerian Air Force as it is obligated by the moral necessity towards protecting Nigerian Citizens, her National assets in combating insurgency in the North East of Nigeria. More so, the paper x – rays a decade of challenges and successes of Air Force operations in protecting its personnel, the citizens of Nigeria and her combat fighting resources necessary for effective strategic operations in combating insurgency and terrorism. The paper historically reconstructs the contemporary and future roles and strategic value of Nigerian Air Force in the 21st century. The research is committed to reset the role of Nigerian Air Power with an in-depth gratitude to many academics and researchers who have made available intellectual capital for writing the history of the Nigerian Air Force.

Keywords: Nigerian Air Force, Counter –Insurgency


The 21st century has, thus far, been characterized by a significant shift in the Nigerian Air Force responsibilities and an increased exposure of its resources to threats from terrorist, insurgents and separatist groups. This point is emphasized by the North East insurgency which began July 2009 (Boko Haram)[1] and several others ongoing Air operations across Nigeria. This had made it pertinent to state that, potential opponents or non-state actors are less predictable, leveraging on the increased illicit movement of arms by non-state actors and the ease the development in communication technology has made arms delivery very swift in the North Eastern State’s of Nigeria bordering three countries of Chad, Niger, and Cameroun with porous land borders. The Nigerian Air Force’s ability to strategies as Air Power requires protection from these threats at home and across its borders. Due to increased terror alerts and domestic threats, it is crucial for the Nigerian Air Force to take strong measures to protecting its personnel and national assets as part of a harmonious and integrated joint force. However, the internal battle against insurgency is very technical and complex for the air component (Air Force). Because Air war, in turn, is basically different from both land and sea warfare. Air Men have always recognized that the air planes ability to operate in the third dimension gives it the unique capability to strike all of an enemy’s center of gravity (COG’S)[2]. This exceptional Air strategy had proved unconducive in rare occasions as insurgent use innocent civilians as shields leading to collateral damages which had made air warfare more complex.


This paper examined the origin and formation of Nigerian Air Force Bases as an arm of the Nigerian armed forces. Historical analysis is a technique adopted by the study to build a chronological table on the historical evolution of Nigerian Air Force units as it corresponds with commands across Nigeria. It describes the balance of order in practice, policies and as a structural explanation of how the Nigerian Air Force strategically operates.

Conceptual Framework

The Nigerian Air Force is a professional organization with rigid bureaucratic structure charged with strategic practice. Therefore, it is best to adopt Strategic theory to analyze and close on the gap between strategy and tact in this paper. Strategic theory is an approach which prides itself with simple preparatory strategic questions on tactics, such as; “How can the aim of counter insurgency be achieved? What operational guide rule can be deployed to help attain success? Where it fails, what happens? Theories are designed template to resolving identified gaps. Therefore, strategy does not exist during execution; it remains an intellectual activity until its conversion from policy into action. In the spheres of the application of theory it is opined that, “in theory there is no difference between theory and practice while in practice there is”.[3]

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