The NA is intent on re-professionalizing, so training cannot but occupy centre-stage.
The Committee for the Development of NATRAC was inaugurated by COAS on 4 Mar 04. The COAS stressed that his core concern was to develop a viable training policy aimed at improving and professionalizing the Army. As a result there was a careful selection of members of the Committee to develop NATRAC into a vehicle for achieving this objective.
Concept. At the inauguration of the Committee on NATRAC the COAS stated: “For avoidance of doubt, my concept of NATRAC is the establishment of a training centre where various levels of available serviceable equipment and logistic items would be centralized for use. Formations and units would then take turns to camp in the centre and use such equipment for training within specified periods”. The concept of NATRAC is thus a modification of the earlier proposal having realized that the NA was not fully equipped and lacked the resources to embark on a large scale project.
Mission. Following from the stated concept, the mission of NATRAC is “To provide the highest quality of training at various levels in order to prepare the Army to meet all of its roles and missions”. In essence and reality, NATRAC provides the environment for the conduct of collective field training and exercises which, for lack of adequate resources and equipment, cannot be conducted elsewhere.
Purpose. The training in NATRAC would result in more disciplined, motivated and competent cadre of officers and men. The core objective of NATRAC therefore, is to develop a viable approach to practical training aimed at improving and professionalizing the Army. This training would prepare our officers and soldiers for local and international assignments in conformity with our constitutional roles.
Size and layout. NATRAC Training Area covers about 1260sq kms of varying terrain suitable for all arms training and is sub-divided into 4 sectors:
Scope and Types of Training to be Conducted. Since NATRAC provides the ideal environment for collective training and exercises, it is envisaged that units earmarked for operations can conduct pre-induction or pre-deployment training at the Centre. Hence the scope and type of training to be conducted would encompass special –to-arms, combined arms. CPX/FTX, FIBUA, pre-deployment, mission oriented, logistics, joint training/exercises, counter insurgency operations, other specialized warfare and operations other than war. Access and use of Kontagora dam avails the Centre the opportunity to train in amphibious operations. The easy accessibility of the aerodrome is another added facility for the conduct of airborne operations, operational and logistics air support. The only likely limitation is that field manoeuvres above brigade group level cannot be accommodated comfortably due to space.
The development of the training centre was planned to be implemented in 3 phases. The development was to be carried out over a period of time as follows:
Phase 1. The development of infrastructure and provision of equipment to support a battalion group exercise. Construction of helipad, construction of bunker, extension and complete re-roofing and renovation of the Grandstand, construction of Vehicles Park. Also the construction o at least one Small Arms Range (SAR) a proposed in the layout.
Phase 2. The development of the Centre with provision of additional infrastructure and opening of roads/routes within the centre in addition to the need for the construction of a multi Purpose Range
Phase 3. Further development of the Centre to accommodate a brigade group and above exercise.
The phase development would be subject to Army Headquarters approval and availability of resources.
Construction work commenced on site in Phase 1 of KTA’s development in Oct 04. Work on site progressed well based on area of priority as dir by COAS. However, due to dearth of serviceable engr plants in NA inventory, heavy plants such as bulldozers, excavators and graders were hired from Niger State ADP for use on site. The stages of developments of the following projects on site are as follows:
The vehicle park. Work was 100% complete by Jan 05 on the Car/Veh Park.
Helipad. The setting out and excavation of foundation trenches for the extension work have been completed. Work was 100% complete by Jan 05 on the helipad and was commissioned by the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on 24 Feb 05.
Construction of the bunker. The area of the bunker was generally hard and stony which made manual and mechanical digging very difficult. Stage of work is 100% complete.
Grandstand. Major extension and renovation was carried out on the Grandstand. This increased the seating capacity from 100 to 250 spectators. In addition benches were constructed and fixed firmly to forestall movement.
Sign Posting of the Trg Area. The NATRAC Training Area has been adequately signs posted for direction finding and to serve as caution to both personnel and vehicular movements. The approaches to the Training Area and routes within the Trg Area have been sign posted while all the bridges within have been classified and kilometers/mileage indicated.
Ex NEW DAWN was an Army level Sponsored Bn FTX designed to commence full use of the NATRAC and practice a Bn in all phases of war including military operation other than war (MOOTW). The ex Bn was 26 Mot bn and the duration was from 18-26 Feb 05. The President, C-in-C Federal Republic of Nigeria visited the NATRAC Trg Area where he commissioned the NATRAC Helipad and officially flagged off the use of the Trg Centre. In general, it was observed that the concept of a Trg area for the NA – NATRAC was commendable and beneficial to the NA. AHQ has already scheduled formations to use the NATRAC Trg Area in the 2005 Trg cycle.
The NATRAC Committee earlier forwarded a proposal to AHQ on the future status of NATRAC. To facilitate the development of NATRAC and training in the NA, it was suggested that NATRAC could be placed under the command of TRADOC. The NATRAC Camp Organisation when established would then function as the Training Unit of TRADOC. Thus the merger of NATRAC to TRADOC would place individual and collective training of the NA in its proper perspective. (Lt Col NE Angbazo is the Secretary of the Committee for the Development of NATRAC).
There are tri –service military institutions in the country namely: Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, National War College Abuja, and Nigerian Armed Forces Resettlement Centre (NAFRC) Oshodi Lagos.
In addition, there is the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) in Kaduna. Their establishment, management and products have the indelible imprint of the Nigerian Army.
From inception, the Nigerian Army has gone through a lot of developmental stages in line with the dynamics of the challenging world order to be able to perform its primary and secondary roles effectively.
The present Chief of Army Staff, (COAS) Lieutenant General Martin Luther Agwai assumed office in June, 2003. He took off with new gusto to mould the Nigerian Army into “an army that is feared by its adversaries, admired by its allies and an army that is the pride of the Nigerian people”.
In line with his vision for the Nigerian Army, COAS has undertaken far reaching and innovative measures designed for effective performance of the roles of the Nigerian Army both within and outside Nigeria in the democratic political dispensation in the country. To ensure that his vision for the NA is actualized, a committee was recently constituted to streamline the performance of the NA.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the Nigerian Army has a long history. It is 142 years on 6 July, 2005; it has a main character in the conception of Nigeria as a nation. It has developed and performed creditably well in keeping Nigeria one and united since independence in 1960.
The Nigerian Army as highlighted is a force with a rich history, tradition and sterling operational records. Since the return to democratic rule, the Army has committed itself to re-professionalising in the tune with the constitutional democratic ideals. The Army has continued to carry out its responsibilities creditably, thus making it a true pride of the nation.
On the international scene, the force is highly rated in all its sub-regional and international peace keeping and peace support operations. With the COAS’ new vision, there is no doubt that the Nigerian Army will perform even better in the years ahead as a loyal and disciplined force in the democratic dispensation.
It will be 142 years come July, 2005. It was a main character in the conception of Nigeria as a nation. It has developed and performed creditably well in keeping Nigeria one and united since independence in 1960.