Indian Army Chief in Abuja as Nigeria completes full troop deployment to Mali – Nigeria has fully deployed the full complement of 1,200 troops it pledged for the African led International Mission in Mali (AFISMA) with the airlifting of the last batch of 162 troops to Mali Wednesday, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Onyeabo Azubuike, said in Abuja.
Receiving the visiting Indian Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Shiri Krishina Singh General Ihejirika said 'as at Tuesday, we have all our (Nigerian) pledged troops in Mali. The remaining 162 left this Wednesday, bringing the total number of troops we have in Mali to over 1,200.
'With this, the Nigerian Army has achieved 100 per cent deployment for all ranks to AFISMA.'
They 162 soldiers were airlifted aboard a Nigerian Air Force C-130 transport Hercules aircraft. Another C-130 aircraft, provided by the British Government to assist Nigeria in the AFISMA operation, will airlift Nigerian-owned support equipment, along with another Nigerian C-130 aircraft.
Altogether, the Nigerian Army has a total of battalion plus (910 troops) deployed in Mali. This is in addition to the 300 troops deployed by the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) which is based in Niamey, Niger.
The NAF also has two fighter jets and an M-35 helicopter gunship also based in Niger.
Nigeria has also earmarked troops from two battalions in Ojo and Badagry in the Lagos area for deployment to the Economic Community Mission in Guinea Bissau as well as a Nigerian medical team for the United Nations in Cote d'Ivoire.
Army Headquarters also confirmed that a new battalion, earmarked for AFISMA has already commenced specialized training in Kachia and Sokoto in preparation to relieve the 33 regiment currently deployed there. The Regiment's deployment will end after 180 days.
General Ihejirika said that both the Nigerian and Indian Armies are to take immediate action to strengthen their cooperation, especially in the areas of training and military exercises.
General Singh had called for strengthening of cooperation, especially in training, sports and exchange of visits and officers during exercises.
General Singh is expected to leave Nigeria Friday at the conclusion of his four-day visit.