The First Battalion of Infantry (1BN) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), has organized a march to reassure her surrounding neighbourhood of security, build esprit de corps amongst rank and file, to physically train and for new soldiers to be introduced to the boundaries of the unit.
The tough one and half hours route march, which covered a distance of about 15 kilometers, was held on Wednesday, the 10th of October, 2018 and had about a company of officers, soldiers, together with some Civilian Employees and the media.
1BN has a chunk of her troops participating in international peacekeeping operations under the United Nations Mission In South Sudan (UNMISS) but could still raise about a company to participate in the march.
Speaking to the media after the march, the Commander Rear of 1BN, Major Daniel Ampadu, said that although the Operation Calm Life (OCL), in which the unit participates, has chalked huge successes, it was important the route for this particular march, to give residents of the domain peace of mind to go about their legal activities.
Major Ampadu also indicated that the unit regularly undertakes such a march thrice annually to also help keep officers and men physically and mentally fit for their strenuous assignments and also build esprit de corps, since per their duties, soldiers are mostly apart from each other hence the march helps to bring them together.
In addition, there are also new soldiers who have been posted to the unit and have to be introduced to the scheme of things of the system and further reiterated his assurance to residents of the unit’s territory that the military is alive to its responsibilities of keeping the peace of the nation from external aggression and internally destabilizing activities.
1BN was the first battalion to be established in the history of GAF, with a history dating as far back to the colonial period.
By 1900, military units were raised in the British West African colonies for the West African Frontier Force (WAFF) and the 1st Battalion Gold Coast Regiment (GCR), which takes its roots from the Gold Coast Constabulary (GCC), was established on 1st Jan 1901 as a part of WAFF.
The 1st Battalion (GCR) was then headquartered in Kumasi with detachments scattered in the southern part of the then Gold Coast and by 1907, 1st Battalion GCR was organized into eight companies with a battery of light guns.
The 1st Battalion (GCR) as the main component of the force, saw action during the First World War in Cameroon and the East African campaigns, as it is on record that the Gold Coast Regiment had the distinction of being the first Allied unit to capture the German territory of the Togoland.
On the outbreak of the 2nd World War, the 2nd and 3rd Battalions were formed and added to the 1st Battalion to form the 2nd West African Brigade of the 82 West African Division, however, upon return from Burma in 1946, the 2nd West African Brigade was disbanded and 1st Battalion which was then reconstituted, moved to Tamale.
In March 1957, the 1st Battalion GCR was re-designated and in March 1958, 1st Battalion was again moved from Tamale to Kumasi and the following year 1959, the unit was once again moved to Takoradi (Ranchi Barracks).
Even in Takoradi, the unit moved from Ranchi Barracks to Myohaung Barracks in 1963 and finally moved from Myohaung Barracks to the unit’s present location at Michel Camp, in 1968.
There were times the number of companies in the unit was up to eight, but currently, the basic structure of the Battalion Headquarters with five (5) companies is still maintained namely; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Support and Headquarters, under the Battalion headquarters.
The role of the unit in the past and now continue to be the same – for traditionally, the role of the unit is; to train to fight and win wars/battles independently or as part of the GAF anytime, anywhere as directed by the government.
Additionally, the unit in peace time is to assist the civil authority in the restoration and maintenance of law and order in situations of civil disturbance and natural disasters.
Currently 1BN’s area of responsibility (AOR) includes Tema/Ashaiman area and the Eastern Region, with unit duties including; 1) assisting the civil authority to restore and maintain law and order, 2) humanitarian assistance during disasters, 3) provide security for the Armed Forces Base Ammunition Depot (BAD), 4) provide security for vital installations within its AOR and 5) participate in Peacekeeping/Peace Enforcement duties both internally and externally.
By: Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Michel Camp, Tema