The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has held the annual Open Day in all its garrisons and units nationwide, to afford school children, the youth and general public, the opportunity to fraternise and further bolster Civil-Military relations.
The countrywide Open Day event, now part of the regular military calendar, is a Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activity which is held on the 7th of March and aspires to have the citizenry, particularly the youth, appreciate the military, whip up nationalism interests and expose them to acts and values of discipline.
At the Air Force Base, Burma Camp, Accra, under the Command of Group Captain Josua Mensah-Larkai, a large crowd composed of pupils, students and teachers, mixed with the general public from across the country, were treated to short flight services, provided with 3 helicopters, with the Command later roping in one of the Presidential aircrafts – which moved patrons around but did not fly though – to help serve the large mill of crowd who waited patiently in the harsh sunshine, to be served.
At “almighty” Gondar Barracks, Burma Camp, the Armoured Reconnaissance (Recce) liaised with 64th Infantry Regiments, under the auspices of Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) William Ackah and Major Akwasi Agyemang, Commanding Officer (CO) and Commander Rear, to showcase a few processes and equipment of their respective regiments, to a large number of patrons at the Abugah Square.
After the encounter at the Square, Recce lifted their patrons in Armour Personnel Carriers (APCs) vehicles, to the Three Mounted Squadron – alias PONGOLINE – where they were taken through various parts of horse keeping and treated to horse riding.
At the First Battalion of Infantry (1BN) headquartered at Michel Camp, Tema, large numbers of school pupils and students congregated in anticipation of the desired experience, as they were taken through the history of the battalion, various uniforms worn by the infantry and on what purposes that those uniforms were worn.
The guests were also taken through various weapons display stands, whiles some were selected to try their hands with amusement shootings, many others had a ride on rugged military vehicles around the barracks and were lastly served refreshments by the Magajias of the battalion, with the full participation and keen eyes of the Commander Rear – Major Daniel Ampadu.
1BN is one of the five units under One Garrison, with the others being Eastern Naval Command (ENC) Tema Manhean, 64 Infantry Regiment, Asutsuare, Army Recruits Training School (ARTS), Shai-Hills and Navy Recruits Training School (NRTS) under the Navy Training Command (NAVTRAC), Agorta, Sogakope.
At Tema Manhean, the ENC – lords of the sea – availed two Ghana Navy Ships (GNS) – CHEMLI and EHWOR for over five thousand youths and children who attended in numbers of buses, to the Tema Harbour, to have the exposure of being at sea, while about seven thousand others were at the Naval Base, where they witnessed the display of a variety of weapons, uniforms of the Navy and to fire blank ammunitions.
Afterwards, the masses were served refreshments, as Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Commodore Kontoh and Command Operations Officer (COO) Commander IM Abu, sweated diligently to ensure good safety practices, and to assure patrons that the territorial boundaries of the sea are under good care with the Navy.
At the Volta Barracks, in Ho, Volta Region, the 66 Artillery Regiment, under the aegis of Commander Rear – Major Edward Sarpong Appiah, over one thousand pupils, students, teachers and others, were taken through an overview of the history of the regiment, entry requirements of enlistment into GAF, the ranks structure, while a number tried their hands on the 25 pounder weapon with blanks and were all refreshed by the Command.
At the Jungle Warfare School, Seth Anthony Barracks, Achiase, in the Eastern Region, CO Lt-Col Cephas Broni and his able team of Jungle Experts, started the day with a Drill Competition amongst 13 Second Cycle school cadets within their catchment area, which was eventually won by St Francis Senior High Technical School, Akyem Oda.
The schools also participated in dressing and dancing competitions, amusement shootings with .22 rifle with blanks, witnessed an exhibition of Unarmed Combat display and Obstacle Crossing by troops of JWS and, the Survival Stand – a lecture in how to administer First Aid using herbal medicine, in jungle situations.
A major point of attraction for the day during the refreshments, was the famous “Delicacy Stand”, where pupils, students and teachers rushed for their share of “JWS Special Delicacy” (this needs no further breakdown).
GAF has six main Commands namely; Southern, Central, Northern Commands, Support Services Brigade, the Navy and Air Force.
Ghana Army has six infantry battalions positioned at various strategic locations nationwide, namely; 1BN – Michel Camp, 2BN – Myhauong Barracks, Takoradi, 3BN – Liberation Barracks, Sunyani, 4BN – Waddara Barracks, Kumasi, 5BN – Burma Camp, Accra and 6BN – Kamina Barracks, Tamale, with their supporting regiments and units.
The Navy is positioned at the eastern and western parts of the country (Eastern and Western Naval Commands) and has a Training Command at Nuterkpor, Sogakope in the Volta Region.
The Air Force is headquartered in Accra, with a wing in the Western Region, but liaises closely with all the other services, where need be.
It must however, be stated that there is the Airborne Force attached to 6BN but that unit is not under the Air Force but the Army.
GAF employs various means to help her execute her constitutional mandate of protecting the country’s territorial sovereignty from external aggression, whether by land, sea or air, and the military also assists the Ghana Police Service – who are statutorily mandated to keep internal peace – if they are overwhelmed in an operation.
Besides the armed forces actively assisting in the advent of any disaster – natural or caused – they also help in protecting the environment and water bodies and, through its Engineer Regiment, have highly competent personnel who are capable of building roads, bridges of any kind and rescue operations, etc.
Per a careful assessment of GAF, it must be one’s considered opinion that the State of Ghana has under utilized the military’s services in the nation-building agenda, as certain construction contracts could be awarded to the military for less costs, yet equally quality deliveries or perhaps better.
It must be stated that the Government of Ghana has, in times past, promised to award some construction contracts to the military, to cut down the cost of construction and also, to help them generate internal funds for GAF’s upkeep, however, this brilliant idea is sadly yet to be realised.
GAF also extends her expertise beyond the borders of Ghana, in global peace support operations with the United Nations international peacekeeping missions in countries such as Western Sahara, The Gambia, Lebanon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, South Sudan, Central African Republic etc.
By Kofi Ampeah-Woode