Ghana Army

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Ghana Army
Founded 29 July 1959 – present
(55 years)
Country  Ghana
Allegiance Constitution of Ghana
Branch GAF Army Military Branch
Type Army
Role Ground Warfare
Part of GAF – Ghana Armed Forces.png GAF; Ghanaian Ministry of Defence and GA Central Defence Headquarters
Colors Scarlet, Black and Dartmouth Green             
Commanders
Chief of the Army Staff Major General Richard Opoku-Adusei
Insignia
Flag of the Ghana Army Ghana Army logo.gif

The Ghana Army (GA) is the main ground warfare organizational military branch of the Ghanaian Armed Forces (GAF). In 1959, two years after the Gold Coast obtained independence as Ghana, the Gold Coast Regiment was withdrawn from the Royal West African Frontier Force, and formed the basis for the new Ghanaian army. Together with the Ghanaian air force (GHF) and Ghanaian navy (GN), the Ghanaian army (GA) makes up the Ghanaian Armed Forces (GAF), controlled by the Ghanaian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Central Defence Headquarters, both located in Greater Accra.

History[edit]

The command structure for the army forces in Ghana originally stemmed from the British Army's West Africa Command. Lieutenant General Lashmer Whistler was the penultimate commander holding the command from 1951 to 1953. Lt Gen Sir Otway Herbert, who left the West Africa Command in 1955, was the last commander.[1] The command was dissolved on 1 July 1956.[2]

In 1957, the Ghana Army consisted of its headquarters, support services, three battalions of infantry and a reconnaissance squadron with armoured cars. Total strength was approximately 5,700 men.[3] Partially due to an over-supply of British officers after the end of the Second World War, only 12% of the officer corps in Ghana, 29 officers out a total of 209 in all, were Ghanaians at independence.[4] Under Major General Alexander Paley, there were almost 200 British officers and 230 warrant officers and senior commissioned officers posted throughout the Ghanaian Army.

Ghana Army historic Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) and Combat Vehicle.
Ghana Army historic Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV) and Combat Vehicles at the entrance exterior of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) museum.
Ghana Army historic Automatic Firearm and light machine guns at the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) museum.

Ghanaian Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah wished to rapidly expand and Africanise the army in order to support his Pan-African and anti-colonial ambitions. Thus in 1961, 4th and 5th Battalions were established, and in 1964 6th Battalion was established, from a parachute unit originally raised in 1963.[5] Second Infantry Brigade Group was established in 1961 to command the two battalions raised that year. However, 3rd Battalion was disbanded in February 1961 after an August 1960 mutiny while on Operation des Nations Unies au Congo service at Tshikapa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.[6] The changeover from British to Ghanaian officers meant a sudden lowering of experience levels. The Ghanaian commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel David Hansen, had on appointment as battalion commander only seven years of military experience, compared to the more normal twenty years' of experience for battalion commanders in Western armies. He was badly beaten by his troops during the mutiny.[7] 4th Battalion was raised under a British commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Cairns, from the single company of the 3rd Battalion that had not mutinied.

Initial British planning by Paley before his departure in 1959 had provided for all British officers to be withdrawn by 1970; however, under pressure from Nkrumah, Paley's successor Major General Henry Alexander revised the plans, seeing all British personnel to depart by 1962. However, in September 1961, Alexander and all other British officers and men serving with the Ghanaian armed forces were abruptedly dismissed.[8] Nkrumah was determined to indigenize his armed forces fully, after some years of accelerated promotion of Ghanaian personnel.

Simon Baynham says that “the wholesale shambles which surely must have resulted from simply expelling the expatriate contract and seconded officers was averted by the arrival of Canadian military technicians and training officers.”[9] Canadian training team personnel were assigned to the Military Academy (1961−1968), the Military Hospital, as Brigade Training Officers (1961−1968), to the air force, and later the Ministry of Defence (1963−1968), Ghana Army Headquarters (1963−1968) and the Airborne School.[10]

Matters deteriorated further after the coup that deposed Nkrumah. In July 1967, Canadian Colonel James Bond, the Canadian military attache, asked to write a report on how Canada could further assist the Ghanaian armed forces, Bond wrote on '1966 preoccupation of.. senior officers with their civilian duties as members of the National Liberation Council and as regional administrators'.[11]

Ghana has contributed forces to numerous UN and ECOWAS operations, including in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, and Liberia (ECOMOG and UNMIL). Ghana contributed UN peacekeeping in UNAMIR during the Rwandan Genocide. In his book Shake Hands with the Devil, Canadian force commander Romeo Dallaire gave the Ghanaian soldiers high praise for their work during the conflict, in which the Ghanaian contingent lost 3 soldiers.

Structure[edit]

Structure of the GA (Ghana Army)

The Ghana army is divided into two brigade sized "commands":

  • Northern Command (Kumasi)
    • 3x light infantry battalions at Sunyani (3rd Infantry Battalion — 3Bn), Kumasi (4th Infantry Battalion — 4Bn), and Tamale (6th Infantry Battalion — 6Bn)
    • The Airborne Force (ABF) in Tamale (One company sized formation each in Upper West and Upper East regions respectively)
    • 2nd Reconnaissance Armoured Squadron in Sunyani
    • 2nd Signal Squadron in Kumasi
    • 2nd Field Workshop in Kumasi
    • 2n Field Ambulance in Kumasi
    • 2nd Transport Company in Kumasi
    • 2nd Field Operations Center in Kumasi
  • Southern Command (Accra)
    • 3x light infantry battalions at Tema (1st Infantry Battalion — 1Bn), Takoradi (2nd Infantry Battalion — 2Bn), and Accra (5th Infantry Battalion — 5Bn)
    • 64th Infantry Regiment (Rapid Reaction Battalion) in Accra
    • Reconnaissance Armoured Regiment in Accra
    • 66th Artillery Regiment in Ho
    • 48th Engineer Regiment in Teshie
    • 1st Field Workshop in Accra
    • 1 Motor Transport Battalion (1MT)

Infantry[edit]

The Ghanaian Army consists of three distinct infantry elements:

  • Ghana Regiment – The major element of the army is the six light infantry battalions of the Ghana Regiment. Three battalions are assigned to each brigade.
  • Airborne Force – The Airborne Force (ABF) is a battalion sized formation including a parachute trained company assigned to the Northern Command.
  • 64 Infantry Regiment – 64 Infantry Regiment is the commando trained rapid reaction force assigned to the Southern Command.

Combat Support[edit]

The Ghanaian Army has a number of units designated as combat support, including its armour, artillery, engineers and signals:

  • Reconnaissance Armoured Squadron (Sunyani)
  • Reconnaissance Armoured Regiment
  • 48 Engineer Regiment (Teshie, Accra region)
  • 49 Engineer Regiment
  • 66 Artillery Regiment (Volta Barracks, Ho; formed 2003 from previous Medium Mortar Regiment)
  • Signals Regiment (Kumasi)
  • Logistics Group

Chiefs of the Army Staff[edit]

The head of the Ghana Army was formerly referred to as the army commander but now has the title above. The list of former heads lies below.[12]

Rank structure[edit]

A Ghanaian Army sergeant directs his troops forward

The GA rank structure is similar to the British army ranks structure, they are arranged in descending order:

Officer ranks

Enlisted ranks

References[edit]

  1. ^ Generals.dk
  2. ^ Hansard, Defence: West Africa
  3. ^ Christopher R. Kilford, The Other Cold War: Canada's Military Assistance to the Developing World 1945-75, Canadian Defence Academy Press, Kingston, Ontario, 2010, p.138
  4. ^ Kilford, 137
  5. ^ Simon Baynham, The Military and Politics in Nkumrah's Ghana, Westview, 1988, Chapter 4
  6. ^ For the Tshikapa mutiny see Henry Alexander, African tightrope. My two years as Nkrumah's Chief of Staff (Pall Mall Press, London, 1965) p.67-71
  7. ^ Kilford, 141
  8. ^ Kilford, 140
  9. ^ Baynham, 1988, p.125
  10. ^ Kilford, 141, citing Gary Hunt, “Recollections of the Canadian Armed Forces Training Team in Ghana, 1961-1968, Canadian Defence Quarterly, April 1989, 44
  11. ^ Kilford, 156, citing Canada, LAC, “Discussion Paper – Canadian Forces Attaché – Ghana Armed Forces and Canadian Military Assistance,” 12 July 1967, 2. RG 25, External Affairs, Vol. 10415, File 27-20-5 Ghana (Part 4).
  12. ^ "Past Army Commanders / Chiefs of Army Staff". Official Website. Ghana Armed Forces. 2008-02-06. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  13. ^ "Chief of Army Staff-COAS Profile of Major General Richard Opoku-Adusei". Ghana Armed Forces. Retrieved 2014-04-23. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lt Col Festus B Aboagye, The Ghana Army: A Concise Contemporary Guide to its Centennial Regimental History, 1897–1999, Sedco Publishing, Accra, 1999

External sources[edit]