“I must, perforce, commend you highly on your professionalism and discipline that shone through during the recent traumatic event of the murder of Major Mahama, and the national revulsion and outcry that it ignited. It was a trying time for the whole country, and the matured handling of the situation has certainly enhanced your reputation.”
These were the words of the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, when he held his maiden durbar, as Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, with officers and other ranks of the Armed Forces, at Burma Camp, in Accra, on Friday, June 30.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “You have won the respect of your fellow citizens, and positioned yourselves as an institution whose standards are worthy of emulation by the larger society. You continue to earn the gratitude of a nation for whose defence you are prepared to lay down your lives.”
The President added that in the six months since the good people of Ghana, including members of the Ghana Armed Forces, voted him into office as the President of the Republic, they have displayed a keen sense of professionalism in all they do.
Citing a few examples to illustrate the point, President Akufo-Addo noted that “when the call to duty to The Gambia came up, there was no hesitation, even in the midst of forbidding logistical and financial challenges.”
The President continued, “You continue to work closely with your police counterparts to address the numerous internal security challenges through OPERATION CALM LIFE, OPERATION HALT, OPERATION HUNTER, OPERATION BOAFO and OPERATION COW LEG, among others. Your ceremonial duties are a source of national pride and an inspiration for the youth.”
In order to be able to make the Armed Forces perform the core functions of defending the territorial integrity of Ghana better, President Akufo-Addo recounted the strategy for that as laid out in the 2016 Manifesto of the New Patriotic Party.
These included, among other things: the improvement of institutions under the Armed Forces, such as the Recruits Training Schools, the Military Academy & Training Schools (MATS), the Staff College and the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre; the protection of military lands from encroachment; and the continuation of local and foreign training for Armed Forces personnel.
“On peacekeeping, we pledged to increase the daily allowance, and we have done so by raising it from US$31.00 to US$35.00 for each soldier with effect from 1st January 2017. Furthermore, we pledged that personnel, who serve in UN and other Peacekeeping Missions, will be paid at their duty post; we have fulfilled that pledge and gone further to clear all outstanding bills to the tune of US$30 million,” he said.
Touching on their performance on Peace Support Operations (PSO), which have brought Ghana international acclaim, President Akufo-Addo urged them “to work to guard this hard won reputation and keep the country and the Ghana Armed Forces in the top spot when UN Peacekeeping is mentioned.”
On the “deficits in manpower levels of all units” of the Armed Forces, President Akufo-Addo stated that the enlistment and recruitment processes have begun, after an initial hold to enable Government align the critical requirements with the budget.
President Akufo-Addo announced to the gathering that consultations to give effect to the policy on the extension of service period from 25 to 30 years have already begun.
To this end, a Legislative Instrument has been drafted by the Attorney General with significant input from the Military High Command, noting, however, that the adoption of this policy would have serious implications for the military establishment.
“There would be extra pressure on the already difficult accommodation situation; the current rank structures would need to be reviewed with regard to the time served in a particular rank; and there would doubtless have to be a review of medical needs. And, most important of all, the policy has direct budgetary implications. All these processes of review are underway to enable government come out with a good, comprehensive policy,” he added.