Opinions of Thu, 31 Dec 20153
Guiding Principles of the Ghana Army
The Ghana Armed Force believes its members should reflect the diverse society that Ghana is today. The Army, Air Force and Navy embrace Ghanaians from all cultural backgrounds, and the significance of people's culture and beliefs is recognized and respected, subject to operational and occupational health and safety requirements.
An Armed Forces, and that is to say, an Army, grow or develop well or vigorously on its traditions. I will even like to add that an Army builds upon its historical foundations.
An Army which has no background, no tradition, no norms, no culture or history from which it can and should draw inspiration, or which unfortunately forgets its historical background, will suffer from disorientation and consequently into low morale.
The Ghana army has a firmly established ethical and moral code based on the laws and institutions of the State of Ghana, the traditions of the Ghanaian people and democratic principles.
The army provide a formal assurance regarding basic rights for its soldiers and maintains a level of morality in the conduct of war and military operations.
As a general rule, during training, the army has a commitment to guarantee a minimum of six hours sleep a night for soldiers and seven hours before soldiers undertake a combat operation, grant regular breaks to soldiers, guaranteed meals with a minimum diet and to provide clothes and housing.
Soldiers also have specific but not explicitly named or stated obligations. The first is the concept of 'personal example.' Being in uniform means that the soldier is a representative of the army and State and therefore both soldiers and officers are expected to set a 'personal example' by obeying the law of the land, appearing in orderly dress and not causing any public disturbance.
The military police have the right to caution and even arrest any soldier regarded or considered behaving inappropriately. The concept of 'personal example also extends to the battlefield.
An officer, a warrant officer or senior noncommissioned officer is always expected to lead from the front. The fact that these senior personnel take front line combat positions demonstrate the spirit of esprit de corps, motivating and urging the soldiers to soldier on.
The firm belief in the reliability of the issue is that, the GAF believes that leading by examples increases respect for the officer corps and instills greater motivation among soldiers. Soldiers are trained to take over command in a situation where an officer is killed or injured.
Another duty or commitment worthy of note is the concept of comradeship. A soldier is expected to risk his life for his fellow soldier by not deserting wounded on the battlefield. The army believes this is a vital principle to instill trust among soldiers and strengthen the sense of mission and team.
A very important responsibility of a soldier is to wary of politics, keep away from politicization of the army. The soldiers must obtain prior permission before every public appearance. Soldiers are not allowed to accept personal gifts as a result of position, rank or status from anyone inside or outside Ghana.
In cases where soldiers or officers break these principles, be it in war or peacetime, military courts have the power to try and reprimand.
Finally, there is an important concept of professionalism. Every soldier is expected to train in a particular course, be it pilot training, snippering or cooking in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to perform a meaningful task.
GAF has a principle that weapons and force can only be used for the purpose of a military operation and not to harm human beings who are non-combatants or who are prisoners of war.
This involves avoiding at all costs damage to human life, dignity and property. Enemy troops and civilians in areas under the control of the GAF have to be treated with the letter and spirit of the law. Soldiers have to show respect for the beliefs, values and historical sites of all civilians and military personnel.
In cases where soldiers have engaged in criminal activities, such as looting or using excessive force, as has happened in isolated and rare circumstances in clashes with citizens, they are tried and sentenced. If a commander is accused of violence he can be instantaneously removed from his command.
WO I Nana Akwah
Ex-Regimental Sergeant Major