On 17 May, a team from the UK’s 7th Infantry Brigade (The Desert Rats) arrived in Ghana eager to participate in Ex UNITED ACCORD. This was an excellent opportunity for the UK military team, drawn from the element of the British Army responsible for cooperation with Ghana and her West African neighbours. The UK’s soldiers were able to work alongside their West African partners, learning from their extensive peacekeeping experiences, whilst also passing on their own experiences from operating in other parts of the world. The team left Ghana impressed by their partners and looking forward to a return in 2018.
Defence activities this quarter have included a delegation from the UK’s Defence Academy as part of a study tour, 24 scholars made up of military officers and civil servants from the UK, Canada, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Macedonia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sri Lanka met with the Defence Minister, the Chief of Defence Staff, the National Security Coordinator, and other senior military officers of the Ghana Armed Forces. They also had the opportunity to interact with the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, watched a display by the 64th Infantry Regiment, and visited GAFCSC and KAIPTC. With the aim of expanding their knowledge beyond just military matters the delegation also visited the Ministry for Finance, the Akosombo hydro-electric plant, a banana plantation and met with other business, political and media representatives. This program proved to be excellent and was the result of a very strong partnership between the UK’s Defence Section at the British High Commission in Accra and the Ghana Armed Forces.
On Friday 9th June, HMS PROTECTOR, the UK’s Ice Patrol and Research Vessel docked at Tema port; there is a long history between the Royal Navy and Ghana Navy, with young officers undergoing training in the UK every year. In April of this year, SLt George Acquah of the Ghana Navy returned to the UK to receive the Admiralty Prize from HRH The Duke of York, as the best international officer cadet of 2016/17. Following this, two Ghana Navy young officers will undergo initial training at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, England – continuing a tradition of the two Navies working together.
The visit saw the Ship’s Captain and the UK’s Defence Adviser to Ghana call on Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Cdre E Adu, before paying their respects to the Paramount Chief of Tema Mantse, Nii Adjei Kraku II, and the Chief Executive of the Tema Municipal Assembly. The visit also enabled the ship to host training for the Ghana Marine Police and the Joint Port Control Unit, working in collaboration with their colleagues from the UK’s National Crime Agency and Border Force, who also work from the British High Commission in Accra. They also provided excellent tours for the Ghana Navy, the Sea Cadets and a local school. The visit was capped off with a luncheon, where the ship’s Captain and the UK’s Defence Adviser to Ghana hosted the Minister for Defence, Hon Mr Dominic Nitiwul, who was accompanied by the Chief Director of the MOD, the Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of the Naval Staff, the Commandants of GAFCSC and MATS, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command and other senior officers from the Ghana Army and Ghana Air Force. It must also be noted that though HMS PROTECTOR’s crew lost in a hard fought football match between the ship and the Ghana Navy – the Ghana Navy coming out victors with an incredible score of 10-5 – the crew hope to be able to return to Ghana for a re-match!
Commenting on this, the UK’s Defence Adviser to Accra, Lt Col Simon Westlake Royal Marines said:
This high level of interaction between the UK and Ghana ‘has only been possible because of the shared history, shared ethos and common interests of the UK and Ghana Armed Forces, which have come through so strongly in all these activities.
The ability to bring British soldiers to Ghana on exercise, to conduct a senior level military education study tour, and to undertake an excellent ship visit with cooperation across a number of different Ghanaian organisations is testament to the strong, enduring relationship that exists between our two militaries. But, importantly, this period has also allowed the UK to demonstrate our commitment to the Defence partnership with our strong ally, Ghana.