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Ghana: National Security
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security


Ghana has a rich and varied military history. During the nineteenth century, the Asante, one of the major ethnic groups in Ghana, relied on military power to extend rule throughout most of what eventually became the modern state of Ghana. The Asante also engaged in a series of military campaigns against the British (in 1873, 1896, and 1900) for control of the country's political and economic systems. After the British established a protectorate, thousands of Ghanaians served in the Royal West African Frontier Force. In the two world wars of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Ghanaians fought with the Western allies. From 1945 until 1957, the British used the Ghanaian army to maintain internal security.

At independence in 1957, Ghana's armed forces were among the best in Africa. However, President Kwame Nkrumah (1960-66) gradually destroyed this heritage by transforming the armed forces from a traditional military organization into one that he hoped would facilitate the growth of African socialism and PanAfricanism, would aid in the fight against neocolonialism, and would help implement Nkrumah's radical foreign policy. Nkrumah also Africanized the officer corps as rapidly as possible. In 1966 the armed forces moved to end its use as a political tool by overthrowing Nkrumah. For the next twenty-five years, the military repeatedly intervened in the political process to stabilize Ghana and to improve the country's economy. In 1992, however, Ghana's military regime presided over multiparty elections, which the regime hoped would return the country to a parliamentary system of government.

The Ghanaian military, with a personnel strength of 7,200 in 1993, helped to maintain internal security and to preserve Ghana's territorial integrity. Throughout the 1980s, the generally proWestern armed forces relied on a variety of sources for foreign military assistance, including the United States, Italy, Libya, and the Soviet Union. Organized into a 5,000-member army, a 1,200- member air force, and a 1,000-member navy, the military was capable of performing its missions. During the 1980s and early 1990s, moreover, the Ghanaian armed forces and some police personnel participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Croatia, Western Sahara, Iraq/Kuwait, Rwanda, and Lebanon. Ghana also contributed troops to the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group peacekeeping force in Liberia.

Data as of November 1994

Last Updated: November 1994

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Ghana was first published in 1994. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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