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Ghana: Armed Forces' Mission, Organization, and Strength
Country Study > Chapter 5 > National Security > Armed Forces' Mission, Organization, and Strength


Since independence, the armed forces' mission has been twofold: to protect Ghana's territorial integrity from foreign aggression, and to maintain internal security. In the mid-1990s, ground forces held the dominant role in the defense establishment. In terms of organization, the military is composed of the army and its subordinate air and naval elements, numbering in all 6,850 active duty personnel in 1994. The military command structure extends from the minister of defense in the national government to commanders in the field. Military units are deployed in the capital, Accra, and in Ghana's border regions. The 5,000-member Ghanaian army, which has an eastern and a western command, is organized into two brigades, with six infantry battalions; one reconnaissance regiment, with two reconnaissance squadrons; one airborne force, with one paratroop company; one artillery regiment; and one field engineer regiment.

Military equipment consists predominantly of older weapons of British, Brazilian, Swiss, Swedish, Israeli, and Finnish origin. Servicing of all types of equipment has been extremely poor, largely because of inadequate maintenance capabilities. As a result, foreign military advisers or technicians perform all major maintenance tasks. Included in the Ghanaian inventory are FV-601 Saladin and EE-9 Cascavel reconnaissance vehicles; MOWAG Piranha armored personnel carriers; 81mm and 120mm mortars; 84mm recoilless launchers; and 14.5mm ZPU-4 and 23mm ZU-23-2 air defense guns.

The 1,000-member Ghanaian Air Force consists of one counterinsurgency squadron equipped with MB-326K and MB-339 aircraft; three transport squadrons equipped with F-27 and F-28 Fokkers, a C-212 Aviocar, and Skyvan aircraft; and one training squadron equipped with MB-326F, Bulldog, and L-29 Delfin aircraft. The air force also has Bell, Mi-2 Hoplite, and SA-319 helicopters. It operates from bases in Accra (headquarters and main transport base), Tamale (combat and training base), Takoradi (training base), and Kumasi (support base). The air force's mission is to perform counterinsurgency operations and to provide logistical support to the army. Since independence, performance has been hindered by a lack of spare parts and by poor maintenance capabilities. On September 18, 1987, Air Force Commander J.E.A. Kotei announced plans to begin internal passenger service to supplement the efforts of Ghana Airways. Under this program, the government authorized the transformation of Tamale airport into a civil-military airport.

Ghana's navy, which lacks marines or naval aviation assets, provides coastal defense, fisheries protection, and security on Lake Volta. During World War II, the Gold Coast Volunteer Naval Force, which had been established in 1936, provided sea patrols and conducted mine-detection and neutralization operations along the coast. In 1959 the Ghanaian government established a true navy and assigned a former Royal Navy officer the duties of chief of staff with the rank of commodore. In 1961 a Ghanaian army brigadier replaced the British commodore. On July 14, 1989, the navy recommissioned two ships, GNS Yogag and GNS Dzat, at the western naval base in Sekondi. The vessels had been refurbished by a British shipyard, Swan Hunter. In 1994 the navy was organized into an eastern command, with headquarters at Tema, and a western command, with headquarters at Sekondi. The naval inventory includes two Kromantse-class corvettes and two Achimote-class and two Dazata-class fast attack craft.

The Ghanaian navy has experienced low readiness rates because of spare parts shortages. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, budgetary constraints and a lack of serviceable equipment forced the navy to shrink its manpower from about 1,200 to approximately 850 personnel. Nevertheless, in 1990 Ghana's navy deployed some of its ships to support the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) mission in Liberia. In late 1992, two of the navy's ships were in France for refitting.

Paramilitary forces consist of the 5,000-member People's Militia, which serves as a home guard force and is responsible for preventing and controlling civil disturbances and insurrection. A small, elite Presidential Guard consisting of one infantry battalion provides security for the president. The Ghanaian government also has created a National Civil Defence Force (also known as the Committees for the Defence of the Revolution), which includes all citizens able to perform military service. According to the country's defense plans, the National Civil Defence Force would be required to guard important installations in times of crisis to relieve pressure on the regular armed forces.

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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