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


Like many African militaries, the Ghanaian armed forces are in a state of transition. In the past, the military was an important instrument of state power, the purposes of which were to defend the country's national security, to suppress domestic dissidents, and, when necessary, to assume the reins of government. In the 1990s, growing popular demands for a better material life, for democratization, and for respect for human rights are slowly changing the nature of Ghana's military establishment.

After seizing power in 1981, the Rawlings regime assigned a high priority to economic development, and it downplayed the necessity for a large, traditional military. As part of an international financial and economic aid program, the World Bank and the IMF forced Ghana to keep its military budget low. For this reason, there have been no major weapons purchases for at least a decade, and many of Ghana's more sophisticated weapons systems have fallen into disrepair. By the late 1980s, it had also become evident that most Ghanaians favored a multiparty, rather than a military, form of government and that they opposed the use of the armed forces as an instrument to silence political debate.

These trends are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, additional budget cuts doubtless will have further reduced the size of the Ghanaian armed forces. Moreover, the government will be increasingly unwilling or unable to finance the high costs of acquiring, operating, and maintaining advanced weapons.

Despite the inevitable downsizing of the Ghanaian military establishment, Accra undoubtedly will maintain and perhaps will increase its commitment to international peacekeeping forces. Ghana also is likely to support efforts to persuade the Organization of African Unity to take up the role of peace-keeper on the African continent. The success of Ghana's future participation in peacekeeping operations will depend on the ability of its armed forces to adapt to highly demanding service in far-off countries.

Historically, the Ghanaian armed forces have played a significant role in the life of the country. As a result, there is abundant literature about the growth and the development of the Ghanaian military. Useful historical works include Henry Brackenbury's The Ashanti War: A Narrativ, Mary Alice Hodgson's The Siege of Kumass, Alan Lloyd's The Drums of Kumasi: The Story of the Ashanti War, and Frederick Myatt's The Golden Stool: An Account of the Ashanti War of 190.

The best account of the military during the colonial period is The History of the Royal West African Frontier Forc by A. Haywood and F.A.S. Clarke. Other important studies of this era include Hugh Charles Clifford's The Gold Coast Regiment in the East African Campaig and Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas's The Gold Coast and the Wa.

The postindependence evolution of the Ghanaian armed forces is examined in Simon Baynham's The Military and Politics in Nkrumah's Ghan, Robert Pinkney's Ghana under Military Rule, 1966-196, Albert Kwesi Ocran's Politics of the Sword: A Personal Memoir on Military Involvement in Ghana and of Problems of Military Governmen, and Politicians and Soldiers in Ghana, 1966-197, edited by Dennis Austin and Robin Luckham.

Material about Ghana's military is also available in a variety of periodical sources, including West Afric, African Defence Journa, Africa Research Bulleti, and Africa Confidentia. Other useful publications include New Africa, Africa Event, and The Journal of Modern African Studie. Two International Institute for Strategic Studies annuals, The Military Balanc and Strategic Surve, are essential for anyone wishing to understand the evolution of Ghana's security forces. The same is true of three other annuals: Africa Contemporary Recor, Africa South of the Sahar, and World Armaments and Disarmamen. The last is published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography).

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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