Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith was born on the 9th of January, 1945 in Takoradi. He is married with five children.
He attended Achimota School from 1959 to 1963 and successfully passed out with the West African School Certificate. He enlisted into the Ghana Military Academy as an Officer Cadet. He was commissioned 2/Lt on 16th October, 1965 into the Ghana Army Engineer Corps.
After commission, he rose through the ranks and excelled in all appointments and responsibilities entrusted to him.
He has held many appointments, prominent among which are: Commander, Ghana Army (1996-2001); Special Task Force Commander to restore law and order in Northern Ghana (Jan. – Sept. 1994); Commander 2 Infantry Brigade Group (Now Ghana Army Northern Command (1993-1996); Commandant, Military Academy and Training School (1992-1993); Company Commander United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), Egypt -1996 among others.
Whiles in the military, he attended several courses and had international exposure. Among them are:
During his career span, he led a number of official delegations on visits outside the country. Notable amongst these were; Leader –Military Delegation to the UN Headquarters to attend a Workshop on the conduct of Peace Keeping Operations of UN Troop Contributing Countries (2000); Leader – Military Delegation to China on Ghana/China Joint Military Cooperation (1998); Leader- Military Delegation to Lebanon on the occasion of UN Medals Presentation to Ghanaian Troops serving with the UN Peace Keeping Force and also Evaluate their Performance on the operation (1986).
Lt. Gen. Smith has been a member of various Associations and Boards. He was a member of the National Security (1996-2001), Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Control Board (1996-2001); Old Achimotans Association (1963); Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Insurance Commission (NIC).
He initiated numerous projects, some of which include Addo House at Army Officers Mess near 37 Military Hospital; the Tailoring Complex/Army Service Shop at BOD; and Isaac Frimpong Guest House at Arakan Barracks.
He wrote two research papers or projects: A paper on the New Vision of the Ghana Army for the 21st Century and project on the “Achievement of the OAU since it Formation/Inception”.
In recognition of his meritorious services to the Ghana Armed Forces, the Nation and the International Community, Lt. Gen. (rtd) Smith has been a proud recipient of a number of awards and honors’.
Among these were: National Award- “Companion of the Order of the Volta (CV) (2001); International Award – “Legion of Merit” (USA) the fifth Highest Award in the US Army (1992); International Award “The State of Texas, USA, honored with the title “Admiral in the Texas Navy” (1991); National Award – Ghana/UN Peace Keeping (1976); International Award – UN Peace Keeping Operations in the Sinai, Egypt (1976) and many others.
So far, he is the only Army Commander to have commanded three formations including two Infantry Brigade Groups.
He retired from the military in February 2009 after 39 years with the colours.
Hon. Lt. Gen. (rtd) Smith was sworn in as the Minister for Defence by the President of the Republic of Ghana, H.E. Prof. J.E.A Mills, in February, 2009.