General News of Monday, 1 April 2019
There are chilling reports indicating that terrorists are getting closer to Ghana.
The report of potential terrorists attack was high on the agenda when top security personnel from the military and police met last Friday in Accra.
With terrorists encircling the country’s neighbour, Burkina Faso, as it were, the security of Ghana has never been so threatened from imminent territorial breaches from insurgents and so-called Islamists.
This came to light when security stakeholders, consisting of representatives of Armed Forces, Army, Air Force and Navy, as well as the Police, the foremost sentinels of internal security, gathered at the Ministry of Defence in Accra last Friday to brainstorm the need to retool the military in the light of the aforementioned development.
The threat of terrorists striking from neighbouring countries has never been brought to the front burners, as the security experts took turns to throw more light on their positions, even as Burkinabe forces engage in running battles with the armed gangs.
The experts indicated that the activities of the armed gangs, who are thought to be linked to other terrorist groups active in the West African sub-region such as Mali, Niger, Nigeria and even Cameroon, call for a retooling of not only the military, but also other security agencies whose assignments are complementary to the Armed Forces in terms of protecting the country’s territorial integrity.
Ghana, the security agencies observed, could be used as a launching pad for incursions into other countries in the sub-region or vice versa.
The source of concern of the security agents originates from the reality of many years of lack of upgrade of the tools of their trade against the reality of the top of the range equipment in the hands of the armed gangs.
These gangs have already proven their mettle in a number of engagements with state security players in both nearby Burkina Faso and Mali – firefights which have claimed lives of UN peacekeepers in those countries.
Ghana exudes some outstanding features which inure to the benefits of the terrorists, and these include the closely knit state of the country as opposed to the otherwise sparsely populated adjoining semi-arid countries due north.
It also came to light during the stakeholders’ meeting that in case of a security breach by the armed gangs, the security agencies’ somewhat antiquated equipment would not be enough to deal the kind of decisive blow required under such peculiar security circumstances.
The Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), the intelligence gathering department of the Armed Forces, in its current state, especially requires retooling with the state-of-the-art equipment to stay ahead of the kind of armed gangs operating in the West African sub-region.
The stakeholders called for consensus from political parties, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Ghanaians towards the issue of retooling the country’s security agencies.
The recent announcement of GH?100 million by President Akufo-Addo for the Armed Forces was described as grossly inadequate in the face of imminent security breaches as aforementioned.
The Ghana Police Service received a special mention as a security agency which should not be left out of the retooling equation.
The security services, after the payments of emoluments, are left with little or nothing for the purchase of modern equipment of their various national assignments.
The country’s flanks are open making it especially vulnerable,” one of the security experts observed.
Although it was downplayed by security agencies, there was a report last year about terrorist activities in Atulbabisi, near Bolgatanga and communities close to the Burkinabe border, which are dotted with mining communities.
There are US troops currently upgrading the skills of soldiers in Niger to contain the constant threats of Islamist insurgents in a country rich in uranium.
Besides the retooling Ghanaian soldiers require, there is the need for constant exercises in counter-terrorist operations as they did last year, the security experts revealed.
The frequency must, however, be increased something whose cost is hardly factored into the budgets of the services and other security agencies.
The threat of vigilantism as a national security challenge, the experts said, comes nowhere near the one posed by the terrorists next door.
Given its widespread negative implications, it is doubtful whether the consensus the security experts are calling for would be denied them.
President Akufo-Addo’s efforts so far in retooling the military remains unsurpassed and he has promised to do more.
Some choppers have been upgraded for the Ghana Air Force and some purchased for the Ghana Police Service.