The relentless forward march towards institutionalizing a well-motivated, well-trained and well-equipped Army – a vision of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) – Major General Thomas Oppong-Peprah, inched another step forward with the 64 Infantry Regiment receiving added share – this time, a 100-bed capacity accommodation for its Young Soldiers.
On Friday, July 1, 2022, the COAS commissioned a new 100-bed Young Soldiers’ accommodation facility, in an ongoing effort to raise a barracks for Ghana’s premier Special Forces (SF) – the 64 Infantry Regiment (64 Inf Regt), which received a befitting headquarters only a few weeks ago, since inception.
In an inspiring speech to the Special Forces Unit of the Army Special Operations Brigade (ASOB), the COAS, a former Commanding Officer (CO) of the SF, then Forces Reserve Battalion (FRB), recounted how personnel of the Unit had struggled for accommodation and office spaces, and had been perching with mainly the Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (formerly 1 Recce Squadron, now 153 Armoured Regiment) and others.
At a point in the life of the FRB, the accommodations paucity was so acute that an old guardroom was turned into accommodation for Young Soldiers.
In addition to the newly constructed Young Soldiers’ place, which was christened after the FRB’s pioneer Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) Freedom Alormasor, there also are some buildings sprung up already, to form a barracks near the Partington HQ.
The Army Commander recounted what rang the bell for him for the need for Young Soldiers’ accommodation, saying; upon a visit to Sunyani and some other Garrisons, he asked to be taken to Soldiers at their accommodation and was led to Soldiers sleeping in tents at the Barracks.
General Oppong-Peprah reiterated his determination to achieve his vision of a well-equipped, well-motivated and well-trained Army, despite major hurdles to his quest, after two-and-half years at the helm, having strived to make a landmark by replacing majority of tents with cement block buildings at the Battle Training Camp, Bundase.
At Burma Camp, there has been built the ‘BK Akafia Transit Lodge’ for Soldiers who hitherto used to sleep at the Square of the 5 Infantry Battalion during Rotation, for peacekeeping purposes, whiles the Officers’ share of the lodge is far advanced in construction.
A 100-bed Soldiers’ accommodation is at Michel Camp, Tema, 160-bed facility at Liberation Barracks, Sunyani, a 50-bed facility at Mognori, Bawku – thanks to Mr. Osei-Bonsu, a 100-bed facility at 153 Armoured Regt, Gondar Barracks, Young Soldiers accommodation for the Ghana Military Police (GMP), a 100-bed facility at Daboya Camp, a 160-bed facility at 155 Armoured Regt, Damango, at roofing level amongst others.
With regards to training, various exercises have taken place locally and on the international level, personnel (mainly from 64 Inf Regt) have been taken to the United Kingdom to compete at EX CAMBRIAN PATROLS, with renowned Armies from the United States, Canada, Germany and other countries, with the Ghana Army ranking among top 5 at that Competition, the COAS stated.
That team also trained in EX FLINTLOCK with other militaries in la Cote d’Ivoire, then proceeded to Morrocco to train in EX AFRICAN LION ’22, for the month of June, with militaries from Morrocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal and the United States Army, and have performed to international acclaim, the COAS announced to spontaneous applause from the gathering.
With equipment, General Oppong-Peprah iterated that the Government has provided a lot of armoured vehicles, such as the COBRA armoured vehicles, 21 Land Rover armoured vehicles which have been deployed at Bawku with the 11 Mechanized Battalion, expecting 70 Husky armoured vehicles in August, 2022 and a number of Pandur armoured vehicles, at the close of 2022.
Upon assumption of Command, General Oppong-Peprah said, most of the Army’s vehicles were off-road, however, funds were extended to the units and many of the vehicles have been brought back on-road.
“As a trained 64 and Armoured Regiment Officer, I do not give up, so we have been striving and continue with the vision, although I must acknowledge that it has been extremely difficult to get resources”, with these words, he urged the soldiers never to give up.
The Army Commander described RSM Freedom, who spent 22 years as RSM of the unit – a record in the annals of GAF – as highly professional, very distinguished, loyal, astute, excellent turn-out, made the military attractive, thus deserved the building being named after him, and that the gesture is an indication that if one serves well, irrespective of colour, tribe, age, height, one would be recognized and honoured by GAF.
Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Frank Agyemang – CO, 64 Inf Regt, in his opening remarks stated that the provision of the Young Soldiers’ accommodation for the unit comes as a huge relief, since about 70% of his force live in town, which had been a challenge as far as quick mobilization of troops for duties and rapid deployment are concerned.
“Since we are now putting up barracks of our own, it would be appropriate for us to receive support from corporate bodies who have the will to help us to increase the accommodation facilities that the Armed Forces is building for us”, the CO opined.
Mr Kwadwo Bonsu – Chief Executive Officer of GEOPLAST Ltd, who helped in constructing the building and indeed earlier constructed a 50-bed accommodation for Soldiers at 11 Mech Bn, Bawku, after witnessing them living in tents, said it was after that that the COAS tasked him to put up a similar facility for 64 Inf Bn, which was partly funded by the Army Headquarters.
“If you are a business person living in any country and there is no peace and stability, you cannot create work, so as businessmen and corporate entities, we must get on board to support the Armed Forces so that we can have continued peace. There are countries where with terrorism issues, they cannot work”, the CEO concluded.
Other dignitaries present at the commissioning event included the Chief Staff Officer, Army – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Charles Agyemang-Prempeh, Director General, Logistics, GAF – Brig Gen Prince Osei-Owusu, Deputy Commander, ASOB – Colonel (Col) Richard Mensah, Army Secretary – Col Bernard Pantoah.