By Kofi Ampeah-Woode
Following recent terrorist attacks in the West African Sub-region, – the last one happening just under a week ago, some terrorist activities being recorded at Boungou, in Burkina Faso, where 40 civilians were killed, the 64 Infantry Regiment (64 Inf Reg) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), have continued their on-site counter terrorism at the ECOBANK Head Office, Accra.
The training exercises codenamed EXERCISE EAGLE EYE, started on 25th of February, 2018 and had the 3rd of its kind taking place at the financial institution on Saturday, 9th October, 2019, in a controlled exercise at the World Trade Center, Accra, general area, to test the response mechanism of GAF’s Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU).
The CTU, has devised new ways to train periodically, with what they call “ON-SITE TRAINING”, in which they pick public buildings of some importance in human patronage, and under varied scenarios, apply ‘course-of-action’ mechanisms, to rid the chosen structure of any foe.
The latest scenario was in this wise – “The Unit received a distress call that elements of a Jihadist group that is operating in the Sahel Region, have successfully crossed the border and stormed the ECOBANK Head Office in Accra, where they had held hostage, staff and customers alike, thus National Security, through the Military High Command, directed the Unit to conduct a rescue mission”.
Since the exercise location was a built-up area, the CTU deployed snipers with their over-watch, on top of the Kempinski Gold Coast Hotel, Heritage Tower and other high rise structures, in the precincts, with greater attention at the 18-floors banking facility “hostage building”.
The exercise was under the direct supervision of the Regiment’s Commanding Officer (CO) – Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Fiifi Deegbe, who said that the ECOBANK HQ was identified randomly for the exercise, and that within the challenges available, the troops can be said to have delivered to expectation.
“We have trained for a couple of weeks now at the barracks for this purpose, and this was to just crown that exercise, and the observation made so far has been positive”, Lt Col Deegbe stated.
Lt Col Deegbe had early on, hinted that all the major buildings, including national parks in the country, would benefit from the trainings, to help appropriately tool the unit in knowledge and equipment to handle such situations, should the unwanted occur.
The CO offered advice to the general public that, in the event of a terrorist attack, persons within or without the attacked building, who can safely make phone calls should firstly alert the Police, then those trapped in the building should all lie on their bellies or hide behind places solid enough to prevent one from being easily hit by a bullet.
64 Inf Reg, have embarked on 2 earlier on-site trainings at the Accra Mall and the National Theatre, and intends to further engage in more sophisticated trainings with other buildings of public use, that have the potency of being attracted to terrorists attacks, judging from recent trends.
Terrorist attacks in recent times have been indiscriminate and not spared nations remotely active on the global stage of activism of any kind, hence attacks on public buildings in Kenya, Ivory Coast, Burkina, Mali and Nigeria.
vOther supporting units that helped in this training exercise were the 153 Armoured Regiment and the Military Police, with accompanying vehicles and trained dogs.
The exercise was also observed by the British High Commission Defence Attaché, together with the Commanding Officers of Fifth Battalion of Infantry and 153 Armoured Regiment – Lt Col Seth Odei and Lt Col William Ackah and other officers of the Regiment.