By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Tumu and Welembele
Ghana Armed Forces’ (GAF) training program EX EAGLE CLAWS ’21, reached Day 2, with intensified lessons on Clearing Forest Reserves and Highways, of terrorist activities and some Civil-Military engagements.
On Tuesday, 25th May, 2021, troops from the 69 Airborne Force – Special Forces – trained under the keen supervision of Instructors, Umpires and once again, with the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) – Major General (Maj Gen) Thomas Oppong-Peprah, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) – Air Vice Marshal Frank Hanson, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) – Brigadier General (Bri Gen) Moses Mohamed Aryee and Brig Gen Matthew Essien, closely monitoring and intermittently intervening to provide clarity.
The troops firstly had to practice at the Gbele Forest Reserve, near Welembele, in the Upper West Region, in a scenario where soldiers rid the reserve of insurgents, who had sought to establish a settlement therein, then in a second scenario, they had to train in the clearing of highways, of ambush and armed robbery attacks, with Air Patrols and later on, Air Cover, provided for the ground forces who attacked and cleared the insurgents from the domain.
Later on, the military had a Civil Military Cooperation (CIMIC) activity, where the locals were provided with medical care for about 500 inhabitants of the Tumu Township, then after school hours, pupils were airlifted by a helicopter, to have a feel.
Speaking to the media after the second day’s training, Brig Gen Aryee, said the purpose of the training exercise is to evaluate training activities towards Operation Conquered Fist – which is conducted on the country’s Northern Frontiers which involves the 5 northern regions to respond to the threats of violent extremism (VE)that emanates from the north of the sub region, by troops from the Northern Command, supported by other units.
General Aryee said Ex EAGLE CLAWS is a tactical exercise that simulates some of the usual modus operandi of the VE, thus a controlled enemy is used for simulation, and further stated that few gaps were identified and have been quickly corrected, and would be practiced frequently.
On the choice of locations for the exercises, the GOC said it was because of the borders and recent history of terrorism activities in some of Ghana’s closest neighbours, threats of terrorism could emanate from such places, thus the focus.
Addressing the general public on cooperating with such security services exercises, Brig Gen Aryee stated emphatically that “there is no way you can have peace and development if your security is threatened, and we have historical lessons from beyond the northern parts of our country, and we see how such activities are hampering the economic development”.
“We would want maximum cooperation from the general populace, since terrorism is an issue and it is everyone’s business, when it happens, we are all involved and no one can claim safety, you never know where would be hit” General Aryee said.
It is expected that the deployment of troops in these areas, would be of sufficient deterrent to mindsets that threaten Ghana, as the troops additionally train to be abreast with current trends and to prevent any such eventuality, it is expected that Ex Eagle Claws would be an annual event.