By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Shai-Hills

A total of seven hundred and sixty-eight (768) recruits of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), have successfully passed out, after rigorous seven-month training in basic but comprehensive military training that encompassed physical training, tactics, weapon training, drill, military law, map reading, field craft, swimming, first aid, liberal education, among others.

The passing out parade, held on Thursday, 26th of March, 2020, at ARTS, Shai-Hills, was historic in many senses; 1) it was the largest number the school had graduated in recent times, 2) it had the largest number of females graduating, 3) segments of the recruits were trained at different training schools and 4) innovative measures were introduced in training the recruits.

Of the total number of recruits trained, one hundred and ninety-eight (198) – 26% of the intake – were females, whiles five hundred and fifty-two (552) were trained at ARTS, two hundred and one (201) at the Jungle Warfare School (JWS), Seth Anthony Barracks, Akyem Akyiase, and fifteen (15) at the Air Force Recruit Training School, Takoradi.

Recruits of ARTS reported to train with four hundred and fifty-seven (457) males and one hundred and eight (108) females, on 23rd August, 2019, whilst those of JWS (who comprised of Army, Navy and Air Force recruits), started with 108 males and ninety-three (93) females on 4th October 2019, however, some of them were unable to pass out, due to medical, disciplinary and non-performance issues.

Two of the innovations introduced in training were staging of the final bouts of the Inter-Company Novices Boxing at the Bukom Boxing Arena, and the introduction of swimming.

Another unique aspect of the parade was the observation of social distancing, due to international measures to curb the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which did not allow for the normal display of drills, fanfare and without the presence of family and friends of the graduands.

Speaking as the Guest-of-Honour at the graduation parade, Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Affram – Director-General, Training, General Headquarters (GHQ), in congratulating the new soldiers, urged them to be mindful of the fact that being a soldier does not place them above the laws of the country, but that they are subservient to more laws than the civilian, since besides the Constitution, they are also bonded by the Armed Forces Regulations.

Brig Gen Affram also admonished senior service personnel to help the young soldiers since the training the young men and women have received is just the basics and that, though there are career courses lined up for them, they cannot be complete without guidance and mentorship, as the military profession is more practical.

“To know how demanding and self-sacrificing the military job is, just take a look at your instructors:  They left the comfort of their homes and their families; from all parts of the country, they are here with you; 24 hours in the day, 7 days a week, they are awake, they have little or no rest”, General Affram surmised.

“When it is rainy or sunny, they are in the open training you, they sleep in the bush with you, when you young recruits are running, these relatively older men are obliged to run with you. They cannot go out of the school when they want, in the night when you are sleeping, soldiers are in the lines to watch over you.”

“The soldiers are not always there for their family members’ birthdays, neither are they there for their children when they need them, they miss all the holidays and religious festivities, there is nothing like weekend for them – this is the profession you have chosen” General Affram reminded the celebrants.

In the awards, the following won: Private (Pte) Baffour Rockson – Overall Best, Pte Ishmael Arthur – Physical Training, Pte Richard Adasa Germing – Tactics, Pte Bismark Agyei Junior – Academics and First Aid, Pte Racheal Benyiwaa Dadzie – Field Craft, Pte Steve Ampomah Junior – Map Reading, Pte Akosua Abrefi Oduro – Voice Procedure, Pte Joseph Nii Adjei Obedekah – Best Shot, Pte Gertrude Darley Nartey – Best Female and Bravo Company as the Best Company.

Dignitaries present included Colonel (Col) Frank Tei – Director, Training, Army HQ, Col Ibrahim Salifu – Director, Administration, Army HQ, Col Mezo and Col Emmanuel Larbi Sarpong Gyadu – Commanding Officer (CO), ARTS.

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