As part of the presentations made at Ghana Armed Forces’ (GAF) maiden International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEC) on Wednesday, 12 October, 2022, at the Burma Hall, Burma Camp, Accra, Ghana, the Chief of the Defence Staff of GAF – Vice Admiral Seth Amoama made a POWERPOINT delivery to the general participants of the conference, on the topic “Ghana’s Military Efforts in Curbing Terrorism”.

We reproduce the presentation for public benefit, as much as we could capture.

GHANA’S MILITARY EFFORTS IN CURBING TERRORISM

By Vice Admiral Seth Amoama – CDS, GAF

I would like to preface my presentation with one assumption, and that assumption is drawing from the expert presentations that were delivered earlier, on Terrorism in Africa and Counter-Terrorism Strategies, the situation in West African Region and the Sahel in general, and also the panel discussion on initiatives with its prospects and challenges.

INTRODUCTION

The southward drift of the activities of terrorist armed groups and extremist organizations from the Sahel region to the littoral regions of West Africa, has engaged the attention of state security agencies, notwithstanding the complex mix of the external threats profile of Ghana, the threats of terrorism provided and violent extremism, rank high due to its assessed eminence, also based on the evolution of the indicators developing within the Sahel and some littoral states in the entire subregion.

Ghana in the past few years, has deployed a multi-sectoral all-of-government-and-society approach to contain any possible spillover of terrorism and violent extremism activities.

The Ghana Armed Forces, in response has also devised a well-thought-out military strategy and implementation plan, to deal effectively with Ghana’s external threats. Broadly, logistics, funding and doctrinal imperatives have been assessed as possible constraints that have the propensity of frustrating the ability of the Ghana Armed Forces, in the event of any massive invasion into our territory.

Indeed, the evolution of the threats and the lessons from the strategies adopted by our neighbouring countries and their resultant effects and outcomes suggests a breed for the Ghana Armed Forces, as a matter of emergency, to make strategic doctrinal changes and upgrade our operational readiness, in the face of imminent threats

Careful and incremental implementation of the strategy, complemented by other national enablers, is shaping Ghana’s current terror threats situation, in a favourable direction.

OUTLINE

For this brief, I will discuss Ghana’s national efforts in curbing terrorism and violent extremism, while focusing on key military activities deployed to meet the political instincts of preventing terrorism and mitigating violent extremism within the country.

My aim is to highlight Ghana’s military efforts in curbing terrorism and violent extremism. The presentation will be in three parts – first will be the threat profile; national response; then we will end with the Ghana Armed Forces broad strategy.

THREAT PROFILE

Ghana has been relatively stable within a subregion that has been beset with a myriad of security challenges. Crime and instability have been a recurring theme in the Sahel and West Africa, violent events have become more frequent and deadly in recent years, and their dynamics have grown increasingly complex. Activities of al-Qaeda and Islamic State have become pervasive in the West African subregion.

In the past decade, the threat of al-Qaeda, Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen (JNIM) and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others have spread gradually from northern Mali through Niger, Burkina Faso, and more recently, north-eastern Cote d’Ivoire and northern Togo and Benin. This trajectory depicts sustained southwards thrust of activities.

Attacks in the last quarter from June to September, 2022, shows that the casualties were 5, 713 from 2,170 attacks. The attacks have increased by 20% from the previous quarter.

In particular, the activities of violent extremist organizations (VEOs) and terrorist armed groups (TAGs), have preoccupied regional and national security discourse. Of major concern is the southward thrust of the VEOs and the TAGs in West Africa and the Sahel into the coastal states along the shared borders of West Africa.

From the west, we see along the borders between la Cote d’Ivoire-Burkina Faso and the borders between Mali-Burkina Faso, then Burkina Faso-Niger, then Togo-Burkina Faso, Benin-Burkina Faso, then we also have Niger-Nigeria.

Ghana has been a significant part of the comity of nations fighting terrorism. This is hinged on the fact that effectively achieving our national interest is intrinsically linked to the peace and security of the entire subregion. This also underpins our interest in dealing with terrorism and its related activities in the entire subregion.

The Government of Ghana has been proactive in the fight against the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. At the national level, a strategic end-state has been set by the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces for the military to prevent terrorism within the boundaries of Ghana. And Ghana, as part of her contribution to the subregional security situation plays key roles in the ECOWAS Peace Architecture, the African Union and the United Nations at large. To a large extent, Ghana’s role in regional security issues, is influenced by its Foreign Policy Objectives, which are based on the promotion of Friendly Nations and Economic Cooperation with other countries, good neighbourliness and the commitment to maintain international peace and security.

Thus, our role in promoting international peace and security remains an integral part of our Foreign Policy. In this regard, national efforts for regional security are focused on political/diplomatic levels, kinetic approaches, which are based on operational and intelligence, and then non-kinetic approaches, which are resilience-driven.

At the political/diplomatic level, local policies and legal framework needed to guide actors’ actions have been created. Yesterday it was discussed of the lack of legal regimes which makes prosecuting piracy offences very difficult. Here, Government of Ghana has focused on passing the appropriate legal instruments to fight against terrorism and a few others as listed:

NATIONAL RESPONSE PLAN – STRATEGIC POLICIES/FRAMEWORKS

1) Anti-Terrorism ACT
2) National Framework for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Terrorism
3) National Border and Security Management Strategy
4) National Cybersecurity Strategy
5) National Security Strategy
6) National Integrated Maritime Strategy
7) Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2020 (ACT 1044)

Similarly, Ghana has signed onto the Peace and Security Initiative by the African Union, ECOWAS and UN and has maintained good faith with these arrangements. As the immediate-past Chair of the Committee of Heads of State of ECOWAS and by implication the Chairman of the Chiefs of Defence Staff Committee.

Ghana has played key role in the mediation of political tensions in Mali, Niger, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. As a founding member of the Accra Initiative, the Government of Ghana continues to strengthen multilateral cooperation, information and intelligence sharing with Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, la Cote d’Ivoire, Niger, Nigeria and Mali to prevent the threat of terrorism and Violent Extremism in the subregion through the Accra Initiative and other bilateral arrangement.

So far, OPERATIONs KOUDANLGOU I, II, III and IV, have been conducted along the shared borders of the Accra Initiative countries with relative success, and upon the agreement of the parties to the Accra Initiative, a joint border operational plan has been developed and it is yet to be activated, the plan was initiated in the later part of 2021, and by December 2022, the Headquarters of the Multinational Taskforce would be established based in Ghana, and the Force Commander has been appointed and we are working towards establishing the Headquarters in Tamale. The Joint Taskforce Commander is Major General Robert Afram.

SOME KINETIC APPROACHES
Some kinetic approaches – Operations and Intelligence – at Government level.

In line with the Government of Ghana Implementation Plan to counter all forms of threats, the National Intelligence Fusion Centre has been established at the Ministry of National Security for intelligence sharing and cooperation among relevant Security Agencies.

OPERATION CONQUEREDFIST was also launched as a multiagency operation led by the Ghana Armed Forces to preemptively deal with violent extremists. These are the agencies who are participating in Operation CONQUEREDFIST; Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana National Fire Service, National Intelligence Bureau, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority with the aim to bring all state agencies together.

NON-KINETIC APPROACHES – Building Resilience and National Cohesion

One of the key elements of Regional Security has been the adoption of non-kinetic approaches to security through building resilience and national cohesion. In this regard, Ghana’s strategy has centered on efficient awareness creation: Recently the Ministry of National Security launched a project called “See Something, Say Something”, to bring everybody, all aspects of the society onboard in the fight against terrorism: Whenever anyone sees any suspicious activities, they would draw the attention of the security agencies to it.

Government is also increasing state presence across the country, so that there would be no ungoverned spaces anywhere in the country, and also decentralize development and presence of the security and intelligence agencies across all parts of the country.

THE BROAD GHANA ARMED FORCES STRATEGY

Since the formation of the Ghana Armed Forces, the global security landscape has witnessed a significant shift from conventional adversarial engagement, to asymmetric warfare – that is where I made mention of a doctrinal change of conventional approach to warfare to asymmetric warfare. One which is characterized by terrorism and insurgency activities, thus consequently, Ghana Armed Forces’ response strategy to the threats has evolved as follows:

1) Changes in Doctrinal Approaches resulted in appreciable shift in training doctrine to accommodate asymmetric threats and warfare to include all levels of training, including personnel development outside the country. Another thing that we have also introduced is establishing a Doctrine and Training Command to look at our doctrines and review them in consonance with current threats; of which terrorism is a major part.

2) A Restructuring Expansion of the Force: A renewed drive towards smarter and smaller agile units capable of responding and conducting surgical operations to meet strategic objectives backed by logistics support structures.

3) To maintain preventive stage National Counter Terrorism and Counter Insurgency Strategy through Intelligence Led Operations, Information War Operations.

IMPLEMENTATION

The implementation plan is intrinsically aligned with the National Response Plan: the end-state is to insulate the country from any form of insecurity or attacks and defend the country against external threats.

OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES

1) To achieve effective early warning systems

2) To present a credible deterrence to any potential aggressor – which is in tune with the Mission of the Ghana Armed Forces – which is to become a modernized highly professional formidable Armed Forces with a posture to deter any contemporary threat.

3) To sustain a quick-response capability, through Mobility, Firepower, Communication, Intelligence and Force-Protection.

In recent times, we have received quite a significant amount of equipment. It is very important that we establish fortified Defensive Positions across the northern borders of our country.

OPERATIONAL KINETIC ACTIVITIES

This is driven by incremental development and intelligence combat capability complemented by other non-kinetic enablers, to build national resilience within the framework of the National Security Strategy and the National Defence Policy and Strategy.

ACTIVITIES
– Integrated Intelligence approach amongst all intelligence agencies
– Deployment of appropriate intelligence surveillance assets for preemptive detection early warning
– Rapid response to threats by land, sea and air
Ground-Firepower, Mobility, Force-Protection, Communications
– Air-Surveillance and effective offensive support capabilities
– Network of logistics bases from where operations would be supported

– We are also currently undergoing an expansion and restructuring of the Ghana Armed Forces – which has seen the deployment of new Units in the Northern Sector of the country under the area of responsibility of the Northern Command, where the threat of terrorism is imminent.

Recently, three Army Battalions have been deployed under the Command as follows:

– 6 Motorized Battalion in Tamale – responsible for the Northern and Savannah Regions
– 10 Mechanized Battalion – responsible for Upper West Region
– 11 Mechanized Battalion – responsible for the Upper East Region
– 155 Armoured Regiment – located in Damongo in the Savannah Region that provides support to the battalions up north.

The Battalions up north have established Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) which are very fortified to help secure the northern frontiers.

The Northern Command works closely in collaboration with other sister-security services such as the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana National Fire Service, National Intelligence Bureau, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority.

There are also active and responsive specialized units;

– The 69 Airborne Force under the Command of the Ghana Army Special Operations Brigade is deployed with responsibility for the Northeast Region
– The Ghana Air Force maintains a base in Tamale then with Forward Operating/Logistics Bases in Wa in the Upper West Region and at Bui in the Savannah Region.
– For the Navy, the establishment of the Special Boat Squadron is a key gamechanger in the fight against terrorism.
– The Navy has also established a Training Command at Nutekpor, in the Volta Region,

A Forward Operating Base in the Western Region, somewhere close to our border with la Cote d’Ivoire and very close to our Oil and Gas infrastructure, so that we would be able to respond rapidly to situations in the oil fields.

SOME NON-KINETIC ACTIVITIES

– Building a coalition of allies and friendly nations bilateral and multilateral, that are networked to ensure accountability are some of the things that we are doing.
– Military support to Foreign Policy Diplomacy through the deployment of Defence Attaches across the world
– Strengthen our subregional, Regional international partnerships, including the Accra Initiative, European Union, Project Defend, and Exhibitions and Conferences such as IMDEC and IDEC
– Providing regional security, stability towards prosperity, necessary for addressing the core problems that fuel terrorism, piracy and other related crimes
– We have also opened our training facilities for enrolment for various allied countries to support joint training and also build cooperation
– Local community development programs are also ongoing; the use of our 48 and 49 Engineer Regiments to develop Quick Impact Projects (QIP) including roads, boreholes, schools, building medical facilities, creating access roads to remote areas of the country, are some of the things that have engaged our attention in recent past, and we aim to sustain them in the future.
– We also support the Government’s Poverty Alleviation Programs and have increased Civil/Military Cooperation in various aspects of society.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, I want to emphasize that violent extremism and terrorism are at the forefront of existential threats in the subregion and Ghana in particular.

Trends from the first to third quarter of 2022, show the increasing geographical reach of TAGs/VEOs active in the Sahel into littoral West Africa.

The southward thrust of terrorists’ activities, especially from Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and the larger Sahelian region remain high and likely to persist.

The Government of Ghana has shown commitment to the provision of resources to enhance the GAF’s operational readiness and contribute our effort towards a resilient and cohesive community with the needed situational awareness.

The impact of national and military efforts is yielding the needed results, as such collaboration with strategic partners remain critical and necessary in order to consolidate our gains. Consequently, Ghana’s resolve to maintain bilateral and multilateral relations is grounded on peaceful and democratic states ensuring the survival, safety and wellbeing of its citizens from imminent and potential threats.

It remains that the effective containment of the threat of terrorism and violent extremism will inure, not only to the benefit of individual states, but also to the interest of the subregion and the world at large.

Thank you.

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