By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Arakan Barracks
After serving two and half years as Commanding Officer (CO) of the great Five Battalion of Infantry (5BN) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Colonel (Col) Seth Gyekye Odei has successfully handed over the CO baton to Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Prince Tandoh, at a colourful handing/taking over parade.
Col Odei, who handed over power on Friday, 17th July, 2020, at the Bailley Base Square, assumed the reins of command of the Mighty Five Lions pride, on 23rd February, 2018, after serving as the first Officer Commanding (OC), Ghana Contingent, ECOWAS Mission in the Gambia (ECOMIG).
Col Odei, who moves on to assume the position of Director, Training, at Defence Intelligence (coincidentally same unit Lt Col Tandoh enters 5BN from as then Deputy Director, Directorate of Operational Intelligence), says when he took over as CO, his focus was to build a strong cohesive unit dedicated to duty with esprit d’corps, and that on the operational fronts, 5BN was able to fulfill all higher command operational requirements, even with limited resources and at short notices.
Among the operations the unit undertook during Col Odei’s tenure were CALM LIFE, VANGUARD, CONQUERED FIST, PEACE TRAIL, HALT, and COVID SAFETY, in which the unit was the pivot during the lockdown in Accra and excelled.
Projects undertaken during the outgone CO’s reign included the repair of the acute sewage system in the unit, which was issuing overflow of sewage waste (there is however more work, which Col Odei suggests demands higher command support), the expansion and enhancement of security of the unit armoury, the repair of the Pol Point, the rejuvenation of the Junior Rank’s Mess, the transformation of the cookhouse and dining hall into a modern restaurant and a modern cookhouse, which is almost done.
Col Odei further called All Ranks of the unit, to avail their acclaimed respect, commitment, discipline and loyalty to command and authority, to maintain the same unflinching support to the new CO, in order to move the unit forward.
The outgone CO acknowledged all past COs and their respective sequential developments during their tenures, and urged the new leadership of the unit, to continue to draw from the experience of the old COs (Old Lions), advising the new CO, as ‘overlord’ of the whole of Accra, to hold his guard at all times and seek guidance for success.
Col Odei finally acknowledged the transformation of the unit’s square – which hitherto has been asphalted in addition to the streets, as promised by the Commander-In-Chief and by the help of the Military High Command.
The Guest of Honour and General Officer Commanding (GOC), Southern Command – Brigadier General (Brig Gen) Abraham Yeboah Nsiah, who supervised the changeover, praised Col Odei for his selflessness and dedication, mentioning the drill displayed at the ceremony by soldiers of BITC/19, who were received and further transformed within three months, prior to the handing over.
To the incoming CO, the GOC praised him for being well-focused, balanced and sure to succeed, nevertheless advised him to perceive Command as a triad of authority, responsibility and opportunity, which he referred to as the ARO syndrome.
Dignitaries present at the ceremony included the Director, Logistics, General Headquarters – Brig Gen Prince Osei-Owusu, former heads and personnel of 5BN, some heads of other security services and Metropolitan Chief Executives (MCE).