By Kofi Ampeah-Woode, Accra
The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) Military Police (MP) Dog Unit, also known as the National Dog Academy, has been provided with a transit accommodation and two kennel blocks, to aid the security agencies in the country in particular and the West Africa sub-region as a whole, in confronting the threats of terrorism and illicit trafficking.
The Minister for Defence and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bimbilla – Dominic Nitiwul, on Friday, May 10, 2019, commissioned the kennels for the dogs of the canine academy (funded by the German Embassy) and a 20 room transit quarters for trainers from all security services (provided by the Ghana Army, with the contractor being Mayfair Estates Ltd) – the construction of which commenced in 2015 and was completed in 2018.
In his speech as the Guest-of-Honour for the commissioning, the Minister MP stated that the whole of West Africa, but for Senegal, which is the next country that is putting up a similar type, there is no such facility, thus the institution’s importance as a sub-regional asset.
Mr Nitiwul stated that plans are well advanced to upgrade the Academy from a Military Company to the status of a full Training School with its own command structure and that the military also has in place programs with its development partners, to develop the capacity of the Academy in order for it to deliver on its core mandate.
The MP further said that the threat of terrorism makes it imperative for West African nations in particular and their security agencies, to collaborate in different ways to defeat activities of terrorists within and across national borders, stating that GAF is aware of the current threats and the need for such collaboration and to that end, it is developing the canine programme to be shared by all in the sub region.
Commending the High Command of GAF and the Provost Marshall, the Minister said, “Your performance and zeal has enabled the Academy to locally raise, train and deploy dogs at the Kotoka International Airport, Tema and Takoradi Ports, to strengthen the security posture at these key installations”.
Minister Nitiwul commended development partners, especially the German Armed Forces Technical Advisor Team, for giving the school a brand new Mini-Bus and also refurbishing the classroom block, two kennel blocks, and the swimming pool.
In an interview with the media, the Provost Marshall (head of the Military Police) – Colonel (Col) Errington Commey said that his Unit has built the capacity to support all security operations in the country, to train (but not to deploy) dogs and their personnel for the security agencies to, in turn, deploy for their tactical operations.
Col Commey revealed that the boarding facility has 20 rooms for 40 trainees at a time, with a central basketball court, each room fitted with a kitchenette, toilet and bath and all the necessary furnishing.
“Trainees have to live at the quarters to be able to take training seriously, since the drill regime involves morning, afternoon, evening, night, dawn practices, in all weather conditions and at all times, hence the trainees must be close by and for the trainer to have good and effective control”, adding that the part dogs play in security operations even in advanced armies worldwide, cannot be overemphasized.
Six persons were honoured with plaques, by the Ministry of Defence for their roles in the establishment of the National Dog Academy; they were Major General (Maj Gen) R Opoku-Adusei (rtd), Brigadier General (Brig Gen) B Musah (rtd), late Major Courage Quarshiga (rtd), Ex Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) J Sarfo, Mr Y Akrasi Sarpong and Mr John Otumfuor Watson – Chief Executive Officer of Mayfair Estates.
At the ceremony, the Officer Commanding (OC), the Dog Unit – Captain Ebenezer Akwerh, led his charges, who with Belgian Shepherd (Malinois), German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Labrador and Basenji breed of dogs, performed a scenario expertly.
The Academy was first commissioned in June 1964 as part of a tactical Presidential Security unit with 40 Alsatian dogs and handed over to the Ghana Police Service after a change of government in 1966, but due to its limited capacity, the Police did not find the facility useful and discontinued the programme.
In 1972, GAF took over the facility and handed it over to the defunct Border Guard Establishment, who In 1976, imported 40 all male adult German Shepherds from Germany, in their operations, but these dogs did not last as they could not acclimatize, thus, the facility suffered a major setback and the program was again discontinued, as the Academy has since operated under low capacity until 2009.
The National Security Secretariat, the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and the Office of the Provost Marshal rolled out plans to revamp the facility, considering the importance of canine in contemporary security operations, the unit was restructured and turned into a training school and named the National Dog Academy.
The school has a vision to provide remarkable dog training programmes for the Security Services in Ghana and the sub region and to engage the community and empower corporate organizational activities and to also conduct professional military police courses as well as courses in security management.
Dignitaries present at the ceremony included the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) – Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Obed Akwa, Chief of Air Staff (CAS) – Air Vice Marshall (AVM) Frank Hanson, Director-General, Personnel and Administration (DG PA) – Brig Gen Awity and representatives of the Police Service, Prisons, Customs of Ghana Revenue, Immigration, the Fire Service, NADMO and NACOB.