U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) hosted senior-members of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) between 13 and 16 November to discuss long-term defense and security planning in the West African country.
“We’re working toward the finalization of a bilateral country action plan,” said Swathi Veeravalli, AFRICOM foreign affairs specialist. “The intent is to collaboratively work with Ghana on security cooperation, from start to finish, to specify actionable objectives that enhance Ghana’s capabilities as a peace-keeping and crisis response partner in the region.”
AFRICOM’s five component commands, the Pentagon, the Department of State, the American Embassy to Ghana and the Ghana Armed Forces attended the meeting, with time spent discussing the component commands’ 3-5 year training objectives with Ghana.
“The Ghana Armed Forces are well-known in West Africa as professional armed forces,” said Ghana Maj. Gen. Thomas Oppong-Peprah, chief of staff at the General Headquarters. “We have similar values and respect human rights … the U.S. knows this and sees us as a partner.”
Partner efforts to enhance capabilities include U.S. Army Africa’s hosting of a medical readiness exercise to enhance the GAF’s ability to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. U.S. Naval Forces Africa assisted in improving the GAF Navy’s Maritime Operational Center that provides around-the-clock domain awareness to enforce maritime laws in the region.
The medical training received to date “has really helped our nation to help prevent diseases in Ghana and our neighbors,” said Oppong-Peprah. “We have the capability to go to other countries and assist.”
Other objectives in the draft plan include U.S. Air Forces Africa assisting the Ghana Air Force in expanding its air operations to support rapid deployment of forces and aeromedical evacuations. U.S. Marines Forces Europe and Africa is looking to support the ability of the Ghana Navy’s Special Boat Squadron to deter and respond to illicit maritime activity, including human and drug trafficking, piracy and illegal fishing.
U.S. Special Operations Command Africa has already incorporated the GAF in its planning for the 2020 Flintlock exercise to enable African countries’ ability to counter violent extremist organizations, protect sovereign borders and provide security for citizens.
“The draft-action plan, which will be finalized in the coming months, will help us to not only identify who is responsible but also how we achieve all of those objectives,” Veeravalli said. “The bilateral action plan outlines what each of AFRICOM’s component commands want to do in support of Ghana’s regional partnership enabling peace, security and development in West Africa.”
“Some armies in Africa lack the capacity to provide their own security or ability to export security throughout the region, but we have built that capacity over time to assist other countries,” Oppong-Peprah said. “We recognize that it is imperative for African countries to complement one another in providing and maintaining peace in Africa, if we are to see development.”
A second meeting between AFRICOM and the Ghana Armed Forces will take place this winter to further refine the bilateral country action plan and security cooperation objectives, with the goal of finalizing the BCAP later in 2020.