Friday, March 19, 2010

Unfair Enlistment Into The Armed Forces!

The general enlistment into the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) of 2010 appears to be and indeed is unfair to certain categories of Ghanaians. A deliberate policy of discrimination has been implanted to disqualify some categories of Ghanaians by age and academic qualifications.

This discrimination is unjust, unmerited and discriminatory and calls for immediate redress.

Information gathered from Burma Camp by this blog and some interested applications show that this deliberate policy has been invoked in order to disqualify some group of Ghanaians while making it possible and easier for the NDC and the ‘powers that be’ to select only those persons they have already earmarked. There is already anger and frustrations in Burma Camp over the issue.

The unjust, unmerited and discriminatory policy has to do with the two major types of Commission into GAF. These are the Regular Commission and Short Service Commission Career officers. There have been arbitrary significant changes in the ages and academic qualifications requirements.

Ever since the Ghana Armed Forces started enlisting personnel for commission, the age limits for Regular and Short Service Commission applicants had been 26 and 30 years respectively until 2010 when they were arbitrary changed. The age limit for Regular Commission applicants is now 25 years and no more 26 years. The irony of this change is that it has been effected at a time that Senior Secondary School/ Senior High School graduates are no more qualified to apply for Regular Commission and therefore only graduates from the Tertiary Institutions are qualified.

The exclusion of Senior High School graduates from the Officer Crops had long been completed and the policy had implemented gradually with circumspection until 2010 and is aimed at improving standards. It was therefore only the best SSS/SHS leavers especially science students who had qualified for University admission with very good grades who were in the past enlisted into the Officer Crops especially into the Navy and the Airforce as Executives and Pilots respectively. This window for SSS/SHS leavers enabled a lot of children of officers and men in the GAF to be enlisted. The change has seriously affected the soldiers in particular and they are seriously crying for HELP.

A Warrant officer said that “officers are discriminating against us since most of their children are in the good tertiary institutions because they have more money and ours are roaming about in Barracks because now we cannot pay for the high cost of their tertiary education’.

Another Warrant Officer also said that “the NDC brought the SSS system to replace the SC/GCE Ordinary and Advance level system and yet they do not want us to use the products of the system to join the officer Crops. The NDC wants our children to join us as Other Ranks while the children of the elite members of the party and the officers join as officers”. Surely, the two Warrant officers feel that the policy is arbitrary, unfair, unjust and discriminatory.

On the age limit for Regular Commission, the concerned persons were wondering about the wisdom in reducing the age from 26 to 25 years while at the same time insisting that the applicant must be exactly 25 years or less than that as at 31si October 2010.

This blog gathers that all Ghanaians born between 1st January and 30th October 1985 who are all 25 years old now or will be 25 years old before or on 30th October 2010 are disqualified for Regular Commission.

Also, considering the fact that only degree, HND and diploma holders are now qualified for Regular Commission, and their ages are certainly higher than SSS/SHS leaver, it really sounds more reasonable to have maintained the age limit at 26 years since applicants on completion of their courses have to undertake a one year national service compulsory.

The other issue of concern to interested persons is the fact that only selected qualifications are now accepted for Short Service Commission while the age limit has been reduced from 26 years old to 25 years for Regular Commission thereby making it more difficult for some large numbers of degree, HND and diploma holders to apply for Regular Commission because of age and the exclusion of some academic qualifications from the Short Service Commission has worsened their plight.

An aggrieved soldier illustrated his point by reference to the Advertisement for example, in the advertisement, the only professionals and academic qualifications accepted for Short Service Commission are the Legal Service, Medical Crops, Chaplaincy Service, Engineer Services and Band. All other degrees, HND and diploma from the tertiary institutions and professional bodies are not accepted for Short Service Commission making the policy certainly unfair, unjust and unnecessarily discriminatory.

In the past, professionals and academic qualifications for the major Services in the Armed Forces namely Public Relations, Ordinance, Supply and Transport, Pay and Education, among others, mainly in the Army, Supply Branch and Administration in the Navy, Supply and Administration in the Airforce were all accepted.

In the current exercise, whereas the Navy and Airforce have maintained their professional and educational requirement, the Army, which is the largest of the three Arms of the Service, has arbitrary changed its entry requirements to the detriment of some Ghanaians.

Incidentally, most of those traditionally Army dominated Services are now all Tri-Service meaning that officers from the Army, Navy and Airforce can join those services. Thus, there are now officers from the Navy and Airforce with the Public Relations Directorate, Ordinance Service, Supply and Transport, Pay, Education and Engineer Service. What this means is that while the Army is using age and qualifications to disqualify some categories of Ghanaians, they are being accepted in the Navy and Airforce, albeit in small numbers, the balance may eventually tilt in favour of the Navy and Airforce in the not too distant future creating frustration for their Army counterparts.

Already, in terms of promotions and appointments, officers in the Navy and Airforce generally move faster than their colleagues in the Army from the ranks of Lieutenant Colonel and their equivalent and above.

Furthermore, while for instance degree holders with Bachelor of Science Administration, Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Service Planning are not accepted for Short Service Commission, persons with diploma in music are accepted for Short Service Commission.

Additionally, while HND (Civil Engineering, Marine Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Building Technology) are accepted for Short Service Commission, all other HND holders i.e. Marketing, Accountancy, Purchasing and Supply, HCIM are not eligible for Short Service Commission.

Again, whereas a trained journalist (a holder of degree or diploma in journalism) is not considered as a professional for Short Service Commission, a holder of diploma in Bio-Chemistry or a diploma in Environmental Health is considered as such and is eligible for Short Service Commission.

Certainly, these discriminatory requirements are unfair and arbitrary and need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Already, there is tension in the Barracks, according to grape vine sources over the mass release of the 1978/79 year groups of soldiers and the way the 2010 recruitment is also being conducted. We shall come to those areas later.

Our sources have indicated that there appears to be a systematic well coordinated, well orchestrated and well rehearsed plan to recruit and enlist certain groups of people into the GAF and special avenues have been opened for them. Specific examples will be given in subsequent publications. For instance, the age limits for the Legal Service and Clinical Psychologists have been raised from 30 to 35 years because of some specific individuals.

For instance, is it not interesting and ridiculous for the eligibility requirement on Clinical Psychologists to read that “Applicant must not be more than 35 years and be a holder of a first degree, Masters or PhD in counseling or Clinical Psychology with a minimum of 6, 4, and 3 years working experience respectively”?