Probably, the biggest problem Ghana Military Academy (GMA) suffers from is its co-location with MATS at Teshie. Organizationally, GMA is one of the thirteen training institutions that come under the Commandants of MATS.
GMA therefore does not enjoy the independence or autonomy that other military academies enjoy. To give a few examples, the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, the India Military Academy, Dehra Dun, India and the National Defence Academy (NDA) Nigeria are all autonomous schools commanded by Major Generals. In all respect therefore, particularly in the area of finance, the Commandant is the sole authority.
IN GMA, HOWEVER, THIS IS NOT THE CASE. INDEED, AS HAS BEEN STATED EARLIER, SOME COMMANDANTS OF MATS SEE GMA AS A UNIT UNDER THEM AND TRY UNDULY TO INTERFERE WITH GMA’S ACTIVITIES PARTICULARLY WITH THE ACADEMY BUDGET. THIS HAS OFTEN LED TO CONFLICT BETWEEN COMMANDANTS MATS AND COS GMA.
The solution to this age-old problem is to change the present organization and move GMA away from its present location to a site where it will be completely autonomous as is the case in the examples given. Sandhurst, Dehra Dun and NDA are all commanded by Major Generals.
FURTHERMORE, THE PRESENT ARRANGEMENT THAT HAS GMA AS A UNIT UNDER MATS FORMATION AND THEREFORE MAKES BASIC DEMANDS LIKE ROUTINE LETTERS TO HIGHER HEADQUARTERS BEING ROUTED THROUGH MATS HQ HAS PROVED ANACHRONISTIC.
Double handling and resultant time wastage aside, this arrangement demeans the status of GMA as the only institution responsible for producing officers for the Ghana Armed Forces.
GMA MUST BE AN AUTONOMOUS INSTITUTION WITH ITS OWN BUDGET AND A COMMANDANT WHO REPORTS DIRECTLY THROUGH THE CHIEF OF STAFF TO THE CHIEF OF DEFENCE STAFF IN CONSONANCE WITH THE TRI-SERVICE NATURE OF THE INSTITUTION. THIS SITUATION MAY BE LIKENED TO WHAT HAPPENS AT THE GHANA ARMED FORCES COMMAND AND STAFF COLLEGE WHERE THE COMMANDANT DEALS DIRECTLY WITH THE CHIEF OF STAFF. WITH ALL THE INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION AND REPUTATION GMA HAS, WHAT IS WRONG WITH HAVING AT LEAST A BRIGADIER AS THE HEAD?
Again, to bring it in line with convention in military academies modeled on Sandhurst lines, the present title of the head as Commanding Officer of the Ghana Military Academy must reviewed and possibly changed to the Commandant of the Ghana Military Academy.
Another reason for advocating GMA’s movement from the present location is that, when it was established in the 1960s, there were no nearby settlements which interfered with training.
To the north of GMA, there was an open stretch of savannah grassland of over ten kiloimetres to Madina. Eastwards, there was an equally long stretch of land to Ashaiman. Today, all these areas are fully built up with GMA hemmed in.
The result is that there is no local training area to practice basic drills taught in the classroom as was the case in my days as a cadet in the early 1970s. The logistic strain of constantly moving cadets out of GMA to practice basic field drills can be imagined
A pertinent question which arises immediately is, where can GMA be moved to, considering the serious financial implications this will entail?
Providence appears to have given an ideal location for GMA’s future relocation. Just an hour’s drive north-east of Teshie is the Asutware Camp.
This old camp occupies the northern part of the Shai Hills which is itself part of the Bundase training area.
With only a little bit of modification, the Asutware Camp can be developed into an ideal place for the GMA.
It is only an hour’s drive from Accra but sufficiently far to keep cadets and instructors alike from any distractions.
Once the problem of relocation has been solved, the next issue will be that of instructors and their stability in GMA. Because of Ghana’s unique role in international peacekeeping operations, instructors in GMA often have to break their tour to contribute towards such operations. Added to this is the sometimes erratic bulk posting of instructors out of GMA at the same time. When this happens, experience built over time is suddenly lost.
A possible solution to this problem could be the posting of officers to GMA for a fixed period of between two and three years during which there should be no break in service for any course or operation. Once the instructor finishes his tour, he could then be recompensed for his sacrifice with an overseas course and a long tour of duty on a UN peacekeeping mission.
Again, periodic visits by GMA instructors to foreign military academies and training institutions will give the instructor greater exposure and by implication a better output from him.
Similarly, foreign instructors could be invited on a reciprocal basis to share their experiences with GMA instructors. This way, instructors will show more commitment and dedication knowing that they would have nothing to lose while teaching in GMA.
Additionally, the point has been made that for very obvious reasons the instructor in GMA deserves some allowance. The GMA instructor routinely travels away from home and family on exercises. The emotional as well as the physical demands exacted on him cannot be overemphasized.
In the mosquito endemic zone we find ourselves in, malaria naturally takes its toll on the instructor. By the very nature of the job, the GMA instructor has to make several out of hours trips to GMA using his own car and well turned out in mufti at all times. All this impinges on the finances of the GMA instructor.
Currently, between the two regular courses and the one SSC/SD course, GMA takes a maximum of about one hundred cadets. This limitation is imposed by classrooms and accommodation. Once GMA moves into a location with bigger facilities, the intake of cadets can be increased to improve on the current average of sixty cadets commissioned every year, which appears to be on the low side, especially with the very high attrition rate particularly of young officers.
The next issue to be looked at is that of the minimum entry requirements for the regular cadet. After being pegged at the General Certificate of Education Advance Level since the 1970s, the minimum entry requirement was lowered to the Senior Secondary School Certificate of Education in 1998.
In the rapidly changing, technologically advanced world of the twenty-first century, where frontiers of human knowledge are being pushed further with higher and better education, it is simply inappropriate to go in the opposite direction by reducing educational standards for future officers of the Ghana Armed Forces.
I have stated earlier on in this book that, rather sadly, interest in GMA by the staff appears to be only once a year and that is during graduation in August. This national function which has the parade reviewed by the head of state is the only occasion that staff officers from the service headquarters visit GMA.
Incidentally, and maybe rather unfortunately, the parade more or less serves as the yardstick for judging GMA’s performance over the year. Whatever difficulties the academy encountered during the year does not appear to matter once the parade is very successful.
GMA is a tri-service institution and it is highly recommended that staff officers from Army, Navy and Airforce Headquarters take more interest in GMA activities.
Again, alumni of GMA do not associate with GMA in any way. So far, only the members of Regular Intake 20 have been kind enough to support GMA. The group provided 4 lecterns: one each for the officer Cadet’s Mess and the rooms of the courses.
This has been a laudable gesture and I hope that many more intakes would begin to associate with the Academy in various ways. Alas, intakes senior or junior to these pacesetters have not followed in the good example.
The relationship between alumni of GMA and the Academy is an important one. Apart from the material support ensures that facilities are adequate, the moral support to the instructors and cadets is immense. Many more of these alumni have good ideas for the development of the GMA and our officer crop. Such associations and interactions will help us tap these plans for the general good of GAF.
Again, in recent times, a trend has emerged towards separate commissions and graduation parade by individual service. The Ghana Military Academy is a tri-service institution and the only one responsible for the training of cadets for commission into the Ghana Armed Forces.
In August 2001, for example, fifty cadets were commissioned at GMA, Teshie. Then two months later in October 2001, nine naval cadets were commissioned at Sekondi. Finally, two months later again in December 2001, nine airforce cadets were commissioned in Takoradi. The question is if GMA is a tri-service institution and the only one charged with the responsibility of training cadets, why did we have three commissions in a space of only five months between August and December 2001 for a total of less than eighty cadets?
What justification was there for expending all the time, energy and meager resources available on three specific graduations at a time when Ghana had declared itself a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC)?
It is strongly recommended that graduation must be held once a year for all graduating cadets at the Ghana Military Academy, possibly in August as has been the case for some time now. Piecemeal graduations as are becoming the vogue now only fritter away limited resources.
Finally, GMA which started in 1960 out of the ashes of the 1953-bron Regular Officers Special Training School has trained over three thousand cadets into commissioned officers not only for the Ghana Armed Forces but also for sister African countries like Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Uganda.
Without doubt, GMA has maintained a very high standard as an institution of excellence for cadet training comparable with any in the developed world. What problems I have identified and discussed are purely institutional and human problems one expects in any human institution.
The recommendations made therefore are just aimed at improving on GMA’s already high standards in our quest to maintain and possibly improve it as a center of excellence for cadet training.
It is my fervent hope that, once these problems are resolved, GMA will continue to grow from strength to strength as it continues to provide highly motivated educated leaders of character imbued with the academy’s motto of SERVICE, DEVOTION and SACRIFICE to serve mother Ghana, or indeed any sister African country they may come from.
It is my hope that, with such disciplined and educated officers of character who understand and acknowledge the supremacy of the constitution at the helm of affairs, the Ghana Armed Forces and others in Africa will develop the cordiality and mutual respect with our civilian kith and kin.
In this way, the necessary enabling environment will be provided for governments to focus on national development to propel us forward.
Culled from LEADERSHIP AND THE CHALLENGES OF COMMAND by Brigadier General Daniel Kwadjo Frimpong (page 126 titled THE FUTURE)