Lebanon yesterday conferred one of its top national honours, National Cedar Decoration-Commander Grade, on the Chief of Staff of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), Brigadier General Robert Winful for a meritorious tour of duty in that country.
Brig. Gen. Winful is the immediate past Deputy Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). He took up that appointment in February 2005 and served in that capacity for a year.
A citation accompanying the medal read: "Since he took office, he maintained close relations with the Lebanese authorities, especially with the Lebanese Army, and showed full cooperation and coordination, which contributed effectively to the alleviation of the burdens endured by the citizens in South Lebanon".
This is the second time in six months Lebanon has conferred such honour on a Ghanaian. Military officer, Brig. Gen. Daniel Kattah, a former UNIFIL Deputy Force Commander, was the recipient of the first honour.
Major Gen. Samuel Odotei, the Chief of Army Staff, who presented the medal to him at a short ceremony at the "Hall of Generals" at Burma Camp in Accra, said the award symbolised the good relations between the peoples of Ghana and Lebanon. He said the professional Ghana Army had always stood for professional excellence and quality leadership.
The Army Chief said the occasion was a manifestation of the exhibition of such qualities by one of the dedicated, industrious and highly professional members of the Army, and expressed the hope that Brig. Gen. Winful would continue to rise in his career. He exhorted other officers to emulate him and to strive for excellence in the performance of their assigned duties.
Brig. Gen. Winful expressed appreciation to the President and people of Lebanon for appreciating his efforts while contributing his quota to the quest for lasting peace in that troubled country. He dedicated the award to all Lebanese children, saying; "I saw the hope in them. I saw resilience in them and this encouraged me to strive to contribute to peace there."
The award winner advised future commanders to strive to prevent their troops, who went on peacekeeping missions from sexual exploitation, which the UN was taking an exception to. He said Ghana's enviable record in peacekeeping should be kept intact because that was also the way the GAF was carving an identity for itself and etching its prints in military history.
Brig. Gen. Winful was appointed Chief of Staff of GAF barely three months after he had been nominated to serve with UNIFIL as the Deputy Force Commander in February 2005. However, he had to complete his international commitment before coming back to take up the appointment at home.
Brig. Gen. Winful, who was born on January 2, 1952, was commissioned into the GAF as a Second Lieutenant in 1973.