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22.11.2011 Editorial

Cashiering The Bad Soldiers

By Daily Guide
SoldiersSoldiers
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Indiscipline by some soldiers continues to feature in the streets, regardless of various interventions on the part of the military high command to stem the anomaly so that a cordial bond between them and their most important publics, civilians, can be maintained.

The occasional aberrations threaten what has been achieved over time in the area of cordial relationship between the military and the civilian world, from where all soldiers are recruited and where they shall all return after serving their country in the colours.

The story of some soldiers exhibiting utmost unruliness in the streets of Tamale last week received copious publicity in the media because of the weirdness of the aberration. Some newspapers decided to place the story on their front pages for emphasis and the importance of the unusualness of the action.

It can only be imagined what level of trust will remain between the military and the police when such aberrations do take place, especially as both undertake joint patrols to check crime at night. The two formations are trained to undertake when the need arises, joint internal security operations.

The soldiers vented their unprovoked anger on policemen on traffic duty in a part of the regional capital as onlookers beheld the unfolding aberration.

Given the quantum of efforts employed to ensure that soldiers are civil and understand what the role of the military is, the last thing to expect is what happened in the streets of Tamale last week.

From the drill square where the recruit receives his first encounter with military training, to the bush exercise where he participates in mock battles, discipline cuts across all the phases of the making of a soldier.

We are aware of the disappointment of professional soldiers who understand the role of the military in a civilized setting when such incidents occur.

This is not the first time that such a thing is happening. There have been several incidents of soldiers assaulting civilians and even killing them in some instances, matters which have, where necessary, been handed over to the civil police to handle.

Perhaps, it would be important to look at the training manual of recruits at the Armed Forces Recruit Training Centre, Shai Hills, to inculcate in trainees the understanding of the limits of the soldier and the fact that he or she is under both civil and military laws and that the former supersedes the latter.

It is paradoxical that just as the incident occurred in Tamale, the military has embarked upon another chapter of engaging members of the public to shore up military/civilian relationship.

We are yet to learn about what happened to two young soldiers who beat to death a young man in Accra after they left their base in Takoradi.

Much as we understand that the military will not brook indiscipline among its rank and file, it is regrettable that the punitive action taken against defaulting soldiers is not brought to the notice of members of the public.

While this is important, because it assures the public that action would be taken against unruly soldiers, it would also serve as a deterrent to members of the colours who think they can get away with such acts of indiscipline.

It is our hope that when the regional police command formally reports the matter to the Commanding Officers of the units in the Tamale Garrison, the gentlemen will cooperate with the Military Police to fish out the defaulters and the necessary punitive measures taken against them.

Our military has a history dating back to the days of the Captain Glovers 600 Hausas and the Gold Coast Constabulary. We would therefore not fold our arms as a few unruly men take the laws of the country into their hands, simply because they are wearing olive green uniforms.

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