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08.03.2012 General News

Special forces unit to protect nation - Col Atintande

By Daily Graphic
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The Special Forces Unit (SFU) of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has been created in response to new security threats confronting the country and to facilitate its rapid deployment to defend the nation against both external and internal aggression.

The decision to create the SFU three years ago was taken in line with the regular analysis, re-organisation and restructuring of the GAF by the Military High Command, the Director of Public Affairs of the GAF, Colonel Atintande M'bawine, told the Daily Graphic Wednesday.

The appearance of a contingent of the SFU of the GAF during Ghana's 55th independence anniversary parade on March 6, 2012 is gradually generating a political storm in the country.

While the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) suspects that there is an ill-motive for the formation of such a force in an election year, the GAF have responded to allay the fears of Ghanaians and political parties that there is no cause for alarm.

According to the GAF, the appearance of the unit should rather be applauded, as it demonstrated that the men and women in green were up to the task for which they were being paid by the taxpayer.

The SFU was the toast of the anniversary parade as the bravado and swag they displayed made sections of the crowd at the Independence Square and viewers of television explode into wild jubilation and applause.

However, a leading member of the NPP, Mr Mustapha Hamid, said it was difficult to understand why the unit had even been created in an election year.

According to him, the creation of the Special Forces, especially in an election year, betrayed the intentions of the incumbent government, especially when the 1992 Constitution proscribed the existence of Special Forces within the GAF.

“That is an anomaly. Why do we have to have a normal Army contingent, a normal Navy contingent, a normal Air Force contingent and then within the Air Force have a special force? I think that requires some explanation from the Ghana Army or the Chief of the

Defence Staff or the Ministry of Defence,” he said on an Accra-based radio station.

Mr Hamid, who is also the Spokesperson for the NPP flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was of the view that the creation of special forces in the Army “creates confusion and division and dissent within our regular forces”, arguing that there ought to be an ill-motive behind the creation of such a force in an election year.

“What role will those special forces be playing that our regular forces cannot play? So, therefore, you have cause to feel that there is a sinister motive,” he added.

But Colonel M'bawine said there was no cause for alarm over the unit that was showcased on March 6, 2012 and refuted claims that the unit was created this year, saying that it was done three years ago.

He explained that there were special forces within all the three arms of the GAF specially trained to deal with specific threats or challenges, adding that the GAF regularly analysed, reorganised and restructured its systems and tactics to deal with emerging threats.

Currently, he said, apart from the challenges of the oil find, issues of terrorism and piracy were not considered threats in the last 10 years but the GAF had had to reorganise to be able to confront some of those challenges.

“In the next 10 years, the threats may be different and we have to analyse, reorganise and restructure to be able to deal with them. What are we being paid for? To eat and sleep? Certainly not,” he said.

Col M'bawine said the idea of personnel of the GAF taking part in the independence parade was not to entertain Ghanaians with the beauty of how the personnel could march “but showcase that we are ready and capable of defending them”.

“That is why we showcase our wherewithal, including mortars, multiple rocket launchers and anti-tank/anti-aircraft vehicles to let Ghanaians know that we are capable of responding to challenges and capable of dealing with them decisively, effectively and efficiently,” he said.

The Director of Public Affairs disagreed with anyone who might hold the view that the SFU was to be used for electoral purposes with the view to intimidating opponents of the government.

According to him, the GAF had always been part of the National Elections Security Task Force and would continue to be so.

He, however, said the Ghana Police Service had always led the operations and activities of the task force and indicated that the role of the GAF was to respond to situations which got out of hand during elections

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