14.03.2006 General News

Brain drain threatens Air force

14.03.2006 LISTEN
By The Enquirer

An imminent brain drain threatens the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) as 20-30 per cent officers desert the force for UN top jobs after government spends between $40,000 and $70,000 to train each pilot.

According to the paper, top guns within the GAF have declined to give figures of the number of officers who have resigned so far due to national security reasons.

Chief of Staff officer of the Ghana Air Force, Air Commodore I.S Kadri admitted that the desertion have exceeded their expectations by 20-30 per cent.

Most of these officers undergo expensive training in the USA to quit the service and seek greener pastures within the United Nations and commercial air operators.

It is estimated that it costs the government of Ghana about $40,000-$70,000 to train one air force pilot.

According to the Enquirer newspaper the situation has become so disturbing that the Air Force High Command has initiated a number of conventions (durbars) to discus strategies to stemming the problem.

According to security forces within the Armed Forces, there are already recommendations that airmen who benefit from such expensive training on the back of the public purse must be bonded for a longer period to ensure that the state benefits from the investments in their training.

A number of airmen who spoke to the Enquirer newspaper attributed the situation to poor conditions of service. They however said they are being attracted by better conditions offered them outside the Armed Forces.

The Chief Staff officer and his deputies denied that the working conditions of service of the men in the air force had worsened.

According to the paper from 2001 to date there had been an increase in pay and allowances of over 40%-50%.

Tallied with the stringent efforts in the provision of comfortable accommodation, health facilities, enhanced training programmes and other welfare programmes and commanders argued that the conditions of service have improved.

“ They are leaving because many avenues have opened up for them and not deteriorating conditions of service,” Commodore Kadri said.

In the past pilots of the Ghana Armed Forces were trained at Takoradi to receive military accreditation recognized as private licenses, Air force pilots are now being trained in the United States of America where they receive commercial licenses, a situation which makes them more attractive than civilian pilots.

Many of these men, pilots, engineers, suppliers and other regular soldiers are identified to be working mainly in the liberalized and growing West African Aviation Industry.

The Commanders explained that the United Nations has changed its mode of employment by relying on voluntary services and that many pilots, engineers, suppliers and other men in the Ghana Armed Force, have secured contracts with the UN.

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