Country Listing

Ghana Table of Contents


Chapter 5. National Security

Ceremonial state sword, symbol of chiefly authority and power among the Akan

GHANA HAS A RICH AND VARIED military history. During the nineteenth century, the Asante, one of the major ethnic groups in Ghana, relied on military power to extend rule throughout most of what eventually became the modern state of Ghana. The Asante also engaged in a series of military campaigns against the British (in 1873, 1896, and 1900) for control of the country's political and economic systems. After the British established a protectorate, thousands of Ghanaians served in the Royal West African Frontier Force. In the two world wars of the twentieth century, tens of thousands of Ghanaians fought with the Western allies. From 1945 until 1957, the British used the Ghanaian army to maintain internal security.

At independence in 1957, Ghana's armed forces were among the best in Africa. However, President Kwame Nkrumah (1960-66) gradually destroyed this heritage by transforming the armed forces from a traditional military organization into one that he hoped would facilitate the growth of African socialism and PanAfricanism , would aid in the fight against neocolonialism, and would help implement Nkrumah's radical foreign policy. Nkrumah also Africanized the officer corps as rapidly as possible. In 1966 the armed forces moved to end its use as a political tool by overthrowing Nkrumah. For the next twenty-five years, the military repeatedly intervened in the political process to stabilize Ghana and to improve the country's economy. In 1992, however, Ghana's military regime presided over multiparty elections, which the regime hoped would return the country to a parliamentary system of government.

The Ghanaian military, with a personnel strength of 7,200 in 1993, helped to maintain internal security and to preserve Ghana's territorial integrity. Throughout the 1980s, the generally proWestern armed forces relied on a variety of sources for foreign military assistance, including the United States, Italy, Libya, and the Soviet Union. Organized into a 5,000-member army, a 1,200- member air force, and a 1,000-member navy, the military was capable of performing its missions. During the 1980s and early 1990s, moreover, the Ghanaian armed forces and some police personnel participated in United Nations peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Croatia, Western Sahara, Iraq/Kuwait, Rwanda, and Lebanon. Ghana also contributed troops to the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group peacekeeping force in Liberia.

Data as of November 1994