Government determined to modernise Ghana Armed Forces – Minister

Lieutenant General Joseph Henry Smith, Minister of Defence has pledged Government’s determination to modernise the security services, especially the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF), to bring it at par with the standards of other armed forces across the globe.

He said this had been necessitated by the fact that Ghana, as a fast growing economy, could come against challenges in the area of security, and that the GAF should be prepared to respond to those challenges anytime the need arose.

A statement issued in Accra on Tuesday by Lieutenant Colonel E. Aggrey-Quarshie, of the Public Relations Directorate of GAF, said Lt-Gen. Smith made these observations when he addressed a durbar of officers and men and civilian employees of the GAF at Burma Hall in Accra on Tuesday.

The statement quoted the Defence Minister as saying that the vision and mission of the Ministry of Defence since he took office had been to develop a highly professional, effective, efficient and politically neutral Armed Forces which would be subject to democratic or civil control.

In addition, the personnel would proactively promote national and regional defence interest and effectively contribute to the national development agenda.

Lt-Gen. Smith said after the approval of the strategic plan to modernise the GAF by Parliament, the Ministry and GAF High Command, had been working hand-in hand to put the strategies into action.

The strategic plan, he said, sought to improve upon the state of combat readiness of the three Services, increase logistics and infrastructural system for rapid response to emergencies and also increase and improve on the human resource base and institutional capacity of the GAF as well as improving upon civil-military relations.

The Defence Minister noted that in achieving the modernisation goal, Government would continue re-equipping all sections within the GAF.

He said new foundations had been laid since the beginning of 2009 to acquire new vehicles, ships and aircrafts for the three services, and repairing of all old equipment to enable them to live up to expectation.

Lt-Gen. Smith called on troops to make discipline their hallmark and keep the name of GAF and the nation at large high wherever they found themselves.

He congratulated all troops who had been on peacekeeping missions across the globe, particularly those who just went to La Cote d’Ivoire during the elections.

Lt-Gen. Smith noted that government was happy with GAF for the peace, stability and security the country was enjoying.

He said, “The road ahead would not be easy, there would be potholes and obstacles but with you as a professional security institution, the sky would not be the limit but rather the beginning”.

The Defence Minister announced that efforts were being made to improve upon all the training schools in the GAF and called on the personnel to always take their courses seriously and implement what they had been taught.

Lt-Gen. Smith said approval had been given by Government to incorporate a 20 per cent across board salary increase for the payment of salaries of Civilian Employees of GAF.

“The effective date of the implementation of the new salary structure is January 1, 2011,” he added.

The Defence Minister said, “I know at the beginning of the negotiation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) you were not very happy but now everything is under control, the top up might be small but we would continue to fight for you.

Lt-Gen. Smith said uniformed medical personnel of GAF were to benefit from the Rank Based Salary Structure (RBSS) as being enjoyed by all uniformed personnel of GAF.

“All health personnel working with GAF are to be paid like their colleague workers in the civil street on the SSSS. All allowances due them will be paid.”

The Defence Minister announced that the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) was currently in discussion with the Ministry of Health, Ghana Health Service, the Teaching Hospitals, Unions and Associations in the health sector for the payment of Market Premium to health workers.

“When the discussion is completed, the market premium would be applicable to Uniformed Medical Personnel of GAF,” he added.

Source: GNA

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