Like many African militaries, the Ghanaian armed forces are in
a state of transition. In the past, the military was an important
instrument of state power, the purposes of which were to defend the
country's national security, to suppress domestic dissidents, and,
when necessary, to assume the reins of government. In the 1990s,
growing popular demands for a better material life, for
democratization, and for respect for human rights are slowly
changing the nature of Ghana's military establishment.
After seizing power in 1981, the Rawlings regime assigned a
high priority to economic development, and it downplayed the
necessity for a large, traditional military. As part of an
international financial and economic aid program, the World Bank
and the IMF forced Ghana to keep its military budget low. For this
reason, there have been no major weapons purchases for at least a
decade, and many of Ghana's more sophisticated weapons systems have
fallen into disrepair. By the late 1980s, it had also become
evident that most Ghanaians favored a multiparty, rather than a
military, form of government and that they opposed the use of the
armed forces as an instrument to silence political debate.
These trends are likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, additional budget
cuts doubtless will have further reduced the size of the Ghanaian
armed forces. Moreover, the government will be increasingly
unwilling or unable to finance the high costs of acquiring,
operating, and maintaining advanced weapons.
Despite the inevitable downsizing of the Ghanaian military
establishment, Accra undoubtedly will maintain and perhaps will
increase its commitment to international peacekeeping forces. Ghana
also is likely to support efforts to persuade the Organization of
African Unity to take up the role of peace-keeper on the African
continent. The success of Ghana's future participation in
peacekeeping operations will depend on the ability of its armed
forces to adapt to highly demanding service in far-off countries.
* * *
Historically, the Ghanaian armed forces have played a
significant role in the life of the country. As a result, there is
abundant literature about the growth and the development of the
Ghanaian military. Useful historical works include Henry
Brackenbury's The Ashanti War: A Narrativ, Mary Alice
Hodgson's The Siege of Kumass, Alan Lloyd's The Drums of
Kumasi: The Story of the Ashanti War, and Frederick Myatt's
The Golden Stool: An Account of the Ashanti War of 190.
The best account of the military during the colonial period is
The History of the Royal West African Frontier Forc by A.
Haywood and F.A.S. Clarke. Other important studies of this era
include Hugh Charles Clifford's The Gold Coast Regiment in the
East African Campaig and Sir Charles Prestwood Lucas's The
Gold Coast and the Wa.
The postindependence evolution of the Ghanaian armed forces is
examined in Simon Baynham's The Military and Politics in
Nkrumah's Ghan, Robert Pinkney's Ghana under Military Rule,
1966-196, Albert Kwesi Ocran's Politics of the Sword: A
Personal Memoir on Military Involvement in Ghana and of Problems of
Military Governmen, and Politicians and Soldiers in Ghana,
1966-197, edited by Dennis Austin and Robin Luckham.
Material about Ghana's military is also available in a variety
of periodical sources, including West Afric, African
Defence Journa, Africa Research Bulleti, and Africa
Confidentia. Other useful publications include New
Africa, Africa Event, and The Journal of Modern
African Studie. Two International Institute for Strategic
Studies annuals, The Military Balanc and Strategic
Surve, are essential for anyone wishing to understand the
evolution of Ghana's security forces. The same is true of three
other annuals: Africa Contemporary Recor, Africa South of
the Sahar, and World Armaments and Disarmamen. The last
is published by the Stockholm International Peace Research
Institute. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography).
Data as of November 1994