It may sound quite alarming to hear of tension in Burma Camp which is the Headquarters of the Military High Command.
The General Headquarters of the Ghana Armed Forces, the Service Headquarters of the Army, Navy and Airforce are all located in Burma Camp. So also are the Headquarters of the Support Services Brigade Group, 64 Infantry Regiment, Fifth Battalion of Infantry, Armoured Reconnaniance Regiment, Base Workshop, 49 Engineer Regiment and the Airforce Base, Accra located in Burma Camp.
Thus, Burma Camp houses and contains over half of all the military personnel, installations, logistics and equipment of the Ghana Armed Forces and civilian employees. There is no doubt that developments and occurrences in Burma Camp could be used to gauge reasonably the overall and general situation in the Ghana Armed Forces.
Several faux pas, miscalculations, reckless decisions, insensitivity to the plight of personnel, unnecessary delays in decision making, acts of omission and commission and above all deliberate sabotage on the part of some command and staff personnel have culminated in the mounting tension in Burma Camp.
The latest “sabotage”, and avoidably reckless decision, is the directive that all “Other Ranks” (Non Officers Men and Women) are to write promotion examinations just as Commissioned officers do.
This directive has not gone down very well with the “Other Ranks” who feel very betrayed by the current crop of Commanders and Staff Officers. The soldiers, Ratings and Airmen and women are even angered more by the fact that this unpopular policy is being implemented during the administration of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo.
From whatever angle one looks at it, the Other Ranks feel strongly that it is one of the several attempts by the NDC controlled Military High Command, Middle and Lower Echelon Commands of the entire Ghana Armed Forces to sabotage the NPP administration. The Other Ranks have a lot of confidence in the NPP administration of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo who has a proud track record of a “freedom fighter”, human rights protector and advocate. They are therefore surprised that it is during the first year of his administration that such an unpopular and needless policy has been formulated and is to be implemented with vim and vigour.
Members of the Patriotic Concerned Officers and Men (PACOM) and indeed most Other Ranks feel strongly that it is a deliberate sabotage to make the NPP unpopular.
The soldiers are wondering why this bas “bad policy” is being implemented now? They are imagining what “mischief” this unpopular policy seeks to cure? What is wrong with the former policy? What corrective measures were tried and tested in order to remedy the “wrongs” of the former policy?
The soldiers are seeking answers to these questions.
The former policy (before the introduction of the unpopular promotion examinations for Other Ranks) was for each Service and Trade Units and their personnel to have some form of autonomy within the overall framework of time spelt out clearly to promote personnel after fulfilling or satisfying some laid down and well articulated conditions.
For instance, in line with the current twenty-five (25) year service (which His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo has promised to extend to thirty (30) years), the promotion of Other Ranks has been structured along ranks and years in Service in addition to undertaking some Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Courses peculiar and relevant to the three Services and the Appropriate Trades.
For example, Other Ranks may spend four years in between ranks from Private to Warrant Officer Classes Two (2) and One (1) and their equivalents for the Navy and the Airforce.
What it means is that in addition to medical fitness, undertaking relevant courses and good conduct, soldiers may be promoted from one rank to another every four years or within every four years with possibilities of accelerated promotions for exceptionally brilliant, professionally upright and extremely brave soldiers.
By the current scheme, on entry into the system, a Private soldier, Naval Rating or Airman/woman expects to be appointed Lance Corporal or equivalent within four (4) years. After four (4) years, the Lance Corporal expects to be promoted to the rank of Corporal after or within eight (8) years of Service.
Again after four (4) years as a Corporal, the soldier expects to be promoted to the rank of Sergeant or its equivalent and would have done a cumulative service of twelve years (4 years as Private, +4 years as Lance Corporal and 4 years as Corporal equals 12 years).
Those units that go through the rank of Staff Sergeant and its equivalent expect to be promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant after and within four years on attaining the rank of Sergeant.
Thus, after 16 years service, the Other Ranks expect to be wearing the ranks of Staff Sergeant and their equivalents. By the same scheme, the soldier expects to reach the rank of Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) either by direct promotion from Sergeant or through Staff Sergeant after or within twenty (20) years service with the colours.
Finally, the soldiers may be promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) within the last five (5) years of their service by which time they would be making between twenty (20) and twenty-five (25)years of military service. Others who may occupy various classes of “Sergeant Major” Appointments (Formation, Command, Service and Forces) may be promoted to the rare enviable ranks of Master and Chief Warrant Officers to enable them exercise “command responsibilities” over their colleagues and subordinates in the category of Other Ranks in the Armed Forces.
The soldiers are arguing rightly, and they are supported by members of PACOM, that the existing policy has been working well and fairly for all categories of Other Ranks and needs to be maintained. Their argument is that if there are any challenges to the current system then the solution does not lie with written promotion examinations.
They feel strongly that the ability of the system to provide equal and fair opportunities for all Other Ranks to undertake the Appropriate Relevant Courses (professional/technical) for their respective and equivalent ranks is the key to addressing any challenges inherent in the current system.
Additionally, they intimate that fair and prompt performance appraisal systems and not the politically biased out of turn promotions that became the order of the day, especially during the NDC administration of John Mahama, hold the key to promotions of Other Ranks.
A lot of soldiers recollect with anger the practice during the NDC administration when directives came from the Castle and Flagstaff House for some “classes of Other Ranks” to be promoted to various ranks without following scrupulously the laid down procedures. These “specially favoured Other Ranks” who worked with Ministers, the Presidency and NDC appointees (including even wives of these appointment holders), got promoted frequently and out of turn in comparison with their “Platoon Mates”.
That practice which started from the PNDC and first NDC days of “Gondar Barracks” and got resurrected with the coming into power of the Mills/Mahama administration created unjustified imbalances in the rank structure and composition of the Other Ranks by 7th January 2017.
Unfortunately that reality has persisted up to date and is being used as one of the justifications to redress the imbalances. Members of PACOM and majority of the Other Ranks do not feel so. To most Other Ranks, the situation lies in prompt and fair promotion of all the disadvantaged so that they could attain their appropriate and well deserved ranks.
The writing of promotion examinations, which on paper looks objective and fair, may become a real obstacle to fairness and justice in the real sense as it contains some elements of subjectivity.
Furthermore, it appears that the current system provides more assurances of certainty, consistency and predictability than the “promotion examinations for Other Ranks” policy that has just been introduced.
Without promotion examinations “All Other Ranks” know that subject to good behaviour and performance, medical fitness (except where illness/sickness or injury is attributable to military service) they would attain the ranks of Lance Corporal, Corporal, Sergeant, Staff Sergeant, Warrant Officers Class One and Two and their equivalents after four, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty and between twenty-five years service respectively.
The frustrations of examinations and possibilities of victimization may erode all the good qualities of the current policy.
To many Other Ranks, the directive for them to write promotion examinations is to make the NPP administration of His Excellency Nana-Akufo-Addo unpopular. To the minds of the soldiers, it is a bad policy by the NPP administration.
Already, owing to the actions, attitudes and omissions of most of the high ranking officers (Generals, Colonels and Lieutenant Colonels and their equivalents), there is a lot of anger, discontentment and disaffection in the various Garrisons.
The Ghana Armed Forces of today are in the “hands” of NDC controlled officers and men. Most of the Generals see the NDC as a “benevolent party” that promoted them rather rapidly within eight years enabling Majors and Lieutenant Colonels to become Brigadier and Major Generals.
For instance, Major General SK Adeti who was a Lieutenant Colonel on 7th January 2009 was promoted three times within seven years. Then Lieutenant Colonel SK Adeti was promoted Colonel, Brigadier General and Major General between 2009 December and 2016 January (three major promotions in seven years!!)
Most of the current Brigadier Generals who were also Lieutenant Colonels in 2009, have had two major promotions within eight (8) years (2009 to 2017) and continue to show gratitude to the NDC administration of Mills/Mahama for that. These Generals are now in charge of all that matters in the Ghana Armed Forces (they hold Command and Staff Appointments).
The Other Ranks have worked with most of these officers. The Other Ranks know the character and performances of most of these officers. Frankly and objectively, some of the current crop of Generals do not or did not deserve to go beyond the ranks of Lieutenant Colonels and their equivalents in the Navy and Airforce.
For instance, some known drug-addicts, academically and professionally hollow, incompetent and morally bankrupt officers are proudly parading themselves with the ranks of Generals to the annoyance and disbelief of the Other Ranks. Yet these officers are now denying the Other Ranks their well deserved promotions by the introduction of uncertain promotion examinations.
The Other Ranks feel strongly betrayed by these crop of Generals who are enjoying fat salaries and allowances and other fringe benefits that are more than the salaries of the lower echelons of the Other Ranks while in service. These Generals are guaranteed enhanced conditions of service which make their pensionable emoluments very attractive.
Additionally, these senior officers (Colonels and above) carry their enhanced salaries and allowances into pension thanks to President Kufuor’s policy on pensions for the Ghana Armed Forces approved and promulgated on 6th January 2009.
While the senior Commissioned Officers are “enjoying”, they want to worsen the already lower levels of service conditions of the Other Ranks, who are in the majority. Salaries and Allowances are based on ranks. So also are the pensionable emoluments of the Other Ranks based on the ranks that they attain before being released or discharged from active service.
It is therefore unconscionable, irresponsible and wicked on the part of the Colonels and Generals to implement policies (such as the written promotion examinations) that may worsen the plight of the Other Ranks. The big gap in the salaries and allowances of officers and Men and the effects on their conditions and standards of living in active service and on retirement makes the implementation of the policy on promotion examinations for Other Ranks unreasonable, unconscionable, untenable, irresponsible, reckless, unjust, unjustifiable and politically suicidal for the NPP administration of His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo.
The policy of promotion examinations for Other Ranks and several other unfair practices taking place in the Ghana Armed Forces are alienating several soldiers and civilian employees from the NPP.
For instance, because prominent NDC Officers such as the Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Staff, Director Joint Operations, Director General Logistics, Director General Defence Intelligence, Director General Training, Commandant KAIPTC, Commander Support Service Brigade Group, GOCs Northern and Central Commands, the Military Secretary, Deputy Commandants GAFCSC, MATS, KAIPTC, Assistant Commandants GAFCSC, Commanders of Training Commands, Base Commanders for Airforce, Base Commander Western Naval Command, Directors Supply and Transport, Procurement; Defence Financial Controller; Chief Staff Officers of Naval and Airforce Headquarters, Several Commanding Officers of Regiments, Battalions, Director General Medical Services and Several others including Director Military Records are effectively in charge and in control of the Ghana Armed Forces, most Officers and Men sympathetic to the NPP are disappointed, frustrated, helpless and unhappy.
For instance, these NDC senior officers are the ones who recommend and select soldiers for duties at the Flagstaff House, with Ministers of State, for peace support operations and courses overseas and internally. Often times, these NDC officers select their NDC loyalists thereby ignoring those perceived to be NPP members or sympathizers. The painful aspect of all these is that, in the various garrisons, the NDC loyalists are those holding all the key appointments which they are using to victimize the NPP loyalists.
Rather sadly and unfortunately, the NDC loyalists make mockery of the NPP loyalists and their families teasing them that they (NDC loyalists) are still in charge in spite of all the “sacrifices and fatigue” made by the NPP loyalists. Thus, the monkeys are now enjoying from the labour of the baboons. This is very painful and ironic!!!
But is anybody listening or willing to change that?
It is these avoidable developments which are fuelling the tension and anger in Burma Camp. Most of the members of PACOM are putting the blame squarely at the doorsteps of Brigadier Generals Okyere and RO Sackey who are the National Security Advisor to the President and a Member of the Armed Forces Council respectively.
It is quite sad to hear arguments such as “he is my church member”, “he belongs to my corps (Engineer Corps)”, he is an Infantry officer and the other person is not”. At this critical stage of the NPP administration, when people expect redress of the injustices and unfair practices of John Mahama and his cohorts, we have the Okyeres and Sackeys compromising their integrity, professionalism and loyalty to the party that has made them what they are today (without serious sweat) in order to accommodate, protect and guarantee the interests of known saboteurs and enemies of the NPP in very sensitive positions of the Ghana Armed Forces.
As we write, attempts are being made by the Okyeres, Gyasensirs and Beick-Baffours to get Akou-Adjeis, Komlagas, Adorkors, Mustaphas, Dekus, Afframs, Honkous, Tays, Bessings, Adongos, Kudohs, Modeys and others to the rank of Brigadier General and their equivalents in the Navy and Airforce.
These promotions must be resisted. Such high NDC loyalists should not be “rewarded” for working extremely hard for the NDC and against the interests of the NPP in the periods before, during and after 2016 elections. That is extreme betrayal of the sacrifices and sweat of the NPP loyalists towards the victory of the NPP in 2016.
Certainly, Generals Okyeres and Sackey could not be bothered about that. They sat in the comfort of their mansions in Accra and did not see or experience what most of the “neglected soldiers” went through along the length and breadth of the country on official and unofficial duties.
A lot of the soldiers sacrificed their time, energy and even money to help the NPP to victory. Today, their reward is that General Okyere, who was then pursuing a Masters programme at GIMPA, has the final say on proposals to His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo and is using that to project his NDC friends and loyalists at the expense of the NPP loyalists.
NPP loyalists (both officers and men) feel humiliated and marginalized and have become victims, instead of heroes, of a government that they worked so hard to bring to power owing to inappropriate actions, pieces of advice, recommendations and networks of General Okyere and Kan Dapaah.
Some members of PACOM are always in tears lamenting over their calamities and denial of opportunities in the current NPP administration owing to the roles of the National Security Advisor and the National Security Minister.
Such loyalists want the Okyeres and Kan Dapaahs to know that indeed, positions are not possessions.