The Changing Face Of Internal Security Threats In Ghana


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1. Internal security (IS) is defined as “any military role that involves primarily the maintenance and restoration of law and order and essential services in the face of civil disturbances and disobedience, using minimum force. It covers actions dealing with minor civil disorders with no political undertones as well as riots savouring of revolt and even the early stages of rebellion”.[2] In Ghana, since independence, IS threats have ranged from armed robbery, tribal differences, chieftaincy disputes, religious disputes and students agitations.[3]

2. The county's most vital interest is to exist as a sovereign state and this is to be ensured by key security agencies like the Police and the Military. The traditional role of the Police is maintaining law and order[4] while the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) is mandated to perform their role of defence of Ghana as well as any other functions for the development of Ghana as the President may determine[5]. The Ghana Army, as an integral component of the Ghana Armed Forces, primarily conducts land-based operations to achieve this goal. It has often become necessary for the military to assist the police when they are overwhelmed by these threats and the Police is unable to handle the situation.

3. Recent conflicts in other African countries like Somalia, Liberia, Sierra Leone and the ongoing confusion in Guinea have emanated from political, economic and social causes. It is therefore obvious that in contemporary times, intra state conflicts are more likely to pose problems for security forces than any other. Present threats in Ghana include the Bawku conflict which is still raging and the high emotional tension that erupted during the December 2008/January 2009 elections. These are reminders that Ghana is not immune to internal security challenges.

4. It is in the light of these emerging developments that this paper is being written for the Chief Instructor (Army), Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College as a Land Operations Service Paper. The paper therefore examines the present IS problems and emerging IS challenges. Additionally, the paper will analyse the role of the Ghana Army in combating future IS threats.


5. The aim of this paper is to examine the role of the Ghana Army in managing the emerging IS threats in Ghana and make recommendations.



6. Crime in the country encompasses violations of the law such as armed robbery, murder, rape, defilement and possession of narcotic drugs. Crime fighting is principally a police job however the spate of armed robbery which takes various forms ranging from highway robbery to targeted strikes have necessitated the requirement of the military to assist the police in night patrols codenamed OPERATION CALM LIFE. This operation was instituted in 1996 and it is still ongoing. Crime causes discontent among the populace and could lead to massive demonstrations such as “Yaa Bere” organised by the Committee for Joint Action against the government in 2008 for its inability to fight crime among other complaints. The effects of these on stability of the county cannot be overstated. The general trend of crime over the past 6 years indicates a downward trend in common crimes. This gives an indication that OPERATION CALM LIFE has been quite successful. There is however the need for more effort to be put in by all stake holders including the judiciary to bring crime rates down.


7. Records show that Chieftaincy disputes existed in Ghana during the colonial era[6] and have persisted till date. Statistics from the Central Regional House of Chiefs for example indicate that as at 16 November 2009, there were 60 cases of chieftaincy disputes pending before it.[7] Disputes have had adverse effects on the socio-economic development of the country. Some causes of Chieftaincy disputes in the country include absence of a supreme traditional authority, abuse of customary authority by chiefs and political interference. False claims to stools are the major causes of chieftaincy disputes.

8. An example of this is the dispute between the Edu Royal Family and Pakesedo Royal Family over the Mankessim stool and the Bawku crisis which stem largely from claims by both Kusasis and Mamprusis to the seat of traditional authority. The former lasted for over 27 years until the matter was eventually resolved by the Supreme Court in December 2008[8] whiles the latter has spanned more than 20 years and has absorbed the Ghana Army in local peacekeeping for a long time. The prolonged litigation has over burdened the Army as large number of troops needed elsewhere to aid in development are constantly deployed in the region. It is necessary that state institutions like the judiciary act decisively and swiftly in such matters to help resolve crisis.


9. Land is invaluable and has been a source of controversy in many parts of the country particularly in the Greater Accra Region where there are over one thousand litigation cases pending before the Land Title Registry and the courts[9]. Land is mostly communally owned and administered on behalf of the community by the chiefs. Some chiefs often take advantage of the recent increase in demand for land for housing and fraudulently sell to more than one prospective buyer. This has brought in its wake the hiring of ‘private security' also known as ‘land guards' to protect the land of newly acquired owners. Clashes between land guards have become very rampant in newly developing areas such as Amrahia, Oyibi, Kasoa etc. This is a serious threat as land guards are known to be wielding all kinds of weapons. These clashes have often called for the intervention of the Army to help restore calm. Land guard activities have obviously stalled development in such areas due to the persistent instability. The Police's enforcement of regulations on private security as well as right to possess arms will go a long way to reduce this threat.


10. As the most African countries demilitarise and embark on democratic transitions, they are also becoming increasingly marginalised in the global economy, facing severe crises in state authority and caught up in spreading armed conflicts. Central to the evolution of the post-colonial nation state in Africa is the impact of artificial borders on interstate and intra-ethnic relationships on the continent. These have made it possible for the free export of instability from one nation to the other. Terrorism, fraud and electoral malpractices are among the new challenges. These threats can ‘spill over' to Ghana which has been relatively peaceful and is consolidating democracy and good governance.


11. Ghana's fourth republic has survived 17 years of existence. Party politicking has however taken the dimension of colorization of ever activity of government. The intrinsic differences in political ideologies between the ruling NDC Government and the opposition NPP party activists to solving national political and socio-economic problems could be a potential source of serious political tension, which could be explosive if not handled with tact. Some political parties' activists have failed to exhaust available peaceful means in seeking redress, but rather resorted to acts of violence in resolving their differences.

12. The use of ‘macho men' to harass and intimidate opponents during elections is a matter of great worry. Increasingly, ‘macho men' are becoming more sophisticated in their operations with some wielding arms and daring to face security personnel in exchanges. The threat of electoral violence will continue to manifest at every election because previous misdemeanors go unpunished. There is the need for government to go all out to punish people who commit electoral violence irrespective of the party to which they belong as soon as there is a change in government.


13. Party politics has craved deep into the Ghanaian society to the extent that it is generating into an ‘us' versus ‘them' society. In recent times this new wave of politics is permeating all spheres of endeavour including the military which is expected to be politically neutral. This has the capability of affecting the loyalty of military personnel to the state (government in power) and it has the potential of breeding some new kinds of terrorism. There is the need to keep the military out of party politics by among other things not tying the appointment of key commanders to a change in government.


14. Terrorism isthedeliberatecreation and exploitation of fear for bringing about political change. All terrorist acts involve violence or the threat of violence.[10] The recent increased oil find off the coast in the Western Region has seen in its wake the influx of people from a lot of places both from within and outside the country. Several oil related companies are expected to spring up in the region. Security of expatriates and pipe lines as well as agitations for improved development of the Region, are matters which could stem terrorism. The population of the Western Region is expected to expand greatly. This would result in squatter settlements, pressure on social services and increase in social vices. An expected pressure on security services would ensue and the Ghana Army needs to re-strategise and re-organise to contain the challenges in the region and other parts of the country.


15. The threat of the formation of private armies has been looming since the Liberian Conflict in 1989 where mercenary fighters had been involved. The highly porous West African borders enabled the transfer of mercenaries across the Mano River area. Mercenaries are motivated by greed and grievance and may take advantage of any security challenges. Chieftaincy and land disputes in Ghana offer a good opportunity for the breeding of private armies. In June 2009, it was alleged on the airwaves that large numbers of youth were being trained by an ethnic group to support their war effort in Bawku. This was the case during the Kokomba -Nanumba conflict of 1990. The formation of private armies has the potential of plunging the country into a civil war. The Army whiles engaged in other commitments, needs to also focus on dealing with such private armies with military precision.


16. Increasing urbanization of the cities and inadequate equivalent facilities in the rural areas has led to migration from the rural areas to the cities. For the millions of poor in Ghana, urban areas like Accra and Kumasi have always been a means for improving their quality of living and also getting better jobs and incomes. One of the first dilemmas of migrants is housing. With little resources, skills or access to them, the drastic option of illegally occupying a vacant piece of land to build a rudimentary shelter is the only one available to them.

17. In Accra, settlers at Sodom and Gomorrah as well as others springing up are a source of potential threat to security. Attempts to resettle them by past governments have been met with fierce resistance often supported by human rights activists. Squatter settlement harbour a lot of criminals and criminal activities that constantly put pressure on security services. Compared to Brazil, such favelas often serve as bases for drug dealers[11]. It is also a potential breeding ground for terrorists. With an increase in squatter settlements in major cities, an increase in security threats is envisaged. There is the need for proper town planning and a step up in intelligence gathering by the Army in such areas.


18. In the broadest sense, fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual.[12] In Ghana, fraud is assuming new trends such as identity fraud, property, fraud and cyber fraud. Crime statistics for 2004-2009[13] indicate an increase in fraud related cases like dishonestly receiving, forgery and counterfeiting. In 2008 the number of identity fraud victims in the world increased 22% to 9.9 million adults, for an annual incidence rate of 4.32%[14]. This phenomenon is fast growing in the country.

19. Cyber threats which facilitate identity and property fraud fall into two distinct categories: threats affecting national security that emerged with internet technology, such as cyber terrorism, foreign-based computer intrusions and cyber theft of sensitive data; and traditional criminal activity facilitated by computers and the internet, such as theft of intellectual property.[15]

20. Due to insufficient expertise and equipment to handle cyber-related crimes, criminals are having a field day indulging in fraudulent activities through the internet.[16] The threat is that sooner or later, criminals would be hacking into the systems of the Police and The Ghana Army and this would have dire consequence for the security of the nation. The investigation of computer crimes requires highly specialized skills. The Army Directorate of Intelligence and Plans (DAIP) is at present poorly resourced with a Director, a Deputy Director and an Assistant Director with 2 operatives and do not have the technological capacity to fight the developing fraud. There is the need to resource DAIP with the appropriate technology and trained staff to identify and penetrate the command and control elements of these fraudulent organizations and actors.



21. Since independence, the Ghana Army has been politically involved with governance on 4 different occasions. These periods had their own advantages and disadvantages for the country. The Fourth Republican Constitution clearly states the roles of the GAF and directions for military personnel who wish to engage in active party politics is given in the Armed Forces Regulations. The Fourth Republic Constitution has stood the test of time as a conceptual framework for governing the country. Though the constitution does not contain any language mandating political neutrality of the Ghana Army personnel, a politically neutral military is necessary to provide for the common defence of the nation. Military personnel must maintain political neutrality to ensure civilian control of the military, ad effectiveness of national security policy.

22. Increasing IS threats which often have political undertones coupled with the alleged venality of local police forces have led to increasing reliance on the Army to maintain civil order. The Army's tactics and strategy are designed to fight organized forces and not urban mobs or elusive civilian terrorists. More importantly, in an ethnically plural state like Ghana, repeated use of the Army to quell communal violence threatens to politicize the Army. Inordinate reliance on the Army to maintain civil order may also help erode its long-standing tradition of political neutrality. When the Army begins to assume duties normally restricted to the civil bureaucracy the temptation to intervene in politics increases dramatically. There is the need to increase the capacity of the Police to be able to maintain IS with little military interference. Additionally, a permanent joint Police/Military Headquarters to increase the response capacity of the Army or an Army liaison officer at the Police HQ and vice versa could be established.


23. Today's security environment appears to be quite different from the environment of ten years ago. Major shifts in both the threat to our national security, and the technologies available to us and our potential adversaries, seem to have occurred.[17] Most of today's military equipment and organization was originally designed to fight conventional warfare. This shift has been prompted by the perception of a changing threat and improved technology, especially information technology. Improvements in information technology are driving the new wave of crime beyond the reach of the security services. As the Ghana Army attempt to increase the agility and versatility of her weapon systems, there is also the need to increase the capabilities of military intelligence to support the new weapon systems and operating methods against these new threats. This would require further training of DAIP personnel and probably daily intelligence briefings involving the military, Police and Bureau of National Investigation.


24. There exist at present a joint Military-Police task force mandated to deal with IS challenges in the country. The task force, codenamed OPERATION CALM LIFE has done a great deal to reduce the IS problems in the country, particularly in the cities. The threatening future challenges call for a more concerted effort in operations. The military doctrine on operations in IS mandate the military to take over an overwhelming situation from the Police, restore calm and hand over back to the police. There is the need to adhere to these principles in order not to turn the orientation of military personnel into policing roles. The operational framework for combined operations needs to be more specified and this calls for more understanding and joint training on roles and tasks of the troops. There is also the need for a ‘joint operations document' to regulate and guide such operations.


25. Since Ghana announced the significant discovery of offshore oil after decades of exploration, there have been huge euphoria and debate nation-wide. The debate is not only from the experts, bureaucrats, the media, academics and the global oil industry but more broadly from ordinary Ghanaians. In all these debates, fair sharing of the prospective oil wealth, poverty alleviation, accountability, transparency, sound macroeconomic management, good life and security have dominated these debates. Many Ghanaians have expressed optimism that Ghana would soon be enjoying the wealth from the oil revenue given the huge anticipated increase in revenue from both price and volume. Despite this optimism, others have expressed misgivings about the prospects given the level of corruption, capital requirements, possible effects of environmental degradation and the most importantly security challenges associated with such discoveries as has been experienced in Nigeria, Sudan, Angola, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

26. The Ghana Army Unit with IS responsibility for the Western Region is a the 2nd Battalion of Infantry located in Takoradi about two hours drive from the Jomoro district where the oil fields are closest. The challenges of an expected increased social activity and its attendant security implications are matters to be worried about. In Accra the 5 battalion of Infantry has an additional Rifle Company because of IS challenges in the Greater Accra Region. There is the need for the Ghana Army to restructure the 2nd Battalion of Infantry with probably an additional Rifle Company which is well equipped and trained for IS operations to be deployed in the Jomoro District in the short term to deal with expected challenges as soon as possible.


27. Training is, and will remain, fundamental to Fighting Power. Properly conducted, it serves as a powerful reminder of the realities of soldiering, and develops the true potential of individuals, units and formations. It is the means whereby we practice the application of our doctrine. As we develop new, more capable force structures with multi skilled units designed to operate in modular formations, our training needs are likely to increase and become more complex.[18]

28. The changing face of IS in the country requires that the Army restructures its training packages to counter the threats. For instance, the regular infantry battalions cannot be expected to mount a rescue operation in case of a hijack. Fighting terrorism, information technology wars, combating private armies etc, all require specialist training. There is the need for all infantry units to be resourced to train adequately in IS operations peculiar to their areas of operation. In the long term there is the need for the formation of a Special Forces Regiment to deal with specific threats that require specialist expertise.


29. Ghana beyond 2010 will present a number of IS challenges that will bring into focus the role of the Ghana Army in combating such threats. The Ghana Army assists the police in the restoration of law and order in the face of civil disorder however, when the Army begins to assume duties normally restricted to the civil bureaucracy, there is an increased tendency to intervene in politics. There is the need to increase the capacity of the Police to be able to maintain IS with little military interference so that the military can maintain their neutrality. Additionally, a permanent joint Police/Military Headquarters to increase the response capacity of the Army or an Army liaison officer at the Police HQ and vice versa could be established. (Paragraph 21 and 22).

30. Fraud is assuming new dimensions in the country. Developments in information technology are driving the new wave of crime beyond the reach of the security services. There is the need to increase the capabilities of DAIP to support the new weapon systems and operating methods against these new threats. This would require additional training of DAIP personnel and probably daily intelligence briefings involving the military, Police and Bureau of National Investigation. (Paragraph 23).

31. Increased crime rates in the cities have brought in its wake a combined military-police operation. The emerging IS challenges demand resolute combined military-police operations. However there is the need to ensure that military assistance does not develop into policing roles. The operational framework for combined operations needs to be more specified and there is also the need for a ‘joint operations document' to regulate and guide such operations. (Paragraph 24)

32. The challenges of an expected increase in population in the Western Region as a result of the oil find with its attendant increase in social activity will bring about security problems that the Army would worry about. There is the need for the restructuring of the 2nd Battalion of Infantry with an additional Rifle Company well equipped and trained for IS operations to be deployed in the Jomoro District in the short term to and to deal with expected challenges as soon as possible. (Paragraph 25 and 26)

33. The changing face of IS in the country requires that the Army restructures its training packages to counter the threats. Increased IS training in Operational Training Directives could be adhered to. In the long term there is the need for the formation of a Special Forces Regiment to deal with specific threats that require specialist expertise. (Paragraph 27-28)


34. It is recommended that the Ghana Army should:

  1. Establish a permanent Joint Headquarters with the Police to improve information sharing. (Paragraph 29)
  2. Establish a permanent Police liaison office at the Army Headquarters and vice versa to improve information sharing. (Paragraph 29)
  3. Re-equip DAIP with ultra modern information technology (IT) facilities coupled with trained personnel to protect and enable her fight the IT wars. (Paragraph 30)
  4. Introduce a common ‘Joint Operation' document to regulate and guide operations between the Police and the Army. (Paragraph 31)
  5. Reduce the front line role of military assistance to the Police and hand over to the Police as soon as law and order is restored in any IS operation. (Paragraph 31)
  6. Amend the establishment of 2 Battalion of Infantry to include an additional Rifle Company well equipped and trained for IS operations. (Paragraph 32)
  7. Intensify IS training in the infantry battalions in the short term and establish a Special Forces Regiment to deal with specific specialist threats in the long term. (Paragraph 33)



  1. Army Training Doctrine Publication, Volume 4, Training,1996.
  2. Clausewitz Carl Von, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1976.
  3. Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Asempa Press, 1992.
  4. Jungle Warfare Précis, 2003.
  5. Staff Officers' Handbook.




  1. Carl Von Clausewitz, On War, p. 593.
  2. Staff Officers' Handbook,p.7.39-2.
  3. Jungle Warfare Précis, p.34-2.
  4. Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Chapter Fifteen,p.133.
  5. Ibid, Chapter Seventeen, p.140.
  7. Interview with Mr Ralph Lartey on 29 Dec 09.
  9. Interview with Mr Albert Akotey, 4 Jan 10.
  10. Microsoft Encarta 2007.
  11. Ibid.
  13. This was sourced from the Police CID Statistical centre and is attached as Annex A.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Judy G. Chizek, Military Transformation: Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Report for Congress, 2003.
  18. Army Training Doctrine Publication, Volume 4, Training, p 1.

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