According to Lt. Gen. Joseph Smith, out of total applicants of 46,124 who applied to be enlisted in the Ghana army in 2010, only 7,357 candidates were short listed from the mammoth pool. Out of that figure, only 1,200 were chosen from the previously short-listed applicants. The Ministry of Defense had stated that the candidates must be chosen from all the 10 regions, and gender balance observed. This affirmative action clause, positive as it may be, further narrows down that chances of getting enlisted.
A victim, Forgive Francis Amedeka said in 2006 when he graduated from the prestigious University of Ghana, himself and a few friends decided to try the Military Academy. After several attempts, it was shocking to hear one Colonel Kojo Damoah tell one of his friends that his “body configuration was not in proportion.” How ridiculous? “For me, I was told it was not a family business so I should retire home though I meet all requirements.”
Every year, a similar number apply to join the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) but out of the number only 1200 or even less make it. The rejects when they know what to do end up in other armies around the world where they can put their gifts and abilities to work. The story of Anthony Owusu is the classic example. In 1998, he was among over ten thousand applicants of that year. He had just graduated from the Cape Coast University with dreams to excel as a military officer. His whole life has been lived around this vision. He served in boys scout as a juvenile; he served in the cadet corps of Mfantepim College and Cape Coast University respectively. His national service after sixth form was with the Ghana armed forces. “Iron” as his friends affectionately called him has been involved in everything that required physical endurance and a militant persona. He has been deeply involved in two forms of martial arts namely; Taekwondo and Shotokan respectively. You could say he was born for the military life. One would imagine that entrance into the Ghana Armed Forces will be a walk in the park. Master Owusu was in for a surprise.
He was rejected for no clear reasons as was many others like him who felt their lives depend on a career in the Army. As Ghanaians, the GAF was the only hope for military career. Welcome to the never discussed conundrum concerning security services recruitment in Ghana. Many can identify with the story as it is not so different with the rest of our security agencies.
There are many reasons why most applicants are rejected and the issues are often beyond the applicants’ inability to meet the requirements. Among them is the fact that the GAF is among the smallest armies in the world and offer very limited opportunities career-wise. At a mere 13,500 active men and women, the GAF can only accept so many applications per year. The result is that even the most qualified will end up on the waiting list or get rejected completely. This one problem alone can derail one’s career and send them in the wrong direction leading to failure in life. High performance and the attendant success require one to function in an area where they are naturally gifted. Second to this is that there is little opportunity for even those who make the list.
Many armies around the world offer opportunities that dwarf what is offered by the GAF and other typical African armies. A good example is that the French Army provides five years contracts with educational opportunities that will put officers in good positions in any chosen industry when they choose to leave the arm at the end their contract. The upshot is that one could join the army with limited education, access educational opportunities from the army platform and probably end up with a master’s degree by the end of a five year contract in a typical case. Our hero is now Captain Owusu commanding a thousand men in a Special Forces unit of the US army. He now holds a master’s degree in the health sciences. He was not just lucky, he also found out what to do.
Recently, a Ghanaian born officer with the British Army was elevated to the prestigious position of equerry. He was the first black man to ever be appointed into the position. The Equerry’s work involves guarding the queen of England during meetings etc. Bigger armies with more resources at their disposal provide more opportunities to people from around the world who are interested in a military career. This also comes with citizenship status. Notable armies in Europe like France and Britain and the USA are in this category and have opportunities for applicants from specific countries. Ghana is one of such countries and Ghanaians have a good record with the UN and other armies around the world. It is perhaps important to emphasize that many countries in Africa do not make the list of eligible countries and this places Ghana in an advantageous position.
In Ghana Jam international Academy has introduced a program that enables participants to access the British and French armies among other things. For those who are interested, the process starts by attending free seminars that will provide prospective applicants with all the information and resources they need to begin the process. They are later put through a test program to ensure their eligibility. Between 2017 and 2018 Jam International aims at recruiting 500 persons into both the British and French army. Prospective applicants can call 0209606577 for more information on the program.