Sunday, April 20, 2014

ACTS Embarks on “Ex-Final Drive 2014”

24-28 March 2014. The Army Combat Training School (ACTS) has organised a five-day field training exercise codenamed “Ex-Final Drive” at Podoe in the Juapong-Abutia Traditional Area for students undergoing Combat Team Commanders’ Course 1-14, Advanced NCOs Tactical Course (ANTC) and Basic Infantry Weapons Course at the school. Students from the Medium Machine Gun (MMG) and Mortar Courses also participated in the exercise.

The exercise, held from Monday 24 March to Friday 28 March, 2014, was aimed at testing the physical fitness and endurance level of the students as well as their ability to plan, prepare and execute orders under realistic battle conditions and to deploy with the use of supporting arms and weapons.

The exercise saw students undergoing Intelligence gathering and practical exposition of the phases of war which included Advance to Contact, Withdrawal, Defense, and Attack.
Speaking to AFNEWS, the Acting Chief Instructor of ACTS, Lt Col SG Salifu said “Ex-Final Drive” marked the end of the conventional phase of the respective courses organised by the school to test the leadership qualities of the students, their ability to extract information and to administer their troops in all phases of war.

He said it afforded the students the opportunity to put into practice what they had learned in the classroom.  He was hopeful that the exercise would go a long way to positively impact on the students when the need arose.

Lt Col Salifu expressed his satisfaction over the performance of the students during the exercise. He however advocated that similar exercises be organised in the different terrains of the country so as to ensure maximum exposure and proficiency of troops in crises in any part of the country.
“We are responsible for the integrity of the whole country. It is good that we train in different terrains of the country so that when there is any eventuality we would be able to operate effectively”, he said.

After the exercise, the students would proceed to the Jungle Warfare Training School (JWTS) Achiase, Eastern Region, for additional five-week training in jungle operations.

In all, 200 students partook in the exercise. They comprised 34 officers, 2 from the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) for the Combat Team Commanders’ Course,   56 students from the ANTC and 27 from Mortar. 37 and 44 students were from the MMG and Basic Infantry Weapons Courses respectively.

GAF/US Army Africa Organises Two-Week Medical Readiness Exercise Training for Medical Personnel in 37 Military Hospital

24 March 2014. The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in collaboration with the United States Army Africa has organised a two-week Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE) which begun on 24 March and ended on 2 April, 2014 at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra.

The exercise seeks to promote and share mutual knowledge and best practices to improve the Ghanaian Medical Surgical trauma care capabilities mostly in Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS) training.

It is also the first time MEDRETE program is being premiered in Ghana as US engagement efforts in the US Southern Command area of responsibility which gives military healthcare personnel the opportunity to have a positive impact on thousands of people who have not had any medical care in years.

Speaking on behalf of the Acting Director General GHQ Medical, Col Mahama Alhassan, the Director Medical, Col Ernest Saka stated that MEDRETE, a US Southern Command sponsored readiness training exercise was designed to provide humanitarian assistance and free medical care to the people of the host nation and to provide opportunity for the improvement of skills of US military medical forces and that of military medical forces of host nations.

Furthermore, it allows US military medical personnel to perform critical medical skills, execute the pre-deployment, deployment and redeployment process of the medical services.

GAF, he said, benefits from bilateral relations with the United States of America in vital and strategic areas such as training, manpower development, logistics and especially the development of our Medical services.  Thus, MEDRETE is one of such benefit.

MEDRETE, Col Saka opined, also seeks to offer US medical personnel an opportunity to be able to operate in austere environments, ensure Ghana’s ability to deliver effective trauma surgery as well as promote its capacity to serve as regional centre for damage control surgery.

He commended participants both Ghanaian and US and hoped to witness future exercises which can address lapses and shortcomings on MEDRETE.  Col James Czarnik, Senior medical Officer in charge of the US Army Africa and a surgeon said that, the 12 medical officers he was working with comprised Nurses, Physicians, Medical Technicians (Medics), Lab Technicians and Surgeons.

His team he said, brought trauma, emergency medicine, critical care and ancillary capabilities together to practise with GAF partners at the 37 Military Hospital.  Their forces were on emergency response to an event (Emergency Medical System), clinics surgical medical and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients.  They shared knowledge on stroke, cardiac arrest, infectious disease and trauma patients.

The team toured the hospital, examined patients, conducted surgeries, and compared techniques and best practices with the Ghanaian counterparts (doctors, nurses and other health professionals).

US Army Africa, Col Czarnik reiterated that America sends teams to Africa because the region has a lot to teach them and share a common theme of placing the patient at the center of their decisions.

He expressed his gratitude to the GAF and staff of 37 Military Hospital for accepting to work with them and hoped that they gained experience from what they shared.

Col Samuel Awuku Director of Medical of 37 Military Hospital said the two-week exercise was an initial programme of the five years programme instituted for the MEDRETE which would help improve upon the Hospital’s standards and services.

The Commanding Officer of the Hospital Col Ralph Ametepi stated that, they are happy to have such an exercise which will help handle trauma cases since it’s the major leading cause of deaths despite exercises they had experienced.

He expressed his delight about the team’s enthusiasm to share with them their expertise and urged the Ghanaian medical officers to absorb what they had learnt and utilize it judiciously.

Col Ametepi ended his remarks with the hope that knowledge gained would help solve or reduce challenges faced by the hospital in their daily activites.

Rainstorm Causes Havoc in 6 Garrison

22 March 2014. Rainstorm is caused by turbulence in the atmosphere and is defined as a storm with too much rainfall. Regardless of warnings given, rainstorms leave in its wake, severe flooding and destruction of property and in some cases loss of lives.

Storms in the Northern part of Ghana are usually very heavy, filled with strong winds, thunder and lightning.  A recent rainstorm in the Tamale Metropolis also left in its wake a trail of destruction and havoc.

The Northern Sector Hajj Village located on the Air Force Base Tamale for instance was completely destroyed by a rainstorm on Saturday, 22 March 2014. The rainstorm which started at about 1700hrs lasted throughout the night destroying the Hajj village and some private property.

Personnel of the Air Force Base had to undertake an intensive clean up exercise to clear the debris and salvage properties that were not destroyed.  The Air Force Base was also not spared the destruction by the rainstorm. The Hanger had most of its roofing sheets ripped off by the heavy winds.

A total of about 14 electrical poles were also destroyed causing lights to go off continuously for about 3 days within the general areas of mile 9 in Tamale. The Volta River Authority (VRA) however managed to restore power on the third day.

The Airborne Force was also not spared the havoc of the rainstorm. Accommodation for both Officers and Other Ranks were affected. Buildings had their roofing sheets ripped off.

On arrival at the Air Force Base Tamale to commence the tour of the 6 Garrison, the Minister for Defence, Hon Mark Woyongo and his entourage had to endure a grueling time in the aircraft which tried to land in the midst of yet another storm.

The pilots proved their competencies by landing the aircraft safely after holding for about 15 minutes to avoid the bad weather on the Tamale aerodrome caused by gusting winds of about 27 knots and heavy thunderstorms.

A civil aircraft from Accra which also attempted landing during the rainstorm could not and had to fly back to Accra.

Kudos to the Pilots on board the Casa C295 who successfully manoeuvered through the hail and storm and landed safely, without compromising on safety.

HIV/AIDS Infection among Soldiers Less than 1%.

22 March 2014. A Senior Technical Advisor of JHPIEGO HIV/AIDs programme, Maj Isabella Akai-Nettey (rtd) has disclosed that HIV/AIDs infection among personnel is less than 1%.

This was contained in a statement she made when she and a team comprising personnel of the Public Health Division and JHPIEGO, an affiliate of the John Hopkins University paid a five day working visit from Monday 17 to Friday 22 March 2014 to 6 Garrison made up of the Air Force Base Tamale, Air Borne Force and 6 Infantry Battalion.

According to her the aim of the visit was to strengthen linkages between the Medical Reception Stations (MRS) and Command, troops and their families to ensure that HIV/AIDS stigma and critical issues were reduced among the rank and file of GAF.

This followed an earlier assessment by the Ghana Armed Forces AIDS Control Programme (GAFACP) in collaboration with JHPIEGO who undertook a monitoring visit to the Garrisons to assess HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) and Preventing Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) activities in all Medical Reception Stations (MRS).

The visit also afforded them the opportunity to see at first hand the strides made by HIV Counselors, Peer Educators and HIV master Trainers to improve upon the human resource capacity in the MRSs.

At an all ranks durbar held for troops in the Garrison, she encouraged them to seek early treatment for HIV/AIDS related infections and to take advantage of the Counselors and Peer Educators in the MRSs.

She added that it was important that those infected be supported and not stigmatized. According to her, although HIV/AIDS infection among personnel was less than 1% which was due to the fact that compulsory testing was carried out before troops embarked on UN Peacekeeping Operations, it was still imperative for a continuous education on the disease.

Maj Akai-Nettey (rtd) stated that one of the core objectives of the program was to address the lack of knowledge about HIV prevention, treatment and stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS within the GAF fraternity.

She noted that an informed and sensitised military personnel could help people deal with the socio-economic and personal impact of HIV/AIDS which can be traumatic for individuals, their families and employers.

She said contracting and spreading HIV/AIDS is usually triggered by life-style choices adding that people can control the problem by adopting safer practices.

Madam Akai Nettey told the participants that the approach to HIV/AIDS should not be one of hopelessness, but a resolve to take genuine care in one’s social actions.

She disclosed that the program had over the years helped soldiers living with HIV/AIDS to overcome the fear associated with the sickness and had also helped them to understand the stigma and the discrimination that people living with HIV face.

She said the goal was to increase care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS by increasing freedom of discussion about HIV management and prevention of mother to child transmission at the family level.

Participants at the durbar were given the privilege to contribute to the discussions and the 6 Garrison HIV/AIDS Counselors were introduced to the personnel.

Army Team Tops Regional Volleyball Competition

21-22 March 2014. The Army volleyball team emerged the overall best in the just-ended Zone Three (3) African club championships organised at the Accra Sports Stadium from 21 to 22 March 2014.

The regional volleyball competition saw teams drawn from the Navy, Air force, Police Service and Immigration, Emmanuel Presbyterian church and a volleyball team known as Bolota from Takoradi.

The Army team together with Air force, Police and Immigration teams would be representing Ghana in this year’s West African Volleyball championship tournament scheduled to come off on 28 April 2014 in Togo.

A colourful ceremony was held during which the coach of the Army team S/Sgt Habib Attoh presented the trophy to the Chief of the Army Staff, Maj Gen Richard Kwame Opoku-Adusei. COAS congratulated the team and urged them not to rest on their oars so they could win more laurels for the Army in particular and the country as a whole.

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