It is with deep sorrow that the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) pay this tribute to the memory of His Excellency Professor John Evans Atta Mills, late President of the Republic of Ghana and Commander-in-Chief (C-in-C) of GAF.
The Ghana Armed Forces has really lost a great leader and a benefactor. On assumption of office, the late President demonstrated a great commitment to empower the security services to play their constitutionally mandated roles effectively in the pursuit of national security, regional peaceful co-existence and international security integration. In this respect, he encouraged the progressive training and equipment of the Armed Forces.
His personal demeanor inured to the widening and strengthening of the scope of training and interaction between GAF and several friendly Armed Forces’ the World over. Under his watch, GAF experienced rejuvenation in all aspects of our operations. His leadership style demonstrated that, whether leading or following, every position needed each other for a fuller realisation of assigned tasks.
The late President ensured a massive infusion of resources into the Armed Forces as well as the opportunity for effective restructuring. GAF is grateful to the late President for his role in ensuring the welfare of troops when it came to participation in peacekeeping operations. Of particular note was his drive for the acquisition of Armoured Personnel Carriers for troops in all peacekeeping operations in which Ghana participates.
Modern communication facilities have also been installed in Ghana’s peacekeeping missions. All these have boosted troop protection and professionalism of Ghanaian troops in peace support operations to the admiration of the international community and projection of Ghana’s international image. Work has also commenced for the construction of flats and accommodation for both officers and men of GAF.
The late President demonstrated great vision and a deep insight into maritime strategy anchored on a formidable and professional maritime force that can guarantee secured sea lines of communication for socio-economic development. In this vein, he acquired patrol boats, and attack for the Ghana Navy. Indeed, to support the maintenance of the Naval Fleet, he completed the Slipway for the Naval Dockyard in Sekondi which is due for commissioning this August 2012.
His Excellency the late Professor JEA Mills ascended to the Presidency when the air and ground platforms of the Ghana Air Force had virtually exceeded their effective employment capacity. The main work horses, the Fokkers, were over 38 years old and needed urgent replacement; the other aircrafts on inventory had also been grounded. This posed a serious threat to developmental efforts and to national security. The visionary that he was, HE Prof Mills rolled out an ambitious plan to re-equip and modernize the Air Force. In October 2010, the government procured the Falcon Executive Jet to complement the Fokker 28 aircraft which had obviously reached the end of its tether due to old age and other crippling limitations.
To boost the operational and strategic aircraft capability of the Air Force, he tasked the Air Force Command to look for suitable platforms. After a strenuous and diligent search, two CASA 295 medium lift aircraft were purchased and commissioned on 19 December 2011 and 14 May 2012 respectively. These were deployed for troop transport and para-dropping. It is instructive to note that he made sure that these aircraft were supported with a plethora of ground support equipment including buses, pick-pus, fire tenders and bowsers.
Other acquisitions included Maritime Patrol and Surveillance aircraft. Also some helicopters which are due to be delivered before November 2012 to help in both internal and external operations. He also initiated the acquisition of one Embraer troop carrier aircraft. Substantial infrastructural development took place under the watch of the late president. Principal among them were the construction of two ultra-modern hangars with offices at Air Force Base, Takoradi, one state-of the art maintenance and storage depot at Air Force Base, Accra. It is to be noted that plans were far advanced for His Excellency, the late Prof Mills, to commission these projects in August and October 2012 respectively.
We wish also to acknowledge the support the late President gave to our training institutions. It would require a lot of space to capture the total effort to upgrade these institutions. It is however crucial to mention the following significant infusions: the construction of the Academic Block Complex at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (GAFCSC) has facilitated the expansion of the academic programmes of the college and given added impetus to human resource training for middle to senior level manpower of GAF, thereby equipping them for multi-functional roles within the Armed Forces and beyond.
For the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC), the international stature of the late President was instrumental in securing new partnerships within the international community. During his tenure as C-in-C, KAIPTC has made tremendous progress both in terms of structures and output and the acquisition of accreditation as a tertiary institution of high repute which attracts patronage across the globe. The Military Academy and Training Schools, (MATS) also saw the construction of a monumental jubilee block under his watch. The ongoing renovation/improvement in the training support facilities of all the basic training institutions in the three (3) Service are part of his re-equipment programme of GAF training institution.
His Excellency the late Professor Mills, then C-in-C of GAF, believed that a leader must pay greater attention to the things that set him out as a person worthy of the people’s trust. He threw his full weight behind the joint military/police operations intended to reduce armed robbery and related crimes to the barest minimum in the bid to ensure that Ghanaians could go about their business without fear or intimidation. The Ghana Armed Forces will forever cherish him for his demonstrated passion for the welfare and morale of all ranks during his tenure as C-in-C.
May the soul of the late Commander-In-Chief rest in perpetual peace.