Chief of the Defence Staff
Chief of Staff, GHQ
Forces Sergeant Major
Men, Women and Civilian workers of MOD
Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Let me begin by thanking the Chief of the Defence Staff (Vice Adm Matthew Quashie), the Service Chiefs and the organizers of this event, for the honour done me, in being asked to speak on the all-important subject of “Discipline as Bedrock of our Profession”. Indeed, the decision to set aside this week as the Ghana Armed Forces Religious Week, with the overriding theme of “Upholding Our Core Values” is both timely and most significant. Our recent history has shown that the very foundation of our profession is under serious threat and needs to be rejuvenated and revitalized. It is therefore hoped that by the end of it all, the events of this week would yield a fruitful outcome for the betterment of our beloved profession.
2. Coming back to the topic of the day, (namely Discipline as Bedrock of our Profession), I intend to discuss it by touching on related issues such as the profession of arms and its sacred underpinnings; what we mean by Discipline within the military context; an overview of current challenges and the way forward.
3. For the sake, particularly of our young soldiers and fairly young officers, I wish to crave your indulgence to go over grounds that may be largely familiar to most people present here. I wish to do so, in order to lay bare some important foundational truths. The first issue is that the Ghana Armed Forces is an all-volunteer force and not a conscript one; we are all in uniform today because we chose to do so. Our corporate mandate as derived from Article 210 of the 1992 Constitution has charged the Armed Forces with the responsibility of safeguarding the territorial integrity of the State, contributing to the maintenance of internal law and order, and providing the conducive atmosphere of peace and security for national development. Within this context, our function includes the ordered application of force at the request of a properly constituted authority, namely the Government of the day. It is this possession, use and control of lethal force that gives our profession its unique standing within the broader Ghanaian society. Indeed, an effective, efficient and versatile military will continue to remain an important instrument of national power.
4. However, being a member of the military with this specialized role does not mean we cease to be citizens or responsible persons. To address this possible misconception, and to strengthen its professional ethos, militaries all over the world subscribe to certain common attributes of professionalism, key among which are: Discipline, Loyalty, Honour, Respect, Integrity, Duty, Responsibility, Expertise, Courage etc. We in the Ghana Armed Forces are no exception in the observance to these values.
5. In order to make this commitment both morally and legally binding, we have all sworn this Oath: “I………………swear that I will bear true and faithful allegiance to the President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Ghana and that I will well, truly and faithfully serve the Government of the Republic of Ghana as by law established and that I will as in duty bound serve in the Armed Forces of the Republic of Ghana and go wherever ordered by air land or sea and that I will observe and obey all commands of the Government of the Republic of Ghana as by law established and of any officer set over me even at the peril of my life. So help me God!”
6. These sacred words dictate what we ought to be, and what we ought to do, at all times. They serve as a rallying call to build up courage and commitment in the face of adversity; to carry out our duties and responsibilities without regard to fear or danger, and ultimately to be willing to risk our lives, if the situation so requires.
7. Indeed I am tempted to suggest that this oath is so important that each servicemen must have a personal laminated copy in his possession at all times, just as we have ID Cards and sometimes specified Rules of Engagements during Internal Security and United Nations Operations. Undoubtedly, this Armed Forces Oath being an ultimate oath of supreme sacrifice, can only be adhered to by disciplined minds. Which brings up the question; What is discipline?
8. For its generic meaning, my Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines discipline as the practice of training people to obey rules and orders and punishing them if they do not. Another authority sees discipline as teaching which makes a man to do something which he would not, unless he had learnt that it was the right, the proper and the expedient things to do. According to this source, at its best, discipline is instilled and maintained by pride in oneself, in one’s unit and in one’s profession; only at its worst is it achieved by a fear of punishment.
9. Yet another school of thought has expressed the view that discipline is the backbone of the efficiency of an Armed Force and that no changes in methods of warfare or in scientific innovation can affect this truth. According to this viewpoint, a man must learn to be a master of himself and to keep in subjection the bad qualities in his make-up through self-discipline; and this self-discipline can be developed by training in such things as self-control, self-respect, endurance and so on.
10. But above all, the illustration of the concept of discipline that I find most instructive is this; that if you get up from the chair you are sitting on, and take your car or bicycle, you can choose to go wherever you want. This is liberty! But as you drive or ride through the streets towards your destination, you will have to keep to the right side of the road. That is discipline! Let me quickly add that merely keeping to the right side of the road is not enough; you will also have to obey all traffic regulations as well!
11. Clearly, there are several reasons why one must drive on the right side of the road. Firstly, it is to your own advantage and in your own interest. If you insist on your liberty to drive on any ride of the road that you fancy, you will end up, not where you want to be, but on a stretcher (if you are fortunate) or in the Department of Morbid Anatomy! And as we all know, there is not much liberty or freedom in that place!
12. Secondly, you will have to keep to the right side of the road because other road users have as much right to go where they want to, as you have. If you do otherwise, you will impede them or put them in danger. So for their sakes, as well as your own, you will keep to the right.
13. Thirdly, it will be no use your keeping to the right if others do not do the same. You will have to rely on their discipline and trust in their judgment and commonsense. Discipline is thus mutually reinforcing.
14. Lastly, even supposing you are tempted to go on the wrong side of the road, you probably won’t, because you know you could be arrested by the Police. Thus in the final analysis, there must be some force which can punish disobedience of the law.
15. For us as an Armed Force, discipline is our backbone; it is the essential glue that binds us together as a fighting organization. Discipline is essential to our cohesiveness and operational effectiveness and must be demanded for every serviceman under all conditions and circumstances. As Gen Patton once observed, sloppy soldiers don’t win battles, and anyone who does not enforce and maintain discipline is a potential murderer.
16. Our important object of discipline is the conquest of fear. To quote Gen Patton again “no sane man is unafraid in battle, but discipline produces in him a form of vicarious, transferable and infectious courage which leads to victory. As we all know, the basis of fear is the awareness of danger. And man becomes aware of danger when he feels himself opposed to something more powerful than himself. To overcome this, it is important for a man to lose his individual feeling and become an integral part of the unit, ship or base to which he belongs. By so doing a man becomes a part of a larger and stronger unit. It is in this way that discipline conquers fear.
17. Let me add that if such corporate sense of belongingness can erase the fear of the unknown, then faith in the Almighty God can have an even greater multiplier effect, because by nature and attributes, God is Omnipotent, Omniscient and Omnipresent and nothing is impossible with Him. I say this to buttress the importance of this occasion, when we can all openly acknowledge God’s overruling over power all things!
18. Again let me say that without discipline, the public confidence and trust, so crucial for an Armed Force in a democracy, will become seriously weakened and our credibility and legitimacy will be called into question.
19. And finally let me reiterate the point that the military constitutes the microcosm of society and is a reflection of its best qualities. Thus the term “military precision” has come to be associated with our profession, and denotes excellence; additionally, anytime the word “discipline” is uttered, the first thing that comes to mind is the military.
20. But what do we see these days? Regrettable, we as custodians, the embodiment and the true repository of discipline are gradually losing that enviable accolade and trademark. These days both the print and electronic media are full of negative reportage about the military. Typical newspaper banner headlines read as follows:
• “Two soldiers arrested for armed robbery”.
• “Internet fraud – serving military officer fingered”.
• “Innocent civilians brutalized by military patrol team at Ofankor”.
• “Galamsey operations – is the military also involved?”
• “OP HUNTER: Police - Military confrontation over sharing of booty.”
21. Within our own environment in the barracks, professionalism is on the decline and is evident in several ways. The following are some of the key observations which require our individual and collective actions:
a. Personal/Individual Level
(1) Disregard for dress regulations/sloppy turnout.
(2) Neglect in paying of compliments/returning of salutes.
(3) Lack of punctuality to work and functions
(4) Non-observance of basic protocols such as allowing senior officers to leave a function before we do.
(5) Lack of motivation and drive, especially on courses. Satisfaction with mediocre grades to avoid a training school posting.
(7) Lack of personal integrity – failure to settle bills (bounced cheques), financial malpractices at workplace, etc.
(8) Lack of courtesy to ladies – offering seats, standing up for ladies in the mess, etc.
(9) One-man operations – debt collection, land guard duties, defrauding by false pretences.
(10) Leakage of official documents to unauthorized person
(1) Poor posture/alertness of sentries at duty post.
(2) Untidiness of barracks and harbouring of squatters.
(3) Non observance of unit routines – muster parades, guard mounting, daily arms check, visiting guard points, visiting the sick in hospitals, kit inspection.
(4) Non-attendance at unit PT/games, BFT, CFT, skill-at-arms training, annual classification.
(5) Non-attendance to social events like weddings, outdooring, bereavements.
(6) Lack of pride in drill especially at national parades. Too many troops falling off on parade.
(7) Inertia in the enforcement of discipline. We need leaders who are tough but fair, who do not confuse leniency with leadership.
(8) Irregular holding of durbars, padre hours and lack of diligence in the conduct of Boards of Inquiry, Audit Boards, Committees of Adjustment and submission of Confidential Reports.
(9) Unit vehicles are your mobile advertisement; keep them clean and well-maintained. Driving without a headgear is an eyesore.
22. To address these myriad of problems, the military chain of command prescribes responsibilities and obligations at all levels officers, WOs/SNCOs and the rank and file.
23. Officers. The first duty of an officer is to lead and to pursue self-improvement and professional development in order to become an expert in the profession of arms. To be good leaders, officers must be models of professional excellence, displaying absolute and uncompromising integrity of character, taking responsibility for their actions and being accountable for those in their care. If you do these, you earn the respect of your troops and they will follow you at all times.
24. WOs/SNCOs. WOs/SNCOs are rightly called the backbone of the Armed Forces. You serve as the link, connecting soldiers to their officers and officers to their soldiers. Your role is to translate the intention of commanders into action. Because of your experience, maturity and knowledge, you serve a special function as the embodiment of discipline, drill, dress, deportment and tradition. You also have the responsibility in imparting knowledge and experience to newly joined officers and teaching new skills to young soldiers. Your role includes advice, helping solve problems and providing feedback. You are expected to create a rapport based on honesty, trust and respect. Above all you are expected to know, observe and enforce all regulations, rules, traditions and instructions.
25. Corporals and Below. As upcoming middle-level personnel, you are rewired to learn, train hard and carry out all orders and tasks to the best of your ability. Your conduct, actions and deportment must at all times reflect credit to yourselves, comrades and your unit, ship or bases. You have a right to be properly led, trained and equipped to do your duties and a responsibility to obey instructions.
26. In conclusion, I wish to emphasis that nothing that I have said so far should be misconstrued as a message of doom. The reason for this tough corporate critique is because the destiny of this nation is inextricable mixed with the professional standing and competence of the Ghana Armed Forces. We are the last line of defence; if we fail, the nation dissolves. Therefore only the best is good enough for us.
27. By the institution of this week, we have embarked on a search for better ways of doing things; sometimes we become dissatisfied with our standards, yet we are not in despair. This is because we have a self-correcting system, flexible enough to address our challenges and capable for rejuvenating the system, as we have seen time and again.
28. I therefore firmly believe in the vision of the CDS and the Military High Command that we will bounce back again because the Ghana Armed Forces is built on a solid foundation and we have the strength, hardiness and resilience to survive every turbulence. But lest any sense of complacency sets in, let me leave you with these scriptural verses, in the spirit of the occasion.
29. Mathew 5:13 – 16 reads as follows: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men.
30. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
31. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify our Father which is in heaven.”
32. So therefore, I say to you, go forth and shine so that Ghanaians may see your professionalism and good works and thus bring glory to the CDS, his Service Chiefs; to your comrade-in-arms in the Ghana Armed Forces and ultimately to God.
I thank you for your kind attention.