General News of Friday, 23 March 2018
The United States Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Robert P. Jackson thinks that an investment of $20million in the Ghana Armed Forces in one year as part of the Ghana-US defence cooperation was a ‘pretty significant return’ that Ghana ought to be grateful.
“$20million being invested in the Ghanaian Armed Forces in one year is a pretty significant return,” he said.
Based on an earlier memoranda signed in February 1998 and April 2015, the US government has requested for a new defence cooperation with Ghana.
The previous agreements were not known to Ghanaians because they were not taken to Parliament for ratification, even though US military has been in the country under those agreements.
Some variations in the new agreement as compared to the old ones have generated a public debate after it leaked.
The government and the Minority in Parliament have continued to slug it out this week with government justifying the proposed agreement whilst the Minority has called for its immediate withdrawal from Parliament arguing that, it would denigrate the sovereignty and autonomy of the government and the people of Ghana, as well as the laws of the country.
In a radio interview with Accra based Joy FM on Thursday, Mr Jackson said the US intends to bring in not more than 200 soldiers for each exercise.
“For each exercise we are looking at up to 200 Americans. To my knowledge, we have never brought in more than that and for the time being at the level of operations, we don’t contemplate bringing in more than that. So, this is not an invasion, I want to be clear about that,“ he said.
His comment followed a public discussion and disagreement, but defending the move, the US Ambassador said what they are requesting for in terms of access was in relation to “the bases that Government of Ghana makes available to the United States for the exercise.”
“It is not unrestricted access… Just as if you were inviting me into your home and you said that is your bedroom, won’t you want somebody to knock before coming in. That’s my point. When we have people here, we want to ensure that we are cooperating and we working well together, which is also right to privacy,” he added.
On the kind of equipment they would be using, he said “What we bring into the country is mostly left here except for basic personal equipment which people travel with all the time.”
“What we take out of the country, the Ghanaian government will know what was brought in and what was going out, its manifested and comes in as diplomatic cargo, there is no secret about it and if there is any secrecy involved, it is because the material is something that the Ghanaian government believes it should be restricted for public good so that our enemies will not know what the capabilities are.”
He said the cooperation was to offer an opportunity for Ghana Armed Forces so that they can learn to work more effectively together and that, “once the exercise is over, the Americans will leave.”
“There is no resistance presence, we have a very small group of military officers at our Embassy in the Defence Attache and Security Cooperation, they are the only US military personnel who are in Ghana on a permanent basis and they are part of our diplomatic mission,” he said.