Little is known about the Ghanaian military. Ghana is easily amongst one of Africa’s most peaceful and politically stable countries, and has never really had to employ the use of her military, making the Ghanaian army one of the least combat experienced in Africa.
One look at the Ghanaian Army you see a country that, although having limited financial resources takes the security of its people serious . One look at the Nigerian army and you see a country with unmatched financial and energy resources in Africa, but have an army that though unmatched in firepower visavis the region, is punching far below her weight. This despite a decade long security imperative and being one of Africa’s biggest defense spenders, with billions of dollars in annual budgetary allocation and an extra $1 billion in emergency funding to buy arms.
One would expect that a country wealthy enough to spend almost the entire defence budget of Ghana on just 12 Super Tucano aircraft, will at least have a well equipped army in the league of other equally big defend spenders like Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and South Africa. Sadly that is not the case.
The Ghanaian Navy and Air Force is basically non-existent. The Ghanaian air force fields no fighter jet, neither does the Ghanaian Navy have frigates or corvettes, and with an active duty personnel of 13,500 men, the Ghanaian military is certainly among the smallest in the world.
But that’s where the bad stuff ends.
While the Ghanaian Navy and Air Force might be nothing to write home about, the Ghanaian army is one of the most professional and best equiped in West Africa, and its easy to see why. Fundamentally its easier to kit a small army than a large one. Despite spending a paltry 2% of its GDP on defence, the Ghanaian army fields an impressive array of modern platforms, some of which cannot be found in the inventory of the Nigerian Army. It’s not hyperboly.
The Special Relationship between Ghana and Nigeria has been one of the most enduring alliances in Africa, until recently that is. Simmering tensions between West Africa’s two greatest economic and military powers has raised doubts about the strength of the Nigeria-Ghana special relationship.
While Ghana is looking to befriend the West economically, especially since the discovery of oil, its growing diplomatic clout has increasingly focused in recent years on managing its national rank and file independent of ECOWAS’s periphery, and has taken the first step in becoming the only English-speaking nation in Africa to host a U.S military base. This move, not sanctioned by the ECOWAS Council could one day pose greater risk to Nigeria’s interests in ECOWAS beyond.
The range and capabilities of foreign military bases in West Africa continues to grow, making the region one of the worlds most militarized, and making a direct defense of Nigeria’s interests in the region potentially more costly.
As these trends continue, Nigeria will find itself gradually pushed more toward the threat of horizontal or vertical escalation for deterrence. If President Buhari loses the upcoming election and a more hardline proactive President takes office, there will be an attendant risks of counter-escalation. Neither Nigeria nor Ghana is likely to start a shooting war. Transnational wars is basically going extinct. Besides neither country have the logistical asset necessary to carry out military operations far from home base.
But because Nigeria’s leadership lack strategic depth, they have allowed the militarization of the region giving away Nigeria’s strategic advantage . So even an initially localized conflict could quickly spread into the economic, cyber, and space realms, by the powers that be. They can inflict considerable damage and brining Nigeria to her kneel without even stepping a foot on Nigerian soil.
Unlike Ghana or Mali or Chad or Cameroon or Egypt, or Algeria….or basically any country with competent leaders, Nigeria does not have military allies with any country to back up its ambitions. In a region saturated with powers competing for influence and building permanent military facilities, Nigeria’s far bigger navy or Air Force counts for nothing. The country will be pummeled into submission.
Also Nigeria far outspends the next 14 member states combined when it comes to defense. But there is hardly any corresponding assets on the ground. The Nigerian government has had ten years to build up a military powerful enough to provide some semblance of deterrence. Close relations with North Korea, China, Brazil and even Russia have made overtures to the Nigerian government on security cooperation. The offers were all rejected.
One advantage for Nigeria ? It’s massive population. Nigeria counts roughly 200,000 active service members, and another 32,000 in reserves and 180,000 military police, or the largest ground force in sub-sahara Africa.
Let’s take a look at some of the weapons system in the Ghanaian army arsenal.
WZ524 Infantry Fighting Vehicle
This infantry fighting vehicle is armed 12.7mm heavy machine gun, and the other with a small turret armed with a 35mm grenade launcher, a 7.62mm co-axial general purpose machine gun and a roof mounted 12.7 mm anti-aircraft machine gun.
The Nigerian army equivalent of this class of IFV is the Ukranian built BTR-3 Infantry Fighting Vehicle.