One hundred and twenty officers and men of the Ghana Engineering Company I, (GHANENG COY 1) of the Ghana Armed Forces Monday went through farewell rituals in preparation for their departure to war torn Mali.
Also known as the Engineering Construction Company, led by Captain Ernest Nyuur, the soldiers would undertake purely engineering works mainly in the civilians areas and in some cases military engineering works, meaning they would not be in the mainstream clashes with the Malian rebels.
The ceremony which was honoured by their children wives, top army brass and the British High Commissioner, Mr Peter Jones, was officiated by an Imam and Priest who said muslin and Christian prayers respectively to commit the soldiers in the arms of the almighty God.
Instability in Mali intensified after the March 2012 military coup, leading to the cessation of the northern Mali by Islamist group which took advantage of the situation. Later this year French Forces aided by Malian troops embarked on airstrikes pushing the rebels to the desert.
ECOWAS leaders agreed to send a standby force to protect the territorial integrity of the country, a mission which received the United Nation’s supports and blessing.
After the short but impressive ceremony, 15 of the soldiers and 10 of their vehicles, ammunition and other undisclosed cargo were airlifted on board the British Royal Military aircraft C-17 at the Kotoka International Airport to Mali.
They were seen off at The Kotoka International Airport by the Director of Public Affairs of the Ghana Armed Forces, Col. M’bawine Atintande and the British High Commissioner.
The remaining troops would be airlifted in batches to the Mali.
Addressing the soldiers at the ceremony, the Chief of Naval Staff who is also the acting Chief of Defence Staff, Real Admiral Matthew Quashie, reminded the troops that they should uphold the professional and sterling achievements that had been chalked by Ghanaian military officers and men around the world.
He told the soldiers that the engineering role they were going to play was crucial to the accomplishment of the African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA) mission, for which reason they must always work tirelessly towards the mission.
Due to the volatile nature of the mission, especially involving rebels, Real Admiral Quashie cautioned his troops to protect themselves and be mindful of “terrorists’ activities like improvised explosives devises, snaps attacks, suicide bombing and ambushes. Plan all your movements well to ensure the safety and security of the construction squadron.”
AFISMA Mission is to develop the necessary capabilities and recover the occupied regions in Northern Mali in order to contribute to the creation of the necessary conditions for a stable, democratic Malian state exercising authority over its national territory and assuming its responsibility.
It is also to protect its civilian population, property and livelihood means and address regional security challenges, especially international terrorism and transnational criminal activities.