As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Rear Admiral Matthew Quashie
A country’s state of readiness is the full range of defense strategy that allow its forces to provide the flexibility needed to shape the environment, deter political foes, and, if required, to rapidly respond to a broad array of threats. The world over, maintaining navies is becoming a difficult venture because of the high maintenance and operating costs. It has thus become necessary for navies—especially brown-water navies—to examine how innovative they can be to operate within scant economies. The Ghana Navy recently benefited from the acquisition of a number of platforms and other vital installations that make it more efficient and combat-ready.
Certain innovations have been put in place to ensure we are not sidelined because of the harsh economic environment. Some of these innovations are in area surveillance, collaborating with the maritime industry, and cooperation with neighboring navies.
Sea surveillance: This is defined as “the systematic observation of surface and subsurface sea area by all available and practical means.” For our navy to achieve the desired level of sea surveillance, the government has invested heavily in the acquisition of vessel traffic management information systems (VTMIS) and shore radars. The VTMIS includes the automatic identification system (AIS) already in operation in the country.
Ghana Armed Forces achieve better force readiness through joint training and exercise among the three services. The Ghana Air Force recently established a maritime air wing, and a program is in place for joint training with the navy to promote effective sharing of information within the domain. When that is fully achieved, ships could be guided directly to targets as opposed to the sometimes haphazard patrols currently conducted. The sailings of Ghana’s fleet will now be more mission oriented, increasing effectiveness and efficiency, as fuel will not be spent unnecessarily.
Collaborating with the maritime industry: Our navy has established an informal means of gathering information about the maritime domain from Ghana’s fishing and merchant fleets, and others who operate in the domain. Information about any suspicious activities is quickly relayed to the Navy for prompt action.
Cooperation with neighboring navies: Because of the transnational nature of many criminal enterprises, no one country can successfully fight maritime crime alone. Ghana’s navy is pursuing subregional maritime cooperation with sister navies through training and exchange of information and visits to enhance safety and security.
If the Ghana Armed Forces are able to bring on board effective training and are allocated sufficient resources, our force readiness will be improved dramatically.