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Military Capabilities

US denies military base planned for Ghana

20 March 2018

The United States is not planning to establish a military base in Ghana, its embassy in Accra said on 20 March in response to local media reports that the country’s government submitted a basing agreement to parliament for its approval earlier that day.

Marines from AFRICOM’s SPMAGTF-CR-AF run towards MV-22B Osprey tiltrotors during a training exercise at Air Force Base Accra in March 2015. (US Marines Corps)Marines from AFRICOM’s SPMAGTF-CR-AF run towards MV-22B Osprey tiltrotors during a training exercise at Air Force Base Accra in March 2015. (US Marines Corps)

The US embassy said the status of forces agreement (SOFA) between the two countries needed to be updated as the previous one was 20 years old and “does not cover the current range and volume of bilateral exercises and assistance”.

“The United States and Ghana are planning joint security exercises in 2018, which require access to Ghanaian bases by US participants,” it said. It added that the United States would donate USD20 million to the Ghana Armed Forces in 2018 in the form of training and equipment.

Ghana’s Defence Minister Dominic Nitiwul told the Citi FM radio station on the same day that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was submitted to parliament would allow the US military to use an area near Accra’s Kotoka International Airport, but this would not be classified as a base as US personnel would not be permanently stationed there.

“[US] soldiers who will be operating here are less than 200, and they will not be stationed here, they will come and go. It’s not a military base,” he said. “We don’t even have enough space in the agreed area for them to put up big structures. It’s just around the airport area.”

The opposition released a statement calling for the MOU to be withdrawn from parliament because it infringed on Ghana’s sovereignty, increased the risk of terrorist attack, and was open ended. It also criticised the secrecy surrounding the agreement, saying it had not been shown an annex that defined the facilities the US military would use and expressing concern of the “lack of clarity on the nature of the dedicated runway” that Ghana would have to provide.

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