A new set of military officers, men constituting the 85th Ghana Battalion (GHANBATT 85) of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has successfully taken over command from GHANBATT 84.
The change in command was executed at a colorful ceremony held at the Battalion Headquarters, Obeng Camp at Al Qawzah.
The Battalion with the nucleus being the 64 Infantry Regiment of the Ghana Army made up of 850 All Ranks arrived in Lebanon on Friday, 30th July 2018 to begin a one-year peacekeeping duty under the command of Lt Col Fiifi Deegbe.
Addressing troops during the transfer of authority parade, the Guest of Honour and the Sector West Commander, Brig Gen Paolo Fabbri noted that Ghana has since 1978 been one of the most important Troop Contributing Countries (TCC) in support of the United Nations’ effort in the pursuit of peace, security and stability in South Lebanon.
He commended the outgoing Commanding Officer (CO) of GHANBATT 84, Lt Col William Nortey, officers and soldiers of the battalion for carrying out their activities with great competence and high sense of duty in fulfillment of the UNIFIL mandate under the United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701.
The task demands monitoring of the 23 kilometer (km) stretch of the Blue Line within GHANBATT Area of Responsibility (AOR) against the backdrop of the uncertainty and unpredictability of the UNIFIL AOR.
Brig Gen Fabbri also used the occasion to welcome the in-coming Commanding Officer, Lt Col Fiifi Deegbe and troops of the 85th Ghana Battalion. He urged them to continue to show high sense of professionalism throughout the one-year tour of duty.
The Commanding Officer of GHANBATT 84, Lt Col William Nii Nortey in his handing over address wished the in-coming commander and his battalion the best of luck as they take up the mantle of not only keeping the flag of Ghana flying high, but also sustaining the peace and security within the AOR. He took the opportunity to thank the Force Commander, Sector Commanders and various stakeholders including the Lebanese Armed Forces, Mayors and Moukhtars for their support and guidance.
Earlier, the Contingent Commander (CONTICO), Col Ayitey Ayi superintended a reconciliation conference with both the out-going and in-coming Commanding Officers and their key appointment holders at the headquarters, where handing/taking over notes were signed. He also witnessed the exchange of the command baton and perpetual flame from the CO GH 84 to the CO GH 85.
Col Ayi said there was so much work to be done and expectations were high. He, therefore, called for teamwork which was key in building espirit-de-corps and greater collaboration among troops in order to perform all tasks assigned in the mandate. He entreated all to be professional at all times and demonstrate excellence in every assigned task.
The 85th Ghanaian Battalion with the nucleus being the 64 Infantry Regiment comprises 850 personnel out of which 106 are women. Prior to embarking on the operational tour, the battalion underwent 9-weeks pre-operational training at the Bundase Training Camp. The training which was organised by the Ghana Armed Forces in collaboration with the African Contingency Operations and Training Assistance (ACOTA) and the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) was designed purposely to prepare troops adequately to carry out the tasks as spelt out in United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701.
At a pre-departure parade held on Friday, 29th June 2018, the General Officer Commanding the Southern Command, Brig Gen T Oppong-Peprah who represented the Chief of Army Staff urged personnel to remain focused on the mission in the operational theatre. He added that “high morals and the maintenance of high ethical standards, professionalism, dedication and discipline are key to the success in the mission”.
The key operational tasks of the battalion will include, monitoring violations of the blue line, conducting day and night mobile patrols, maintaining security in Sector West, escorting humanitarian convoys and protection of civilians among others. As part of Civil Military Co-operation (CIMIC) activities, UNIFIL GHANBATT 85 during its one-year tour of Peacekeeping duties will offer assistance civilians in the form of medical aid, educational lectures, basic skills training in first aid and donation of relief items. The battalion therefore welcomes donations and assistance from institutions and organisations towards contributing to world peace.