The US Base in Ghana: What Does the Pentagon Want From the Deal?

By Scott Morgan

On March 23rd, the Parliament of Ghana voted on a deal which will allow for the United States to build and maintain a base in the Country. Even though the Political Opposition boycotted the vote the deal was approved.

There are two ways to look at this decision:

  • What does Ghana need? 
  • Secondly, is what does the Pentagon want?

For several reasons, Ghana realizes that it is in a Geopolitically important area. It has received in recent months an investment (in its emerging Petroleum Industry) from Qatar. There are several other factors that may have impacted this decision as well. Security Challenges rise to the forefront. First of all is the Gulf of Guinea in which Ghana has a coastline.

The first challenge of course is Piracy. The initial knee jerk reaction is to focus on the situation in Nigeria where Bunkered Oil seems to make its way to the neighboring nations. The emerging Oil sector in Ghana may present itself as a tantalizing target to be exploited by this criminal element. There are other reasons for concern with the same elements trafficking in narcotics, weapons and even Humans on their way to Europe.

The other concern that has to be watched is the overfishing of the Gulf of Guinea by outside parties (China and South Korea). It has been acknowledged that China does have access to Freeport in Sierra Leone. But if the fishing industry, in Ghana and its neighbors, takes a hit from the exploitation then the possibility of an increase in Economic Refugees has to be taken into account after an increase on Pressure on the Ghanaian Economy.

The other issue that would encourage Ghana to take this decision is Regional Security. The Piracy issue in the Gulf of Guinea is just the tip of the Iceberg when taking these concerns into account. Both immediate neighbors Côte D’Ivoire and Togo are facing major security issues.

Within the last twelve months there have been at least three mutines by Ivorian Security Forces over lack of pay. In a country which is showing modest Economic Growth of around 2% annually that presents a problem. The question of into whose pockets is the money going has to be answered to relieve the pressure.

Togo has been facing Political unrest as the Opposition calls for the Gnassingbe dynasty which has been ruling the Country for the last 50 years seeks to extend its hold on power. What is interesting is the direct road and rail links between the Togolese Capital of Lome and Accra. Civil Servants in both Countries make this daily trek. Having this interrupted will place a strain on the other country.

What does the Pentagon Want from this Deal?

There are two parts of this answer. The first part is to deter the Chinese Presence in Sierra Leone which has been mentioned earlier in this report. The Second answer can best be answered by the debacle in Niger.

We know last fall that 4 US Green Berets were ambushed in the Remote Southwestern Part of Niger near the Malian Border. The response by AFRICOM and its partners inside the Pentagon was less than stellar to put it mildly,

There have been concerns about the US having too large of a footprint in Africa. Therefore, the Force Planners decided that using UAVs and Special Forces to conduct Intelligence Gathering and the occasional raid against Jihadist Groups would be sufficient. The Niger Ambush has shown that strategy to be flawed.

The response by the US to the Ambush was lackluster. Having lack of Aircover (which actually had to be provided by France) and No Backup (Closet US Assets are a Marine FAST team based in Rota, Spain) proved that a reassessment of US Strategy in West Africa was warranted and needed to be updated as soon as possible.

The deal with Ghana takes care of most of the issues involving Communications, Logistics and even Support when it is deemed vital in the National Interest of the US. There are some aspects which should cause concern such as access to the National Communications System of Ghana and that US Forces will be allowed to move around the Country Armed and even not paying duties on material imported into Ghana.

That being said this has the potential of being a win/win deal.

(Image: AFRICOM Training Ghana Soldiers[Ed] - Googles Images)

[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society. © 2007-2018 Author(s) ALL RIGHTS RESERVED]


  1. The US does well to establish herself in Africa. Africa is the future, it's the next big thing; so it's natural for the States to be there. Not to mention that the world needs to remove space of manoeuvre from Iran, Qatar, Sudan and Turkey - all dangerous states that want to see Africa fall.

  2. "What does Ghana need and what does the Pentagon want?" Almost both questions have the same intertwined answer......which your article notably points out :)


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