Home Ambassador Profiles Ghana His Excellency Joseph Henry Smith

His Excellency Joseph Henry Smith


Lieutenant General Joseph Smith, CV, LM (USA) was born in Takoradi, Western Region of the Republic of Ghana on 9th January 1945. He attended Achimota School from 1959 to 1963 and was commissioned into the Ghana Army Engineer Corps in 1965 after graduating from the Ghana Military Academy.  Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) is also a graduate of the Pakistan Military Engineering College, the US Army Engineer College, the US Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College.

Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) has had a most illustrious and distinguished military career and held several important appointments.   He was an instructor at the Ghana Military Academy from 1973 to 1974 and Company Commander, United Nations Emergency Force in Egypt in 1976.   From 1977 to 1978 he served as Assistant Deputy Secretary (Military) with the Supreme Military Council at the Castle, Osu.   He then became a Directing Staff at the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College (Senior Division), Teshie, from 1980 to 1983, before becoming the Director, Military Training at the Force Headquarters from 1984 to 1985. Between 1985 and 1987, he served as the Director, Military Operations, at the Force Headquarters and moved on to become the Chief Staff Officer at the Army Headquarters the same year.  He served in that position until 1988.  Between 1988 and 1992, he served as the Defence, Military, Naval and Air Attaché (DMNAA) to the Pentagon and United States Armed Forces, with accreditation to the Canadian Defence Forces and Ghana’s Mission to the United Nations in New York (on peacekeeping matters).

On his return from his diplomatic duty, Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) was made Commander 1st Infantry Brigade Group (now Southern Command) in 1992, subsequent to which he was appointed Commandant, Military Academy and Training Schools (MATS) from 1992 to 1993.  After that he was appointed the Commander 2nd Infantry Brigade Group (now Northern Command) from 1993 to 1996 and in addition was the Commander of the Special Task Force (OPERATION GONGONG) formed to restore law and order to Northern Ghana during the ethnic conflict involving the Nanumba, Konkomba and Dagomba tribes from January to September 1994.  As commander of the Special Task Force, he managed to bring peace to the area within a short period, to the admiration and satisfaction of the whole country.  Lieutenant General JH Smith, CV, LM (USA) was appointed Commander of the Professional Ghana Army from 1996 to 2001. As a visionary leader who envisaged the palpable challenges of the Army in the 21st Century, he is credited with emphasizing professionalism and loyalty within the Service and the need for an educated modern Army that could be relied upon at all times to defend the country and support its national development agenda. Thus, he seriously promoted civil/academic and military education by introducing policies that encouraged both officers and men, most of whom hitherto were not graduates, to embark on tertiary education, and more. This single initiative improved the human resource quality of the military and helped officers and men to better understand national issues and hereby play their roles more efficiently and effectively in the country’s democratic dispensation and national development efforts. Lieutenant General JH Smith was “HONOURABLY RELEASED” from the Armed Forces, in February 2002, after 39 years “DISTINGUISHED” service with the “COLOURS.”

Subsequent to his retirement from the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) was appointed Chairman of the National Insurance Commission Board from 2001 to 2009.  In this appointment, he saw to the establishment of the Ghana Insurance College, in Accra, in 2006, with the vision of serving as a Centre of Excellence for the advancement of best practices and cutting-edge professional competence within the Insurance Industry in Ghana and West Africa. From 2009 to 2013 served as the Honourable Minister for Defence.

In his distinguished and meritorious Military Career, Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) served on and led several delegations to international conferences.  He was part of Presidential delegations to Nigeria, Liberia, La Cote d’Ivoire, Cape Verde, South Africa, Germany, and Turkey.   He also led Military delegations to several countries, key among which were; a delegation to the UN Headquarters to attend a workshop on the Conduct of Peace Keeping Operations for UN troop contributing countries, a delegation to the Pentagon (USA) to discuss the establishment of a rapid response force in the West Africa sub-region, a delegation to China on Ghana/China Joint Military Co-operation and a delegation to Europe (Belgium, France and UK) to observe and assess  a military hardware exhibition. Other delegations he led were to Germany, South Korea and Jordan (annual meeting of the World Insurance Body), Lebanon (UN Medals Presentation), Liberia (on ECOMOG matters; to evaluate the operational and other challenges that troops were facing in that theatre), Burkina Faso (on joint Co-operation), Algeria (on Joint Training) and South Africa, among others.

Lieutenant General JH Smith’s political career began on his retirement from the Ghana Armed Forces in 2002. He is an active member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) Party.  As the Honourable Minister for Defence, he also served as member of various important bodies, including; the Cabinet of Ghana, the Armed Forces Council, the National Security Council, the Africa Union Security Council, the Presidential Transitional Committee of Ghana and the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Committee.  He was Chairman, Board of Ministers tasked to establish the National Petroleum and Security Coordination Centre (PSCC) which has the role of 24 hours monitoring of activities of all stakeholders in Ghana’s oil and gas industry, Chairman of the Kofi Annan International Peace Keeping Training Centre Board and also the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Central Board. During this same period, Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM(USA) saw to the modernization, restructuring and major re-tooling of the Ghana Armed Forces to properly play its roles in the 21st Century.  Specifically, he saw to the re-equipment and capacity development of the 48 Engineer Regiment of the Ghana Army, an accomplishment that has enabled the unit to play a major role in the road construction sector of the economy. Today, the Regiment is into the construction of roads and schools in most parts of the country. He also strenuously and conscientiously saw to the passing of the Veterans Administration, Ghana, Act2012 (ACT 844), which is a landmark legislation for the administration and welfare of all Veterans of the Ghana Armed Forces.  He was instrumental in getting the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GET Fund) to construct an Administration Block for the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College at Teshie and, more importantly, to classify the College as a tertiary institution and thereby sponsor its programmes.  Also as the Honourable Minister, he saw to the setting up of the Defence Industry Holding Company (DIHOC) which has the aim of going into business ventures in partnership with private investors, for the benefit of the Ghana Armed Forces and the country at large. Under this initiative, the Kumasi Shoe Factory, which is now in operation, was established in 2012 as a joint venture between DIHOC and a Czech Company called Knights Ltd. This has helped the national economy through the creation of jobs, among others.

Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) has a strong interest in strategic leadership in the 21st Century (with emphasis on Africa) and having done research in that area, has written a paper on “the ‘New Vision’ of the Ghana Army for the 21st Century” and done a project work in 1978 on the “Achievements of the OAU (now AU) since its inception in 1963.”

For his meritorious career and service to the State and mankind, Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) has won many Honours, Awards and Decorations.  In 2001 he was decorated with the prestigious National Award; Companion of the Order of the Volta (CV).   Much earlier in 1980, he had been awarded the Long Service and Efficiency Medal by the Ghana Armed Forces.  He was also decorated with the 5th Highest Award in the US Army; “Legion of Merit” (LM) in 1992. In 2002, he was specially honoured by the Old Achimotans Association (his mentor institution) by including him on the “ROLL OF HONOUR OF AKORAS OF DISTINCTION.” Other awards earned by Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM(USA) include; the prestigious Dr. Kwame Nkrumah Africa Leadership Award (2009), the Golden Star Award for Distinguished Leadership in West Africa in 2012 (by Security Watch, Africa), and the Governance and Leadership Award, in recognition of his Excellent Qualities in Security, Governance and Leadership in West Africa (2012).   In 1989 he was made “Ambassador-at-Large” by the Great San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and also, in 1991 he was appointed “Admiral in the Texas Navy” by the State of Texas, USA.

Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM(USA) was recognized by his peers of the Ghana Military Academy Intake 7 Association which in 2013 granted him their 50th Anniversary Award for his exceptional achievements in professional, national and international service to the proud honour of the Intake.  Earlier, in 2012, he was named the West African Defence Minister of the year, 2012, by the Africa Leadership Magazine.

Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) has proven himself in both military and civil/political life as a gentleman of exceptional distinguished meritorious qualities and exemplary conduct.   He can be described as an outstanding Military Officer and a Gentleman, an Astute Politician, a fine Diplomat and an Honourable Statesman.

He was appointed to the current position by his Excellency Mr. John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana in September, 2014.  An excellent military officer, astute politician and a fine diplomat, Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) brings to Washington, DC, his exceptional rich experience in his many fields of endeavour.  It is also much to his credit that he is the first Ghanaian, ever, to be appointed to the position of Ghana’s Ambassador to the USA, who has previously served as the Defence, Military, Naval and Air Attaché (DMNAA) in Washington. Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) has a personal resolute determination to keep an open door policy, to be extended to various stake holders spanning the Ghanaian Diaspora Community; a vision in line with the country’s foreign policy and the “Better Ghana Agenda” of the Government of Ghana, i.e. to promote and deepen strategic partnership, security and economic co-operation between Ghana and the USA.

Lieutenant General JH Smith CV, LM (USA) is married with five (5) children.


Contact Information

Embassy of Ghana
3512 International Dr NW
Washington, DC 20008

Phone: (202) 686-4520
Fax: (202) 686-4527

Website: http://www.ghanaembassy.org/