The UPDF has been applauded for getting the fear factor out of other African armies when they first deployed in Somalia, once declared as an impossible mission.
Speaking at a function to send off the Ugandan troops under AMISOM serving in battle group 21 that are soon returning after completing their tour of duty, the Contingent Commander, Brig. General Paul Lokech, applauded the troops for their selfless service commitment to secure the Horn of Africa country.
“You have shown the international world that Africa can make it possible. When we were coming here in 2007, we were told by the Western media that this mission would fail on arrival; but today, its 10 years and we still moving forward, carrying the flag of the African mission, and carrying the flag of Uganda,” Brig. Lokech said.
Last week, the Chief of Defence Forces for the UPDF, Gen. David Muhoozi said the Ugandan army had shown the entire world that the Somalia mission was doable unlike earlier claims after the American troops had failed in the same country.
On Easter, Al Shabaab insurgents attacked several AMISOM UPDF forward operating base in Bulomarer in the Lower Shabelle region before killing several soldiers and injuring others when they two Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIED) went off .
The UPDF contingent commander said their lives did not perish for nothing but for a noble cause of the quest for peace in Somalia, a brotherly country.
“To all our comrades who died in combat, they died for a purpose and we shall never, ever forget them,” he said.
The AMISOM Deputy Force Commander in charge of Support and Logistics, Maj. Gen. Salvator Harushimana, reiterated the commitment of the African Union towards ensuring a safer and stable Somalia. He lauded he troops for performing their duties with diligence.
“During their stay, they performed their duties with dedication and a high level of professionalism. They did not only represent Uganda well but also made the African Continent proud,” Maj. Gen. Harushimana noted.
He said the group participated in many operations, ranging from conducting combat operations against the Al-Shabaab to securing the Main Supply Routes, by conducting regular patrols and escorting vehicles carrying humanitarian relief aid adding that it was commendable.
Uganda’s Deputy Ambassador to Somalia, Maj. General Nathan Mugisha, who was the chief guest at the medal awards ceremony, called for more investment in social amenities critical for the survival of the populations to help supplement efforts being made by the military to stabilize the country.
Uganda is the largest troop contributor of the 22,000 strong AMISOM force since 2007, contributing roughly 80 percent of the number.
After every 12 months, there is a battle group returning home from Somalia and at all times, there are at least three UPDF AMISOM battle groups in the Horn of Africa country.
Despite being able to rout the Al Qaeda affiliated group from the capital Mogadishu, the AMISOM troops especially UPDF still face a big threat in the Lower Shabelle region which is inhabited by the insurgents.