A total of 1036 officers and militants were on Thursday retired from the active service of the UPDF having spent a number of years in the force.
The retirement ceremonies were conducted in various parts of the country.
In Entebbe, the Commander Special Forces Command (SFC), Maj Gen James Birungi presided over the ceremony for the retirees under his command at SFC Headquarters whereas the Deputy Commander Air Forces, Major General Tumusiime Katsigazi presided over the ceremony for Air Forces personnel at Entebbe Air Forces Headquarters.
All the Division Commanders presided over the function or were represented by senior Officials in their areas of responsibilities in Masindi, Kakiri, Mbarara, Mbale, Gulu, Pader and Kabarole respectively.
The biggest number; 362 officers and militants were retired from Land Forces Head Quarters in Bombo where the Commander Land Forces (CLF), Lt Gen Peter Elwelu was the chief guest.
“You have been very busy and did not have time for your families,now you finally have the time,”Lt.Gen. Elwelu said.
“Now that you are going home, I encourage you to go to the garden. When God created us, he put us in the garden, not in the cities,” he said.
He also urged them to continue promoting peace and security while in their communities and shun all those that are deemed to create instability in the country.
“We have to make sure this country remains peaceful for this is the only Country we have, that God gave us.”
Lt.Gen.Elwelu urged the retirees to become ambassadors of government in spreading the messages aimed at protecting the public against COVID-19
“COVID-19 is not a dream, it is real. Go and be ambassadors for humanity in your communities, sensitize against COVID-19 as per the Ministry of Health guidelines. The problem with we Ugandans is being very stubborn. We are only lucky that God is with us otherwise we would have paid heavily,”he said.
The senior-most retiree, Col Stephen Kato applauded the army leadership for providing the retirement schedule three to four years in advance that enables them to appropriately prepare for their next life.
He said the retirees have got many experiences and learnt skills while in the force that will be beneficial in their future engagements.
In Kakiri, Maj. Gen. Sam Kawagga told the retirees to walk with their heads high for having served in and having been part of a great force, the UPDF.
“This force has contributed to peace and security in Uganda and beyond and it is just wonderful that you have been part of that journey.”
He added that their retirement is the normal journey of every soldier; recruitment, service and finally retirement.
In Kabarole, Brig. Moses Kwikiriza told the retirees that retirement does not mean being tired.
“Stay safe and remain focused, work hard to improve on your livelihood using your packages,”he said.
Brig Kwikiriza further advised retirees not to live a reckless life that would expose them to dangers such as HIV.
“The country wants you healthy, alive and as law bidding citizens engaging in productive activities.”
In Mbale, Brig.Joseph Balikuddembe applauded the retirees for the selfless service rendered to the country and advised them not to be lured into subversive activities.
“You have done a great job especially in fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army and insurgencies in Eastern Uganda. It is for these efforts rendered that the country is now stable. You are leaving us better than you started, thank you comrades and may you go in peace,” said Brig Balikuddembe.
In Masindi,on behalf of Maj Gen Sam Okiding, the 101 Artillery Brigade Commander, Brig.Dan Kakono, told the retirees to maintain their military discipline as a means to prosper in civilian life.
He urged them to continue embracing patriotism, nationalism and Pan-Africanism.
In Pader, Brig. Michael Kabango told the retiring officers and militants to desist from indiscipline acts that might block their chances of being recalled for other special assignments by the army and asked them to keep fit through healthy living.
“The struggle in your lives is not yet over. You must be productive at all times and be good leaders as you interface with the community,” he said.