Gen Muhoozi calls for joint training of Somali army
Kampala. The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi, has called for united training of Somali National Army (SNA) so that it is empowered to handle its security woes.
While responding to journalists’ questions on why Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have failed to capacitate SNA in the 11 years they have spent in war-trodden country, Gen Muhoozi said the problem was due to lack of cohesion between the different countries offering training to Somali forces.
“Uganda, Kenya, Turkey and many others all train different groups which have failed to come together. I think we need a united training for Somali forces if we are to empower them to handle their security matters,” he said.
Gen Muhoozi also flagged off 1,822 UPDF soldiers under the 24th battle group heading to Somalia for one year to carry out Amisom duties.
The soldiers are replacing the 23rd battle group that will be withdrawn next week. UPDF has been in Somalia since 2007.
Asked why Uganda was deploying more soldiers days after al-Shabaab insurgents killed eight and injured many, Gen Muhoozi said: “Military forces world over are trained to fight and death is always expected whenever forces go on frontline.”
“The public tends to panic whenever they hear that soldiers have been killed. We cannot wake up and withdraw all soldiers because all the years we have spent there would be wasted,” he added.
Gen Muhoozi added that they also feel concerned whenever soldiers are killed from Somalia and on several occasions have contemplated on withdrawing them but they are always held aback by uncertainty that is likely to follow since the Somali army is not ready to engage the enemy.
“All key government institutions and Somali economic centres are in Mogadishu and Lower Shebelle which are secured by UPDF. They were previously in the hands of al-Shabaab but we rescued them. Such places would be blown or be taken back by al-Shabaab because the Somali army is not yet fully empowered to protect citizens,” Chief of Defence Forces said.
The Deputy Commander of Land Forces, Maj Gen Sam Kavuma, advised soldiers going on mission to exhibit high levels of discipline, vigilance and fitness to avoid being killed.
“You can defeat al-Shabaab only if you are fit and vigilant. You must stay awake, be suspicious and keep ears on the ground so that you are not surprised by al-Shabaab. Put in practice all whatever you have been given during the training,” Gen Kavuma said.
The soldiers started the preparation training on September 4, 2017 up to March 31.
The army said the officers will be deployed at Arabisca, about 31km from Mogadishu and they will be commanded by Col Jackson Kayanja.
Sgt Justin Adong, who will be in charge of treating and counselling UPDF and SNA female soldiers, said, he was excited about the deployment since she would acquire more experience.
“I know Somalia is a risky country but I could not abandon such an opportunity to explore new things. I have already got a specialised training during preparations and I will get more experience when I am there. I treat and counsel women soldiers,” Adong said.