President Paul Kagame has disclosed Rwanda’s armed forces cannot be defeated, saying, “Anyone who dares to threaten our security will fail.”
Kagame made the remarks on Tuesday after attending the final phase of the annual Combined Arms Field Training Exercise at Gabiro Combat Training Centre in Rwanda.
Wearing a full military uniform complete with a cap, Kagame was welcomed at the military facility by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Patrick Nyamvumba.
Kagame recounted his previous battles which he said were won by determination.
“We used to go to the battlefield with 10 bullets in our gun, our enemies had maybe 100. But to win the war you do not need 100 bullets. When the bullets are done, you are the one left standing to accomplish the mission,” said Kagame.
The specialized training exercise comes days after an attack on Rwandan territory by suspected elements of FDLR, a militia whose leadership planned and executed the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
At least four FDLR militants were gunned down on Sunday.
Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Spokesperson Lt Col Innocent Munyengango said the attack was carried out by “people we suspect to be FDLR who attacked from Congo.”
“They attacked our post in Cyamabuye. Fortunately they found our forces ready and were repulsed. They lost four of their members in the process, and a Kalashnikov rifle,” he added.
The FDLR usually carry out attacks on Rwandan territory and today’s military exercise does not appear to be in any way connected to the incident.
Addressing combatants, Kagame said, “Nothing is impossible as long as we have the right mindset and values,” adding, “Our enemies can only wish us ill but they will never be able to defeat us.”
Kagame fought in the NRA war that brought President Museveni to power. He would later lead the PRF guerillas to take power in Rwanda in 1994, ending the genocide.
The Rwandan army also fought in several wars in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“You work under the sun, the rain, in the middle of forests and different environments, and we ask ourselves whether what we give you is enough,” said Kagame.
“The answer is that it can never be enough because this job goes beyond the individual, it is for the nation.”
A combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different combat arms of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects – for example, using infantry and armor in an urban environment, where one supports the other, or both support each other.
A similar exercise was last held in November, 2017, demonstrating how different capabilities are integrated and synchronized during a military operation at the level of an Infantry Division.
Most countries in the region have practiced specialized combined arms exercises to test their forces’ ability to complement each other in a military operation.
Kagame told the soldiers that, “What you have showed us here today is proof that you are capable of dealing with those who wish ill to our nation. There is no room for them to succeed with the courage, determination and the skills we have within us.”
Rwanda continues to face significant security threats from DRC where several armed groups are based.
President Pierre Nkurunziza recently described Rwanda as an “enemy country” for reportedly destabilizing Burundi – a claim Kigali has vehemently denied.
Kagame said “even when we will have achieved the level of prosperity we are working for, we will not be ones to waste resources. It will only add to our ability to deliver, not our willingness to waste.”
“Every bullet you shoot counts. Every resource you use must accomplish its purposes. We do not have room to waste. We have to deliver results beyond the resources we have.”
He said today’s evolving world, bravery and dedication are not enough but the foundation.
“You have to seek knowledge and do your job to the best of your ability. That is what makes a qualified army,” said Kagame, emphasising, “Your dedication and bravery is what gives our citizens safety and the reason we are here today.”