The Commander of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces’ (UPDF) Special Forces Command (SFC), Maj Gen James Birungi has launched Combat Fitness Test (CFT) for the elite force’s personnel.
While deputy defence spokesperson Lt Col Deo Akiiki said the exercises are meant to be conducted bi-annually by all troops of SFC and the Police Presidential Guard (PPG), they come against the backdrop of similar exercises held by the armoured brigade and ground forces commanders.
The intense exercises come high on the heels of heightened tensions in the region.
Observers say Uganda maintains a high level of combat readiness amid Rwanda’s deployment of Special Forces operators in South and North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
While the Rwandan army has been hunting down rebels in DRC, its continued presence and military activities in Eastern DRC have raised concern in Kampala considering both countries’ sour relations.
Akiiki said the fitness activities included a 20 km walk by Officers and Militants of SFC and PPG from Entebbe State House Simba gate to Kasenyi Training School via Entebbe town, Kabale village and Abaita Babiiri.
“Today is the launch of this exercise at SFC headquarters. It must trickle down to Battalions, including all its sub-units,” said Maj Gen Birungi on Wednesday, adding that commanders must ensure routine training and testing of their troops on endurance.
Birungi said physical fitness is an important item in the Standing Operating Procedure (SOP) of SFC and indeed, for all in the military profession.
He said the High Command which recently sat in Entebbe resolved on the reactivation of physical fitness training and tests in all UPDF units because soldiering and fitness are inseparable.
The Commander further said that CFT is important in the UPDF because it not only tests individuals’ physical fitness or endurance but also acts as a check on discipline at all levels of command, enhances combat readiness, encourages team work and brings out individual leadership skills.
Maj Gen Birungi urged the troops to continue doing individual exercises while examining their self-abilities as a way to improve on their physical fitness.
“You need to know your personal physical fitness status in order to aim higher towards attaining a level well above the minimum standards required by our SOPs,” he said.
The function was attended by among others the 1 Special Forces Group Commander, the Director of Personnel and Administration and the Director Strategy and Plans. Akiiki didn’t divulge the identities of the commanders.
The SFC and PPG will engage in different sports activities such as soccer, netball, boxing and range exercise as one of the approaches to maintain physical fitness, according to Akiiki.
He said engaging in sports activities also helps in identifying and developing talents.