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Timeline: The Rise of Special Forces Commander, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba

Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba has said the Special Forces Command (SFC) will continue to deliver on its mandate despite challenges faced in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is not the first time we are dealing with diseases, it won’t stop us from doing our work,” said Kainerugaba on Monday as he started work as the new SFC commander.

“The security forces working together will perform their historical responsibility and ensure our citizens vote peacefully and go about their day to day lives without any disturbances,” he added.

Kainerugaba’s appointment comes high on the heels of unprecedented electoral violence sparked by the arrest of opposition candidates Patrick Amuriat and Robert Kyagulanyi.

His main role will be working with other security services to ensure a peaceful election exercise.

In last week’s radio message announcing the appointment of Gen Kainerugaba, President Museveni congratulated the UPDF for “defeating the insurrection that the traitors, with their foreign backers, attempted to stage a few weeks ago.”

In his speech, Kainerugaba observed:

“I want to tell you all officers today that we are going to continue achieving great things. We are not going to let down our great predecessors and the great name of SFC,” said Gen Muhoozi.

He told the CDF Gen David Muhoozi that during this “electioneering season, the SFC will play its full role in providing security for our people. We have done it in the past and we are going to do it again.”

The SFC is a specialized component of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) tasked with carrying out specialized missions or operations at a moment’s notice.

The force, which comprises commandos and marines, metamorphosed out of the High Command Unit (HCU) that was established in May 1981, at Kyererezi, Kapeeka (in the present day Nakaseeke District).

The SFC while conducting its operations coordinates closely with the two main arms or services of the UPDF, that is, the Land Forces and the Air Forces.

The SFC main headquarters are found in Entebbe, Wakiso District, but also has sub-units stationed in different parts of the country.

SFC units working alongside the regular UPDF are also active in theatres of operations, such as South-Sudan and the Peace Keeping Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Muhoozi took over from Maj Gen James Birungi who is headed for a special assignment in South Sudan.

President Museveni said Gen Kainerugaba would retains his role as the Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Operations to continue handling a security issue.

Gen Kainerugaba thanked the president for entrusting him with another assignment to lead the elite force and congratulated the Maj Gen Birungi for serving with distinction.

Lt Gen Kainerugaba (R) with CDF Gen David Muhoozi at SFC headquarters in Entebbe

CDF Gen Muhoozi said Kainerugaba is a strong leader considering that he established strong structures for SFC which continue to grow.

“The test of his investment in this is that he left and it stood on its own. That is the test of the durability of an idea,” said the army chief.

Military Career

According to the military records released by the army during a recent decoration ceremony of senior army officers, Lt Kainerugaba has served in the UPDF for more than two decades. Below is the timeline.

1999: Kainerugaba joins the UPDF at the rank of officer cadet and graduates in 2000 from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training facility in Camberly, in the UK.

2000: Kainerugaba is commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and deployed in the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU).

He begins as Head of Combat Readiness, in the office of the PPU’s intelligence office.

Kainerugaba holds this position until he is promoted to the rank of Captain in late 2001.

2002: Kainerugaba attends a Company Commander/Battalion Commander’s Course in Egypt.

2003: Kainerugaba starts the re-organization of the PPU into the Presidential Guards Brigade (PGB).

Captain Kainerugaba is promoted to the rank of Major and becomes the Commanding Officer (CO) of the fledgling Motorized Infantry Battalion, and a member of the Defence Forces Council.

He sees his first combat action in Soroti later that year.

The Motorized Infantry Battalion (which Major Muhoozi commanded) plays a pivotal role in the defeat of the LRA in Soroti.

Muhoozi with comrades from his platoon after completing the final exercise at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (UK), 20 years ago. Just before they commissioned as officers (Photo: Muhoozi Kainerugaba)

2005: Kainerugaba takes command and trains with an infantry company in advanced infantry skills at Kasenyi Training School. That company is later integrated into 1 Commando Battalion.

2006: Kainerugaba supervises the training and organization of the newly formed 1 Commando Battalion in Barlege, Otuke County, Lira District.

2007: He is deployed with the newly formed 1 Commando Battalion to Bundibugyo to tackle the ADF.

1 Commando Battalion defeats the ADF at the battle of Semiliki National Park in March of 2007.

Later that year, Kainerugaba enrolls at the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth Kansas (USA).

2008: Kainerugaba graduates from Fort Leavenworth, the US Army Command and General Staff College.

Fort Leavenworth, also referred to as the “Intellectual Centre” of the US army, is a prestigious military college that boasts several famous alumni among whom include; President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the USA, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Jaafar Nimeiry of Sudan and Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of Pakistan (former Chief of Staff of the Pakistani military).

The ROK Special Warfare Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Chang Kyeong Seok (center), conducts Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba around the headquarters of the ROK-SWC in Incheon, South Korea.

July 2008: He becomes the UPDF’s first paratrooper after graduating from the US Army’s Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

That same year Muhoozi is promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commander of Special Forces in the UPDF.

2010: He is appointed as the first Commander Special Forces Group (SFG).

2011: Muhoozi plans and supervises the entry of Special Forces into the UPDF campaign in Somalia, as part of the AMISOM mission.

Within a few weeks of the entry of Special Forces into Somalia the UPDF successfully expels Al Shabaab from Mogadishu. That‘s in August 2011.

September 2011: Muhoozi is promoted to rank of Colonel.

2012: Col. Muhoozi enrolls at the South African National Defence College for the Executive National Security Program.

He graduates from this program six months later in June.

Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba (center) being conducted on a tour of the NAVSCIATTS facility, an an international center for security forces assistance in asymmetric warfare in United States. Left is Gen. Joseph Votel, Commander USSOCOM

In August he is promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Commander Special Forces Command.

2013 and 2014: Muhoozi is one of the senior UPDF commanders who deploys to South Sudan to support the Government of South Sudan after fighting breaks out in Juba between rival factions of the SPLA.

The UPDF is able to stabilize the situation in Juba and Bor after smashing a rebel advance on the capital city in January 2014.

2017: Muhoozi is appointed Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Duties.

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