President Museveni this past week made key changes in the command of the armed forces.
Apparently, most of the elderly army officers were sent to foreign countries as Defence Attaches.
But most strikingly, Museveni gave sensitive roles to youthful army officers, Col Keith Katungi and Brigadier Charles Asiimwe.
Col Katungi was appointed Military Police commander, replacing Brig Gen William Beinomugisha who will serve as Second in command of Mbarara-based 2nd UPDF Division.
Katungi, a seasoned battlefield commander, previously served in specialised intelligence operations under the Presidential Guard Brigade which later metamorphosed into Special Forces Command.
Col Katungi further commanded many UPDF Units in Karamoja during the disarmament exercise and Rwenzori during the war against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
He was later sent among the first military units to set up camp in Somalia to fight Al Shabaab.
Based in Mogadisgu, Col Katungi commanded military operations that routed Islamist fighters, leading to the capture of the city.
He later commanded the United Nations Guard Unit in Somalia, providing security to expatriates in secured zones and the Aden Adde International Airport.
From Somalia, Col Katungi was sent to Rwenzori area again where he commanded the 309 Brigade in Kasese district.
ChimpReports understands Col Katungi was sent to Rwenzori at a time ADF militants’ activities were gaining momentum in Eastern DRC. At the time, the ADF were attacking UN military bases and even killing peacekeepers.
Former army spokesperson Brigadier Richard Karemire said then there were indications that ADF planned to strike Uganda.
This saw UPDF send heavy artillery, motorised units and Special Forces operators along the Albertine belt to monitor and counter the ADF threat.
In late 2018, President Museveni had agreed with then DRC leader, Joseph Kabila to allow in UPDF to take on ADF.
The assembling of heavy weaponry and infantry forces along the border was part of the UPDF plan to annihilate ADF.
UPDF’s shelling of ADF bases with long-range artillery would cause the scattering of the ADF fighters who would then be pursued and eliminated by infantry forces
However, Kabila changed his mind at the last minute.
Efforts to reach Katungi for comment did not bear fruit as he didn’t pick calls on his mobile phone.
The appointment of Katungi as Military Police head has triggered speculation in the army that he is being prepared for bigger assignments.
The current deputy Inspector General of Police, Maj Gen Sabiiti Muzeeyi served as military police commander. Katungi recently completed his National Defence Course U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Pennsylvania.
The National Defence course is intended to educate military professionals and about the strategic security environment and the management of complexities at a strategic level.
The military police protect key state installations and enforce discipline in the armed forces.
The appointment comes at a time the country is prepping for the 2021 general elections.
The military police usually plays a significant role in quelling political violence especially in urban areas.
Brig Asiimwe alias CK
Museveni also appointed Asiimwe as Commander National Counter Terrorism Centre.
Currently, the centre does not exist. But this website understand plans are underway to create one.
Asiimwe has been serving as the Deputy Commander of Uganda’s Military Intelligence.
He’s being replaced by Brigadier Richard Otto who is leading the Ugandan contingent in Somalia.
Asiimwe was among the top military intelligence investigators who probed the 2009 Kampala bombings.
The ring leader of the attackers, Issa Luyima, had been captured in Kenya and flown to Uganda where he had bribed his way out of immigration officers.
CMI’s operations commander Capt Charles Asiimwe is said to have organized a team of experts who scrutinized the phone printouts of all the suspects before their arrest.
This was after recovery of a sim-card belonging to one of the terrorists.
Presented with overwhelming evidence, the suspects would later confirm their participation in the bombings.
It’s this precious evidence that Justice Owiny Dollo relied on to convict the terrorism suspects.
Globally, there is growing concern that prisons can serve as incubators for radicalization to terrorism and terrorist recruitment, in the context of the growing number of violent extremist prisoners, including foreign terrorist fighters.
Although progress has been made in countering the terrorism threat and in understanding its underlying causes, it remains one of the most serious challenges facing the international community today. The problem is complex and requires a coordinated multilateral approach.
The creation of the counter terrorism centre will see Brig Asiimwe coordinate with regional and international partners to combat terrorism in the country and elsewhere.
Until recently, Asiimwe was leading the operations of JATT, the crack unit of the military intelligence.
He played a key role in arresting suspected Rwandan infiltrators some of whom were charged with treason and illegal repatriation of refugees to Rwanda.
This attracted the ire of Rwanda which maintains its innocence amid accusations of aggressive espionage acts in Uganda.
Asiimwe also served as an intelligence officer in specialised military operations in Central African Republic.
His successor at the military intelligence, Brigadier Richard Otto, served as the commander of the UPDF contingent in the Central African Republic, as part of the African Union Regional Task Force (AU-RTF), the regional counter-offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The regional task force to neutralise (kill or capture) the Ugandan fugitive Joseph Kony, was established in 2012. The force was supposed to be 5,000 troops strong, with units from the African countries terrorised by Kony and his guerrilla force, the LRA. Brigadier Dick Olum, at the rank of Colonel, was selected as first commander of that force.
However, the force turned out to be manned entirely by Uganda. The other countries, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic, beset by domestic instability and in some cases outright civil war, were unable to send troops or quickly withdrew the ones assigned to the mission. The mission failed to secure donor funding and Uganda ended up funding the entire mission on its own.
Later, Richard Otto, at the rank of Colonel took command of the Anti-LRA troops. They were joined by a 100-troops strong contingent from the United States military in non-combative roles. In April 2017, the mission was closed and the Ugandan and American troops were relocated to other missions.
In October 2017, the president sent Otto, now at the rank of Brigadier to replace Dick Olum as the head of the UPDF third division, in Moroto before he moved to Somalia.
Due to his vast experience in clandestine military operations in warzones, Museveni thought Otto would play a key role in countering internal and regional threats.