The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has resumed its deployment to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) after a four months’ suspension of the rotation of troops since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The African Union and the UPDF had suspended troop movement in and out of the mission area as a force protection measure and one of the mitigating measures in combating the spread of COVID-19.
The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen David Muhoozi said that AMISOM and UPDF had built capacity to contain the spread of the pandemic.
“COVID-19 came as a new phenomenon. We neither had concrete ideas about the virus nor did we have adequate capacity to manage it,” said Gen Muhoozi.
He noted that the entire world is affected and hence even with money at hand, it was difficult to access the logistics to handle the pandemic. He added that many countries have now developed capacity to produce the necessary logistics to address the problem such as sanitizers and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Gen Muhoozi made the remarks while flagging of Uganda’s thirtieth battle group to Somalia at Peace Support Operation and Training Center (PSO TC) in Singo, Nakaseke District.
The battle group commanded by Col Jimmy Musoke comprises of over 1,800 personnel, both veterans and regular forces who were mobilized in June 2019.
Gen Muhoozi counseled the soldiers to be cautious of their health by observing the COVID-19 guidelines and preventive measures of all other diseases.
He further cautioned them to remain alert all the time to thwart enemy threats and consolidate the achievements of the previous battle groups.
He expressed confidence that the extra training time the battle group received will make them perform better.
The CDF was accompanied by the Commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu who urged the deploying troops to ensure maximum discipline which is a core attribute to the military service.
PSO TC Commandant, Brig Gen Bonny Wolimbwa said the battle group is a hardened one since most of the members had earlier served in Somalia when the situation was more volatile and they had actively participated in the liberation struggle of places such as Mogadishu City, University, Masilah, Balcad, Jowhar, Afgooye, Bur-Hakaba and Barawe.
Uganda deployed to Somalia in 2007 and since then, it has fielded in 30 regular battle groups plus three other special battle groups; battle 9+, 11+ and 13+.