Chief of Defence forces Gen. Katumba has reiterated the need for the UPDF to consolidate the gains made in war-torn Somalia to avoid slipping back into war. Addressing over 2930 soldiers at Ssingo Army Barracks and Peace Support Centre in Nakaseke who had returned from Somalia, Gen. Katumba said that the UPDF had done a commendable job in restoring peace and stability in Somalia but there was need to consolidate the gains achieved.
“UPDF has been able to destroy Al shaabab’s capacity to conduct large terror attacks on the civilian population and ensure peace and stability” he stated.
He stressed that UPDF didn’t go to Somalia to fight for a territory but to save lives. “Our mandate as the UPDF is to save lives and we should be proud that we have been able to save many lives” he stressed.
“The UPDF needs to constantly train and retrain the Somali Army in order to be able to take charge of their own affairs. The UPDF will not remain in Somalia forever” he added. Gen. Katumba revealed that the UPDF wouldn’t want to see an Iraq situation in Somalia.
Some of the challenges that Gen. Katumba highlighted included the poor roads that continue to hamper the peace operations in Somalia. “Many of our soldiers have to cut through thick bushes and fight on sand which slows our operations” he noted.
He added that the infighting among the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) leaders was also hampering their operations.
Gen.Katumba seriously warned the soldiers who had returned from Somalia to avoid living extravagant and promiscuous lifestyles. “Don’t go out there and become more excited” he told the soldiers.
Over 2996 combat soldiers were deployed in Somalia last year in September under battle group 12 and the contingent commander has been Brig. Dick Olum and returned after 14 months. On arrival the soldiers had to register for the National Identity cards which they missed.
Gen. Katumba also warned the soldiers not to squander the money they had earned from fighting in Somalia. “Many of you become excited and wild after receiving money. “At least it’s better to put up a structure, a two-roomed house that should remind you of your hard earned sweat” he told the soldiers.
He thanked all the women combat soldiers who had sacrificed their lives and families to go to Somalia. He was happy to note that their financial package had already been worked on and had been placed on their individual accounts.
“You will receive a pay for 12 months from September last year to August this year. “The remaining two months (September and October) will be cleared when you return from your one month’s leave” Gen. Katumba stated.
Uganda deployed in Somalia in 2007 and fourteen battle groups have been deployed and will be fielding the 15th battle group and Brig. Sam Kavuma will be the contingent Commander. Uganda has been in charge of sector one which includes Mogadishu, Bowawe, Kadiolye and Afogoye.