Museveni: Special Forces Command created for Uganda, not Muhoozi
Posted Sunday, February 17 2013 at 02:22
A battle for youth. The President accuses Kizza Besigye of misleading Ugandans on SFC, initially formed as High Command Unit in 1981 when Muhoozi was just seven years old.
Last week, I disposed of the bulk of Dr. Besigye’s lies. I promised the readers that in another piece, I would deal with the remaining lies or distortions. These were: “Special Forces was created for Muhoozi”; “Poverty”; “We went to the bush to overthrow Army rule”; and “Power belongs to the people and not Army rule”.
What is now Special Forces Command was founded in May 1981, at Kyererezi, in Kapeeka, before Dr. Besigye joined the struggle and when Muhoozi was just seven years old.
We had launched our struggle on the 6th of February, 1981, by attacking Kabamba with just 27 rifles. Through ambushes (e.g. Kawanda), subsequent attacks on UNLA (e.g. Kakiri, on the 6th of April), removing guns from Police Stations (e.g. Isunga, Kasanda, Busunju, Bukuya, Bukwiri, Kiboga, etc.), we had about 60 rifles by May, 1981.
Meanwhile, recruits were flocking into the Resistance Army. The number was now 200 people; at Kabamba we had been about 40 people but with only 27 rifles.
Creation of Special Force Command
Since we were still operating in concealment, I decided to create Units by breaking up the 200 people because 200 people moving in one group are not easy to conceal. Accordingly, we created the following Units: Abdul Nasser (Matugga area) with 43 rifles; Mondlane (Makulubita area); Kabaleega (Kapeeka area); Nkrumah (Bukomero-Lukoola-Kyankwanzi area); and one Section to always travel with the Chairman of the High Command (CHC) – Yoweri Museveni.
Since Abdul Nassar took 43 rifles out of 60, the rest of the Units shared the remaining 17 rifles. Other Units such as Lutta, Ngoma and Mwanga were created later. So was the decisive Mobile Force.
Since we had now created Zonal Units, instead of having only one nomadic (roving) unit, it necessitated the CHC to always travel to visit these units. In order not to divert manpower from the Zonal Units to escort and guard the CHC, it was better to have a small Force dedicated to guarding him.
Whenever I decided to walk to any point, we would move straight away without waiting to raise an escort Force from the Zonal Forces. That is how what is now Special Forces group started. Initially, it was like a Section (12 people), if my memory serves me right. By the end of the war (1986), it was a Company size (120-140 people).
Lack of written records because of the circumstances of that time forces me to rely on my memory. I think, by this time, it was being called “the High Command Unit”. When we captured power, it became the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) equivalent to a battalion size (700-800 soldiers).
With the new challenges of fighting the counter-revolutionary forces (terrorists, hostile neighbours, etc), the PPU soon expanded into a Brigade (three battalions or more) with added responsibilities of not just protecting the President but also guarding the whole country in some aspects, sharing that responsibility with the rest of the Defence Forces and also participating in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations, on the express orders of the President.
I remember, for instance, one example, during the Kony terrorism in the North. The Kony groups had got some anti-tank cannons known as B-10s (82 mm recoilless guns). There was one audacious gunner who managed to damage some of our mambas.
I decided to help the Forces in operation by deploying a Force from Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB), which had been rehearsing anti-ambush drills.
They caught up with this gunner at Barlegi Primary School (deserted at that time and very bushy), killed him and recovered the recoilless gun.
When the ADF infiltrated Uganda from Congo the last time (I think, it was 2006), they entered the Semliki National Park. A Commando Force from PGB was dispatched to counter this threat. Working with the 2nd Division Units in the area, the ADF group was almost wiped out.
Out of the 100 terrorists that had infiltrated, about 83 of them were killed. Only 13 terrorists went back to Congo. During the recent operations in Mogadishu, special elements from the Special Forces Command (both marine and commando) played crucial roles in defeating the Al-Shabaab alongside the bigger Uganda Expeditionary Force in Somalia.
Therefore, what was originally the CHC’s escort, High Command Unit, then later, Presidential Protection Unit, Presidential Guard Brigade and now the Special Forces Command has, over the course of many years, graduated from a V.I.P. Protection Force into a crucial component of the strategic defence structure of the country alongside the Reserve Forces Command, etc.
It is part of the capacity that can re-inforce the other Divisions in case of need. It is only people who do not wish Uganda well that can be unhappy with such a Force.
The first Section Commander of this Force must have been the late Robert Kabuula, then the late Akanga Byaruhanga (when he came from Luzira), Geoffrey Muheesi, then, George Mayeku, Dick Bugingo, Leo Kyanda, William Bainomugisha and, now, Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Many other officers who have been in the PGB- Special Forces branch are now out and they play big roles in the bigger Force - UPDF. People like Aronda Nyakairima, Geoffrey Muheesi, Sam Kavuma, Dick Olum, Robert Ochama, etc. have served for long periods in the PGB as it was called then.
Even in recent times, PGB/Special Forces Command, was still playing its original role of enabling the CHC (now Commander-in Chief) to go to any dangerous part of Uganda at a moment’s notice without disturbing the Zonal or Sector Forces requesting for escorts and protection.
On the contrary, the CHC (Chairman of High the Command/Commander-in-Chief), with the PGB, would come to an operational area (e.g. Gulu, Barlegi, Soroti, Karamoja, the Rwenzori Region) not as a burden to the Sector Forces of that area but as a welcome re-inforcement.
When Vincent Otti, aided by the mendacious and hostile press, was making a fool of himself threatening Gulu town, I arrived there with a sample package of the PGB. We relieved the 4th Division of the sole burden of defending Gulu barracks and Gulu town.