Kampala. Born in July 1959 in Buyanja, Rukungiri District, Aronda Nyakairima attended Nyakaina Primary School in Rukungiri and later Rubirizi Secondary School for his “O” Level before joining Kitgum High School for “A” Level.
In 1978, he joined Makerere University for Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, graduating in 1981.
In May 1982, Aronda joined the Black Bombers, the National Resistance Army rebel unit under Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza.
“He passed through my unit before he went to headquarters,” Gen Kyaligonza said of Aronda.
Under the Black Bombers, his close friends say he carried heavy loads of ammunition as the fighters walked long distances from Wakiso to Luweero.
In his 20s then, Aronda, had several responsibilities, most of them risky.
He was in combat operations before he was moved to the political commissariat which was charged with explaining to the local population why NRA, now UPDF, had launched a guerrilla war against the Obote government.
“He came with his friends from Makerere University and we used to call them Makerere Boys. From my unit, he joined Abdul Nasser,” Gen Kyaligonza says,
Other than political moblilisation, he was also doing intelligence work during the bush war. Even after NRA captured power in 1986, he worked as an intelligence officer under Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu.
In 1988, when NRA gave out the first formal army ranks, Aronda was made a Captain.
In 1989, he attended the Officers Basic Course (OBC) in Bombo overseen by Tanzanian Defence Forces.
He was later deployed as the director of intelligence of the Presidential Protection Unit, now Special Forces Command. “He was very strict and religious. He never entertained drunkards. He was very strict when it came to work,” Maj Tom Karyaija, now retired, said of Aronda.
In 1993 he graduated from Fort Leavenworth where he was later in 2010 inducted together with General Eui Don Wang of South Korea, a 1986 graduate of the command college, and Maj Gen Richard Rhys Jones of New Zealand, a 1992 graduate.
He later served as commandant of the Armoured Brigade in Masaka before he was promoted to Brigadier and transferred to northern Uganda in 2002 to command Operation Iron Fist against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.
He commanded attacks on LRA leader Joseph Kony’s main camps in Lubang-tek and Kit Valley in Imatong Mountains in South Sudan where Kony had big gardens and an improvised primary and cadet school.
President Museveni rewarded him with appointment to Chief of Defence Forces in 2003 to replace the late Maj Gen James Kazini.
He assumed the difficult task of commanding the army which had problems of ghost names on the pay roll, intrigue and tainted image following scandalous military operations in DR Congo.
Those close to him say he was a born-again Christian. In fact during his thanksgiving party, Gen Aronda quoted Isaiah 6:8. “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me,”
“It was during his command that UPDF got its character. He had no tribe and religion. His religion and tribe was Uganda,” Maj Gen Benon Biraaro said.
During his tenure as the longest serving Chief of Defence Forces, he ended armed cattle rustling in Karamoja sub-region by disarming the Karimojong warriors and saw UPDF deploy in Somalia for peacekeeping and to Central African Republic to hunt LRA and its elusive leader Kony.
Aronda was appointed the Minister of Internal Affairs in 2013 and replaced by Gen Katumba Wamala as the CDF.