Somali terrorist group, Alshabaab has completely been weakened and incapacitated, the former contingent commander to the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), Brig Dick Olum has said.
He was speaking shortly after arriving at the Air Force Base, Entebbe with the last batch of Battle group XII troops which he has for the last one year been commanding in Somalia.
“The president told us that the best way to fight an enemy is to pursue him where he is and we have done so, Alshabaab is now decimated,” he said.
He said that with the loss of Barawe, which was the biggest al Shabaab-held town, the militants have grossly been weakened and it’s a matter of time before they are completely annihilated.
Barawe, about 180 km (110 miles) south of Mogadishu, had been fully controlled by the Islamist militia with almost no government presence since 2006 but a UPDF led offensive under Brig Olum’s command took over the town last month.
The UGABAG 12 commander said that right from the first day; his troops had not had an easy ride but thanked them for their bravery in ensuring that the enemy is defeated.
“The first day we got three causalities but that did not deter us from fighting,” Brigadier Olum said, “out of the 2,930 soldiers I went with to Somalia, we lost 17, 13 killed in combat, two died in accident and two died of natural causes.”
Shortly after arriving, Brig Olum handed over command to the new contingent commander, Brig Sam Kavuma at ceremony officiated by the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Katumba Wamala.
Brig Kavuma has been the commander of the African Union Regional Task Force in Central African Republic that is hunting for Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony.
Gen Katumba said that the lives lost during the mission was not in vain because of the achievements they have registered. He urged the returnees not to recklessly spend the money they have earned.
“They should spend their money wisely by at least constructing a two bedroom house. Sometimes they get excited when they look at their accounts and think the money on it will never be finished,” he said.
Gen Katumba said that while his troops had continued to fight without air support, UPDF won’t relent in demanding that the United Nations (UN) compensates the lost three Mi-24 attack helicopters which crashed on the slopes of Mount Kenya en-route to deployment as part of the UN-sponsored Amisom operation on August 12, 2012.
He said that Brig Kavuma’s new assignment includes consolidating the gains that Amisom has made so far, clear any remaining pockets of Alshabaab in the Amisom controlled territory and link up Kenya’s troops in sector based in Kismayo.