Muheesi sent to Somalia as Burundi takes over Amisom

Maj Gen Geoffrey Muheesi is pipped by Chief of Defence Forces Gen Katumba Wamala assisted by Ms Muheesi at Mbuya Military Barracks yesterday. PPU Photo.

What you need to know:

Former defence adviser to India is promoted to the rank of Major General and tasked to improve image of the army in Somalia peace keeping mission.

Maj Gen Geoffrey Baraba Muheesi last night flew to Somalia a decorated and contented man having been promoted from Brigadier and appointed deputy forces commander in-charge of operations for the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).

He was decorated yesterday by the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Edward Katumba Wamala, at the army headquarters in Mbuya.

According to sources at Uganda People’s Defence Forces, the former defence adviser to India, “passed through a thorough screening process, he emerged the best out of three and was interviewed both in Uganda and by Amisom.”

Ready for the task
A visibly excited Gen Muheesi, accompanied by his wife, said: “This is a great day for me. It is a great feeling. All along I have given my best now the army is rewarding me and I pledge not to let it down.”

Gen Muheesi, who brings on board more than 30 years of experience in the army, takes a front line role in Amisom at a time when corruption scandals, including theft of soldiers’ food and sale of ammunition by top commanders under trial now, are wrecking the mission. Even more, the force is now bigger and more diverse with troops from Djibouti, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Kenya and police officers from Nigeria on board albeit with relative stability returning.

However, the former Presidential Guard Brigade commander sounded optimistic: “I will fight every battle to restore the dignity of the UPDF in Somalia, mistakes have been made but we shall correct them.”

He added: “ I know the task ahead is not easy but my track record is clear and I am not associated with mistakes. I will leave Somalia better than I found it.”

Gen Katumba Wamala shared tips with the general, saying, “his hard work, good discipline will give us a good name.”

He cautioned Muheesi to consolidate the achievements of the peace keeping mission, “this is a mission we highly value as a country and have built from scratch, its operations now squarely lie on your laps,” he said, adding, “you are going to wear three hats; one of a diplomat, a soldier and another of a politician to keep the mission in focus.”

Meanwhile, Maj Gen Andrew Guti who has been the Forces commander of the peace-keeping mission, has been recalled and will hand over to a Burundian General, whom Muheesi will deputise effective January 1. The Amisom stewardship is rotational.

Muheesi at glance
Born: Born in 1958 and joined army in 1981.
Education: National War College, USA (2005-2006)
National Defence College, Kenya (2000-2001)
Past Staff and Command Course, Nigeria (1991-1992)
Junior Staff and Command Course, Uganda (1988-1988)
Defence Resource Management Course, USA
Incident Management course USA.