The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) has today started sending another 2754 fresh troops to Somalia under the command of a newly appointed Ugandan contingent commander to the African Union Mission to Somalia.
The troops under Uganda Battle group XIV is the seventeenth battle group Uganda is fielding to Somalia since 2007 and are replacing Battle group XII which has been under AMISOM for a year. Battle group XII recently captured the last Al shabaab stronghold of Barawe.
The first flight carrying over 100 soldiers landed this morning at Mogadishu International airport and brought back an equal number to Entebbe Airport.
While flagging off the new Battle group, commanded by Col Frank Kyambadde at Peace Support Training Center in Singo, Nakaseke District, the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Katumba Wamala on Monday, said that Brig Sam Kavuma was now the new contingent commander who will be overall commander of the three Ugandan Battle groups in Somalia.
“Brig Sam Kavuma is an experienced Commander and we are confident he will appropriately represent our country in Somalia,” he said.
Brig Kavuma has been the Commander of the African Union Regional Task Force in Central African Republic that is hunting for Joseph Kony. He is now taking over command of the AMISOM Contingent from Brig Dick Olum.
The fresh troops heading for Somalia were advised by Gen Katumba to uphold the Ugandan good image in the mission and not waste the achievements that has been gained through huge sacrifices, including shedding of blood.
“Wherever UPDF has gone, it has made a good account of itself and we shall not take any less of that. For a good job done in Somalia, there was sweat and blood. The best reward for our comrades who lost their lives or got wounded in this mission is for us to ensure we don’t betray the cause for which they sacrificed their dear lives.” Gen Wamala added.
Meanwhile, the troops of Battle group XII who are returning home were decorated with African Union medals and flagged off early this morning from Mogadishu by Maj Gen Geoffrey Muheesi the Deputy AMISOM Force Commander in charge of operations. He thanked them for their contribution in the stabilization of Somalia and congratulated them upon a successful completion of their duty in Somalia.
Gen Muheesi told the soldiers returning to take keen interest in the security of Uganda.