Brains behind UPDF restructure

A photomontage of Gen Museveni, the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (right), and soldiers during a parade at Kaweweta Barracks in Nakaseke District. Photos/Abubaker Lubowa & AFP

What you need to know:

  • The reorganisation of the military, the biggest since the 2000-2004 Defence Review, was the handiwork of a 10-member standing committee supported by a secretariat run by nine senior military officers and two civilians.

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Establishment document that President Museveni, the Commander in-Chief, launched at the weekend had been in the works from nine years ago.
This publication can reveal that the reorganisation of the military, the biggest since the 2000-2004 Defence Review, was the handiwork of a 10-member standing committee supported by a secretariat run by nine senior military officers and two civilians.

Whereas the reforms at the turn of the millennium examined the capabilities and structures of the army and birthed the White Paper on Defence Transformation, the journey that began months to the 2016 elections has culminated in the UPDF Establishment 2021.

President Museveni, also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (left), receives a copy of the UPDF Establishment book from the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Wilson Mbadi,  during the Defence Forces Council meeting at State House, Entebbe on February 17, 2024. Photo/File

President Museveni, a retired general, named a team under Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa on July 30, 2015 and cut its work out: prepare a UPDF Establishment to “operationalise the Uganda Defence Doctrine”. An Establishment in military parlance is an organisational structure with identifiable boundary, rules, hierarchy and clarified communication and procedures to achieve established goals.

In short, it is a document that encompasses force strength, composition and capabilities. 
Lt Gen Kutesa, a former UPDF chief for Doctrine Synthesisation and Development, chaired the Establishment Committee that comprised four brigadiers, eight colonels and four majors. 
A Major is the lowest senior rank in the UPDF, meaning officers who worked on the Establishment were some of the finest with battlefield, command and training knowledge and experience spanning decades. 
There were only four civilians on the core team: Commissioner Mike Mabonga, assistant commissioner Jason Nyombi, the Africa Programs Director at the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, Dr Ashad Ssentongo, and a one Ms Dorah Birungi.
The Establishment Committee produced its work in 2021, which Lt Gen Kutesa signed before his death in August that year and a fortnight after formally retiring from the army.

The document is officially called UPDF Establishment 2021 to reference the year of its completion, although it remains unclear why it took more than three years before the Commander-in-Chief presented it for discussion and approval by the UPDF High Command and Defence Forces Council in back-to-back meetings on February 16 and 17.

President Museveni  

Highly-placed government and security sources told this publication that the Establishment consolidates the command and control of all UPDF elements under the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) and clarifies standards and mandates relative to hierarchy to make the army more professional and effective on internal and external assignments.
Below we profile the men and women who burnt the proverbial midnight oil to restructure the UPDF to be more competitive and efficient, now and in the future, in discharging its duties amid evolving and complex global security and defence terrain.



A protégé of the President who was part of the officers who fought the UNLA government during the five-year Bush War, Kutesa was among a coterie of bodyguards who protected Mr Museveni in the fields of Luweero, including the late Akanga Byaruhanga who served as the first Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) commander and the late Arthur Kasasira.

Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa

In the Luweero jungles, Kutesa survived the salvo of Katyushas, a gun retreating German troops ruefully referred to as Stalin’s organ during the Second World War. Barely after the NRA captured power in 1986, Kutesa was shot as he pursued fleeing UNLA troops in eastern Uganda. The bullet nearly missed his eye and lodged in his temple. 
For the skill he ennobled at the treacherous fields of war, many of his Bush War colleagues agree that Kutesa’s military footprints will remain etched in the annals of history.

Before his death, Kutesa weaved the strands of his youthful days as a rebel fighter in his memoirs titled, “Uganda’s Revolution 1979-1986 How I saw It.”
Kutesa passed away on August 17, 2021 in India at the age of 65 years and at the time of his death, he was the Chief of Doctrine Synthesisation and Development at the Defence ministry.

Maj Gen David Kasura Kyomukama

He is currently the Agriculture ministry Permanent Secretary and a vital cog of the Presidency within the restructured civil service.
Before his appointment, Maj Gen Kasura-Kyomukama served as the director at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) at Kyankwanzi, a quasi civil-military indoctrination institute, which teaches revolutionary lore to National Resistance Movement (NRM) cadres.

Maj Gen David Kasura Kyomukama

He also served as Defence Liaison Officer at the East African Community Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania as well as the commander and staff officer in the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
Prior to working in Arusha, Maj Gen Kasura worked as the  Commander and Staff Officer in diverse capacities as well as in the Office of the President.

He has taken part in the setting up and reorganisation of a number of structures. Kasura was a pioneer leader of, and helped in setting up the Internal Security Organisation (ISO) in the Office of the President; as well as the Chieftaincy of Pensions, Gratuity, Survivor Benefits and Compensation in UPDF.

He took part in the reorganisation of the structure and operations of NALI; and was also part of the team under the Late Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa, which authored the Uganda Defence Doctrine as well as the Structure and Establishment of the UPDF.

Maj Gen Francis Takirwa

Maj Gen Francis Takirwa is a military officer in Uganda who currently serves as the commanding officer of the Second Division of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in Mbarara, western region.

Maj Gen Francis Takirwa

In 1994, he attended the Junior Command and Staff Course at the Uganda Junior Staff College in Jinja and later completed the Company Commanders Course at the Tanzania Military Academy at Monduli in 1998. In 2006, he attended the Army Senior Command Course at Nanjig Army Command College in Nanjing, China. He obtained a Diploma in African Strategic Studies from the Nasser Higher Military Academy in Giza, Egypt, in 2009. He also completed an Executive National Security Programme at the South African National Defence College.

Brig Aloysius Asingwire Kagoro

Brig Aloysius Asingwire Kagoro

He joined the National Resistance Army (NRA) in 1985 and has held various dockets including the role of Deputy Chairperson of the Uganda Community Chapter at the African Centre for Strategic Studies. He previously served as the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) representative to the National Focal Point on Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons. He has also worked as the Deputy Legal Advisor in the UPDF and currently works as the Legal Officer in the Defence and Veteran Affairs ministry.

Brig  Constantine Ssekiranda Mwanje

Brig  Constantine Ssekiranda Mwanje

He currently serves as the Chief of Staff, UPDF Reserve Forces.

Col Ssezi Mugasi
He served in the UPDF for 48 years and retired in August 2019. At the time of his retirement, he was serving in the Air-Force and was based at the Nakasongola Airforce base.

Col Grace Kyomugisha

Col Grace Kyomugisha

She served as UPDF member of the National Assembly in the Eighth Parliament and is the former UPDF Air-Force Director for Personnel and Administration. She is now the Director Operations of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).

Col Grant Mugabi

He is currently the Chief of Staff in-charge of Policy and planning in the Special Forces Command (SFC). He also worked as a recruitment officer for the UPDF at the 2nd Division based in Mbarara. 

Mike Mabonga
He currently works as a Commissioner for Rehabilitation, Psycho-social Support and Resettlement at the Defence ministry. He previously served as an Assistant Commissioner at the Defence ministry and Principal Personnel Officer at the Defence ministry, as well as the Personnel Officer at the Local Government ministry.

Mike Mabonga

Jason Kyeyune Nyombi

He works as an Assistant Commissioner for Planning at the Defence ministry, which focuses on developing and reviewing strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation for achieving the vision and missions. He previously served as Principal Planning Officer, Defence Reform Secretariat.