UPDF starts using new structure

Gen Wilson Mbadi  hands over a copy of the UPDF Establishment 2021 to Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba at the 4th Division Headquarters in Gulu on March 28, 2024. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The Establishment document provides that an officer is eligible for appointment as CDF if a four-star general and designates them as the only commander to directly report to the President who is the commander-in-chief of the UPDF.

The army has officially begun using new formations and titles, more than a month after adopting the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Establishment 2021.

This newspaper exclusively reported the changes in the military nomenclature as well as command and control in February. It details expanded powers for the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) over all military formations and intelligence.

The Establishment document provides that an officer is eligible for appointment as CDF if a four-star general and designates them as the only commander to directly report to the President who is the commander-in-chief of the UPDF.

Weeks after the Army Council and UPDF High Command adopted the document, President Museveni on March 22 appointed First Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba as the new CDF, replacing Gen Wilson Mbadi who was shipped out to the Executive as junior Trade minister.

In a statement issued on April 8, the UPDF Spokesperson Felix Kulayigye, whose new title is Defence Public Information Officer (DPIO), said they have degazetted the old structure and gazetted the new organisational structure. 

“We wish to inform the general public that the new titles have officially been adopted and will be used in naming offices at the UPDF, effective April 5, 2024,” he noted.

April 8’s statement by Brig Kulayigye confirmed our reporting seven weeks ago that the former Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS) is now called the Chief of Joint Staff (CJS), the Chief of Personnel and Administration (CPA) is Joint Staff Human Resource Management (JS-HRM) and the office of the Chief of Logistics and Engineering is renamed Joint Staff Logistics.

The Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the army’s intelligence and investigative arm better known by the acronym CMI, has become the Defence Intelligence and Security (DIS).     

The UPDF Establishment reflects the deepest changes to the army structure since enactment of the 1995 Constitution and it re-hats the command and control of all its elements under the CDF, who in turn superintends an expanded Joint Services Headquarters.

Gen Museveni launched the revised organogram on February 27 and under it, the third highest office in the UPDF becomes Chief of Joint Staff (CJS), previously the Commander of Land Forces.

The CJS will supervise up to fourteen Joint Staffs, which are upgraded chiefs of services, in addition to the army’s multi-billion shilling Wazalendo Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (Sacco).

The DIS, formerly CMI, has been placed under the supervision of the CJS who is expected to develop policies and strategies and chaperon transformation of the UPDF into a modern and professional army.

This newspaper previously reported that the reorganisation is to fulfill its longstanding professionalisation and modernisation agenda spearheaded by Gen Museveni and standardise hierarchy, ranks, mandates and required strength to make the force agile and interoperable within and outside Uganda.

Proponents say the provisions in the new document, officially cited as UPDF Establishment 2021, are to restructure functions and organisations of different elements in order to enhance their flexibility, coordination and performance across services.

The Establishment was put together by a committee appointed on July 30, 2015 and chaired by Lt Gen Pecos Kutesa who died in August 2021 when holding the portfolio of the army’s chief of doctrine synthesisation and development.

Framed as essential to attain and maintain UPDF’s future success against myriad and evolving security challenges, both within and outside the country, the document is billed as must-obey reference for the army’s rank-and-file to achieve highest professional standards and discipline and demonstrate integrity by prioritising excellence and placing service before self.

The new structure breaks UPDF hierarchy into three: strategic, comprising the CiC, the defence political heads and top technocrats and commanders at the level of Joint Staff or higher; operational, which comprise force commanders and their chiefs of staff; and, tactical, that bunches divisions, groups and regional reserve force commanders.

Sources familiar with the document said the reorganisation is to jumpstart quick thinking at strategic level, maintain an operational team that is switched on and a tactical base knowledgeable of emerging local, regional and global changes and threats.