‘Drones’ are a threat to national security

Author, Phillip Matogo. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • We must develop a security policy which is not based on the assumption that conflict is inevitable.   

This week police investigators confessed to having no clue about the whereabouts of at least seven persons whose names keep appearing on missing persons lists after they were reportedly abducted in “drones”.
“Drones” are an urban colloquialism for unmarked vehicles which allegedly kidnap Ugandan dissidents.

The missing persons are part of another 66 cold cases of disappearances reported to the police by Parliament’s human rights committee in March this year.

These missing seven are George Kasumba, Agnes Nabwera, Sarah Nanyanzi, Mathew Kigozi, Mathew Kafeero, Ibrahim Chekedi and John Damulira.

The missing persons were reportedly picked up by security operatives from areas within Kampala, Greater Masaka, and Mukono during the 2020 campaign period.

Last week, MPs on the human rights committee took issue with the so-called drones, demanding to know who operates them. However, Jacob Oboth-Oboth, the State minister for Defence (General Duties), dismissed the allegations of kidnappings, saying drones are not part of the modus operandi of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence. 

In this sense, we all know that Oboth-Oboth has budgeted the truth to ensure it does not cost him his reputation. We all know that drones exist, otherwise Ugandans who have been abducted in the past just vanished into thin air like the morning mist.

My advice to the security personnel, which includes minister Oboth-Oboth, is that they improve upon their national security interventions towards having them circumscribed by the public interest and not the regime’s penchant for its own survival.

Agreed, national security interventions are key to nation building and conflict prevention. However, we must develop a national security policy which is not based on the assumption that conflict is inevitable. 

This may be done if our security organs are not obsessed with perpetrating the cot death of a world struggling to be born. But instead, ready themselves to midwife change towards shared interests across the political spectrum.

One way of doing this is invoking ‘The 10th Man Rule’ within the security apparatuses.
To explain further, the 10th man rule is the duty of the 10th man to disagree with the main consensus.

This means that if the prevailing view in security circles is that the Opposition is a threat to national security, there must be a contrary albeit minority view which challenges the status quo and ensures we carry out a litmus test of this very view that is being agreed to unanimously.

Basically, if the prevailing view is that Bobi Wine or Kizza Besigye are evil, we need security personnel who play devil’s advocate in challenging this received wisdom.

The 10th Man Rule is used by Israeli intelligence, it was adopted after the Yom Kippur War of 1973. The logic used here is simple, “If nine of us who get the same information arrived at the same conclusion, it’s the duty of the 10th man to disagree. No matter how improbable it may seem. The 10th man has to start thinking about the assumption that the other nine are wrong.”

In 1973, both the Israeli and the US intelligence communities had assumed that the Egyptians would not attack and yet they attacked on October 6, 1973. 

If the Israelis and Americans had used the 10th man rule then, they may have forestalled any calamity. Similarly, if Ugandan security had used the same rule, more than 100 Ugandans may not have been killed on November 26 and 27, 2016, in Kasese and 54 Ugandans may not have perished during the November 2020 riots in Kampala. 

Indeed, Oboth-Oboth need not deny the existence of drones, but instead ensure the presence of better methods to guarantee conflict prevention and peace.

Mr Matogo is a professional copywriter  
[email protected]

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