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Why Operation Shujaa should have new commanders

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Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

After what was viewed as an attempted coup d’etat in Kinshasa, a friend called and asked me: what is the status of UPDF’s Operation Shujaa? My answer was quick: I don’t know and I don’t care. For, the gods, what makes you think I would know?  

Forget my being dismissive; my interest in what is taking place in the DR Congo is public knowledge. So, one way or the other, I am expected to know.

From late 2021, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces has been conducting military operations in DR Congo on a mission code-named Operation Shujaa. Viewed by many as a response to the 2021 Kampala bombings, Operation Shujaa was framed as a joint Congolese and Ugandan military operation.

The initial failings of Operation Shujaa were in public relations and communications. Most of the press statements on the operation had unforgivable errors. Whereas they were signed by both the Congolese and Ugandan military authorities, they carried mistakes that could not be associated with the Congolese. Changes in the area of public relations were made but the quality of communication went from bad to worse, and silence set in.  As we write this on a Thursday afternoon, there is no information about Operation Shujaa in the public domain anymore. The media seems to have also given up on the operation. Save for asking the wrong person, my friend is actually right to ask about the status of the UPDF operations in the DR Congo.

The second challenge of Operation Shujaa, which still persists to date, was the sourcing and management of intelligence information. There was near-complete lack of analysis: it was actually a scandal that the President was made to announce the death of a one Medi Nkalubo. It took a CIA contact to tell the military intelligence authorities in the Special Forces Command that Medi Nkalubo was alive and  was not bothered by Mr Museveni’s exaggeration of his death (in a Mark Twain’s sense of warped humour).

Can we then still ask: what is the current status of the UPDF’s Operation Shujaa in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Operation Shujaa has managed to chase the ADF from areas near the Ugandan-DR Congo border.

Indeed, the ADF now operates far away from Uganda in the areas of Mambasa (where ADF’s signature killings have recently been reported). However, this shows that Operation Shujaa has failed to destroy the command and control structures of the ADF.     Indeed, the ADF High Command is intact and still retains command and control capabilities to direct operations; except that their operations are about the killing of innocent unarmed Citoiyens Congolaise (Congolese citizens).

One would be on firm ground if one suggested that Operation Shujaa is now static. Now, I would like to offer my unsolicited advice. Operation Shujaa needs new commanders and command structure. It should be allowed to operate outside the ambit of the MTN Division and 2 Infantry Division. CMI (Defence Intelligence) should also moderate their undue influence on the operation. If it were up to me, I would create a special unit (with elements from all five divisions) to carry out the operation.

This unit would be under the direct supervision of GHQ. To lead the operation, I would suggest a commander with a background in intelligence. I personally would suggest c.

This is the guy who spearheaded intelligence operations against LRA in northern Uganda, The Sudan and Central African Republic. His second-in-command should also have a background in intelligence. I don’t have a name to drop for this one (2iC), but I would consider Operation IO of Operation Lightning Thunder (remember Garamba?). 

Asuman Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. [email protected]