By Barbara Among
A contingent of 1,800 more Ugandan peacekeepers will be deployed in Somalia to bolster the African Union force in the war-torn country.
The group is part of the troops that were passed out by President Yoweri Museveni on Tuesday at the newly launched urban warfare training base in Singo.
The centre will be used to train Ugandan peacekeepers to counter urban terrorism.
The 27 units built at Singo training school by the British are a copy of the plan and structures in the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas. The characteristics of an average city include tall buildings, narrow alleys, sewage tunnels and subway systems.
In Somalia, the insurgents have the advantage of a detailed knowledge of the area, right down to the layout inside buildings and the means of travel.
According to the UPDF Commander of Land Forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, the structures put up at Singo were based on lessons learnt by the UPDF in the last three years of operating in Mogadishu.
There has been intense urban warfare since Ugandan troops entered Mogadishu in March, 2007.
The fighting is between the Somali Transitional Federal Government troops and Islamist insurgents, including the al-Shabaab.
The peacekeepers have constantly come under attack from the top of Juba Hotel and bank buildings. From these places, the rebels fire at the airport, the sea port and Base Camp, the main AMISOM base in Mogadishu.
Complicating factors in urban warfare is the presence of civilians and the complexity of the urban terrain.
Uganda has been accused by humanitarian organisations of firing indiscriminately and killing civilians in Mogadishu.
Aware of the allegations against AMISOM, the UK, US and France, who are partners in the AU mission in Somalia, have stepped up efforts to improve firing skills among Ugandan and Burundian troops in Somalia.
Early this year, Lt. Col. Gabriel Rousselle, the commander of French troops, told journalists that the troops were being trained in urban warfare that involved cordon-and-seizure tactics in an environment mimicking the narrow streets and alleys of Mogadishu.
Rousselle said the training demanded a focused, unit-based approach to urban warfare.
At the same centre, the American army helped to build a base camp for Ugandan soldiers, fully furnished with beddings and mosquito nets.
Passing out of 5,549 soldiers after a ten-month training at Kaweweta and Singo training schools recently, President Yoweri Musevni commended the American and British troops for their assistance.
â€œWe thank the Americans for building a temporary camp base for our soldiers. We also thank the British for building a demonstration centre for urban warfare,â€ said Museveni.
Out of the total number, 1,800 were trained as peacekeepers.
During the training, female soldiers came out as the best in drill and the male counterparts in discipline and field-craft.
The best overall trainee from Kaweweta training school was Pte. Livingstone Liwalabya, and the best from Singo was Pte. Simon Yile.
Museveni said Ugandaâ€™s economy was strong enough to fund both civilian and military projects.
â€œThe army cannot be strong unless the economy is strong. We have been able to fund many of the civilian and the military projects.â€
Museveni called on the soldiers to exercise maximum discipline while executing their work.
He said AMISOM had earned Uganda a good name on the continent and beyond.