By Raymond Baguma
The UPDF has succeeded in defeating Al-shabaab terrorists in Somalia largely because of the ability of the Ugandan troops to win the hearts of the Somali civilian population, former UPDF contingent commander Brig. Paul Lokech has said.
Brig. Lokech who is currently Uganda’s military attaché in Russia, was on Tuesday giving an insight during the marking of six years since the UPDF was deployed in Somalia in March 2007 under AMISOM.
The event which was organised by the AU/UN Information Support Team and the Centre for African Security, International and Strategic Studies (CASISS), was held at Serena Conference Centre.
Uganda has over 6,000 troops serving under AMISOM alongside other troops and Police officers from Burundi, Kenya, Djibouti, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
The event was meant to highlight the role played by AMISOM in supporting the people of Somalia to restore peace and stability in their country, focusing on the contribution of the UPDF.
“What helped us in Mogadishu was having Somalis on our side, with civil-military relations to win the hearts and minds of the Somali people,” Brig. Lokech said.
The event also launched the “Heroes in the Horn,” a 40-minute documentary film that highlights UPDF’s contributions in Somalia. Present were American army officers from the Air War College in Alabama USA.
Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha, Uganda’s deputy ambassador of Somalia and former AMISOM force commander said, “We pay tribute to the Commander in chief President Museveni, for having taken a bold decision.”
Mugisha also paid tribute to the UPDF soldiers who were part of the initiative under AMISOM, but lost their lives during the liberation of Somalia from Al-shabaab.
“Uganda and Burundi have taken the bulk of casualties because they moved in when it was dangerous. But the leadership deserves to be recognised for taking the bold steps,” Maj. Gen. Mugisha said.
The First Secretary of the Somali Embassy in Uganda said hope is restored in Somalia because of the tireless contribution and efforts of Uganda.