By Taddeo Bwambale
A group of 148 UPDF officers have completed a 10-week course conducted by the US Marines at the Uganda Peace Support Operations Training Center in Singo, Nakaseke district.
The training covered emergency first aid, convoy operations, emergency first aid, land navigation, communication, vehicle maintenance, Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection/immediate actions and rifle marksmanship.
The drills were conducted by a U.S. Marine team which is part of the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Africa (SPMAGTF Africa) based in Sigonella, Italy.
The SPMAGTF has been conducting the training missions with the UPDF for two years.
During the graduation ceremony held in Singo on Saturday, Col. Alex Gabulalugenyi, the Commandant of Peace Support Operations Training Center, urged to the UPDF officers to exhibit exemplary leadership skills in their operations.
“We are modeling you to be leaders of our country. You must always live by what you do and say and do,” he said.
He advised the officers to exercise moral restraint in their lives in order to live longer. “Feed well to preserve your lives and do away with things that that will cut your lives short,” he said.
Maj. Gregory Dunay, the team leader of the US Marines said the training would strengthen the UPDF, which he described as an already ‘functional and aggressive force’.
He said the US Marines had also learnt a lot from the UPDF, being the first time for most of them have been to Africa.
Dunay challenged the UPDF officers to be vigilant, in the wake of the recent terror attack on a Nairobi shopping mall that claimed over 70 people.
“The world is not short of people who want to kill innocent people in your villages or our homes. It’s up to you the righteous ones to stand up to that challenge,” he said.
Dunay said the 10-week course had created a special bond between the US Marines and the UPDF, and appealed to the army to sustain it.
Brigadier Augustine Kyazze, the UPDF deputy chief of logistics and engineering said the training was part of efforts to professionalise Uganda’s army.
“We cannot have a professional army if is not trained and equipped. This training will improve the abilities of the UPDF,” he said.
He encouraged the soldiers to share the skills learnt with their colleagues, saying the military is built on team work.
He hailed the American instructors for offering their expertise to the Ugandan army noting that it had helped to create a better force.
“In the 21st century, nothing is free of charge. We are lucky to have friends who can such training, he said.
Several officers were awarded certificates of excellence in tactics and exemplary behaviour displayed during the training.