The UPDF is a highly professional army

Dec 22, 2009

On December 12, I witnessed the passing out of 3,000 youth who trained as cardres in Kampala district, at a function presided over by the President.

By Richard Todwong

On December 12, I witnessed the passing out of 3,000 youth who trained as cardres in Kampala district, at a function presided over by the President.

The youth asked the President to enroll them in the UPDF. He, however, suggested they join other institutions such as the Police and prisons services in addition to the UPDF, but the young people insisted on joining the UPDF.

The UPDF is one of the few armies in the world that attract young graduates. This could be due to the way the institution is managed and its tolerant culture to habits of the cosmopolitan Ugandan.

The UPDF has demystified the gun as a preserve of the military and a tool for social intimidation through mchaka mchaka trainings.

Historically, armies used force to get young people into their rank and file. Back then, the armies were not ideologically developed and served peculiar interest.

The nature of wars then was inter-state as opposed to the current intra-state wars. The scope of military authority was limited to military affairs. The military played no role in internal affairs of states, but was concerned with foreign policies. This was the case in Germany, Prussia and the US.

After the Second World War and the Cold War which witnessed the collapse of the former Soviet Union, international organisations were formed. Treaties on conflict prevention and management were drafted and signed and many states realised there was a shift from the conventional traditional inter-state wars to intra-state wars.

The above changes required proper management of the military institutions.

The changing internal dynamics required a professional military that could comprehend the above issues. By these emergencies, both external and internal military challenges changed. Today, we are witnessing more of the industrial and military hardware espionage, emergence of terrorism and insurgence.

With all the above, the definition of security has changed from the conventional knowledge of security to include things like genocide, food insecurity, disasters, governance, greed and grievances.

The non-governmental organisations, churches, multinational corporations, both the state and non-state actors, have become centres of concern on security issues.

This has forced the UPDF to re-adjust strategically in order to integrate within these challenges, while maintaining diplomatic representations with continental and international mandates with the African Union, ECOMOG, the East African Community and United Nations.

To do this better, the UPDF had to manage entry, stay and exit of its members, while doing their oversight roles of corporate social responsibility. They engaged in activities like UPDF teachers helping some schools in the north, participating in the health sector and making the former LRA combatants comfortable and safe in the hands of the UPDF than in the community.

It is for the above reasons that I nominate the UPDF as the best institution in Uganda currently.

To enable the UPDF avoid pitfalls of politicians who thrive on ambiguity and uncertainty, competence is very central.

The military achieve success by seeking clarity of mission and certainty of conditions. But many politicians in Uganda lack strategic depth and as such, many have been conquered by their greed.

The UPDF is one of the few institutions with few corruption cases in the last four years. Maintaining such a performance is not easy.

In her strategy for better civil, military relations, the UPDF should maintain the approach of high military political power and a high level of professionalism. This strategy is recommended for states with continuous security threats as opposed to a high military political power and a low level of professionalism, which was practised by previous armies.

The writer is the presidential adviser on northern Uganda

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