The twenty-seventh Ugandan Battle Group of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and sixth Uganda's United Nations Guard Unit to Somalia have been officially welcomed back to Uganda having completed over a one-year tour of duty in the Horn of African Country.
The reception ceremony for the 2,100 soldiers which was held Thursday evening at Peace Support Operation Training Center (PSO-TC) in Nakaseke district was presided over by the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces (D/CDF), Lt Gen Wilson Mbasu Mbadi, on behalf of the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen David Muhoozi.
"On behalf of the Chief of Defence Forces, I officially welcome you back to our motherland Uganda having honourably represented us in a noble Pan African cause in Somalia. You made us proud," Mbadi said.
The D/CDF said the returning battle group and United Nations Guard Unit commanded by Col Sam Kosia Kuteesa and Lt Col Nathan Bainomugisha, respectively, worked closely with other partners to achieve a commendable record of performance in the pacification of AMISOM's sector, one area of operations where Uganda's contingent covers and in admirably enabling the operations of the United Nations mission in Somalia.
Lt Gen Mbadi also closed post-mission counseling sessions and ideological orientation course that the troops underwent for the last two weeks after they had first completed another three weeks of quarantine upon their return.
He said the two weeks' sessions were meant to re-orientate the returning troops to the situation in Uganda and focus them to the UPDF mission as well as help them in the reintegration into their families.
"You are the ones responsible for the stability of Uganda which is a pre-requisite for social-economic transformation of Uganda," said Lt Gen Mbadi, adding that, each soldier has a role to play in this journey and must know where Uganda is going in order to make a meaningful contribution to the cause."
The Commandant of PSO-TC, Brig Gen Bonny Wolimbwa said it is now a tradition in the UPDF for those from missions to undergo post-mission orientation before they are given leave. "This arrangement gives time to those who could have undergone post-traumatic stress disorder or battle fatigue to recover," said Col Wolimbwa.
While speaking at the function, the Chief of Staff Land Forces, Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda, emphasized that Uganda deployed in Somalia for Pan Africanism but this was possible because of Uganda's revolutionary leadership with a clear resolve for the attainment of the liberation of not only Ugandans but the African race at large.
One of the returning commanders, Col Sam Kuesa, said Uganda's twenty-seventh battlegroup liberated Sabid Anoole, Bariire, Ceel Salini, Awdheegle and Jannale towns in Lower Shabelle Region of Somalia during their 17-month tour of duty. He said the battle group also mentored Somali National Army in explosive hazard awareness, reconnaissance, route search, vehicle search, and support weapons.
Meanwhile, the commander of the sixth UNGU, Lt Col Bainomugisha, said the main challenge the UN force faced were motor attacks but the forces were well trained and did not incur a single loss.
"We went prepared for the worst conditions. We all came back alive despite several attacks. From February to May 2020 alone we encountered seven serious mortar attacks of different calibers but we overcame the threats," said Lt Col Bainomugisha.
Uganda deployed to Somalia in 2007 and has since fielded in the mission area 30 main battle groups and three subsidiary ones. Uganda has also deployed seven UN guard units to Somalia to secure the UN mission since 2014.