The Commander-in-chief of the armed forces, President Yoweri Museveni, has instructed the Special Forces Command (SFC) to prepare the elite and battle-hardened Commando Force for a lightning ground strike against Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
By Giles Muhame 13/07/2013 12:33:00
President Museveni attending the pass-out of Special Forces Paratroopers a few years ago in central Uganda
Military sources told Chimpreports on Saturday morning that Museveni wants the war-experienced force to “finish the ADF problem once and for all” should the militants cross into Uganda.
For the better part of this week, heavily-armed large numbers of ADF have been moving closer to the Ugandan border, displacing over 30,000 Congolese who are now living in a refugee camp in Bundibugyo.
In fact on Saturday morning, army spokesperson Lt Col Paddy Ankunda told this news wire that fighting was still ongoing inside DRC but close to the Ugandan border.
“The situation is still tense. Even as we speak now the fighting is raging on. The ADF are attacking Congolese posts. There has not been a lull in the fighting,” said Ankunda.
Museveni early this week directed the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen Katumba Wamala and SFC Commander, Brig Kainerugaba Muhoozi to mobilize the best fighters in the army and from the war reserve force to “give ADF a bloody nose.”
“We have firm instructions to assault as soon as ADF cross into Uganda. All the necessary training and rehearsals are complete. The order has been given – all we are waiting for them to do is cross the border and we teach them a lesson. All the refugees are being screened to avoid influx of rebels,” a source who preferred anonymity so as to speak freely, said.
“We shall use all the resources at our disposal to eliminate the ADF threat.”
Contacted, SFC Publicist Capt Edson Kwesiga said he could not discuss the guard’s operations with the media.
“But we are ever on standby to protect the nation,” said Kwesiga.
The Uganda Special Forces boasts one of the most battle-hardened commando units in the region courtesy of its experience in deadly battles in Northern Uganda, Somalia, DRC and Rwanda.
It’s common knowledge within the UPDF that it is the Special Forces that planned and executed the Somalia mission that has stabilized the country after decades of instability.
The US Special Forces and Ethiopian commandos on several occasions fell short of bringing peace to the explosive country.
Sources say majority of the combatants who fought in the Somalia war, which many consider as the most challenging to UPDF, would later form part of the nucleus of the commando unit.
Other commandos were drawn from experienced UPDF teams that fought and defeated LRA leader Joseph Kony and the Karamoja wrestlers.
According to President Museveni, when the ADF infiltrated Uganda from Congo the last time (2006), they entered the Semliki National Park.
“A Commando Force from PGB (which later metamorphosed into SFC) was dispatched to counter this threat. Working with the 2nd Division Units in the area, the ADF group was almost wiped out. Out of the 100 terrorists that had infiltrated, about 83 of them were killed,” SAID Museveni in a recent newspaper article.
“Only 13 terrorists went back to Congo. During the recent operations in Mogadishu, special elements from the Special Forces Command (both marine and commando) played crucial roles in defeating the Al-Shabaab alongside the bigger Uganda Expeditionary Force in Somalia,” he added.
During the LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda, said Museveni, the Kony groups had got some anti-tank cannons known as B-10s (82 mm recoilless guns).
There was one audacious gunner who managed to damage some of UPDF mambas.
“I decided to help the Forces in operation by deploying a Force from Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB), which had been rehearsing anti-ambush drills. They caught up with this gunner at Barlegi Primary School (deserted at that time and very bushy), killed him and recovered the recoilless gun,” he added.
The UPDF are set to confront an elusive Islamist rebel group based around the Rwenzori Mountains of North Kivu, which has increased the number of its combatants from 800 to 1,500 by January 2013 and has some supporters inside the country.
In recent years, several ADF agents have been arrested by military intelligence especially in areas of Busoga and Kampala.
Around April, an ADF combatant was picked from Ntinda in broad day light by police and heavily armed UPDF soldiers. Upon interrogation of ADF agents in Uganda, the military has been able to monitor the militants’ movements and operations from their bases in DRC.
Of these fighters, 1,000 are believed to be highly trained and well-equipped under military commander Hood Lukwago while the elusive Al-Qaeda-trained combatant, Jamil Mukulu, remains the supreme leader.
Mukulu has been cited in ADF training camps, Eastleigh area of Kenya and Tanga province, Tanzania.
In 2011, Kenya security operatives raided the residence of Mukulu but fell short of arresting the terrorist. It’s only the rebel commander’s son identified as Hassan Mukulu and a trove of documents that were recovered from the posh residence.
Ankunda early this week said “Al-Shabaab have been training ADF on how to use improvised explosives. But we will defeat all forms of external aggression.”
The better part of the ADF composition was obliterated in the late 1990s when they attempted to attack Uganda through western Uganda. Sources say former PGB Commander, Brig Geoffrey Muheesi, was the first UPDF officer to singlehandedly command operations against ADF in the Rwenzori area.
He was later backed by the late Maj Gen James Kazini and Gen Salim Saleh, who, through the Alpine Brigade, wiped out ADF central command before pursuing and killing its followers.
Having failed to overrun UPDF bases in western Uganda, ADF resorted to urban terrorism. Bombs were detonated in Kampala in which scores of innocent people died.
Sources said it was then spymaster Brig Henry Tumukunde who dismantled ADF cells in Buganda region. With such a decisive defeat, ADF had no option but to retreat to the trenches in DRC.
It resorted to kidnaps and forced recruitment of combatants to fill its ranks and raise a force to wage war again. ADF also carried out assault operations on DRC army bases where they captured weapons for its militants.
In a military operation codenamed “Operation Rwenzori” in 2011, DRC forces were beaten by the rebels who eventually seized considerable caches of heavy equipment from the attackers.
Sources say ADF trains groups of young people in its camps for several months before sending them to Somalia to fight.
With the situation deteriorating near the Uganda border, UPDF might be compelled to press Kinshasha to take a more robust action against the ADF rebels.
However, FARDC are poorly equipped and lack ability to conduct counter insurgency operations.
“We don’t understand what Kinshasha is up to. What are they up to? This situation is very explosive. We are not taking any option off the table should the rebels continue advancing,” a source said, apparently implying that Uganda might be forced to enter DRC.