President Yoweri Museveni and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, has said that the need to build a strong, professional Army for Uganda, has been high on the agenda of the National Resistance Movement for the last 50 years. He has, therefore, expressed happiness that after several efforts lasting decades, Uganda boasts of an able, disciplined, and reasonably educated and a well-trained Army.
President Museveni made the remarks on Monday, November 21, 2017 while presiding over the pass out ceremony of 321 officers and men of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) who have completed a number of courses in Armoured Warfare. The ceremony took place today at the Armoured Warfare Training School (AWTS), Karama in Mubende district.
The President said that with the prevailing environment in Uganda and a healthy and educated population, the NRM government is committed to the training and equipping of the UPDF and as such there is no reason why Uganda will not be guaranteed of a strong Army to safeguard her people and its sovereignty.
He congratulated the UPDF leadership for their continued emphasis on training of the force that, he said, constitutes a strong basis and necessity for building a strong and self-sustaining Army. He said that given the excellent performance of the economy, the government is committed to enhancing payment in the Army and other Civil Servants. He added that a government committee is already working on the regularization of remuneration of all government workers including those in the armed forces.
On tackling the housing challenge in the Army, President Museveni said that he had already instructed the Army Engineering Brigade to undertake all the Army housing needs instead of relying on contractors who tend to be expensive.
He used the occasion to caution the members of the armed forces against living promiscuously and reminded them about the danger posed by the HIV/AIDS virus which he said not only affects the Army’s productivity but also has no known cure and ultimately kills.
The President told them that the HIV/AIDS virus had greatly cost the then National Resistance Army (NRA) a number of useful commanders after the liberation struggle because the virus was not known then. He noted that the situation that prevailed by that time said shouldn’t be the case today when the virus is well known. He also strongly cautioned them against other misbehavior such alcoholism and drug abuse.
The Chief of the Defence Forces, Gen. David Muhoozi, commended President Museveni for his insistence on training in the UPDF in line with the professionalization agenda. He said that the policy has moved the UPDF to a higher level adding that training was important for any force because it reinforces the Army’s capability, discipline, and professionalism and deepens the Forces’ understanding on weapon system.
The Commandant of the Armoured Warfare Training School at Kalama, Brig. Francis Chemo, reported that the trainees had been trained by experienced Ugandan and Russian instructors adding that the skills acquired match international standards. He commended the President and the Army leadership for the support to the training schools in carrying out their mandatory obligations. He requested for increased funding and equipping the institute to enable it effectively carry out all the necessary training in order to produce proficient, efficient and reliable officers ready to repair Armour by themselves.
Trainees listening attentively to speeches shortly before they were passed out. PPU Photo.