OP-ED– Early this year, I was having a conversation with colleagues over a cup coffee, and I told them that an AK-47/SMG, a popular gun made by Mikhail Kalashnikov from Russia in 1949 and modernized in China in 1956 was going to be limited to a personal weapon in decades to come.
The Russia-Ukraine war partly proved my statement correct. This war that started on 24/02/2022 has been a superior modern war, chances of citing an AK-47 gun on the battlefield are very rare. Sophisticated weapon systems like Russian’s Navy cruise Moskova which had the capacity to wipe out all Ukraine’s navy using its anti- ship missiles and Ukraine’s High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) which are supplied by the US are being used. This war is exceedingly modern right from reconnaissance to ground, arial and water assault.
The on-going global counterterrorism efforts saw USA use slick drones to hunt down and kill the Emir of al-Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri on 31/07/2022 in Kabul, Afghanistan. In his recent national address about high cost of living, President Museveni outlined a nuclear war as one of the threats of Uganda. What if Africa is attacked using Nuclear weapons? A country like U.S established the United States Space Force (USSF) in 2019. Are African Armies doing enough to get to these modern combat capability levels?
In a handover ceremony on 02/07/2021 that saw Lt. Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba take over office of the commander land forces from Lt. Gen Peter Elweru, the CDF Gen. Wilson Mbadi urged commander Muhoozi to focus on making UPDF a modern professional army. And indeed in this past one year, Commander Muhoozi has made some strides towards achieving this goal.
First and foremost, he has contributed to UPDF’s war on terrorism. In the current operation Shuja, Gen. Muhoozi is one of the strategic commanders, he is involved in the day-to-day drawing of battle plans and taking care of the needs of the soldiers in this operation. He has also been helpful in the deployment of more than 1,600 UPDF soldiers to Somalia in December 2021 under battle group 31.
The UPDF army council where commander Muhoozi is a member has increased the salary of senior officers from the rank of General to Major starting this financial year and other ranks will be catered for in the 2023/2024 financial year. Bombo military barracks is almost a construction site, projects such as construction of a vehicle maintenance facility, the operations center, perimeter wall have been finalized with more projects ongoing.
Renovation of all brigade headquarters countywide is ongoing as well as construction of UPDF apartment block in Kololo. He has contributed to strengthening the capacity of the UPDF through recruitment and training such as the recent recruitment of 10,000 soldiers in June.
In Military diplomacy, Gen. Muhoozi has contributed to the re-opening of the Uganda-Rwanda border, carried out diplomatic visits to countries such as Kenya, Egypt and recently Ethiopia to strengthen defense and security cooperation with these countries.
On the military civil relations, he used his birthday in April 2022 to get close to the wanainchi by accepting their invitations to celebrate with them, this improved peoples trust and confidence in the UPDF force.
With more efforts needed to fully achieve the goal of a high-tech modern army, UPDF is already on the move, if the dream of East Africa and Africa integration is achieved soon, Africa will be there. Because a one Africa Army or a one Africa mega defense alliance is the ultimate solution of matching the military capability of bigger powers.
NYESIGA GILBERT KAHIMA
TEAM MUHOOZI KAWEMPE