The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) on Saturday afternoon passed out a new battalion over 1,400 specially trained troops for deployment against the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab terrorists in the war-torn Somalia.
The troops are under the command of Col. Bosco Mutambi who has been the 3rd Division Administrative Officer.
This will be Uganda’s 16th battle group to be deployed in Somalia since the inception of the African Union (AU) peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) in 2007.
The battle group sixteen will replace battle group thirteen plus that will return home upon their arrival in Mogadishu.
The troops, who completed a three-month course at Singo military centre in Nakaseke district, comprise of British and French trained snipers equipped with distinct martial skills.
Other foreign trainers came from the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA), which comprises of mainly retired UN servicemen and women.
The first flight of 100 soldiers took off Monday morning to Mogadishu International airport and will bring back an equal number to Entebbe Airport.
Passing out the team Gen. Katumba Wamala Chief Defense Forces, warned that despite the improved security situation in Somalia, terrorists are unpredictable groups and can still inflict damage.
He also asked them to uphold the Ugandan good image in the mission and respect the culture and religion of the Somalis.
Gen Katumba warned the soldiers against mismanagement of logistical items meant to facilitate the mission and called on them to observe strict discipline especially at a time when the mission has grown with now several actors with different values.
In December last year, Al-shabab bombed two places in Mogadishu, the Sly Hotel and later attacked the Halane base of AMISOM soldiers in which a Ugandan soldier lost his life.
It is incidents like these that the battle group will be fighting to curtail.