Uganda People’s Defense Forces has sent a contingent of 410 soldiers for deployment to Somalia.
The soldiers were flagged off Wednesday afternoon at Singo Military barracks. Speaking in Singo Military Barracks in Mubende district, Lt Col Wycliffe Keita, the Commanding Officer of the United Nations Guard Unit said the soldiers would undertake a peacekeeping support mission in Somalia.
The UN-UPDF Guard Units’ basic task in Somalia will be to secure and protect the United Nations personnel and their installations in Somalia. He explained that the UN-UPDF Guard Unit is to facilitate the UN personnel to execute United Nations Mission in rebuilding and supporting Somali’s to rebuild and develop their country.
The Guard Unit is a battalion supported by the United Nations after a decision was reached in New York that UN operation bases in Somalia should have their own guard unit. The Mission was trained by the United Nations Force and is being funded by the United Nations for the one year they will be in Somalia.
Keita noted that there are several challenges ahead but gave assurance that they have been trained, equipped and are eager to undertake this mission successfully.
Even though the rules of engagement state that the force is being deployed for a peacekeeping mission, the soldiers can defend themselves once attacked by the enemies.
Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, the UPDF Army spokesperson confirms that this is first time the Ugandan Army is deploying such a huge force which is a vote of confidence in their capability on peace keeping operations.
This is the first UPDF mission in Somalia mandated by the United Nations. The first Mission is under the African Union Peace keeping Mission, which is comprised of 22,000 soldiers from six countries.
UPDF has 7,000 soldiers on the ground, making Uganda the country with the largest contingent in Somalia.
Maj General Silver Kayemba, the UN Defense Advisor says the troops have been training for 10 weeks ever since the UPDF got the statement of Unity request from the UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon on the 6th of February this year.