Plans to train a contingent of regional troops in air force drills may come to a halt after the United States government announced aid cuts to the Ugandan military.
The cuts announced last week were in retaliation for the stance taken by Ugandan individuals, institutions and government against homosexual and transgender communities.
A statement issued Thursday read; “We have also cancelled plans to conduct the Department of Defense’s Africa Partnership Flight exercise in Uganda”.
This was intended to be a United States African Command (AFRICOM)-sponsored aviation exercise with other East African partners. As part of the programme, Uganda was scheduled to host regional troops in Kitgum district for training on air force drills like dropping food and logistics and responding to dire humanitarian situations during combat operations.
African Partnership Flight is a collaborative learning environment, which helps air forces from the U.S. and partner nations in Africa work better together. The first APF was hosted in March 2012 in Accra, Ghana and the program has since become a premier program for U.S. Africa Command to help foster security and stability throughout Africa.
The APF includes classroom discussions as well as hands-on experience with topics including mission planning, aero medical evacuation, cargo loading, base defense and ground and flight safety. The overall goal of APF is to strengthen the partnerships between the United States and air forces in Africa to continue building regional air force cooperation capabilities.
According to the American Government, funding will be redirected away from program implementers whose actions called into question their willingness to serve all people in need. Similarly certain military and intelligence engagements have been shifted to other locations.
Speaking to local media in an interview, Army spokesman Lt Col Paddy Ankunda said the regional aviation exercise that involves countries like Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Tanzania is the most likely aviation exercise to which the sanctions are targeted.
Uganda gets in estimation $36million in military aid from the United States government. The aid is directed towards combating regional terror and the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels in
Central African Republic.
In return, the US military has stationed at Entebbe Airport from where key missions of the region are planned.
But Ankunda says that although he cannot place a figure to the cut targeted at the aviation exercise, he was hopeful that the announced measures would not affect the partnership between the two countries (Uganda and the US). He said Uganda cannot forfeit ‘treasured cultural values’ for aid.
Besides the action that was targeted to the military, the United States government imposed sanctions to restrict entry into the United States of specific Ugandan individuals involved in serious violations or abuses of human rights against LGBT individuals.
It further announced that it was discontinuing a $2.4 million program in support of the community-policing program, relocating up to US$3 million planned for a public health institute to another African country and Redirecting certain financial support for the Ministry of Health (MOH) to other partners.