The Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) has commissioned 2,745 new soldiers to Somalia to replace an equal number of fighters who have been recalled from the battlefield after serving for one year.
The first batch of 80 soldiers left Entebbe Airport on Monday morning aboard a Boeing 737 managed by Ocean Airlines Company and landed at the Adan Abdulle International Airport at about 07.30hrs, East African time.
The UPDF deputy spokesman, Major Henry Obbo, said more troops were scheduled to join their colleagues in the war-torn country in an exercise that will take a week or more, depending on the air situation and other factors.
The new group is code-named UGABAG XX and replaces UGABAG XVII.
The soldiers serve on a rotation basis under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) alongside troops from other African states.
Their key role is to secure Somalia from militant group Al-Shabab.
Captain Telesphor Turyamumanya, the spokesperson of the Uganda contingent in Somalia, said the “battle-ready” Ugandan troops arrived safely and were received by the outgoing Uganda contingent commander Brigadier Sam Okiding together with UGABAG XVII commander Col Bob Priscily Ojik.
The same plane brought back a similar number of soldiers.
Okiding congratulated the outgoing troops for a “job well done” and urged them to maintain the discipline and patience they had exhibited during “the hard times”.
The returning soldiers received certificates of recognition from Col. Ojik who thanked them for the “invaluable” contribution as members of AMISOM military component to the restoration of peace and stability in Somalia for one year.
The returnees included a female peacekeeper, Cpl Agnes Rose Amuge of Battle Group XVII who represented the resilient African and Ugandan mothers “who have proved to the world that women have what to offer to attain peace in the universe”.
The Battle Group XVII was credited for being a force multiplier for enhancing mobility along the AMISOM main supply route for the survivability and the sustainability of troops in the mission in the face of Al Shabaab terrorists.