Kampala (Caasimada Online) – In an extraordinary critique of the Ugandan Armed Forces, President Yoweri Museveni has attributed the recent devastating attack on a Ugandan army base in Somalia to corruption and inadequately trained soldiers.
During an NRM Caucus retreat at the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi last Thursday, President Museveni openly castigated the conduct of Ugandan soldiers in the face of the Al Shabaab assault.
He acknowledged the improper recruitment of unqualified personnel into combat roles and vowed to unearth the individuals behind these actions.
The assault on the Forward Operating Base in Lower Shabelle, approximately 140 kilometers from the capital Mogadishu, occurred last week.
The tragic event saw Al Shabaab insurgents claim the lives of numerous Ugandan service members, sparking nationwide outrage.
President Museveni described the soldiers’ reaction to the attack as panic and disorganization, which he claims allowed Al Shabaab to overrun the base and destroy equipment.
Corruption at the root
The heart of the issue, Museveni suggests, lies in corruption within the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) ranks.
This corruption, he explains, allowed individuals ill-suited for combat roles, such as cooks and bodyguards, to infiltrate the ranks under the guise of fighters.
“But it seems at some stage, some of the people who organize, they put the names of their bodyguards, personal assistants, and cooks,” Museveni observed.
He strongly criticized this makeshift approach, implying it severely undermines the army’s effectiveness.
President Museveni announced the arrest of a key individual allegedly involved in the scandal. He identified one Major Okia, who reportedly instructed soldiers to flee the battlefield.
Museveni stated, “He is the one who told the soldiers to run away. So, he is under arrest.”
While President Museveni did not name the other individuals implicated, he promised to uncover their identities and hold them accountable.
A call for thorough investigation
In the wake of this disaster, Lt Gen Kayanja Muhanga, Land Forces commander, has been dispatched to Somalia to probe the attack that resulted in the tragic loss of many Ugandan soldiers’ lives.
Museveni iterated his disgust at the circumstances leading to the attack, describing deploying ill-prepared soldiers into a combat zone as criminal.
He assured the nation that further details would be released following the Board of Inquiry’s conclusion of its investigation.
As the country grapples with the gravity of the situation, President Museveni’s firm commitment to transparency, investigation, and accountability could herald a significant shift in addressing corruption and malpractice within the Ugandan military.