Uganda acknowledges soldier casualties in Somalia assault

Kampala (Caasimada Online) – The ferocity of the Al-Shabab’s unexpected onslaught on a Forward Operational Base (FOB) guarded by Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in Somalia brought to light a series of missteps and miscalculations that ultimately resulted in a catastrophic loss of life.

President Yoweri Museveni articulated his concerns, remarking, “Certain soldiers in the unit did not uphold their responsibilities, resulting in chaos and disarray that Al-Shabab exploited to overrun the base and destroy equipment.”

This admission suggests a profound lapse in military conduct, and the dire consequences of these errors are palpable.

A comprehensive review 

In response to this tragic event, the President announced the establishment of a Board of Inquiry (BOI).

This body will work to uncover the full details of the incident, including a comprehensive account of the casualties sustained.

As the President astutely noted, the somber occasion serves as a stark reminder that the UPDF’s activities in Somalia are not merely humanitarian missions.

“Any individual who knowingly sends ill-prepared or unfit soldiers into such an environment is committing a criminal act,” he asserted.

Al-Shabab claims success 

The Al-Shabab group purportedly seized the UPDF base at the periphery of the town of Buula-Mareer, claiming to have eliminated 137 soldiers.

“The Mujahideen successfully captured the base, securing its boundaries and taking control of its defense posts.

Preliminary battlefield reports suggest the death of 137 crusaders and the capture and destruction of military vehicles,” they proclaimed.

Yet, Brig Felix Kulayigye, the UPDF Spokesperson, disputed this account, insisting, “…a team of military officers, headed by Lt Gen Muhanga, has been dispatched to Somalia to determine the precise circumstances of the attack and formulate a plan of action.”

These remarks mirror those of the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), confirming an attack on Ugandan forces without providing casualty figures.

The battle for Somalia continues

If validated, this incident could mark the most significant loss of ATMIS forces, which evolved from the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in a single attack.

Ugandan forces and their Kenyan, Burundian, Ethiopian, and Djiboutian counterparts were scheduled to withdraw entirely from Somalia by the close of 2021.

Yet, a change in the mission’s trajectory from AMISOM to ATMIS necessitated prolonged involvement.

The UPDF articulated the need to bolster Somalia’s National Army, emphasizing the importance of training, command, intelligence, and the ability to respond to terror attacks.

Post-Attack reflection

President Museveni reflected on the incident, saying, “Our UAVs observed the entire situation from the sky, directing fire.

It seems the panic was utterly unwarranted, as both the anti-tank ditch and our soldiers had already destroyed the three explosive-laden vehicles before they entered the base.”

He further noted the unfortunate reality that many soldiers hastily withdrew to a nearby FOB, missing the chance to counter the terrorists, estimated at around 800.

“It was a missed opportunity to annihilate them,” he ruefully remarked, expressing condolences to the families of those lost in the attack.

The incident exposes a sobering reality – that of the immense challenges faced by forces combating Al-Shabab and the complexities of securing stability in the volatile region of Somalia.