1,300 veterans undergo drills ahead of Somalia mission.
At least 1,300 army veterans have reported to Singo Peace Support Training Centre for training before they are deployed to Somalia in October.
Uganda is planning to send 2,752 UPDF reservists who are supposed to form Battle Groups 34 and 35 for deployment between October this year and mid next year to the Horn of Africa.
The UPDF recalled the reservists in January through the office of the commander of Reserve Forces, Lt Gen Charles Awany Otema.
The deputy army spokesperson, Lt Col Deo Akiiki, told Daily Monitor yesterday that those who have reported to Singo will form Battle Group 34 whose training is supposed to last six months before they are deployed.
“So far, those are the ones who have reported and I think more will report because the process is still ongoing,” he said.
Battle Group 34 will replace those already serving in Somalia under Battle Group 30, which was deployed in December last year on a rotational basis.
“They will be out of training in October and ready for deployment,” Lt Col Akiiki said. In January, Lt Gen Otema said they would deploy only those who were “honourably discharged” and must be below 55 years and also below the rank of major.
He also said President Museveni used his powers under Article 17 of the 1995 Constitution and Section 31 of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces Act 7 of 2005 as the commander-in-chief to recall the reservists.
The UPDF has previously deployed veterans to Somalia to fight al-Shabaab militants who have been fighting to dislodge the federal government in Mogadishu.
In 2012, Uganda deployed veterans who formed Battle Group Nine under the command of Brig Steven Mugerwa in Jawhar and Masillah.
Of the five African countries with troops in Somalia, Uganda has the highest number, with 6,000 soldiers deployed to Benadir region whose headquarters is Mogadishu.
The other countries with troops serving in Somalia under Amisom are Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia.
Amisom, which has been operating in Somalia since 2007, is supposed to gradually reduce the number of troops before handing the responsibility of national security to the Somali National Army.