By Pepper Intelligence Unit (PIU)
In mid July, President Yoweri Museveni held a private meeting with Chadian President Idriss Déby.
The meeting was on the sidelines of the African Union summit which was held in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
As the two leaders exchanged pleasantries, Museveni asked Deby a killer question-How are my boys?. The boys Museveni was making reference to in his question are the hundreds of Special Forces soldiers which he provided to Derby to take charge of his private security when rebels backed by Khartoum wanted to oust him in February 2008 yet he is the democratically elected President of Chad.
At the time, the rebellion in the east had reached Chadian capital N’Djamena with fighting occurring inside the city and the presidential palace. After days of fighting, the Chadian government forces with some external support repulsed the rebels and remained in control of N’Djamena.
On hearing Museveni’s question, Deby put on an infectious smile and adjusted in his seat before telling the big man from Rwakitura that SFG soldiers were doing a tremendous job because of their discipline.
The Chadian leader who is a military General like his Ugandan counterpart further told Museveni that he had never seen a disciplined army like SFG. He advised Museveni to consider improving the size and sophistication of SFG for the posterity of this country and the continent at large.
As Deby was giving kudos to SFG, Museveni was in a jovial mood. He further nodded his head in approval of what he was being told. After some minutes the debate on SFG was closed and the two discussed how to ensure that an African candidate wins the 2014 race to become the Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Barely two months after the Addis Ababa discussions, Museveni on Monday carried out a mini army reshuffle in which he decided to re-structure the Special Forces Group (SFG) into Special Forces Command (SFC) which will be under the overall command of Brig (General) Muhoozi Kainerugaba who has been promoted from the rank of Colonel. In the new look, SFC is divided into Special Forces One and Special Forces Two. SF One will handle VIP protection and will be under the command of Lt. Col. Sabiiti Magyenyi who was promoted to the rank of Colonel while SF Two has motorised infantry will be under Maj. Don Nabasa.
What Muhoozi Promotion Means
Before, the Monday changes, UPDF had the Land Forces Command under Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala and Air Force under Lt. Gen. Jim Owoyesigire. The creation of the third Command of Special Forces with Muhoozi at its helm, means that it is now at the equivalence of the above two commands-Air force and Land Forces. This of course means that in the new UPDF structure, Muhoozi is now subordinate to the Commander-in-Chief (C.I.C) Gen. (rtd) Yoweri Museveni, Chief of Defense Forces -CDF, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima and his Deputy, Gen. Ivan Koreta.
With the insertion of the Special Force Command, Maj. Gen. Fred Mugisha, the former commander of the African Union Forces in Somalia (Amisom) who was appointed the new Joint Chief of Staff replacing Lt. Gen. Robert Rusoke is now below Muhoozi, Katumba and Owoyesigire. Hitherto, the office of joint Chief of Staff was only below the Commander of Air force and Land Forces.
It thus means, that in future army reshuffles Muhoozi can be considered elevated in office if appointed either Deputy CDF or CDF. Transferring him to command either Land Forces or Air force can’t in its self be an elevation because his new office is at par with the two offices. On the other hand, if he in future is appointed as Joint Chief of Staff it will obviously mean a demotion because he is currently above that office. It can therefore be concluded that Muhoozi is one step shy from becoming a Deputy Chief of Defense Forces and two steps towards becoming full CDF of UPDF.
In short it means the defence forces are now comprised of three sections;Air force , Land forces and special forces and all the commanders are the same level , presided over the CDF and CIC.
Clout Of His Docket
Closely, much as Muhoozi’s new office seem to be at par with that of Air force and Land Forces Commanders, his is however more sophisticated in terms of assignments and armament. Under Special Force Two, it is charged with motorised infantry.
This automatically means that key military installations like the Nakasongola based Air defense unit which is commanded by Brig. David Muhoozi is now under the first son. Also, the Masaka mechanized unit under Maj. Gen. Gavas Mugyenyi and the Masindi based Artillery section under Col. Dan Kakono are now answerable to Muhoozi. All the officers of the above units once worked in Special Forces formerly known as PPU or PGB. This is in addition to the marine unit. It is now Muhoozi’s command that takes full operations on Uganda’s water bodies.
Equally important is the fact that Muhoozi’s Special Forces Command is going to have an upper hand in operations outside the country which Special Forces have been partly or broadly involved in. For example the war against terrorism in Somalia, hunting of war lord Joseph Kony in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and in Chad.
Why Elevate Special Force
Much as Muhoozi’s new elevation especially the giving of more clout to Special Forces will escalate debate that Museveni favours this force, the big man in Rwakitura has in the past denied those reports. Force instance in the early month of May, Museveni wrote a media article of more than 3000 words regarding war in Somalia in which he rebutted veteran journalist Charles Onyango Obbo insinuation that that before Museveni SFG and Uganda Police are loyalist as opposed to “the neglected wife”, UPDF.
In reaction, Museveni wrote “Then, Obbo takes on the SFG and Uganda Police. They are loyalist as opposed to “the neglected wife”, UPDF.SFG is part of UPDF if Obbo does not know. It started in the bush as a mere section to guard the Chairman of the High Command (CHC) whenever I would be moving from zone to zone in co-coordinating the war. We decided not to divert battalions to guard CHC as he moved around the war zone. This concept proved to be good.By the time we came into Government, it had become PPU (Presidential Protection Unit), then, PGB (Presidential Guard Brigade) and, finally, SFG”.
Sabalwanyi lectured in his article that “It (Special Force) has always done three things in one: it is a Protection Unit for the President; it is one of the Nurseries for leadership (Aronda whose astuteness impressed Obbo’s foreign friend is one of the graduates of this Nursery) and it is part of our strategic Reserve for war. Of course, Mr. Obbo would not know because our commanders would not trust telling him all.In that Mogadishu Force, there are SFG specialist units, whose work is exemplary”.
Therefore, both the “favourate” wife and the “neglected” wife are both on that frontline which Obbo visited recently.In fact there is only one “wife” ? UPDF. The distinctions are Obbo’s problem”. Museveni maintained.
That’s not only why Museveni decided to elevate Special Force. He has pride in its operation going by the further comments he made in the above article in its role in fighting Joseph Kony. He noted “I sent an SFG unit to kill this gunner and capture this gun.
They did not disappoint us; they caught up with the gunner at Barlegi in North Lango, killed the gunner and captured the cannon.
Since this was a hot bed of Kony activities at that time, I decided to camp there with SFG elements.
Although Kony was still around, he feared to attack us and SFG provided the security for the area ever since”.
Behind Angina Return
The other surprise of the Monday army reshuffle is Charles Angina, the former chairman of the UPDF General Court-Martial. He was not only promoted to the higher rank of major general from Brigadier, he was returned to his former position of Chief of Staff Land forces, replacing Maj. Gen Silver Kayemba.
His sacking from this office where he was returned to was quite controversial. At the time of his sacking, he was not going on well with the then joint Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Robert Rusoke. Among his friends, Angina would complain that Rusoke was feeding the CDF Aronda with negative reports.
In fact, with the transfer of Rusoke from the office of Joint Chief of Staff to Uganda’s pioneer ambassador to South Sudan, many insiders in the army anticipated Angina’s return. His bouncing back was boasted by the lobbying a number of Teso leaders did for him. A source close to the presidency reveals that whenever Museveni met delegations from Teso at his country home of Rwakitura, they would plead for him to return their son. In all those meetings Museveni wouldn’t sound definite apart from promising them to deal with the matter.
ngina’s sacking was also attributed to Education minister Maj. Rtd Jessica Alupo. Angina would personally be heard at Parliament accusing the minister of causing a wedge between him and the President. Angina would narrate that during the last presidential campaigns, Alupo authored reports to the big man that shed him in bad light together with the retired Bishop of Teso and Bukedea Woman MP Rose Akol Okullu. Our sources have not yet verified the negative contents that were in those reports Angina complains of.
Angina’s return is expected to boast the moral of infantry command where he is the Chief of Staff. The President wants the incorruptible Angina to help him clean up the alleged ghost soldiers still remaining on the UPDF infantry payroll. It should be recalled that Angina made many enemies and friends as well within the army over his negative attitude towards corruption. He for instance in 2008, caused the sacking of Brig. Hudson Mukasa from the leadership of 5th division over alleged embezzlement of Shs200m meant for soldiers allowances.
Meanwhile President Yoweri Museveni has promoted Brig. Silver Kayemba to the rank of Maj. Gen. and deployed him to USA as Uganda’s military liaison officer at the Ugandan embassy. Kayemba was replaced by Maj. Gen. Angina as chief of staff (land forces).