Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has embarked on an operation to hunt for army officers who have deserted their duties in the army which desertions have been linked to income.
This comes after several concerns about the increasing number of army desertions from both the public and legislators.
While appearing before Parliament’s Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs to defend the Defence Ministry’s policy statement, the Chief of Defence Forces General Katumba Wamala revealed that the most glaring cause of army desertions is the income some of the army officers receive in foreign services citing African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM ).
He said that the army officers who have had a chance to work with foreign missions and generated some good money are prompted to desert the army to start up other businesses.
General Katumba however said that it is illegal for army officers to desert their duties without permission and that many of them have been arrested in the ongoing operation and are to be charged before the Court Martial.
According to the UPDF Act, if an officer does not turn up for duty in eight days without notice he is declared absent, when he or she disappears for 21 days is declared missing and when it exceeds 21 days without trace and notice then the officer is declared a deserter.
General Katumba told the Defence Committee that the other cause of army desertions are the high expectations the young generation that joins the army has in regard to income which they fail to achieve in the anticipated time hence leading to them abandoning their duties.
General Katumba further said that other officers desert the army to join related services abroad which they consider to have greener pastures.
He said that the operation has yielded many results in as far as fighting crime in the community is concerned saying that several army uniforms used in criminal activities have been recovered and that the search still continues.
He however denied a possibility the army deserters leave with guns that are later used in criminal activities.
Katumba did acknowledge that the desertions threaten the country’s security.
This came after the Defence and Internal Affairs Committee demanding the Defence Ministry to explain why there are increased numbers of desertion in the army and also requested for a clarification whether the deserted officers are paid pension.
He said there is no room for conclusion of deserted officers on the pension pay roll since after deserting the army the officer forfeits his pension and all his or her years of service are lost.