Army ready to send 10,000 to Somolia
SOURCE: The Monitor
By Tabu Butagira
Uganda is set to send thousands of its reserve troops for deployment to Somalia if the US government provides promised funding for the mission, the Chief of Defence Forces has said.
Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, in an interview in Kotido District on Thursday, said; "we can even call up to 10,000 [reservists] but that will depend on whether the United States supports us or not." A final decision on the matter is yet to be taken, he stressed, but it will be anchored on "our conclusive talks" with President Obama's administration.
Top US diplomat for Africa, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, who was in Kampala to attend the African Union summit held days after the July 11 terrorist attacks, promised increased support to the AU Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
Uganda presently has more than 4, 000 troops in Mogadishu, ostensibly to support Sheikh Sharif's Transitional Federal Government that most African countries appear reluctant to directly support in its quest to rein-in myriad fighting groups, including the al Shabaab the US classifies as a "terrorist" group. Gen. Aronda, in the Thursday interview conducted at the UPDF 405 brigade headquarters in Nakapirimoru, made clear they require military hardware, armoured vehicles and helicopters and money for salaries.
"We don't want to overstretch our budget by calling up our [reserve] forces and then we have to even pay [their] salary," he said, adding: "To my knowledge, America has undertaken to support that undertaking; that when we call up [the reserves], they will do this. But we will be waiting and see what happens."
Defence and Military Spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, yesterday said there are more than 100, 000 members under the Uganda National Reserve Forces that is commanded by Maj. Gen. Levi Karuhanga.
The reserve force comprises former soldiers who left active service within the past five years; Chaka Mchaka graduates (para-militarily graduates) and retired Special Police Constables.
"Ordinarily, reserve forces do their own things," Lt. Col. Kulayigye said, "But when there is a disaster or emergency, they are called up to augment the regular army." Yesterday, Ms Joann Lockard, the public affairs officer at the US Mission in Kampala, said she is aware of promised American assistance to Amisom but has no specific details. "I don't believe any specific commitments have been made yet," she said.
On Thursday, Gen. Nyakairima said inadequate financing by the international community and failure by other countries to put troops on the ground could compel Uganda to re-think its continued presence in the Horn of Africa.
URL Address: http://allafrica.com/stories/201008310047.html