Museveni ready for Plan B
According to some analysts, however, Muhoozi’s return to that position must be viewed in the more tactical lens of Museveni moving to secure his grip on the military command structure ahead of the election.
With Muhoozi in firm command of SFC, Museveni appears to think it will be easier to sniff out and widespread post-election violence. Bobi Wine has already warned that there will be a people power uprising if the 2021 election is stolen from him. Museveni former perennial challenger, retired Col. Kizza Besigye, has warned that he is working on “Plan B”. It is not clear what that means but he says it involves “fighting”. Museveni appears to be deploying his forces in readiness for that.
The Land forces are the battle front fighting groups and are not designed to operate against political opposition on the streets in Uganda. That task is for Muhoozi’s force. Muhoozi is now in charge of any military operation in the capital Kampala. He guards all the critical government installations like Entebbe International Airport, the ports on all lakes and the oil fields and other infrastructure in western Uganda. Muhoozi’s force is designed to deal with “unique missions” that threaten Museveni’s hold on power or national security. Essentially, although Special Forces is a small force, it has been structured and positioned to take control of the main government facilities.
“It is now the heart of the UPDF,” said a source.
The SFC plays a critical role in situations like this because, according to UPDF structure, it is an elite force of very highly trained professionals. The Special Forces get specialised training in counterintelligence, artillery, and motorised infantry tactics.
According to people familiar with UPDF operations, the Uganda army has two main fighting groups called “services” of Land Forces and the Air Force which has been headed by Lokech. The Land Forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Elwelu is the main force. But the SFC, although small in number of officers and men, is equal to both the Land and Air forces. And it is a creature created by Muhoozi in the tradition of sons of military strongmen.
Khamis Gaddafi, the youngest son of the late former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, was the military commander in charge of the Khamis Brigade, a Special Forces brigade of the Libyan army. Former DRC President Joseph Kabila became the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo under his father, the late President Laurent-Désiré Kabila.
Kongulo Mobutu was a Captain in an officer in the Special Presidential Division (DSP) under his father; the late President Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga. He was also a member of the Military Service for Action and Intelligence (SARM).
That Muhoozi was constructing an elite force within the UPDF first emerged in 1997 when he took carefully handpicked recruits, mainly from Makerere University, for military drills Kasenyi Landing site, near Entebbe.
Presidential candidate Norbert Mao, who was them an MP for Gulu Municipality raised the issue and said Muhoozi was recruiting army illegally since he was not a soldier himself. But President Museveni and then Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi said the recruits were not soldiers but recruits for Local Defence Units (LDUs).
Muhoozi, 46, officially joined the army after completing his political science degree at Nottingham University, UK as Officer Cadet. He soon attended the prestigious Royal Military College Sandhurst in the United Kingdom where he graduated in 2000 and was promoted to Second Lieutenant. A year later, he became Major heading the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) which had some of his recruits. In 2008, he became a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the Special Forces Group (SFG) within the UPDF after graduating from US’s Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.
The SFC, a force of several thousand soldiers, metamorphosed from recruits of cadets recruited by Muhoozi himself into the Presidential Guard Brigade PGB and later Special Forces. The new Special Forces Group comprised two strands; the Special Forces One (VIP Protection) and Special Forces Two (Motorised Infantry).
According to sources familiar with UPDF operations, Muhoozi, has since been wielding more power than most of the senior officers. Together with a select group of officers, some of whom he recruited himself in 1997, are being groomed to eventually lead the army.