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Newly deployed UPDF soldiers in Somalia tasked to secure supply routes

UPDF officers under the African Union Mission in Somalia.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The newly deployed Uganda People’s Defence Force-UPDF soldiers in Somalia have been tasked to secure supply routes.

More than 1,600 UPDF soldiers were recently deployed in Somalia under battle group 31 to replace their colleagues who completed their one-year tour of duty on African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Lt Gen Diomede Ndegeya who is the current AMISOM commander in a statement issued on Tuesday urged the new UPDF soldiers to ensure main supply routes are secured so that there can be free movement of goods and services to Somalis and troops providing peace.

Lt Gen Ndegeya was speaking at a farewell function for battle group 28 expected to leave Somalia by end of this week. Lt. Ndegeya also awarded certificates to outstanding soldiers under the 30th battle group.

“Emulate the outgoing battle group by performing even better especially through community engagement initiatives, protection of civilians and in opening and securing the main supply routes to ensure the free movement of goods and services,” Lt Gen Ndegeya said.

The 28 battle group has been under the command of Col. Wilberforce Sserunkuma while the 31 group is being commanded by Col. Francis Aragmoi. Lt Gen Ndegeya also extolled Col Sserunkuma and his soldiers for fighting Covid-19.

“I want to thank the battle group 28 commander and his staff, and the troops of the whole battle group for a job well done in operational activities, CIMIC Quick Impact Projects, and in fighting COVID-19,” Lt. Gen. Ndegeya said.

Uganda has over 6,000 soldiers who have been on rotational deployment since 2007. The soldiers have been praised for flushing Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu.

The awarding ceremony according to the statement was also attended by UPDF contingent commander, Maj Gen Don Nabasa. The outgoing soldiers have also been applauded for their gallantry leading to the capture of several key bridge towns such as Awdhegle and Janaale in the Lower Shabelle region of Somalia from the militant group Al-Shabaab, and winning the hearts and minds of the local communities by implementing Quick Impact Projects (QIPs).

“I also recognize and appreciate the efforts of this Battle Group [28] in capturing and holding the bridge towns and other daunting operations that they conducted alongside the Somali National Army despite the Covid-19 pandemic,” Lt Gen Ndegeya said.

Col. Sserunkuma and his team have been operating in the Lower Shabelle region conducting targeted military operations against the Al-Shabaab in the areas of Ceeljaale, Shalambot, Mashalay, Qoryoley, Buufow and Marka among others.

“A year and five months in the mission area have been quite a testing and challenging experience in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic that came along with various restrictions,” Col. Sserunkuma said.

Col Sserunkuma handed over instruments of command to Col. Aragamoi, who pledged to commit himself to support of the Sector One Commander to take up the mantle. “We must work with the civilian population and support them. We must mentor our brothers- the SNA and other Somali Security Forces so that when we leave, we know that our efforts were not wasted,” said Maj Gen. Nabasa.

The 28 battle group during their 17-month tour of duty also conducted medical outreach and sanitation campaigns with the local population, provided clean water to internally displaced persons, distributed Covid-19 protective equipment to local communities, boosted income-generating activities and sports by donating sewing machines.
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