The Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) Special Force Command (SFC) says it has created a new elite counter-terrorism special forces unit which graduated last Friday after a one year-long pre-deployment programme run by US Navy SEALS at the Sera Kasenyi Special Forces School near Entebbe.
According to a report posted to the website of UPDF-SFC, the new unit graduated last Friday after concluding a training programme which involved close-quarters combat, sniper operations and combat casualty care among other subjects.
Speaking at the graduation parade, SFC commander Brigadier-General Muhoozi Kainerugaba said the unit will be deployed shortly to Somalia on a mission to lead the fight against Islamist militant group Al Shabaab.
“I congratulate you for successfully completing the training programme. Our forces have achieved a lot in the mission area ever since the inception of the joint combined exchange training (JCET) programme with our close partners from the United States, however, we should not rest on our laurels. We should be vigilant and alert because the enemy is constantly evolving his methods and techniques,” said Kainerugaba.
He added the unit will carry out special forces operations against Al Shabaab in order to support the work of regular African Union (AU) mission troops during combat operations in Somalia.
A team from US Navy SEALS witnessed the graduation. In a communiqué issued on the occasion of the graduation, the US Navy SEALS command said the Ugandan special forces soldiers had shown determination throughout the training programme.
The UPDF remains one of the recipients of US military aid which covers soldier training and the provision of armaments and aircraft for the air force.
The UPDF counter-terrorism war in Somalia received a boost last week when the Chinese Ministry of National Defence donated military logistical equipment which includes 12 troop carrier trucks, four 10 000 litre water tankers and 16 mobile water trailers.
Chinese ambassador to Uganda Zhao Yali said the donation is a gesture of his government’s support for the UPDF peacekeeping and counter-terrorism operations in Somalia. More than 8,000 Ugandan soldiers are deployed in Somalia for peacekeeping and active combat operations against Al Shabaab under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).