Ugandan three-star is new ATMIS Force Commander

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New ATMIS (African Union Transition Mission in Somalia) Force Commander, Ugandan Lieutenant General Sam Okiding, took up the post at the weekend replacing Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya of Burundi.

He was officially received at ATMIS Force Headquarters by Deputy Force Commander in charge of Operations and Plans, Major General Marius Ngendabanka and senior military officers before a series of closed door briefings. The three-star inspected a guard of honour from his home Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF).

Okiding, according to an ATMIS statement, was immediately brought up to speed on the current security situation in the country. It said his key priority would be to ensure a smooth transition of security responsibilities to Somali Security Forces (SSF) while consolidating gains made.

“Most important is to support the Somali security forces in accordance with the CONOPS (Concept of Operations), the Somali Transition Plan (STP) and the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 2628 and 2670,” the new Force Commander said.

He pledged to work closely with all stakeholders to implement the Mission mandate of a smooth security responsibilities handover to SSF.

“All stakeholders have to play a role in the transition process. My work is to give direction on the side of the military and I am confident we shall all work together.”

Okiding brings over 40 years of military experience to the mission, having joined the Ugandan military in 1980. No stranger to Somalia he previously served as commander of Ugandan troops in Somalia from November 2015 to January 2017. He served in several operations in the region, including South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Prior to his appointment as ATMIS Force Commander, Okiding was Deputy Commander of UPDF Land Forces.

An international relations graduate Okiding has military courses in peacekeeping operations, global terrorism and international humanitarian law at national, regional and international levels to his credit.