The Ugandan military has received Acmat Bastion armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from the United States for its contingent with the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom).
The African Union (AU) said in a statement on 25 September that 19 “combat vehicles” were donated to Amisom’s Ugandan contingent by the United States “as part of the continued effort to boost capacity to fight Al Shabaab terrorists. The vehicles were today presented by Brigadier General Miguel A. Castellanos, Commander US Army Deputy Commanding General CJTF-HOA [Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa] Somalia, to the Ugandan Contingent Commander Brigadier General Muhanga Kayanja.”
Photos released by the African Union show Acmat Bastion armoured personnel carriers branded as Mack products and fitted with an open-top weapon station that can accept a machinegun, although no weapons had yet been fitted.
The AU said the donation came with spare parts for the vehicles and a maintenance team is to be assigned to train personnel to ensure timely repairs.
“As a Contingent, we have been operating at 40 percent capacity in terms of the necessary equipment,” Kayanja said. “This donation therefore comes in handy and will greatly boost our technical and operational capability. We however continue to face a big challenge of the Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), which have cost us a lot of equipment. We need an urgent solution to this challenge.”
Castellanos said the United States is committed to fighting terrorism in Somalia and that support in terms of donation of vehicles will be extended to all the contingents serving under Amisom.
This was probably in reference to the announcement in September 2015 by the United States that it had ordered 62 Bastions for five African nations. Although manufactured by France’s Acmat, they were ordered through Mack Defense in the United States. Acmat is owned by Renault Trucks Defense which along with Mack Defense is part of the Volvo group.
In 2016 Mack Defense said 32 vehicles would be delivered to Somalia, 17 to the Ugandan contingent of Amisom and another 13 to Amisom’s Somali contingent. Tunisia was to receive four, Cameroon 15 and Ethiopia 12. However, these figures add up to 93 in total, so it is not clear from which contract the remaining 31 vehicles will be coming from.
The Bastion range of tactical armoured vehicles features STANAG 4569 protection and can carry ten to 12 people. They are based on the VLRA TDN-TDE platform for easy maintenance and logistics. The Bastion APC is configured for troop transport while the Bastion Patsas is a semi-open-top design developed with French Special Forces for reconnaissance and assault.
A number of African countries operate the Bastion, including Togo (which received 30 in 2014) and Mali.