The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF), General David Muhoozi has said the world was stunned by the speed at which UPDF deployed combat-ready soldiers in South Sudan.
UPDF dispatched tanks and commando forces to secure South Sudan’s capital, Juba after dissident Vice President Riek Machar declared war on President Salva Kiir’s government.
The commando battalion inside the presidential palace compound had been split along tribal lines with the Neur – Machar’s clansmen refusing to be disarmed by their Dinka counterparts.
The war spread to the army headquarters as militia groups wreaked havoc in the Capital city, leaving thousands dead.
Machar would later assemble thousands of troops known as ‘White Army’ before announcing on BBC radio plans to capture Juba in the next 12 hours.
At the time, armoured vehicles carrying Ugandan troops were crossing into South Sudan at a fast pace.
Museveni also rushed to Northern Uganda for the last inspection of military rehearsals by the special forces.
When Machar attempted to ‘march’ onto Juba, the advance was stopped by UPDF warplanes. The ambushes were also cleared by UPDF’s armoured vehicles.
Speaking on Friday as he welcomed back 529 UPDF troops who were part of the fifth United Nation Guard Unit (UNGU V) in Somalia and another 1,406 troops of Uganda’s 25th Battle Group to Somalia, Gen Muhoozi revealed details on the deployment in Juba.
“Some people thought that since we were engaged in other operations like in Somalia we would not be able to respond to the call of confidence our brothers in South Sudan made on us,” said Gen Muhoozi.
“Others expected us to respond in months but they were surprised that in one week our battle group was in Juba and we had changed the situation,” he added.
The UPDF quickly secured the presidential palace, army headquarters and vital state installations such as the airport and ministries.
Gen Muhoozi noted that the model performance of UPDF in its internal and external operations stems from its exceptional qualities that also distinguishes the force from other armies.
“You serve in an extra-ordinary force that is distinguishable from other armies by its character, discipline and capabilities,” he said.
The General stressed that no matter the situation, the UPDF troops have always maintained high morale, resilience and courage to overcome all odds even in moments when sceptics thought the force would not make it.
Meanwhile, Muhoozi said the African Union intervention in Somalia was a wise undertaking that has positively paid off.
“We are now counting successes in Somalia due to the selfless contribution made by you and your predecessors towards the betterment of the situation in the Horn of Africa,” said Muhoozi.
The General said despite challenges such as delayed payment of mission allowances due to circumstances beyond UPDF control, the troops have maintained their pan African spirit and remained focused on their duty.