Uganda: UPDF shuffles Somalia command

By James Kabengwa
Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Col. Paul Lokech 
Col. Paul Lokech
THE new UPDF contingent commander in Somalia, Col. Paul Lokech, has taken over the office from Col. Mikael Ondoga, who now goes to the US for studies.

Lokech took over office at a function presided over by the commander of the land forces, Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala, at Base Camp Halane in Mogadishu recently.

The overall commander of the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) forces, Maj. Nathan Mugisha, together with several officers attended the function.

The new AMISOM spokesperson, Maj. Paddy Ankunda, replaces Maj. Ba-Hoku Barigye, who has served in the portfolio for more than three years. Ankunda was the first spokesperson of the mission in March 2007 for one year.

Ondoga briefed the new contingent commander on the four-year achievements the UPDF have made through AMISOM. He attributed their successes to group work.

“We have been planning and implementing together with unit commanders and the foot soldiers. When you make a military plan, you should implement it with the foot soldiers, that’s when their morale will be boosted and you see results,” Ondoga said.

Katumba urged Lokech to consolidate the achievements made and expand the area under his command so that the Somalis are liberated from the notorious terrorists, the al-Shabaab, who are inspired by the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

UPDF fighting alongside soldiers of the Somalia transitional federal government, are in full control of six districts.

The al-Shabaab controls the northern Mogadishu districts of Huruwai, Karan and Yaqshid. The districts of Abdul Aziz, Scibis, Bondere, Hawlwaderg and Hodan are under intense fighting between the AU forces and the al-Shabaab.

But Katumba said he was optimistic that they will fall in the hands of the African mission soon.

“The advantage we have is that we have captured most strategic positions and we shall take over others soon.”

Over the weekend, Katumba toured the frontlines at Bondere, Dabka, Shigalle, Maaka al Mukarama, Terebunka, El’Hingi and Wardhigley.

At Shigalle, Katumba and other top UPDF soldiers were almost trapped in a dilapidated building as al-Shabaab snipers fired towards them for over one hour.

A commander in the area, Lt. Col. Anthonty Lukwago, pointed at one of the buildings, saying: “They are just there about 50 metres from here. We need to make groups of three people to cross to another point.”

He ordered a fighter tank to fire and create a safe path for the soldiers to leave.

Source: New Vision

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