Thursday, May 10, 2012
Over 600 Somali troops on Thursday completed a six-month training exercise in the western Ugandan district of Ibanda and are destined for the battle zone back home.
During the colorful ceremony held at Bihanga Military Training School, the 603 Somali soldiers who trained along with 248 Ugandan soldiers exhibited among others skills in urban warfare and moving through hostile territory.
Maj. Gen. Abdulkadir Ali Dini, Somalia Amy Chief of Staff thanked the Ugandan government and the European Union for training the troops who he said are important in stabilizing the Horn of African country.
Maciej Popowksi, deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service, said restoration of peace and security in Somalia is critical to the region.
"Without stability, progress and sustainable development is not possible neither in Somalia nor in the entire Eastern African region," he said.
He said reinforcement of Somali troops will enable the Somali government extend its control in the volatile country.
Jeje Odong, Uganda's state minister for defense urged the troops to dedicate their efforts to stabilizing their country which has been ravaged by decades of war.
"You are the peace and hope to the people of Somalia, let your efforts not go wasted but struggle to stabilize and make peace in Somalia," he said.
Lt. Gen. Wamala Katumba, the commander of Uganda's land forces, urged the troops to work closely with the civilian population if they are to make a major headway in pacifying the country.
This was the fifth graduation ceremony for Somali soldiers trained in Uganda. So far close to 2,400 Somali troops have trained in the East African country.
Wamala said that there are plans to establish a training base in Mogadishu so that there is further training of troops.
The graduation of these troops reduces on the burden of the number of troops needed to fight insurgents in Somalia.
As the Somali troops backed by the African Union (AU) peacekeeping troops advance to the other parts of the country, more troops are needed to guard the pacified areas and also at the battle front.
The UN Security Council in February this year passed a resolution that approved the increase in the number of the AU peacekeepers in the country from 12,000 to 17,731.
Uganda last month deployed an additional 1,700 troops to Somalia, bringing the total number of Ugandan peacekeepers in the country to 8,000.
Uganda and Burundi provide the bulk of the AU peacekeeping troops in the war torn country but also Kenya and Djibouti have troops there.