In his speech on the 6th February, at the 38th Tarehe Sita celebrations in Kitgum, president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni highlighted that the Army that Uganda needed was formed on five major principles namely; Patriotism, Pan Africanism, Democracy, Discipline, and Socioeconomic transformation. These are the principles that have driven the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) to be the commendable force it is today.
UPDF was engaged in week-long activities gearing up to 06 th of February which exhibited profound patriotism and socio-economic transformation.
For example, the UPDF soldiers provided free medical services at Koch Goma Health Centre III, performed surgeries, renovated the outpatient department and constructed the reception.
They also cleaned up various towns like Nakawa, Mbarara, Kitgum to mention but a few.
It was fun and exciting to see these men and women, not only wear a uniform and carry a gun but also carry rudimentary tools to clean the environment, this put a smile on many wanainchi.
The doctors, engineers, teachers, reporters and counsellors opened my eyes to how beautiful it is to serve the nation and that there is a place for all professions in the army.
The UPDF in my view has changed the way many look at the institution called “The Army” from a feared institution to one we would want to be identified with.
Hongera sana UPDF for not taking the sacrifice and belief of those 27 armed and 14 unarmed brothers in vain.
"You are not allowed to bark at the mwananchi. The people are the ones who produce the army, you cannot bark at your father or your mother, even the children and juniors should be treated with respect".
The President said, as he emphasized the virtue of discipline.
As a young Ugandan professional, the institution of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces is a worthy potential employer as long as one is disciplined.
There are very many opportunities for professional career training in diverse disciplines offered by the UPDF.
Indeed, stories of the late Dr. Ronald Bata and yes, even retired Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye treating injured combatants in the jungles of Luweero are testimony to the uniqueness of National Resistance Army – Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces.
UPDF through Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) – a scheme under the leadership of Rtd. Gen. Salim Saleh, primarily focusing on Agriculture and Industrial development of youth, women groups as well as veterans has contributed greatly to the economic emancipation of Ugandans since its launch in 2016.
Currently, Operation Wealth Creation has presence in all 130 districts of Uganda.
It has so far managed to distribute seedlings, in calf heifers, goats and in some cases agro machinery to thousands of youth, women and veteran groups.
Where NAADS faced challenges, OWC has reinforced.
Over the past 38 years, UPDF has expressed great Pan Africanism in its efforts to establish peace, security, and stability across Africa and East Africa through the brave participation of our gallant soldiers in external peace missions.
For example, as early as 1991, Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta led a special contingent of National Resistance Army on a peace mission to Liberia. In 2006, with all hope lost of ever stabilizing Somalia, Uganda Peoples Defence Forces through the auspices of the United Nations and African Union, deployed battle Group 1 in Mogadishu.
The objective was to secure Mogadishu Airport and then eventually Somalia. This mission has registered tremendous success.
Somalia, using UPDF’s model, now has a National Army. President Museveni in his 38th Tarehe Sita speech noted that the UPDF and the civilian wing, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) advised that Patriotism in Uganda and Pan Africanism in Africa are the solutions to poverty.
As Ugandans, we ought to pick a leaf from the gallant men and women of UPDF by not only embracing patriotism amongst ourselves but also Pan Africanism as we hold hands with our brothers and sisters across Africa to tackle issues of Ignorance, Poverty, Diseases, Hunger, to mention but a few.
The writer is a Communications Assistant at Government Citizens Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.