A 76-member contingent consisting of the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF), Uganda Police Force, other sister forces, and civilians have been flagged off to attend the joint East African Community (EAC) standby force training dubbed “Ushirikiano Imara” in 2023.
The Ugandan contingent was flagged off from the Non-Commissioned Officers’ Academy (NCOA) in Jinja city on Monday and will travel by road to Rwanda for a two-week command post exercise. The exercise aims to strengthen the cooperation among EAC member states, including Rwanda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, and Burundi, in order to effectively respond to peace support operations (PSOs), disasters, and emergencies within the region.
Brig. Gen. Matthew Gureme, the UPDF’s chief of training, notes that the exercise provides an opportunity for participating countries to assess their readiness to jointly respond to emergencies within the region. The EAC armed forces have developed standard operating procedures (SOPs) to facilitate peace maintenance in the region, and the training will help them reflect on their commitment to implementing these procedures during peace support operations.
Gureme emphasizes the importance of the command post-exercise in promoting integration among the armed forces of EAC member states. He believes that enhancing the interoperability of armed forces during emergency responses is crucial for achieving the regional economic and political goals of the EAC. Gureme also highlights the significance of the media in conflict resolution and ensuring accountability to the affected communities.
Lt. Col. James Tugume, the commandant of NCOA, mentions that the participants have undergone training in pre-mission exercises, the roles of staff officers in an operating room, gender studies, and disaster management. Tugume encourages participants to share their skills selflessly with counterparts from other EAC countries, fostering cohesion instead of competition.
Col. Stuart Agaba, the leader of the UPDF’s contingent, pledges their commitment to actively engage in skills sharing with other participating countries, aiming to enhance joint operability during missions. The command post exercise follows the EAC defense cooperation protocol, which requires armed forces from participating countries to train together and share exercise areas. This allows them to practice the duties and responsibilities of a mission headquarters in a joint manner.