By our Correspondent
It has been confirmed that the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have deployed a new battle group to serve under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
This particular Uganda Battle Group 37 replaces Battle Group 34 which has completed its one-year tour of duty in Somalia.
Accordingly, a command handover/takeover ceremony was held on Saturday at the ATMIS Uganda contingent headquarters in Mogadishu, presided over by the ATMIS Acting Force Commander, Brig. Gen. Peter Omola.
Notably, during the ceremony, officers of the outgoing battalion were also awarded African Union medals in recognition of their participation in AU peace support operations in Somalia.
Significantly, the new battalion under the command of Colonel Charles Asiimwe will secure areas in Lower Shabelle, with its headquarters in Ceel Jaale town.
In the meantime, ATMIS Acting Force Commander, Brig. Gen Omola has lauded the outgoing battle group under the command of Colonel David Byaruhanga for their sacrifices and dedication to secure Somalia.
And during their tour of duty, the outgoing battle group conducted operations against Al-Shabaab, detonated improvised explosive devices, promoted civil-military cooperation, and mentored the Somali security forces.
Strategically, Brig Gen. Omola, who is also the commander of the Uganda ATMIS contingent, called on the newly deployed battle group to immediately embark on joint operations with the Somali National Army, in the area of responsibility.
Brig. Gen. Omola said, “The current ATMIS concept of operations requires that you are mobile and agile. You are up to the task and you know what to do.”
Responding, Colonel Asiimwe, the commander of the new battle group in Somalia, said he was ready and well-equipped to reduce the threat posed by Al-Shabaab.
In his words, “I wish to thank the UPDF hierarchy for trusting me with this task. This is the greatest task I have had in my career so far.”
Incidentally, Uganda is one of the ATMIS troop-contributing countries with personnel serving alongside troops from Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya.