The President and Commander-in-Chief of the UPDF, HE General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has urged the East African Community (EAC) Armed Forces to continuously promote the integration agenda as a major pillar of the economic and social transformation of the region.
The remark was included in President Museveni’s speech which was read by EAC First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Affairs, Rt Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, while officiating at the closing of the 12th edition of the EAC Armed Forces Field Training Exercise (FTX), Ushirikiano Imara 2022 at Gaddafi Barracks in Jinja city.
President Museveni indicated that prioritizing integration will help each EAC member benefit from a broader market and strategic security to manage internal and external threats.
“The integration will introduce a bigger market and resources to the region,” the president noted.
He also implored all EAC Partner States to continue working together for the prosperity and security of the people.
“Independently, each cannot guarantee its survival, but together we can,” stressed President Museveni, adding that the recent entry of the Democratic Republic of Congo into the regional EAC bloc will provide a new trade corridor. for the region, based on the large population in DR Congo.
President Museveni further observed that the joint formation of the EAC Armed Forces is a means of championing Pan-Africanism and enhances each force’s response to global security challenges.
He concluded by urging all forces to be pro-people, non-sectarian, recruit educated personnel into the forces and keep the spirit of Pan-Africanism.
Rt Hon Kadaga, in his remarks, commended all EAC Partner States for honoring Uganda to host the exercise, noting that the community directly benefited from locally procured food and materials used to construct contingent camps.
She added that the joint training exercise shows that the defense sector has progressed faster than other sectors in the integration of East Africa.
The Minister of State for Defence, the Honorable Jacob Oboth Oboth commended the EAC Partner States for their unwavering cooperation and support towards the success of the exercise.
He said the rotational basis of the exercise gives states the opportunity to benefit from each other.
Hon Oboth encouraged participants to use the acquired expertise to address security issues.
“I think the participants learned a lot and will return to their better-qualified countries and duty stations,” he noted.
Speaking at the same function, EAC Secretary General, Hon. Dr. Peter Mathuki, said the FTX is part of the series aimed at promoting peace and security.
He mentioned that civil-military cooperation activities (such as classroom blocks constructed and maternity during the exercise) renew the Forces’ commitment to protect and defend the people.
The EAC Secretary General noted that the threats in the region therefore continue the reason to jointly form and deepen integration.
“Let us work together to promote integration and engage in activities that build mutual support and trust,” he said.
UPDF Joint Chief of Staff Major General Leopold Kyanda on behalf of Chief of Defense Force General Wilson Mbadi noted that the region must work together to tackle crime such as theft of cattle.
He further remarked that the joint training exercise is a clear demonstration that Africans have the enthusiasm and ability to solve their own problems.
“This assembly is a testimony to the world that the integration of the EAC is possible for the common good of the people of East Africa,” he stressed.
Major General Kyanda called for continued joint training to enhance peace and security and the transformation of the region.
He also urged participants to use the successes achieved and use the mistakes observed to do better in the future.
The director of the exercise, Major General Don Nabasa, commended the government and UPDF leadership for supporting the exercise which achieved its objective of covering all four thematic areas which include; peace support operations, counter-piracy, counter-terrorism and disaster management to promote peace and security.
He noted that the CIMIC projects which included the construction of a two-classroom block at Nsube Primary School, another two-classroom block at Nyenga Primary School and the maternity ward at Ivunamba HC II in Budondo sub-county demonstrate the special relationship of the forces with the civilian population.
“If we work together, we work less but achieve more,” Major General Nabasa told the 1,533 FTX attendees and guests.
This year’s FTX Ushirikiano Imara, reflected in a strong partnership, was held under the theme: “Promoting Peace, Security and Stability towards East African Integration”. It started on May 27 and will end on June 16, 2022 in Jinja, Buikwe and Mayuge districts.
Participants composed of military, police, prisons and key civilian components. They came from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania; with Observers from the DR Congo to make it a reference.
The function was also attended by Ugandan Minister of State for Defense and Veterans Affairs, Hon. Huda Oleru, Cabinet Secretary for Defense in Kenya, Hon. Eugene Wamalwa, Minister for Defense and national service in Tanzania, the Honorable Dr. Tax Stergomena, the South Sudanese Minister of National Defense and the Honorable Angelina Tent of Veterans Affairs, Ambassador Col Joseph Rutasima representing the Honorable Major General Albert Murasira, Minister of Defense of Rwanda and the Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, the Right Honorable Martin Ngoga.
Others were; Head of Mission, Hon. Lydia Wanyoto, Hon. George Odongo representing EALA Uganda Chapter, Hon. Rosemary Nyakikongo representing Defense and Home Affairs Committee, Hon. Diana Mutasingwa, District Female MP of Buikwe and Minister in the Office of the Vice President, Lt Gen Walker Raria Koipatoro representing the Chief of Defense Force of the Kenya Defense Force, Lt. Gen. James Chol representing the Chief of Defense Force of the SSPDF, General of Simuli Kosesa division representing the Chief of Defense Forces of the TPDF, leaders of local councils in the region and other senior and junior UPDF officers, among others.