The Promota Magazine

Graduation of Senior officers at Kimaka Senior Command and Staff College

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Professionalization of national armed forces describes a set of processes to redefine the military’s role and restructure forces so as to yield a less politicized institution that can better serve as a de facto state structure. Uganda Senior Command and Staff College (USCS) at Kimaka,  has done that and is arguably one of the best and most respected Army colleges in Africa. It also aims to improve the military’s capacity to carry out its mission and increase members’ discipline and accountability for their actions.

On the 29th Nov 2012 Forty-three army officers from six countries were took part in a ‘passing-out’ (military graduation) ceremony at the Senior Command and Staff College, Kimaka, in Jinja.

Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga, who presided at the graduation, commended the college for its work in keeping the forces up-to-date and also welcomed the joint training with other regional defence forces.

Brigadier Apollo Kasiita-Gowa, the Commandant of the UPDF Senior Command and Staff College emphasised discipline and implored officers to go back and emulate what they had been taught. “The cooperation shown in the joint training is aimed at bringing sanity and stability to the region. It’s also in the spirit of Pan-Africanism to work together and train together,” he said.

He explained that the joint training sessions were a step towards regional integration of the East African Community, which would lead to a regional force. Of the 43 graduates, 31 were from Uganda while the other 12 represented other countries within the region.

The pre-1986 predatory military rule and civil war in Uganda destroyed lives, skills and assets, undermined institutional competence and accountability, suppressed autonomous organizations in civil society, and intensified ethnic hostility and conflict. Problems included regional, ethnic and sectarian conflicts in political and military organizations; poorly educated and corrupt military leaders; an army which made unsustainable demands on state and economic resources; political elites unwilling to accept electoral defeat; weak non-military components of the state apparatus; and weak organizational capacity of groups and associations in civil society. Political loyalties rather than military skills had been critical, destroying solidarity, technical competence and the ability to enforce military discipline, turning the army into an oppressive social force and producing increasing repression levels. Ethnicity was the key factor in recruitment and promotions, and many educated officers from the “wrong” ethnic groups were dismissed or otherwise punished. The officer corps was decimated and untrained soldiers were promoted. Military expenditure skyrocketed. Violent crime escalated, often perpetrated by military personnel. Regimes’ political dependence on the military made it implausible to discipline them; soldiers were frequently drunk, unpaid, and out of control. Ethnic conflicts escalated.

In 1993, the Constitutional Commission emphasized the need for a professional army which would serve national, not partisan interests; vested overall command in the President, advised by an Armed Forces Council; and called for a National Security Council to coordinate all security organizations and an Armed Forces Service Board to advise on conditions and terms of service and promotions.

 

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