Ugandan troops awarded for their contribution to the restoration of peace in Somalia

The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) has awarded medals and certificates to Ugandan soldiers for their contribution to the ongoing peacebuilding process in Somalia.

The soldiers, from Battle Group 32, were honoured at a medal parade ceremony presided over by the ATMIS Force Commander, Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, and attended by the Contingent Commander of Ugandan troops in Somalia, Brigadier General Keith Katungi, and other senior ATMIS military officers.

The soldiers, who deployed to the mission in March 2021, are due to rotate out of the mission, having completed their one-year tour of duty, and will be replaced by Battle Group 35, commanded by Colonel Bernard Kashemeza.

Speaking at the medal parade, Lt. Gen. Ndegeya hailed the soldiers for their professionalism and selfless service to the people of Somalia in ongoing efforts to restore peace and stability in the country.

“You have done this mission and your country proud. You have served with professionalism, discipline, and commitment in the advancement of the mission’s mandate. And it is partly through your commitment and sacrifice that Somalia is enjoying relative peace,” said Lt. Gen. Ndegeya.

For symbolic purposes and also in adherence to the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures, the occasion was attended by a small section of soldiers of the outgoing Battle Group, commanded by Col. Charles Odong. 

Upon their deployment in the different forward operating bases (FOBs) in Barawe and Beldamin, the soldiers of Battle Group 32 conducted and sustained key military operations to degrade Al-Shabaab.

Additionally, the troops helped secure main supply routes and population centres in their area of responsibility, which enabled local communities to go about their lives normally.

The Force Commander called upon the incoming Battle Group to embrace and execute their duties with vigour and professionalism, noting ATMIS is operating with a new mandate.

“To the in-coming Battle Group 35, you have come at a time when we have just transitioned into a new mission, ATMIS. There is no time and room for complacency,” Lt. Gen. Ndegeya noted.

He added, “You have to hit the ground running, with regard to implementing the ATMIS mandate as stipulated by the UN Security Council Resolution 2628. This calls for you to show the highest degree of professionalism and discipline as you execute the mission’s mandate.”

Brig, Gen. Katungi, applauded Battle Group 32 for conducting several successful offensive operations against the Al-Shabaab terrorists, including ensuring the successful completion of parliamentary elections in Barawe.  

“The Al-Shabaab have been degraded and denied action in the general areas of Barawe and Beldamin. I also take this honour to congratulate this Battle Group for successfully conducting two major operations – the Barawe operation, as well as securing the elections in Barawe,” said Brig. Gen. Katungi.

Brig. Gen. Katungi advised the commander of the in-coming battle group to be vigilant and tactful in the execution of the Mission’s mandate in his Area of Responsibility (AoR).

“To the in-coming Battle Group 35 Commander Col. Kashemeza,” he said, “Barawe is a sensitive area in that it has a port and an airport. And when you go into the history of Somalia, it is a treasured area. So you have to put your expertise there and build on from where they (Battle Group 32) stopped.”

Brig. Gen. Katungi later in the day presided over a handover ceremony at which Col. Odong handed over instruments of power to Col. Kashemeza, witnessed by other senior military officers.

Col. Kashemeza pledged to build on the successes of Battle Group 32 in the furtherance of the ATMIS mandate.

“I want to appreciate the outgoing Battle Group 32 for the achievements they have made. I pledge to build on the good work you have done in order to advance the mission mandate,” said Col. Kashemeza.

Battle Group 32 has been responsible for securing Barawe and Beldamin sub-sector, occupying FOBs like Embresso, Barawe Knoll, Airport Runway, Kismayo Road, Barawe Seaport, Golweyn, Buulomareer, as well as various areas around ATMIS Base Camp, Somali Parliament, State House, Mogadishu Seaport and Al-Jazeera.

Apart from conducting offensive operations against the Al-Shabaab, the outgoing Battle Group also implemented a number of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) in their area of responsibility.