By Spy Uganda Correspondent
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has awarded medals and certificates to Ugandan soldiers for their contribution to the ongoing peace and stabilisation effort in Somalia.
The soldiers, from Battle Group 30, were awarded medals at a ceremony in Mogadishu, Somalia, presided over by the AMISOM Force Commander, Lieutenant General Diomede Ndegeya, and attended by senior AMISOM military officers and the commander of Ugandan troops in Somalia, Brigadier General Don William Nabasa.
The soldiers, who deployed to the Mission in September 2020 under the command of Colonel Jimmy Nabiyu Musoke, are due to rotate out having completed their one-year tour of duty. They will be replaced by Battle Group 33, commanded by Colonel Ezra Mwinyi Byaruhanga.
Lt. Gen. Ndegeya applauded the soldiers, who were tasked with securing the Lower Shabelle and Banadir region, for their courage and steadfastness in the implementation of the Mission’s mandate amidst difficult conditions.
“For this, we, as AMISOM, gracefully decorate you with well-deserved AMISOM medals,” said Lt. Gen. Ndegeya at the ceremony on Wednesday.
Only a small section of the soldiers rotating out of the Mission attended the symbolic event, as part of the COVID-19 preventive measures.
Lt. Gen. Ndegeya noted that the Ugandan army has over the years contributed a great deal towards the stabilisation of Somalia and paid glowing tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Allow me to pay special tribute to our gallant soldiers who lost their lives in their efforts to help restore peace in Somalia. Their lives have not been lost in vain, as remarkable stability has been achieved in this country,” the Force Commander said.
Deployed in Foward Operating Bases (FOBs) in the Lower Shabelle and Banadir regions, Battle Group 30 helped secure key government installations including Villa Somalia (State House), Mogadishu seaport, Somalia’s Parliament, the AMISOM main Base Camp, and strategic locations such as Arbiska, Albao, Lantabur, Afgooye and Baledogole.
Additionally, the Battle Group facilitated the handover of Afgooye FOB to the Somali National Army (SNA) in line with the Somali Transition Plan (STP), secured main supply routes, conducted joint targeted offensive operations with the SNA and other partners to degrade Al-Shabaab, and implemented a number of Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the local communities.
“The period of one year in the Mission area has been quite a testing and challenging experience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and other operational hazards. However, Battle Group 30 managed to adapt,” said Col. Musoke, the outgoing commander of Battle Group 30.
Brig. Gen. Nabasa, praised the soldiers for serving with discipline and valour and congratulated them for the successful completion of their tour of duty.
“Your contribution to peace and stability in Banadir and some parts of Lower Shabelle as well as Somalia at large is unquestionable. Thank you for the discipline and professionalism during your one-year tour of duty,” said Brig. Gen. Nabasa.
Brig. Gen. Nabasa later presided over a handover ceremony in which Col. Musoke handed over instruments of power to Col. Byaruhanga.
Brig. Gen. Nabasa urged Col. Byaruhanga to take on the responsibility with dynamism while keeping in mind the changing tactics by the extremist group Al-Shabaab.
On his part, Col. Byaruhanga thanked Brig. Gen. Nabasa for orienting him to the Mission, saying he is ready for the task ahead.
“I take this opportunity and honour to accept to take over Command from Battle Group 30 all responsibilities within the area of operation as the commander of Battle Group 33,” said Col. Byaruhanga.