By Andrew Irumba
Senior officers from the Japanese military are currently training Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers on how to operate heavy machinery and equipment.
The Ambassador of Japan to Uganda H.E Kameda Kazuaki on Monday officially opened the course in Heavy Engineering Equipment operations for UPDF at the Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre(URDCC) in Jinja.
The course is aimed at enhancing UPDF’s capability in operating heavy equipments whenever deployed in any mission around the world.
It is a United Nations Triangular Partnership with the Government of Japan and Uganda newly introduced to the UN Peace keeping Operations to close the gap that has always delayed UN deployments while processing contractors to construct critical infrastructure in the area of operation.
Ambassador Kameda, while opening the course, revealed that this is the first ever Japan military cooperation extended to Uganda with its troops on ground.
The Japanese Army instructors numbering to 22 from the Japanese Engineering and transport Unit will initially train 30 UPDF soldiers for a period of 3 months before they are handed back to the UPDF leadership for possible deployment into any UN mission across the world.
The opening ceremony was also addressed by the UN Under Secretary Department of Operational Support Mr Atul Khare from New York through video teleconferencing technology. He applauded the government of Uganda for partnering with UN and the Japanese government to implement the first triangular partnership project as well as sacrificing it all for the peace and stability of the world. He specifically commended the country for the contributions and sacrifice in Somalia where the UN is equally actively involved.
He also revealed that the training and eventual acquisition of equipment by the UPDF is as a result of the friendship and mutual support the government of Uganda has developed with the government of Japan over time.
“President Yoweri Museveni has overtime appreciated the reliability and efficiency of the Japanese technology and that is why we have found it easy and befitting to support the UPDF through this partnership with UN to promote peace and security around the Globe”, said Amb. Kameda.
According to Amb. Kameda, East Africa and indeed continental Africa has had enormous challenges that has attracted the biggest number of UN missions and therefore it is imperative to have Uganda trained forces to enable its troops be self reliant whenever they are deployed.
The government of Japan has spent over USD70m for training and equipment procurement in this regard since the launch of the partnership and is willing to help further.
At the same function, Uganda’s Defence Adviser to Uganda’s Permanent Mission in NewYork Maj General Silver Kayemba who represented the Ugandan Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs and the Chief of Defence Forces thanked the UN and the Japanese government for choosing Uganda to be part of the pioneer states implementing the triangular partnership project.
“Thank you UN, thank you Japan for choosing a right partner for practical deployment. UPDF only trains to deploy and we like deploying in challenging operation areas. Be assured, as soon as this team graduates it will be deployed” Gen Kayemba emphasized.
Maj Gen Silver Kayemba equally announced the commitment of the Uganda government to providing UN One Company of Special Forces, One Infantry Battalion, One Engineering Company and a level II hospital Medical team for any UN deployment around the world with no any Caveat and that their deployment can be renewed between six months to one year.
The Commandant of Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre (URDCC) Brig Peter Omola welcomed UN and the Japanese contingent to the Centre. He expressed hope that the dedicated Japanese training team will do a good job as already exhibited from their timeliness for the time they arrived at the centre.
The Course opening function was attended by the Japanese Director of Training and Operations Major Gen Sueyoshi Hiroaki, the UN representative Mr Juliani Okolong,the Japanese training Team leader Lt Col Todo Koji, Directing staff of URDCC, senior UPDF officers among others.