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Young Turks in the UPDF have recently dominated the higher echelons, underscoring a shift in the balance of power of an army that has been controlled by those who shared the trenches with President Yoweri Museveni during the Luwero bush-struggle.

Since bands of the ragtag guerilla outfit marched to Kampala on January 26, 1986, the UPDF leadership appeared to be held hostage by the Luwero bush-struggle camaraderie. There has, however, been a realignment in the army, resulting in the shoving aside of the old guard by an elite younger generation that is loyal to the Commander-in-Chief. Today, old guards like Generals Salim Saleh, who is Museveni’s brother, David Tinyefuza and Elly Tumwine are in the twilight of their careers.

A military source says perhaps the last officers of this old order that are still serving but will soon retire, include: Lt Gen Katumba Wamala (commander, Land Forces), Lt Gen Kale Kayihura (Inspector General of Police) and Maj Gen Fred Mugisha (overall commander of AMISOM in Somalia).

“Anyone of them could become the Chief of Defence Forces after Aronda Nyakairima,” the source added.

However, in the last decade, a latent power struggle in the army between the old guards and young Turks has burbled under the surface.

“There is the late Mayombo group, which joined the army in 1985 and has tilted the balance of power in the army,” said another military source.

The late Brig Noble Mayombo, who died of a mysterious ailment on May 1, 2007, was one of the most eloquent functionaries of the NRM regime whose rapid rise in the army rattled the old guard, especially those who had stagnated for a long time. Mayombo’s other colleagues who joined the struggle in 1985 shortly before the NRA captured power are: Maj Gen James Mugira (who was recently transferred from the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence [CMI] to head the UPDF Luwero ammunition industries), Brig Moses Rwakitarate (the Chief of Staff Airforce) and Brig David Muhoozi (now heading the air defence unit in Nakasongola).

Although they are greenhorns at the battle front, Mugira and Muhoozi are lawyers, as was Mayombo. Whilst the young Turks have been growing in stature, old guards like Major Generals Jim Muhwezi and Kahinda Otafiire, Brigadiers Matayo Kyaligonza and Henry Tumukunde, and others who once held powerful positions in the army have less clout and leverage.

“They only have protégés in the army, but their power is increasingly diminishing,” said a source.

Mwambustya Ndebesa, a historian at Makerere University, says “purging the old guard, which has legitimacy because of a historical role, is the best tool of control.” He adds that having been “recruited on the premise of patronage”, the old guard has “expired.”

A source currently serving in the army concurs with Ndebesa, opining that, “It’s the only way to eliminate the old bush war rivalry.”

Beyond the 1985 group, the other young generation strategically placed in sensitive army positions consists of Brig Paul Lokech, who is currently heading Uganda’s AMISOM contingent in Somalia and Brig Charles Bakahumura, the new CMI head. Others are: Col Dick Olum, who is heading the Military Police; Col Godfrey Golooba, who headed the second UPDF AMISOM contingent; and Col Emmanuel Kazahura, administrative officer at the Senior Staff and Command College, Kimaka.

Others are: Lt Col James Birungi, head of artillery in UPDF; Lt Col Henry Isoke, former head of counterintelligence at CMI and now AMISOM intelligence officer; Lt Col Michael Nyarwa, head of the UPDF Marine Unit; and Lt Col Godwin Karugaba, deputy chief of Logistics and Engineering. This list of other strategically placed soldiers includes: Col Dominic Twesigomwe, the CMI deputy boss who is now attending a military course at the National Defence College, Kenya; and army publicists Col Felix Kulayigye and Lieutenant Colonels Paddy Ankunda and Barigye Bahoku.


But another army source says there are about three groups of a much younger generation compared to the ‘Mayombo 1985 group’ that will provide the future UPDF leadership. One of these groups attended a cadet course in Munduli, Tanzania.

“Intake 37 went to Munduli in 1997 and some of the soldiers in this group are: Lt Col Ddamulira Sserunjogi, director Intelligence, Land Forces; Maj CD Mukasa intelligence officer, first division; Maj Julius Rubakuba, intelligence officer 2nd division and brother to Brig Muhoozi; and Lt Col Bob Ogik, director of the Senior Staff and Command College, Kimaka,” the source revealed.

Later, another cadet group attended the Ghaddafi School of Infantry, including Maj Stuart Agaba, former Aide de Camp to the President, now in Somalia; Maj Felix Bishorozi, OC. Special Coy Special Forces Group; and Capt Napoleon Namanya, head of Museveni’s inner-security circle. Others are: Lt Col Emmanuel Ankunda, political commissar fifth division; Lt Col Chris Ogumiraki, Somalia contingent political commissar; Maj Ephraim Mugume, the military assistant to the Joint Chief of Staff, Maj Gen Robert Rusoke.

Others, still, are: Maj Tanturano Tumuryanze, the chief instructor at Kabamba; Col Tumusiime Katsigazi, a lawyer who heads the Moi Brigade in Nakasongala; and Lt Col Johnson Namanya, a former journalist with The Monitor (now Daily Monitor), who is the administration officer in charge of the UPDF industries in Luwero.

Muhoozi group

Lastly, there is the group that trained and graduated alongside the First Son, Col Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who heads the Special Forces Group (SFG). These soldiers, most of them fresh and effervescent Makerere University graduates, trained at Kaweweta and Kabamba and completed their cadet course at the Ghaddafi School of Infantry.

They include: Muhoozi’s deputy, Lt Col Sabiiti Magyenyi; Lt Col Dan Kakono, the commanding officer of the tank battalion in SFG; and Maj Charity Bainababo, who is the ADC to the First Lady. Others are: Capt Allan Matsiko, in charge of Counterintelligence, SFG; Capt Nabimanya, an intelligence officer in SFG; and Capt Michael Kanyamunyu, in charge Special Investigations Bureau, SFG.

It is this closely knit group that holds a semblance of loyalty to Muhoozi. However, asked whether Muhoozi is the de facto Chief of Defence Forces, an army officer who graduated alongside the First Son said: “Muhoozi, like any other soldier, follows the chain of command and takes orders from above.” Another source said Muhoozi “is disciplined and does not engage in intrigue.”

Nonetheless, controversy continues to swirl over Muhoozi’s military career, with critics arguing that he is poised to succeed his father and that just like the archetypal father-son military regimes, Muhoozi’s role in the army will one day catapult him to the presidency when Museveni retires. But other critics claim regional imbalance remains the Achilles’ heel of the army. Most officers of the army’s top and middle ranks hail from western Uganda, Museveni’s home area.

A soldier who requested not to be named says: “Many of us are unhappy, but we cannot freely speak out on this subject”.
Ndebesa argues that unless the army adopts the identity of a national character, the UPDF largely looks like a personal army.

“A professional army should be loyal to a country rather than an individual.

The fundamental question is; if Museveni leaves, will they accept another Commander-in-Chief — because this appears to be a personal army,” Ndebesa says.
However, a serving officer says: “In the dynamics of Uganda’s military struggle, loyalty, like religion, is absolute and it supersedes any other element.”

Army spokesperson Col Felix Kulayigye scoffed at these claims, insisting that the tribal card does not exist in the army. Labelling it “an old, stale story”, Kulayigye cited Gen Jeje Odongo, Maj Gen Guti and Brig Otema who are all high-ranking non-western army officials.

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+11 #1 Pyati Sololo 2012-01-09 02:26
So what's new? This is just like Idi Amin and the Kakwa or Milton Obote and the Acholi/Langi. When Museveni's army goes, another tribal outfit will take its place and the cycle will continue.
+1 #2 JIm Kamezza 2012-01-09 03:58
UPDF showed total incompetence in Somalia , lack of training equipment has resulted in unnecessary loss of life ,Kenya with less men has done a better job, Ugandan Armies are still only capable of attacking an armed civilians and looting property
+11 #3 A. K Mukasa 2012-01-09 05:31
Is Kulayigye seriously arguing that "..the tribal card does not exist in the army"? Correct me if I am wrong but 35 of the 46 officers named above are westerners. That is 76 percent. Naming three officers who are not from western Uganda as evidence of lack of nepotism/tribal ism is a pathetic attempt by a man who himself is from western Uganda.

What percentage would he consider for "the tribal card to exist"? 100 percent? His crass response is evidence of how out of touch and how arrongant these people are. They have this sense of entitlement because they falsely believe that Ugandan's owe them. Any one who has the temerity to question the blantant tribalism being displayed by the current regime is quickly accused of being secterian. This is another ruse to keep Ugandan's in bondage. "Popular election" just drapes a tactful figleaf over a dictatorship.

A.K Mukasa
+1 #4 Galiwango Daniel 2012-01-09 08:17
A number of the mentioned officers are lawyers,doctors and the like but what is muhooziz proffession besides soldiering? just asking
+1 #5 Francis Onyango 2012-01-09 10:38
this tribal thing is really funny but i think it all depends on who the top is. I agree with you Pyati Sololo
-5 #6 kisaati 2012-01-09 10:54
Your article contains a lot of inaccuracies. For starters Mugira is a Brigadier not a Maj General. Get your facts right before reporting on such sensitive Matters.
+1 #7 andrejzk 2012-01-09 13:06
What is happening in the UPDF is merely a transition like any other institution can have am very sure for any one of the comments made by different readers they would tow the same line of appointing if given the chance to do so notwithstanding the competence levels of those appointed for the various assignments.

As a cointry we should give chance to the full growth of some sectors like the army so as to fully evolve into a national entity which i believe is getting there. The likes of Mr Jim Kamezza who are full of baseless critic should not be given platforms like these.

Criticsm should offer alternative solutions at least and not just for the sake of it. That era Mr Kamezza is long gone! If possible you should try being a kenyan or a soldier for that matter before you open your mouth!
+1 #8 andrejzk 2012-01-09 13:15
Mr Kisaati James Mugira is now a Major General of the UPDF and nolonger a Brigadier
+3 #9 Musaka Muntu 2012-01-09 13:51
Dear All responsible Army Officers.
This article featuring in this news paper is a blessing and positive move towards building a strong and solid nation, am focusing on the one soldier who said many of them are not happy meaning all these general are commanding bigger numbers than general let us turn their strength our advantage and our weakness to opportunity here, I however have a relative in the army advise him/her to watch out on the tribalism and manipulation.
0 #10 kabayekka 2012-01-09 15:48
Indeed one wonders if a movement political system is still in place other than a multi political party system of democracy in this country. One or the other must be declared if Ugandans must not live a democratic political lie.
-2 #11 Ralph Onyango 2012-01-09 16:41
0 #12 Kisaati 2012-01-09 17:59
The biggest problem with uganda is that much as many of us are ignorant, our biggest source of knowledge is media. Which media in some cases presents distorted facts, some times deliberately for resons best known by them. Most of the statistics about updf Presented in media are inaccurate.

Brig James mugira was transferred to luwero industries (no updf industries in luwero) and he was not prompted. As of 9th Jan 2012, mugira is a brigadier though most newspapers misreported that he had been promoted.

Get your facts straight. Consult me for latest updates regarding updf
-1 #13 kizito 2012-01-09 19:54
It is only those people who know how to sucker up.
+1 #14 Paul Anonymous 2012-01-09 21:39
Am suprised Kulaigye Labelled it “an old, stale story.” No wonder for all the time you have served in the army you are still a Col from the west.

I have counted again Out of the 46 big DOGs up there ONLY 11 are from other regions and you confidently say the tribal card does not exist in the army. You are the army spokesman THINK FIRST Before you mamble anything.
I mean no offence.
God bless YOU
+3 #15 A. K Mukasa 2012-01-10 03:29
Whether Mugira is a Major General or Brigadier is de minimis and diversionary. You need to see wood for the trees. The CDF, IGP, chief of CMI to mention but a few, are all from the same region. I stand corrected.

What other evidence do you require? On a balance of probabilities, the civil standard, the case has been made. The "tribal card" does exist in the army.

As correctly identified by the above contributor, what is happening in the UPDF "is merely a transition". However, the transition is from a national army to a tribal outfit. After circa 25 years in existence, the UPDF instead of reflecting the tribal makeup of the country, it is being transformed into a military ethnocracy. I wonder why the above contributor is overly optimistic! Rose tinted glasses I suppose.
+5 #16 Muliibi 2012-01-10 16:03
Is this a national army or a tribal outfit?
-2 #17 TShaka Mayanja 2012-01-10 23:29
Whenever there's a recruitment drive, the entire Buganda gets about 50 people interested (mbu Omuganda tagala geeti etc), while other regions send hundreds of their children to the army. Baganda should shut up on issues to do with the army! We refused to join, let's just watch while others do.
0 #18 TShaka Mayanja 2012-01-10 23:34
Whenever there's UPDF recruitment, Buganda sends the least people to join while other regions flock to join. Mbu "Omuganda tagaala geeti". Baganda should just hold their tongue (bite it) on matters of the army. If we feel we're 'too good' to be soldiers, let others join the ranks while we watch;foolishly if you ask me.
-1 #19 Tim 2012-01-11 07:20
Why always complain that the earmy is dominated by one region.Most of the criticism comes from the Central region, yet it's the region which has always been unwilling to join the earmy which they have regarded inferior.

The ratio of westerners in top earmy positions is the same or less than in the overall force. Also such higher position require academic qualifications as the list above demonstrates. Who among the critics has a close relative with a law degree intending to join the earmy
0 #20 Andrew in Uganda 2012-01-11 11:37
I am sensing that the "Son" is going to succeed the "Father". It will be unfortunate but as person who feats tear gas, i will just sit at my home and watch as things unfolds.
-1 #21 Isaasi 2012-01-11 13:09
Are they not Ugandans? Let's not get tribal about things, when Uganda is under attack, they call rank and file, not surname and nose shape..
-1 #22 Nkongih lll 2012-01-11 15:49
Usual tribal nonsense talk. Uganda has myriads of problems to contend with. Jumping on the tribal bandwangon does more harm than good to the image of the country.
+1 #23 Boyi Yobbo 2012-01-11 19:21
Tshaka Mayanja, please tell us how many westerners were in both Amin and Obote's armies. Then we shall know that disdaining jobs in the army is a ristricted to the Baganda.

Westerners have every incentive to join Museveni's army, to them promotions come faster than they can say "agandi"; while most recruits from elsewhere end up as potato peelers in the same institution.

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