US Africa Command boss discusses regional security in Uganda
KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — The head of the U.S. military’s Africa Command, on a visit to Uganda, on Wednesday awarded the U.S. Legion of Merit to six Ugandan military officers, including the country’s top military commander, according to the U.S. Embassy in Uganda.
Gen. David M. Rodriguez bestowed the awards, including to Uganda’s top commander, Gen. Katumba Wamala. Rodriguez’ visit and the awards highlight Uganda’s role as key ally in the fight against Islamic extremists in Africa.
“Because of these leaders, because of what they have done in command of troops out in Somalia, the Somali people have a chance to live a better life,” Rodriguez said, according to a release from the Ugandan military.
The other officers who received the Legion of Merit have previously served as commanders of Ugandan troops in Somalia, where Uganda’s government was the first to deploy troops to protect the weak government from the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab, who are linked to al-Qaida.
The Ugandans are in Somalia as part of the U.S.-backed African Union peacekeeping mission.
“If we had not done what we, together with our partners, did in Somalia, the country would be a very big safe haven for the terrible guys and the effects would be far reaching,” Wamala said. “We promise never to let down our ever-committed partners and the people of Somalia. We’ll make sure the majority good people live a comfortable life and the few bad guys who sometimes have the monopoly of guns do not make life difficult for the many. We’ll remain focused on that and ensure the region is stable.”
Ugandan troops and U.S. forces, acting as military advisers, are also cooperating in the hunt for the fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony in the jungles of central Africa.