By Dalton Kaweesa & John Katanywa, Red Pepper, August 27, 2012
First Son Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is tipped to become the next the Joint Chief of Staff (JCOS), in a major reshuffle which is keeping the military top brass on tenterhooks, a highly placed source has told us. The Commander-In-Chief (CIC), Gen. Yoweri Museveni has spent the past one week and four days at his country home of Rwakitura working on his next Army and security chiefs’ reshuffle. The President left for Rwakitura immediately after he released his mini-cabinet reshuffle on August 15, 2012. It is again from this up country home that he made two subsequent reshuffles of Envoys and RDCs.
“Museveni had hinted on the possibility of surprising his Generals with the army reshuffle next week while on his official visit to Tehran, Iran but given the fact that his game plan has so far leaked, he may consider releasing it at a future date,” an insider told us on condition that he is not named for fear of reproach. Impeccable sources told us last night that, the CIC is determined to shake up key structures of the army which include: Chief of Defence Forces, Deputy CDF, Commander of Land Forces and the Airforce.
We are told that the strategic beneficiary of the reshuffle is going to be Muhoozi, whose redeployment had been delayed because of lack of a suitable office to match his military accomplishments. “There is no way a person who has completed all the military courses could be returned to a small office of commandant of Special Forces Group (SFG),” a source told us.
The towering youthful soldier who has many prestigious military courses on his belt will replace Maj. Gen Robert Rusoke who has been appointed an envoy to South Sudan. Muhoozi’s elevation to the JCOS is meant to bring in new blood into the army leadership. In the last reshuffle, the president transferred and deployed officers whom he thought are comfortable with the new wave of dynamic cadets in the UPDF.
It is said the CIC believes that with Muhoozi and his click of youthful officers, UPDF will be boosted of novel ideas in its administration. Attending top notch military academies like Sandhurst military and Fort Lavenworth USA, a source said, Col. Muhoozi will be tasked with systematic re-organisation of the army, sending the FRONASA-Munduli group into retirement. Insiders have said that Museveni plans to send many of the older generation soldiers as military attaches and Ambassadors in Uganda’s missions. While the old guards are exited from the real running of the army, militarily aced Muhoozi will be buffered by equally young officers who have been battle tested.
In a fundamental change which is slated for announcement before the Jubilee Independence celebrations of the country, officers Maj. Gen. Charles Oketta, Maj Gen. Fred Mugisha, Brig. Peter Lokech, Brig. James Mugira, Brig. David Muhoozi, Brig. Patrick Kankiriho, Col. Wilson Mbadi (ADC to the President), Col. Kayanja Muhanga, Lt. Col. Sabiiti Mugyenyi Mzee (current Commandant SGF) are scheduled to eat big. We have been told that the biggest size of these officers are to be elevated to the rank of Major general and given key offices in the army. Battle hardened officers like Commandant of Uganda contingent in Somalia Brig. Peter Lokech is planned to be recalled to participate in the re-organisation of the party structures.
We have learnt that in the impending reshuffle, the President will relinquish CDF, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima from his post and leave him as a mere army MP like Gen. Elly Tumwiine. Tumwiine too, was an Army Commander for a year. Gen. Nyakairima is the longest serving Army Commander followed by Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu having been at the helm for more than 9 years. Others have been Gen. Elly Tumwine(1986-1989), Gen.Salim Saleh(1989-1990),Gen.Jeje Odongo(1999-2001),late Maj.Gen. James Kazini(2001-2003).
Nyakairima, sources close to him intimated that, the man from Rukungiri has hinted of hanging his military boots. Others that are set for final retirement include the long list of top commanders Gen. Salim Saleh, Elly Tumwine, David Sejjusa, Jeje Odongo, Moses Ali, Pecos Kutesa, Matayo Kyaligonza, Joram Mugume and Robert Rusoke. In a bid to offer guidance for the young Turks that are going to shoulder the responsibility of the army, the President is said to be dandling the post of CDF between Lt. Gen Ivan Koreta and Lt. Gen Katumba Wamala.
The duo, a source has said will be elevated to the rank of full general. Before appointing any of two to the prestigious and influential post, source say, military strategists have implored Museveni to consider their Commanders duration in office held, performance, discipline, loyalty and the level of training. Highly placed sources said that after the chopper crash, an overhaul in the Airforce command is eminent. With the appointment of Gen. Salim Saleh to probe the crash, many old faces in the Maj. Gen. Jim Owesigyire led sector will not make it back.
Why Army Reshuffle
Our always impeccable sources have confirmed to us that there are four solid grounds which are the basis for his impending reshuffle. Among these include: the controversial saga of three air force choppers that crashed in Kenya this month, purging out army or security chiefs who have been interesting their colleagues with succession politics, promoting and deploying young Turks who have since completed further studies and tasks successfully and the recent transfer of Gen. Robert Rusoke from the juicy post of Joint Chief of Staff to Uganda’s envoy to South SudanN.
Chopper Crash Saga
The immediate spark for the reshuffle has a bearing on the crash of three MI-24 helicopters on August 11, in Kenya. Shocked by the accident, Museveni immediately appointed his younger brother, Gen. Salim Saleh as head of the investigations team to probe the crash. The President has also remained consistently in touch on phone with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki in establishing what went wrong. Insiders have confirmed to us that even though Saleh has not come up with the final report, he has given Museveni convincing clues on the primary questions he tasked him to investigate for him first. These include: *Who proposed and finally chose the fateful route where the choppers crashed from – was it the UPDF or Kenyan Defence Leadership, Did the Kenyan leadership indicate to Ugandan pilots the challenges of that route like bad weather and its mountainous nature?, If it is the Kenyan authorities that chose this route, did they propose to their Ugandan counterparts any alternative route?, Was the Kenyan army comfortable with UPDF fighting alongside them in Somalia? Do these crashes have a bearing with the way the chopper of former Kenyan Minister Prof. George Saitoti crashed? At the time of the crashes, were the Ugandan pilots having communication with the Kenyan aviation/Defence authorities and In case of sabotage, did the saboteur take advantage of the pre-publicity which the UPDF press unit gave to this mission before they were flagged off by Gen. Aronda Nyakairima at Entebbe? Other Museveni questions Saleh has given convincing clues to include: whether the Kenyan Air force has been using the same fateful route for its choppers in the recent times, Concerns that the choppers were in bad mechanical conditions, on whether the choppers loads at the time of the crashes were in conformity with the utmost recommended weight, questions as to whether bad weather contributed to the cause of the crashes, Who are the main beneficiaries of these crashes and why, Who first got to know about the crashes and how and possible clues that any terrorist group may have had a hand in the crashes.
Actually, a number of UPDF Generals and security chiefs are on tenterhooks after establishing that Museveni has made in-roads in these investigations making it a precursor for his impending army reshuffle. For instance, last Saturday when the bodies of the seven air force soldiers, who perished in the choppers were returned home, Defence State Minister, Gen. Jeje Odongo described the six days ever since the helicopters crashed as a difficult week. “It has been a very difficult week, a week of anxiety. On the other hand, Gen. Jim Owoyesigire, the Airforce Chief started his speech in a breaking tone but later regained.
Gen. Rusoke Transfer
Reports of this reshuffle have gained credence following last weekend’s events. Already, the fifth most powerful position within the UPDF structure – Joint Chief of staff is vacant. This came up following Museveni’s decision to transfer Maj. Gen. Robert Rusoke from the above juicy job to Juba, South Sudan as Uganda’s pioneer ambassador. Much as Museveni was irked by a mountain of Rusoke’s weaknesses, insiders in UPDF say that last week’s transfer of Rusoke to Juba is a soft landing he has given to this senior officer from Tooro. In spite of his weaknesses, Museveni also appreciates Rusoke’s other achievements. It should be recalled that Rusoke came to the limelight in October 2005 when General Museveni promoted and transferred the then Col. Rusoke, who was at the East African Community Secretariat in Arusha to the rank of Brigadier and named him the Joint Chief of Staff, a post below the Commander-In-Chief, Chief of Defense Forces, the Commander of Land Forces (Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala) and Airforces (Lt. Gen. Jim Owesigire) in the current structure. Some months after, Museveni promoted Rusoke to the rank of Major General after he was impressed with the task of professionalising the army he had assigned him to carry on. That explains why Museveni didn’t want to embarrass Rusoke by outrightly dropping him in the impending army reshuffle.
Defusing Succession Politics
It has also emerged that just like the Cabinet, RDCs and Envoys reshuffle, in the impending army, security and intelligence chiefs reshuffle, Museveni is aiming at purging out individuals who are suspected to be creating cliques and advancing presidential ambitions of some politicians in this sensitive institution. In fact, Museveni is reported to be focusing a lot on security circles where a number of security chiefs are reported to have got influenced and interested in the succession politics talk.
LT. GEN. EDWARD KATUMBA WAMALA
Katumba Wamala was an officer in the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), at the time the National Resistance Army (NRA) defeated the UNLA in 1986. He transitioned into the NRA without incident. Between 1999 and 2001, at the rank of Major General, he commanded the UPDF forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He was appointed the Inspector General of Police in Uganda in 2001, to become the first Military officer to serve in the highest capacity within the Uganda Police Force. He served in that capacity until 2005. He was then promoted to Lieutenant General and given the title of Commander of Land Forces based at Bombo Military Barracks, making him one of the highest senior officers in the Ugandan military today. In his role as Commander of the Land Forces, he has been closely engaged in the peace-keeping mission that the UPDF perform in war ravaged Somalia.
Should Museveni pick on him, he will be elevated to the army rank of full general and will belong to the Munduli club of cadets like Gen. Elly Tumwine, Gen. Jeje Odong, Maj. Gen. Pecos Kutesa and Maj. Gen. Joram Mugume to mention but a few. His strongest claim to the CDF office is that he is a Muganda.
LT. GEN. IVAN KORETA
Koreta was a teenager when he joined the struggle with FRONASA in the late 70s. He trained in Mozambique before returning to fight Idi Amin. When Museveni went to the bush, Koreta joined him. During the capture of Kampala, he was in-charge of the 13th battalion that was tasked to block the major Kampala-Gulu Road at Matugga. Koreta has since served in several capacities, including leading a Ugandan peace-keeping force to Liberia and being a deputy spy chief. He was also the first commandant of Uganda’s elite Kimaka Senior Staff College in Jinja and at one point headed the Court Martial. He is currently the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces (D/CDF).
Who Is Col. Muhoozi
Muhoozi, 38, until recently was the Commander of SFG responsible for his father’s security, qualifies him for this job without much fuss. Close family sources say Kainerugaba started military training in 1994 after he left high school. But he did not formally join the UPDF until 1999. He was admitted to the Royal Military College Sandhurst, graduating in 2000. He was later admitted to Egyptian Military Academy where he took both the company and battalion commanders’ courses. He also has attended the Kalama Warfare Training School in Kabamba, Mubende District, Central Uganda. In 2007 he was admitted to a one-year course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, graduating in June 2008.
He is fresh and among the few Ugandan military gurus who have attended commandant courses in South Africa