The Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces yesterday hosted the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda and 62nd students in take from the National Defence College, New Delhi, India at the Ministry Headquarters, Mbuya.
The student officers are in Uganda for a study tour of the security of the country.
In his remarks, the Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon Vincent Ssempijja, who was the chief host, welcomed the Indian High Commissioner Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Uganda, His Excellency Ajay Kumar and NDC delegation to Uganda and emphasised that the visit was a demonstration of the long-standing partnership and cooperation between the two sister countries, Uganda and India.“Since 1986 when the NRM assumed government, our countries have greatly deepened bilateral relations in various spheres such as defence and security cooperation, trade and investments, education and technological transfer, cultural exchanges and health.” Hon Ssempijja observed.
Hon Ssempijja further emphasised that having emerged from the period of total political and economic collapse in the 1970s, Uganda has registered milestones in the security, political and economic spheres.
He underscored that working within the framework of regional and continental security mechanisms, Uganda has continued to play its role in ensuring regional/continental peace and stability. Further adding that, many of the security challenges faced today, are structural, springing from colonial legacies, poverty and economic marginalisation, weak state institution or outright absence of good governance. “The only way we can move out of this conundrum as a continent is to rethink our security strategies. As defence policy strategists and senior leaders, you need to be alive to these facts so as to be able to able to design strategies that can enhance human security and public safety.” Hon Ssempijja remarked.
Hon Ssempijja stressed that building state-to-state and military-to-military relations has the potential to greatly enhance collective security. Further adding that cooperation should be supplemented by operationalisation of regional security mechanisms such as, the East African Standby force so that regional entities can jointly respond to crises and other security scenarios whenever they arise.
Answering a question by a visiting Indian NDC student, Brig Manish Sahdev about the relationship between Uganda and India in the next 10 years,
Hon Ssempijja pointed out that while India has always supported Uganda in very many different ways, there is still need to plan for more training, share more expertise and technology and research, exchange programs and loans for Uganda government to purchase more equipment to improve its military capacity.
The Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lt Gen Peter Elwelu representing the CDF called for a minute of silence for the repose of the soul of the Indian Defence Chief Gen Bipin Rawat (RIP) who died in a helicopter crash in December 2021.
He thanked the National Defence College New Delhi for choosing Uganda for their study tour. He pointed out that the relationship between Uganda, India is excellent, and that India is at the forefront of most of the things happening in Uganda. Especially in health, technology and military benchmarking. “Our patients are handled very well when they fly to India for treatment,” he added. He wished all a successful visit to the country.
The Head of Delegation of the visiting NDC student officer Brig Anil Kumar Pundir, SM, thanked the Minister of Defence, UPDF leadership and the entire Government of Uganda for the hospitality extended to his team during the visit. He highlighted that the NDC New Delhi, India was established in 1960 and runs an 11- month program handling 120 officers from various friendly countries all over the world. He was happy to note their students include a Ugandan officer, Gen Patrick Ocan (a psychiatrist by profession). “The college generally focuses on the study of ever emerging global issues”, he pointed out.
He congratulated Uganda for starting their own NDC this year and pledged his college’s commitment to signing a memorandum of understanding for closer cooperation. He concluded by presenting a memento to the Minister of Defence and Deputy CDF.
In attendance were the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda HE Ajay Kumar, the JCOS Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda, the CPC Maj Gen Henry Masiko, the CPA Maj Gen George Igumba among other Generals and Senior Officers of the UPDF