Baledogle Military Airfield – Somalia: Brig Gen Ham Atwooki Kaija who has been the commander of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) Aviation Unit for the last two years, handed over to Col George Buga Andrua today. The hand and take-over function took place at Baledogle Military Airfield 110 km Northwest of the capital city of Mogadishu.
Presiding over the hand/ take over the ceremony, Brig Gen Peter Gaetano Omola, the sector one commander, congratulated Brig Gen Kaija for the successful completion of his tour of duty. He said Brig Kaija demonstrated astuteness skills, resilience and reinvigorated the force multiplier in the war theatre. He alluded to Aviation Utilities in the fight against Alshabaab terrorists as a game changer. “Your sacrifice, bravery, determination and teamwork have guaranteed our survivability as well as degrading Alshabaab,” applauded Brig Gen Omola. He added, “We have had good working relationship with Aviation Unit and the aviation utilities have been a game changer without them we would not have been where we are now.”
The sector one commander further congratulated Col Buga Andrua for having been chosen as Commander ATMIS Aviation Unit. He cautioned the incoming commander not to take the responsibility given for granted but encourage teamwork and always seek advice across all spectrums. “You have heard how these people have been working. With the wealth of experience you have in this field am looking forward to working with you. As military, teamwork is paramount. I assure you of my support to carry out your tasks. There are a lot of challenges but the job is doable,” said Gen Omola.
While reading his handover report, Brig Gen Atwook Kaija noted that since the deployment of the UPDF Aviation unit in the mission area, the armed military helicopters have had several successful operations in support of the joint forces in sectors; 1, 3, 4 and 5. “All operations are conducted in accordance with ATMIS mandate, concept of operations, Standard Operating Procedures and Letter of Assist. Our aircrafts have managed to save lives of our own, friendly forces as well as put out of action many Alshabaab and destroying their weaponry,” stated Brig Gen Kaija.
Col George Buga Andrua thanked UPDF leadership for entrusting him with the noble responsibility of commanding the Aviation Unit. He pledged to work diligently with high spirit and fit in the larger shoes of his predecessor.
The UPDF Aviation unit was deployed in Somalia in August 2020 in response to the AMISOM/ ATMIS harmonized concept of operation which provided in part for the development of an air asset as a force multiplier for peace support operations in Somalia. Among other close air support operations conducted, include; rapid casualty evacuation, insertion and extraction of troops, and destruction of Alshabaab targets.
The hand/ take over ceremony was attended by, Col John Bosco Kalyango; the sector one Contingent Administration Officer (CAO), Lt Col Kefa Mukomba; the deputy Aviation commander, Lt Col Peter Barigye; the deputy Battle Group 36 commander, and all heads of department Aviation unit.