Peacekeeping: Uganda Makes It Happen

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February 1, 2014: Uganda has had peacekeepers in Somalia since 2007. Ugandan troops are the largest national contingent of the Somalia peacekeeping force. That means that about 15 percent of the Ugandan Army is on duty in Somalia. The troops selected to be peacekeepers undergo additional training before heading off for Somalia.

Currently there are six battalions of Ugandan infantry in Somalia plus some support troops. The peacekeepers serve for a year and many troops have been to Somalia more than once. But it is dangerous, with each unit suffering up to ten percent casualties (dead and wounded) while in Somalia. Because of that the army has had a hard time obtaining sufficient qualified personnel each year. To obtain the required number of troops the army has been recalling former and retired soldiers as well as the best men from local defense militias (which protect villages against bandits and tribal raiding parties). This year about a third of the peacekeepers will be from these sources. These men are probably only to going to do this once, in part for the adventure and in part for the money (over a thousand dollars a month, which is a lot if you are already drawing a pension or living out in the bush).

Before heading off to Somalia troops receive three months of training. Two months is handled mostly by the Ugandan army but the third month is handled mostly by foreign trainers and concentrates on specific peacekeeping issues. In 2012 Uganda has set up a special training camp for army troops headed for peacekeeping duty in Somalia. Ugandan, and foreign (mostly Western), soldiers who have already operated inside Somalia are part of the instructional staff. The Peace Support Operations Training Center in Uganda conducts courses ranging from a few days to over a month and teaches peacekeepers combat and peacekeeping tactics known to work best in the area where they will operate. The UN has such centers all over the world, usually close to where large numbers of peacekeepers will operate. For over a decade, the UN has operated a peacekeeping force of over 100,000 troops, deployed to over a dozen major operations. Each is different, and each requires special training for the new peacekeepers.

 

 


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