Forces: April 3, 2004

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March 24, 2004: With the African Union's move to create some sort of continental unified military force, several governments are probably reviewing their internal security forces. These "Praetorian Guards" will be the guarantee that those in power keep the status quo even as neighbors pretend to cooperate, since elections are often disputed and political intrigue never goes out of style.

For the last five years, Uganda's Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) has been under going restructuring. They were officially redesignated from a Presidential Protection Unit (PPU) in February 2003. Once only about 2,000 to 3,000 strong, local media claims that the Presidential Guard Brigade now musters up to 10,000 men (about 7,000 to 6,000 soldiers more than a normal brigade). While an Army spokesman declined to establish the exact strength of the PGB, he defended its size because of their wide-ranging mission. In addition to a garrison in the capital Kampala, PGB soldiers have to be at every presidential lodge in the country. By way of justification, Museveni subsequently told Ugandan politicians that he was tired of begging for protection from the regular army and police whenever he traveled.

The PGB is independent of the regular army and has it's own equipment budget. The PGB has  artillery, tank and armored units. Equipment includes anti-aircraft guns, tanks, Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Mine Protected Vehicles (like the Mamba and Buffalo). In April 1999, at least 120 Israeli military instructors had been brought in to train the PPU in artillery and tank combat skills while the Israeli firm "Silver Shadow" imported Sterling assault rifles into Uganda, presumably for PPU use.

In all likelihood, the PGB probably musters around 4,000 men. Based on media reports of promotions, one can deduce that the PGB has a motorized infantry battalion and a mechanized infantry battalion with armor, as well as at least one independent company guarding a Presidential lodge.

Lieutenant General Salim Saleh, commander of Uganda's Reserve Force, has overseen the restructuring and Lieutenant Colonel Leo Kyanda is the PGB commandant, with it's headquarters at Entebbe. One interesting note was that some of PGB soldiers will be stationed in every other regular battalion. Presumably, these are Liaison Officers (LNOs), but one can't help being reminded of the old Soviet Army's Political Officers (keeping an eye on the loyalty of the army).

When Joseph Kony, rebel leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) went on the offensive early in 2003, Museveni ordered the PGB  into the campaign against Kony's rebels in northern Uganda. In late August/early September 2003, the PGB was in Soroti district guarding the president as he oversaw operations against the LRA terrorist incursions in the region. A PGB patrol came across a truck that had just been ambushed, and scattered the rebels. However, despite all the money and material invested in this unit, it hasn't made many headlines in the ongoing fight against the LRA.

The Presidential Guard has had several embarrassing moments. A PGB intelligence officer deserted in October 2003 while accompanying President Museveni to Japan and Thailand. He is now doing casual jobs in Japan. In January 2004, the PGB was even among the Ugandan units probed by the committee on 'ghost' soldiers (officers claiming soldiers existed that did not, and then pocketing the pay of the "ghosts"). 

In December 2001, at the end of a two-week mission to oversee a disarmament program, Karamojong tribesmen ambushed one of the PPU patrols only about 25 kilometers from where President Museveni was camped. Museveni was unsymapthetic, since he had specifically warned them to be "extra alert". He was even quoted saying "the Karamojong did good to wake them up because they were asleep". Back when relations with Rwanda were tight (pre-1998), there were times when Museveni purged his presidential guard and brought in the members of the Rwandan Peoples Army. - Adam Geibel

Uganda Security Information 
http://www.iss.co.za/AF/profiles/Uganda/SecInfo.html. 

 


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