Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja, the Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs, recently announced that the UPDF is in the process of reviewing the officer selection process for professional courses and combat deployment. This statement was made during the graduation ceremony of 47 senior officers from the East African Community at the Senior Command and Staff College (SCSC) Kimaka in Jinja District.
The rigorous one-year course undertaken by these officers covered various military exercises, high-level operational tactics, planning, management, and mission execution. Notably, UPDF hosted 36 students, while the other EAC countries, namely Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Rwanda, enrolled two students each. Additionally, South Africa contributed one student officer, Lt. Col. Phineas Noko Senyatsi, who tragically passed away during the course, leading to a moment of silence to remember him.
Addressing concerns of nepotism during officer appointments, Minister Ssempijja informed that a commission of inquiry has been established to investigate such allegations. The commission aims to take appropriate disciplinary actions against those found responsible and make strategic recommendations to tighten the criteria used in UPDF appointments to prevent future loopholes.
Emphasizing the importance of enrolling only capable officers in senior command courses, Ssempijja stated that such courses prepare officers for high-level command and administrative roles. He highlighted the need to nurture competent commanders and prevent deploying unprepared relatives who might face challenges when combating highly mobile and efficient militants, as witnessed during an attack by al-Shabaab on a UPDF base in Somalia.
Looking ahead, the Ministry plans to expand the learning facilities at the Staff College to enhance the educational experience. Lt. Gen. Peter Elwelu, the Deputy Chief of Defense Forces, stressed that brilliancy, academic excellence, and teamwork are vital prerequisites for candidates aspiring to pursue the senior command course, emphasizing that these qualities cannot be faked.
Lt. Col. Philip Mugizi, the top-performing student, attributed the general excellence of all learners to the power of teamwork. Throughout the course, concepts were learned through group discussions, joint field exercises, and trips.
In conclusion, the UPDF aims to revamp its officer selection process and enhance the quality of training at the Staff College to groom proficient commanders for future leadership roles.