Following the recent presidential warning about the laxity in the command as to why cattle rustling has persisted in Karamoja despite recent deployment, the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) has deployed additional troops in the 3 divisions in the Karamoja sub-region.
The 501 Infantry Brigade under the command of Colonel Benard Kashemeza is headquartered in Abuku, Abim district, whereas the 81 Infantry Battalion, commanded by Maj. Stephen Omonyi, which previously operated in Abim, was re-adjusted to cover Agago district.
This follows a recent joint security assessment of the situation led by Brig. Gen. Felix Busizoori, the Deputy Division Commander who pitched camp in the district last month.
“Based on the security situation and assessment, we have tactically deployed and re-adjusted troops for peace to prevail. Peace in Abim means peace in Otuke, Agago, and parts of Kitgum,” said Brig. Gen. Busizoori.
The brigade-sized troops are tasked with conducting decisive operations to secure Abim district, while 81, headquartered at Labworodwong barracks, will take charge of Agago district.
Mr. James Shilaku, Resident District Commissioner (RDC) Abim, district leaders, and residents welcomed the new deployments.
“The UPDF has given us good shape and commitment to change the previous situation into a peaceful one,” said Mr. Shilaku.
He noted that previously the security situation in the district was characterized by isolated incidences of murder, cattle thefts, arson, and kidnappings by some criminal elements, yet Abim is a non-raiding community.
The RDC appealed to the residents to cooperate with security forces in providing timely and accurate information regarding criminal elements for prompt response.
Capt. (Rtd.) Yuventine Omara, the LCV Chairperson, thanked the UPDF leadership for honoring the district’s request for additional deployment of troops.
The Chairperson explained that the Abim district council passed a resolution and offered UPDF 300 acres of land in Arerek sub-county. He asked the division leadership and Military Land Board to closely work with the district to expedite the title process.
Hon. Omara called on the local council system to work as a team and desist from charcoal burning as it depletes forestry cover and worsens environmental degradation.
The deployed brigade was received and oriented by Col. Wilberforce Karate Sserunkuma, the acting deputy 2 Division Commander and outgoing 405 Brigade Commander.
Col. Karate is a seasoned and historical senior officer who has commanded troops in various battle engagements, including foreign missions, and has stood the test of time. He was elevated in recent army appointments and will soon hand over the command mantle to his incoming counterpart, Col. David Byaruhanga.
The security harmonization meeting agreed on a number of modalities and strategies geared toward making security forces perform efficiently.
Later, the joint team met and interacted with the people of Abuku, Abim, Kiru, Morulem, and Nyakwae sub-counties, among others, to discuss the way forward.
Karamoja cattle rustling has been ongoing for a long time, with residents losing their cattle to rustlers and some losing their lives in the process of cattle raids.