Below are the groups that make up the UPDF. An alphabetic listing of the UPDF would probably show that, about 40% of the surnames start with letter ‘O’, and not because they are Otafiire, Owoyesigire, Owakubariho Omulyannaka, Omutego-kweguli or Owobusingye. It is the ‘Okellos’, again! Infact the single name ‘Okello’ may be anything up to 10%.
It may not be advisable to assume that 80% of the force is from one ethnic group. I would suggest that you get yourself acquainted as quickly as you can,to the reality that, the rank and file of the Ugandan military is an amalgam of at least two dozen pliticomilitary groups that have graced the country in the last three or so decades, and not those Tutsis and Rwandese as many of you here like to refer to them. The NRA is just one out those many groups that make up the UPDF, and the original NRA soldier is now a very, very, very rare commodity. And by the way, that is not to imply that, yeah, good riddance.
One time, James Kazini, the disgraced former head of the UPDF boasted that there were about 6,000 UPDFs from Nyabushozi county only. I do not think he really knew what he was talking about.
Here are the groups:
1. National Resistance Army (NRA)
2. Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA)
3. Uganda People’s Democratic Army (UPDM/A)
4. Uganda People’s Army (UPA)
5. Ruwenzururu Kingdom Freedom Movement
6. Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM)
7. Uganda Mujahdeen Movement (UMM)
8. Ninth October Movement/Army (NOM/A)
9. Allied Democratic Front/Force (ADF)
10. Force Obote Back Army (FOBA),
11. Federal Democratic Movement (Fedemo)
12. West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) I &II
13. Uganda National Democratic Alliance (UNDA)
14. National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU)
15. Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF) I &II
16. Holy Spirit Movement/Holy Spirit Mobile Forces (HSM) I & II
17. Citizen Army for Multiparty Politics (CAMP),
18. Action Restore Justice (ARJ)
19. Former Uganda National Army (FUNA),
20. Anti-Referendum Army (ARA),
21. Peoples’ Redemption Army (PRA)
22. Uganda Salvation Force/Army (USF/A)
23. Lord’s Army
24. Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)
Many of the UPDF riflemen were born after 1986…may be 90% of the young boys in UPDF battalions. The UPC many of them know is the group that in the 2006 elections polled 0.82% of the votes, behind a young independent man that polled 0.95%. That is all they know!
Many are from the groups I have listed for you above. They joined the UPDF to earn a living, they work under severe hardships, when their bosses are busy stealing their pay and procuring for them substandard equipment. Several were integrated into the UPDF from anti-NRM insurgency groupings which they were gangpressed into joining, through grissly initiations like murdering their own parents and siblings.
The great majority of those boys are yearning for a change that can make their situation better than it is now. 100% of those boys who joined the UPDF through regular recruitment did not receive pay as recruits because Uganda is the only country in the world that does not pay its recruit during the first nine or more months of initial training. This is the situation in the UPDF, and ironically, that was the situation in the UNLA…..
Just as an example, A Ugandan Colonel (whether Acholi, Langi or Munyankore) earns about the equivalent of $ 6,000 per year where as his British counterpart earns $150,000. That UPDF Colonel needs to hear voices that promise to alleviate his plight, and not those like yours, that are bent on demonising him. A future government that holds childish views about the hard-pressed UPDF soldier definitely alienates itself in advance.
For those of you who keep referring to the UPDF as ‘Tutsi/Rwandese’, you cannot imagine what anger you cause for young boys who are living under serious hardships. Somehow, you end up politicising them, and poisoning them against your own interests.
We are all sympathetic with the conditions of our civil servants and soldiers serve in due to their numerical strength; police, army, teachers, nurses. Our economy can not make make for them havens. Unlike UA and UNLA, this is a people’s army which has successfully transformed from a guerilla force to a professional army. They are political but not partisan, so they know from where we have come from, where we have reached and where we are going. Some of you seem not confortable with the name NRA. But let me remind you that when DP wanted to change UNLA name to UA,. UPC led by Defence Minister Paulo Muwanga refused. Fortunately UPDF was a consensus in Constituent Assembly since the army was NRA, the draft recommended for UAF and they all agreed with UPDF. Initially Sebaana Kizito was not confirtable with it because of the word people which, he said would reminding him of UPC and its atrocities. The army and the media are so crucial in the politics of Uganda and else where and those who are hostile to them will never see the gates of State House.
One of the stupid things President George Bush was to dismantle the Iraqi army, one million strong. It has taught him and his occupiers a lesson. A similar mistake was made by Tanzanians in 1979 when they banded Uganda Armed Forces as Idi Amin’s personal army. They regrouped in the Sudan and DR Congo and almost went with Obote and Okello Lutwa’s heads in Koboko in 1980. Ask Barig.Robert Rwenhururu.They became a prey for Isaac Lumago, Moses Ali, Faruq Minawa, Lutakome Kayiira and Yoweri Museveni’s recruitment against Obote ll regime. Brig.Kasirye Gwanga has been giving testimonies to that effect. Therefore any politician abusing UPDF will never step into power even for a day.
L/Cpl (rtd) Otto Patrick and Ahmed Katerega