Africa Defense Forum
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Ugandan Military to Enhance Professionalism With Doctorate Program


Ugandan military officers will soon have the opportunity to pursue a doctorate in Defense and Security Studies as part of an expansion of degree opportunities by the National Defence College.

Maj. Gen. Henry Matsiko, chief political commissar of the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), announced the new degree during a recent celebration of the first 49 officers to graduate with bachelor’s degrees in Defence and Security Studies from Makerere University in Kampala.

“This is a historic moment in the professionalization of the UPDF,” Matsiko said.

By sponsoring officers to earn a university degree in defense and security, military and national leaders were making an investment in future leaders, Matsiko said, according to the Monitor.

The bachelor’s degree is the latest step toward improving the education of UPDF officers. Makerere University began a master’s degree program in Defense and Security Studies in 2015 and graduated its first class in 2019.

Professionalism — and the improved security that comes with it — have been at the heart of the UPDF operations for decades.

“Development without security is not sustainable, and security without development is not durable,” the authors of a white paper on transforming Uganda’s defense wrote in 2004.

President Yoweri Museveni created what is now the UPDF as the National Resistance Army as a guerrilla leader more than 40 years ago. The National Resistance Army became the UPDF with the adoption of a new constitution in 1995. At the time, Uganda was criticized by the World Bank for how much of its national budget went to maintain the then-100,000 members of the military.

Over the past two decades, Uganda’s leadership has shrunk the UPDF to about 40,000 members, including the UPDF Air Force. Leaders have also worked to root out corruption in the military and bring it in line with international standards through extensive training and exercises with other nations.

The military operates nearly 20 training academies around the country. The National Defence College admitted its first students in 2022.

The UPDF has become an important contributor to peacekeeping operations, most notably AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia. The UPDF was the first military to deploy with AMISOM in 2007. It remains the largest force on the ground in Somalia, with more than 6,200 troops on the ground in Mogadishu and the surrounding regions serving in what is now known as the African Transition Mission in Somalia.

Among other things, UPDF members have also been deployed as part of the Regional Task Force pursuing the Lord’s Resistance Army in neighboring countries and have pledged to send 1,000 troops to support the East African Community’s mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

During recent observances of Terehe Sita — the date marking the founding of the UPDF in 1981 — in February, Thomas Tayebwa, the deputy speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, praised the military for its skill and its professionalism.

“As an army, you are the true heroes of our nation,” Tayebwa said. “Your gallant and valiant actions have earned our country great honor and respect.”

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