The Ministry of Defence and Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) have promised to investigate the criteria used for selecting senior army officers sent for diploma, degree and masters courses in military-related fields at the Senior Command and Staff College, Kimaka, in Jinja City.
Mr Vincent Ssempijja, the minister of Defence, said the investigation comes after a senior army officer, who was not meant for training at the college, failed to graduate last Thursday.
A total of 47 senior army officers of the 2022/2023 intake graduated in a colourful ceremony at the college.
“We are going to investigate how he came here because these are some of the issues the commander-in-chief was complaining about following what took place in Somalia,” Mr Ssempijja said.
Last month, several Ugandan soldiers were killed in an al-Shabaab attack on a base of peacekeepers who are serving under the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS).
It is alleged that the officer, whose identity, rank and department were not disclosed, failed all the course units, which were being taught by instructors and lecturers from Uganda Management Institute, Makerere and Kyambogo universities.
Mr Ssempijja said his ministry is going to tighten the systems by ensuring that the people who are chosen to go to Somalia are competent to avoid “ashaming” the UPDF.
He added: “All loopholes are going to be investigated and whoever has selected that officer will be handled accordingly, including being prosecuted and punished.”
The minister said he will hold talks with the President regarding the need to expand the college to accommodate at least 100 students, up from the current intake of less than 50 students.
Lt Gen Peter Elwelu, the deputy Chief of Defence Forces, said it was “disappointing” for a senior army officer to spend 47 weeks and leave the college without a certificate.
“This is a lack of seriousness because once you are selected for this course, the least we expect is death. If you did not pass, we are going to investigate how you ended up here; it is a serious matter and I want to be on record,” he said.
Lt Gen Elwelu congratulated the officers upon their successful completion of the course and encouraged them to put the knowledge they have acquired into practice.
Maj Gen George Igumba, the commandant of the college, said the 47 army officers comprised 36 from Uganda, with Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, and South Sudan having two each, while South Africa had one.
He, however, said the South African student, Lt Col Phineas Noko Senyatsi, did not make it to his graduation because he passed away in his country.
According to Maj Gen Igumba, the officers were selected from the various UPDF department units, including air force, Land Forces and Special Force Command.
About staff college
The Senior Command and Staff College was established in 2004 to give capacity building to UPDF officers in military training, national and international relations, welfare, cybercrime, and anti-terrorism among others.