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1 RIFLES deploys to Uganda

A Training Team from 1 RIFLES recently deployed to Uganda as part of a multi-national training mission.

Members of 1 RIFLES have deployed to Uganda for 3 months as part of a multi-national training force which includes French, Danish, US and Dutch personnel. Their mission is to help train the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) in preparation for its upcoming Operational Tour of Somalia. The UPDF Battlegroup they are instructing will work as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia which aims to stabilise Somalia and disrupt the terrorist organisation Al-Shabaab.

Based at Uganda’s largest training camp in Singo, the trainers from 1 RIFLES have been helping to run a 2 week “Train the Trainer” Course focusing on giving Ugandan Instructors the knowledge to teach their own soldiers a variety of skills such as Battlefield Casualty Drills, basic infantry techniques and how to counter Improvised Explosive Devices. All of these lessons will prove vital when the UPDF deploy to Somalia later in the year. At the end of the Initial Training Course, the Ugandan Instructors were told “this is all about you. We are here to help and mentor but the aim is for Ugandans to teach Ugandans”.

Captain Simon Reed who is heading up the 1 RIFLES team explained “the focus is very much on enabling Ugandan instructors to teach the troops deploying. After the Train the Trainer Course we will observe the UPDF instructors in a further 10 weeks of training and work to improve the quality of instruction provided by the permanent staff at Singo. The long term goal is to have a Ugandan training establishment which can train its troops to a high level, sustaining the mission in Somalia. Ultimately this will increase the effectiveness of the UPDF doing an important job in Somalia and hopefully save lives.”

After 10 weeks in of the training the UPDF Battlegroup will complete a 2 week Final Test Exercise to ensure they are ready to deploy on Operations. A larger team of around 30 Officers and NCOs from 1 RIFLES will travel to Uganda to bolster the training team and help to run a realistic and demanding exercise for the UPDF. Testing all 3000 soldiers in the Battlegroup it will reflect all the challenges they are likely to face in Somalia covering low level infantry skills through to Battlegroup planning, stabilisation operations and advanced vehicle moves in difficult terrain.

Serjeant Hardy who is part of the 1 RIFLES team explained that “working with the Ugandans has been challenging at times but a great experience. They are keen to learn and both the trainers and the trainees are focused by the knowledge that the UPDF will be in Somalia facing real threats within a few months. Whatever we can do to help is worthwhile.”

Supported by the British Peace Support Team (East Africa) the 1 RIFLES team are working hard to ensure the UPDF are as well trained as they possibly can be for the threats and challenges in Somalia.