Kampala — BURUNDI peace keepers are deploying in Somalia in two weeks time to bolster the pacification efforts by the Ugandan contingent, the UPDF Chief of Training and Operations, Brig. Silver Kayemba has said.
"In a fortnight's time, Burundi's peace keepers will be deploying in Somalia," Brig. Kayemba said at the award of French language diplomas to 24 UPDF officers yesterday.
The ceremony took place at Mr Rene Forceville, the French ambassador's Residence in Kampala. For six years several UPDF officers have been attending French classes organised for them every year by the French Embassy.
Within the sphere of bilateral co-operation, Ugandan officers are regularly sponsored and sent to international military schools for peace keeping such as Koulikoro (Mali) and Thies (Senegal), a statement from the embassy said. It added other officers attend courses for specialised army officers in Paris, Montpellier, Strasbourg, and Montlouis (France).
Brig. Kayemba said some of yesterday's graduands in French may be deployed to help the UPDF interact with the Burundi contingents. Burundi, a French speaking country has promised to provide over 1700 troops but they have been delayed for logistical purposes.
French Defence attaché, Lt. Col. Pascal Bayle, said UPDF officers need to study French because the eastern neighbours are French speakers and the forces will be more involved in multinational operations.
Having been in Mauritius, which is a bilingual country, it was a "real opportunity" especially in Africa to master French and English.
Ambassador Forceville said it was an opportunity for troops especially in Africa in the curriculum of cadet officers.
A training session of French lessons is currently going on at Gaddaffi Barracks in Jinja for the UPDF officers. The lectures are given by a French teacher who will be in Uganda for nine months.
The levels taught range from the 1st level to the third level (B1 - becoming an independent user) which enables the officer to attend and interact in a French speaking military course.
The diplomas delivered are official qualifications awarded by the French Ministry of Education.