28 August 2012

Uganda: Let UPDF Adopt Promotion Exams


President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, recently made some changes in the leadership of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF). Most noticeable was the promotion of Museveni's son, Col Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to Brigadier, and his appointment to command the Special Forces.

We congratulate the promoted officers and wish them the best in their new responsibilities. The army statement that announced these changes says that this was intended to achieve efficiency in the army. Indeed, the promoted officers are well-trained.

But this has not stopped murmurs from the public and within the forces, about the suitability of some of the promotions. There are several officers who are disciplined, served longer, had superior training and worldly exposure but have not been promoted.

And no one has attracted more murmurs and discussions than Brig Muhoozi, who joined the army some 12 years ago. This is a delicate subject. Brig Muhoozi did not choose to be born to a man who would become president of Uganda.

He did not choose the childhood and education he has had and the courses that he been sent abroad for. Yet he has as a right as any other Ugandan young man.

But as a soldier and commander in the UPDF, Brig Muhoozi has a choice - to serve with dedication and to lead by example.

This way even those who resent his fast rise may come around to respecting him as a soldier, commander, and man. But for the institution of the UPDF, there is a way to stop these murmurs. One would have thought promotions should be based on seniority of commission.

In other words, if one joins as a cadet and thereafter becomes a second lieutenant in 1990, and serves well without any disciplinary hitches, gets the requisite training, he should be assured of becoming colonel after 15 years of service before someone who joined in 1999 becomes Brigadier.

Also, the Promotions Board should introduce rigorous examinations to serve as an incontrovertibly objective basis for promotions. Commissioned officers who consistently fail exams would then be retired, well knowing that they do not deserve promotion.

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