Defence chiefs hide UPDF strength, ask extra Shs22bn

Some of UPDF's equipment

Officials from the defence ministry have declined to reveal the number of Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers, instead asking legislators to approve an extra Shs22bn for food.

According to Uganda Radio Network [URN], Members of Parliament sitting on parliament’s budget committee had asked for the force number to determine the food consumption per capita of each UPDF soldier.

But the defence permanent secretary (PS), Rosette Byengoma, said matters relating to the number of the force are confidential and classified.

Her response left the MPs confused as to how they can budget for a force number they do not know.

At this point, budget committee chairperson Amos Lugoloobi appealed to the Ministry of Defence officials led by state minister Col. Charles Okello Engola to be considerate of the small resource envelope when budgeting for items like food, which he said, takes a huge sum of money.

Victoria University

Lugoloobi appealed to officials from the ministry to come up with innovative ways of trying to lower the cost of feeding soldiers.

According to the PS Byengoma, the ministry was in the financial year 2016/2017 allocated a total food budget of 35.9 billion Shillings against the required 68.6 billion Shillings hence a short fall of 32.7 billion Shillings.

She noted that only 22 billion Shillings was given for supplementary budget still leaving a gap of 10.7 billion Shillings of unpaid food bills that her ministry is going to cross over with in the coming 2017/2018 financial year budget.

Estimated UPDF strength

The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), previously known as the National Resistance Army, is the armed forces of Uganda.

From 2007 to 2011, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated the UPDF had a total strength of 40,000–45,000 and consisted of land forces and an air wing.

UPDF Command and organisation

A reshuffle of generals in May 2013 resulted in the establishment of the following command structure, with four forces, or commands, falling under the Ministry of Defence Headquarters at Mbuya (Land Forces, Air Force, Special Forces, and Reserve Forces).

President and commander-in-chief: General (retired) Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

State minister for defence: General (retired) Jeje Odongo

Chief of defence forces: General David Muhoosi (since January 2017)

Deputy chief of defence forces: Major General Wilson Mbadi (since January 2017)

Joint chief of staff: Major General Wilson Mbasu Bwambale Mbadi (since 24 May 2013)

UPDF spokesman: Brigadier Richard Karemire (since January 2017)

Land forces

Commander of land forces: Major General Peter Elwelu (since January 2017)

Chief of staff land forces: Brigadier Geoffrey Katsigazi (since December 2016)

Air forces

Commander of air forces: Major General Charles Lwanga Lutaaya (since January 2017)

Special forces

Commander of Special Forces: Colonel Don Nabaasa (acting commander since January 2017)

Deputy Commander special forces: Colonel Don Nabasa (since April 2016)

Spokesman special forces command: Major Chris Magezi.

Reserve forces

Commander of the reserve forces: Major General Charles Otema (since January 2017

Ministry of Defence Headquarters, Mbuya

Chief of military intelligence: Colonel Abel Kandiho (since January 2017)

Chief of logistics and engineering: Brigadier Charles Bakahumura (since January 2017)

Chief political commissar: Brigadier Henry Matsiko (since January 2017)

Commander of military police: Brigadier Sabiiti (since April 2017)

Training schools

The UPDF has the following training schools:

Senior Command and Staff College, Kimaka (Lt. Gen. Andrew Guti)

Junior Staff College, Jinja (Brig. Godfrey Galooba)

Uganda Military Academy, Kabamba (Brig. Emmanuel Musinguzi)

Uganda Military Engineering College (University Military Science & Technology, Lugazi) (Brigadier Dennis Asiimwe)

Oliver Tambo Leadership School, Kawaweta, Nakaseke District[65][66]

Karama Armoured Warfare Training School, Mubende (Brigadier Francis Chemonges, or Chemo)

Singo Peace Support Training Centre

Kaweweta Recruits Training Scool

Ugandan Military Air Force Academy Nakasongola

National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi

Bihanga Military Training School, Ibanda (Colonel Semakula)

Hima Training School, Kasese

Anti-terrorism Centre (Major General Fred Mugisha)

Uganda Rapid Deployment Capability Centre, Jinja (Major General Nakibus Lakara)

Uganda Air Defence and Artillery School, Nakasongola, Nakasongola District

Uganda Air Force Academy, Nakasongola, Nakasongola District

Uganda Urban Warfare Training School, Singo, Nakaseke District

Land forces

As of June 2013, the land forces commander appeared to be Major General David Muhoozi.

Before his appointment as commander of the defence forces, General Katumba Wamala served as the commander of land forces.


In August 2012, Major General Fredrick Mugisha, previously in charge of the African Union Mission in Somalia, was appointed the new joint chief of staff.

Brigadier Charles Angina, formerly the General Court Martial chairperson, was promoted to major general and appointed chief of staff of the land forces.

The organisation of the land forces was reported in 2015 to be as follows: five division headquarters, one armoured brigade, one motorised infantry brigade, one tank battalion, Presidential Guard brigade, one engineer brigade, one commando battalion, 5 infantry divisions (total: 16 infantry brigades), one artillery brigade and two air defence battalions.


Second Division: Makenke Barracks, Mbarara (Brigadier Peter Elewelu). It is composed of three brigades and four auxiliary battalions, according to the website of the Ministry of Defence Uganda. This division, according to, includes the divisional headquarters at Mbarara; the 17th, 69th, 73rd, and 77th battalions; the Rwenzori Mountain Alpine Brigade; possibly another Alpine brigade; and the 3rd Tank Battalion.

The division has been heavily involved with border operations since the Congo Civil War began in the 1990s. Brigadier Peter Elwelu took command in a ceremony on 17 July 2013. He had been appointed in June 2013.

Third Division: Moroto (Brigadier Dick Olum). Before 2013, the Third Division headquarters was reported to be at Mbale.

Fourth Division: Gulu District (Brigadier Kayanja Muhanga, until December 2016 when he took command of the Ugandan contingent with AMISOM in Somalia.

Fifth Division: Lira (Brigadier Sam Kavuma). Created in August 2002. As of 2013, the division appears to include the 401 Brigade.


Armoured Brigade: Kasijjagirwa Barracks, Masaka (Brigadier Joseph M. Ssemwanga).

Motorised Infantry Brigade: Nakasongola (Brigadier Tumusiime Katsigazi). Formed in September 2002 and is composed of three motorized infantry battalions.

Army equipment

Type Acquired In service Notes
T-90 Russia Main Battle Tank 100[78] 44[78] T-90S variant; 56 on order.[78]
T-54/55 Soviet Union Main Battle Tank 199[78] 173[79]
T-34 Soviet Union Medium Tank 10[78]
M4 Sherman United States Medium Tank 12[78] 3[80]
PT-76 Soviet Union Light Tank 50[78] 20[79]
BMP-2 Ukraine Infantry Fighting Vehicle 31[78] Sourced from Ukraine.[78]
BTR-80 Soviet Union Armoured Personnel Carrier 32[78] BTR-80A.[78]
BTR-60 Soviet Union Armoured Personnel Carrier 20[79] 12[81]
BTR-152 Soviet Union Armoured Personnel Carrier 74[78]
OT-64 SKOT Czechoslovakia Armoured Personnel Carrier 36[78] 4[79]
Mamba South Africa MRAP 40[82]
RG-31 Nyala South Africa MRAP 15[78]
Buffel South Africa MRAP 51[78][81]
Casspir South Africa MRAP 42[78] For peacekeeping missions.[83]
Eland Mk7 South Africa Armoured Car 40[81] Eland-90.[84]
Alvis Saladin United Kingdom Armoured Car 36[85]
Ferret United Kingdom Scout Car 15[78] Some sources report up to 60.[79]
BRDM-1 Soviet Union Scout Car 98[78]
BRDM-2 Soviet Union Scout Car 100[78]
SAMIL South Africa Utility Vehicle 450[86]
Chubby South Africa Mine Detection Vehicle 1[79]
D-30 Soviet Union Howitzer 9[78]
M-30 Soviet Union Howitzer 18[78] Sourced from Libya.[78]
Cardom Israel Heavy Mortar 18[78]
ATMOS 2000 Israel Self-propelled Howitzer 6[78]
BM-21 Grad Soviet Union Multiple Rocket Launcher 20[78]
RM-70 Czechoslovakia Multiple Rocket Launcher 6[78] Purchased 2001-2002.[78]


Ugandan People’s Defence Air Force

There are conflicting reports on what aircraft the Air Force has in service. Major General Samuel Turyagyenda is the commander.

Air force inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Combat Aircraft
MiG-21 Soviet Union fighter 5[89]
Sukhoi Su-30 Russia multirole Su-30MKK 8 4 on order[89]
Cessna 208 United States utility /surveillance 2[90] donated by the U.S.[91]
Bell 206 United States utility 7[89]
Huey II United States multirole 5[92] donated by the US[92]
Mil Mi-17 Russia utility 10[89]
Mil Mi-24 Russia attack Mi-35 6[93]
Trainer Aircraft
Aero L-39 Czech Republic jet trainer 6[89]
SF.260 Italy trainer 4[89]


Source: URN, Wikipedia 



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