Gen Katumba awarded Napoleon’s legion of honour medal

Gen Katumba Wamala with a French official at the French Embassy in Kampala

The French Embassy in Uganda has awarded the highest national medal of honour [Légiond honneur] to former Uganda army commander, Gen. Katumba Wamala.

The Legion of Honour, full name National Order of the Legion of Honour (French: Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), is the highest French order of merit for military and civil merits, established 1802 by emperor Napoléon Bonaparte.

Edward Katumba Wamala, more commonly known as Katumba Wamala, is a Ugandan general who has been minister of state for works in the Cabinet of Uganda since 17 January 2017.

He previously served as the Chief of Defence Forces of Uganda, the highest military rank in the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), from 2013 until 2017.

He was the commander of land forces in the UPDF from 2005 to 2013.


He also served as the inspector general of police (IGP) of the Uganda Police Force (UPF), the highest rank in that branch of Uganda’s government, from 2001 until 2005.

Wamala was the first active UPDF soldier to serve as the head of the UPF.

Légion d’Honneur

The order of the medal given to Katumba is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier(Grand Officer) and Grand-Croix (Grand Cross).

In the French Revolution, all French orders of chivalry were abolished, and replaced with Weapons of Honour.

It was the wish of Napoleon Bonaparte, the First Consul, to create a reward to commend civilians and soldiers and from this wish was instituted a Légion d’Honneur, a body of men that was not an order of chivalry, for Napoleon believed France wanted a recognition of meritrather than a new system of nobility.

The Légion was loosely patterned after a Roman legion, with legionaries, officers, commanders, regional “cohorts” and a grand council.

The highest rank was not a grand cross but a Grand Aigle (grand eagle), a rank that wore all the insignia common to grand crosses.

Napoleon famously declared, “You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led… Do you think that you would be able to make men fight by reasoning? Never. That is good only for the scholar in his study. The soldier needs glory, distinctions, rewards.”

This has been often quoted as “It is with such baubles that men are led.”

Prestigious Legion of Merit degree award

In 2015, Katumba was among six Ugandan soldiers awarded by the United States Army- the prestigious Legion of Merit degree of officer medals for their leadership in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, promoting regional stability and dedicated service to Uganda.

Those awarded were then CDF Gen. Katumba Wamala, Lieutenant Gen Andrew Gutti, Maj Gen Francis Okello, Maj Gen Levi Karuhanga, Maj Gen Fred Mugisha and Maj Gen Nathan Mugisha.

The Legion of Merit is a military award of the U.S. Armed Forces given for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

It is the among the highest U.S. military decorations awarded to citizens of other nations and more than 200 foreign military personnel have received the award since its creation in 1942.


Wamala was an officer in the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) when the National Resistance Army (NRA) defeated the UNLA in 1986.

He transitioned into the NRA without incident.

Between 1999 and 2000, he was a student at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Between 2000 and 2001, at the rank of major general, he commanded the UPDF forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

He was appointed IGP in 2001, serving in that capacity until 2005. He was then promoted to lieutenant general and given the title of commander of land forces, based at Bombo Military Barracks, making him one of the highest senior officers in the Ugandan military.

In his role as commander of the land forces, he was closely engaged in the peace-keeping mission that the UPDF performs in Somalia, commonly referred to as AMISOM.

On 23 May 2013, he was promoted to the rank of four-star general and appointed chief of defence forces.



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