Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) has announced that Brig Gen Joseph Balikudembe will be leaving his post as the Commander of the 3 Division which is stationed in the Karamoja sub-region.
The UPDF in a statement said Brig Gen Balikudembe is preparing to undergo a strategic course at the National Defence College – Uganda.
While pacifying Karamoja since 2019, Brig Gen Balikudembe and the UPDF have been accused of using cruel means to disarm and engage with armed Karamajong warriors.
He is among the Generals and Senior Officers who were recently nominated by the UPDF strategic leadership to undertake the prestigious course at National Defence College, Uganda (NDC-U) Intake 02.
“I am so proud and happy for this rare gesture extended to me by the strategic leadership in my career development. I can’t wait as this has been my lifetime dream, which has come true,” a statement released by the UPDF quotes Brig Gen Balikudembe saying.
National Defence College – Uganda (NDC-U) is the highest military institution of learning in Uganda where policy analysis and ground strategy formulation for strategic security, stability and prosperity take place.
The course is a career undertaking in leadership development and is done by commanders identified to take on key positions and responsibilities in Government and other institutions.
What he did in Karamoja
According to the statement, during his tenure as the Division Commander and chairperson of the disarmament committee, Brig Gen Balikudembe is credited for overall command, control and coordination in the conduct of disarmament operations making significant strides with 1,128 and 11,177 guns and ammunition recovered respectively since 2019.
“He will always be remembered for overseeing one of the most recent (April 2023) bloodless operations against the Turkana armed pastoralists where the joint security forces recovered 31 guns at Lokiriaut village, Nadunget Subcouty in Moroto district,” UPDF said.
“The joint security concept notes that if it was not for rearmament stemming from the neighbours (Turkana, Pokot and Toposa) criminal elements who trade in small arms proliferation, the security situation would be much better and desirable.
“Gen Balikudembe leaves at a time when local leaders through inter-district security meetings are on board in the fight against the criminality of armed cattle rustling.
“As he spearheaded the security mobilization, the resolutions and outcome are bringing about peaceful co-existence among the Karamojongo, Iteso, Bagisu and Sabin communities.
“As a result of various security meetings, tension among some local leaders who used not to see eye to eye has been diffused. Relatedly, some livestock recoveries are being made by the locals themselves without the involvement of security forces.
“On the other hand, Gen Balikudembe is well known for having no compromise with some local leaders who would plead for the premature release of their relatives caught committing crimes.
“Brig Gen Balikudembe has been instrumental in cross-border security engagement and mechanisms with Turkana County leadership to end gun violence and foster harmonious co-existence among the pastoralist communities.
Until his official departure, he served as the chairperson of the Joint Defence Committee (JDC), a security panel between Uganda and Kenya that is tasked to formulate concepts and possible deployment of the regional force.
Recently, the JDC recommended the need to align security forces to coordinate and synchronize actions against livestock rustling including deployments by Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in Lokiriama, Orumu, Nakitongo in Turkana County as well as Konyao and Alale in West Pokot County to curtail proliferation of small arms.
“As joint security forces (UPDF, UPF, ASTU, UPS, and intelligence agencies), we thank him for his stewardship and leadership role that have enabled cohesion and positive direction for the right course,” UPDF prayed.