UPDF Operations in DRC taking the fight to ADF Terrorists
Apologists for the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) Islamist terrorists aren’t amused that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) conducting military operations to sweep the terrorists out their safe sanctuary of twenty seven years. This time, the UPDF is in DRC with full consent, written and jointly signed agreement between the DRC and Uganda governments, and are in fact conducting joint operations against the terrorist and other negative forces.
The State of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which allows for information and intelligence sharing, the deployment of intelligence personnel in each other’s country, and joint military operations in the DRC, is a culmination of long running discussions between the two governments since the days of former President Joseph Kabila on how to flush out the terrorists. As a consequence, Uganda has been permitted with possibility of review and renewal to operate in a swathe of the DRC territory stretching up to 140km. on its part the UPDF must maintain its professional and operational discipline.
It’s necessary to point out that apart from the ADF, there are also elements of Islamic State for Central Africa Province that runs through Somalia, CAR, Mozambique, Chad, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and Cameroon that are said to have infiltrated and operating in the DRC as part of the Islamic State hoping to create a Caliphate in Africa having been dislodged from the Middle east. The ADF has been operating in DRC, then called Zaire since 1995, and took advantage of the ineffectual government and UN Peace-Keeping mandate to roam and sowing mayhem.
After being defeated in Buseruka valley (Hoima) in 1996, Uganda Mujahideen Movement (UMM) merged with West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) and National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (NALU) to form ADF which on 8th June 1998, raided Kicwamba Technical Institute burnt down three dormitories, a library and science laboratory during which they killed 80 students and abducted over 100 of whom 15 were later also murdered. Since then including last year ADF has thrown explosives or assassinated people in Kampala saying it’s fighting to remove the government. Its founding leader, Jamil Mukulu is currently in Luzira prison awaiting trial following his capture in April 2015 from Tanzania after almost twenty years on the run. Records in courts show that many former ADF combatants who were arrested, tried, and granted bail or amnesty have absconded with their whereabouts ascertain.
Since November 30, 2021 UPDF’s first launched lightening air and artillery strikes in North Kivu province of the DRC, ADF terrorists were sent scampering for dear life abandoning troves of military logistics, food supplies, gardens, communication gadgets, and two laptops containing their valuable operational information. In addition, scores of militants have been killed, captured or surrendered, some with weapons. The joint operations have so far caused major disruptions in ADF activities in DRC and Uganda where they had began planting explosive devises, and for the first time since its creation, used suicide bombers willing to die as jihadists.
In particular, the capture and occupation of their bases of Kambi Ya Yua, and Madina by the UPDF and FARDC, means that ADF has been denied the freedom to operate including local recruitment, training, resting, growing food, movement, coordination, communication and sharing information with ease, which they hitherto enjoyed. In the next phase, the UPDF should be deploying zonal mobile ground forces to track down ADF remnants now in disarray. This will in turn cause vulnerability of the dispersed ADF personnel who may then not be able to successfully elude capture including by the local population unless they surrender.
Back in Uganda the joint security agencies continue to identify, track down, and disrupt local ADF networks that had been built including some in home mosques. Under the circumstances, intelligence believes that the ADF could launch revenge reprisals as desperate effort to deflect its emerging defeat in the DRC, and therefore there is need for continuous vigilance by Ugandans.
With the increasing penetration of the UPDF into the operational areas, the joint ground troops have now established and continue to consolidate forward operating and intermediate bases to ensure that ADF are permanently kept on the run. The civilian population in DRC is also running to their homes and daily activities without harassment by the ADF.
These accomplishments within the first phase have come at no cost on the UPDF because it hasn’t lost personnel or equipment from enemy hostile actions. However, two UPDF soldiers have died from self-inflicted injuries. In order to completely defeat this Islamic extremism there’s need by all people of good will to participate in general mobilization aimed at de-radicalisation being instilled especially among young children under the false guise of teaching Islamic faith. Islam as taught and practiced in most parts of the world including Uganda is a religion of peace and coexistence, and no one should be left to destroy this otherwise noble tradition. Islamic scholars, sheiks and Imams ought to come out strongly to neutralize the ongoing radicalization and posture for violence.