On 6th March 2022, International and Local journalists interacted with Maj Gen Kayanja Muhanga, the overall Operation Shuja commander at Kainama Forward Operating Base in DRC.
Qn: Tell us why you are here and where are the ADF?
Ans: When ADF terrorists were pushed out of Virunga forest in phase one, they fled into two directions; in the South towards Rwenzori mountains and another group towards the North of Kainama -Tchabi and Boga road into Irumu province. Note that our resolve is to hunt them wherever they go. Therefore, Kainama is our launching zone. The enemy has scattered into smaller groups avoiding our reconnaissance combat aircrafts and direct combat with our ground forces. They have now resorted to conducting asymmetrical tactics.
Qn: What do you think you can show the world about Operation Shujaa successes?
Ans: We have succeeded in dislodging the enemy from their decade long camps; in what was termed as “The triangle of death”. There is reduction in killing of innocent people and many people are returning to their formerly abandoned homes. We have killed a big number of these terrorists where of recent we killed over 20, captured 03 Prisoners of War, rescued 12 children, recovered over 10 guns of different calibres. Overall, the operational objective is to degrade the enemy’s capacity to make war.
Qn: You talk of pushing out the enemy; don’t you think you are merely postponing the problem such that when you go back to Uganda ADF will return to cause havoc?
Ans: Our aim is not just to push them but ultimately to neutralize and eradicate these terrorists. The challenge is whenever we are approaching their locations; they run away for fear of our superior fire power. The enemy is so inferior that they cannot stand and fight. However, a mechanism has been sought such that when the Joint mobile forces are searching and fixing, FARDC on the other side blocks. For us as long as we work with FARDC we will ultimately defeat these terrorists.
Qn: How many UPDF soldiers have you lost since operation Shuja started?
Ans: Since the operation started we have lost one soldier from enemy fire. The other three died due to individual errors and as a result of the rough terrain in the jungle. We condole with their bereaved families; these were gallant soldiers who died for a just cause.
Qn: How far have you reached with the construction of roads and the ferry? What is their importance in Operation Shujaa?
Ans: This is a joint plan between the Government of Uganda and DRC. The two roads to be tarmacked are Kasindi- Beni to Butembo and Bunagana- Rutshuru to Goma.Whereas Nobili – Mukakati to Beni and Burasi – Boga to Eringeti roads will be constructed with first class murram. We refer to them as security roads because once completed, they will reduce on the cost of using helicopters which carry few loads than the road transport will be reduced.
Qn: The area you have so far covered is huge. Don?t you think you are overstretched; in the end you might not achieve your mission?
Ans: True we are getting overstretched and in phase two we are highly mobile. The coming back of civilians to their abandoned homes also brings another challenge of creating a protection force. That notwithstanding, we still maintain our aim of eradicating the enemy from eastern DRC. We need more forces on both sides UPDF and FARDC. Our counterparts need to train Local Defence Units (LDUs) to form Zonal Protection Forces such that when the joint mobile forces are pursuing the enemy, LDUs protect civilians.
Qn: What is your last word to the people of the two countries who have suffered at the hands of ADF?
Ans: ADF after inflicting heavy losses from the joint forces are now on rampage attacking soft civilian targets. Although they are an inferior group with few weapons they have resorted to using machetes, hoes, axes to hack their victims. We urge our people to be on the lookout, Report any incidence within your villages to local authorities or to the Joint Forces. Because of the enormous pressure we have put on the enemy and the numerous bombardment from artillery and air force, many have started deserting and reporting to us. With your unreserved support the enemy will be defeated