President Museveni has told United States officials that Uganda is ready to deploy 5,000 additional troops to bolster military operations of the African Union Mission for Somalia (Amisom) against the resurgent al-Shabaab insurgents. Sources familiar with the discussions told Daily Monitor that Gen Museveni announced the offer in a meeting with Mr Donald Yamamoto, the acting US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, in New York last month. The President, however, told his American hosts that Uganda would only send more troops to Somalia if the international community commits more predictable funding and donates equipment, force enablers and multipliers such as attack helicopters.
Uganda, with more than 6,000 troops in Somalia, is the largest contributor to the 10-year-old AU-led mission. The operation has lately been threatened by reduced funding, non-payment and declining morale of the combat soldiers and defections to al-Shabaab of Somali troops, already too weak to hold liberated territories.
In the New York lunch meeting, which happened on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr Yamamoto offered no explicit response to President Museveni’s offer, according to one diplomat. He, however, praised Mr Museveni as a long-serving experienced leader whose “strategic ideas” the United States values and will consider. Gen Museveni had reasoned that increasing the number of troops in Somalia was necessary for an all-out offensive on the al-Shabaab instead of the current fractional approach where liberated areas are quickly recaptured by the insurgents when foreign forces move to new forward operating bases