Friday, December 19, 2008



Thursday, 18th December, 2008
By Joshua Kato

BRIG. Patrick Kankiriho, the UPDF officer commanding the special operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has a trail of success in his military career.

In more than 20 years of military service, Kankiriho has returned from every deployment with a kazi umetume nimemaliza (I have completed the job you sent me to do) report to the commanding officer.

Kankiriho, 48, has been in the army since he was 21 years when he joined the National Resistance Army in Luweero in 1981.

“In the bush, he served as a platoon commander and a political commissar,” a colleague said.

Born in Rushere, Kiruhura district, Kankiriho has been at the battle front, fighting against various insurgents.
Before commanding Operation Lightning Thunder, he carried out operations to disarm Karimojong warriors, which drastically reduced cattle rustling.

When insurgents attacked Uganda from Sudan in August 1986, Kankiriho was among the junior commanders who battled them in Acholi and Lango sub-regions.

He then battled the insurgency of Alice Lakwena, who was defeated in Busoga in the early 1990s.

When the Allied Democratic Forces attacked western Uganda, Kankiriho was one of the field commanders who battled them.

In 2000, he commanded the 13th Battalion that was battling the LRA in Acholi.
In 2003, he commanded the 401 Brigade that controlled areas of Lira and Pader.
“During the years of Afande Kankiriho, the 401 Brigade was one of the most distinguished units of the UPDF,” said an officer who served under him.

Kankiriho was also among the best performing officers during the 2nd intake at Kimaka in 2006.

After training, he moved to command the 3rd Division based in Mbale. The division was in charge of the eastern region, from the districts of Mbale, Sironko, Kapchorwa, Bukwo and the entire Karamoja region.

Just before the current operations, he was moved from Mbale to Pader in Acholi and later to Koboko.

In Karamoja, Kankiriho’s mode of operation has been two- pronged. He wielded a gun in one hand and a Bible in the other.

“The use of guns for security will never solve any problem. It will instead increase the rate of raiding and killing,” he would counsel.

His troops battling the LRA are composed of young, but well-trained commanders.
Colonel Moses Rwakitarate commands the air-force, while Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba commands the ‘Special Forces’.

Rwakitarate joined the bush war as a kadogo (child soldier), but he is now one of the most resolute commanders.
Muhoozi has served in the army for over 10 years and has just returned from the US for training.

“Trusting someone with such a sensitive operation is no small achievement. He now has a chance to go in the record books as the field commander who defeated the LRA,” a junior officer said of Kankiriho.

Other commanders who have fought the LRA are Gen. David Tinyefunza and Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.