Frequent deployment of Ugandan military personnel simultaneously contributes to improved security in the immediate sense in some countries, but when protracted, deployments can have complex social, economic and psychological impacts. This brief explores these impacts and makes recommendations to mitigate these protracted challenges.
Uganda’s soldiers are frequently deployed across national borders to provide security assistance. In addition, Uganda’s soldiers are often engaged in internal missions, usually deployed at short notice to any region experiencing various security threats. Although soldiers are deployed with an understanding that the assignment will only take a few weeks to complete, generally these engagements are protracted in nature. A protracted military engagement does not only lead to loss of life, human rights violations and displacement, but also creates what soldiers call temporary families when soldiers form social relationships with cross-border “war-women” – women that soldiers have intimate relationships with during cross-border deployments. Through a 16-month ethnographic study with three categories of people, soldiers, cross-border war-women and soldiers’ families, this study found that frequent deployments simultaneously contribute to improved security in the immediate sense in some countries, but when protracted, deployments can have complex social, economic and psychological impacts. In this policy brief, I propose some recommendations for the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and other military institutions which will mitigate these protracted challenges.
Image: Ugandan soldiers serving with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) keep watch on a street next to where AMISOM combat engineers clear sand, debris and rubble from an area known as El-Gabta or ‘Peace Gardens’ in central Mogadishu.