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Uganda Military - 2024


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Military and security forces

Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF): Land Force (includes marines), Air Force, Special Forces Command, Reserve Force

Ministry of Internal Affairs: Uganda Police Force (2024)

note 1: the Special Forces Command is a separate branch within the UPDF; it evolved from the former Presidential Guard Brigade and has continued to retain presidential protection duties in addition to its traditional missions, such as counterinsurgency

note 2: the Uganda Police Force includes air, field, territorial, and marine units, as well as a presidential guard force

note 3: in 2018, President MUSEVENI created a volunteer force of Local Defense Units under the military to beef up local security in designated parts of the country

Military expenditures

2.2% of GDP (2022 est.)
2.5% of GDP (2021 est.)
2.5% of GDP (2020 est.)
1.7% of GDP (2019 est.)
1.2% of GDP (2018 est.)

Military and security service personnel strengths

approximately 45-50,000 active-duty troops (2023)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the UPDF's inventory is mostly older Russian/Soviet-era equipment with a limited mix of more modern Russian- and Western-origin arms; in recent years, Belarus and Russia have been the leading supplier of arms to the UPDF; Uganda has a small but growing defense industry that can manufacture light armored vehicles and perform maintenance on some military equipment, including its Russian-made helicopters (2023)

Military service age and obligation

18-25 years of age for voluntary military duty for men and women; 18-30 for those with degrees/diplomas in specialized fields such as medicine, engineering, chemistry, and education, or possess qualifications in some vocational skills; 9-year service obligation (2023)

Military deployments

approximately 6,500 Somalia (625 for UNSOM; the remainder under ATMIS; note - foreign troop contingents in Somalia under ATMIS are drawing down towards a final withdrawal in December 2024); 250 Equatorial Guinea (training mission) (2023)

note: in December 2022, Uganda sent approximately 1,000 troops to the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as part of a newly formed East Africa Community Regional Force (EACRF) to assist the DRC military against the rebel group M23

Military - note

the UPDF’s missions include defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda, assisting the civilian authorities in emergencies and natural disasters, and participating in socio-economic development projects; it supports the police in maintaining internal security and participates in African and UN peacekeeping missions; it is a key contributor to the East Africa Standby Force; the UPDF also has considerable political influence; it is constitutionally granted seats in parliament and is widely viewed as a key constituency for MUSEVENI; it has been used by MUSEVENI and his political party to break up rallies, raid opposition offices, and surveil rival candidates 

the UPDF is viewed as a well-equipped force with considerable operational experience; from 2012-2017, it led regional efforts to pursue the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a small, violent group of Ugandan origin that conducted widespread attacks against civilians in much of Central Africa; Uganda intervened in the South Sudan civil war in 2013-2016, and UPDF forces have clashed with South Sudanese forces along the border as recently as 2023; it is also conducting operations along the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) against the Allied Democratic Front (ADF), which has been designated by the US as the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in the DRC (see Appendix T); in December 2022, Uganda sent about 1,000 UPDF troops to the DRC as part of a regional force to assist the DRC Government in combating the M23 rebel group; in addition, elements of the UPDF are deployed in the northeast region of Karamoja against cattle rustlers and criminal gangs

the Land Force has five light infantry divisions, including one trained for mountain warfare; it also has independent armored, artillery, and motorized infantry brigades, as well as a marine force for patrolling Uganda’s lakes and rivers; the special forces command includes armor, artillery, commandos, motorized infantry, and presidential guard forces; the Air Force has small numbers of largely Russian-made combat aircraft and helicopters

the military traces its history back to the formation of the Uganda Rifles in 1895 under the British colonial government; the Uganda Rifles were merged with the Central Africa Regiment and the East Africa Rifles to form the King’s African Rifles (KAR) in 1902, which participated in both world wars, as well as the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya (1952-1960); in 1962, the Ugandan battalion of the KAR was transformed into the country's first military force, the Uganda Rifles, which was subsequently renamed the Uganda Army; the UPDF was established in 1995 from the former rebel National Resistance Army following the enactment of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda


NOTE: The information regarding Uganda on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Uganda 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Uganda 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.