Kiugu’s visit amplifies mission focus and challenges, underscores collaboration between Kenyan and South Sudanese contingents
In a bid to uplift the spirits of troops serving in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Maj Gen Aphaxard Kiugu, the esteemed Commander of the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EACRF), undertook a significant visit to the Rumangabo and Kibumba Forward Operating Bases (FOBs). The visit, which marked Maj Gen Kiugu’s first interaction with his troops since assuming office on May 18, 2023, aimed to gauge progress, evaluate achievements, and assess the mission’s needs.
At Rumangabo, Maj Gen Kiugu was warmly received by the commanders of the Kenyan and South Sudanese contingents, Col Daniel Rotich and Lt Col Gabriel Bulo, respectively. Engaging in comprehensive discussions, the commanders briefed Maj Gen Kiugu on the prevailing security situation, deployment strategies, and both ongoing and future operational plans.
Addressing the dedicated troops from the Kenyan and South Sudanese contingents, Maj Gen Kiugu emphatically stressed the paramount importance of unwavering commitment to the implementation of the EACRF mandate. He emphasized the need to strictly adhere to the Status of Forces Agreement, Concept of Operations, and Rules of Engagement, thereby ensuring a steadfast pursuit of their assigned objectives. Moreover, he underscored the significance of upholding the DRC’s constitution and safeguarding its sovereignty at all times.
In a resolute tone, Maj Gen Kiugu urged the troops to forge a harmonious alliance in pursuit of mission success, leaving no room for discord or complacency. “Remain objective and focused in all assigned tasks,” he urged, highlighting the critical nature of their responsibilities, including the protection of civilians and the facilitation of the free movement of people, goods, and humanitarian aid within their Area of Operation. He specifically underscored the importance of opening up the vital Bunagana-Rutshuru-Rumangabo-Kibumba-Goma Main Supply Route, which would significantly aid in fostering regional development.
Venturing onward to the Kibumba FOB, Maj Gen Kiugu engaged in an insightful dialogue with the Commanding Officer, Col Dennis Obiero. Delving into an analysis of the region’s security trends since deployment, Col Obiero eloquently outlined the commendable progress achieved by his Battle Group. Expressing deep satisfaction, Maj Gen Kiugu lauded Col Obiero’s exemplary leadership and urged him to maintain the operational tempo while continuing to support the local population and enhance security through the “nyumba kumi” initiative.
Exhibiting unwavering confidence in the troops’ capabilities, Maj Gen Kiugu assured them of unwavering support from the Force Headquarters. “We shall do our best to support you in the ongoing peace and stability efforts in Eastern DRC,” he affirmed, highlighting the collective commitment to securing a lasting peace in the region.
During his visit, Maj Gen Kiugu also shed light on the persistent challenges encountered in the withdrawal process, attributable to ongoing violations by armed actors in the theater. Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, he stressed the imperative of addressing these issues and finding swift resolutions to ensure the progress of the withdrawal remains unhindered.
Accompanying Maj Gen Kiugu on this important journey were Deputy Force Commander (DFC) Intelligence and Operations, Brigadier Emmanuel Kaputa, DFC Administration and Logistics, Brig Gen Ndorarigonya Gregoire, and Chief of Staff, Brig Gen Michael Kibuye, alongside several other esteemed Force