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Inside the rise and rise of Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Uganda’s new CDF

First Son and Senior Presidential Advisor, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, is Uganda's new Cheif of Defence of Forces (CDF). Photo/File

Kampala, (UG):- President Yoweri Museveni Thursday appointed his son Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba as the new Chief of Defence Forces, the highest rank of a serving military officer in the Ugandan army – UPDF.

Gen Muhoozi, who still serves as Presidential advisor in charge of special operations takes over from Gen Wilson Mbadi, who Museveni transferred to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives as Junior minister in charge of trade.

Even before his eventual appointment on Thursday, rumours had it in recent weeks that Gen Museveni would appoint his son to take charge of the Ugandan army, as a way of diverting him from engaging in political activities under his newly formed movement of Patriotic League of Uganda (PLU).

This came after President Museveni maintained his public criticism of the endemic corruption in the armed forces.

According to the UPDF Act, the President and commander-in-chief may appoint an officer of the army to be known as the army commander who might assist him in the administration of the army.

It is now an open secret that Gen Muhoozi wants to take over from his father as President of Uganda

Gen Muhoozi’s and the Rise in UPDF ranks

Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba was born on April 24, 1974, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and Janet Kataha.

Raised in a Christian family as a God-fearing child, Muhoozi, according to his family and close friends, became born-again in his early years (secondary school).

In 1979, Muhoozi and his family moved back to Uganda after the overthrow of Amin.

In 1981, Muhoozi had to flee into exile (once again) to Kenya with his mother and sisters after the rigging of the 1980 elections and the start of the resistance war.

In 1982, they left Kenya for Sweden after threats to their lives (in Kenya) from the government of the day heightened.

In 1986, the family moved back to Uganda in early 1986 after the victory of the NRA.


In 1986, Muhoozi joined Kampala Parents School for his primary studies. Two years later, Muhoozi moved to King’s College Buddo for his secondary education.

In 1989, he joined St. Mary’s College Kisubi, and in 1994, Muhoozi completed St. Mary’s College Kisubi. He later joined Nottingham University in the UK, and in 1997, Muhoozi graduated from Nottingham University with a BA in Political Science.

Caeer & Service

In 1994, Muhoozi initiated cadre development courses that benefited numerous youth, especially at the university. He Initiated “Frontline Magazine” together with other young colleagues.

He also actively participated in the formation of “Discussion groups/Cadre cells” in numerous schools, universities and institutions of higher learning, as well as participating in a number of community developmental projects.

In 1995, together with other young patriots, Muhoozi started encouraging young people to join the security services and serve their nation.

Many who joined at this time are serving in various institutions throughout the security services. Therefore, he helped in popularizing service in our nation’s security forces.

In 1997, Muhoozi travelled within the region to initiate contact with what he considered progressive young men and women at that time.

In 1999, Muhoozi married Charlotte Nankunda Kutesa and together they now have four children.

Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba with wife Charlotte at the decoration ceremony in Mbuya in 2019

Military Service

In 1999, Muhoozi joined the UPDF at the rank of officer cadet and graduated in 2000 from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the British Army’s officer training facility in Camberly, in the UK.

Sandhurst is among the most renowned and prestigious officer training colleges in the world and its alumni includes, among others, leaders such as: Sir Winston Churchill of the UK; His Majesty King Abdallah bin Hussein of Jordan and H.E Lt. Gen. Sir Seretse Khama of Botswana.

In 2000, Muhoozi was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and deployed in the Presidential Protection Unit (PPU).

He began as Head of Combat Readiness, in the office of the PPU’s intelligence office and held this position until he was promoted to the rank of Captain in late 2001.

In 2002, he attended a Company Commander/Battalion Commander’s Course in Egypt.

In 2003, with the re-organization of the PPU into the Presidential Guards Brigade (PGB), Captain Muhoozi was promoted to the rank of Major and became the Commanding Officer (CO) of the fledgling Motorized Infantry Battalion and a member of the Defence Forces Council.

Muhoozi with comrades from his platoon after completing the final exercise at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (UK), 20 years ago. Just before they were commissioned as officers (Photo: Muhoozi Kainerugaba)

He saw his first combat action in Soroti later that year.

The Motorized Infantry Battalion (which Major Muhoozi commanded) played a pivotal role in the defeat of the LRA in Soroti.

Commando force

In 2005, he took command and trained with an infantry company in advanced infantry skills at Kasenyi Training School. That company was later integrated into 1 Commando Battalion.

In 2006, Muhoozi supervised the training and organization of the newly formed 1 Commando Battalion in Barlege, Otuke County, Lira District.

In 2007, he deployed with the newly formed 1 Commando Battalion to Bundibugyo to tackle the ADF.

President Museveni hailed the 1 Commando Battalion for defeating the ADF at the battle of Semliki National Park in March, 2007.

Passing out commandos at a recent ceremony, Museveni said the Army is tough, but commando operations are tougher.

“The army has big capacity but Special Forces create professional capacity in operating in small units and doing things that cannot be done in a regular way. Special Forces are an important force in building special capacity,” he said.

The President noted that it is because of such Special Operations that Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) was completely defeated in 2007 as well as the Al Shabaab militants in Mogadishu.

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“The snipers did a fantastic job when they went to Mogadishu, they helped the defeat of Al Shabaab from the Somali city,” said Museveni.


Later that year, Muhoozi he enrolled at the Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth Kansas (USA).

In 2008, he graduated from Fort Leavenworth, the US Army Command and General Staff College.

Cheif of Operations and Training UPDF Bulgedeir General Silver (RIGHT) and Commandaer Special Forces Lt. Col. Muhoozi Keinerugaba (standing) also a paratrooper points at paretroopers jumping from a plane at Nakasongola on Sunday. President Museveni Passed out 152 Paratroopers at Nakasongola Airbone School on 24/08/2009. PPU PHOTO

Fort Leavenworth, also referred to as the “Intellectual Centre” of the US army, is a prestigious military college that boasts several famous alumni among whom include; President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the USA, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Jaafar Nimeiry of Sudan and Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani of Pakistan (former Chief of Staff of the Pakistani military).

In July 2008, Muhoozi became the UPDF’s first paratrooper after graduating from the US Army’s Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia.

SFC Operations

That same year Muhoozi was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and appointed Commander of Special Forces in the UPDF.

In 2010, he was appointed as the first Commander Special Forces Group (SFG). The Special Forces are a highly trained unit of the UPDF that includes airborne troops, commandos and marines.

SFG is responsible for counter-terrorism, direct action, VVIP protection and special reconnaissance among others.

Special Forces Commander Brig Muhoozi Kainerugaba poses for a photograph with commandos after a training in 2015

In 2011, Muhoozi planned and supervised the entry of Special Forces into the UPDF campaign in Somalia, as part of the AMISOM mission.

Within a few weeks of the entry of Special Forces into Somalia the UPDF successfully expelled Al Shabaab from Mogadishu. That was in August 2011.

In September 2011, Muhoozi was promoted to rank of Colonel.

Early 2012, Col. Muhoozi enrolled at the South African National Defence College for the Executive National Security Program. He graduated from this program six months later in June.

In August, Muhoozi was promoted to Brigadier General and appointed Commander Special Forces Command.

In 2013 and 2014, Muhoozi was one of the senior UPDF commanders who deployed to South Sudan to support the Government of South Sudan after fighting broke out in Juba between rival factions of the SPLA.

The UPDF was able to stabilize the situation in Juba and Bor after smashing a rebel advance on the capital city in January 2014.

In 2017 Muhoozi was appointed Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Duties, a position he holds to date. He would later return as SFC commander until today’s elevation to Command all Land Forces.

Muhoozi’s career highlights as a military officer

In 2004, he successfully coordinated and participated in a hostage rescue operation in which three staff in the office of Minister for Water, Lands and Environment, Miria Mutagamba, were taken hostage.

In 2007, he commanded the defeat of the ADF in Bundibugyo, in an operation where 80 enemy forces and the ADF’s third in command, were killed in action.

In 2008, he was deployed as Second-In-Command of “Operation Lightening Thunder” in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The UPDF described the operation as “successful”, saying it was organized to degrade the combat capacities of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in Garamba, deep in the jungles of the DR Congo.

The opposition rejected this narrative, saying the troops fell short of capturing LRA leader, Joseph Kony. After the Garamba attack, Kony fled to the jungles of Central African Republic.

In 2009, Muhoozi participated in training and commissioning the UPDF’s first paratrooper element. These were Uganda’s first paratroopers since 1976.


Muhoozi’s associates say he is a critical listener, a problem solver and a humble people person who interacts with people from all walks of life (the military, politicians, the business community and avid reader (especially military/political books).

He authored a book titled ‘Battles of the Ugandan Resistance: A Tradition of Maneuver’.

He is a strong supporter of sports in general and has supported a lot of them including Uganda Cranes.

In his childhood days, Muhoozi played basketball at SMACK and participated in martial arts. He loves to travel and meet new and interesting people (from different cultures and backgrounds).

In the military, Lt. Gen. Kainerugaba is a keen supporter of welfare improvement initiatives in the army.

“He was always available to offer advice to the Commandant PPU/ PGB. Under his leadership, the SFC undertook huge infrastructure development programs.

Accommodation and administration blocks were constructed, and training schools sprung up in various locations,” recalls Maj Chris Magezi who has served under Muhoozi for many years.

“It should be noted that most of this impressive work has been done by the SFC’s own construction unit, which Lt. Gen. Kainerugaba initiated and nurtured. This culture has continued and the UPDF’s construction unit currently looks to SFC as a model,” he added.

“Lt. Gen. Kainerugaba is a strong believer in the spirit of self-help, which has been demonstrated within the SFC where their belief rests in achieving a lot with little, but attitude and motivation.”

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