REVEALED! Why US Ambassador Popp Visited Defence Minister Oboth, Deputy CDF



UPDF Photo

Uganda’s Minister for Defence and Veteran Affairs, Hon. Jacob Marksons Oboth, hosted United States Ambassador to Uganda, William W. Popp, on Wednesday at the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs Headquarters in Mbuya.

Expressing gratitude, Minister Oboth extended appreciation to the US government for its steadfast support in bolstering regional security efforts and combating terrorism. Highlighting strides made against the Allied Democratic Forces rebel group, he emphasized the importance of fortifying the bilateral relationship on a foundation of mutual trust.

In response, Ambassador William W. Popp reaffirmed the US commitment to collaborating with Uganda in advancing peace initiatives. Commending the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) for their contributions to domestic and regional security, particularly in Somalia, he pledged continued cooperation.

Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sam Okiding, underscored the necessity of reassessing the withdrawal from the ATMIS mission to preserve the hard-won gains in Somalia.

The meeting, attended by Permanent Secretary Mrs. Rosette Byengoma, underscored the significance of ongoing discussions regarding regional security and cooperation.


Although the meeting is projected as a courtesy call by the ambassador with specific details not availed, analysts believe the visit of US Ambassador Popp to Uganda’s defense leadership, is part of the efforts by Uncle Sam to respond to evolving dynamics of military relations between the two nations. Part of keeping communication between Washington and Kampala active in the areas of military cooperation and a wide range of issues based on mutual trust as expressed by the minister. Historically, Uganda and the United States have maintained a partnership in areas of security cooperation, counterterrorism efforts, and peacekeeping missions.

Over the years, the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) have played a significant role in regional stability, particularly in Somalia, where they have been actively involved in peacekeeping operations under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) now ATMIS. The US has provided support to these efforts through training, equipment, and intelligence-sharing, reflecting the shared interests of both countries in combating terrorism and promoting peace in the region.

Ambassador Popp’s reaffirmation of US commitment to collaborative efforts with Uganda signals the recognition of Kampala’s strategic importance in advancing stability and security in East Africa.

However, challenges remain, particularly regarding the sustainability of peacekeeping missions and the need for ongoing support to prevent any regression in the progress achieved. The discussion around the withdrawal from the ATMIS mission underscores the complexities involved in balancing national security priorities with broader regional peacekeeping commitments.

L-R; Lt Gen Sam Okiding Minister Jacob Oboth, Ambassador William W. Popp, Mrs Rosette Byengoma PS MoDVA in a group photo (UPDF PIC)


The visit of Ambassador Popp also comes against the backdrop of shifting geopolitical dynamics on the African continent.

In recent years, Russia has been actively building strong ties with African states, including Uganda, through diplomatic engagements, military cooperation, and economic investments. Analysts say the US perceives this as a direct challenge to its influence on the continent.

Ambassador Popp’s decision to engage directly with Uganda’s military leadership reflects a response to these emerging trends. Unlike his predecessor, Natalie E. Brown, who notably did not visit the army headquarters during her tenure, Ambassador Popp’s proactive engagement signals a heightened focus.

Uganda, like many African nations, pursues a pragmatic foreign policy, engaging with multiple partners to advance its own national interests. As such, the success of US efforts to bolster military relations with Uganda will depend on its ability to offer tangible benefits and support that align with Uganda’s strategic objectives based on mutual trust.

Moreover, recent US actions, such as placing travel restrictions on Uganda’s government officials and army personnel, including prominent figures like Uganda’s former military intelligence chief, have put a strain on bilateral relations. These restrictions have been perceived by Uganda as punitive measures and have contributed to a cooling of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Ambassador Popp’s visit, therefore, could be seen as an attempt to thaw the frosty relations and rebuild trust between the two nations.

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