Remarks for Cessna Aircraft Handover

Chargé d’ Affaires Patricia Mahoney

Monday, March 16, 2015, 10:40 a.m.

Entebbe Airport, Uganda

Chief of Defense Forces, General Katumba Wamala;

Representatives of the Government of Uganda;

Officers of the UPDF;

All protocols observed.

Good morning!  It is a great pleasure to be here today for the handover of two Cessna aircraft that will have a direct, immediate impact on the UPDF’s continuing efforts to promote regional stability, and fight terrorism.  These aircraft not only provide the ability to transport troops and equipment. Each comes with the medical equipment needed to safely evacuate casualties from conflict areas like Somalia, thus increasing the chances that Ugandan soldiers wounded in battle will receive life-saving treatment.  Best of all, their rugged construction means they can be operated economically, reliably, and on a near-daily basis.

Valued at approximately 15 million U.S. dollars, these aircraft are given with respect to a partner who has demonstrated time and again its willingness to make great sacrifices in the quest for peace and security.  These aircraft are a symbol of our valued relationship.  Our security partnership with Uganda and the UPDF is a prime example of the kind of relationship we seek in our effort to build a world where people can live lives of prosperity and dignity.  Whether in Somalia or the effort to destroy the power of Joseph Kony and the LRA, Uganda understands the role it must play in concert with multilateral bodies like the United Nations and the African Union if Uganda and East Africa is going to achieve their collective development goals.

As for the United States, our goals in the region are simple.  We seek a peaceful, prosperous, healthy, and democratic society; one where people are free to raise their children without the threat of terrorism or the menace of violent extremism.  We seek these things because they are ultimately in our own best interest.  As President Obama said at the 2012 launch of his Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, “As we look toward the future, it is clear that Africa is more important than ever to the security and prosperity of the international community, and to the United States in particular.”  We thank Uganda – and especially the UPDF – for understanding this idea as well.  Your willingness to take brave action against groups like the LRA and Al Shabaab that don’t understand this is a tremendous example to your neighbors and the world.

Thank you.