7 Regiment RLC, on behalf of 102 Logistic Brigade, has been tasked to assist the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF), on the request of the British Defence Attache (DA) of Uganda, to improve the UPDF logistic capability over a two year period and to enable them to achieve a second line logistic capability. This is part of Her Majesty’s Government’s focus on Defence Engagement to develop security in fragile states through upstream capacity building and to improve the functions and abilities of foreign armies to help develop, their, and our, national security. 7 Regiment have conducted five visits to Uganda. The fifth visit included the implementation of processes and procedures, stocktake training in the UPDF’s third line stores depot, fuel investigation, training UPDF drivers in the basics of first parades and maintenance, conducting maintenance and recovery lessons to teaching UPDFF instructors how to instruct.
Successful Defence Engagement training programmes require a rapport that should lead to a more forthcoming dialogue. It is believed that there are many barriers to learning, however they can be reduced through the development of relationships. One way to develop relationships is through sport. The organising, playing and then socialising after a game is a great way to bond and develop relationships. This has led to the fifth STTT conducted by 7 Regiment RLC to be a combined work and rugby tour and this is a suggested template for future DE engagements. 7 Regiment, therefore, had two aims. The first was to develop the UPDF’s second line logistic capability, the second was to play and train rugby in Uganda in order to develop relationships between the British Army and the Ugandan Peoples’ Defence Force specifically and Uganda in general.
The 7 Regiment RLC Short Term Training Team safely left the UK on the way to Uganda for two weeks of work and play on the 11 July 2014. The Team departed Heathrow on an overnight flight to Entebbe via Kenya.
On the 12 July 2014 the team arrived at the hotel in Kampala in enough time to receive a security briefing from the Defence Attaché. The team then moved to Kyamondo rugby ground to watch the Uganda women against Kenya women and Uganda men against Kenya men. Kyamondo Rugby Club and the Ugandan Rugby Union put on a spectacular party to mark the event. The team watched the Kenyan ladies romp open with the better handling skills while the Ugandan men thundered home with a powerful and physical attack on the Kenyans. The atmosphere after the win was electric with the naturally welcoming nature of the Ugandan people enjoying the party. The 7 Regiment Team was hosted extremely well through invites to various hospitality tents. Many of the Ugandan rugby fraternity wanted to meet the British Army personnel and invite them to various fixtures across the country.
Bright and early on Sunday morning, the Team conducted a light swimming training session before departing for Kyamondo rugby ground to prepare for their first fixture against the Kyamondo Barbarians.
7 Regiment RLC started the game well with a gutsy try from half way by LCpl Lauvanua, who showed his superior individual skill by running through several tackles to score under the posts. This was converted by LCpl Gardner. Unfortunately the combination of the heat, altitude and jet lag affected the team. This was demonstrated by the increasing unforced errors and the lack of numbers in the breakdown. This led to the Barbarians scoring two tries putting the score to 12-5 before LCpl Lauvanua came to the rescue again with another try, this time converted by Lt Guest, putting the score to 14-12 to the visitors at half time. 7 Regiment took on some much needed water and a breather and prepared for the second half. What became apparent was the referee’s lack of enforcement of the offiside rule, this started in the first half and continued into the second. This had the effect of forcing errors at the back of the scrum and the back line being put under substantial pressure as the Barbarians encroached on 7 Regiment’s space. However, rather than keeping the balls in the hands of quickly tiring forwards, 7 Regiment continued to distribute the ball to the backs where it was lost. This led to two further well earned Barbarian tries in the second half, with nothing from 7 Regiment in reply. The result was 24-14 to the Kyamondo Barbarians, however, the result did not reflect the efforts put into the game, leaving 7 Regiment feeling a little sorry for themselves.
Again the Team were hosted very well, although down-hearted by the result, they were confident for the next fixture. LCpl Lauvanua won a well deserved player of the match.
An early start on Monday morning saw the 7 Regiment depart the hotel in Kampala to travel to the tourist centre of Uganda and the source of the Nile, Jinja. The team travelled a little further east to Magamaga, the location of the College of Logistics and Engineering. The aim of the day was to familiarise the soldiers to their surroundings and to confirm the plan of work for the next two weeks.
After the working day, the team conducted some light training at the Jinja Hippos’ ground. It was good to stretch the legs and try and right some of the wrongs from Saturday.
On Tuesday, the Team separated into smaller work focussed groups to conduct the ongoing training. The two Troop Commanders, Lts Stephenson and Guest, started the first course to train instructors to instruct. The UPDF called this the Training of Trainers (ToT). Supply Team 1 and the Transport/ES Team prepared to deploy to the east of the country to visit divisional units with the intention to implement recently produced processes and procedures. The fuel investigation team would accompany the others with the aim to investigate the fuel accounting and delivery process. Unfortunately the authority to travel and visit the Divisions was not received, so the visit was delayed and the guys went and supported the other teams. Supply Team 2 remained in Magamaga to work in the Defence General Depot (DGD), the UPDF’s version of Bicester, to mentor the stock taking process. The clothing store shed was the first to be checked and because of the disorganisation, Sgt Hussain and his team set about reorganising the store to make stock taking easier. The transport team, under command of Cpl Gore, worked with the NCOs and privates of the Transport Regiment within the Services Brigade to learn more bout the processes and procedures. It is a new concept, and not conducted previously by this STTT, to use British Army JNCOs to train their UPDF peers. The UPDF seemed to be very positive about the suggestions.
In the evening, 7 Regiment RLC met up with the Jinja Hippos to train. The session started with some light touch rugby to warm up. About 15 members of the Hippos turned up and participated in the training. Once warmed up, some cardiovascular training combined with ball handling skills was conducted. This was especially beneficial to enable 7 Regiment to acclimatise. Grid based handling skills followed, emphasising sound and simple passes. The Hippos were very appreciative of the training and seemed to enjoy it.
Wednesday saw the authority to visit the UPDF divisions granted and the visiting teams deployed to 3 Division at Malaka, a 11 hour journey across uneven and unsurfaced roads, not a journey for the faint hearted.
The remainder continued their training serials with Supply Team 2 humping boots and other stock in a bid to rearrange the store; hard sweaty work for suppliers. The drivers working with the drivers of the Transport Regiment seem to be making head way as relationships developed. Cpl Gore gave a good briefing to the Services Brigade Commander who was impressed with the progress, very professionally done. The ToT team continue to teach, where they issued the practise lesson subjects today.
After work the team visited the local secondary school to help their rugby team train. This involved basic handling skills and then a game of touch, refereed by Maj Hankins. Cpl Smith as head coach, mentored and talked the students of Jinja Secondary School through the game to try and tune their handling skills. The students were a fast bunch with some exciting play, however the offside rule and accurate passing let them down.
The teams were in routine by now and were enjoying the amazing experience of being in Uganda and working with the UPDF. The transport team continued to work with the drivers of the Transport Regiment, which did include a press up competition led by LCpl Simpson! The UPDF Drivers thrived on being able to take control. In the DGD, 7 Regiment suppliers continued to reorganise one of the storehouses. This proved fruitful where an issue was made to one of the Divisions. One of the DGD staff commented that this took 15 minutes when it normally takes 3 hrs. The visit programme was also going well where the visit team were impressed with the progress made.
On Friday 7 Regiment’s CO and RSM visited the STTT to understand progress. They were interested to see the lads at work. What was especially useful was the chance of the CO to liaise with the UPDF commanders to improve relationships.
Saturday was game day. With the whole STTT back together again, the team had an early morning departure to Kampala for a match against the Kampala Rhinos.
The sun was still hot when the two teams entered the pitch at the Legends ground. From the off the tackles were hard and rucks were strong. The Rhinos showed great strength and speed, however their handling skills were not the greatest which meant handling areas led to penalties. The first saw LCpl Gardner kick the first three points putting 7 Regiment in the lead. However 7 Regiment kept up the basics in the forwards ensuring clean ball went to the back line. The handling errors continued, but 7 Regiment failed to capitalise further.
The next 20 mins saw 7 Regiment stuck in their 22, but with some good tackling they defended the line and stopped the Rhinos from breaking through. The pressure continued and, unfortunately, a a backrow move saw the Rhinos sidestep 7 Regiment and score a try that was then converted. 7 Regiment fought back from the kick off, determined to win. At a Rhinos’ scrum, the ball came to the number 8, where the Rhinos’ scrum half picked it up, but before he could distribute it LCpl Gardner smashed him, which released the ball. LCpl Gardner scooped it and delivered a quick pass to Lt Guest, who broke the defence and scoring to right of the posts followed by a successful conversion. 7 Regiment continued to gain the ball in the break down. After three phases, Cfn Johnson took the ball from the back of the ruck and dived over the line. 7 Regiment still wanted more; LCpl Lauvanua showed the way with some individual skill.
7 Regiment continued to put in more pressure with some good ball from the scrums, letting the back line pass ball out as LCpl Lauvanua came back into the line and led the charge with a 40 m run to score a try in the corner After a burst of 7 Regiment pressure, the Rhinos found a gap and exploited it with a final try and conversion before half time.
At half time the score line was 14 – 20 to 7 Regiment, although the game did not reflect the score line. Early in the second half Rhinos had a player sin binned for a high tackle. 7 Regiment tried to capitalise with LCpl Ragia scoring a quick penalty 10 mins into the second half. The pass went to LCpl Lauvanua who was tackled on the try line. A quick ruck saw the ball being cleaned out with LCpl Gardner diving over the ruck to score a try. A quick Rhinos’ try followed, putting 7 Regiment back in their place. 7 Regiment continued to pile on the pressure and Cfn Johnson tapped back dirty ball from a Rhinos’ line out. Sgt Hussain tidied up and went for the blind side scoring a fantastic selfish try in the corner. The Rhinos replied with a final try leaving the score line as 30 – 24, a win for 7 Regiment RLC.
After a successful Saturday, 7 Regiment had a second game to contend with on the Sunday. As the clouds opened up over the Legends rugby ground, both teams, 7 Regiment RLC and the UPDF, prepared for kick off. The day was much cooler than expected, which was a relief for the British. From the off, it was obvious that 7 Regiment was the stronger side, even though the UPDF was bolstered by several members of the Black Pirates. 7 Regiment had a good start by rucking the ball hard and clean, which left the UPDF in disarray. The likes of Cfn Johnson thrived in taking the ball to the opposition forcing the UPDF to commit two or three to the tackle. The first try came with LCpl Ragia having a strong run within 20 m of the post, which led to some offside play by the UPDF. The resulting penalty saw the Captain, LCpl Eccles hitting the UPDF forwards before off loading to Pte Morris who scored the try. LCpl Gardner converted the try to bring the score to 7 – 0 to 7 Regiment.
The UPDF fought back with a huge hit on LCpl Lacey who lost the ball in the impact, this saw the UPDF breaking the game line with a run down the left wing. This was soon stopped and with a turn over ball, LCpl Eccles led the forwards in some good rucking, before the backs were released with LCpl Lauvanua showing off his skills with a darting run towards the opposition try line. After a few more phases, Sgt Bulivou soon showed the way by breaking the defence and scoring the try. LCpl Lauvanua soon scored an try through fantastic individual effort taking the score line to 17 – 0.
The UPDF did not give up and one move saw the UPDF develop an overlap on the right wing. The UPDF winger was released with 30 m for the try line. LCpl Gardner was the last line of defence as he sprinted to make the tackle. The UPDF winger launched himself to dive for the try line, LCpl Gardner reciprocated. LCpl Gardner and the UPDF winger had a mid air collision as the UPDF player careered into touch with no try scored. LCpl Gardner had saved the try by putting his body on the line, however he suffered for his actions. LCpl Gardner was concussed and was rushed to the local hospital, although he was released the next day with a clean bill of health.
The score was 17 – 0 as the second half started. This half was scrappy and uncontrolled, poor handling skills and offsides from both sides saw the ball change hands frequently. This led to UPDF piling on the pressure in the 7 Regiment’s 22 leading to the UPDF’s first and only try. The half continued to be fractious as indiscipline in the breakdown was rife. 7 Regiment could not control the game, although two more tries were scored, the first from LCpl Eccles in a team effort starting from a rolling maul and the second from Sgt Tawawa with a show of strength and determination. The final score was a hard fought 27-5, a well deserved win.
After a weekend of rugby, the team went straight back to work on the Monday. As the visiting teams departed to Gulu for a visit to 4 Division, the fuel team under command of WO2 Carlisle remained in Kampala to visit the fuel depots around Kampala and the remainder travelled to Magamaga to continue with the ToT course, the transport training and DGD stock maintenance. This was the routine for the beginning of the week, which was interspersed with training at the Hippos.
On Wednesday, after a morning of work, Maj Hankins, Lt Stephenson and Cpl Smith travelled to Bombo to help the UPDF rugby team with some rugby training. On arrival there were 20 soldiers ready to train. 7 Regiment’s coaching staff focussed on the defensive line and tackling. The training focussed on the defensive line and tackling. Some basic handling skills were followed by some defensive line drills led by Lt Stephenson. To finish the session a touch rugby game was conducted where each team had to commit two players to the tackle to simulate the ruck. This also emphasised the offside line. It was a very useful training and the UPDF benefited.
With the work nearly over, the STTT conducted the necessary de-briefs and handing over of certificates, the team deployed back to Kampala. While the OICs (Maj Hankins, WO2 Tudor, WO2 Adams and Sgt Jones, in the absence of WO2 Carlise) moved to MoD HQ in Mbuya to discuss progress and future visits, the remainder of the team prepared for the next and final game against the UPDF.
Unfortunately the fortnight of rugby did not end as expected. The UPDF were faced with authority issues where permission was not granted to play 7 Regiment. This was disappointing, but it did give the boys some valuable down time before the flight home. The fortnight was finished with a rugby dinner in the Revolving Restaurant in the Golf Course Hotel, where the team were thanked for the support and Cfn Johnson was awarded the player of the tour award, Pte Agyie- Abbabio got the tour players’ player and Pte Telford was labelled the donkey of the tour prize, which was a Ugandan mask that had to be worn for the rest of the night.
The fortnight was immensely successful. 7 Regiment worked very hard both on the vehicle park or store and on the rugby pitch. Progress was made in developing UPDF’s logistic capability while the rugby team was accepted in the Ugandan’s rugby fraternity. Relationships were developed, which made the interaction and working with the UPDF so much easier. 7 Regiment’s Ugandan experience is certainly a future model for Defence Engagement.