Date set for graduation unified forces

Date set for graduation unified forces
Trainers of the unified forces during a military parade at the Mapel Military Training Center (photo credit: courtesy)

The Joint Defense Board (JDB), a body tasked with overseeing the training and graduation of the Necessary Unified Forces (NUF), in a meeting on Monday resolved to have the forces in training centres across South Sudan graduated before end of June, 2022.

There is about 53,000 first batch of joint trainees in 18 training centres across South Sudan awaiting graduation for about three years since late 2019.

Several previous plans to graduate these forces have not been fulfilled. The government kept extending the exercise citing financial and logistical constraints, some caused the arms embargo imposed by the UN Security Council.

In December 2021, three committees for the three greater regions of Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Equatoria were dispatched to screen the forces for immediate graduation within two weeks times, without tangible result.

The continuous beating of the drum for graduation coupled with unbearable hardships compelled the majority of the trainees, according to the peace monitoring mechanism to desert centres including cantonment sites.

However, the JDB Head of Secretariat, Maj. Gen. Charles Machieng Kuol told The City Review in an exclusive phone call on Tuesday that all the arrangements necessary for the graduation to place toward the end of June were in place.

Machieng said the Monday’s meeting that drew together JDB members including heads of joint command forces, Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (RJMEC) and other security monitoring mechanism discussed, among other items, challenges, and resolved the way forward for the soon graduation. 

Cognizant of the current situation at training centres, according to Machieng, the preposition of food and non-food items were the main priorities, which the security mechanism promised would avail to all training centres by next week.

 “In reality, probably the graduation will take place at the end of this month either on 27of 29 or 30of this month because we are now preparing all the lists to be put together,” said Machieng.

“The security mechanism is working to ensure food delivery to training centers, and they have already informed us that food is on the way coming to Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Equatoria.” Machieng said, “So, soon between 17 and 19 of this month, the food will have reached all the training centers from there they will start rehearsal which will come together with the graduation.”

The trainees comprise the government forces, the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO), and the forces of the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA).

Under Chapter Two of the 2018 security arrangement protocol, there shall be 83,000 necessary unified forces charged with maintaining the security during the ongoing transitional period due to end in February 2023.