GAKO - President Paul Kagame yesterday presided over the pass-out of 240 Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) officer cadets, who completed a one-year military training course at the Rwanda Military Academy (RMA) in Gako, Eastern Province.
In a colourful ceremony attended by various foreign delegates, the President, who is also the Commander-in-Chief, promoted the cadet graduates to the rank of Second Lieutenant.
President Kagame challenged the fresh officers to take advantage of the training and skills to become a vital part of a stronger force that the country needs.
“The training you have undergone, like all military training, was to prepare you for the duties which you will be called upon to undertake as directed by the national command authorities, including international peacekeeping operations, all aimed at keeping peace and security that are in Rwanda’s interest.
“The proper training you have received, underscores the importance and builds on the soldier’s mental, moral and physical qualities,” Kagame said.
“Without proper training, a large and seemingly powerful force may not have good results in the end. Proper training is part and parcel and a priority among priorities for any force to be effective and efficient”.
He added that the professional virtues and competences that were instilled in the officers through the training, which include discipline, personal responsibility and teamwork, positions them to become not just future leaders, but competent ones at that.
Still on leadership, Kagame observed that competent young officers joining the ranks, are the future leaders of the military, and that it is a matter that should not be taken lightly, because leadership is an indispensable factor for good governance.
“At the military strategic level, leadership often means a difference between life and death, success and defeat, therefore, critical to both political and military success,” he noted.
“You may have all the resources at your disposal, but without leadership, your objectives and lots of opportunities will be wasted.
“You, the young officers, should remain with a sense of responsibility where we shall not allow what we fought for; the freedoms, the integrity, the dignity of our people, to be reversed by self seekers and individuals without a sense of responsibility.
“In the case of our country, we have many examples, including recent cases where we witnessed people riding on the resources, the will of the country and others, and abusing their responsibility because of selfishness,” Kagame said.
He cited examples where some individuals tend to ride on the ‘short story’ of having participated in the liberation movement, to plunder the country and then run away to other countries, where they survive on the loot, urging the young officers to be accountable and selfless in service.
Col Aloys Muganga, the Commandant of RMA, said that initially, the group consisted of 251 recruits of which 240 successfully completed the course.
21 of the officer cadets were female, and one of them, Michelle Mahirane, emerged the second best cadet behind Winfred Ramazhan, who became the overall best cadet and took the cadet of the year medal.
Epiphanie Uwintinje emerged 3rd best while Andrew Sinyalo from Tanzania was named best allied cadet. The best officer cadets were awarded with laptops by President Kagame.
The graduating class included cadets from other African countries; two each from Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi and four from Liberia.