African military officers should uphold discipline and espouse critical thinking which would enable them to be bold while making decisions and accountable in their commanding roles, Defence minister James Kabarebe has said.
He was yesterday officiating at the graduation ceremony of 46 senior military officers drawn from 11 African countries, at the Rwanda Defence Senior Command and Staff College in Musanze District.
The graduates have been undergoing studies a yearlong course in analytical and communication skills, personal and collective values, as well as professional military knowledge designed to help them in their future command and leadership management responsibilities, according to Maj. Gen Jean Bosco Kazura, the college commandant.
Kazura said that, 27 graduates received a master’s degree in security studies while 13 were awarded a post-graduate diploma in security studies.
The graduates underwent various courses under a partnership framework that exists between the military college and the University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS).
Kabarebe said that the whole year was of intense and focused learning, adding he was sure that the graduates realised that they have the capacity to overcome whatever challenges they face in their profession.
He said that the training was an opportunity for them not only to recharge intellectually but also to reassess themselves and their respective militaries and better appreciate their role in making “our region and Africa a proud and dignified place”.
“The course you have just concluded has equipped you with the necessary analytical, planning and communication skills to enable you make the transition from tactical to operational and strategic focus to deal with the contemporary complex security environment,” he said.
Kabarebe added: “In the years ahead, most of you will be promoted to positions of higher responsibility where you will be required to uphold high standards of professional integrity and discipline as you discharge your duties, you will be required, as commanders, to be bold and accountable in order to be able to make difficult choices in a changing environment.
“I, therefore, urge you to go beyond the ordinary way of doing things and have the necessary drive required to take Africa to the next level.”
‘Focus on contemporary issues’
The graduation also coincided with the anniversary of five years of Rwanda Defence Senior Command and Staff College and the Defence minister said that it should be a time of sober reflection.
He challenged the college to continue to deliver the desired results.
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, Prof Phillip Cotton, urged the fresh graduates to go on and play an active role in transforming their respective countries as well as the African continent, especially through conducting research to inform policies.
“We salute you for everything you have achieved, the research papers show that you have passed but, for us as a university, it confirms and affirms that you are people with integrity,” he said.
“There is a lot of research to be done to inform policymaking and you are going to be part of that going forward, I hope the university and the college transformed you in a way that will help you to respond the highest calling to serve with humanity and humility,” said Cotton.
The officers who graduated in this year’s intake are from Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal and Rwanda.
Participants speak out
The best overall student was Major Emmanuel Rutaremara from Rwanda Defence Forces thanks to his outstanding leadership qualities.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Jean Marie Twagirayezu of Rwanda, wrote the best research paper of the course. His paper tackled the role of Rwanda National Police in the fight against terrorism.
Ghanaian Major Prince Tando was the best allied student and the second overall student who demonstrated good leadership qualities.
“We have been equipped with high level command and control skills that will enable us to serve our countries and people effectively… we acquired skills in counterterrorism, cyber security and are ready to use the skills effectively,” said Rutaremara.
Over the past five years, 323 military officers graduated from junior command and staff courses from the college, while 228 senior officers graduated from senior command and staff courses including 47 allied students.