HIV/AIDS Major Security Threat to Military Forces, Ugandan General Says at Implementers’ Conference
HIV/AIDS is a major security threat to the military, Ugandan Gen. Katumba Wamala, commander of the country's Land Forces, said recently at the 2008 HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting in Kampala, Uganda, the New Vision/AllAfrica.com reports. "A combat enemy is easy to deal with," Wamala said, adding, "You can know what kind of weapon he is using; you can even know the capabilities that he has. But with AIDS, it is a different cup of tea." According to Wamala, HIV/AIDS "affects the most important military resource: the personnel."
Although the United Nations Security Council in 2002 passed a resolution that declared HIV/AIDS a security threat and called for immediate action, Wamala said that the security implications of the disease has not received much attention worldwide. According to several soldiers who spoke at the meeting, a primary cause for the spread of HIV among armed forces is their involvement in peacekeeping missions. "When you are in a war, it becomes difficult to appreciate the real threat" of HIV/AIDS, Lt. Col. Stephen Kusasira, HIV/AIDS program director for the Uganda's People Defense Force, said. He added, "If you tell a man on the battle field to wear a condom, he will ask you how long you expect him to live." Several rights advocates also expressed concern about the policy of some militaries to screen recruits for HIV before admission. Some soldiers said that such policies are necessary because of the demanding nature of training and combat (Among, New Vision/AllAfrica.com, 6/6).