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The nation today known as the Republic of Uganda was originally inhabited by hunter-gatherer tribes, and later by Bantu-speaking people migrating from central and western Africa. In the 16th century the Bunyoro kingdom rose to prominence, and was later succeeded by the Buganda kingdom. Arab traders first reached present day Uganda via the Indian Ocean in the 1830s, followed shortly thereafter by British explorers seeking the source of the Nile river. In 1888 most of the country was placed under a charter by the British East Africa Company, after which it was made a British protectorate in 1894.
Uganda achieved independence from Britain in 1962, but remained a member of the British Commonwealth. Traditional kingdoms were abolished in 1967 and the nation was declared a republic. In 1971, president Milton Obote was deposed by Army General Idi Amin in a coup d'etat, after which he declared himself president. Suspending the constitution and setting up military tribunals in place of civil law, Amin created a military government that used violence, torture, intimidation and outright murder to persecute political rivals, intellectuals, professionals, and foreign nationals, often for no reasons whatsoever. Between 80,000 and 300,000 people were killed during his eight-year reign, and as many as 80,000 foreign nationals were expelled from the country. In 1978, Amin attempted to annex the Kagera province of Tanzania, leading to war between the two countries. Although supported by Libya and some members of the PLO, Ugandan forces were defeated by a coalition of Tanzanian Defence Forces and the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF), a militia of exiled Ugandans. Amin fled into exile in 1979 as new democratic elections were organized by the UNLF.
The reconstituted government did not last long, as the National Resistance Army (NRA) soon began a guerilla war (often called the "bush war" or Luwero War) against the government, which lasted from 1981 until 1986. Late in the conflict, president Milton Obote was deposed by Tito Okello, but the war continued and the old government eventually crumbled. Yoweri Museveni, former leader of the NRA, was installed as president and has remained in this position into the present era. The army was reorganized into the Uganda People's Defense Force, which has been engaged since 1987 in a guerilla campaign waged by the Lord's Resistance Army based in Northern Uganda. The latter have been accused of multiple human rights violations, including child slavery and genocide.
Ugandan Camouflage Patterns
The oldest documented camouflage design in use with Ugandan forces is a variation of the Portuguese m63 "vertical lizard" design having brown & dark green stripes on a bright yellowish-khaki background. Several variations have been documented from a number of manufacturers, with surplus stocks also finding their way into the hands of insurgent forces in Angola and South West Africa.
During the 1980s, a DPM pattern was worn by some units of the Ugandan forces. Of undetermined origin, it has not been well-documented, but the re-introduction of DPM for use by the Special Forces Command in the mid-2000s suggests this pattern was probably worn by an early incarnation of the unit such as the High Command Unit.
Members of the National Resistance Army (NRA) wore a woodland camouflage design, probably of Chinese origin.
In the late 1980s, the Uganda People's Defense Force wore a unique tricolor "blotch" pattern, incorporating dark green and brown shapes on a lime green background. A variation with medium green and lighter brown has also been documented.
Several variations of the m81 woodland camouflage design are worn today, both locally-produced and imported from sources in Asia.
The Ugandan Air Force wear a variation of the woodland design with a pale blue background.
The Field Force Police (FFP) of the Uganda National Police (Poliisi ya Uganda) wear a DPM variant with a blue-purple colorway as seen below. Officers serving with regular units of the UNP wear a standardized khaki service uniform.
Another pattern worn by the Field Force Police (FFP) is interesting camouflage "waves" design with a blue colorway.
What appears to be a variation of the above Riot Police pattern with a tan/khaki colorway has also been observed in use by the Ugandan Police Field Forces. The design is certainly restricted to a specific sub-unit of the service, but as yet it has not been determined precisely what unit that might be.
In 2014 it was announced that the UPDF would replaced its old woodland camouflage design with two new pixelated patterns. A greener design (incorporating black, mid-brown and foliage green on a sandy-colored background) will be the predominant pattern issued throughout most of the country, but a browner design (based on USMC MARPAT Temperate camouflage) will be issued to personnel in the drier regions of Uganda like Karamoja. One of the reasons cited for this change is that the now-defeated M23 rebels were known to wear woodland camouflage uniforms nearly identical to those of the Defence Force.
The Uganda People's Defence Air Force (UPDAF) has also introduced its own pixelated camouflage design, incorporating black, dark reddish-brown, olive green and grey shapes.
Circa 2014, members of the Ugandan Special Forces Command (including the Commander, Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba) appeared in crisp DPM pattern camouflage uniforms in British styling. This is the standard working uniform for that unit.
A special unit of the Ugandan Police, the Police Presidential Guard (PPG), introduced a copy of the US Navy's NWU-1 "blue digital" pattern camouflage (without the USN logo embedded) in 2015-16.
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