President Paul Kagame on Friday told fresh cadet officers who graduated after completing their military training and education that they are trained to protect and safeguard the country but rather not to fight wars as it is presumed.
The Head of State, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) made the observation at Rwanda Military Academy – Gako, where he commissioned 568 Officer Cadets, who were joined by 24 others who graduated from seven different countries, among them 2nd Lt. Ian K. Kagame, who recently graduated from Sandhurst, UK.
Also among the Officer Cadets graduating today, 475 were trained for one year while 93 are graduating after four years of both academic and military training.
Speaking after conferring upon them the rank of 2nd Lieutenant following the swearing of the oath of allegiance to Rwanda and its leadership, President Kagame said that he is confident that the graduates were equipped with the right skills and knowledge to perform their duties to their very best.
President Kagame said that being in the armed forces goes beyond just defending the country but also contributing towards national development.
“To be in the security forces means committing to defend the country and its people and working for the transformation of the country. That is where it starts. The first duty of the security forces is to secure the country and contribute to its development, not fighting wars,”
“Fighting wars is not the first priority. That comes after. The main duty is to protect and safeguard the country. Fighting comes after where there is insecurity threatening that stability,” President Kagame said, explaining that the security forces are trained for that in the first place, not to start wars.
Reflecting on what Colonel Franco Rutagengwa, the Commandant of Rwanda Military Academy, had said earlier, President Kagame said that the government has deliberately been focusing on empowering the academy to offer courses and training that suit Rwanda’s development ambitions by producing high quality graduates who are ready for the task.
“The knowledge and skills you gain here will not only benefit us as Rwanda but also other countries across the continent and beyond, which we partner with to achieve the goal of safety and security as you might know by now,” President Kagame said in reference to different peacekeeping missions Rwanda security forces are involved in.
He pointed out that RDF officers are not only given military training but also other skills that make them more knowledgeable and skilled to operate in different spheres of life.
President Kagame took time to commend Rwanda Military Academy for its efforts to upgrade to one of the best military academies on the continent, urging its management to continue working towards making it a world-class military academy.
The head of state similarly thanked parents who allowed their children to serve the country in the military, urging the graduates to lead disciplined and responsible lives.
“You can’t go through all this training you’ve gone through, the commitments you have made and then be dismissed from this institution because of indiscipline,” President Kagame said.
Col. Rutagengwa said RMA currently offers seven programs including general medicine, mechanical and energy engineering, social and military science, physics, mathematics, chemistry and biology but will soon introduce new courses.
“Our responsibility as RMA is to equip these young men and women with the right skills and training that makes them fit to join the security forces. In partnership with the University of Rwanda, we offer them training that ensures that they graduate with a Masters degree,” Col Rutagengwa said.
He also pointed out that RMA is looking to upgrade its facilities, including new classroom blocks, laboratories and other amenities that will turn into a state-of-the-art military education facility.
President Kagame also awarded the best cadets with Frank Bazatsinda, emerging the best cadet among the students who pursued the 4 year courses while Emmanuel Ndagijimana was the best among those who did one year while Justus Rutishisha was the overall best cadet in their cohort.
Founded in 1999, the Rwanda Military Academy (RMA) has upheld high standards of academic and military training matching global context to cope with contemporary security challenges and threats.
In collaboration with the University of Rwanda, in 2015, the RMA introduced Long Officer Cadets Basic Training covering both Academic and Professional Military training.