This paper analyses how Ugandan army commanders have mobilised transborder economic networks to exploit economic opportunities in eastern DRC during the military intervention of the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) in Congo’s wars (1996–97; 1998–2003). These networks are the starting point of our evaluation of the informal political structures and networks linking Uganda’s political centre to Congo’s war complex.

While often claimed that military entrepreneurismalism in the DRC has undermined political stability in Uganda, we argue the activities of Ugandan military entrepreneurs/networks under their control were integral to Uganda’s governance regime. Crucial to development of this entrepreneurialism was the existence of pre-war transborder networks of economic exchange connecting Congo to eastern African markets. Military control over these highly informalised networks facilitated UPDF commanders’ access to Congo’s resources. Rather than operating as privatised sources of accumulation, these military shadow networks were directly linked to the Ugandan regime’s inner circles.