News / Africa

US Defends Ongoing LRA Mission Amid Criticism

Thomas Kwoyelo (R), a former director of field operations in the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army, talks to his lawyer, Caleb Alaka, after the court ordered he should be released, in Kampala, Uganda, November 2011. (file photo)
Thomas Kwoyelo (R), a former director of field operations in the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army, talks to his lawyer, Caleb Alaka, after the court ordered he should be released, in Kampala, Uganda, November 2011. (file photo)
Nico Colombant

U.S. officials are defending an ongoing U.S. military mission to help wipe out the roving Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa. Some critics fear, however, the operation could be ineffective.

U.S. military officials say U.S. troops conducting the anti-LRA mission are now stationed at bases in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The top U.S. special operations commander for Africa, Brian Losey, said U.S. officials are already seeing a decrease of what he calls the “lethality of LRA activities.”

At a recent event in Washington, top State Department official Karl Wycoff echoed those remarks.

“In the last several months, scores of people have defected, escaped or been released from the LRA’s ranks. This is a welcome development,” said Wycoff.

Wycoff also made clear why President Barack Obama decided last year to send about 100 U.S. troops to help African countries battle the LRA.

“It is intrinsically an organization that needs to be removed, eliminated, reduced, so that it is no longer a threat to regional security and human security,” said Wycoff.

The group emerged in northern Uganda in the late 1980s as an anti-government and religious rebellion. It is believed to have killed, kidnapped and mutilated tens of thousands of people over the past 25 years in wide areas of Central Africa.

Nearly half a million people remain displaced because of the violent group.

The group has been pushed out of Uganda, and its elusive leaders now are believed to be hiding in the Central African Republic, while a core group of 50 fighters has been waging attacks in the Garamba area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

Researchers who have studied the LRA say the group’s ideology remains based on revenge against Uganda’s government for past abuses on northern ethnic Acholi people.

A main partner of the U.S. mission is long-time and increasingly autocratic Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. This worries Uganda expert Joel Barkan from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

“Unless there is a healthy relationship and particularly long-term peace, security and development in Uganda, it seems that the pursuit of the LRA will ultimately fail,” said Barkan.

Regional experts say the task at hand also is extremely difficult, and may require a U.S. commitment that is longer than possible.

They also say it goes much beyond simply capturing or killing LRA leader, Joseph Kony. The guerilla leader has faced an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and war crimes since 2005.

But researcher Ledio Cakaj said it is not even certain he is still alive.

“As far as we know, Kony could be dead already. It is just hard to know. You have people who pretend to be him. His brother looks like him. At least as far as the Congo group is concerned, they operated without Kony for a while,” said Cakaj.

Cakaj said that even though the LRA often is described as a ragtag cult led by a madman, he asserts it is a very organized group of highly skilled fighters operating in extremely difficult terrain.

He said they move along waterways in forested areas where the rainy season will start soon, which will make it very difficult for even U.S. aided militaries to track them down.

Additionally, Cakaj worries about abuses committed by Ugandan soldiers involved in anti-LRA missions, including accounts of rape of civilians in affected areas, and cross-border timber smuggling, which also could have destabilizing effects.

The anti-LRA pressure group Resolve is urging more U.S. funding in the effort, now estimated at about $40 million. One suggestion is to pay for helicopters to track down the insurgents.

Researchers and activists also point out the same military actors, including U.S. advisors, were involved in previous and failed attempts to wipe out the LRA.

Four years ago, a Uganda-led military effort with U.S. funding and planning led to a surge of deadly LRA attacks.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid