News / Africa

US Military Involvement in Uganda Yields Mixed Results

In this April 20, 2011 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers are seen with Uganda People's Defence Force soldiers at the closing ceremony for operation ATLAS DROP 11, an annual joint aerial delivery exercise, in Soroti, Uganda. While putting few U.S.
In this April 20, 2011 file photo, U.S. Army soldiers are seen with Uganda People's Defence Force soldiers at the closing ceremony for operation ATLAS DROP 11, an annual joint aerial delivery exercise, in Soroti, Uganda. While putting few U.S.
KAMPALA — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Uganda Friday to talk with President Yoweri Museveni about regional security and American-Ugandan military cooperation.

The U.S. State Department describes Uganda as a "key U.S. partner," particularly in the fight against the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army and in Somalia.

Fighting al-Shabab

Ugandan troops make up the bulk of the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, AMISOM - conducting operations against the militant Islamist group, al-Shabab. The United States pulled its own troops out of Somalia in 1993 after 18 American soldiers were killed. But U.S. Embassy spokesman Dan Travis in Kampala says America has been helping finance the Ugandan operation in Somalia for years.

"We’ve supported that effort since 2007, by providing funding for training, equipment, transportation and to sustain Ugandan and Burundian forces serving with AMISOM [the U.N. peacekeeping force in Somalia]," he said.

US military involvement

American military involvement in the region dates back much longer than that. During the Clinton administration, the African Crisis Response Initiative was set up to train the militaries of certain African countries, including Uganda. And, more recently, the United States has provided logistical support and military trainers in Uganda’s war against Joseph Kony and his rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Travis says military cooperation between the two countries has been beneficial to both.

"Uganda is one of America’s key partners in Africa and has established itself as a leader advancing efforts to resolve conflicts throughout the region," he said. "Countering violent extremism, especially organizations like the Lord’s Resistance Army or al-Shabab, is vital to a stable, secure and prosperous future for Uganda as well as the African continent."

Lord’s Resistance Army

The LRA terrorized northern Uganda for two decades and has now moved into neighboring countries. But according to Paul Omach, professor of security studies at Kampala’s Makerere University, defeating the LRA - which is estimated to be several hundred militants strong - is not the main reason why the United States is involved.  Omach says the Islamist government of Sudan has been accused of supporting the LRA, which makes Joseph Kony and the LRA part of the global war on terror.

"Kony is a proxy in a bigger war," said Omach. "The bigger war is with international terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism and all that.  And, for a long time, accusing fingers had been pointed at Sudan. That accusation still keeps on coming up."

Museveni - a valuable partner

Omach says one of the main reasons the United States has chosen Uganda as a military ally is because of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.  The professor says his personal control over the army, as well as his willingness to use his soldiers,  make him a valuable partner.

"Museveni is one who is ready," he said. "He looks at himself as a revolutionary. He has actually said these things - 'We are revolutionary, we are going to change the region.' He takes the risk. But you see, he also doesn’t have these democratic encumbrances when the body bags start coming."

Ugandans are taking note of the losses. In 2010, Somali suicide bombers killed 74 people in Kampala watching a broadcast of the final match of the soccer World Cup. Al-Shabab claimed the attack was retaliation for Uganda’s involvement in Somalia.

Popular reluctance

For many Ugandans, the war in Somalia has not been worth the cost.

“I think it’s hurting Uganda," says a woman in Kampala. "Al-Shabab has tried to hit us so many times. They hit us after the World Cup, about 80 people died. Why should we have so many of our soldiers out in Somalia? I really don’t see what we are gaining from that war."

Omach says U.S. military assistance has strengthened the Ugandan army, making it more capable of defending the country. But, he adds, such capacity building has an opposite side as well.

"The paradox of external military assistance in authoritarian states is that it ends up supporting authoritarianism, either intentionally or unintentionally," he said. "The countries with military means at hand will always use military means to resolve political disputes, even at home. So that is possibly one of the unfortunate impacts of the U.S. military involvement. I think it has given the government and Museveni’s leadership a lease on life."

Ugandans may prefer to focus on domestic issues, but the hunt for Kony continues and al-Shabab - though weakened - remains a threat in this part of Africa. Hillary Clinton’s decision to visit Uganda is being seen as a sign that the United States intends to stay involved in this volatile region for the foreseeable future.

You May Like

India PM Modi's party distances itself from religious conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote a Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid