News / Africa

US Officials Expect Troops to Stay in Uganda for 'Months'

A U.S. House of Representatives panel heard testimony Tuesday on President Barack Obama's decision to deploy 100 troops to Central Africa to help the forces of Uganda and other countries fight the Lord Resistance Army, or LRA.

Most of the lawmakers at the hearing expressed support for the mission to help to end the LRA's campaign of murder, rape and forcing children to be soldiers, but some representatives questioned the cost and duration of the mission.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

The Chairwoman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, said the LRA and its leader, Joseph Kony, are responsible for one of the longest and most violent, yet most under-reported, conflicts in Africa, spanning two decades and spreading from Uganda to South Sudan to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to the Central African Republic.

“The LRA makes no attempt to hold territories, but murders, mutilates, tortures, rapes and loots with impunity," Ros-Lehtinen said.

Ros-Lehtinen said the LRA moves in small groups and strikes remote villages, slaughtering civilians, abducting women and children to serve as fighters, porters and sex slaves. It has been estimated that more than 80 percent of the LRA is made up of abducted children, which makes efforts to eradicate the group more complex.

The two witnesses at the hearing fielded questions from lawmakers about the goals, the estimated cost, the scope and the duration of the U.S. mission.

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Alexander Vershbow, said local forces have weakened the LRA to about 200 core fighters and a total of 800. He said the 100 U.S. troops, many of them special operations forces, would help Ugandan forces track down the LRA's leaders.

"While weakened, LRA leader Joseph Kony and other top commanders remain at large, and they continue to direct the groups' members to commit unspeakable atrocities."

Because many LRA fighters are conscripted children, U.S. troops will also help local forces and officials try to convince many of the fighters to defect," said Vershbow.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Donald Yamamoto, testified before the committee. "We will continue to work on the LRA fighters to peacefully disarm and leave the organization ranks and to come home, and currently there are about 12,000 [who] have done so," Yamamoto said.

Assistant Defense Secretary Vershbow reassured lawmakers that U.S. forces would not seek to engage LRA fighters in combat. "To be clear, U.S. forces deploying for this mission will not themselves engage LRA forces.  But given the potential need to defend themselves, they will be equipped for combat," he added.

Vershbow said there is no definite timeline for the U.S. deployment, but he estimated that it would be "months" and said it would not be open-ended. He said U.S. troops would mainly  advise Ugandan forces on how to gather and use intelligence more effectively to track down Kony and his commanders.

Some of the lawmakers said they support the mission, but added they were dismayed that Vershbow and Yamamoto did not have a cost estimate for the mission.

Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California said, "The cost is really an important factor because the United States cannot afford to pay the price to win everyone's else's freedom in the world."

The United States sees Uganda as a solid partner in the region, especially in peacekeeping efforts in Somalia.  Some analysts say the decision to deploy 100 U.S. special forces is a small investment that could yield big rewards.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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