News / Africa

    US Troops Deploy to Fight Lord's Resistance Army

    Luis Ramirez

    U.S. troops have been deploying in central Africa to help the forces of Uganda and other nations fight the Lord’s Resistance Army [L.R.A.]. The deployment is the largest U.S. attempt yet to eradicate the group known for its ruthless campaign of killing, rape, and its use of child soldiers over the past two decades.

    U.S. troops are landing in Uganda and from there may deploy to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and southern Sudan - areas were the L.R.A. - a scattered force whose numbers are estimated to be around 400 - are operating.  

    The U.S. troops are combat-ready and have instructions to fight if attacked, but Pentagon spokesman Captain John Kirby said the U.S. troops’ mission is limited to helping Ugandan soldiers and the armies of other nations stamp out the L.R.A.

    “The mission for these 100 or so special operations forces is really just advise and assist, and help train local forces to deal with that threat.  That is the scope of what they’ are going to be doing. That is the limit to what they are going to be doing,” said Kirby.

    The deployment culminates years of efforts by human-rights groups and others to raise awareness in the halls of the U.S. Congress and at the White House of the need for Washington to step in and tackle one of the most violent and vicious militia groups, and its leader Joseph Kony.

    Jennifer Cooke, who directs the Africa program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies research group, said, “The U.S. Congress has passed in 2009 legislation calling on the president to lay out a strategy to protect civilians, to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony, and to improve humanitarian access to the region. And I think this is a concerted effort once and for all to help the governments of that region to eliminate the threat, the threat from the L.R.A."

    That threat does not directly affect U.S. national security, but Washington sees Uganda as a solid partner in the region, most notably in peacekeeping efforts  in Somalia.

    Brookings Institution defense analyst Michael O’Hanlon said deploying a small number of U.S. troops to help Uganda fight the L.R.A. is a small investment that could yield big returns for the United States.

    “To the extent the United States has any interest in Somalia being stabilized, it has an interest in seeing the Ugandan government able to keep its own country together, and able to keep it its own forces partially deployed to Somalia in order to help with that country where there have been al-Qaida related groups in the past.”

    Advocate John Bradshaw prefers not to speculate on possible U.S. motives. He directs the Enough Project, a U.S. group that works to eliminate genocide and crimes against humanity, primarily in Africa’s Great Lakes region. To Bradshaw, what is important is that Washington is taking action, providing support that he said could help protect civilians.

    “A lot of that is information-sharing, having communities get timely alerts about possible L.R.A. action, improving communications equipment, putting up cell phone towers so that vulnerable populations are forewarned when attacks might happen,” said Bradshaw.

    For two decades, Uganda and other nations have been unable to wipe out the L.R.A. The group has broken up into smaller units and dispersed across borders through the jungle terrain. O’Hanlon said the U.S. military will bring some of the capabilities developed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    “In addition to training, which we are obviously pretty good at with some of our special forces, we also know how to do things like listen to cell phone communication and watch people with drones. Watching them with drones in the jungle is harder than watching them with drones in the desert, but we have gotten better at some of these things and we may be able to impart some of our lessons and best practices to the Ugandans.

    U.S. leaders hope that with this knowledge and technology, even 100 troops can make a difference.




    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.