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

Scotland Vote Raises Questions of International Law

Experts say self-determination, as defined and protected by international law, confined narrowly to independence movements in process of de-colonization More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

Annual Military Exercise Takes on New Meaning for Ukraine Troops

Troops from 15 nations participating in annual event, 'Rapid Trident' in western Ukraine 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.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid