Friday, October 14, 2011

Obama sends 100 U.S. military advisors to Uganda

The Obama administration announced plans on Friday to send about 100 U.S. combat forces to Uganda to act as military advisers to Ugandan and African Union forces fighting the Lords' Resistance Army (LRA). The U.S. forces will lend assistance to other central African nations trying to apprehend the LRA's top commanders and bring them to justice, and to bring about an end the group's two-decade campaign of atrocities and destabilization of the region, the administration said.
President Obama announced the decision in an official notification letter to Congress Friday. In the letter, Obama said that he had sent the initial team of armed U.S. combat troops to Uganda on Oct. 12. He explained that the rest of the roughly 100 military advisers would be deployed over the next month to Uganda--as well as to the neighboring countries of South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic.
He also said that while U.S. troops would be authorized to use force for self defense they are not operating under an explicit combat mission.
"For more than two decades, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa," Obama said in the letter. "In furtherance of the Congress's stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of [LRA commander] Joseph Kony from the battlefield."
"On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda," the letter explained. "During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100."
The deployed American forces "will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA," Obama wrote, adding that their role will be to "provide information, advice, and assistance" to troops from partner nations in the region. Some U.S. troops may "deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo," Obama also said, if those governments agree.
The Lords' Resistance Army has been accused of killings and committing widespread atrocities against civilians, and the abduction of an estimated 3,000 children, in its two decades of warfare against the Ugandan government.
Its top commander, Joseph Kony, 50, "styles himself as a prophet and spirit medium and practices a blend of mysticism and apocalyptic Protestant Christianity," the Washington Post's William Branigin wrote Friday. "He formed his Lord's Resistance Army from the remnants of the Holy Spirit Movement, an armed group led by his aunt that fought the Ugandan government in the late 1980s."
Kony and four deputies are the subjects of arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court in the Hague in 2005.More...

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