CAR soldier
A Central African Republic soldier, part of the forces to receive U.S. assistance against the LRA.. Image: ENOUGH project/Flickr/CC BY-ND

President Obama announced Friday in a letter to Congress that he is sending a team of military advisers to Uganda and other Central African nations. The team of around 100 will offer support to regional forces in fighting the Lord’s Resistance Army, headed by strongman Joseph Kony.

The Lord’s Resistance Army

The Lord’s Resistance Army, which Obama has called an “affront to human dignity,” is a Ugandan rebel group notorious for its unrestrained violence. The group has been accused of many atrocities, including hacking victims to bits, kidnapping girls as sex slaves and abducting boys to recruit as soldiers.

The LRA is yet another regime that cloaks itself in religious dogma to justify its actions. It rose in Uganda in the late 1990s, and is linked to the deaths of thousands.

President Obama’s letter to Congress read, in part:

“For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa. 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 Joseph Kony from the battlefield.”

Not another U.S.-backed war

The president wanted to assure the American public that this is not another war, like the ones the nation’s forces are currently fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The president noted that the advisers “will only be providing information, advice and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

Obama said the advisers were necessary because the Ugandan and African Union forces in the region have been unsuccessful in stopping Kony and the LRA.

Crimes against humanity

Kony and four of his top men have previously been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005 by the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

The first advisers were deployed to Uganda on Wednesday, the president said. The remainder of the approximately 100 U.S. combat advisers will be sent to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo over the next month.


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