The President makes the following statements and assurances:
- The force will number about 100
- The force will be combat equipped
- The force will not engage in combat unless in self-defense
- The force will assist those nations that request it, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).
- The first troops were dispatched to Uganda on Wednesday, October 12.
The Lord’s Resistance Army grew out of an Acholi tribal movement in northern Uganda that was intended to overthrow the national government. It was first named in 1991 and has operated in northern Uganda and other nations in the region ever since. Peace talks have been unsuccessful.
The movement’s leader is Joseph Kony. He was raised Roman Catholic but now practices a mystical version of Christianity where he received messages from angels. His followers believe Kony to be a prophet and the Army is as much a cult as a guerrilla organization. He was indicted in 2005 by the International Criminal Court and an arrest warrant issued.
The region is home to many bands of rebels, tribal factions, outlaws and disaffected military units. The LRA stands out amidst the others for several reasons. Its cadre contains several former Ugandan military officers and it now has two decades of fighting experience. It is noted for its large scale abductions of women and children, as well as the “usual” rapes, tortures and massacres. It also has demonstrated the ability to strike over distances of hundreds of miles.
The U.S. State Department says this about the LRA:
For more than two decades, the LRA has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children. Since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and South Sudan as a result of LRA activity.
The LRA has been driven out of Uganda for the most part. At this time it is raiding in the northern DRC but has reached into South Sudan and the CAR. A battalion of troops from the DRC, trained by the united States, is now deployed in the northeastern Congo.
United States troops have conducted several exercises in Uganda in recent years. Ugandan troops are serving in Somalia as part of the African Union peacekeeping force. Many Ugandans have also served as facility guards in Iraq, hired by civilian contractors for those duties.