President Obama has authorized the deployment of about 100 U.S. troops and military personnel to advise forces in central Africa trying to kill or capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Obama outlined the LRA's suspected atrocities and why he ordered the deployment to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The first troops arrived in Uganda on Wednesday and will go to the other countries pending their governments' approval.
“I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa,” Obama wrote.
The deployment will include two combat-equipped teams and communications and logistics personnel, but “although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they 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.”
Members of the LRA have murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of people in the region, Obama wrote.
The personnel, mostly Special Operations Forces, will be deployed to regional capitals to work with the governments there and also to field locations where they will advise local forces trying to find Kony, according to the Department of Defense.
The United States has contributed $33 million to the Uganda People’s Defense Force since 2008 and has provided logistical support, non-lethal equipment, training and intelligence assistance to other militaries fighting the LRA.