Why Obama is sending troops to Africa – a closer look
The 100 US Special Operations troops sent to central Africa will act as 'military advisers' in the hunt for Joseph Kony, the murderous rebel leader of the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group.
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The reason, President Obama wrote, is that the Lord’s Resistance Army – a brutal rebel group with a mixture of Christian fundamentalist and African traditional beliefs – is a threat to regional security in central Africa, and thus a threat to the interests of the US government and its strategic partners.
Noting that Congress had passed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act in 2009, Mr. Obama wrote, “I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped US forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield.”
While tracking down unhinged African warlords may be the stuff of bad Hollywood movies, it generally has not been a plank in US foreign policy. But with the advent of the US military’s relatively new Africa Command (AFRICOM), headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, America’s military is working closer with its African partners to ensure regional security.
Viewed with suspicion by some African leaders as part of a larger “neo-colonial” foothold on the African continent, it is seen as a boon by other US partner nations such as Uganda, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, who work closely with the US military on common issues such as counterterrorism and insurgencies.
In the current US AFRICOM operation, 100 Special Operations troops will travel with Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) soldiers trailing LRA leader Joseph Kony.
US to 'share lessons learned'
A US diplomat with knowledge of the operation told the Monitor that US Special Forces soldiers will “… share lessons learned from 10 years of fighting in a similarly rugged environment against small groups of people moving on foot,” such as the US military has faced in the Afghan war.