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.

By , Staff Writer

  • close
    Thomas Kwoyelo, a former director of field operations in the rebel group Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) appears before a War Crimes Court in Gulu, 217 miles north of Uganda's capital Kampala, July 25. President Obama wants to send troops to fight the Lord’s Resistance Army.
    View Caption

Earlier this month, President Obama sent a letter to Congress explaining why he had approved sending 100 US military advisers to fight a shadowy rebel group in central Africa.

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.”

Recommended: 7 excellent books about Kony and the LRA

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.

The US soldiers will not be “hunting” Mr. Kony, the diplomat adds, and “they will not take part in combat.”

“They will be helping the [Ugandan military] refine [its] operations by sharing tactics and procedures we have learned in 10 years of low intensity conflict while helping them look at the 'problem set' through fresh eyes. The [Ugandan military] is a professional force with a lot of combat experience, [and] embedded advisors will help them leverage their strengths.”

The Obama administration’s deployment has won some praise from activist groups like the Enough Project.

“President Obama should be lauded for deploying qualified military advisers to the region,” said Enough’s co-founder John Prendergast, adding that if the Obama administration “helps generate multilaterally the necessary logistical and intelligence support for those troops, the LRA’s days will be numbered.”

But other humanitarian aid groups have been more cautious.

Concerns for civilians

Noah Gottschalk, a senior humanitarian policy advisor for Oxfam America, says that a military operation is just one of many potential tools for combating the LRA, and one that could put countless thousands of civilians in harm’s way.

“The truth is that the LRA are really good at evading military action,” says Mr. Gottschalk, noting that the area in which the LRA operate – including northern Uganda, South Sudan, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic – is about the size of California.

The Ugandan military has tried a military solution in dealing with the LRA in the past, Gottschalk said, most recently with their Operation Lightning Thunder at the end of 2008. “That operation was designed to go after the LRA with the stated intent of making the LRA go away, but it left civilians a lot worse off.”

In the long run, the solution may be the boring work of development, Gottschalk says.

“The LRA goes to places where there is little development, they don’t go to places where there are big roads," he says. "So if you start to squeeze that area, building roads, bringing in infrastructure, you’re not only bringing development to the most neglected corners of Africa, you’re also reducing the territory that the LRA can operate in.”

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

eZ debug

Clear cache:

Quick settings:

Timing: Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Script start
Timing: Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Module start 'content'
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
iconv(): Detected an illegal character in input string in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/wrap_operator/autoloads/WrapOperator.php on line 109
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 158
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: path in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezwebin/autoloads/ezpagedata.php on line 175
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: meta_class_identifier_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/ezfind/classes/ezfindresultnode.php on line 111
Notice: PHP: E_NOTICE Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Undefined index: meta_remote_id_ms in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/csm_base/classes/CSMFunctionCollection.php on line 1028
Timing: Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Module end 'content'
Timing: Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Before parse_includes
Strict: PHP: E_STRICT Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Non-static method MugoViewExtras::get_view_extras() should not be called statically, assuming $this from incompatible context in /var/www/www.csmonitor.com/extension/mugo_view_extras/autoloads/template_operators.php on line 37
Warning: eZTemplate:def @ extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/extra/archive.tpl:21[1] Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
Variable 'view_extra_node' is already defined.
Timing: Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
After parse_includes
Timing: Jul 09 2014 05:55:45
End

Timing points:

CheckpointElapsedRel. ElapsedMemoryRel. Memory
Script start 0.0000 sec0.0131 sec 1,285.9922 KB1,162.1250 KB
Module start 'content' 0.0131 sec3.3964 sec 2,448.1172 KB12,632.5313 KB
Module end 'content' 3.4095 sec0.0246 sec 15,080.6484 KB402.6484 KB
Before parse_includes 3.4341 sec0.0633 sec 15,483.2969 KB273.0547 KB
After parse_includes 3.4974 sec0.0007 sec 15,756.3516 KB-185.6563 KB
End 3.4981 sec  15,570.6953 KB 
Total runtime:3.5037 sec
Peak memory usage:21,338.4766 KB

Time accumulators:

 Accumulator Elapsed Percent Count Average
ini_load
Load cache0.0069 sec0.1957%370.0002 sec
Mysql Total
Mysqli_queries0.2043 sec5.8269%2370.0009 sec
Looping result0.0512 sec1.4600%2260.0002 sec
Template Total3.4487 sec 98.4% 8 0.4311 sec
Template load0.0060 sec0.1702%80.0007 sec
Template processing3.4426 sec98.1906%80.4303 sec
Template load and register function0.0003 sec0.0082%40.0001 sec
states
state_id_array0.0088 sec0.2503%180.0005 sec
state_identifier_array0.0156 sec0.4452%240.0007 sec
override
Cache load0.0060 sec0.1697%1260.0000 sec
eZ Find
Search0.0881 sec2.5131%10.0881 sec
Query build0.0754 sec2.1493%10.0754 sec
Class attribute list0.0684 sec1.9515%10.0684 sec
Engine time0.0115 sec0.3281%10.0115 sec
MoreLikeThis0.0000 sec0.0000%00.0000 sec
Sytem overhead
Fetch class attribute can translate value0.0028 sec0.0792%60.0005 sec
Fetch class attribute name0.0002 sec0.0062%120.0000 sec
XML
Image XML parsing0.0079 sec0.2242%60.0013 sec
class_abstraction
Instantiating content class attribute0.0001 sec0.0033%150.0000 sec
General
String conversion0.0000 sec0.0004%30.0000 sec
dbfile0.0022 sec0.0622%690.0000 sec
View Extra building0.0198 sec0.5660%40.0050 sec
Total script time:3.5060 sec

CSS/JS files loaded with "ezjscPacker" during request:

CacheTypePacklevelSourceFiles
01a980f93dc967c6e39d52a11ae2108b_1404899611_all.cssCSS3extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/normalize.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/html5b.css
design/standard/stylesheets/debug.css
extension/ezwt/design/standard/stylesheets/websitetoolbar.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/jquery-ui-1.10.3.custom.min.css
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/stylesheets/desktop.css
ede0a88fd146f1a095d27fb22227d0e5_1398846822.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/modernizr.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery-1.10.2.min.js
1650da1ba852ac5f9af81af07e8fa105_1404899611.jsJS2extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery-ui-1.10.4.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/json2.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/jquery.cookie.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.mobile.custom.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.arthole.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sticky.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.right_column.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.csmstory_editorspickdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.sailthru_signup.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.jcarousel.min.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.history.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.mainNav.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.gallery.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/plugins/jquery.staffdialog.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jQuery.rollChildren.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/pubService_extended.js
extension/csm_base/design/standard/javascript/csm/csmNew.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.quiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/jquery.spectrumQuiz.js
extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/javascript/global.js

Templates used to render the page:

UsageRequested templateTemplateTemplate loadedEditOverride
1node/view/full.tplfull/article.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/full/article.tplEdit templateOverride template
32content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tpl<No override>extension/ezwebin/design/ezwebin/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/paragraph.tplEdit templateOverride template
3content/datatype/view/ezimage.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezimage.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezstring.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplEdit templateOverride template
24content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/link.tplEdit templateOverride template
8content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/promotion.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/promotion.tplEdit templateOverride template
4content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/header.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/strong.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/strong.tplEdit templateOverride template
2content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/emphasize.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltags/emphasize.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/content/datatype/view/ezbyline.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezobjectrelationlist.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_images.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_images.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/eztext.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/content/datatype/view/eztext.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezstring.tplcontent/datatype/view/image_credit.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/image_credit.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezxmltext.tplcontent/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/story_info_box.tplEdit templateOverride template
1content/datatype/view/ezmatrix.tplcontent/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplextension/csm_base/design/csm_design/override/templates/content/datatype/view/ezmatrix_article_related_external_links.tplEdit templateOverride template
1pagelayout.tpl<No override>extension/csm_base/design/csm_design/templates/pagelayout.tplEdit templateOverride template
1modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tpl<No override>extension/mugo_view_extras/design/standard/templates/modules/mugo_view_extras/extra_cached.tplEdit templateOverride template
1setup/debug_toolbar.tpl<No override>design/standard/templates/setup/debug_toolbar.tplEdit templateOverride template
 Number of times templates used: 88
 Number of unique templates used: 19
 Time used to render template usage: 0.0005 secs