Among those hunting for Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa are 100 US Special Forces soldiers spread out in four bases in Central Africa. The American troops' primary mission there is to advise and train regional forces as they search for the warlord who has evaded capture since 2008.
“Kony is definitely still a threat. He's been on the run. He's on the decline, and in survival mode, but he is still dangerous and he's going to be dangerous until the LRA are eliminated,” said a US Special Forces soldier during an interview with CNN. Special forces soldiers are not allowed to use their name in media interviews. “We help our partner nation forces ask the right questions – the who, the what, the when, the where, and the why – to get all the information.”
US military officials say they were partially influenced to recommit troops to the effort to target the LRA after a March 2012 video by the organization “Invisible Children” went viral, drawing renewed attention onto Kony and the LRA, reports the Wall Street Journal. President Obama announced the special forces deployment in October 2011.
Despite the present attention now focused on US support of African forces pursuing the LRA, which was originally based in Uganda, the US has provided support to the Ugandan military to help their efforts against the group for years now. Much of the efforts have been shrouded in secrecy due to the complicated relationship between the US and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is accused of arresting and harassing political rivals and engaging in corrupt electoral practices.
“Since 2008, the Pentagon and the State Department have been diligently working behind the scenes to provide military and intelligence support to the Ugandan military in the fight against the LRA, with the US embassy in Kampala coordinating the provision of money and technical assistance to the Ugandan military,” wrote Matthew Aid, author of Intel Wars: The Secret History of the Fight Against Terror.
Though the effectiveness of the LRA has been diminished, it has successfully managed to avoid regional forces by moving through the jungles of the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Congo. The Associated Press reports that since late last year, US forces have offered help largely in the form of technological and intelligence assistance. American forces are also trying to establish better communications the three countries to better coordinate efforts.
IN PICTURES: Kony and the Lord's Resistance ArmyMeanwhile, Ugandan officials have accused Sudan of harboring Kony. Col. Felix Kulayigye, Uganda’s Ministry of Defense spokesman, said that Kony and his LRA fighters look to Sudan for military supplies and then hide in the jungles of the Central African Republic where they can forage for food.
“He is in Bahr Gazel, a Khartoum-controlled area. We captured a rebel who was wearing a new uniform and said it was supplied by Khartoum, together with ammunition,” said Col. Kulayigye in an article by the Ugandan newspaper New Vision. “Since he had run out of ammunition and uniforms, he had to go back to his God-father [Omar Bashir, the president of Sudan], if I am to use those words.”
The LRA has been on the run since its camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo was bombed in 2008. Since then the group has splintered and is accused of butchering civilians and kidnapping local children to act as servants and sex slaves, reported The Christian Science Monitor earlier this month.