U.S., African Forces Mitigate Terror Group’s Impact

WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2012 — U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tions forces are help­ing four Cen­tral African nations reduce the size and lethal­i­ty of the Lord’s Resis­tance Army, a group that has ter­ror­ized the region for 25 years, U.S. offi­cials said today.

Navy Rear Adm. Bri­an L. Losey, com­man­der of Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand Africa, said in a con­fer­ence call with reporters that the LRA is down to about 200 core fight­ers. Kar­ly Wycoff, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of state for African affairs, also par­tic­i­pat­ed in the call.

While still under the direc­tion of its leader, Joseph Kony, the admi­ral said, the group is kept on the run in the remote, shared bor­der region of South Sudan, Ugan­da, Cen­tral Africa Repub­lic and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Repub­lic of Con­go — an area about the size of Cal­i­for­nia.

Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma ordered about 100 spe­cial oper­a­tions forces to deploy to Cen­tral Africa in Octo­ber to train and aug­ment the capa­bil­i­ties of the African mil­i­taries in the region.

The U.S. effort to help the four-nation part­ner­ship counter the LRA is a com­pre­hen­sive, mul­ti-faceted strat­e­gy that has includ­ed train­ing, fund­ing, air­lift, logis­tics, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and intel­li­gence sup­port — specif­i­cal­ly, fus­ing intel­li­gence and sup­port to oper­a­tions, Losey and Wycoff said.

“With our sup­port, these four mil­i­tary forces con­tin­ue to make progress in reduc­ing the LRA’s num­bers and keep them from regroup­ing,” Wycoff said.

U.S. forces also are work­ing close­ly with the State Depart­ment, the Unit­ed Nations, the African Union and non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide human­i­tar­i­an relief in the region, Wycoff said.

“The mil­i­tary is only one part of a broad­er strat­e­gy,” Wycoff said. A large part of the strat­e­gy is to entice LRA mem­bers to defect and safe­ly return home, with the help of gov­ern­ment and aid orga­ni­za­tions, he said, and to pub­li­cize those defec­tions.

“One of the sad real­i­ties of this sit­u­a­tion is that many of the per­pe­tra­tors of these [LRA] atroc­i­ties were vic­tims them­selves, abduct­ed in their child­hood and forced to fight,” he said.

Wycoff likened Kony and his fol­low­ers to a cult that has kid­napped and mur­dered civil­ians for two decades, caus­ing an esti­mat­ed 455,000 peo­ple to be dis­placed or to live as refugees. The LRA is not known to be involved in any mon­ey-mak­ing crim­i­nal enter­prise, he said, but sur­vives off for­ag­ing and pil­lag­ing of vil­lages.

The LRA is impli­cat­ed in 278 attacks and at least 300 abduc­tions last year, which decreased at the end of the year, they said.

“Now they are only a small per­cent­age of their for­mer strength,” Losey said. But the fact that the LRA is oper­at­ing at all, even at reduced strength, is ter­ri­fy­ing to peo­ple in the region, he added.

Losey said the removal of Kony is one of the chief objec­tives in a broad­er mis­sion to enable the four part­ner nations to be ful­ly capa­ble to counter the LRA. Though there is no time­line for the U.S. mis­sion, he added, it also is not open-end­ed.

“We want to make very clear that we are sup­port­ing, and not lead­ing, this effort,” he said.

The fact that the four African nations came togeth­er for the effort to defeat the LRA is an achieve­ment, Losey said.

“This oper­a­tion is at its core what U.S. Africa Com­mand is all about,” he said. “In the long run, it is the Africans who are best suit­ed to address” their region­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →