US Special Forces now fighting the LRA in four African countries
February 24, 2012 3 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
American troops fighting one of Africa’s most notorious rebel groups are now officially stationed across four African countries, a move that highlights the expansion of Washington’s military presence in the continent. Last October, the administration of US President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 100 US Special Forces members to Uganda, to fight an insurgency group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Founded in the 1980s, the LRA is widely considered the world’s most brutal Christian terrorist group. Its leader, Joseph Kony, who is wanted along with four of his commanders by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, is seen as a prophet by his followers. Washington had initially said that the Special Forces members would act as “advisors” to the Ugandan government, which has sustained the majority of the LRA’s attacks over the years. But Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey, the US Special Operations’ senior commander for Africa, said on Wednesday that, in addition to Uganda, American forces are currently stationed in military bases in Nzara, South Sudan, Obo, Central African Republic, and Dungu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Speaking to Western reporters on the telephone, Rear Admiral Losey said that counterinsurgency activity directed at the LRA “will increase in frequency” during the spring and summer, and hinted that the Christian rebel group would soon be forced to go on the defensive. It is important to note that this official acknowledgement does not mark the beginning of Washington’s military involvement in activities against the LRA. In 2009, The New York Times revealed that the US Department of Defense assisted in the planning of a major offensive against the LRA. The paper alleged that the operation had been “personally authorized” by the then US President George W. Bush, who had also commanded the Pentagon to provide Ugandan forces with satellite communications, intelligence data and “$1 million in fuel”. The operation failed, however, as Kony’s forces managed to successfully break into small groups and move independently toward the interior of the DRC, killing nearly 1,000 civilians in the process. Commander Losey told journalists on Wednesday that US forces in the cross-border region —which is the size of the US state of California— are working on integrating communications and intelligence-collection systems, and have no access to unmanned aircraft.