President Obama notified Congress today that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to help battle a rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army.
The troops arrived in Uganda this week and will ultimately be deployed to South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Obama said in a letter to congressional leaders.
The Lord’s Resistance Army is accused of a two-decade spree of murder, rape and kidnapping.
The troops will be combat-equipped, but will fight only in self-defense, Obama said,
Instead, they will serve largely in an advisory role to remove LRA leader Joseph Kony “from the battlefield.”
From Obama’s letter:
For more than two decades, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa. The LRA continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security. …
In furtherance of the Congress’s stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield. I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.
On October 12, the initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda.
During the next month, additional forces will deploy, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100.
These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA. Our forces will provide information, advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces.
Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The support provided by U.S. forces will enhance regional efforts against the LRA. However, although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense. All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of U.S. military personnel during their deployment.