By Henry D Gombya
News that US President Barack Obama has authorised the deployment of 100 Special Forces to go to Uganda and help look for rebel leader Joseph Kony have been met with a stony silence from those well-versed into the goings-on in Uganda as well as some officers within the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) who have told everyone who wanted to listen that Kony, who has led a guerrilla war against the Museveni regime for the last 20 years or so, had been defeated and was on the run in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The move by the world’s only super power has been received with disbelief as well because when France and the United Kingdom were looking towards the US for support in removing former Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, it was none other than Obama who vowed that not a single boot of an American soldier would land in Libya to help with Gaddafi’s removal. Since there is no war now in Uganda and the country’s politicians and the army say Kony has been defeated, why is President Obama sending boots on the ground in Uganda when he couldn’t send them to Libya where there has and continue to be a real war?
The London Evening Post has obtained a letter that President Obama has sent to Congress indicating his action. It reads:
“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. Since 2008, the United States has supported regional military efforts to pursue the LRA and protect local communities. Even with some limited U.S. assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield. In the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010, the Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.
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.
I have directed this deployment, which is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, pursuant to my constitutional authority to conduct U.S. foreign relations and as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive. I am making this report as part of my efforts to keep the Congress fully informed, consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148). I appreciate the support of the Congress in this action.”