Posts Tagged 'Lord’s Resistance Army'

General Ham, Rear Admiral Losey discuss multinational effort to counter Lord’s Resistance Army

General Carter F. Ham, AFRICOM commander, and Rear Admiral Brian Losey, commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, spoke with reporters at AFRICOM headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, on April 24-25, 2012. The Q and A sessions focused on the U.S. military to the contribution to the multinational efforts to support and enable partner nations to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa. The U.S. military role is one component of a comprehensive, multi-year U.S. government strategy designed to increase the protection of civilians; apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and senior commanders from the battlefield; promote the defection, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters; and increase humanitarian access and providing continued relief to affected communities.

This effort was also the focus of an April 24, 2012, Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing where Ambassador Donald Yamamoto, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African Affairs; Amanda Dory, deputy assistant secretary of state for African Affairs; and Ear Gast, assistant administrator for Africa, USAID, discussed the U.S. policy aspects of the diplomatic, humanitarian and military roles.

Below are a few excerpts from those sessions:

The role of U.S. forces in countering the LRA:

“We do not have an operational role, and this is I think often misunderstood … . And so we try to educate and inform people to make sure that they understand that that’s not what this is. Our effort, again, is very much a supporting role to try to encourage the militaries of the four African countries that are involved, to lead their effort.”  — General Ham

Support to partner nations: 

“In discussion with the countries involved, we felt that they felt that we could best assist by having a small number of forces with them to help plan and coordinate logistics, intelligence and information-sharing, communication, medical recovery, those kinds of activities. Sometimes it’s just easier and more effective to do that if you’re together on the ground than trying to do that from a long distance. I believe, even in the short time that this mission has been under way, that that presence of American advisors and assistors has been effective. But I think it will become more effective over time.” — General Ham

“In partnership with USAID, the State Department is supporting projects to increase civilian protection, enhance early warning capabilities, deliver humanitarian relief, and strengthen the overall resiliency of communities. We also continue to encourage other international donors to increase their efforts in these areas. As we have seen in northern Uganda and parts of South Sudan, development can play a critical role in pushing out the LRA and keeping it from returning.” — Assistant Secretary Yamamoto


“If this was easy, he would already have been brought to justice. The Ugandans, the Congolese, the South Sudan, Central African Republic, the African Union, the United Nations, lots of nongovernmental organizations, the United States and many others want nothing more than to bring him to justice. So it’s not for lack of will. It is the complexity of operating in this environment. All we can do, I think, is continue to do the best we can to enable those who are operating in the field to try to bring this to conclusion.” — General Ham

Challenges of the operating environment:

“The size of the area that we’re talking about is about the size of California. So it’s a large geographic area, heavily forested, very remote, lack of infrastructure, very few roads, bridges – it’s very, very rough terrain. And so it doesn’t lend itself to an easy solution. And we’re looking for essentially about – we think the Lord’s Resistance Army probably numbers somewhere in the 200 range, and we don’t think they’re ever together. They’re operating in very, very small groups.” — General Ham

“I am confident that we have room to improve our understanding of all the dimensions of the LRA and Joseph Kony operating in that environment. I’m confident that we know more now than we knew six months ago. And I’m confident that over time that we will get to the end states that our president has set out for us with respect to the LRA.” —  Rear Admiral Losey

Special operations forces:

“The soldiers (supporting counter LRA efforts) are from operational detachment alphas. And they come with all the basic special forces operating skills provided by Army Special Forces. … The big benefit right now – what makes us a little bit different is the fact that we are having troop-to-troop contact in the field to do these training functions and to understand what’s happening at the ground level up. When you’re operating from embassies and through normal governmental structures that don’t involve troops in the field, I think you get a slightly different tilt on things.” — Rear Admiral Losey

U.S. interests:

There’s been a lot of conflict in this part of Africa. And if removal of the Lord’s Resistance Army helps contribute to stability and security, if it affords the opportunity for better government, for better economic development, for education and health care to be extended to people, that will bring a broader sense of security and stability. And while that’s certainly good for the people who live in that part of Africa, ultimately it’s also good for us. It builds regional stability. And I think that’s really our overall goal, is to help contribute to regional security.” — General Ham

The end state:

“Effectively ending the LRA threat requires simultaneously removing the top leadership from the battlefield and addressing the conditions that leave communities so vulnerable to predatory groups such as the LRA. This is precisely why the United States is seeking to pursue a multi-faceted strategy to enhance both military and civilian capacity in the region.” — Assistant Secretary Yamamoto

A full transcript of General Ham’s media session is available on the AFRICOM home page. You can read it here, or click here to read Rear Admiral Losey’s transcript. You can click here to read a transcript of Yamamoto’s and other officials’ testimony, or watch an archived video of the entire hearing.

Please click on the links below for more information on AFRICOM, U.S. assistance in countering the LRA and other background resources.

Fact Sheet: U.S. support to regional efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

Fact Sheet: U.S. military support to efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

In the news: AFRICOM, partners highlight multi-national efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army

AFRICOM home page

AFRICOM on Twitter

AFRICOM on Facebook

Africa Snapshot: Uganda

Uganda made headlines worldwide in March, when the group Invisible Children released its Kony2012 video about the Lord’s Resistance Army. By all accounts, Joseph Kony and the LRA haven’t operated in Uganda since 2006. But the country has long been at the center of conflict. In recent years, the number of people living in poverty has decreased by about one-third, but the country continues to face corruption, health and security challenges.

pulation: 35.8 million. Uganda is projected to rank fourth this year in population growth worldwide.

Religion: Uganda is a primarily Christian country, with more than 80 percent of the population listing their religion as either Roman Catholic or Protestant. Twelve percent are Muslim.

Language: English and Swahili are the official languages of Uganda. Luganda is another widely-spoken language. It’s often seen in written publications and taught in schools.

Economy: Uganda’s largest agricultural exports include coffee, tea, cotton and tobacco, sold mostly to other African nations and European Union countries. The country’s vast oil deposits have not been fully accessed.

U.S. partnerships: The U.S. government provided more than $600 million in assistance to Uganda in 2011. Nearly half of that went toward HIV/AIDS prevention.

Moment in history: In a daring 1976 raid, Israeli commandos rescued 100 hostages being held at the Entebbe airport after their flight from Israel to Paris was hijacked. The Entebbe  raid has been featured in numerous books and television movies, and was considered a model for later hostage rescue missions and commando raids. The raid was also considered the beginning of the end for Uganda dictator Idi Amin, who was in power for most of the 1970s.

Sources: CIA Fact Book/Uganda, U.S. Department of State Background Note – Uganda

This is the latest in our “Africa Snapshot” series, which takes a brief look at the countries in the AFRICOM area of operations. Click here for previous posts. 

USAFRICOM-related news stories for April 6, 2010 (From the Beltway/From and About Africa)

Recent Publications on Algeria, Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria, Liberia, Egypt, DR Congo, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, South Africa, Morocco, Somalia, Darfur, Niger, Kenya

US advises against long delay in Sudan elections (Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – The United States urged Sudan on Monday not to have a long delay in the staging of Sudan’s first multiparty elections in a quarter-century, set for this month.

Equatorial Guinea Minister Seeks Strong Ties With U.S (Voice of America)

An Equatorial Guinea cabinet minister says President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo’s government wants to strengthen “cooperation and friendship” with the Barack Obama administration.

Goodluck Jonathan calls on Barack Obama (Sun News online)

Goodluck Jonathan gets his first experience as “president” next week when he visits the U.S. at the invitation of President Barack Obama.

For additional relevant articles of interest, go to: &

Improving NCO Leadership Capability and Capacity

On 3/8/2010 4:22:57 PM Command Sergeant Major Mark Ripka wrote:

I just returned from a trip to Africa where I visited with partner nation military leaders in Uganda, Kenya, and Senegal. At each location and during each engagement I was encouraged by the willingness of partner nations to improve their security related capabilities and capacities; and by the enthusiasm of U.S. trainers–both military and contractors–to conduct security related training activities in a way which contributes to overall stability in Africa.
By now, anyone who has been following my travels knows that my focus has been assisting partner nation militaries improve warrant officer (WO) and noncommissioned officer (NCO) capability and capacity in a way that improves the overall effectiveness of a force.

I am always reminded by the Department of State lessons learned and the should-be themes of our US engagements:

1. Personal relationships are crucial. Everything is personal and this means being on the ground in Africa among Africans.
2.Listen, listen, listen…talk is cheap. Listening is golden.
3.It’s for the long-term, not short term rotations or arbitrary timelines. Nothing happens quickly in Africa. Much will go wrong. Commitments and perseverance are essential.
4.Understand that actions speak louder than words. The image of America in much of Africa is that of a 20 year old Peace Corps volunteer who lives among the Africans, learns their language, earns little, and is eager to learn.

And so, the above is my mental framework for each of my engagements. As hard as I try, I don’t get it right all the time and often–due to the nature of my engagements–I don’t even get an opportunity to employ all the lessons learned. But I persevere. So let’s get on with my most recent engagements.

In Uganda we attended a Ugandan NCO Peace Support Operations (PSO) course graduation. The course was administered by the French Foreign Legion based out of Djibouti. Upon graduation the NCO graduates transition to additional PSO training delivered by US personnel; finally, the British Army will close out the PSO training with a field training exercise. This training evolution is the type of partnering which demonstrates the level of international commitment to preparing peacekeeping forces in Africa.

Our next stop in Uganda was in Kasenyi where the 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry from the Puerto Rico National Guard was partnering with Ugandan military instructors delivering additional training to Ugandan forces. Ugandan Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) is one of two countries participating in the current African Union Mission in Somalia and at the same time the UPDF are engaged in defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army. Our training and partnering event in Kasenyi is designed to hone existing skills and add additional capacity to support the UPDF in its current operations. For the US NCOs, it’s about teaching and coaching–as well as listening and learning from the UPDF NCOs and soldiers!

In Kenya, the Defense Sergeant Major (DSM) and I re-established and strengthened our relationship from the previous year’s engagement. We continued to discuss ways ahead regarding WO and NCO leader development opportunities in 2010. The DSM accompanied our delegation to Isiolo. Isiolo is the Kenyan Army Infantry Training Center. At Isiolo, USAFRICOM’s Special Operations Command is leading the training of two Kenyan Army Ranger Companies over the next several months. The DSM was grateful for the informative trip and we were grateful because we were able to listen and learn from the KAF’s most senior Warrant Officer who works directly for the Chief of the Defense Force. As always, the DSM and I promised to stay in contact with each other.

Our last engagement of this trip took us to Senegal. The timing of this engagement was propitious because USAFRICOM, the week before, had hosted a delegation from the Senegalese Armed Forces in Stuttgart for staff to staff talks. GEN Ward and LTGEN Fall, the Chief of the Defence Force (CDF) closed out the week’s activities by receiving various staff briefings. Interestingly enough, one of the themes that were integrated in many of the areas discussed was NCO leadership development. So those discussions set favorable conditions for our engagement.

Another positive aspect of this engagement was the integration of the Vermont National Guard. The Vermont National Guard is Senegal’s State Partnership Program partner. The Vermont National Guard, for the past several years, has been conducting several partnership events with the Senegalese Armed Forces.

We started the week’s engagement at the Senegalese Armed Forces (SAF) HQs at Dial Diop where our delegation conducted talks with LTGEN Fall’s assistant CDF and various SAF senior staff members. We were provided the opportunity to deliver the “Improving NCO Leadership Capability and Capacity” briefing to the SAF senior leadership. By the end of the week we had provided that briefing six times; we also conducted two desk-side discussion briefings.

Clearly one of the highlights of the week was our visit to the NCO Academy in Kaolack–a 3.5 hour drive west of Dakar. The Senegalese NCO Academy is a two-year curriculum designed to graduate leaders who are prepared to assume the duties as SGTs in the SAF. The 2009 class is the first class to include females; additionally, each class includes a number of other Francophone country SGTs-to-be.

While in Kaolack, we also met Viola Vaughn, Ed. D, who is the Executive Director of Women’s Health Education and Prevention Strategies Alliance (WHEPSA) and 10K Girls Program team. WHEPSA focuses its efforts in educational development, small business development, and environmental development-all targeted at girls.

WHEPSA started in 2001 with 4 girls; today WHEPSA has 2500 girls enrolled in the regions of Kaolack and Kaffrine. The program targets girls and applies resources which focus on keeping them in school by providing tutoring services. The tutoring and after-school services have resulted in an 82% government education exam pass rate for rural girls enrolled in the WHEPSA, compared to a 28% pass rate for non-enrollees. The idea is to create opportunities for the girls to further their education in order to become productive contributors to their community and economy. Noteworthy, is the fact that WHEPSA has the support of religious leaders as well as social leaders. We were all pretty charged after that discussion…

The remainder of the week consisted of meetings and discussions with senior leadership of the Gendarmerie, various Zone Commanders, Home of the Senegalese Army Infantry in Thies, Senegalese Navy, Senegalese Air Force, and the Senegalese Army. We closed out the week with a final out-brief with the Assistant CDF. The Assistant CDF was appreciative of the week’s activities and once again restated how clear and simple our message had been all week. As the Senegalese look to improve their NCO leadership capability and capacity they will proceed at a measured pace; it will be a step-by-step process.

I have said time and again, “don’t sacrifice sustainability for speed”; so their measured pace approach is absolutely the right approach. And now, we must be as patience as our partners. They must know that we are the trusted and reliable partners we say we are…

Once again, I’ll go back to the four lessons learned stated in this blog and ask myself did I apply them? Did I apply them with purity of intention? I think I did, but time will tell and we must be patient.

Command Sergeant Major Mark S. Ripka became United States Africa Command’s senior enlisted leader in November 2007. He previously served as command sergeant major of United States Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. Command Sergeant Major Ripka holds the highest-ranking enlisted position in the command, serving as the principal enlisted advisor to the commander. You can learn more about CSM Ripka at

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