Posts Tagged 'LRA'

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. 

Learn more about the LRA and Kony 2012

US soldiers assist Ugandan Airforce personnel as they package food supplies at a military airbase in Entebbbe, Uganda, on Dec. 6, 2011. The food supplies were destined for frontline Ugandan troops hunting the Lord's Resistance Army. Photo courtesy of Newsday, MICHELE SIBILONI/AFP/Getty Images

“Kony 2012″, the 30-minute video produced by the group Invisible Children, quickly became a viral sensation when it was posted online last week. By this morning it had been viewed nearly 73 million times on YouTube. Invisible Children has been both praised for their incredible social media marketing savvy and criticized for taking what some see as a narrow view on a complicated issue. The group is poised to release another video today to answer critics, according to a CNN story.

Either way, “Kony 2012” has raised the attention of the world regarding Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

US Africa Command does not endorse nor is it affiliated with Invisible Children.

AFRICOM does, however, welcome this increased awareness about the Lord’s Resistance Army and the history of atrocities and destabilizing role the LRA has played in Central Africa for decades.  We will continue to work with Congress, the Department of State, the Department of Defense and interested advocacy groups to end the LRA threat.

Click on the links below for more on AFRICOM’s involvement in efforts to counter the LRA, a comprehensive National Defense University paper on the LRA, as well as various takes on “Kony 2012” from around the web.

And as always, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section of this post, as well as links to other resources you think might be helpful and informative.

FACT Sheet: U.S. Military Support to African Efforts to Counter the Lord’s Resistance Army, from the US AFRICOM home page: “We are an enabling force to facilitate and advance the capabilities of the African forces.”

“U.S. Continues Support for Central Africa as it Counters LRA threat,” from the US AFRICOM home page: “In the long run, it is Africans who are best-suited to address African security matters,” Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey said. “In this case, four nations decided that they wanted to work together to address a common security challenge, and we’re glad to help.”

“U.S. Command Fights Terrorists on African Soil,”  audio and transcript of National Public Radio interview with AFRICOM’s commander Gen. Carter F. Ham: “They have caused the displacement of many tens of thousands of people. They’ve disrupted economies. They’ve disrupted good governance. They undermine regional stability. And that’s why we’re concerned.”

“Countering the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa,” National Defense University paper by  senior research fellow Andre Le Sage:

“Joseph Kony: Brutal Warlord Who Shocked the World,” CNN profile on the LRA leader: “If Kony attracted supporters through his ‘mystical powers’ and charisma, he kept them through fear.”

“The Controversy Over Kony 2012,” one Washington Post writer’s view on the video and the efforts against the LRA: “The effort to capture or kill Kony is one of the least controversial, most thoroughly multilateral, objectives in the world. But that has not prevented a few people from trying to stir controversy.”

“Kony 2012: The Anatomy of a Viral Campaign,” the Washington Post on how a 30-minute video took the social media world by storm: “To get the campaign off the ground quickly, the group had users send messages to 20 ‘culturemakers’ and 12 ‘policymakers’ with influential Twitter accounts urging them to support the effort.”

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