March 24, 2014
In an expanded attempt to continue the hunt for warlord Joseph Kony,
President Obama has authorized the deployment of military aircraft and
about 150 Special Operations forces to Uganda.
According to the Washington Post, the administration notified
Congress of the deployments as they began on Sunday, and the troop
movement was later confirmed to Reuters by the Defense Department.
The move marks the first time that US military aircraft have been
assigned to Uganda in order to help search for Kony, who is wanted by
the International Criminal Court for war crimes. Under Obama’s orders,
at least four CV-22 Osprey aircraft are scheduled to arrive in the
country by the middle of the week, alongside a contingent of 150 Air
Force Special Operations troops, pilots, and maintenance forces.
The Post reports that the new influx of troops will “provide
information, advice and assistance” to the African Union forces
searching for Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army. The troops are
“combat-equipped,” but are barred from fighting the LRA themselves
except in self-defense situations. The aircraft, meanwhile, will be used
to move troops from one location to another.
Despite the increased US presence, the troop deployment comes at a
time when Kony’s whereabouts are unknown, though he and approximately
250 troops are believed to be hiding somewhere in the jungles bordering
the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of
Congo. Already, a 5,000-unit African Union force is searching for Kony,
but the LRA’s attack presence has dwindled 75 percent since 2010, and
the man has not been sighted recently.