The first of about 100 U.S. military personnel have arrived in Uganda to advise and assist regional government forces that are battling rebels who have conducted a decades-long campaign of murder, rape and kidnapping across four countries in central Africa. Under the leadership of Joseph Kony, the Lord's Resistance Army has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions since launching its insurgency against the Ugandan government in 1986.
Uganda and other nations in the region terrorized by the LRA have worked together to end the threat posed by the group. They have had some success, but the LRA continues to commit atrocities and displace hundreds of thousands of people. The governments have publicly welcomed increased U.S. support for their efforts.
The United States is engaged in many African nations to help build the professional capacity of their armed forces to more effectively protect their civilians and address security threats. The LRA mission is similar to other training and advising efforts, but in this case some U.S. advisors will be in the field providing information, logistical support and other aid to the regional forces. U.S. troops in the field will be armed, but won't engage the LRA directly except to defend themselves. Regional governments will continue to be in the lead of military operations.
This support operation is one part of an ongoing, comprehensive U.S. strategy to help our regional partners bring an end to this crisis. In addition to military support, the United States continues to work with partners to enhance the protection of civilians. We are funding community-based protection programs that incorporate high frequency radios and cell phone towers to help communities better protect themselves from the LRA threat. We also continue to provide humanitarian relief to help communities affected by the LRA.
Our country stands with the governments and the people of central Africa in their efforts to confront the LRA. We call on LRA fighters to put down their arms, leave the organization’s ranks, and come home. We will continue to work with the governments in the region to ensure that low-level fighters and abductees who escape from the LRA are able to reunite with their families and reintegrate into normal society.