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On Friday, Oct. 14, President Barack Obama announced that he is sending about 100 U.S. troops to central Africa to battle insurgents of the Lord’s Resistance Army, according to CBS News.
Accused of rape, murder and kidnapping children in a campaign that has lasted nearly two decades, the LRA is considered one of the most brutal rebel groups in Africa. However, the Ugandan government estimates that LRA rebels have dropped from around 3,000 guerrilla fighters to a fractured army of nearly 200 to 400 fighters that carry out deadly attacks in isolated African villages, according to CBS News.
U.S. troops first arrived in Uganda Wednesday, Oct.12. White house officials also announced plans to send U.S. troops, mainly special operations forces, to South Sudan, Congo, and the Central African Republic in an effort to hunt down Joseph Kony, LRA leader. However, troops may only engage in combat in times of self-defense, according to the New York Times.
Claiming that he is a prophet from God, Kony believes that he is on a mission to replace the Ugandan government with a Ten Commandments based democracy.
“Better to call them U.S. personnel, not troops. The Americans will help gather intelligence,” said Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni in an interview Sunday in Kampala, Uganda, according to miliatary.com.
Wanted by the International Criminal Court, Kony is charged with crimes against humanity. His rebel army has devastated the African community in his plight to seize children, forcing them into the ranks of his rebel army. Other children have been captured and forced to become concubines while thousands of civilians have been brutally murdered, according to Mail Online.
The deployment “furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in Central Africa,” said Obama in a letter to Speaker of the House, John Boehner.
After visiting the terror-stricken region, Republican Senator James Inhofe showed support of the deployment. “I have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the LRA, and this will help end Kony’s heinous acts that have created a human rights crisis in Africa. I have been fervently involved in trying to prevent further abductions and murders of Ugandan children and today’s action offers hope that the end of the LRA is in sight.”
According to State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, The U.S. has provided over $40 million in support since 2008 to back the regions military efforts to take out the rebel army.
In a letter to Obama, the LRA-affected nations cited the gruesome massacres claiming that, “During these attacks, our family members were killed in unimaginably savage ways: their heads crushed with clubs or machetes; their faces disfigured; and their genitals, mouths, ears, legs and arms cut off, for no reason other than to terrorize.”