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The mission to end the deadly Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, rebel group is regaining momentum. This report examines the impact of U.S. special forces on the counter-LRA mission and recommends steps forward in light of the restart of offensive operations, which were suspended due to the violent coup in the Central African Republic and the Obama administration's recent committement to extend the mission into 2014.
Report: U.S. Military Advisors Helping Reduce Attacks by Kony's LRA
WASHINGTON – Renewed U.S. commitment to address atrocities committed by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA, will bolster the ongoing counter-LRA efforts in Central Africa, argues a new Enough Project report released today.
The report,“Completing the Mission: U.S. Special Forces Are Essential for Ending the LRA,” commends the continued support for the field deployments of U.S. advisors to the counter-LRA military operation in Central Africa and highlights the mission’s successes. In recent months, the mission has gained momentum, after offensive operations which were previously suspended due to the violent coup in neighbouring Central African Republic, or CAR, restarted last month. In September, the Obama administration also recommitted U.S. special forces to extend the mission into early 2014.
Since deploying in October 2011, the U.S. advisors have helped reduce LRA attacks by 53 percent, and LRA killings also decreased 67 percent from 2011 to 2012. The advisors have worked alongside the African Union mission led by Uganda to make significant gains in the counter-LRA mission, including increases in defections, improved human security and protection for civilians, and increased intelligence collection and analysis.
Enough Project Field Researcher and author of the report, Kasper Agger, says:
“The hands-on operational support provided by U.S. military advisors has been a real game changer in the efforts to counter the LRA, leaving the rebel group weaker than ever before. With sustained deployment and continued support for their mission, there is a real chance that we will see an end to the LRA.”
The defection rate of LRA fighters is also increasing, according to the report. At least 31 Ugandan LRA fighters—15 percent of the core fighting forces—have defected over the past 18 months. The number of defections this year exceeds those of the previous two years combined and reports estimate that only 250 – 300 LRA armed fighters remain. This progress, the report argues, is a result of U.S. training and improved coordination among regional forces that face challenges in their efforts to apprehend senior LRA commanders.
The work of U.S. advisors has consolidated military partnerships and enhanced regional security in extremely remote areas that would otherwise become safe havens for terrorists. Additionally, they have created a viable framework for security cooperation in a region where this is very limited. Progress is being made, and the administration’s extension of the mission is a signal to the U.S.’s commitment to an atrocity prevention strategy that works to bring an end to conflict not only in Uganda, but to neighboring countries in the Central African region.
The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more about Enough, go to www.enoughproject.org.
An open letter by House Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Ed Royce (R-CA) calls on President Obama to support counter-LRA operations. The letter asks the President to remain committed to working with regional forces to protect civilians until the LRA is defeated.
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