Ending the Lord’s Resistance Army
Posted by African Press International on October 24, 2011
By Matt Brown
WASHINGTON “ The Obama administration’s deployment of military advisers in operations aimed at ending the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is an important first step, but needs to be accompanied by broader actions by the U.S. and other countries to enhance the chances for success, according to a new Enough Project paper.
President Obama should be lauded for deploying qualified military advisers to the region, said John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author of the report. If his administration follows up on this deployment and is actively involved in the search for qualified special forces troops from a country with such personnel, and helps generate multilaterally the necessary logistical and intelligence support for those troops, the LRA’s days will be numbered.
The deployment of capable special forces from an African or other nation, the expansion by the U.S. of intelligence capabilities in support of the mission, and the generation of further transport and other logistical support from European countries are crucial to ensuring that the deployment of American observers are not in vain and the nearly 25 year-old campaign of terror may finally come to an end.
The advisors’ deployment is an important step but in itself will not be enough to end the LRA crisis and fulfill the congressional intent behind the widely-supported, bipartisan LRA legislation passed last May, said Ashley Benner, a policy analyst at the Enough Project and co-author of the report. Regional efforts to end the LRA are simply not working, due in large part to a lack of capable and committed forces deployed to LRA-affected areas and the necessary intelligence and logistical capabilities. To ensure that these critical gaps are addressed, a robust African-U.S.-European partnership is urgently needed.
President Obama last year signed into law a bill that requires his administration to end the threat of the LRA, a rebel group originally from Uganda known for killing, mutilating, and abducting civilians in four central African nations during its predatory insurgency. Last November, the President released his strategy for dealing with the LRA, and last week the White House announced it is sending military advisors to advise and assist regional armies pursuing LRA senior commanders and protecting civilians.
Without a surge of U.S. diplomacy and resources, and the involvement of additional partners in the search for Kony, the newly authorized A.U. mission will simply put a new hat on the same old efforts, Benner said. Rather than enhancing the existing military operations, the current plans are more concerned with continuing the status quo while attracting additional funding from governments via the African Union. The A.U. plans duplicate operational structures that do not work, while keeping the political and military command in the hands of the regional governments, particularly Kampala.
The key elements of this partnership must be a new deployment of the most capable African special forces, a surge of U.S. intelligence support, and logistical support from European countries, according to the paper, and President Obama should directly reach out to African countries with the most capable special forces and to European partners to obtain additional logistical assistance.
The paper also recommends that operations to apprehend top LRA commanders be better integrated with efforts to protect civilians and demobilize rebel fighters.
Continuing with the current approach, or pursuing half-way measures, will allow the LRA to keep destabilizing the region and devastating civilian populations for years to come, said, Enough Executive Director John Bradshaw. U.S. and international efforts to support stability in South Sudan and Congo could be undermined. And what President Obama has called a unique crisis of conscience will continue to unfold on our watch.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises.