Uganda Mission Will Last Until LRA Leader is Gone, US General Says

The clear-cut, limited articulation of the Uganda mission doesn't fit with previous interventions in the region

by John Glaser, November 18, 2011

The approximately 100 U.S. combat soldiers that President Obama sent to Uganda last month are likely to remain deployed until the leader of the guerrilla group the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) is captured or killed, according to the top U.S. commander for Africa.

The Obama administration has remained vague about the intervention and has not even bothered to tell Congress how long the mission would take. Currently, U.S. troops are in Uganda and surrounding countries combing through a vast expanse of jungle for Joseph Kony, the wanted criminal leader of the LRA.

But General Carter F. Ham, the head of the U.S. military’s Africa Command, said the plan is to keep troops in the region until Kony is eliminated. “That’s the mission,” Ham told the Washington Post.

“This is not like another organization where if you take the top guy out somebody else can step in,” Ham said. “It really is about him personally.”

But the mission to get Kony may not be as clear cut as General Ham implies, though. In 2008, U.S. military advisers assisted a previous Ugandan-led offensive against the Lord’s Resistance Army the operation backfired, causing the LRA to go on a killing spree, massacring several hundred of civilians.

Rights groups had lobbied Washington for some time to intervene to stop the LRA, a testament to how ruthless they’ve been over the years. But the Obama administration really decided to go after the LRA as a gesture of support to the Ugandan government, viewed as a badly needed ally in Obama’s reckless and brutal war in Somalia.

The Ugandan government is in power as a result of fraudulent elections and the President Yoweri Museveni has declared himself president for life. Amnesty International recently released a report criticizing the regime for sharply increasing repression throughout Uganda. For fiscal year 2012, Uganda is set to receive almost $530 million in U.S. aid.

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