In a press conference today, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni sought to downplay the deployment of US combat forces inside the country, insisting that the troops aren’t meant to engage in combat and shouldn’t even be called “troops” in the media.
“We shall never have troops coming to fight for us,” Museveni insisted. Indeed the US has insisted the troops are “advisers” and will only fight in “self defense.” Cabinet ministers said the deployment was vital to the ongoing war against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
But the US troops, some of which are already on the ground, are special operations forces, which have rarely shied away from direct combat missions. It seems unlikely that America would deploy its most battle-hardened combat forces into a zone and tell them not to fight.
And indeed, historically the use of special operations “advisers” as the first stage of an escalating military commitment is well documented. Even major wars like Vietnam originally started with a small number of such advisers deployed in what was meant to be a “non-combat” role.