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article imageU.S. sends special operation forces to Uganda

By JohnThomas Didymus     Oct 15, 2011 in World
Kampala - President Barack Obama has authorized deployment of 100 U.S. special operation troops to Uganda. Reports say the troops will not be involved in fighting, but will be acting as advisers to Ugandan forces.
The Ugandan government is involved in a twenty-year struggle with the Lord's Resistance Army led by rebel Joseph Kony. Both the United States and the International Criminal Court (ICC) have accused Kony's LRA of serious human rights abuses including murder, rape and kidnappings in northern Uganda.
President Barack Obama, in a message to the U.S. Congress, said the troops will be deployed in Uganda only after formal approval of neighboring governments. Obama also revealed there are plans to deploy U.S. troops to South Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo which have also been affected by the bloody conflict. AFP reports the LRA recently extended its operations to these neighboring countries
AFP reports the Ugandan government on Saturday said it welcomes the deployment of U.S. troops in Uganda. Henry Okello Oryem, Uganda's acting foreign minister said:
"We welcome this gesture — it has been well overdue...For 20 years, the government of Uganda has been pleading with our American and European friends to help in the LRA problem, because these are international terrorists...We wanted our friends to help in providing technical support — such as intelligence — because they have the best."
The U.S. troops, according to the AFP report, will help the Ugandan government find rebel leader Joseph Kony and his senior officers. A Ugandan defense official Colonel Felix Kulayigye, confirmed some U.S. troops have arrived in Uganda:
"Some of the forces are already in the country. Their approach is regional — DR Congo, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Uganda. How far they will go depends on the cooperation arrangements."
Des Moines Register reports Republican Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has questioned the decision of Obama to send U.S. troops to Uganda. Speaking at an event in Estherville on Friday, Bachmann, though admitting she did not have details of the decision, said,
“We heard this afternoon that the president of the United States committed 100 more troops in Uganda...So we are already engaged in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Libya and now he’s sent another 100 more over to Uganda. I will tell you George Washington was right when he said in his farewell address, be careful of unnecessary foreign entanglements.”
A news analysis by AP reporter Jason Straziuso, on ABC News has, however, suggested reasons why the U .S. government took the decision. Jason Straziuso wonders why the U.S. should be dispatching special operation forces to central Africa at a time in which the rebels are at their weakest in 20 years of war. According to Straziuso:
"Their (LRA) forces are fractured and scattered, and the Ugandan military estimated earlier this year that only 200 to 400 fighters remain. In 2003 the LRA had 3,000 armed troops and 2,000 people in support roles."
Straziuso argues the U.S. may be rewarding Uganda which has contributed thousands of troops to the African Union force in Somali in the fight against al-Shabab militants believed to have ties with al-Qaeda. The U.S. considers Uganda's role in Somalia significant because it (U.S.) has not had troops in Somalia since it withdrew in 1993 following the battle in Mogadishu in which 18 American soldiers were killed. Strazuiso quotes Matt Brown, spokesman for a group working to end genocide and human rights abuses in Central Africa:
"I've been hearing that. I don't know if our group necessarily agrees with that, but it definitely would make sense...The U.S. doesn't have to fight al-Qaida-linked Shabab in Somalia, so we help Uganda take care of their domestic security problems, freeing them up to fight a more dangerous — or a more pressing, perhaps — issue in Somalia. I don't know if we would necessarily say that but it's surely a plausible theory."
More about Uganda, Joseph kony, Lord's Resistance Army, Michele bachmann
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