• October 14, 2011
  • From the Team
  • 13

White House announces decision to deploy military advisers to LRA-affected regions

Resolve joined with partner human rights groups to release a joint statement welcoming today’s announcement that the Obama administration will be deploying military advisers to central Africa, where they will help regional governments protect communities vulnerable to LRA attacks and bring Joseph Kony and other LRA commanders to justice.

We would happily re-post President Obama’s letter to Congress in its entirety, but for brevity’s sake we’ll just give you this teaser and encourage you to read it yourself:

“I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter LRA efforts in central Africa….The total number of U.S. military personnel deploying for this mission is approximately 100. These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA. Our forces will provide information, advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces.”

This is a historic step forward for efforts to end LRA atrocities. Though these advisers are not a silver bullet for ending the crisis, we support their deployment for several reasons.

First, they can help fill a huge intelligence gap. By connecting U.S. military advisers with regional militaries tasked with protecting civilians and pursuing Joseph Kony and his top commanders, the U.S. can help them respond faster to LRA attacks on civilians and reports of LRA commander locations.

Second, U.S. advisers will be able to investigate reports of human rights abuses by government militaries and (hopefully) hold them accountable to a higher human rights standard as they interact with civilians across the region. Local communities have been increasingly concerned about this.

And third, U.S. budget resources devoted to the conflict are limited. These military advisers will be well-situated to advise the most effective way to use these limited resources to support regional efforts.

Our Directory of Advocacy, Paul Ronan, was invited to a special briefing in the White House just before the announcement was made. Officials at the briefing emphasized that the deployment of military advisers is just part of broader White House efforts to implement the Obama Administration’s comprehensive LRA Strategy. The Obama administration released a four-pronged strategy in November of last year in compliance with the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, which was unanimously passed by Congress in May 2010. Referring to this bill, Obama said in his letter, “Congress also expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.”

We are also pleased to hear that White House officials are emphasizing that improving protection of civilians and encouraging LRA fighters to defect, two of the four strategic objectives of President Obama’s LRA strategy, will be keystones of the advisers’ portfolio.  The administration has also announced plans to boost civilian early-warning systems by expanding mobile phone and radio networks in LRA-affected areas.

This is the one of the biggest concrete step that the Obama Administration has taken towards ending the LRA conflict. We hope that this is just the beginning of a series of concrete steps. Experience has taught us that we are going to have to apply constant pressure if we hope to see action. So that’s what we’ll keep doing. But this is a great start.

-Azy

Photo credit: Associated Press

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