Senate bill aims to increase funds to detect LRA
Last week, a key Senate committee authorized significant new funding for efforts that help pinpoint locations of LRA fighters attacking civilians in central Africa. The move represents yet another way that leaders in Congress are working to end LRA atrocities, spurred to action by the KONY 2012 campaign.
According to a press release from Senator Carl Levin, the Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act authorizes up to $50 million “to enhance and expand intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support to Operation Observant Compass – [the U.S.'] ongoing operation to support central African forces conducting operations against the Lord’s Resistance Army.”
LRA groups are currently operating in remote and largely inaccessible areas of Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan. Governments in the region lack the tools to track LRA movements and anticipate where they may attack. As we wrote to President Obama in the KONY 2012 campaign manifesto, expanding surveillance efforts are a critical way the U.S. can help protect people from LRA violence and apprehend Joseph Kony and other LRA commanders.
For security reasons, the specific ways that the U.S. uses such funds are not made public, so it is not possible to know exactly how these funds would be implemented. In Resolve’s latest policy report, “Peace Can Be: President Obama’s Chance to Help End LRA Violence in 2012,” my teammate Paul reported that the U.S. is currently flying airplanes with advanced sensing technology over areas of central Africa where the LRA is operating. Information gathered from these surveillance efforts is channeled to regional forces working to protect civilians and pursue the LRA. It is also shared with civilians themselves to help prepare for the risk of an attack.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is chaired by Senators Levin (D-MI) and McCain (R-AZ). We applaud their leadership, as well as the support of Senator Inhofe (R-OK), who is a member of the Committee and a longtime champion for an end to LRA atrocities.
It’s important to note that there are still a few steps before the funding can be implemented. This $50 million authorization needs to make it into the final version of the bill, and be passed by both the House and Senate. Then we need to make sure that this funding is included in the 2013 Defense Budget. In the coming weeks, we’ll be working hard to make sure this happens, but we’re thrilled that the Senate Armed Services Committee has taken this first major step.