July 18th, 2012
04:49 PM ET

Joseph Kony: Always one step ahead

By Ashley Benner and Kasper Agger, Global Post

Editor’s note: The following text is from Global Post, which provides views – importantmoving or just odd – from around the world. The views expressed are solely those of the authors.

Since late 2010, the Central African Republic (CAR) army has deployed two soldiers in a remote area of the country’s southeast to pursue the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA.

The destitute conditions of their mission illustrate one of the biggest challenges in the effort to end the 25-year conflict that has devastated parts of Central and East Africa.

The two soldiers were sent without any supplies. They spent most of their time collecting firewood and food, while surviving largely on humanitarian aid and provisions given by the Ugandan Army. The one radio they had could be turned on just once a day, due to limited power from a small solar panel.

The reported capture (some say surrender) of LRA commander Caesar Acellam near the Congo-CAR border on May 12 could signal the beginning of the end of the LRA, but only if a number of things change.

Efforts to terminate the LRA remain vastly under-resourced.

In a significant step forward last year, President Barack Obama deployed U.S. military advisors to provide advice and information to the region’s national militaries, and he announced in late April that they would stay for at least another few months.

Although Acellam’s capture is a major accomplishment, the overall picture remains bleak, as this new Enough Project video from the region makes clear.

There are five main obstacles plaguing current efforts.

First is the lack of capable and committed forces. Regional militaries have approximately 1,700 troops deployed in a densely forested area the size of Arizona that lacks roads and infrastructure. The Congolese army is planning to transfer its U.S.-trained battalion from LRA-affected areas to eastern Congo in order to combat the M23 rebellion. Meanwhile, Uganda’s commitment to ending the LRA appears likely to wane in the coming months. With the current force strength and the probable drawdown, how can the national militaries effectively search for LRA leader Joseph Kony and his senior leadership, and protect civilians?

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The African Union envisions a Regional Task Force of 5,000 troops to fight the LRA and protect local communities. But the countries involved – Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic – appear unwilling to provide additional soldiers.

Second is the lack of real-time information about the LRA’s whereabouts. While allegations recently surfaced that Kony is in or near the Darfur region of Sudan, conflicting statements by Ugandan and U.S. officials suggest that they do not know where he is. The U.S. appears to be providing only a few aircraft for surveillance of the vast area in which the LRA operates. And without enough troops on the ground, it will be difficult to gather information critical to the capture of LRA commanders.

Third, the regional militaries lack transportation, such as helicopters, needed to rapidly follow up on reports about the LRA.

Fourth, there are large areas that have effectively become safe havens for the LRA. For more than nine months, Congo has been off-limits to the Ugandan army under orders from the Congolese government. We’ve seen the results of this: a spike of more than 90 reported LRA attacks in Congo since March 1. The Enough Project’s on-the-ground research indicates that parts of CAR also remain off-limits to the Ugandan army. And Kony may have added another haven, if recent reports of LRA presence in Darfur are accurate.

Finally, efforts to encourage LRA commanders and fighters to leave the group require more resources and a clear strategy. Large areas remain where there are no FM radio stations broadcasting “come home” messages to LRA combatants and no places for them to surrender. The recent dissolution of Uganda's Amnesty Act, which in the past has allowed LRA fighters who renounce rebellion to walk free, and the ongoing trial of a mid-level LRA commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, are discouraging current combatants from escaping. And efforts to reach out to LRA commanders to encourage them to defect do not appear to be underway. These represent major lost opportunities.

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More capable and committed troops in sufficient numbers are urgently needed. Highly trained special forces should carry out operations to arrest the top leaders, while other dedicated and skilled troops should protect civilians.

The Obama administration must knock on doors to secure troops. If the Ugandan and other armies are unable to provide them, the United States should reach out to South Africa or other African countries to get soldiers for the African Union force. A strategy for effectively protecting civilians and LRA abductees must be developed and implemented, and accountability for any human rights and other violations must be ensured.

Real-time intelligence and rapid response transport are critical. The administration needs to provide sufficient intelligence and transportation capabilities, and it should ask European and other countries to lend their support.

The United States must put its diplomatic weight behind securing access to all LRA-affected areas for the relevant troops. President Obama and his senior officials should engage the governments of Uganda, Congo, CAR, and Sudan toward this end.

The administration must also maximize opportunities for LRA combatants to return home. As confusion over the Amnesty Act continues, only the top three commanders wanted by the International Criminal Court should be prosecuted, and the Ugandan government should establish a truth-seeking initiative. Also required are greater efforts to communicate with LRA commanders and more resources for encouraging rank-and-file fighters to defect.

Like the ill-equipped pair of soldiers in CAR, the forces deployed to pursue the LRA are often unprepared and incapable. If they are to succeed, with the help of U.S. military advisers, then the above courses of action, along with support for reconstruction and economic development, are urgently needed. Only then does the international community have a real chance of ending this conflict and allowing communities that have been affected by the violence to rebuild and recover.

Ashley Benner is a policy analyst at the Enough Project, a project at the Center for American Progress. Kasper Agger is an LRA field researcher at the Enough Project. The views expressed are solely those of the authors.

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Topics: Africa

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. deniz boro

    I can get as odd as possible. The green movement which made some brand money for some is somehow scientifically proven wrong. It was not the people, it was the natural course of the solar orbit. The energy factor...Say it was the whale oil (which lasted only about 90 years) and than it was THE oil. Now there is a limited amount of petroleum left. And people must look elsewhere. This is not a luxory item such as pearls or gold. Oil makes the world and the ADMINISTERS go round. But global warming points to another issue. Change of weather means change of livible spaces. Places with water. First. Places to plant food. HENCE the last fronteer which I am afraid is africa. So the nearest and easiest ports to concour would be the Northern Africa Lands.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Reply
    • Elana

      kill yourself

      July 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply
      • TAJW

        Elana...are you for gun control? Just asking.

        July 21, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • Enoch100

      I like cookies.

      July 21, 2012 at 10:17 am | Reply
      • Guest

        Get a life.

        July 22, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • Johnny

      I 2nd Elana

      July 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
    • deniz boro

      I guess in this article I can get even "ODDER". Mind not an "UDDER" to milk. Just look around you. Not on the current economic or political affairs. Try to see behind all of these new movements. It will not stop at the Northern Africa. Just look at the demand and resourses. Well try to do it for the long term.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
  2. Tobias

    Between them, the Canadian and Venezuelan deposits contain about 3.6 trillion barrels (570×10^9 m3) of recoverable oil, compared to 1.75 trillion barrels (280×10^9 m3) of conventional oil worldwide, most of it in Saudi Arabia and other Middle-Eastern countries.
    So that’s a total of 5.35 Trillion barrels of known reserves. Then there is natural gas, shale gas and gas hydrates.
    There have been quantum leaps in discovery and recovery technology sine the 50′s.
    The questions raised about mideast reserves have some merit. No one really knows if they are reporting accurate figures for their reserves. Most likely not when they can control prices with a turn of a valve.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  3. chris

    Get the ads for other articles out of the body of the text, it is disrespectful of the content of which you are reading, sets a new standard for unprofessional journalism and bolsters the underpinnings of social ADD so that no one subject really gets the uninterupted seriousness it deserves. We're not talking celebrity poodle stories here.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:49 am | Reply
    • basketcase

      Agreed, I hate those silly one-line "related" article links. Links within the text are ok, but the ones that are on their own line and don't fit with the body of the article at all are just obnoxious. The worst is reading an article in the CNN phone app. They leave those in, but they're no longer links, they just blend right in, so you just get random "sentences" that make absolutely no sense within their context.

      July 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • deniz boro

      Sorry, I might have gone off on the cue of the term: "...which provides views – important, moving or just odd – from around the world....". It might have sounded eatreamly provocative to me. Sorry. But I also do get impatient in writing about everchanging current afairs very nicely whereas the deep down reason is clearly obvious to those eho take time to think.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:25 am | Reply
      • deniz boro

        We rarely come to the point of discussing environmental issues here in the far south eastern pioneers... see we have other pending problems 🙂

        July 28, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  4. chris

    As a true muslim, it is my pegorative to tell people what is respectful or not.
    The truth is in the jelo:
    Qur'an 4:65 "They can have no Faith, until they make you (Muhammad) judge in all disputes, and find in their souls no resistance against Your decisions, accepting them with complete submission."

    July 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
    • James

      How do you reconcile that with Al-Tabari 6:111 in which Muhammad says "I have fabricated things against God and have imputed to Him words which He has not spoken." That makes him a false caliph / prophet... Or in other words a liar so how and why should anyone be judged by let alone accept the word of one who goes against his God without question? As a "true muslim" this should be a no brainer so please enlighten not only myself but all who will read this...

      July 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Reply
    • cc

      No one cares about your fairy tales. Stay in the real world.

      July 22, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply
      • aa

        Your real world IS the fairy tale.

        July 23, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • deniz boro

      chris read what the Kuran says and apply it before you rave about hadith. You see you have to start from the alphabet to form a sentence.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:32 am | Reply
  5. lucci.lu

    Could anybody check how the name Joseph Kony come from ? It seems it came from a usurpation of privacy and private data? 20July2012

    July 19, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Reply
    • lucci.lu

      I am a soft minded delicate muslim woman who is unable to do research on my own. 20July2012

      July 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Reply
  6. Aaron Chaney

    Romney vs. Frankenstein (Obama)

    Put simply, better the devil you don't know. Vote Romney.

    July 20, 2012 at 10:47 am | Reply
    • Aaron Chaney

      All muslims can do is repeat the same inane things over and over and over again–in case someone will listen.

      July 20, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
      • TAJW

        Sounds like liberals to me. Hmmm...

        July 21, 2012 at 3:35 am |
  7. KarinaMcatirnna

    Why KONY instead of the Ugandan government who are committing their own atrocities? This is hypocritical BS. They are going after one maniac in favor of another. Why? Because the Ugandan government has the support of uber concervocrat right wing evangelicals in the united states who are promoting capital punishment for gays and lesbians in Uganada (or anyone conveniently suspected of being gay, i.e, you could be a straight person, politically opposed to the govt and be killed for it by virtue of a gay accusation...we are supposed to support that over Kony or any of the other warlords we never hear about. More christian bollocks.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
  8. rene of mandeville

    You hate everyone equally.
    must be muslim.
    have a nice day.

    July 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  9. TAJW

    Having lived in Uganda for several years, and been just a couple days from a Kony attack on a village I was in, I believe I can speak with some authority.

    And I would tell you the current administration in Uganda doesn't want Kony to go away. It gives them permission to maintain control over certain areas of the country, and keep the military strength up.

    If anyone has been there a while, they would tell you the same thing, as long as they had no intention of going back.

    Ugandan prisons are not pretty.

    July 21, 2012 at 3:38 am | Reply
  10. Sean

    This situation is eerily similar to Che in Bolivia.

    July 21, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  11. random dude.

    Ummmm....... why are we talking about Muslims here, they have nothing to do with this idiot.

    Joseph Kony is a "devout" Christian.

    July 21, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  12. Brian monosso

    Seal Team Six can take him out tomorrow. Do it....

    July 22, 2012 at 12:42 am | Reply
  13. Brian monosso

    What games is Oblumbaone playing with us. Kill the azzzzz already.

    July 22, 2012 at 12:45 am | Reply
  14. Don

    Still trying to drum up another war, CNN? That Kony garbage was debunked.

    July 22, 2012 at 9:55 am | Reply
  15. nokoolaidcowboy

    I wonder if satellite photos are being used to track the LRA?

    July 23, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply
  16. CaptainRon

    They need to send in Roland. He's helped out the Congolese before.

    July 23, 2012 at 11:12 am | Reply
    • deniz boro

      Nope they may as well send in Rambo. More affective from the looks of it. After all...it is unfortunately the looks.

      July 28, 2012 at 9:56 am | Reply
  17. William Wallace

    LOL .... Still hunting boogyman. CNN propagandist sharing a story from the "GLOBALIST" Post. Wonder if Bigfoot was spotted on the journeymens trek ... In Search Of. youtube.com/watch?v=QQ8q1fEqYIM

    July 23, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Reply
  18. deniz boro

    This issue has been satisfied. I hope it forms an example for the forthcoming issues.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Reply

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