The American Special Forces troops sent to central Africa are in place and getting ready to operate forward with local host-nation militaries hunting down insurgent fanatics, President Obama told Congress on Thursday.
Obama sent a message to lawmakers under the provisions of the War Powers Resolution, which require the president to keep lawmakers in the loop about military deployments. Although we talked a few months ago about the Army Special Forces' mission to help Ugandan and other militaries hunt the dead-enders at the top of the Lord's Resistance Army, there haven't been many updates until now. Thursday's wasn't much of one.
Here's the full text of what Obama sent:
On October 13, an initial team of U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment deployed to Uganda to advise regional forces that are working to protect civilians, apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commanders from the battlefield, and disarm and demobilize the remaining LRA fighters.Administration officials told lawmakers in October that this could happen, and now that all the troops are in place, it sounds like the operational end of things could get underway soon. Still no word, though, about whether the American troops will have access to drone surveillance aircraft as a part of this operation, either just to help search for Kony or to eliminate him if there's an opportunity.
During the next month, additional U.S. military personnel deployed to the region, including a second combat-equipped team and associated headquarters, communications, and logistics personnel. The total number of U.S. military personnel deployed for this mission, including those providing logistical and support functions, is approximately 100. United States forces are providing information, advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces.
Subject to the approval of each respective host nation, elements of these U.S. forces have begun to deploy to forward locations in the LRA-affected areas of the Central African Republic to enhance regional efforts against the LRA, and similar movements are planned for the Republic of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, these forces will not engage LRA forces except in self-defense. The deployment of these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy efforts and is contributing to advancing peace and respect for human rights in central Africa.