Ashley Benner and Kaspar Agger from the Enough Project wrote this article for the Global Post about ”how forces fighting the LRA are unprepared, underfunded and incapable.” It’s called Joseph Kony: Always One Step Ahead
Sounds bleak. But there very specific things that our leaders can do to give the current mission to arrest Joseph Kony and stop LRA atrocities a chance at success. A lot of it has to do with international collaboration and new resources. Our friends at Enough lay it out in detail.
Five obstacles to current efforts
1. 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 US-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?
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.
2. 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 US officials suggest that they do not know where he is. The US 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.
3. The regional militaries lack transportation
[Transportation] such as helicopters [are] needed to rapidly follow up on reports about the LRA.
4. 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, 2012. 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.
5. 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.
More capable and committed troops in sufficient number 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.
(Photo credit: Stringer, AFP/Getty Images)