Sunday, October 16, 2011

American Deployment and the LRA

On October 14th, President Obama announced the deployment of 100 U.S military advisers to Uganda in an effort to help the Ugandan army defeat the Lord's Resistance Army, and capture it's leader, Joseph Kony. The LRA is a terrorist group according to the U.S., and Kony and other leaders of the LRA are wanted by the ICC on charges of human rights violations including murder, rape, torture. While the deployment of these troops, primarily Army Special Forces, has caused concern among non-interventionists, President Obama clarified the action by saying “although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”

Many people are wondering just why President Obama has decided to send troops into Uganda, considering the massive troop deployments in the Middle East, and the botched 1993 mission into Mogadishu, Somalia that resulted in 18 American casualties and embarrassment for the Clinton administration. There are several reasons why the Obama administration chose to do this.

The first is the official line from the Whitehouse. As a terrorist group, the LRA is legally a target for the United States and it's allies. However, President Obama, in keeping with his proclaimed grand strategy of working with other countries and institutions to accomplish its goals, has opted to send troops in a support role, as opposed to a search and destroy mission of Kony and the LRA. This is in stark contrast to the operation mounted in Pakistan to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden, however, the threat posed by the LRA and Kony is not the same as that posed by Bin Laden.

A second reason for this type of intervention is that it sends a strong message to members of Al-Shabab in Somalia. It lets them know that the U.S. is in the area and willing to help the Kenyans in their fight against terrorists. While direct intervention in Somalia may not be on the horizon, this deployment ordered by President Obama serves to strengthen America's position in the region.

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