By Raymond Baguma
THE additional US Special Forces and aircraft to bolster the African Union regional taskforce is hunting for Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony are in the country.
Daniel Travis, the spokesperson for the US Mission in Uganda said on Thursday, “They arrived last week.”
These newly arrived troops will be an increase from the current 100 US Special Forces who have been involved in the anti-LRA operation since October 2011.
For the first time, the US has sent in four Osprey type military aircrafts to transport troops, with refueling aircraft. But in an email response, Travis declined to comment on operations or specific locations of the aircraft and crews.
He added, “Please note that the deployment of these aircraft and personnel does not signify a change in the nature of the U.S. military advisory role in this effort. African Union-led regional forces remain in the lead, with U.S. forces supporting and advising their efforts.”
Since their initial deployment in 2011, US Special Forces have been instrumental in supplying intelligence and advice to UPDF in the anti-LRA hunt.
Notably last year, the Special Forces supplied intelligence which helped the UPDF to intercept and kill Colonel Samuel Kangul along with 13 of his fighters. Kangul was believed to be number four in the LRA leadership hierarchy.
Travis said, “AU-led forces have removed two of the LRA’s top five commanders from the battlefield, and we have credible reporting that a third, Okot Odhiambo – who was the LRA’s second-in-command and an International Criminal Court indictee, was killed late last year.”
The UPDF is presently based in the LRA-prone areas of Nzara in South Sudan and Obo in Central African Republic (CAR) as part of the regional taskforce that was created in 2012 under an AU mechanism to eliminate the threat of LRA.
But Uganda remains the most active troop contributing country in the anti-LRA taskforce. The other three countries – DR Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan are beset with domestic security challenges.