President Barack Obama has deployed approximately 100 troops to Uganda in an attempt to remove the ruthless leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony.
“I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield,” President Obama wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Daniel Inouye today.
Obama noted that the group “has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and “continues to commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”
The Lord’s Resistance Army, a sectarian religious and military group, which operates in northern Uganda and Southern Sudan, was formed in 1987. It was engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government until 2007. Kony, who proclaims himself the “spokesperson” of God and a spirit medium, has been pursued by regional efforts, supported by the United States since 2008.
Obama cited the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 to justify his actions and cautioned that “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. All appropriate precautions have been taken to ensure the safety of U.S. military personnel during their deployment.”
Members of Manual’s Action for Africa, a club and non-profit devoted to helping those in Uganda affected by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, were hopeful about the decision.
“I think Obama is working avidly to recognize and to change the atrocities in Uganda. So far he has made multiple efforts to change things there, and I think the deployment of these troops is definitely going more and more in the right direction,” said Micah Walker (12), Vice President of the club.
“I support the people of Uganda. I am definitely opposed to the Lord’s Resistance Army. They are a perfect example of how religious extremism in all forms is a dangerous thing, but I wish there were a diplomatic means of accomplishing what Obama wants to accomplish. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is,” said Eliza Scrunton (11).
The complete text of President Obama’s statement can be seen here.
Julian E. Wright is part of the duPont Manual High School Class of 2013. Currently, he’s Managing Editor of ManualRedEye.com and as a reporter for Manual AM. He hopes to study at Columbia University in New York City and major in Economics & Religion with a special concentration in Human Rights.