US President Barack Obama
has said he is sending about 100 US soldiers to Uganda to help regional
forces battle the notorious Lord's Resistance Army.
Although combat-equipped, the troops would be providing information and advice "to partner nation forces", Mr Obama wrote in a letter to US Congress.
A small group is already in Uganda, and the troops could later be deployed in other central African nations.
The LRA is blamed for mass murder, rape and kidnapping in the region.
'Kill or capture'
"I have authorised a small number of combat-equipped US forces
to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces
that are working toward the removal of (LRA leader) Joseph Kony from the
battlefield," Mr Obama wrote on Friday.
But he stressed that "although the US forces are
combat-equipped... they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless
necessary for self-defence".
Mr Obama did not provide any details about the deployment
duration, but a US military spokesman later told the BBC that the
"forces are prepared to stay as long as necessary to enable regional
security forces to carry on independently".
The LRA and Joseph Kony
- Founded in the late 1980s [*] Kony is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court[/*]
- Believed to be responsible for 2009 'Makombo massacre' in DR Congo that killed 321
- Kony considered disbanding his army through a Sudanese-negotiated peace treaty but backed out
The force will use hi-tech
equipment to assist in what analysts say is a "kill or capture" policy,
the BBC's Marcus George in Washington reports.
The deployment follows recent US legislation to help disarm
the LRA and bring its leader to justice. The theory is, our
correspondent adds, that without Joseph Kony, the movement will collapse
Senator John McCain said Central Africa would be more stable
if the threat of the LRA "under the sadistic leadership of Joseph Kony,"
would be "diminished".
But Mr McCain, a long-serving senator, former veteran and Mr
Obama's opponent in the 2008 presidential election, expressed "regret"
that the president did not consult with Congress on the decision to sent
troops to Uganda.
"I remember how past military deployments intended to further
worthy humanitarian goals, whether it was peace-keeping operations in
Lebanon or Somalia, resulted in tragedies that we never intended or
expected," Mr McCain said in a statement.
At least 30,000 people died as the LRA spread terror in
northern Uganda for more than 20 years, displacing some two million
It is notorious for kidnapping children, forcing the boys to become fighters and using girls as sex slaves.
The group is listed by the US as a terrorist organisation and
now operates mainly in neighbouring countries such as Democratic
Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central Africa Republic.
Joseph Kony and his close aides have been wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2005.
He refused to sign a peace deal with the Ugandan government
in 2008 when it could not guarantee the withdrawal of the ICC arrest
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