President Obama has deployed additional troops and new military aircraft to Uganda in a bid to intensify efforts to hunt down Joseph Kony, a guerrilla leader who has abducted and enlisted children in his resistance fight.
The U.S. has deployed “a limited number of CV-22 Ospreys” as well as refueling aircraft and support personnel to join American troops already in the country assisting the Ugandan government in their hunt for Kony, the White House said.
The aircraft will be based in Uganda but used across a wide swath of central Africa — including areas of the Central African Republic, Congo and South Sudan — according to Caitlin Hayden, the White House National Security Council spokeswoman.
“Our African partners have consistently identified airlift as one of their greatest limiting factors as they search for and pursue the remaining LRA [Lord's Resistance Army] leaders across a wide swath of one of the world’s poorest, least governed and most remote regions,” she said.
She said the additional assets would help the task force devoted to hunting down Kony to conduct targeted operations to apprehend members of the rebel group.
“The LRA is one of the world's most notorious atrocity perpetrators. For nearly three decades, the LRA has displaced, maimed, and terrorized innocent people across four countries, including abducting tens of thousands of children and forcing them to become sex slaves or child soldiers and to commit unspeakable acts,” she said.
“Though the LRA has been significantly weakened, it continues to abduct and attack innocent men, women, and children.”
According to The Washington Post, which first reported the additional deployment, 150 American service members will be deployed in the hunt for the Lord’s Resistance Army leader.
The deployment comes in addition to 100 troops dispatched by Obama in 2011 in the hunt for Kony, who inspired a viral YouTube video, “Kony 2012,” detailing his atrocities. Kony has been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court, including murder, sexual enslavement, cruel treatment of civilians and the forced enlistment of children into rebel ranks.
The White House stressed that the new movement did not signal a change in the nature of the U.S. role in the effort to hunt down Kony.
“African Union-led regional forces remain in the lead, with U.S. forces supporting and advising their efforts,” Hayden said.
The White House also said the assistance came despite continued concerns about Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s enactment of recent anti-homosexuality legislation. The administration has shifted funding away from a religious council and tourism promotion within the country to other nongovernmental organizations.