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America sends troops to Uganda

world Updated: Oct 16, 2011 00:27 IST
Yashwant Raj

The US announced on Friday it has sent a small but combat-ready contingent of soldiers into Uganda to take down the leader of Lord's Resistance Army, a group accused of raping, murdering, kidnapping thousands of people in central Africa.

"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 Joseph Kony from the battlefield," President Barack Obama told the Congress.

Kony heads the army, which since its start in the 1980s, operates out of northern Uganda and is active in southern Sudan.

It is notorious for kidnapping children and forcing them to become rebel fighters or concubines, said globalsecurity.org.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court under a 2005 warrant for crimes against humanity in Uganda.

The US had had a presence in the region to help forces fighting the army. But Obama said in his note to the congress that's not been effective giving rise to the need for a more decisive intervention.

"Even with some limited US assistance, however, regional military efforts have thus far been unsuccessful in removing LRA leader Joseph Kony or his top commanders from the battlefield," Obama said.

The initial team of combat-ready troops with requisite equipment deployed to Uganda on Wednesday.

A second team will go there the next month. The total number of troops deploying for this mission is about 100, the US President said.

These troops will "provide information, advice, and assistance to select partner nation forces" and will deploy into Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo at their invitation.

But the president made clear that though these troops will be equipped for combat, they will only advice and aid the regional forces and will never engage LRA forces directly unless it was in self-defense.

While there was bipartisan support for the deployment, Republican senator John McCain said in some instances in the past deployments with humanitarian goals - such as in Somalia - had turned nasty.

And that the President should consult the Congress.