Just over a month ago, President Obama announced the deployment of U.S. military advisors to assist regional efforts to apprehend senior Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, commanders, protect civilians, and encourage defections from the rebel group. This is a welcome step forward in the President's implementation of the 2010 LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, but according to the latest LRA Strategy Report Card released today the U.S. still needs to do more.
The 2010 act, which is the most widely-supported Africa-specific legislation in recent U.S. history, called on President Obama to develop a strategy for ending the LRA. So in efforts to assess his strategy and its implementation, the Enough Project teamed up with our friends at Invisible Children and Resolve.
In February 2011, we released our first LRA report card that evaluated the content and initial rollout of President Obama’s LRA strategy. Then in May 2011, we released President Obama’s second LRA report card, which determined that the administration’s incremental progress in stopping atrocities perpetrated by the LRA was not adequately addressing the increasing LRA violence and needs on the ground.
And in this third installment, we take stock of what has been accomplished during the first year since President Obama released his LRA strategy, and what the administration must do to ensure that hopes of ending LRA violence in 2012 are realized.
The Grading for President Obama’s LRA Strategy & Implementation:
- A: Significant progress
- B: Encouraging progress
- C: Little or inadequate progress
- D: Efforts at a standstill
- F: Efforts backsliding
President Obama’s grades this time around reflect that the U.S. has made the most significant progress in efforts to expand U.S. engagement to end the LRA crisis. President Obama’s grade in this category improved from a 'D' last report card to an 'A-', in large part due to the recent deployment of U.S. troops to central Africa. To continue grade improvement in 2012, the Obama administration must engage with governments in the Great Lakes region to address regional tensions that hamper anti-LRA efforts; this can be done through high-level engagement by President Obama and his senior officials and through the appointment of a special envoy for the African Great Lakes region. This individual would report directly to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and work on the LRA issue. Additionally to facilitate regional cooperation, the U.S. government should urge the African Union to appoint a competent LRA special envoy.
For its efforts to stop senior LRA commanders, this quarter the administration received a 'B.' In this category moving forward, the administration must ensure that military operations are equipped with the necessary special forces personnel, intelligence, and logistical capabilities. This can be achieved by providing greater intelligence support, securing capable special forces from African partner countries, and reaching out to European and other allies for logistical assistance.
Steps must also be taken to improve the administration’s two weakest areas of LRA policy on this quarter’s report card—protection of civilians and facilitation of escape. The U.S. government must work to increase civilian protection by better integrating protection strategies into military operations and by expanding community early warning programs. Similarly, efforts to encourage the defection of LRA fighters need improvement. The Administration must expand DDR programs and urge Uganda to publicly clarify the status of the critical Amnesty Act of 2000 for former and current LRA combatants and fully grant amnesties in line with the Act.
Then take action now, and tell Obama to get his grades up!