The insurgency conducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army may be Africa’s longest running armed conflict, but even after more than 20 years of fighting, its inner workings are still relatively unknown. Why is this detrimental? Because even the forces tasked with combating the group lack a complete understanding, and myths and misconceptions about the LRA abound. “It seems overtly difficult to engage a group of fighters, whether militarily or peacefully, without knowing what they stand for,” writes Enough’s LRA researcher Ledio Cakaj in a new report.
“Erroneous descriptions of the LRA as a Christian fundamentalist group composed of drugged children led by a madman have led to a profound underestimation of the strength and military ability of the LRA,” Cakaj notes.
“The Lord’s Resistance Army of Today” is based on extensive research in all areas in central Africa – including Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, and Uganda – where the LRA currently or previously operated.
Cakaj offers details about LRA tactics, weaponry, the use of technology, the role of traditional and religious beliefs, and internal dynamics, among other topics. The research is supplemented with a map illustrating the locations of recent LRA attacks, which illustrates the shift in operating area from primarily eastern Congo (last December), moving into Central African Republic (mid-year), and now increasingly in southern Sudan. A list of prominent LRA group leaders, their locations (as of August), and notes about group dynamics appears in an appendix.
Recent shifts in the way the LRA operates create some crucial openings for undermining the group and thus ultimately have important policy implications for the governments and armies fighting Joseph Kony and his men.
Photo: An LRA fighter at failed peace talks in 2008. (AP)