Approximately 1,500 Ugandan soldiers based in central Africa form the backbone of the forces pursuing Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA. The Enough Project embedded a researcher with these troops in August to get a close-up view of the challenges they face in the effort to defeat the LRA. The deployment of 100 U.S. special forces advisors has helped address some of the Ugandan troops’ issues, but our researcher still identified continuing needs for better access to LRA-affected areas, enhanced human and aerial intelligence, increased air support, and improved road infrastructure. A more robust role for the U.S. advisors than is now provided for by the Obama administration would additionally allow them to operate in the field with regional forces and could speed the successful conclusion of the mission.
At the end of August and into early September 2012, the Ugandan army had two consecutive military engagements with the same group of fighters from the LRA. This was unusual: The common pattern is that the highly mobile LRA rebels manage to escape following their rare encounters with Ugandan military forces. Usually unwilling to directly confront trained troops, the decentralized LRA bands more typically attack undefended civilian villages for supplies and captives.
This report details those challenges and is based on the Enough Project’s recent embedding with the Ugandan Army. It draws on interviews with commanders and soldiers and their military and civilian partners in South Sudan and the Central African Republic.