News that the Obama administration is sending combat troops to Uganda hit many in the US as a surprise. The soldiers are heading there with the Ugandan government’s approval in order to help combat the Lord’s Resistance Army.
That fact will make it less of a shock to Africans hearing this news. They know the LRA as a feared and brutal insurgency.
The LRA’s operations are spread across several countries in Africa’s so-called “Great Lakes Region,” including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan.
However, Uganda has borne the bulk of their violence. That’s especially true of the country’s northern parts, where the LRA has run an insurgency since being formed in 1987.
Since 1988 the group has been led by Joseph Kony, a fifty-something former Catholic altar boy who apparently believes himself to be a spiritual medium and a spokesperson for God.
If so, then it’s a violent god he serves: the LRA has long been hammered by the United Nations for its reliance on child soldiers; and the actions those young troops commit include mutilation and the sexual enslavement of women.
Kony was indicted in 2005 by the International Criminal Court on 33 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He has so far evaded arrest, however. The US government lists the LRA as a terrorist organization.