Troops to Africa: not your typical advise and assist mission
October 18th, 2011
03:37 PM ET

Troops to Africa: not your typical advise and assist mission

By Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr

President Obama’s decision to send 100 troops, mainly U.S. Special Forces, to Uganda to help hunt down leaders of the violent Lord’s Resistance Army is not meant to be a combat mission. But the troops will be well equipped if the need to fight arises, them CNN has learned.  The troops will have so-called “crew-served” weapons in the field.  These weapons, unlike a rifle or machine gun, requires more than one person to operate them, such as one person loading ammunition while the other person aims and fires.

The deployment of these particular combat weapons triggered the need for the Obama administration to publicly notify Congress of the operation under the War Powers Resolution, according to a Department of defense official.  That requirement demands that any time troops are put into a country “equipped for combat” Congress must be told to avoid any prospect of a secret war, the official explained.

Also, in this case, the US trainers were given a specific mission of helping target Joseph Kony, the head of the Lords Resistance Army, rather than just generalized counterterrorism and field training.

The official confirmed that Uganda had asked for the troops several months ago, but no Special Forces unit was available until now.

The US military has had a longstanding relationship in helping train Ugandan forces and attempting to help target Kony.  In December 2008, a 17-man team of military advisors and intelligence advisors from the U.S. Africa Command helped plan and provide intelligence to go after Kony, according to a US military official.  That mission failed after two weeks.

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  38. Peter Eichstaedt

    This is not the first time that the US has sent advisers to Uganda to help capture/kill Kony. Former President Bush did so in 2008, and to disastrous results. After Kony failed to sign a peac agreement in late November 2008, Uganda forces stuck his camp on Dec. 14, 2008. But Kony had been tipped off and fled with his forces. This the approach has to be different and cannot rely on Ugandan forces alone. For an authoritative look at Kony and the LRA, see the book, First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army.

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  39. John H

    Please assign someone with experience to write on military matters. A "crew-served" weapon is military jargon for a machine gun – it's nothing more secret/special/sinister than that. Every small unit in the Army has them. And this is exactly your typical Advise and Assist mission... We're assisting the Ugandans get rid of some really bad guys... Please do some more homework before you write on the military.

    October 19, 2011 at 8:18 am | Reply
    • Kirk J

      Bravo John. I was thinking the exact same thing as I was chuckling at this article. A more insightful and useful article might explain the ends, ways and means of our policy in Uganda.

      October 19, 2011 at 10:58 am | Reply

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