U.S. sending more forces, aircraft to seek Uganda warlord Kony: Pentagon

WASHINGTON Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:13am EDT

Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army Joseph Kony speaks to journalists after a meeting with U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland at Ri-Kwamba in southern Sudan November 12, 2006. REUTERS/Stuart Price/Pool

Leader of the Lord's Resistance Army Joseph Kony speaks to journalists after a meeting with U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland at Ri-Kwamba in southern Sudan November 12, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Stuart Price/Pool

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration is sending about 150 Special Operations troops along with military aircraft to Uganda to help in the search for warlord Joseph Kony, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The deployments started on Sunday night after the administration began to notify Congress. The decision was first reported by The Washington Post, and later confirmed by the Defense Department.

In the first deployment of U.S. military aircraft to Uganda to help locate Kony, at least four CV-22 Osprey aircraft will arrive in the country by midweek, together with refueling planes and Special Operations forces airmen to fly and maintain them, the Pentagon said.

U.S. personnel were authorized to "provide information, advice and assistance" to an African Union force tracking Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army, the Post reported.

"While combat-equipped, they are prohibited from engaging LRA forces unless in self-defense," it said.

The Ospreys, which can take off and land vertically, are capable of ferrying 24 troops and their gear. They are expected to help African Union forces respond more quickly to tips on Kony's whereabouts, the Pentagon said.

A 5,000-strong AU Regional Task Force, supported by about 100 U.S. Special Forces, has been hunting Kony and his fighters. Most of them are thought to be hiding in jungles straddling the borders of Central African Republic, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

LRA fighters, who emerged in northern Uganda in the late 1980s, are known for using extreme violence, including chopping off limbs as a form of punishment, as well as raping young girls and abducting them for use as sex slaves.

The Post quoted administration officials as saying the deployment did not signal the White House was weakening its criticism of new anti-gay legislation in Uganda that imposes harsh penalties for homosexuality.

Since last month's enactment of the anti-gay legislation, Washington has said it is reviewing its relationship with Uganda's government.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney and David Alexander; Editing by Eric Walsh)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Trichiurus wrote:
Our people do not belong there playing pseudo-policeman. Kony is not the only thug in Africa. There is no real justification for U.S. troops to on the ground there, other than Obama’s personal agenda. This is playing with nitroglycerin in a hothouse.

Mar 23, 2014 11:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus