Saturday, October 15, 2011

Advisers to Uganda is nothing new

President Obama's decision to send 100 military advisers to Uganda to help kill or capture renegade militia leader Joseph Kony is nothing new.

The same thing was done in 2008 by then President George Bush, just three years ago, and with disastrous results.

As those who track events in east Africa know, a bevy of military advisers was sent to Uganda in early 2008 with loads of advice and bundles of cash.

The idea was to kill and or capture Kony and his band of hardened child soldiers who comprise the Lord's Resistance Army, in their long-time camp in the Garamba National Park in the northern jungles of the DR Congo.

The U.S. advisers came up with a surprise attack plan that involved an air strike at dawn on December 14, 2008, followed by a devastating ground attack. The U.S. even handed over $1 million to pay for the logistics.

The attack was completely botched. It was an embarrassment all the way around and exposed the corruption and incompetence of the Ugandan army. And sadly, it raises serious questions whether Obama is simply throwing good money after bad.

First of all, Kony and his men were apparently tipped off that the surprise attack was coming and by the time the bombs were dropped, only kidnapped women and children were left in the camp.

The air attack was grossly delayed, according to the Ugandan army, because Kony's camp was shrouded in fog. This seems hardly likely, since the area is too warm for significant fog to develop, although drifting mist is more than possible.

This four or five-hour delay, it was speculated, allowed the Kony and his soldiers to monitor the radio traffic of the Ugandan army, and allowed them to escape.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan ground forces were still two days away from Kony's camp, and by the time they arrived, they found only a few abandoned laptops, radios and a handfull of mobile telephones.

Enraged by this abortive attack, the psychotic Kony divided his force into three groups, and each when on a rampage of revenge, brutally killing an estimated 800 to 1,000 innocent villagers in the region, some in the Central African Republic and others in South Sudan.

While Uganda has continued to track the Lord's Resistance Army, they have done little but keep Kony and his cutthroats on the move. Uganda's enthusiasm for the killing or capture of Kony has waned as he continues to roam one of the most remote regions in the world, killing and kidnapping with abandon just as he's done for decades.

The U.S. has tolerated Uganda's failure to find Kony, who is undoubtedly Africa's most wanted man, having been indicted by the International Criminal Court nearly eight years ago, because of other regional issues.

Uganda has the bulk of the African Union forces currently occupying Mogadishu, Somalia, and are the only thing that protects the U.S.-backed regime in Somalia, providing a thin barrier between Somalia and total chaos.

The question now is whether this second round of advisers will be able to generate a result that is any different from the disastrous attack on Kony's camp three years ago.

Chances are that it won't. Unlike the previous attack, Kony's forces remain largely scattered and mobile. Tracking and finding Kony and his various units of the LRA will be more difficult than ever and will require the cooperation of three countries.

While that cooperation can be bought with wads of U.S. dollars, coming up with a successful result is quite another matter.


Anonymous said...

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seamus macniel said...

uWe had contact through one of the posts I published on Kony a couple of years ago.
What do you think about the "Invisable Children" campaign? Whatever motivates one thing is for sure, it is absurd for anyone to believe that Washington has gone public about its involvement in the area. Moreover, the deployment of 100 "advisors" is only in keeping with AFRICCOM's wider strategy.
My new blog is at: