Flawed military attacks against LRA to continue

By Scott A Morgan

The announcement by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo that joint operations against the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) will continue could be a direct result of the arrest of General Nkunda in another joint operation but with Rwanda.

The military operation against Joseph Kony’s LRA was launched on December 14th and involves the armies of the DRC, Uganda and Southern Sudan. It does, however, have some interesting flaws that could prove fatal in the long run.

First of all is the composition of Uganda’s contingent: two of the top three commanders are veterans of the bush wars that current President Museveni waged against the government of Milton Obote. After that conflict they were integrated into the new UPDF (Ugandan People’s Defense Forces). This in itself smacks of political cronyism.

A second concern and which has been denied by the planners in Kampala has been the lack of use of special forces. Generally, in an operation such as the one currently underway in the eastern DRC, special forces are used for reconnaissance missions and to locate enemy forces.

According to reports, the ongoing operation has seen the Ugandan Air Force strike empty camps, and the LRA moving in small groups towards the Central African Republic. Lack of special forces has deprived the Ugandan army of their eyes and ears. This is a major strategic setback.

Although there have been scattered reports of casualties among the LRA, the world has heard more about their reprisals than the successes of the UPDF. Since this offensive began on December 14th, at least 620 civilians have been killed by the LRA in the DRC and the neighboring part of Sudan.

During this time the LRA has shot down a Ugandan aircraft with a surface to air missile that many people believe was supplied by the Sudanese Government. There has been independent confirmation of these reprisal attacks by media outlets. For casualty figures during the offensive, the Ugandan military has been the only source of information.

The mandate for this operation is set to expire some time in early February. Most observers are expecting that this mandate will be extended for at least another fortnight to prevent the LRA from finding sanctuary in the Central African Republic and disrupting an ongoing peace process in that country.

The efforts of FARDC (Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) working alongside the Rwandan military to reign in the FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) has provided one key result: the arrest of rebel leader, General Laurent Nkunda. This means that the LRA has few options available.

As long as LRA mastermind Joseph Kony and his senior leadership stay out in the bush, they will be a threat to regional stability. The situation in Darfur remains tense and the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Accord) in Southern Sudan is in danger of collapsing.

For the children of northern Uganda and their families, for those in Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Congo who have suffered unabated attacks for the past month and various peace processes, there has to be closure on this matter.

After that, the peace makers can restore tranquility to a region that has seen bloodshed for over two decades.

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The author publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet and comments on US policy towards Africa. Confused Eagle can be found at morganrights.tripod.com
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