Obama Tells Congress of Central Africa Deployment, Could Be 'As Many As' 300
President Obama submitted his increase in U.S. forces in central Africa per the War Powers Resolution, stressing that they wouldn't engage the Lord's Resistance Army unless fired upon first.
Obama sent the notification to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate President Pro Tempore Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) today, saying "U.S. military personnel with appropriate combat equipment have deployed to Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Central African Republic to support regional forces from the African Union's Regional Task Force that are working to apprehend or remove Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and other senior leaders from the battlefield and to protect local populations."
"Regional forces have consistently identified air mobility support with increased range and speed as one of the most-needed capabilities to pursue the remaining Lord's Resistance Army leaders across a wide swath of one of the world's poorest, least governed, and most remote regions. To enhance U.S. support to these regional forces, U.S. aircraft, aircrews, and support personnel deployed to central Africa on March 23 and 24, 2014. The approximately 150 additional personnel will principally operate and maintain U.S. aircraft to provide air mobility support to foreign partner forces," Obama wrote.
That brings the number of U.S. personnel in the region to "approximately 280."
The effort to hunt down Kony began under the George W. Bush administration, when the president sent 17 advisers to assist Ugandan troops. Obama sent additional assistance in 2011.
The guerrilla leader was indicted by the International Criminal Court in 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity, including kidnapping children to serve as soldiers in his group or as sex slaves.
"The aircraft and personnel providing the enhanced air mobility support will deploy to the Lord's Resistance Army-affected areas of central Africa episodically, as they are available, consistent with other Department of Defense requirements," continues the War Powers notification. "During these deployments, the number of U.S. Armed Forces deployed to the central Africa region will fluctuate, and may increase to as many as approximately 300. As I previously reported, U.S. forces will not themselves engage Lord's Resistance Army forces unless necessary in self-defense."
Obama said the deployment "is in furtherance of the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States, including the policy expressed in the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009, Public Law 111-172, enacted May 24, 2010."
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters yesterday that the department has deployed four CV-22 Ospreys two C- 130s, and one KC-135 to northern Uganda.
"They'll be there for a period of time. These are aircraft and troops -- support troops that are based out of Djibouti. They'll be -- they'll be conducting, you know, periodic deployments to Uganda to support this mission," Kirby said.
The 100 troops already there are special ops forces. The additional personnel ordered by Obama are "air crew, maintenance personnel, with the aircraft," Kirby said.
"This is a mission that we've been conducting now for about a year. This is a support mission. Airlift has been one of the consistent requirements and requests of the African Union. We are in a position now to provide that airlift for a while and we're going to do it."