U.S. Special Forces, after a five-year, $780 million hunt in Central Africa, are apparently nearing a decision to abandon their effort to catch Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army U.S. forces now number some 150. They arrived following the global publicization of the LRA’s atrocities in the “Kony 2012” campaign, a short film that went viral. The U.S. troops joined with forces of the CAR, DRC, South Sudan and Uganda in an effort to surround and capture Mr. Kony and his band. They never succeeded, partly due to the difficult terrain within which the LRA operates, and partly due to the likely infiltration of the various African forces by personnel who reported to the LRA, helping Mr. Kony evade capture.
This week, Uganda announced that it, too, would be withdrawing troops from the Central African Republic, or CAR, where forces have been searching for Kony.
Uganda said the LRA is now ineffective.
[May 15, 2016 Kony:Ringed by shipping containers and concertina wire, U.S. base Obo, CAR]
Obo Central African Republic: The Special Forces camp was small by the standards of other conflicts—only a dozen tents and none of the guard towers and heavy weapons. Ringed by shipping containers and concertina wire, the American’s tan tents were built on wood foundations. An American flag flew on a pole near the center of the camp. The sounds of helicopters coming and going provided the camp’s soundtrack. A small detachment of helicopters were based across a runway made of crushed red volcanic rock. Flown by contractors, the helicopters ferried joint American-Ugandan patrols into the bush. Both camps sat on top of a plateau that overlooked miles of jungle, a reminder of just how remote Obo was. The men were living on the remote military bases used by an African Union task force hunting Kony. They are working closely with the soldiers providing intelligence and greeting defectors fresh from the bush. Once on opposite sides, they now live, work, and eat side-by-side with their former pursuers. It wasn’t uncommon to see the defectors sitting elbow-to-elbow with the American Special Forces soldiers in the dining hall.
[April 30 2012 Special Ops Nzara, South Sudan; and Obo Central African Republic ]
About half of the U.S. contingent is based at a joint operations center near the international airport in Entebbe, Uganda. The rest of the troops are divided among four far-flung camps in Dungu, Congo; Nzara, South Sudan; and Obo and Djema in the Central African Republic. wapo