WASHINGTON (CN) – President Barack Obama has deployed small U.S. armed forces units to central Africa to assist regional forces in their fight against a Christian militia, known as the Lord’s Resistance Army, and its leader Joseph Kony.
The Lord’s Resistance Army began as an armed group opposed to the Ugandan government, but, as Obama noted in a letter to Congress announcing the ongoing deployments, it has morphed into a regional threat, which “for more than two decades … has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in Central Africa.”
The group’s beliefs are based on a mix of ethnic nationalism, Christian mysticism and traditional animism, while its stated goals include the creation of a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments in its base of operations in northern Uganda and South Sudan.
Obama said the first group of troops was deployed on Oct. 12 and that the deployments would be ongoing with up to 100 members of the U.S. armed services providing “information, advice and assistance” to the host countries, which will eventually include South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
While the U.S. forces are armed for combat, their rules of engagement forbid direct action against the Lord’s Resistance Army except in self defense.