02-19-2017  10:56 am      •     

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Capturing and bringing to justice the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, a group terrorizing a large portion of central Africa, will be a challenge, officials from the Obama administration told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on African affairs, officials on Tuesday said the task of stopping Joseph Kony is complicated by the region's vast and inhospitable terrain, along with the difficulty of coordinating the efforts of four partner nations' armies and gathering and sharing intelligence.

"Ending the LRA threat is not an easy mission," said Donald Yamamoto, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs. "The LRA operates in very small groups across vast territories, roughly the size of California and very heavily forested."

Since being pushed out of its previous stronghold in Northern Uganda in 2006, Kony and his lieutenants have been accused of continuing their abduction of children to serve as LRA soldiers in a campaign of rape, torture and murder across central Africa.

The LRA gained worldwide notoriety earlier this year when a video about the group went viral on the Internet.

On Monday, President Barack Obama announced that approximately 100 military advisers -- mostly special forces -- would continue their efforts in the region to assist in the hunt for Kony, after the National Security Counsel reviewed the mission, which began in October 2011.

The U.S. military is working, in a mostly advisory role, with forces from Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, with the collective goal of capturing Kony and taking down the LRA.

On Tuesday, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Amanda Dory told the Senate subcommittee that another challenge is managing expectations "on how quickly we'll succeed" in the operation, given all the variables.

U.S. military advisers in the region are assisting their partners to improve their effectiveness, the officials said.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 authorizes $35 million to provide for enhanced support, supplies and services for partner militaries searching for Kony.

Small teams of U.S. advisers are working with the Ugandan military in known LRA areas of the Central African Republic and South Sudan to set up operations centers to allow for daily coordination, information sharing and tactical coordination, the senators were told.

U.S. teams are also working with the U.N. mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo to connect the intelligence gathered by the mission in order to increase cross-border analysis and regional coordination on LRA movements.

"We believe our support is helping the partner forces to improve their operations, but they continue to face significant challenges in terms of their capabilities to quickly pursue LRA groups across this vast region," Dory said.

Efforts to establish an "integrated military force that can coordinate and cooperate is going to be tough," Yamamoto added.

The officials on the panel also praised the African Union's recent naming of a special envoy focused on the LRA issue.

Earl Gast, a senior official with the U.S. Agency for International Development, told the subcommittee that LRA violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people. The U.S. government, Gast said, is coordinating efforts to reduce vulnerability to the LRA through programs such as the distribution of radios to warn neighboring communities of current LRA movements.

The officials and senators seemed to agree that human intelligence about Kony's movements, along with defections from his ranks, will play a pivotal role in his eventual capture.

"The defectors are a key part of the information picture," Dory said.

Yamamoto praised legislation sponsored by Sens. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, and Chris Coons, D-Delaware, that would expand the authority of the State Department's War Crimes Rewards program.

Two survivors of Kony's terror also spoke, giving emotional testimony about LRA atrocities.

Jacob Acaye, an LRA abductee at age 12 who saw his brother killed by Kony's forces, told the committee he was using the education he has received since his escape from captivity to eventually become a human rights lawyer.

"I'm calling upon the world to come up and join the youth who are advocating for the end of this war," he said.

Jolly Okot, another former abductee who is now an official with a nongovernmental organization, said, "I think the coming together of everyone around the world and focusing on this one man and bringing him out will also in the future cause fear to other people who might think they should stand up and rise and terrorize people."

Kony is often "underrated" as a leader, according to a 2011 Jane's report on the group. Kony has claimed to be possessed by spirits who dictate the group's strategy. Jane's notes that the tactic has served him well, enabling him to speak to followers who have mixed beliefs. By his portrayal as a medium with supernatural abilities, his authority becomes harder to question within the ranks.

The Lord's Resistance Army is sophisticated and less like the ragtag group of fighters it is sometimes portrayed as, Jane's says. It has benefited from the military experience of former Ugandan military officers and years of combat in Sudan.

International aid convoys and nongovernmental organizations operating in the region have been threatened by the group, according to numerous reports.

Last year, the State Department said, "Since 2008 alone, the LRA has killed more than 2,400 people and abducted more than 3,400. The United Nations estimates that over 380,000 people are displaced across the region because of LRA activity."

Kony says he is a prophet sent from God to replace the Ugandan government with a democracy based on the Ten Commandments.

The-CNN-Wire/Atlanta/+1-404-827-WIRE(9473)

™ & © 2012 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Recently Published by The Skanner News

  • Default
  • Title
  • Date
  • Random
  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. "I can't believe there's actually a politician doing what he says he would do," says an approving Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin. "That never happens." Disrupt Trump has. But there may be more sound and fury than substance to many of his early actions. Trump did select Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, a nomination that has drawn strong reviews from conservatives. But the president is regrouping on immigration after federal judges blocked his order to suspend the United States' refugee program and ban visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries, which had caused chaos for travelers around the globe. Some other orders on issues such as the U.S.-Mexico border wall and former President Barack Obama's health care law are of limited effect. Trump says his early actions show he means to deliver on the promises he made during the campaign. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the wall,'" the president told a group of police chiefs recently. "I wasn't kidding. I don't kid." But the Republican-led Congress is still waiting to see specifics on how Trump wants to proceed legislatively on top initiatives such as replacing the health care law, enacting tax cuts and revising trade deals. The messy rollout of the travel ban and tumult over the ouster of national security adviser Michael Flynn for misrepresenting his contacts with Russia are part of a broader state of disarray as different figures in Trump's White House jockey for power and leaks reveal internal discord in the machinations of the presidency. "I thought by now you'd at least hear the outlines of domestic legislation like tax cuts," says Princeton historian Julian Zelizer. "But a lot of that has slowed. Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. At his long and defiant news conference on Thursday, Trump tried to dispel the impression of a White House in crisis, squarely blaming the press for keeping him from moving forward more decisively on his agenda. Pointing to his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, Trump said, "You take a look at Reince, he's working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires. I mean, they're fake. They're not true. And isn't that a shame because he'd rather be working on health care, he'd rather be working on tax reform." For all the frustrations of his early days as president, Trump still seems tickled by the trappings of his office. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visited the White House last week to discuss the national opioid epidemic over lunch, the governor said Trump informed him: "Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.'" Trump added: "I'm telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous." ___Follow Nancy Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac
    Read More
  • FDR executive order sent 120,000 Japanese immigrants and citizens into camps
    Read More
  • Pruitt's nomination was strongly opposed by environmental groups and hundreds of former EPA employees
    Read More
load morehold SHIFT key to load allload all
Carpentry Professionals
Calendar

PHOTO GALLERY

Reed College Jobs
His Eye is on the Sparrow