Dr. Boozman's Check-up

As the Washington Post first reported, President Obama has ordered the deployment of additional aircraft and U.S. military personnel to assist African forces in the efforts to hunt down warlord Joseph Kony.

This is an effort we should support. Kony is a madman who must be stopped.

For over 25 years, his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has caused untold pain to children and families in countries across central Africa. The rebel group is responsible for a litany of human rights violations including abduction, rape, torture and murder. Under direct orders from Kony, the LRA has abducted children, turning the girls into concubines and the boys into child soldiers forcing them back into their villages to torture and kill their relatives.

This effort builds upon the original mission announced in 2011. Approximately 100 U.S. forces were deployed to central Africa in an advisory capacity to provide technical assistance to regional forces working toward the removal of Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield. The additional personnel will supplement the forces already in the region.

In addition to the humanitarian reasons, it is important to note the limitations placed on this mission which include:

  • U.S. military personnel deployed on this mission are only authorized to “provide information, advice and assistance” to African troops tracking Kony and his organization across Uganda, the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC);
  • They are prohibited from engaging Kony’s forces unless in self-defense;
  • The additional aircraft will only be used for troop transport.

Despite the coordinated efforts of the United Nations, African Union and our own military advisors, Kony’s exact whereabouts remain a mystery. The President’s announcement this week hopefully will increase our chances of solving that mystery.

I have worked with my colleagues in Congress to give the Obama Administration the tools it needs to help hunt Kony down. In an effort to increase the chances of pinpointing an exact location of Kony, then-Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and I worked to expand the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program to make it applicable to anyone who offers information that leads to his arrest or conviction. We continue to seek other ways to help track this elusive war criminal down.

The key to capturing Kony is not superior firepower. Nor is it more troops. It is going to come down to human intelligence. This is where the U.S. truly can play a role and provide strong support. I am pleased to see that the Obama Administration expanding those efforts.  Hopefully this will lead to Kony’s apprehension and the restoration of peace and security to the region.