US President Barack Obama will be sending 100 “combat-equipped” troops to Uganda, to help defeat the Lord’s Resistance Army, a group accused of gross human rights violations.
In a letter to John Boehner, the Republican Speaker of the House, Obama wrote,
"These forces will act as advisors to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership of the LRA."
He went on to say that the move was “in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States”.
Obama also stressed that they would not be there to lead the effort but would not engage in combat unless “necessary for self-defense”.
The LRA leader Joseph Kony is accused of war crimes and wanted by the International Criminal Court, which issued a warrant for his arrest in 2005.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the move was part of a broader effort in "pursuing the LRA and seeking to bring top commanders to justice."
Obama's decision was commended by human rights groups and anti-genocide groups, against the group he once labeled "affront to human dignity".
Paul Ronan, Director of Advocacy at Resolve said,
"By deploying these advisers, President Obama is showing decisive leadership to help regional governments finally bring an end to the LRA's mass atrocities."
US Representative for Nebraska Jeff Fortenberry said the move will "save innocent lives and begin to bring the LRA to justice for the immense human tragedy that has fallen across central Africa at its hands."
In 2008, Washington provided more than $40 million in logistical support to Uganda in anti-LRA operations. They followed this up with a law enacted in 2009 which expressed increased support for the Uganda in eliminating the LRA.
An estimated 30,000 people have died as the LRA fought in northern Uganda for more than 20 years, displacing some two million people.