Examining the U.S Policy Responses to Entrenched African Leadership
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs
Thank you very much. Let say, first of all, I am extremely pleased to be here Chairman Kerry, Chairman Coons, Ranking Member Isakson to talk not only about entrenched African leaders but also the issue of Joseph Kony and the LRA. I want to thank all of you personally and professionally for your deep commitment and support of a broader international effort to bring Joseph Kony and the members of the LRA to justice. Senator Isakson has pointed out for far too long, Joseph Kony and his organization have gone around through central Africa killing, pillaging, raping, and destroying the lives of hunderds of thousands of Africans in Uganda, the Congo, Central African Republic, and now Southern Sudan. The Administration is totally committed to doing everything that it can in partnership with the regional African states and with the AU and the UN to bring Joseph Kony and the remnants of his organization to justice.
Joseph Kony's organization has some 150 to 250 members dispersed we believe between some four or five different groups operating largely in the Central African Republic, but also still in Southern Sudan and the northern parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. As Senator Isakson pointed out, they have not been active in Uganda since 2006.
The Ugandan Government is to be applauded for taking the leadership in continuing to go after Joseph Kony, although he is no longer operating there. Their forces have led the way in trying to bring this man to justice. We are supporting that effort. The United States Government has been a strong supporter of the Ugandan Government in this effort for the last three and a half years and last year we supplemented our effort by sending approximately 100 advise and assist U.S. military to the region to operate in Uganda, the DRC, the Central African Republic, and also South Sudan. Those 100 advisors are there to help to do four essential tasks: the first is to help improve civilian protection in all of the areas where Kony has operated; to enhance regional coordination between the militaries of the four countries; to strengthen the integration of information and intelligence into operation so that information and intelligence received is passed onto soldiers in the field in a more rapid, and more efficient, more useful fashion. And finally, to help directly in trying to capture and to bring Kony to justice. We have done all of those things and under the civilian protection umbrella we have, along with our colleagues in USAID and also with a number of NGOs, sought to provide UHF radios and cellphones to a number of communities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and also in the Central African Republic so that if indeed villagers see and hear of things that might suggest that Kony is in the vicinity or his people are in the vicinity they can call back or radio back to government offices in order to get support to come after Kony and to protect them.
We have also worked very hard to effectively bring about better coordination between the regional militaries and we have stepped our training particularly with respect to the DRC. In the DRC, the U.S. Government, under AFRICOM, was responsible for training one battalion, the 391st Battalion, which is operating up in the northeastern corner of the DRC and the Garamba Forest, has focused mostly on going after the Lord's Resistance Army and Joseph Kony. We're working with and advising the forces in the Central African Republic and also in South Sudan.
In support of our efforts to help strengthen the integration of intelligence and information into operation, we have deployed certain intelligence assets to the region. And we are in the process of stepping up those assets. We appreciate enormously the support of the Congress on this. As you all know the Congress appropriated some $35 million under the Defense Authorization Bill in order to help support operations of the U.S. military and our diplomatic efforts in the region. We believe this is extraordinarily useful. We have over the last several years spent approximately $30 to 40 million each year to help the governments and militaries in the region and this additional support which will be coming out of the DoD budget helps to supplement the funding that we have been using from State funds. We have clearly helped to degrade the LRA, to disperse it, but we have not finished the mission of decapitating it. We hope that we will be able to continue to work closely with the countries in the region to bring Joseph Kony to justice and to finish this project.