Dozens of US Special Forces have established a frontline base in Obo, southeastern Central African Republic (CAR), to help regional armies in a final push to remove LRA leader Joseph Kony and his commanders from the battlefield.
Revelations about the deployment at the frontier enclave with Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, emerged as a senior Ugandan military officer said Kony is hiding in CAR. The undulating terrain, said UPDF spokesman Felix Kulayigye, made worse by dense forests, shortage of tracking devices and transport infrastructure have slowed efforts to capture the rebel commander, wanted by the International Criminal Court.
Col. Kulayigye told journalists yesterday on the sidelines of joint US-UPDF quick-packaging-for-airdrop drills at Entebbe Military Airbase, that Kony "keeps oscillating" between border areas of the three countries.
"People we capture (freed captives) tell us in which group he is; and we corroborate the information using our field intelligence," the spokesman said.
The airdrop packaging skill, hitherto scarce among Ugandan soldiers, and one now being imparted by US troops, is expected to help UPDF execute mid-air conveyance of food, arms and other logistics to foot soldiers on LRA trail in the vast jungles.
This, the military said, will increase operational efficiency and reduce time previously wasted when battlefield troops had to trek long distances to designated assembly points to replenish stock.
The ongoing training of UPDF by their American counterparts on logistics management and air raid techniques, marked by simultaneous amplified flight drills in Entebbe and northern Uganda, will have a multiplier effect and enhance the capability for the anti-LRA offensive, Col. Kulayigye said.
President Obama, under pressure from domestic campaigners and lobbyists, and in line with the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act 2009, in October this year, ordered deployment of about 100 US Special Forces to capture or kill Kony and his commanders.
It is understood Washington got frustrated that the Ugandan military was not using intelligence data passed to it effectively, partly due to inaccurate interpretation and in some cases delays in relaying the information to field commanders. Yet UPDF is the most capable army to hunt the rebels.
A US official said the Special Forces, who are available following end of the Iraq war and troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan, have deployed to help fix the problem and ensure regional armies end the LRA menace.
Staff of the US embassy in Kampala took both local and foreign journalists to Entebbe Airbase to see firsthand UPDF's newly-acquired skills on packaging for airdrop otherwise called Container Delivery Systems.
Both Ugandan and American officials declined to give a timeline within which they expect to remove Kony, who, according to UPDF accounts, has on several occasions since 1987, eluded capture and or death, by a whisker.