The Ugandan army has deployed approximately 1,500 soldiers to South Sudan and the Central African Republic. They are working closely with the U.S. military advisors in their common quest to apprehend the senior leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA. The Ugandan People's Defence Force, or UPDF, continue to be the most capable and committed army in the direct fight against the LRA. But they are too few to cover the vast jungles where the rebels are hiding, and they face fundamental logistical and intelligence challenges, which severely limit their ability to locate and fight the LRA successfully. Unless bolstered and improved, the current strategy will fail short of ending the LRA.
As the Enough Project's LRA field researcher, I embedded with the Ugandan troops in August to get an up-close view of their challenges, and to find out what more is needed to end the LRA and bring the senior LRA commanders to justice. I shot this video during the trip that provides a clear illustration of how the dense jungle and the poor infrastructure force the UPDF to fly food and other basic supplies to their offensive trekking teams. This is diverting scarce flight hours and limited resources away from direct counter LRA operations.
Based on research from the embed, Enough is publishing today a field dispatch titled, "Chasing the Lord's Resistance Army - Challenges faced by Ugandan soldiers pursuing the Lord's Resistance Army." The dispatch explains that the UPDF trekking teams can roam around in the jungle for weeks without any clear trace of the LRA and that direct encounters are rare. A Ugandan soldier told Enough:
"We do see their tracks in the jungle, but we rarely encounter the LRA directly. We are always a few steps behind and chasing an enemy that will do everything possible to avoid fighting, unless they choose to fight."[view whole blog post ]