For the Obama administration's new mission to work, it will have to take central Africa's other problems into account
Ugandan army soldiers escort civilians after a nearby attack by the Lord's Resistance Army / AP
On October 12, President Barack Obama announced he would deploy a combat-equipped team of U.S. military personnel to central Africa. As the President specified in his letter notifying congressional leaders of the operation, the team is the first part of what will total approximately 100 U.S. military personnel, who will "act as advisers to partner forces that have the goal of removing from the battlefield Joseph Kony and other senior leadership" of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group from northern Uganda that has since spread to other parts of central Africa. The deployment of our troops is no panacea, but they will play a critically important role by providing the involved regional militaries with greater access to desperately needed intelligence and information. Clearly, there are risks involved, but the president's initiative is ultimately the right decision.
For more than two decades, the LRA has terrorized the people of northern Uganda and now central Africa more widely, brutally killing thousands, and leading directly to the displacement of 1.8 million people. In recent years, the LRA has moved out of northern Uganda and deep into central Africa -- laying low in the dense forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo while replenishing their ranks by attacking remote Congolese villages and crossing into the Central Africa Republic and South Sudan to initiate similar brutality.