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U.S. Special Forces Deployed to Uganda

U.S. Special Forces deployed from 2011 to 2017 to advise and assist in bringing Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army to justice.

US Special Forces deployed under Operation Observant Compass from 2011-2017 to capture Joseph Kony and bring his Lord's Resistance Army to justice. Joseph Kony, Ugandan Acholi warlord, and the Lord’s Resistance Army leader, has been a significant contentious figure in Uganda’s history. 

The Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group led by Kony, launched a war in northern Uganda in 1987. For over two decades, besides massacres, illicit poaching, and destruction of property, the group systematically targeted and abducted children to become its soldiers and sex slaves.

Joseph Kony was indicted by the International Criminal Court for leading the Lord’s Resistance Army in a campaign of murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, and mutilation, as well as mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements and for personally issuing broad orders to target and kill civilian populations in 2005.

The indictment was based on intercepted radio communications where Kony praised Lord's Resistance Army forces for attacking camps of displaced persons and urged them to find targets with more people.

U.S. Special Forces Soldiers
U.S. Special Forces Soldiers training

U.S. Special Forces Soldiers from the 10th and 19th Special Forces Group and Operation Observant Compass

In 2008, the Ugandan forces and troops from neighboring countries launched Operation Lightning Thunder, which drove Lord’s Resistance Army, a rebel group further into the neighboring county of the Central African Republic. First, George W. Bush and then the Barrack Obama administration provided logistical and intelligence support for Operation Lightning Thunder in 2008 and 2009.

Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009 involved deploying approximately 100 combat-equipped personnel to assist the Ugandan People's Defense Force in contesting the Lord's Resistance Army. 

In October 2011, a small group of U.S. Special Forces Soldiers from the 10th and 19th Special Forces Group arrived in Africa to advise and assist in the hunt for Joseph Kony and his followers, who comprise the Lord's Resistance Army.  

The mission was called Operation Observant Compass and involved 10th and 19th Special Forces Group soldiers training counterparts from Uganda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and other multi-national forces.

Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony

President Obama deployed U.S. special operations forces to Uganda to hunt Kony and Lord's Resistance Army leaders as part of Operation Observant Compass in October 2011, providing Personnel Support, Operating Support, and Transportation. 

At the time, American troops were sent to the African nation with clear orders to provide intelligence and logistics support to local forces looking to capture Kony and permanently subdue the Lord's Resistance Army. 

No U.S. troops would be participating in combat operations tied to the Kony manhunt, Department of Defense officials assured Congress and the American public. But as Kony continued to evade capture, Obama ordered U.S. forces to extend their mission in Uganda in April 2012. 

That following month, in May 2012, Senate lawmakers on the Armed Services Committee funneled $50 million to enhance and expand intelligence and surveillance support for U.S. forces in Uganda as part of the fiscal 2013 Defense spending bill. 

The hunt for Kony was bolstered in the United States in 2013 after the 30-minute film Kony 2012 went viral. The video, produced by the nonprofit group Invisible Children, put the international spotlight back on the plight of Lord's Resistance Army’s child soldiers. In 2014, the Obama Administration notified Congress of the deployment of U.S. military aircraft and more personnel to provide enhanced air mobility support to African forces. 

Have you seen Kony? leaflet
Have you seen Kony leaflet

Success of the Psychological Operations Regiment of Operation Observant Compass

Psychological warfare played a pivotal role in Operation Observant Compass, where U.S. Army Special Operations Forces collaborated with non-governmental organizations, UN peacekeepers, and African military forces to quell the menace posed by Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army in central Africa. 

On February 17, 2012, over 20,000 “Have you seen Kony?” leaflets were dropped around Gilima, Democratic Republic of the Congo. A month later,  30,000 leaflets fell on Dungu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Finally, on March 23, 2012, over 50,000 were dropped around Djema and Obo, and 20,000 were dropped around Duru, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Aerial leaflet drops like these remained commonplace during Operation Observant Compass.

A critical aspect of the psychological warfare mission's triumph lay in the strategic use of U.S. Army psychological operations, compelling members of the Lord's Resistance Army to defect. This concerted effort significantly reduced the LRA's strength, dwindling from several hundred fighters at the commencement of the operation in October 2011 to fewer than one hundred by the time U.S. Africa Command concluded the mission in April 2017. The success of this operation underscored the distinctive capabilities of the Psychological Operations Regiment.

Lord’s Resistance Army Capture

Dominic Ongwen was a major at 18 and brigadier of the Sinia Brigade, one of the four Lord's Resistance Army brigades, by his late twenties with the Lord’s Resistance Army. The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants in 2005; Ongwen surrendered in January 2015 and was transferred to The Hague.  On May 6, 2021, Trial Chamber IX sentenced him to 25 years of imprisonment.

In March 2017, the Observant Compass mission concluded after a sustained effort by the United States and African militaries who substantially reduced the Lord’s Resistance Army's threat to regional stability and diminished its capacity to harm the local civilian population.

WhatsApp number +1 (202) 975-5468

As of 2022, he is still on the loose. The U.S. government designated Kony as a specially designated global terrorist. The U.S., through its embassy in the Central African Republic, is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to the capture of a Ugandan warlord.

The U.S. government also provided a WhatsApp number +1 (202) 975-5468 to relay the information on the whereabouts of Joseph Kony, Ugandan warlord and the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. You can also email The U.S. government at wcrp@state.gov

U.S. Special Forces and the U.S. government have been on the trail of the Lord’s Resistance Army leader since early 2008, spending at least $800 million. The Lord's Resistance Army, led by Joseph Kony, who would as of today be around 63 years old, has been responsible for numerous human rights abuses, including abductions, forced recruitment of child soldiers, and other atrocities. 

Soldiers engaged in Operation Observant Compass, an initiative aimed at apprehending Joseph Kony and dismantling the Lord's Resistance Army, qualify for the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. The Pentagon officially sanctioned this mission as a designated operation eligible for the conferment of these medals. The timeframe for award eligibility for Operation Observant Compass spans from October 1, 2011, to September 30, 2017.

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