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    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default COIN case: LRA Lords Resistance Army

    27 June Washington Post - Desperate Villagers Flee Central African Republic by Stephanie McCrummen.

    Widespread banditry, kidnapping and political violence in the volatile and virtually lawless northeastern corner of the Central African Republic are forcing thousands of villagers to flee to Chad, where the security situation is possibly more desperate, according to an Amnesty International report released Tuesday.

    The strife in the Republic, a landlocked nation of about 4.4 million people, is being exacerbated by the politically distinct conflict in Sudan's western Darfur region, which has spilled into eastern Chad.

    "There is a lot of talk rightly about Darfur and eastern Chad, but the international community seems to be forgetting the people in CAR," said Godfrey Byaruhanga, an Amnesty International researcher who interviewed villagers in the Republic and Chad...

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    Council Member Michael F's Avatar
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    Default COIN case: LRA

    In Dec 2008, a joint (DRC, Uganda, Southern Sudan) ops was staged to neutralize the LRA

    See this NY times article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/07/wo...=uganda&st=cse

    The question now is not what went wrong or not (or maybe for lessons learned), who failed or not BUT HOW TO DEAL WITH THE LRA now ?

    A new bill in the US Senate (Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act 2009) calls for renewed US/AFRICOM involvement and emphasize the need to protect civilian populations.

    HOW CAN THIS BE ACHIEVED ? Any comment, advice, remark or reference to article is welcome.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Previous episode

    Just in case background is sought, this is the previous thread on joint action: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ghlight=uganda

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    The problem with the LRA is not just the LRA but also the terrain and the countries involved. The LRA uses the flushing quail technique to great effect. That means blocking forces and airlift to shift them where they need to be. None of the countries involved have that level of air support at their disposal. You need the blocking forces to contain then as a sustained kill capture effort runs them to ground. Otherwise we get a repeat of what has happened before.

    Tom

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    Council Member Michael F's Avatar
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    Sure Tom, terrain seems particularly difficult. The LRA (about 400 fighters) is spread in small groups of 10 men in an area twice the size of Ireland, now unpopulated, and with plenty of natural cover.

    To neutralize them you have to find them hence the problem... UAVs (lack of autonomy) or Satelitte Pix (small mobile groups-average speed of a LRA group is 35 Kms a day) can not help finding them.
    Even if you spot them, UPDF has a couple of Hinds in Southern Sudan, and even on QRA these would need up to 30 minutes to arrive on site (idem for MONUC's Hip in Dungu DRC).
    Surrounding the area is just unthinkable (lack of forces, different countries and sheer size of the area).

    One option would have been to leave Kony alone for a moment, let him resettle, rebuid camps and once the LRA is regrouped and fixed...reattack but Kony is too smart for that and knows mobility and terrain offer him a huge advantage.

    An other option would be to install UN bases inside this area with a small force in each plus organize a Psyops (leaflets) to convince isolated LRA groups to disarm. I guess this would be too risky in the eyes of the UN.

    Arming the locals to allow them to defend is according to me a great idea that could turn to nightmare as locals would also use these weapons to settle local conflicts (confer Ituri, North Katanga and Kivu...everytime self-defense militias were created these turned to ethnic then undiscriminated violence)

    Finally, to continue to try to track every group and intervene after every village attack hoping to bag some LRA is not very successfull.

    So what ?????

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    One of the complications in dealing with the LRA is that in addition to being very evil, they have on occasion in the past proven to be quite good infantry. The Guatemalans learned this the hard way several years ago.

    Maybe this is somewhat akin to chasing the Apaches around; a very mobile opponent, difficult terrain and they fight well. What Crook did on at least on occasion was to get on their trail, and stay on their trail, no matter what. They eventually got tired of being chased around and gave up.

    Perhaps a similar thing might work. You would have groups of men get on the trail of big or little LRA groups and stay there, for months if need be. The air support that was available would be used mostly to resupply the tracking groups. The armed helos would be ready to go out when a tracking group fixed a group of LRA.

    The hard part would be getting good men for the tracking groups. I don't know if the Ugandans could do it. Judging by Tom's comments in the past the Rwandans could certainly do it. Then you would have to get somebody to pay for it and get the countries the effort would go through to sign off on it.

    An advantage would be it would keep constant pressure on the LRA. If good African troops were used in the tracking groups the logistical reqs wouldn't be huge.

    Lots of difficulties but doable I think.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Registered User James Bean's Avatar
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    Default Re RFI and LRA

    Rex, as SWJ contemplates, there are inherent sensitivities to discussing certain parts of one's work in too much detail. My own views of LRA are as follows:

    1. Coming at armed insurgent groups from an Asian-lens, LRA is difficult to comprehend. I spend a lot of time in Northern Uganda, and find the Acholis and Langis to be compassionate, acutely aware of the conflict (even its westward migration), and hardworking (when they have the opportunity). Yet everything I have learnt about LRA firsthand is that it's a user-pays mercenary group specialising in insurgency; devoid of ideology. It is a maw that sucks in lives and destroys them.
    2. As for the glut of commentary that militates against LRA and advocates SF/COIN and 'irregular' approaches to snuffing out the LRA; rather than being malignant, such commentary is simply benign and ignorant. Some of the local players have a second-to-none track record of dealing with insurgencies. On the sharp end of the ledger they know what they are doing. It's just much harder to attain stability than sew instability.
    3. I won't deny that eliminating Konyi would have an immediate impact on LRA, but if we're honest about it, there's not a lot of precedent for success in either eliminating terrorist leaders or proving a sustainable result even when elimination has occurred.
    4. For too long the focus has been on military solutions to the LRA and very little in the way of addressing security in the North. I like how one of our SWJ colleagues (David Kilkullen - hi if he's around - really like the cut of your jib mate!) refers to 'small is beautiful'. Small recoverable and innovative approaches to information dissemination and providing jobs and catalysing change in Northern Uganda will be just as effective, if not more, than gunships and leaflet drops in D.R. Congo (sorry, but in 2009 when people call this PSOP, I just laugh; it's like a ham radio operator obstinately denying the range/convenience of mobile telephony!).

    How's that gentlemen?

    Jim
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-30-2009 at 01:18 PM. Reason: Copied from Hail & Farewell thread.

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    To understand LRA, please pay a visit to Conflict Research Group working paper on it.
    This document has been compiled by Kasper Thams Olsen, who I would call THE LRA SPECIALIST. He recently briefed UNMIS and MONUC on them.

    http://www.psw.ugent.be/crg/publicat...gpaper_LRA.pdf

    This paper is a qualitative study on LRA tactics, motivations and use of indiscriminate violence. If that can help... I would be much more than happy.

    Please note that there have been alleged LRA attacks in North West South Sudan. It is not confirmed, it is not official, it has to be taken with caution. But still, that may make sense as they are not welcomed in Uganda, in DRC, CAR and in South South Sudan. Also, as Uganda peace negociator resigned, there is still a slight possibility they go back home. That would fit into their strategy.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-31-2009 at 07:41 PM. Reason: Tidy up spelling and spacing. Add author of report's name.

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    James:

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

    On whether eliminating Konyi would transform the situation (à la Savimbi/UNITA), its always hard to predict how internal dynamics play out once a lynchpin leader is removed. Of course, I'm sure none of us would shed a tear if someone were to test the hypothesis

    As for information operations and economic initiatives, what would be the dynamic that would undercut the LRA? The Olsen paper that M-A Lagrange has kindly posted above suggests that the LRA's counter would be retaliation and collective punishment. Are you thinking, from a DDR perspective, of either the possibilities for encouraging defections, the dangers of unemployed defectors returning to the bush, or both?
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Well, I can attest that LRA will retaliate on civilians. After failed action in 2008/2009, LRA killed 900 civilians with machettes as retaliation. I was in DRC at that time.

    Please take time to think about it. When LRA does have undiscriminated violence as modus operantis. This is to demonstrate that opposite side is not capable of providing protection. (Weird, but that is their way).

    Also there are good reports on former abducted children trained by LRA integrated into LRA hunt.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-01-2009 at 12:27 PM. Reason: Polish spelling.

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    Council Member Michael F's Avatar
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    Default Short update

    Apparently, Kony is still hunted down by up to 200 UPDF troops in DRC (so called intelligence advisors). During the past month, LRA movements have been reported by Open Sources in the Yambio-Doruma-Ezo triangle. Main LRA looting activity happens now in the EZO area (CAR -SUD-DRC triborder area) which could translate into an other group of LRA escaped to CAR.

    Kony is supposed to have tried to organize a commander meeting in CAR last month (no confirmation if he succeeded to gather his unit commanders or not).

    My gut feeling is (stating the obvious) that Kony is trying to gain time by escaping to CAR. UPDF forces would still be able to track LRA in that most remote zone but less efficiently than in the Garamba area. Kony may want to further reorganize its forces, ensure resupply from allies (Khartum???) via isolated airstrips and proximity to CAR groups supported by Khartum. The aim of the game is to survive untill 2011 and the potentially explosive Southern Sudan referendum. Khartum would surely consider reinforcing arab militias and the LRA ahead of this as these could come handy to influence the referendum or counter a newly independant Southern Sudan.

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    Default former LRA Children used to fight LRA?

    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Also there are good reports on former abducted children trained by LRA integrated into LRA hunt.
    Are you saying that former LRA child soldiers are being used to fight the LRA?

    Working for whom? Museveni?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    While I appreciate that motivation is 9 tenths of the matter would an investment into training the TGF troops not provide a better return on investment rather than bring in "foreign Christians" from Uganda to try to do the job?

    There are a number of options as to how this training may be approached and I am wondering what if anything along these lines has be attempted?
    This has been, and is being tried--as publicly evidenced by the abduction of two French security advisors last year. You're right, however, that security in Somalia--if it ever comes--will have to rest on Somali shoulders.

    It doesn't help, of course, that not all of the TFG troops are sure what side they are on, or necessarily care!

    As for the Ugandans, they have had some moderate (but limited) successes against the LRA. However, as northern Uganda has become increasingly less hospitable, the LRA have moved between south Sudan, DR Congo, and the CAR--which complicates things immensely.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-23-2010 at 09:35 PM. Reason: Moved from a thread on Bombing in Kampala to here, a better home
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    My comment on the Ugandan army is based on their inability in their own country to deal with LRA which apparently comprises a majority of child soldiers.
    I was told by Ugandan guy I know who was a recon platoon leader in one of the Ugandan factions during the 80s wars that the LRA should not be taken lightly. Child soldiers or no, stone cold evil or no, he said they know what they are doing.

    Also during late 2005 or early 2006, the LRA beat the brains out of a Guatemalan army unit, part of MONUC, that was trying to track them down. That happened in northeast DRC.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-23-2010 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Moved from a thread on Bombing in Kampala to here, a better home
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    Also during late 2005 or early 2006, the LRA beat the brains out of a Guatemalan army unit, part of MONUC, that was trying to track them down. That happened in northeast DRC.
    January 2006--a Guatemalan Special Forces unit. They lost eight dead when they were ambushed by the LRA in Garamba National Park.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-23-2010 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Moved from a thread on Bombing in Kampala to here, a better home
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rex Brynen View Post
    January 2006--a Guatemalan Special Forces unit. They lost eight dead when they were ambushed by the LRA in Garamba National Park.
    There seems to be little out there on the incident. How many were in this unit and had they acclimatised and orientated themselves to an African jungle?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-23-2010 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Moved from a thread on Bombing in Kampala to here, a better home

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Pointer

    JMA,

    Try Google with: "Garamba National Park" + MONUC + Guatemala. That found over four hundred results and the first few pages show several potentially useful sites to check.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-23-2010 at 09:36 PM. Reason: Moved from a thread on Bombing in Kampala to here, a better home
    davidbfpo

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    Quote Originally Posted by M-A Lagrange View Post
    Well, actually it is widely agreed, shared and known that it was LRA. After this incident in 2006, LRA was labelled as "special forces" by the UN and no troops contributors did want to conduct any "find and ..." missions on LRA.

    This is way in 2008 and 2009 when the peace talk went wrong MONUC did not respond to LRA killings (800 civillians).
    Even more absurd, the MONUC HQ in Kisangany was dismanteled just several weeks before this happened.
    The LRA are equivalent to "special forces"? Not sure about that.

    Also not sure about what chance of success an 80 patrol would have in a strange and foreign jungle which the hunting grounds of the LRA.

    I would assume this operation was an aberration. And there is no military skill in killing 800 civilians.

    I need to try and find out more about the results of combat between the LRA and the Ugandan Army. I accept that the leadership of the LRA which has been there for years now has become wily and cunning and they know the terrain like the back of their hands. But that is about as far as I'm prepared to go on this.

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The LRA are equivalent to "special forces"? Not sure about that.

    Also not sure about what chance of success an 80 patrol would have in a strange and foreign jungle which the hunting grounds of the LRA.

    I would assume this operation was an aberration. And there is no military skill in killing 800 civilians.

    I need to try and find out more about the results of combat between the LRA and the Ugandan Army. I accept that the leadership of the LRA which has been there for years now has become wily and cunning and they know the terrain like the back of their hands. But that is about as far as I'm prepared to go on this.
    JMA,

    Take the time to look at the LRA threat (Africa section): http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=7483. It is quite instructive with a lot of links to detailed reports.

    Personnaly, I do not think that LRA is a SF but they did kick the UN pretty hard.
    And yes, I do not think there is any courage and skills in killing women and children. That's why Kony needs to be put on trial and face what he did.

    But we are far from the Chabab bombing in Kampala.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-23-2010 at 09:18 PM. Reason: Link to LRA thread added

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    Council Member M-A Lagrange's Avatar
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    Default Is LRA back in the game?

    That’s a legitimate question viewing the last development:

    LRA rebels kill eight in South Sudan raid, local official saysAround six LRA fighters attacked the market village of Rii-Bodo at about 2:00 am (local time) on Saturday, 4 August, and killed civilians, said Lexon Amozai who is the state director of the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission in Western Equatoria State. The murders took place after an LRA ambush at the nearby Nahua stream.
    On Friday, the rebels launched a similar assault on the village of Gangura. "They killed eight people there, among them two women. There were no soldiers deployed there, so they attacked the civilians," Amozai said.
    http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article36198


    If LRA is on the survival mode and seems to be indestructible, some hints should let us think that things, in fact, are better than they look.
    First of all, the SPLA is reinforcing the military network to secure villages since one or two month. Not saying that SPLA is the best army in the area but at least their presence seems to be deterrent enough to force LRA to attack unprotected villages. In Uganda the civil defence did work.
    Secondly, the UPDF is still on the hunt.
    Is Khartoum supporting LRA? May be, but nothing is sure at this stage. Bashir does have a lot to loose in his partnership with US in supporting LRA.
    The last assumptions on LRA are that now it is a self sustained monster. And it does look like it is: no popular support, no territory, no political agenda (part from establishing the overwhelming ruling of Khony on earth…)…

    Khony announced he will launch a huge terror campaign. Former LRA said that they were abducting children to prepare it. Now they are no more abducting children but simply killing people. It seems that Khony has his troops reassembled yet. And it’s either a little early or too late to destabilise the referendum.
    Last weeks, Acholy civil representatives asked Reik Machir to restart negotiations with Khony. The answer was clear: NO. And Uganda will never accept that LRA comes back.

    My personal opinion (and I can be wrong on this) is that LRA is trying a final push to not been forgotten and be the complete looser of the Sudan peace process.
    Do they have a disturbing poweron Sudan 2011 referendum: certainly.
    Are they a major threat? They are more an annoying problem for everyone than anything. Cause: what will you do with them after January 2011. Killing them and catching Khony has not been that easy yet.

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