Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The White House announced on Monday it will send CV-22 Ospreys, refueling aircraft and an additional 150 associated military personnel to beef up African Union (AU) forces hunting fugitive rebel leader Joseph Kony.
The Ospreys, a faster and bigger military helicopter, will provide the airlift needed by pursuers of Kony and other members of his Lord Resistance Army (LRA) in the rugged areas of the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, according to U.S. National Security Council (NSC) spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.
The 150 aircraft support personnel will not join combat operations, a Defense Department official said. They will bring to 250 the total number of U.S. servicemen involved in the hunt for Kony and his commanders, who are wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, including mutilating innocent civilians and kidnapping thousands of children to be their soldiers and sex slaves.
A hundred U.S. military advisers were sent to Uganda in 2011 to help hunt LRA rebels responsible for a 20-year insurgency that killed thousands of people as well as the murder, rape and kidnapping of thousands of people in neighboring African countries.
Uganda’s military campaign against Kony and the LRA forced him to flee the country and hide in either the DRC or the CAR. The LRA was also reduced from 2,000 to 200 fighters, NSC said. The group’s killing and kidnapping spree also was reduced, the council said.