May 15 (GIN) – U.S. forces who linked up with Ugandan army hunting squads to fish out the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony are finding their 21st century hardware may be unprepared for the task.
The elite special forces were deployed with great fanfare to Obo, a remote and densely-forested outpost in the Central African Republic. Nearly half a year later, the mystical rebel leader continues to outsmart his hi-tech trackers with elementary techniques, writes Tabu Butagira, a Ugandan journalist covering the story.
No one knows Kony’s precise whereabouts, or whether he is alive or dead.
“Green Berets and Navy Seals sent to the front encountered unanticipated problems,” observed Butagira. “The surrounding copious vegetation absorbs electronic signals and sounds, restricting the troops’ ability to deploy hi-tech gadgets to trail the outlaws,” said a Navy SEAL ground commander.
“All the different nuances that we hadn’t imagined before we arrived here are now starting to rear their heads, he told journalists in Obo. “It’s been a learning curve to adapt to that.”
The Navy SEALS may have taken Osama bin Laden out of action a year ago, but they admit Kony is no amateur in the wilderness.
Kony and his commanders are reported to have frozen use of high frequency radios and satellite telephones, making it harder to intercept their communication. Instead, the rebels bank on runners to deliver messages, and pre-arranged and often shifting rendezvous to sketch their operations.
The rough terrain and dearth of motorable roads means mobility and logistical resupply is compromised. When information about LRA sighting finally filters through to the Joint Intelligence Operations Centre in Obo, the rebels have already marched hundreds of kilometres away.
Crocodiles in Vovodo River crushed one UPDF soldier tracking Kony, and injured another, said Col. Joseph Balikuddembe. He commands Ugandan troops numbering at least 4,000 in different locations in CAR, South Sudan and the DR Congo.
Meanwhile, residents of the Acholi sub-region, the former epicentre of LRA activities, say eliminating Kony from the battlefield does not count if the Uganda government is unable to address the plight of the war victims, particularly the generation born in IDP camps that have become adults without life skills or livelihood.