Founder and commander of the LRA, Joseph Kony remains the group’s sole leader, a position he has held since 1987. A charismatic leader who instills fear in his subordinates, Kony commands the LRA with absolute power and remains a key to the dismantling of the group. Kony was indicted by the ICC in 2005 for crimes against humanity.
Odhiambo is often seen as Kony’s second in command. Acting as the “Head of the Army,” Odhiambo often acts as a go-between in the LRA command structure now scattered across three countries. Odhiambo’s deputy killed Vincent Otti, Kony’s former deputy, and no one has benefitted more from Otti’s death than Odhiambo. Odhiambo was indicted by the ICC in 2005.
Abducted as a youth in northern Uganda, Dominic Ongwen rose to prominence within the ranks of the LRA for his reputation as a fierce fighter with a strong propensity for violent acts against civilians. Ongwen’s loyalty to Kony has given him a level of autonomy and influence within the group. Ongwen was indicted by the ICC in 2005. His indictment is thought controversial, however, because he was first a victim of the group and later a perpetrator.
One of the most respected commanders in the LRA, Caesar Achellam had deep ties to the rebellions of northern Uganda and received formal military training as a member of the Ugandan People’s Democratic Army. His experience and his Arabic language skills made him the key liaison between the LRA and the Sudanese government armed forces, a strategic alliance for weapons and ammunition. Achellam was seen by many experts as pivotal to the dismantling of the LRA and his capture in May 2012 is the largest victory for the UPDF since January 2010 when Bok Abudema was killed.
For more information on the LRA command structure as of 2010, see Ledio Cakaj’s report The LRA of Today
Download a PDF of the LRA hierarchy infographic.