Yesterday our CEO Ben Keesey brought us exciting news. The US will be deploying at least four V-22 Ospreys along with additional Air-Force Operations personnel to assist with the African Union (AU) operation to arrest Joseph Kony and end the violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa. Here are some of the reasons why we’re celebrating:
US Military personnel cap bumped from 100 to 300
Since the 100 US military advisers were deployed to assist the AU led Regional Task Force three years ago, LRA killings have decreased by 93%, and abductions are down by 67%. The extra personnel being sent to the region will dramatically increase the capacity of counter-LRA efforts.
Ospreys are better than helicopters
Look at these aircraft – they’re like something out of Avatar. They land and take off vertically like helicopters but fly like planes, so they can travel long distances quickly. They refuel mid-air, and they can carry around 25 people – twice as many as a helicopter.
They’ll be an astounding boost to the pursuit of Joseph Kony, which until now has suffered from a lack of air-transport and mobility. Back in January our friends at Enough highlighted the limited number of helicopters that the mission had access to as a “severe constraint” and recommended the deployment of additional helicopters to increase air-mobility. While the deployment of more helicopters would have been good news, the deployment of these Osprey is even better.
The Ospreys will give access to the area Kony is most likely to be hiding
The fast-flying Ospreys will enable AU forces to react quickly to information related to reports of Joseph Kony’s movements, which are currently taking place in remote areas of the Central African Republic (CAR), outside of the range of the helicopters that are currently deployed in the region. These areas of CAR are also where the LRA has been committing their largest and most violent attacks.
THE U.S GOVERNMENT HAS MADE THIS DECISION BECAUSE THEY KNOW YOU CARE
We could talk for hours about the incredible results of your advocacy efforts. For example: you passed a bill that made it law for the US to take significant and unprecedented action to help arrest Joseph Kony, end LRA violence, and support the recovery of affected communities in central and East Africa. Your committed activism helped secure an extension of the US adviser deployment, and you have moved Congress to secure millions of dollars for efforts to end LRA violence and support those affected by it. The Administration’s recent decision to increase its efforts to address the LRA would not have happened if you hadn’t worked so hard to keep the LRA conflict on the minds and agendas of your policymakers. What we keep learning: you are a force to be reckoned with.
It happens this week
The Ospreys and special forces will be in the region by mid-week, which is pretty exciting.
These new aircraft are not a silver bullet to ending LRA violence, but their involvement in counter-LRA efforts can significantly improve ongoing efforts to locate and arrest Joseph Kony – whose leadership is a linchpin in the LRA’s survival. In addition to keeping our policymakers committed to arresting Kony and protecting communities from LRA violence, we’ll continue our work dismantling the LRA from within through innovative defection efforts in partnership with local communities in central Africa. Stay tuned for some exciting updates on the important role we need you to play in these efforts.
In the meantime, help encourage LRA combatants to surrender and safely return home by donating here.