Wednesday, October 26, 2011

U.S. mission in Africa will be short-term, administration official says (Just like in Libya?)

The current mission deploying approximately 100, mainly U.S. special forces to Africa will be "short term" and not open-ended in nature, Obama administration officials told members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday.

"We don't have a specific timetable, we are talking I think months, but I wouldn't put a number on it at this point," Assistant Secretary of Defense Alexander Vershbow told committee members.

President Barack Obama notified Congress earlier this month about the mission, as required under the War Powers Act. The U.S. troops are serving in a mostly advisory role to forces from Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Central African Republic to assist them in dismantling the notorious Lord's Resistance Army and hunt down its elusive leader, Joseph Kony. The group has terrorized central Africa through its abduction of children to serve as soldiers in a campaign of rape, pillaging and murder over two decades.

While the mission does not call for the U.S. troops to engage in direct combat operations, they are carrying weapons to be used in self-defense should the need arise, which triggered the requirement to notify Congress of their deployment.

"We will review the operation in a few months to see whether it's achieving the desired effect through this enhanced qualitative change in the nature of the training that we are providing, and to see whether it is having effects" in terms of eroding the LRA, Vershbow said.

"This is a short-term deployment with specific goals and objectives," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto told the committee. "We believe the U.S. advisers can provide critical capabilities to help regional forces succeed. We will regularly review and assess whether the advisers' effort is sufficient to enhance the regional effort to justify continued deployment." more