A senior U.S. military official confirmed Monday that the U.S. is sending at least four CV-22 Osprey aircraft about about 150 more Air Force special operations members and airmen to assist local forces in their long-running battle against Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA. The official confirmed the plans, first reported by The Washington Post, on condition of anonymity without authorization to discuss them on the record.
Obama sent about 100 U.S. troops to help the African forces in 2011. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said early Monday the additional support would enable the African Union "to conduct targeted operations to apprehend remaining LRA combatants."
"Our African partners have consistently identified airlift as one of their greatest limiting factors as they search for and pursue the remaining LRA leaders across a wide swath of one of the world's poorest, least governed and most remote regions," Hayden said.
The aircraft would be based in Uganda but will be used in LRA-affected areas of the Central African Republic, Congo and South Sudan to support the African Union's regional task force, she said.
"The deployment of these aircraft and personnel does not signify a change in the nature of the U.S. military advisory role in this effort," Hayden said. "African Union-led regional forces remain in the lead, with U.S. forces supporting and advising their efforts."
The LRA is accused by the United Nations and human rights groups of killing and mutilating innocent civilians and kidnapping thousands of children, forcing them to become soldiers and sex slaves.