KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Sunday that U.S. military “personnel” being sent to Uganda to help fight the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army will not participate in actual fighting.
Museveni told a news conference it was wrong to say that the U.S. was sending troops to fight the LRA and its brutal leader Joseph Kony.
“Better to call them U.S. personnel, not troops,” Museveni said.
The Americans will help gather intelligence, he said.
“When you call them troops you are saying that they are coming to fight on our behalf,” Museveni said. “We shall never have troops coming to fight for us. I cannot accept foreign troops to come and fight for me. We have the capacity to fight our wars.”
President Barack Obama announced Friday he is dispatching about 100 U.S. troops — mostly special operations forces — to central Africa to advise in the fight against the LRA, a guerrilla group accused of widespread atrocities across several countries. Some experts suggest that the U.S. move is to reward Uganda for its contributions to the African Union force in Somalia that fights the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militia.
Museveni said Sunday that the U.S. has been supporting its fight against Kony already, including sharing satellite intelligence and assisting with helicopters.
The LRA once fought Ugandan troops in the country’s north, but have been flushed out of the country. The LRA now operates in South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic.
The LRA poses no known security threat to the United States, and a report from the anti-genocide group the Enough Project last year said that Kony no longer has complete and direct command and control over each LRA unit. The LRA is estimated to have between 200 and 400 fighters but still carries out deadly attacks on isolated villages.
The group’s tactics have been widely condemned as vicious. The U.S. troops will be helping to fight a group that has slaughtered thousands of civilians and routinely kidnaps children to be child soldiers and sex slaves.
Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for his group’s attacks.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.