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United States’ support—in coordination with the African Union and the United Nations—of regional efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)
Press Conference with Deputy Assistant Secretary Karl Wycoff and Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey
On Wednesday, February 22nd, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Karl Wycoff, and Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey, Commander, Special Operations Command Africa briefed journalists across the continent on the United States’ support—in coordination with the African Union and the United Nations—of regional efforts to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Mr. Wycoff and Rear Admiral Losey provided an update of regional counter-LRA efforts, ongoing activities to enhance civilian protection, increased efforts to encourage and facilitate LRA defections and escapes, and the provision of continued humanitarian relief, and answered questions.
In May 2010, President Obama signed into law the Lord’s Resistance (LRA) Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act, which reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to support regional partners’ efforts to end the atrocities of the LRA in central Africa. For more than two decades, the LRA has murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children. In 2011, the LRA reportedly committed over 250 attacks. As of August 2011, the United Nations estimates that approximately 440,000 people are displaced across Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and South Sudan as a result of LRA activity.
The United States’ comprehensive, multi-year strategy seeks to help the Governments of Uganda, CAR, the DRC, and South Sudan as well as the African Union and United Nations to mitigate and end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA. The strategy outlines four key objectives for U.S. support: (1) the increased protection of civilians, (2) the apprehension or removal of Joseph Kony and senior LRA commanders from the battlefield, (3) the promotion of defections and support of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of remaining LRA fighters, and (4) the provision of continued humanitarian relief to affected communities. To advance this strategy, the United States has sent a small number of military advisers to the LRA-affected region to enhance the capacity of the national militaries to pursue senior LRA commanders and to protect civilians. The U.S. Embassies in the region are also working closely with bilateral and multilateral partners to advance the strategy, and the Department of State has deployed a field representative to augment this engagement.
The lines of effort in which the United States is engaged include:
- Increasing Civilian Protection: The protection of civilians is a priority for the U.S. strategy. National governments bear responsibility for civilian protection, and the United States is working to enhance their capacity to fulfill this responsibility. The United States also strongly supports the United Nations peacekeeping missions in the DRC and South Sudan and the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the CAR. We continue to work with the United Nations to help augment its efforts in the LRA-affected region. At the same time, we are working with other partners on projects to help reduce the vulnerability of LRA-affected communities and increase their capacity to make decisions related to their own safety. To promote the protection of civilians, the Department of State and USAID are funding communication networks, including high-frequency radios and cell phone towers to enhance community-based protection in Bas- and Haut-Uele districts in the DRC.
- Enhancing Regional Efforts to Apprehend LRA Top Commanders: On November 14, 2011, the United Nations Security Council commended ongoing efforts by national militaries in the region to address the threat posed by the LRA, and welcomed international efforts to enhance their capacity in this respect. The Council noted the efforts of the United States, which, since 2008, has provided over $40 million in critical logistical support, equipment and training to enhance counter-LRA operations by regional militaries. On October 14, 2011, President Obama reported to Congress that he had authorized a small number of U.S. advisors to deploy to the LRA-affected region, in consultation with national governments, to act as advisors to the militaries that are pursuing the LRA. The U.S. military advisors are working to help strengthen cooperation and information-sharing among regional forces, and to enhance the capacity of the militaries to fuse intelligence with effective operational planning.
- Encouraging and Facilitating LRA Defections: Over the course of this conflict, more than 12,000 former LRA fighters and abductees have been reintegrated and reunited with their families through Uganda’s Amnesty Commission. The United States continues to support efforts across the affected countries to demobilize and reintegrate former LRA fighters and all those victimized by this conflict back into normal life. In Fiscal Year 2011, USAID provided nearly $2 million to support the rehabilitation of former abducted youth in CAR and the DRC and their reunification with their families. The United States is working with the United Nations, the African Union, and national governments in the region to enhance processes across the region to facilitate the safe return, repatriation, and reintegration of those who defect or escape from the LRA’s ranks.
- Providing Humanitarian Assistance: The United States is the largest bilateral donor of humanitarian assistance to LRA-affected populations in CAR, the DRC, and South Sudan. In Fiscal Year 2011, the United States provided more than $18 million to support the provision of food assistance and implementation of food security, humanitarian protection, health, livelihoods initiatives, and other relief activities for internally displaced persons, host community members, and other populations affected by the LRA. The United States also continues to provide assistance to support the return of displaced people, reconstruction, and recovery in northern Uganda, where the LRA carried out its brutal campaign for nearly two decades until it fled Uganda in 2006. With the LRA’s departure and Ugandan and international recovery and development efforts, northern Uganda has undergone a significant post-conflict reconstruction and recovery in just a few years.
- February 7, 2012 Fact Sheet: U.S. Support to Regional Efforts To Counter the Lord's Resistance Army
- Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson’s December 7th Remarks, U.S. Efforts To Counter the Lord's Resistance Army
- Watch video of U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson's Address on "U.S. Efforts to Counter the Lord's Resistance Army" at the U.S. Institute of Peace
- October 14, 2011 Statement: Countering the Lord’s Resistance Army
Karl E. Wycoff
Deputy Assistant Secretary
Bureau of African Affairs
Karl Wycoff is currently serving as a Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs. He was previously Director for the Office of Central Africa Affairs from 2007-2008.
He joined the Foreign Service in 1980. In Africa, he has served at the U.S. Embassies in Monrovia, Liberia and Yaounde, Cameroon. He has worked as the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassies in Rangoon, Burma, and in Vientiane, Laos. Previously he was posted as Principal Officer at the United States Consulate General in Shenyang, China. From 2005-2007, he was detailed to Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe as the Director of its Action against Terrorism Unit.
In Washington, Mr. Wycoff has served in the Department’s Executive Secretariat, in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and as Associate Coordinator in the Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism. He has worked in the White House Situation Room. He is a graduate of the Department’s Senior Seminar, a year-long executive training program.
Mr. Wycoff speaks French and Chinese. He is married with two children.
Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey
Commander, Special Operations Command Africa
Rear Admiral Losey is a native of Tacoma, Wash. He is a 1983 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy.
Losey assumed command of SOCAFRICA in June 2011. He previously served as Commander, Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa (CJTF-HoA), Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
His operational assignments have included a full range of duties in SEAL Teams, SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) Teams and Special Boat Teams, and deployments to named and contingency operations around the world. He commanded SDV Team One and served as deputy commander and commander of Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He has worked extensively with interagency and international partners in enhancing security cooperation relationships, capabilities and capacities.
Other assignments include: duty as deputy commander, Naval Special Warfare Task Group, U.S. 6th Fleet; Maritime Operations officer and deputy chief of Current Operations in the Joint Special Operations Command; and U.S. 7th Fleet Special Warfare officer in USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). He served in the Executive Office of the President as a director on the National Security Council Staff bridging two administrations.
Losey holds a Masters degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College. He is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute, the Armed Forces Staff College, and Air Command and Staff College.