Bye-Bye, Kony?

The Lord’s Resistance Army After the U.S.–Ugandan Withdrawal

Ugandan soldiers during the campaign to track down LRA leader Joseph Kony, in a forest near the borders of the Central African Republic, Congo, and South Sudan, April 2012. STRINGER / REUTERS

In October 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama sent around 100 Special Forces soldiers to back the Ugandan army’s hunt for the Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader, Joseph Kony. The American forces provided advisory, intelligence, and logistical support, transporting Ugandan troops to the remote regions of Central Africa where the rebels had been spotted.

Since then, the LRA has become a shadow of its former self. The group has not recently carried out any large-scale attacks, such as the so-called Christmas massacres of 2008, in which its fighters killed more than 800 people in northern Congo. Its ranks have thinned to fewer than 100 loosely organized fighters, down from roughly 400 in 2010. (At the peak of its power in the late 1990s, the LRA controlled nearly 3,000 combatants.) And many of the group’s commanders have either surrendered or been killed. Survival, not rebellion, has become the LRA’s raison d’être.

In April,

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