The United States said it would maintain training for east and central African regional forces to prevent warlord Joseph Kony’s rebels from regrouping, despite plans to pull troops from operations hunting the insurgents.
About 100 US military personnel have been providing training to a regional force made up of soldiers from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic with intelligence, logistics and other support to track Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The rebel leader has been indicted by the International Criminal Court.
Last month, Washington said it was pulling its contingent out of operations against the LRA, saying the insurgent force had been “dramatically weakened”.
“We obviously have concerns about the possibility of the LRA coming back to fruition,” Marine General Thomas Waldhauser, the top US military commander overseeing troops in Africa, said in a telephone briefing.
“We will continue to work with those countries with training and exercises … because even though we are officially ending, we are certainly aware of the fact we do not want to leave a void there.”
For nearly two decades, the LRA battled the government of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni from bases in the north of the country and across the border in what is now South Sudan.
They were notorious for brutality and for kidnapping children for use as fighters and sex slaves.
In 2005, they were ejected from those bases and retreated to a lawless patch of jungle straddling the borders of South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic (CAR).
Kampala announced this week it has also begun withdrawing troops from CAR, saying its decision to pull out was spurred on by “the realisation the mission to neutralise LRA has been successfully achieved.”