Counter-Terrorism: Playing And Paying By Local Rules

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November 1, 2015: Since 2010 the United States has contributed money (for rewards), information (satellite and UAV photos plus electronic intel) and people (several hundred SOCOM operators and specialists) to an effort to finally shut down the central African Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its senior commander, Joseph Kony. Kony has been extremely elusive and on the run since the 1980s.  That is a perfect cover for a lot of phony leads. Efforts to capture Kony have so far failed. It’s 2015 and rumors continue to percolate through east and central Africa that Kony is now hiding in CAR (Central African Republic).

Despite CARs ongoing political troubles, the African Union and UN-backed operation to capture Kony and end LRA depredations has continued. There have been setbacks. In 2013 Uganda suspended operations in the CAR. Since 2013 the CAR government has been non-existent because growing religious and ethnic disputes. This led to demands that all foreign forces leave the CAR. That did not happen, a common occurrence in Africa where many government orders and declarations are often more for show than effect.

The AU (African Union) and UN have had some success in getting other countries, like South Sudan and Congo to cooperate in the anti-LRA operation. If nothing else these operations reduced the number of murders and atrocities in their respective countries. But Kony is still out there, somewhere and helping to find him has become a lucrative enterprise for many locals. This annoys the SOCOM personnel (many of them with years of experience in Africa) who know how popular exploiting gullible foreigners is with many rural Africans. They quickly figure out that anyone who comes up with a credible (even if totally made up) lead about Kony will get a substantial (for rural Africa) reward. Senior U.S. government officials have found out about these quaint local customs and threatened to withdraw American support for the Kony search. SOCOM leaders try to explain that such unstable and criminal environments are common in many parts of the world and if you want to succeed you have to adapt. American politicians will accept that for the more lawless areas of the United States but often feel it is unacceptable outside the United States. Nevertheless if you want to succeed you have to play and pay by local rules.

 

 

 


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