President Obama is sending a total of 100 troops into central Africa to help a resistance movement fight the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group known for committing atrocities across the continent.
The first troops left Wednesday and in the next month additional forces are set to deploy, including a second combat-equipped team, as well as communications and logistics personnel, Obama informed Congressional leaders in a letter sent Friday afternoon. The mission's goal is to remove LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders from the battlefield, according to the letter.
The U.S. troops will be there to "enhance regional efforts against the LRA" and will not engage LRA forces unless its necessary for self-defense, Obama wrote.
"In furtherance of the Congress's stated policy, I have authorized a small number of combat-equipped U.S. forces to deploy to central Africa to provide assistance to regional forces that are working toward the removal of Joseph Kony from the battlefield," Obama wrote. "I believe that deploying these U.S. Armed Forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa."
In making his case for sending combat forces, Obama recalled a bill Congress passed in May 2010 that expressed support for increased, comprehensive U.S. efforts to help mitigate and eliminate the threat posed by the LRA to civilians and regional stability.
Obama said the roughly 100 troops will act as advisers to partner forces, providing "information, advice, and assistance" The troops will deploy to Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.