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N. Johnson’s Analysis of Military Operations in Uganda Report (Assessment)

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Desired Behavior. TA stops making raids on the local population, including abduction, robbery, rapes, and death threats in the wild border territories of Uganda, South Sudan, DRC, and CAR.

What degree of power, control, or authority does the TA have regarding the targeted behavior?

The TA continues to abduct residents, determining their future fate as new TA members, posing a threat to their lives and health. The defection campaign aimed at the TA commandment will eliminate the danger that TA poses to the local population and reduce the current number of 100 TA fighters to a minimum. Besides, the defection campaign aimed at informing abductees about escape opportunities will help save their lives.

What restrictions affect the TA regarding the targeted behavior?

TA’s leader does not have much control over his fighters since 20 of them – 1/5 of the total number have gone ‘rogue’ and are no longer in contact with the leader. The remaining TA is spread between five or six groups who are constantly moving in the DRC, CAR, and Sudan. They use radio sets to communicate, so there is no direct control of the leader over the rest of the TA fighters. Therefore, the main restrictions for targeted behavior are fear of retaliation from the Ugandan government. The TA fighters can be afraid to face the court and be charged with human rights violations.

If the TA takes the desired action, what is the overall effect on the SPO?

If the TA fighters adhere to the calls from their family members on the radio broadcasts held in the framework of the defection campaign, they will leave the TA. Then, the TA’s reduced numbers will no longer allow them to raid local villages and kidnap residents.

Rating. Four (highly effective).



External (Situations & Events): Political

TA emerged in 1987 due to offensive military action by the Ugandan government against civilians in the Acholi region of northern Uganda.

TA initially allied with the Rwandan Liberation Army (ALIR) and other factions that fought in the Congo with the RCD.

TA received the Sudanese government’s support in revenge for Uganda’s support for the Sudanese rebels, the People’s Liberation Movement/Sudan Army.

Most strategic and tactical decisions were made in Sudan (Indoctrinate the Heart to Impunity 2016).

In 1994, the Sudanese government helped TA survive by providing a haven for the settlement, land, building materials, hospitals, and medicines to treat sexually transmitted infections; the goal was to allow the TA to systematize the incursions into Uganda from Sudan.

Sudan also provided weapons, ammunition, and mines, reinforcing TA terror.


Most of the rebels came from the northern region of Acholi, as this region has traditionally employed people to join the Ugandan army. The regions of the north are historically poorer than the southern ones, so the population was ready to link their lives with the war to improve living conditions.


TA activities have continued since 1987 and created social and cultural preconditions for even greater brutality.

The official version of the reasons for TA activity was the struggle for the people’s rights in the Acholi region; however, this region has experienced tremendous TA violence.

The TA had no popular support due to the brutality of its actions, and therefore very few rebels volunteered to join the ranks of the TA; most of the TA were kidnapped child soldiers.

Physical Environment

The geography of the region and the blurring of borders between states allowed TA to conduct its activities successfully. The TA moved across the vast savannah territory of Central Africa, between Uganda and Sudan, which provided refuge for the TA and prohibited the crossing of the border for pursuers. The region is sparsely populated, wildlife is a threat to humans, and there are no means of transport, including roads or landing sites. The pursuers consisted of a Special Forces squad, and capturing an armed militia group was a challenging task.

Governmental rules in Central Africa ended in settlements and did not extend to the territory described above, including South Sudan, DRC, and CAR.

Since states did not receive severe damage from TA actions that only attacked local rural civilians, governments only “acknowledged the inconvenience” that was not enough to devote resources to a full fight against TA.

Continuous movement between states was the TA’s main survival tactic that failed Operation Iron Fist in 2002.


In 2002, following US political pressure on Sudan, Uganda launched Operation Iron Fist. The operation was unsuccessful – the TA moved from northern Uganda to Sudan and began to take revenge on the civilian population, attacking communities in the north, local officials, and humanitarian convoys. The number of kidnapped children rose to 30,000 by 2004.

In 2008, Uganda attacked the TA units in Congo again, prompting TA’s movement into the DRC, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. The TA attacked local civilians for the next three years. However, the TA’s goal was now more survival than revenge.

Desertion campaigns and operations by the Ugandan armed forces in the TA territory were successful, reducing the number of insurgents from 800 to 200 from 2010 to 2015.

In 2011, 100 US Army Special Forces were deployed in Central Africa to support the Ugandan Armed Forces in the fight against TA, which played a decisive role in the maximum reduction in TA.

In 2011, US Special Forces provided enhanced logistics and intelligence capabilities to pursue TA.

In 2012, under the auspices of the African Union, Ugandan and Congolese military forces united under the auspices of the African Union to fight TA, to form the African Union Regional Task Force (AURTF) with the participation of US troops, which provided air support and radio broadcasts calling for desertion. It allowed weakening TA significantly. By 2015 it had reduced to 100 armed men and 50-80 women and children.

In January-March 2016, 300 abductions of TA were recorded in the CAR and DRC, two times more than in 2015.

Recently, the desertion of adult Ugandan men from the TA has slowed down, with six deserting in 2014-2015 and three in 2016.

By 2015, 13,000 TA members had been amnestied in Uganda, although the remaining 200-300 militants continued to attack in the DRC, South Sudan, and the CAR.

Internal (Values, Attitudes, Beliefs)


TA members stated that the goal of their struggle is to create a government based on the ten commandments of the Bible.

However, TA’s principal value is physical survival since, for the sake of survival, they violate all existing laws, norms of ethics, and morality.


TA has negative attitudes towards the current government of Uganda.

There is evidence that the TA is exceptionally loyal to Sudan’s government (Indoctrinate the Heart to Impunity 2016).


Judging by their actions, TA has no beliefs other than belief in the right of the strongest and their victory.

TA is ready to achieve victory at any cost, using brainwashing techniques, spreading superstition, and intoxicating abducted new members with drugs (Indoctrinate the Heart to Impunity 2016).

The TA urged child soldiers to put cross before each battle and to anoint their weapons and bodies with shea butter so that the Holy Spirit will protect them.

TA committed so many murders that they do not consider them to be something sinful.

The TA forced kidnapped children to kill other children, their brothers or sisters, their parents, thus performing a “rite of initiation” .


Positive Consequences

Today, most Acholi admit that the source of TA power is Sudan’s government, not the spirits.

Negative Consequences

TA actions displaced about 2 million people who had to live in refugee camps.

TA killed 60,000 to 100,000 people, according to UN report.

The violence included the kidnapping of children, turning children into soldiers, forcing girls to choose husbands among TA, forcing children to kill their parents and siblings as an initiation rite, sexual slavery of women, and rape. The TA also sometimes cut off the lips, ears, and noses of locals.

TA actions led to the complete economic desolation of the northern regions.

The psychological trauma of TA victims is hardly curable.

TA sold or gifted children, mostly girls, to arms dealers in Sudan.

In 2004, 40,000 children were forced to move to Gulu town every night to find a haven to sleep; in the morning, they returned home and went to school.

TA mainly attacked their tribe, the Acholi, in the northern and eastern regions of Uganda; this led to forced displacement of the population to refugee camps and voluntary flight to cities; 90% of Northern Uganda’s population has been displaced.

The TA kidnapped at least 25,000 children, and their army was 80% of children.

People living in refugee camps have lost everything – home, livelihood, and culture.

Suicide rates were extremely high in refugee camps.

There have been cases of brainwashed children being forced to chop off the ears, noses, lips, and fingers of other children suspected of fighting on the side of the Ugandan army.

About 1000 people per week died in refugee camps.

In 2018, 27 abductions of children and 124 civilians by TA were recorded in South Sudan, DRC, and CAR.

Secondary consequences

Sudan and several tribes of South Sudan have started to provide material support to TA again.

TA used elephant poaching to obtain ivory to fund its activities. Poaching took place in Garamba, a national park in the DRC. TA sold tusks for weapons and supplies in the CAR, trading with Arab businesspeople and Sudanese military officers; TA received cash, food, weapons, ammunition, and medicine in return.

Northern and Eastern Uganda have a poverty rate of 84%, compared with 19.7% in the rest of the country.

Amnestied ex-TA combatants are stigmatized by fellow citizens and unable to reintegrate among the surviving Acholi (Akello 2019).

TA activities destroyed the region’s economy; therefore, there is a need for government programs to improve the skills of vulnerable groups of the population (Abaho 2019).

An entire generation of children was born and raised in refugee camps (Ojok 2018).



Since TA’s main motive is survival, they are only supported by political groups interested in the war.

TA activities may coincide with the motives of criminals engaged in human trafficking.

Lack of motivation helped effectively implement the US campaign to promote desertion.


Today, TA consists of 100 male fighters and 50-70 women and children.

TA is continually moving across South Sudan, DRC, and CAR.


TA includes fighters and abducted victims. Fighters use any means and cruelty to intimidate and control kidnapped children and women.

The desertion campaign helped destroy the TA core of 400 men, reducing their number to 100.


Abaco, Anne, Solomon Asiimwe, and Micheal Mawa. “The LRA and Its Costs on Economic Security in Gulu District, Northern Uganda.” Open Journal of Social Sciences 7, no. 11 (2019): 133-146.

Akello, Grace. “Reintegration of Amnestied LRA Ex-Combatants and Survivors’ Resistance Acts in Acholiland, Northern Uganda.” International Journal of Transitional Justice 13, no. 2 (2019): 249-267.

Ojok, Donnas. “The legacy of LRA conflict continues to disempower women in rural Northern Uganda.” Africa at LSE (2018).

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