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What US manhunt for LRA leaders reveals about Obama's war strategy

Obama is sending 100 Special Operations Forces to central Africa to help track down leaders of the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army), a brutal guerrilla group. Surgical strikes at enemy leaders are emerging as the preferred US strategy.

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Girls displaced from their villages by the Lord's Resistance Army in this file photo.

Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters

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As 100 US Special Operations Forces begin deploying to Africa to help local troops pursue the brutal leader of a murderous rebel group, a clearer picture is emerging of America’s preferred warfare strategy in a time of fiscal restraint: fewer troops, more drones, and the aggressive targeting of enemy leaders by special operations forces.

In a letter sent to Congress on Friday, President Obama made clear that the specific goal of US forces is to help in “the removal from the battlefield” of Joseph Kony and other senior leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a guerrilla group that has killed thousands of civilians, routinely raped women, and abducted hundreds of children.

This hunting of Mr. Kony and his cronies will involve US intelligence support, according to senior defense officials, probably in the form of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, such as the Predator.

US troops will deploy to Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the new nation of South Sudan.

Pentagon officials emphasize that US special operators will not fight – unless they are forced to defend themselves.

“We stress that these US troops will be working to advise and assist regional efforts, not acting independently,” says a senior defense official.

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