U.S. Aids Uganda against Rebels; Support Seen as Payback for Stance on Iraq
Byline: Carter Dougherty, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
KAMPALA, Uganda - The United States has begun providing military assistance to the Ugandan government in its bid to stamp out a 17-year-old rebel movement that the State Department designated a terrorist organization earlier this year.
The Bush administration approved a Ugandan request for logistical support and intelligence in August as part of a wider strategy to defeat terrorist groups operating in East Africa, and as a sign of gratitude for Ugandan support at the United Nations over Iraq policy, U.S. sources said.
The assistance involves American satellite photography and other electronic surveillance methods to help Uganda cut off support that the group apparently enjoys from neighboring Sudan. There will be no U.S. soldiers on the ground.
"Instead of using American soldiers, we're using American dollars and American technology," a U.S. official said.
John Nagenda, a Ugandan government spokesman, declined to confirm or deny the U.S. military assistance, but said it would be logical under the circumstances.
"If the Ugandan government were to ask for logistical support against a known terrorist organization, it would seem to be part of a global fight against terrorism," Mr. Nagenda said.
Sgt. John Tomassi, a spokesman for the U.S. military's European Command, which covers sub-Saharan Africa, said he could not comment specifically on Uganda, but that the United States is "committed to the security and stability of the region."
Involvement in the Ugandan conflict reflects a deeper American military role in East Africa. Since the September 11 attacks, American special forces have set up a base in Djibouti, a small nation situated across from the Arabian Peninsula, and positioned a naval task force off the Kenyan coast.
The assistance follows a trip by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to Washington in June and a reciprocal visit by Mr. …