Mar 24, 2014 3:15 PM by David Randall
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. is sending military aircraft and more than doubling the number of American troops and airmen on the ground to assist in the hunt for fugitive African warlord Joseph Kony.
A senior U.S. military official has confirmed that the U.S. is sending at least four CV-22 Osprey aircraft and about 150 more Air Force special operations members and airmen to assist African forces. That raises the number of American troops and airmen on the ground to 250.
Kony is the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, or LRA. The United Nations and human rights groups have accused the LRA of killing and mutilating civilians and kidnapping and forcing thousands of children to become soldiers and sex slaves.
An Africa expert said today that the group is weaker than ever before, and the beefed-up assistance could be "the decisive game-changer" in the hunt for Kony.
President Barack Obama sent about 100 U.S. troops in 2011 to help African Union forces find Kony, but so far the warlord has eluded them in Central Africa's vast jungles. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said today the additional support will enable the African Union troops "to conduct targeted operations to apprehend remaining LRA combatants."