militia as they skirt the dense wilderness of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central AfricanRepublic and South Sudan.Their membership estimated to be in the hundreds, the cultist LRA is condemned byinternational human rights groups for a lengthy list of atrocities that includes mutilating livingvictims and forcing children into their ranks as either soldiers or sex slaves. The Obamaadministration ordered 100 combat advisers into central Africa last fall to aid in the hunt fortheir elusive Ugandan leader.Al-Shabaab, which officially became a part of al-Qaida's terrorist network in February, claimsresponsibility for the 2010 twin bombings in Kampala that killed 74 as they watched a WorldCup final on television. The group also banned foreign aid agencies from Somalia as droughtand famine ravaged the region last year.Mogadishu-specific segments of training are scheduled to go over common combatengineering skills used to harden occupied urban spaces against complex attacks involvingdangers like sniper and rocket fire as well as how to blast through enemy obstacles and difficultterrain. Another major focus will be on how to find IEDs before friendly forces get too close,said US Marine Maj. Charles Baker, the mission officer in charge.
―We've got force reconnaissance and engineers here together, that gives you the routereconnaissance skills,‖ he s
aid, adding that the U.S. government would provide the UPDF withengineering equipment and vehicles worth about $8 million.Shifting to a smaller footprintU.S. military officials say mission's like SPMAGTF-12's could become more common place astroop levels in Afghanistan drop in line with an approaching 2014 combat mission end date.The 180-strong unit was formed over the summer of 2011 from Marine Forces Reserve unitsbased across the country and equipped with two KC-130 Hercules aircraft to ferry teams to andfrom African countries.
―Because of the past ten years, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there haven't been a lot of forces available for Africa,‖ said Army Maj. Jason B. Nicholson, Chief of the Office of Security
Cooperation at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala and former Tanzania foreign area officer.SPMAGTF-12 has so far sent small teams into five African nations, including some threatenedby a North African franchise of Al Qaeda attempting to spread its influence known as al-Qaidain the Islamic Maghreb or AQIM. The small task force team working with the UPDF representsone of the first significant security cooperation missions undertaken by the DoD in Uganda, anation more accustomed to State Department interaction.Undersecretary of the Navy Robert O. Work singled out the task force as a prime example of
the type of ―low footprint, high payoff operations‖ the White House is seeking as a means of
maintaining global defense postures as the Pentagon pledges to cut at least $450 billion indefense spending over the next decade. The Corps is slated to reduce its active-duty troopstrength from the current 202,000 to 182,100, leaving the force with about 7,000 more Marinesthan it carried before 9/11. In Uganda and Africa in general, US officials say, less can still bemore.A smaller U.S. force has the flexibility to move quickly, such as when a Djiboutian motor poolrequested the task force's help while preparing to deploy their first units to Mogadishu onlyweeks before their departure date last December. Using a small group like the one in Uganda,said Nicolson, can also simplify the complex politics associated with deploying and hostingtroops in a foreign nation. Army Gen. Carter Ham noted African nations' reluctance to hostlarge numbers of U.S. troops as one reason for U.S. Africa Command's headquarters to