Thursday, November 13, 2008

Specifics, please

Ban Ki-moon's request for another 3,000 troops appears to be gaining traction. Gordon Brown has come out in favor of it, and Bernard Kouchner, France's foreign minister, is also said to be agitating for additional resources. But there is little public discussion about how MONUC will deploy those additional troops to quell the violence. The danger of merely adding another 3,000 under equipped and poorly trained forces to the DRC is that it will prove to be another failed half-measure, insufficient to the task at hand, and further disillusioning the Congolese whose lives depend upon them.
Nor is there much information publicly available about the battle dress of the various forces operating in the region. Here are rough estimates from the BBC:
CNDP: Gen Nkunda's Tutsi rebels - 6,000 fighters
FDLR: Rwandan Hutus - 6,000-7,000
Mai Mai: pro-government militia - 3,500
Monuc: UN peacekeepers - 6,000 in North Kivu, including about 1,000 around Goma (17,000 nationwide)
DRC army - 90,000 (nationwide)
Theoretically, of course, the DRC army ought to be more than a match for a few thousand underequipped rebels. That they aren't is explained by stories such as this one in Le Phare, which reports that nearly all of the resources recently dispatched to the front from Kinshasa have been "diverted."

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