Accession Number:



Bending the Spear: The Campaign Against the Lord's Resistance Army

Descriptive Note:

Technical Report

Corporate Author:

Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The government of Uganda adopted a highly effective approach to address its ethnic insurgency, now called the Lords Resistance Army LRA. The LRA caused widespread devastation in east and central Africa from 19862009. The Ugandan counterinsurgency COIN campaign against the LRA consisted of a unique blend of direct and indirect methods, and later received assistance from the United States in the form of Operation OBSERVANT COMPASS. By incorporating broad appeals of amnesty for insurgents, local infrastructure investment, and disciplined military action, Uganda was able to solidify its legitimacy in formerly contested areas the LRA was isolated from popular support and fled the country as a result of these efforts. Former insurgents were reintegrated into society, and the once-restive populations of northern Uganda increasingly supported the government. This reintegration and amnesty was based on traditional reconciliation ceremonies involving an oath called bending the spear, which was formerly used to join warring clans. This thesis establishes a case study of the campaign against the LRA todescribe how it was waged and record lessons learned for the benefit of international security and stability professionals, government officials, scholars, and researchers.

Subject Categories:

  • Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement: