DRC Battle Summary and Map
For original document and additional information, see New Congo Net (NCN) Central Africa Watch at http://www.marekinc.com/NCN.html
Battle Summary - August 10, 1998 11:11 EDT USA, Reston, Virginia
It appears that a regional war is being fought in the DR Congo on two major fronts.
Eastern Front: There are five major activities underway in the eastern front:
- Bukavu-Goma axis: Rwandan military forces appear to have crossed into Bukavu and Goma from Rwanda, Rwandan forces that had been stationed inside the DR Congo appear to have converged on both cities, and Banyamulenge military troops of the Congolese Armed Force (FAC) have joined with them. Bukavu and Goma are now serving the combined Banyamulenge-Rwandan military force asa major pivot point from which to launch further offensive combat operations into the rest of the DR Congo.
- Katanga thrust: This combined Banyamulenge-Rwandan military force that has captured Bukavu and Goma is also fighting just to the south at Uvira, and is said to be moving even farther south toward Kalemie in Katanga province. This is a crucial move, as Katanga is President Kabila's home province and one of the more potent elements of Mr. Kabila's FAC is the Katangan element. If the Katangan element remains loyal to President Kabila, then the attacking rebel force is in for a big fight, as the Katangans are fierce warriors and superior military planners. If the Katangan force turns against Mr. Kabila, then it would appear Mr. Kabila would be out of power very quickly. The Banyamulenge-Rwandan thrust into Katanga may force the issue sooner rather than later.
- Kisangani assault: This combined Banyamulenge-Rwandan military force has also moved to Kisangani. At one point, it appeared that they had taken the Kisangani airport, but it is now believed that government forces have retaken the airport. The Kisangani airport is a crucial target. The government needs this airport to move inreinforcements and supplies. Both sides want it. The government currently holds both the Kisangani airport and the city, and is ferrying troops and supplies to this region as reinforcement.
- Ugandan invasion: The DR Congo is saying that Ugandan regular forces have moved into northeastern DR Congo and are moving toward Bunia. Uganda denies the allegation, but NCN has been told by very well-placed government officials that Uganda had notified various nations that it intended to move across into the DR Congo. The rationale is that the instability in this region is making it too easy for ADF rebels to attack into Uganda from their safe-haven bases in this region. The Ugandans have operated here previously, with the permission of the DR Congo government, to assist in flushing out the ADF rebels. The Government of Uganda had publicly warned some time ago that it would undertake unilateral operations here if the FAC could not deal with the ADF rebels, and there were numerous that Ugandan military officers had already entered the DR Congo to set up an advanced and forward command and control center.
- Logistics airlift to the West: Aircraft captured at the Goma airport are being used by the Banyamulenge-Rwandan force to ferry troops and supplies to the western region of the DR Congo in the vicinity of the Kitona military camp, west of the Atlantic Ocean port of Matadi.
Western Front: The Banyamulenge-Rwandan force has flown a substantial military combat force to the Kitona camp west of Matadi, and it is believed it has persuaded several hundred, perhaps several thousand, FAC soldiers of the former Mobutu army (FAZ) who were being trained at Kitona to join the rebellion. Together they have reportedly captured the Kitona camp, the nearby Muanda port, and they are said to be advancing eastward toward Boma and
Matadi. The government, in turn, is moving troops and supplies to Matadi to defend this strategic corridor to Kinshasa.
NCN has colored some five nations gray, in order to highlight for readers their importance to this war.
- Rwandan forces have clearly joined up with Banyamulenge FAC forces and together they are fighting a war designed to capture territory from the government and eventually overthrow the Government of the DR Congo. These forces have already announced these to be their objectives. It should be noted that the Government of Rwanda has denied its forces are participating in this rebellion, and the rebels say they are not being supported by Rwanda. No one believes these denials. In essence, the outside world firmly believes Rwanda and the rebels are lying about this issue.
- The Ugandan force, if it indeed has entered as charged by the DR Congo government, is surely there to defeat ADF rebels who have been using the DR Congo as a staging area for their attacks into Uganda. It is unclear whether Uganda will join up with the Rwandan-Banyamulenge force to achieve the latter's objectives, or whether the Ugandans will simply withdraw once their mission is completed. NCN believes the Ugandans will remain inside the DR Congo at the least to build a buffer zone of protection.
- The Government of the DR Congo has charged that Burundian forces, who are mostly Tutsi, have joined in the fight at Uvira to the south of Bukavu. Fighting there is said to be fierce. Burundi has denied the allegation that its forces are involved.
- Angola is a major wild card in this war. It has not taken any actions as of yet. Some experts believe Angola might enter southwestern DR Congo to chase down UNITA rebels, or to share in the spoils of war should it appear that the Congolese government will fall. Readers should pay close attention to Angola. Angola was the "swing power" in the ADFL rebellion. Angolan forces sided with Kabila's ADFL rebels and were more than Mobutu could handle. It should be said that it is possible that Angola will not enter the battle, or, if it does, that it will enter on the side of Kabila. However, most experts say that Angola is empathetic toward Rwanda in this war and that President Dos Santos of Angola is angry at President Kabila for failing to eradicate the UNITA rebel base camps inside the DR Congo. It should also be noted that Angola has threatened to invade Zambia to the east, in order to attack UNITA base camps there and stop the logistics flow of weapo and supplies through Zambia to UNITA. Angola is a volatile actor in this region conflict. Angola's problem is that it has its hands full inside Angola with what seems to be a renewal of the UNITA civil war. To send troops into the DR Congo and/or Zambia will be an unwelcome diversion; however, the action might be taken as a strategic move, a means to strike at UNITA from its rear, stop its flow of supplies, and destroy its safe-haven base camps.
- If Angola were to commit forces against the Kabila government in the DR Congo, then readers should also look for the Congo Republic to turn against the DR Congo, as Congolese militia leader Sassou-Nguesso was put in power by the Government of Angola and is still defended by Angola. Sassou-Nguesso turning against the Kabila government would be significant, because the Congo Republic's capital, Brazzaville, is only a few kilometers across the Congo River from the DR Congo's capital, Kinshasa.
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