NEW YORK, NY — The UN Security Council has approved the creation of a new special operations unit to conduct "actual military operations, including offensives" against armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
It is the first time the UN has given any troops a mission similar to that of a real military force.
According to a newly released UN charter, the special operators will be asked to "move around the country and shoot at people," and will be issued camouflage helmets, as opposed to the bright blue helmets of their conventional counterparts. They will also practice and deploy with specialized skills, "includ[ing] aiming weapons, communicating with a radio, and driving tactical vehicles."
Until now, the UN peacekeeping mission has been largely used as economic aid for smaller countries paid to provide the troops — and countries in which troops deploy — because UN soldiers purchase stockpiles of memorabilia, such as hand-carved African statuettes and marble chess sets. However, the UN says special operations soldiers will be cut from a different cloth.
Troops from Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, and Luxembourg are expected to form the bulk of the special operations unit which will deploy in July.
Presently, the unit is training for their upcoming mission in a covert facility located near Larry's Sports Range in the American state of Wyoming. Sources declined to state exactly where, in an effort to protect both the identity of the individual soldiers and their special tactics, which may include firing with more than one modern weapon.
The resolution received unanimous support from the Security Council, and says special operations will include "robust, highly mobile and versatile troops with permission to engage armed fighters, neutralise them, and disarm them." It also mandated the unit draft and publish a letter in all 12 of the local Congolese languages, informing the groups they would be fired on by a specialized UN force, before beginning any offensive operation.
Around 500,000 Congolese have fled their homes since a rebellion by M23 rebels began in April of last year. Regional African leaders recently signed yet another letter to end the violence in the region.
But the Security Council believes a letter from a UN special operations force carries more weight, especially when there is an "almost definite possibility the UN will fire at them once rebels confirm receipt of it."
This is the strongest message the UN has conveyed to the rebels yet.
UN leaders hope the formation of this new unit sends a message to other rebel groups and dictators that the UN likely plans to begin similar operations throughout the world, and will strongly consider the possibility of forming more special operations units that may also shoot at people in areas where those rebels and dictators operate.