According to CNN, the troops are there to hunt down the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army, a violent guerilla group.
In a letter to the House Speaker John Boehner and president pro tempore of the Senate Daniel Inouye, Obama worte that he had authorized a small number of forces to provide assistance to those working toward the removal of Joseph Kony. Joseph Kony is the head of the LRA, and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
According to Obama, “although the U.S. forces are combat-equipped, they will only be providing information, advice, and assistance to partner nation forces, and they will not themselves engage LRA forces unless necessary for self-defense.”
More from GlobalPost: Besieged by the Lord's Resistance Army
In the letter, Obama also wrote that the LRA has been responsible for having “murdered, raped, and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women, and children in central Africa” and continues to “commit atrocities across the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan that have a disproportionate impact on regional security.”
GlobalPost correspondent in Africa, Tristan McConnel writes that "the rebel group, which first emerged in Uganda in 1987, had been scattered into small ineffective units by a series of harassing assaults in late 2008 and early 2009."
More from GlobalPost: Opinion: Stopping the LRA isn't all about Kony
The civil war in Uganda ended in 2006, after a peace process was launched. Kony, who is widely believed to be in the Central African Republic, continues to commit war crimes in remote areas of central Africa.
According to a Defense Department official, speaking to ABC News, the U.S. troops will be in Africa “for a few months in an advisory role.”
According to Al Jazeera, a small number of troops were deployed on Wednesday, and additional forces will deploy over the course fo the month.
The United States has backed efforts to hunt Kony in central Africa before:
“I just don’t understand why we cannot end this scourge,” said Hillary Clinton in February 2010.
Obama's move sparked strong reactions on social media sites Friday.
GlobalPost facebook fan Owen R. Broadhurst wrote, "Four new war fronts on top of eight or more that we already have involvement in? Who's the warmonger now?"
Fellow GP follower Alex Wiley joked, "How are republicans not totally in love with him? He's the best republican president in office since Reagan."
DISCUSSION: What's your take? Should Obama send troops to Uganda?