Almost from the moment they are abducted, both boy and girl children are at risk of being exposed to combat with the UPDF. With the exception of those who manage to escape soon after their abduction, all children interviewed by Amnesty International, including girls, had participated in military operations in Uganda or Sudan. However, it appears that boys and men are more likely to be sent to fight on a frequent and regular basis. This appears to be a result of there being a higher number of abducted boys and the sexual slavery (with resulting pregnancy) of girls.
There are two myths about military activity in northern Uganda. The first is that the UPDF does not confront the LRA; the second is that the LRA only attacks civilians and not the army. Neither is true. Many former child soldiers report battles between the UPDF and the LRA. The LRA group that abducted J. in August 1996 was attacked a few days after he was "arrested":
The number of the children who have died in military operations is unknown. J. reported that in the fight described above around 40 LRA and over 70 UPDF soldiers were killed. The New Vision and The Monitor newspapers carried reports of military engagements between 8 February 1996 and 30 April 1997 which, added together, give a total of 748 LRA soldiers killed by the UPDF and the SPLA. It is difficult to assess the accuracy of these figures, which draw heavily on official announcements by the army, because the UPDF on occasion seeks to play down the scale of fighting and on other occasions is anxious to demonstrate that it is on top of the situation. Interview testimony suggests that the figure is on the low side.
UPDF casualties are also difficult to establish. What is clear is that the LRA does not take UPDF prisoners; wounded and captured soldiers are killed. J.O. was made to kill soldiers shortly after his abduction:
T. also reports that UPDF soldiers were killed after being captured: