Due to the proliferation of smaller armed groups and the disappearance and scattering of larger rebel movements, the armed group landscape of the eastern Congo has become increasingly fragmented. This fragmentation results from the interplay between the growing engagement of lower-level political actors in militarized politics, the volatility of local conflict dynamics, and counterproductive military policies, including military operations.
Since the end of the wholesale integration of rebel groups into the Congolese national army, military operations have become the preferred strategy to address armed groups. These military operations are not part of wider political processes aimed at convincing armed groups to lay down arms. There is a need to devise policies that focus primarily on armed groups themselves and their political-economic support networks, which should be complemented by army reform and measures addressing conflict dynamics.