United Nations Truce Supervision Organization: History And U.S. Marine Involvement AUTHOR Major William D. Claytor, USMC CSC 1990 SUBJECT AREA Leadership EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Title: United Nations Truce Supervision Organization: History and U.S. Marine Involvement Purpose/Introduction. This paper was written to better prepare myself for my upcoming assignment in the Middle East as a member of UNTSO. An understanding of UNTSO's origin and rich history is important. Body. The United Kingdom washed its hands of the Palestinian problem in 1947 and turned the situation over to the United Nations. As a result, the UN organized several missions to formulate a Truce and subsequently supervise its peaceful terms. UNTSO was an outgrowth of the initial UN General Assembly Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP). The first Truce was supervised by a limited group of observers which were headquartered in Cairo. As turbulence continued, a Second Truce was negotiated and the role of UNTSO expanded. The size of UNTSO grew and so did American participation. The Middle East Wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973 had significant impact on the organizational structure of UNTSO and likewise, UNTSO played an important role in the non-war years to supervise cease-fire boundaries and current peace agreements. The U.S. Marine participation over the years has been significant. UNTSO's first Chief-of-Staff was Lieutenant General Riley, USMC. The Marine Corps has always had at least one Military Observer assigned to UNTSO since its conception. Today, five majors and one captain report each summer for assignment. Conclusion. All Marine officers assigned to UNTSO must prepare themselves not only by studying the history and culture of the area, but by obtaining an insight into UNTSO's history to include U.S. Marine participation in the organization. UNITED NATIONS TRUCE SUPERVISION ORGANIZATION: HISTORY AND U.S. MARINE INVOLVEMENT I. Introduction A. USMC does not make routine assignments of its officers to the Middle East B. Marines need to have an insight into the conception and history of United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) II. Body A. History of UNTSO (1) UK gives Palestinian problem to UN (2) United Nations Special Committe on Palestine creates "Partition Plan" (3) UNTSO formed to supervise Truce (4) UNTSO staffed with Military Observer (UNMOs) (5) Armistice Agreements (6) UNTSO's formal mission (7) Mixed Armistice Commissions (8) UNTSO--August 1949 to June 1967 (9) UNTSO--July 1967 to October 1973 (10) UNTSO--September 1973 to present (11) Israeli-Lebanon conflict (12) UNTSO's contributing countries B. US Marine Service in UNTSO (1) First UNTSO Chief-of-Staff (LtGen Riley) (2) Colonel "Mick" Johnson (PNGed) (3) 1967-1973 (USMC participation) (4) Captain Jack Holly (foot march to Damascus) (5) 1973-present, increased USMC participation III. Conclusion. All Marines that are assigned to duty with UNTSO must gain an insight into its origin and history as well as an understanding of the contribution made by Marines over the years. UNITED NATIONS TRUCE SUPERVSION ORGANIZATION: HISTORY AND U.S. MARINE INVOLVEMENT Introduction When I was informed that my next duty assignment would be in the Middle East as an United Nations Military Observer (UNMO) my interest and anticipation was elevated. The challenge of working in a hostile environment with "real world" consequence creates a desire for information in order to properly prepare. The Marine Corps does not (as a general rule) assign its members to positions that require travel through or interface with the people of the Middle East, specifically: Eqypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Therefore, the experience base in the U.S. Marine Corps is limited for officers who are preparing for a Middle East assignment. The Executive Agent in the Pentagon that sponsors United Nations Truce Supervision Organization billets does not provide adequate historical or background information on the Command that only a few officers will get a chance to be apart. Therefore, this paper is written to fill that void. All Marine officers assigned to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organizations (UNTSO) must have a comprehensive understanding of its origin, history, and U.S. Marine Corps involvement not only to be able to function within this unique command, but survive. UNTSO's ORIGIN/HISTORY The United Kingdom (UK) made a request to the United Nations (UN) on May 2, 1947 to consider the existing Jewish-Palestine problem. (1:94-99) This move marked the first formal involvement of the U.N. into Middle East problems. The following month, the U.N. General Assembly established the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to review the tense situation. (11:9) (3:40) After a year's work, UNSCOP made its final report which later became known as the United Nations Partition Plan. (7:42) Subsequently, it became evident that once the UK relinquished control, violence would increase because the Arabs realized a Jewish state was about to be established in their midst. (1:94-99) The UK mandate over Palestine was scheduled to terminate May 15, 1948. It was easy to predict that widespread fighting would consume an already turbulent area. In order to stall for peace, the Security Council called for a cease-fire between the hostile factions on April 17, 1948 and six days later established the "Truce Commission for Palestine" to regulate the cease-fire. (11:7-10) Belguim, France, and the United States were the initial contributors of personnel to the Truce Commission. While continuing the search for a peaceful settlement (that all would agree to), the Security Council appointed an "United Nations Mediator in Palestine" on May 14, 1948. The Mediator was instructed on May 29, 1948 to create a one-month truce in Palestine. The Mediator concept was teamed with the Truce Commission for supervisory overwatch of the Truce Plan. As a result, the Mediator and the Truce Commission would be provided with a number of military observers which set a precedence for today's assignment of UNMO's (United Nations Military Observers) in the Middle East. (2:21-27) The month-long truce went into effect on June 11, 1948. On the same day, the first group of 36 observers arrived via Cairo, Eqypt and continued to arrive for the next three days. This batch of observers were from Belguim, France, and United States. The initial group quickly expanded to 93 in total because of the tremendous area that had to be covered. As the number of personnel grew, the United Nations Secretariat (of Personnel) supported the creation of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), the same organization U.S. Marines are assigned to today. Initially, the command was headed by a Chief-of-Staff (a general officer from one of the participating countries) in accordance with the personal direction of the Mediator, (a civilian). Cairo was the first Headquarters of UNTSO. (8:2-9) The headquarters then moved to Haifa, Israel in late June 1948, shortly after its initial creation. The first truce did not last long due to widespread violence which had again erupted. As a result, the observers were withdrawn on July 9, 1948. (2:25) The second truce--indefinite in length--was called by the United Nations Security Council on July 15, 1948. (11:7-12) This declaration was to be put into effect on July 18, 1 During the fall of 1948, UNTSO was re-established with an increased size to supervise the Second Truce. Talks between the warring parties began under the supervision of the Acting Mediator because the Mediator had been assassinated on September 17, 1948. (8:2-9) The General Armistice Agreements were the outgrowth of the Mediator-chaired talks. In the interim, the Headquarters for UNTSO was moved again for the third and final time to Jerusalem on October 7, 1948 (where it still resides today). Immediately after the Armistice Agreements, (independent agreements between Israel and each of her boarding neighbors) the official role of the Mediator and the Truce Commision were complete. Therefore, the Mediator billet and the Truce Commission was offically dissolved. (11:7-17) At this point, UNTSO became the premier UN organization in the Middle East. (2:26) It was clearly given a bi-fold mission which reads as follows: "first, to observe and report on the truce which was established on June 18, 1948, and, secondly, to maintain the organization of the Mixed Armistice Commissions (MAC)." (6:18) Included in each General Armistice Agreements, a clause was provided for the creation of MACs which were composed of an equal amount of representatives from the participating factions to the Armistices (e.g., if Israel provided five members, Egypt would match her representation with five also, and so forth for all the MACs--one MAC for Israel and each of her bordering countries). UNTSO provided the chairman which was always its ranking member. In the same accord, UNTSO provided each MAC with a number of observers to detail the nature of complaints (regardless of which country who had lodged the grievance) in order to preserve the Truce. Logistic and administrative support grew within UNTSO as the observers were placed in remote locations. This requirement laid the foundation for UNTSO's existing support structure as we know it today. The period from August 1949 to June 1967 was a "relatively" stable period for UNTSO, eventhough the participating parties for each Armistice were often uncooperative. Regardless of the hard work and genuine intent of UNTSO, its contribution toward peace was limited because the MACs were the foundation for peaceful existence. For approximately 18 years, (from 1949 until after the 1967 War), lack of harmony within the MACs was typical of the relationship existing between the countries. With the exception of the Israeli-Lebanon MAC, strife and discord was common. (8:2-12) After the 1956 War (often referred to as the Suez War), UNTSO greatly assisted the establishment of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) by providing a group of trained military personnel for peacekeeping and emergency operations. UNEF was the first time UNTSO's expertise was tapped in order to establish an United Nations Mission. UNTSO's contribution to UNEF set a precedence for many UN missions to come. (9:120-129) Israel denounced unilaterally its Armistices with Egypt after the 1956 War and subsequently stopped all cooperation/participation in its Israeli-Egyptian MAC. Furthermore, Israel denounced its Armistice with Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria after the Six-Day War of June 1967. As a result, the MAC concept of working through regional difficulties became ineffective. Nevertheless, UNTSO still retained the responsbility to organize and chair the respective Mixed Armistice Commissions. (2:25-55) The period between the Six-Day War of June 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of October 1973, UNTSO performed a vital function of helping to establish and supervise cease-fire agreements which included new boundaries between the countries. Eventhough there was no change to UNTSO's mission, the execution of its original mission became nearly impossible with the advent of the newly drawn cease-fire lines between Israel and Egypt-Jordan-Syria respectively. Additionally, UNTSO did not have the MACs to supervise since Israel abrogated its initial agreement to the Armistice as conceived. Realizing the changing political situation, the UN Security Council added some new tasks to the UNTSO Charter on the first few months following the 1967 cease-fire. Specifically, in the Egypt-Israel and Israel-Syria fronts, UNTSO established observation posts. These posts remained in effect until the Yom Kippur War of October 1973. The UN offices established in Amman and Gaza (before the 1967 War) were allowed to continue to function as Liaison Offices, eventhough the MAC concept had became defunct. At the urging of the Lebanese government, UNTSO created an observation operation along the Lebanese border (1949 Armistice Demarcation line) in the spring of 1972. Due to the Palestinian activity in South Lebanon and the potential Israeli repraisal against their encampments, UNTSO felt the potential for further conflict warranted the additional observation posts. (8:1-9) As a result of the Yom Kippur War, the location of UN Observers Post in the Middle East was drastically affected. However, most OPs are still located in the same place today. In the Egyptian-Israeli sector, UNTSO personnel were structured around the 0bserver "Group" concept and placed under the UN Peace-Keeping Forces that occupied the region. Observer Group Sinai was formed and attached to the Second United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF II). The Charter for UNEF II expired on July 24, 1979 which only left UNTSO's presence. The observers (UNM0s) were then restructured on new OPs which were located on vantage points throughout the Sinai peninsula. For the Sinai Group, their main office was located in Cairo (where it still resides today). On the Israeli-Syria border, UNTSO's cease-fire observation and supervision mission continued but with a readjusted cease-fire line. Observer Groups Damascus and Golan (Syrian sector) were established as a result of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). These Posts are still active today and are in the same location. (8:1-9) The Israeli-Lebanese conflict commenced in the late 1970's. It provided the lastest major change to UNTSO as we know the organization currently. After the outbreak of the Civil War in Lebanon and the Israeli invasion into South Lebanon (March 1978), the United Nations established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). (6:18) UNTSO's observers were thus reorganized into Observer Group Lebanon (OGL) to assist UNIFIL. As the Israeli penetration advanced north, the position of Observer Group Lebanon was adjusted. (15:372) An additional task of being the United Nations Liaison Office Beirut (UNLOB) was given to the headquarters of the Israel-Lebanon Mixed Armistice Commission (ILMAC) which was already located in Beirut. Under the close supervision of UNTSO's Chief-of-Staff, UNLOB/ILMAC functioned as a dual purpose headquarters/ liaison office for both UNTSO and UNIFIL. (10:14-15) By the middle of 1984, the United Nations Secretary General established the United Nations Inspection Teams in Baghdad (UNIT-B) and Teheran (UNIT-T), which UNTSO provides military support. The purpose of these teams were to ensure that only military targets were attacked as a result of the Iran-Iraq War. Because of the Iran-U.S. relationship at that time, no U.S. personnel were allowed to serve on these inspection teams. Throughout the life of UNTSO, the organization has been able to adapt to the constantly changing political environment of the Middle East. (5:210-214) UNTSO has been quick to reorganize to meet its mission. The command is replete with a rich history of multi-national service for Middle East peace. Currently, the following countries contribute high caliber personnel to UNTS0 which make for its non-bias image and effective handling of regional tensions: (8:6) Click here to view image The tensions, not to mention the open hostilities between warring factions in the Middle East over the past forty (plus) years, has certainly created a threatening environment for all people who live, work, or pass through this region. There has been no exception for the members of UNTSO eventhough they are in a "not-armed", "white flag" status. (2:53-54) Many military and civilian staff members of UNTSO, have been killed or injured over the years. American deaths lead UNTSO's list of intentional assassinations. Other countries also share the lose of life. Most deaths are the result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time--between two warring factions. Mine explosions, air raids, and unexplained shootings are the main causes of deaths which fall into the "unintentional" category. Basically it is the result of being in a hostile environment. Due to the threatening circumstances, all UNTSO personnel must be volunteers. (4) U.S. MARINE SERVICE IN UNTSO From its founding in 1948, United States Marines have contributed significantly in the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization. Of particular note, when UNTSO was organized, and during its first five years of existence, it was commanded by a United States Marine--Lieutenant General W.E. Riley. (11:55-72) General Riley was a Brigadier General when he reported to UNTSO. After General Riley served his tenure, the U.S. Marine Corps began to fill the number two job in UNTS0, which is the Deputy Chief-of- Staff, a colonel's billet. Colonel B.V. Leary, USMC, actually functioned as the Chief-of-Staff because he was in an acting capacity. He served in this capacity for a year and a half. According to obscure records in Washington, D.C., Colonel "Mick" Johnson, USMC, caught the Israelis in some unspecific "improprieties" during the Six- Day War. As a result, he was quietly declared "persona non grata" by the Government of Israel in retaliation. His replacement was Major Roger Hagerty, U.S. Army, son of President Eisehower's Press Secretary. It was the Hagerty appointment that shifted the billet from the U.S. Marine Corps to the U.S. Army. (14:1-4) During the tense years between the Middle East Wars of 1967 and 1973, the U.S. Marine Corps provided one officer to UNTSO which was usually a captain. Although the Navy and Air Force provided one officer each during the same period, the U.S. Army provided four. All U.S. officers stood duty at Observation Posts (OP) on both sides of the Israeli border/cease-fire lines. The only exception to the aforementioned OP duty arrangement was an, U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel who served as both the Senior U.S. Military Observer and the UNTSO Operations Officer (third ranking position in the organization). (14:1-4) A review of U.S. Marine participation in UNTSO is not complete without a mention of the infamous experience of Captain Jack Holly, USMC. He joined UNTSO in May of 1973, several months before the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War. In the period just after the Yom Kippur cease fire was declared, Captain Holly and his OP partner, an Irish UNMO, were on post high on the elevated ridges of Mt. Hermon. Late one evening, an over-enthusiastic Arab soldier burst on the scene and forced them out of their racks. The Arab soldier commenced a gun-point march toward Damascus with both Holly and the Irish UNMO wearing only their skivies. Under the security of darkness, the Arab soldier marched them barefoot over very rocky terrain. They passed an Israeli strong point, went through Syrian lines, and then walked half way to Damascus. Once the Syrian Government realized the situation, both the Irish and U.S. Marine UNMO were returned to UN custody. Nevertheless, their feet were severly damaged. Captain Holly was in a convelescent status for a prolonged period and the Irish UNMO experienced a nervous breakdown in addition to tremendous physical problems. (14.1-4) Shortly after the 1973 War, U.S. participation in UNTSO expanded to twenty-five officers. The U.S. Marine Corps portion was six. Approximately the same period, the Soviets made a surprise move and announced their support of UNTSO and likewise wanted to provide Observers. To keep a balanced presence between the East-West Superpowers--the Russian participation was set at the same level as the United States (which was twenty-five each at that time). Subsequent to the 1973 agreement, the number of observers for all countries particpating increased. As a result, the number of personnel to be provided by Soviet Union and the United States was re-established at thirty-six each (which still remains today). Since U.S. personnel are not allowed in Lebanon, (a limitation set forth by U.S. Secretary of Defense Carlucci due to the threat to U.S. personnel), there is a current move to reduce U.S. participation to UNTSO. Likewise, the Soviets would have to drop its participation to the same number as the United States. (13) Due to the lengthy diplomatic process, this proposal has not been acted upon by both nations yet. However, the proposal is anticipated to receive favorabe consideration. (12) For several years now, the U.S. Marine Corps has provided one Captain and five Majors annually as its portion of the U.S. Department of Defense's commitment to UNTSO. The only exception to this quota in recent years was the "overstaff" assignment of Lieutenant Colonel Rich Higgins to UNSTO in the 1987-1988 time frame. The following chart illustrates the authorized U.S. strength in relation to each duty station or Observer Group: (8:6-9) Click here to view image Normal tour length for U.S. Marines is one year. Usually, each tour of duty is divided into two six-month assignments in any of the above authorized locations. (13) Conclusion The contribution of U.S. Marines as well as all members of UNTSO over the Command's four (plus) decades of service has been commendable. UNTSO has amalgamated people from all over the world to help in the peaceful existence between the Israel and the Arabs. UNTSO's history is rich in dedicated service toward noble objectives. A thorough understanding of such honorable service is a must for all volunteers who plan to join her ranks. Likewise, the cultural tension behind the wars is important to understand because Americans must avoid threatening situations. The opportunity to be part of history in the making is certainly intriguing. However, the opportunity to experience another culture and contribute to a worthy cause is equally rewarding. BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Andersen, Roy R., Robert T. Seibert, and Jon G. Wagner. Politics and Change in the Middle East. Englewood, Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1987. 2. Burns, E.L.M. Between Arab and Israel. New YorK, NY: Clark, Irwin, and Company, Ltd., 1962. 3. Charters, David A. The British Army and Jewish Insurgency in Palestine. 1945-47. New York, NY: St. Moctini Press, Inc., 1950. 4. Erickson, Carl, Ground Monitor for 0302 Majors, HQMC, telephone conversation about 1990 assignments to UNTSO, September 20, 1989. 5. Kuniholm, Bruce Robellet. The Origins of the Cold War in the Near East. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1980. 6. Laffin, John. The Art of Desperation: Lebanon 1982-85. London, England: Osprey Publishing, Ltd. 1986. 7. Lastick, Ian. Arab in the Jewish State. Austin, Texas: The University of Texas Press. 1980. 8. Masterigt, T.V. "Short History of UNTSO." UNTSO News, Volume 6, June 1989. 9. Peretz, Don. The Middle East Today. New York, NY: Praeger Publishers/CBS Educational and Professional Publishing, 1975. 10. Pimlott, John. The Middle East Conflicts. London, England: Orgin Publishing Company, 1983. 11. Rosenne, Shabti. Israeli Armistice Agreements with the Arab States. Tel Aviv, Israel: Blumstein's Bookstores Limited, 1951. 12. Smith, Bill, Senior USMC Officer in UNTSO, personal discussion about the UNTSO, November 30, 1989. 13. Taylor, John, USMC Officer assigned to UNTSO 1989-90, personal discussion about UNTSO, January 5, 1990. 14. U.S. Marine Corps Information Paper. Marines Have Served UNTSO Continuously Since 1949. Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps Information Paper, Number PL3-ma-44221, 1988. 15. Ziring, Lawrence. The Middle East Political Dictionary, Oxford, England: Elio Press Ltd. 1984.
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