Lessons from Somalia: The Dilemma Of Peace Enforcement
Subject Area - General
Title: Lessons from Somalia: The DILEMMA OF Peace Enforcement
Author: Major Robert D. Allen
Thesis: Peace enforcement is a viable peace operation only under the conditions of a superior military command and control structure, well trained and equipped combat forces, and limited objectives.
Discussion: Peace enforcement is a relatively new concept which precariously lies in the gray area between the logic of peace and the logic of war. Despite the lack of well established peace enforcement doctrine, the international community has increasingly turned to peace enforcement as a mode of intervention in its efforts to maintain world peace and security in the post-Cold War environment. As a consequence, this operation is inherently complex, misunderstood, difficult to manage, and often highly contentious.
Both the potential benefits and the devastating pitfalls of this mode of intervention were demonstrated in the Somalia experience. At the risk of oversimplifying two extremely complex operations, the United Task Force (UNITAF) phase is generally credited for saving hundreds of thousands of starving Somalis while the subsequent United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM II) phase is remembered for warlord hunting and the infamous Mogadishu firefight which led to the termination of the United Nations mission. The differences between these operations and the dilemmas associated with the concept of peace enforcement warrant a candid evaluation so that similar problems can be more effectively managed or circumvented in the future.
Conclusion: Peace enforcement was no panacea to remedy the causes of the Somali conflict. The limited approach taken during the United States-led UNITAF operation provided the best possible alternative to this situation. This operation proved to be remarkably successful in stemming the tide of starvation and serves as a testimony to the fact that peace enforcement is be a viable tool under limited conditions.
During the United Nations led UNOSOM II mission, the enormous gap between the ambitious mandates and the inadequate means provided to accomplish the given objectives reflected the unrealistic expectations that the international community attached to the use of force. This ends, ways, and means mismatch was coupled with inadequate command and control and resulted in inconsistency and confusion. In the end, this combination led to a situation which ultimately backfired with disastrous consequences. Superior leadership, a unified military command structure, well trained and equipped combat troops, and an unambiguous and realistic mission clearly demarcated the difference between UNITAF and UNOSOM II.
Lessons from Somalia:
the DILEMMA OF Peace Enforcement
During the summer of 1992, American military forces were committed to Somalia in an effort to bring a halt to widespread human suffering and starvation. Over the course of the subsequent 27 months, the American mission in Somalia presented United States forces with a multitude of diverse challenges which spanned the spectrum of peace operations. After realizing initial success in establishing security and saving thousands of lives, American servicemen clashed with Somali forces and were subsequently withdrawn in the spring of 1994. This experience provides a sobering glimpse of the dilemmas of peace enforcement operations conducted in the chaos of a country ravaged by famine and clan warfare.
During operations in Somalia, many of the traditional "principles of peacekeeping" were ignored and the distinction between peacekeeping and peace enforcement became blurred. Coupling the failure to adhere to the fundamental tenets of peacekeeping with unrealistic mandates and inadequate command and control resulted in inconsistency, confusion, and ultimately backfired with disastrous consequences. In the end, the United State's experience in Somalia may well have marked a turning point, if not a watershed, in American contributions to peace operations.
The lessons from Somalia concerning the dilemmas associated with peace enforcement warrant a candid evaluation so that similar problems can be more effectively managed or circumvented in the future. In an effort to gain an appreciation for the inherent difficulties associated with this mode of intervention, an examination of the complex dynamics that have shaped the evolving nature of contemporary peace operations is required.
Post-Cold War Optimism
The end of the Cold War sparked optimistic speculation about the future course of international affairs. The new political circumstances seemingly established an environment in which the United Nations could act in a collective security role as originally envisioned by its founders. President George Bush proclaimed the beginning of a new world order which would be marked by the absence of bipolar confrontation and the emergence of increased multilateral cooperation. In keeping with this theme, multilateralism was a central foreign policy tenet in President-elect Bill Clinton's administration as well. In June of 1992, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, published a special report to the UN Security Council entitled An Agenda for Peace. Encouraged by the unprecedented success of collective security experienced during the Persian Gulf War, his aim was to draw up recommendations for strengthening the UN in the field of international peace and security in the new post-Cold War environment. He envisioned an expanded role beyond traditional, consensual peacekeeping to include a more coercive type of activity that has since become known as "peace enforcement."
Writing only a year later, the Secretary-General noted that An Agenda for Peace was already out of date. In Boutros-Ghali's words, "There is now a need to supply new answers to unexpected questions. History is accelerating.... The direction is not entirely clear." The "unexpected questions" he was referring to concerned the ongoing controversies and problems with the UN sponsored peace enforcement efforts that were being played-out in the former Yugoslavia and Somalia. Indeed, as early as the summer of 1993, the early euphoria and optimism about the renewal of the UN and its role in the world had already been seriously dampened. At least in the case of Somalia, the worst was still to come.
The Making of the "Somalia Syndrome"
Beginning as early as 1991, chronic and widespread civil war, lawlessness, and drought lead to nationwide famine and increasingly high death tolls in Somalia. By 1992, international relief organizations began flooding into Somalia in an effort to stem the tide of starvation and human suffering. In a country which had become devoid of a functioning government or even the most basic supporting infrastructure, food became a source of power. As a consequence, local and regional "warlords" began confiscating up to 80 percent of the relief aid deliveries.
In April of 1992, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 751 which authorized intervention in the Somali civil war and led to the creation of the first United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I). Fifty unarmed UN military observers were deployed to Mogadishu but proved to be entirely ineffective in their efforts to provide security for humanitarian aid and facilitate the end of hostilities. In July, the UN requested additional airlifts of humanitarian relief supplies from its member nations. President Bush responded by authorizing Operation Provide Relief -- the use of U.S. military assets to airlift relief commodities and a 500-man Pakistani security force to Somalia. Despite the addition of this larger security force and the tremendous amount of relief supplies which were delivered to Somalia during the next several months, the security conditions continued to degrade throughout the country.
Although military involvement in this situation was described by many in the Pentagon as a "bottomless pit," starvation estimates reached an excess of a thousand victims a day and televised coverage of the suffering in Somalia led to mounting public distress and pressure to "do something." In December of 1992, the United Nations Security Council declared the situation in Somalia to be "a threat to international security." The Secretary-General and member nations were thereby authorized to "use all necessary means to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia." President Bush subsequently announced the initiation of Operation Restore Hope, in which the United States would lead and provide 28,000 military forces to a UN sanctioned multinational coalition to become known as United Task Force (UNITAF). Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney explained to the nation on Meet the Press that "our mission is to restore conditions so that the humanitarian effort can go forward, and then turn over the responsibility for securing the country to UN forces." Conceptually, this was to be a short-term mission specifically created to establish a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian assistance.
UNITAF intervened, conducting a highly successful operation in Somalia from 9 December 1992 until 4 May 1993 at which time it was partially absorbed into a second UN peacekeeping force, United Nations Operations in Somalia (UNOSOM II). As the bulk of the U.S. forces returned home, the domestically focused Clinton Administration treated the hand-over to UN control as the end of the problem. Meanwhile, the UN mandate had been broadened to include the disarmament of the warring factions and a host of other nation-building efforts. Incrementally and without adequate foresight, the remaining U.S. forces found themselves on the defensive as the security situation deteriorated, then taking sides against one of the warring factions.
During the night of October 3, 1993, a raid designed to apprehend a Somali warlord turned into a sixteen-hour firefight pitting a hundred or so Army Rangers and commandos against several hundred Somali irregulars. The Somalis encircled the Rangers in the congested alleys of Mogadishu and turned it into the deadliest firefight in the history of UN peace operations. Nineteen American servicemen were killed, seventy-seven wounded, and a helicopter pilot was taken prisoner.
"How could this happen?" demanded the President of his advisors. After witnessing the grisly televised coverage of Somali mobs desecrating the corps of a U.S. soldier in the downtown streets of Mogadishu, the American public also questioned how a "humanitarian" mission could deteriorate into such a deadly contest between the Somali people and those sent to their rescue. The cost in lives and blood far exceeded what the American public was willing to pay in this remote and dangerous land where less than vital national interests were at stake. Many in Congress demanded the immediate withdrawal of United States forces while some went so far as to call for the resignations of the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
Responding to the public and political uproar within days of the stinging setback in Mogadishu, President Clinton set a date to end American participation in the UN nation-building mission in Somalia. Over the objections of the UN officials, he broke off the manhunt for the fugitive warlord General Mohammad Aideed, brought the bloodied Ranger battalion home, and ordered all American ground troops out of Somalia no later than 31 March 1994. With the departure of the United States, other coalition members began to follow. Having lost control of Mogadishu in a continually deteriorating security situation, the United Nations decided to pull out of Somalia by 31 March 1995, ending UNOSOM II. Returning to the chaos of 1992, the fate of Somalia was left in the hands of its own people.
The October 3 debacle also claimed a far reaching political causality -- President Clinton's ambitious plan to help create a United Nations peacekeeping force capable of intervening around the world with substantial help from American servicemen. The criticisms of United States' participation in the Somalia debacle represented a growing discontent with the burdens of multinational peace operations and led to intense scrutiny of the pending American participation in United Nations sanctioned peacekeeping attempts world wide. Republicans in Congress promptly mounted a drive to limit the President's power to send American forces overseas and to virtually bar them from serving under foreign command. Retreating on a broad policy front, White House officials shelved Presidential Decision Directive (PDD) 13, their emerging blueprint for committing large numbers of American combat forces to UN command in a significant move to embrace expanding UN peace operations. That reevaluation was reflected in the title of the subsequent May 1994 PDD-25, The Clinton Administration's Policy on Reforming Peace Operations. In effect, that document signaled a policy reversal by President Clinton away from the "aggressive multilateralism" trumpeted at the outset of his administration. Referring to a need for "highly disciplined choices" and a "rigorous analysis of requirements," it established strict new guidelines for when and how to employ United States forces abroad.
In many ways, the failure in Somalia was laid at the feet of the UN. As President Kennedy once observed, "In Washington a successful policy has a thousand parents, while an unsuccessful policy is an orphan." In fact, the ill-conceived proposal to capture the defiant warlord General Aideed, wanted for the ambush that killed twenty-three Pakistani troops, was sponsored by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN and the Mogadishu raid had been an American run operation. But the "unacceptable" Ranger casualties were suffered in pursuit of a UN mission and that fact alone proved to be nothing less than disastrous for the President's emerging policy.
International Intervention Doctrine: Chapters VI and VII of the UN Charter
Peacekeeping operations, which comprise the majority of the UN's attempts to advance international peace and security in the world, are not specifically defined nor addressed in the UN Charter. Chapter VI of the Charter (Pacific Settlement of Disputes) gives the UN the power to mediate international disputes between states and recommend terms of a settlement. Specifically, Article 33 of Chapter VI obligates parties in a dispute to "seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice." Chapter VII of the Charter (Action with Respect to Threats to Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression) provides the international legal authority for military action to force a change in a belligerent's behavior. Article 42 of this chapter gives the UN authority to use the armed forces of member states to "take such action by air, sea, or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security."
Although defined by inference only, the UN Security Council undertook military peacekeeping operations on the understanding that it bridged the gap between nonmilitary measures for conflict resolution described in Chapter VI and the military enforcement actions authorized by Chapter VII. Former UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskold, recognizing the improvised nature of any type of UN collective security attempted during the Cold War, informally labeled UN peacekeeping operations as "Chapter Six and a Half actions" to characterize their tenuous legitimacy under the Charter. Concerning the early evolution of peacekeeping, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali noted:
Peacekeeping is a UN invention. It was not specifically defined in the charter but evolved as a noncoercive instrument of conflict control at a time when Cold War constraints prevented the Security Council from taking the more forceful steps permitted by the Charter.
Because Chapter VII operations are so broad, operations such as the UN sanctioned Korean Conflict and the Persian Gulf War are also referred to as peace enforcement operations in UN parlance but are distinguishable from the lessor "not war-not peace" enforcement operations discussed under the peace operations rubric in U.S. doctrine. Today, peacekeeping missions are commonly referred to as "Chapter VI actions" while peace enforcement operations are generally associated with "Chapter VII actions."
The Principles of Traditional Peacekeeping
The Cold War era peacekeeping experience produced a pragmatic and fairly comprehensive doctrine for peace keeping missions commonly known as the "Principles of Peacekeeping." Missions conducted during this period shared the same modest ambitions and were all generally characterized by noncoercion and impartiality. Traditional peacekeeping operations relied on the assumptions that there was a desire for peace among the warring groups and that outside forces could assist in fostering an atmosphere of stability and peace. Acting as an impartial third party, unarmed or lightly armed UN peacekeepers were typically put into place with the approval of the belligerents involved and after a cease-fire agreement had been signed. Their duty was usually to monitor such cease-fire arrangements, agreed-upon buffer zones, or troop withdrawals that followed the cessation of hostilities in order to reassure all parties that the given truce terms were being respected. These principles accurately reflected the inherent political and military constraints of a disparate multinational body, clearly defined its limitations, and were instrumental in its success. Adherence to these ground rules were believed necessary to maintain the credibility of the United Nations and were a virtual precondition for UN peace operations. As indicated by the UN peacekeepers being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988, the noncoercive style of the UN peacekeeping was both effective and appropriate in the Cold World environment.
The Evolving Nature of Peace Operations
In its first 43 years, the UN mounted only 13 peacekeeping operations. In contrast, during the first four years of the post-Cold War era, the UN authorized 18 peacekeeping operations. Not only has the frequency of these peacekeeping missions increased at an alarming rate, but the character of the operations began changing in response to the emerging new facts of international life. Historically, due to the inherent constraints of the Cold War, internal conflicts characteristic of those in Somalia have been off-limits to UN-sponsored military forces. More recently, however, the UN has become overwhelmed with calls to intervene in what are predominately civil conflicts, characterized by Boutros-Ghali as brutal ethnic, religious, social, cultural, or linguistic strife.
Through a more liberal interpretation of the Charter and a more aggressive and united Security Council, the UN has greatly added to its legal and functional structure for authorizing and managing military operations. This movement into wider ranging "second-generation" peacekeeping operations has resulted in activities that are qualitatively and quantitatively different than those of traditional operations. During December of 1993, UN troops were used for the first time in Somalia to ensure the security of humanitarian relief personnel and supplies. This mission, considered both peacekeeping and peace enforcement, exemplified the complex nature of the more recent peacekeeping efforts and the growing aspirations of the organization. By 1994, the "peacekeeping explosion" had resulted in over 70,000 soldiers being deployed under UN command throughout the world, a sevenfold increase since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
The Multiple Interpretations of Peace Operations The rapid expansion of contemporary peacekeeping has outstripped the fundamental tenets from which it was formulated during the Cold War years. As the UN Security Council began to create missions that would operate in less supportive political environments, the traditional prerequisite of a previously concluded peace settlement was no longer considered as an essential criteria for involvement. These increasingly more ambitious missions in unstable environments require more robust and combat capable UN forces. As a result, United Nations peacekeepers have been sent to intervene in crises before the international community could agree upon the doctrinal justifications behind each corresponding mandate. This tendency has generated unprecedented strategic and operational confusion over the meaning and conduct of these newly expanded peace operations.
As explained by John Ruggie in a recent Foreign Affairs article entitled "Wandering in the Void," the United Nations has entered a domain of military activity lying somewhere between traditional peacekeeping and military enforcement for which it lacks any guiding concept. Ruggie contends that "the UN has merely ratcheted up the traditional peacekeeping mechanism in an attempt to respond to wholly new security challenges." It is in this gray area, he explains, between peacekeeping and all-out warfighting, that the UN has entered a doctrinal "black hole" and gotten itself into serious trouble.
Part of the problem with this "gray" area originates from the fact that, in this newly expanded UN effort to maintain global peace, a multitude of terms have emerged under the peacekeeping rubric. Consequently, many terms have been used loosely, even inter- changeably, to identify a range of activities that are related but often considerably dissimilar in nature. The presence of multiple interpretations reflects the general uncertainties associated with post-Cold War UN interventions and in particular the considerable ambiguity associated with peace operations. The term "peacekeeping" is now used by the media and both national and international government officials as a generic term encompassing the myriad of UN peace support operations. As a result, one must now consider the context in which this term is used in order to understand its intended meaning. Current United States military doctrine recognizes and defines three types of peace operations: support to diplomacy, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement. Categorized under the heading of support to diplomacy, it further delineates between peacemaking, peace building, and preventive diplomacy operations. Outside of U.S. doctrine, other terms frequently used to describe the nature of the new "second-generation" of peace operations include enhanced peacekeeping, aggravated peacekeeping, wider peacekeeping, and muscular peacekeeping.
As noted in Field Manual (FM) 100-23 Peace Operations, U.S. policy clearly distinguishes between peacekeeping and peace enforcement. This doctrine states that during peacekeeping, consent is obtained from the belligerent parties, force may only be used in self-defense, and impartiality should be maintained. For peace enforcement operations, it maintains that consent is not absolute, force is used to compel or coerce, and acknowledges that impartiality "may be strained." FM 100-23 further emphasizes:
Peace enforcement and peacekeeping are not part of a continuum allowing a unit to move freely from one to the other. A broad demarcation separates the two activities. They take place under vastly different circumstances... [and] peace enforcement forces should plan to exit the area when the agreements and buffer zones are formalized and should not attempt to transition to peacekeeping."
In the Secretary-General's 1992 An Agenda For Peace, Boutros-Ghali literally redefined the term peacekeeping to include the phrase: "...the deployment of a United Nations presence in the field, hitherto with the consent of all parties concerned..." In this conceptual approach to peacekeeping, the inclusion of hitherto implies that this operation no longer requires the consent of all parities concerned -- an approach that is directly contrary to U.S. military peace operations doctrine. More than a semantics issue, this fundamental change to a key principle of peacekeeping elevates its definition to a more warlike standard of action and serves to further muddle the understanding of the utility of peacekeeping and its distinction from peace enforcement. In the absence of internationally recognized criteria to define the individual components of peace operations, an overall consensus regarding what each activity legitimately entails, what risk each portends, and what measures are appropriate to appraise each operation's success is virtually impossible to develop. More specifically, without agreeing on what is meant by "peacekeeping" and "peace enforcement," the distinction of each becomes blurred and coalition forces engaged in those missions end up attaching their own national perspectives to each operation. In Somalia, the ambiguity that existed between the political goals of the UN and the tactical mandates given to the military forces that were dispatched to achieve those objectives ultimately led to tactical disaster and strategic failure.
It is essential that the United States government, the United Nations, and the American people, whose support will be required to implement a national strategy, are aware of the differences and understand what certain types of peace operations do and do not entail. During operations in Somalia, neither the UN Secretary General, the Security Council, nor the Clinton administration seemed to be able to come to a consensus and define these concepts in the same way from one occasion to the next. To the American people, peacekeeping in Somalia meant feeding a starving people. To the UN Security Council and Secretary-General, it included warlord hunting. Further exemplifying and contributing to this confused state of affairs, Boutros-Ghali returned from a visit to the UN's peace enforcement operation in Somalia during October 1993 and announced, "The United Nations cannot impose peace; the role of the United Nations is to maintain the peace." Yet, the UN peace enforcement mandates called for exactly that, keeping peace where there was no peace to keep. The objectives of Security Council resolutions were framed in terms that would require war to fulfill them while the international community clearly committed neither the political will nor the resources to conduct warfare for those ends.
Peace Enforcement and the Traditional "Principles to Peacekeeping"
The military operations in Somalia systematically violated every one of the traditional principles of peacekeeping. However, to what extent do traditional peacekeeping methods apply to peace enforcement operations? In order to address this question, an examination of the traditional peacekeeping principles and a discussion of their pertinence to the sequence of event which unfolded in Somalia is required. The following traditional "Principles of Peacekeeping" were articulated in a body of five commonly accepted guidelines as recently as 1993 by the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations:
(1). Operations should be UN operations: formed by the UN, commanded in the field by a UN-appointed officer, under the ultimate authority of the Secretary-General, and financed by member states collectively.
The UNITAF operation was a distinctly American dominated operation, violating the spirit of this principle. The firm operational command and control of this operation by the United States undermined the political control of the Secretary-General and the Security Council and resulted in de facto grand strategic control of the entire operation. The end state and interim mission objectives of the UN Secretary-General were not in consonance with those of the United States. Realistically, however, this command arrangement was a requirement for American participation and the attainment of any political objective would have been virtually impossible without the clout and capabilities of the United States. This merely highlights the UN's inability to perform in the capacity of a professional military manager under its current operational structure. In complex peace enforcement situations such as that which existed in Somalia, delegation to a major member state or regional alliance is likely to be the only realistic option.
(2). UN troops must be deployed with the consent of all parties involved and only after a political settlement has been reached between warring factions.
Considered foundational to any prospect of long-term success, the traditional principles of peacekeeping were predicated on the centrality of consent. Viewed from this conceptual approach, Somalia had achieved no lasting settlement and could hardly be considered an environment of full consent for a UN presence. Complicating this matter, the UN judged that in the absence of a functioning government, there no longer existed competent authorities to provide valid consent for international action. By declaring the Somali crisis "a threat to international peace and security," the UN explicitly opened the way for applying a forcible collective security intervention provided for in Chapter VII of the UN Charter. A deliberate choice was thereby made to proceed without the consent of the major belligerents involved. Regardless of the logic applied to intervening without consent, the adverse potential consequences of doing so were by no means diminished. In this case, the UN attempted to marginalize a force to be reckoned with, the powerful but defiant warlord Mohammed Aideed. Chosen as the head of the United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA), Aideed had a substantial degree of influence among the warring factions and was determined to claim a prominent place in Somalia's post war political structure.
(3). Intervening forces are committed to strict impartiality. In the face of peace enforcement without the consent of the major belligerent parties, maintaining impartiality is inherently problematic. FM 100-23 acknowledges that "the nature of peace enforcement strains the perception of impartiality." By definition, peace enforcement is a form of intervention where coercive military force is used to compel combatants to follow a given mandate. In pursuit of this objective, there is no presumption of neutrality, and impartiality may in fact be impossible to achieve. Nonetheless, as with the issue of consent, the logic behind this concept and its significance remains valid.
To remain impartial, forces involved in peace operations cannot take sides in disputes. Also, it must be appreciated that impartiality is as much a product of perception as of practice. To a large degree, impartiality is derived from consent, which in turn is closely connected with maintaining a nonthreating posture. The moment "peacekeepers" lose this trust and are seen by one side as the "enemy," they are likely to become a combatant party to the dispute in question and part of the problem they were sent to solve. In a multi- faction conflict where the intervening force is often locally outnumbered, preserving impartiality may even become a matter of survival.
The disarmament mandate and the manhunt for Aideed imposed during UNOSOM II became a direct threat to the position of the clans within the local power structure and was resisted accordingly. By attempting to disarm the warring factions and capture Aideed, peacekeeping forces forfeited all pretenses of impartiality and became active belligerents in the conflict. Ultimately, the unprecedented five month manhunt for Aideed undermined the credibility of the United Nations, led to the catastrophic UNOSOM II firefight, and the subsequent collapse of the UN coalition.
(4). In order to appear evenhanded, UN operations should not have an obvious super- power presence, but should use the volunteer units of the so-called "middle nations." This principle originated from Cold War politics and is now obsolete. Large scale peace operations normally require the military capabilities and leadership of at least great powers. As a result, the UN's ability to intervene throughout most of the world is limited to a large extent by the willingness of the United States to become involved. Without U.S. political, financial, and logistical support, few UN peace operations could ever get off the ground. This was particularly true in the case of Somalia as security could only be ensured by the rapid deployment of a large and highly capable force and only the United States had the willingness and ability to make the UN mandate feasible.
In addition to the issue of military capabilities, American participation lends credibility to peace operations and encourages other member nations to follow suit. After years of U.S. leadership, many American allies and Third World nations are simply unwilling to act without the United States' lead. Unfortunately, many nations still seem to define multilateralism as massive United States commitment with minimal support from others. To some, only U.S. combat troops on the ground symbolizes American resolve and this commitment remains critical to building coalitions.
(5). UN units should operate under rules of engagement (ROE) that stress the absolute minimum use of force in accomplishing their objectives.
During traditional peacekeeping, this issue was generally black and white -- force was only authorized in self-defense. Extending the concept of minimum use of force to peace enforcement becomes increasingly difficult to measure and largely subjective. In Somalia, the UN Chapter VII mandates authorized peace enforcement and the resolutions pertaining to both UNITAF and UNOSOM II called for "all means necessary" to enforce them. In the quest to apprehend Aideed, the Secretary-General authorized "all necessary measures against those responsible for the armed attacks." As the violence escalated, Fragmentary Order 39 was issued by the UN stating that "organized, armed militias, technicals, and other crew served weapons are considered a threat to UNOSOM Forces and may be engaged without provocation." In the aftermath of a violent clash with Aideed's supporters, Boutros-Ghali expressed regret over the large number of Somali civilians who lost their lives and explained that "gangs" had used women and children as "human shields" while attacking UNOSOM II personnel.
Given this sequence of events, was the minimum use of force concept violated during operations in Somalia? From the outside looking in, it would seem so. From the perspective of the tactical units on the ground, arguably it was not. Given the lawless conditions in Somalia and the requirement to disarm the warring factions, liberal rules of engagement were clearly called for. To be effective, peace enforcement operations must generate sufficient visible combat power to ensure that the belligerents recognize the futility of opposition. At the high end of the spectrum, such a force is likely to be indistinguishable from a warfighting unit in all respects except its rules of engagement and its military as well as political objectives. The inclusion of "all means necessary" in a given resolution is precisely the phraseology that would be expected in a situation requiring war. Yet, if peace enforcers become entangled in war, they become party to the conflict and thus fail in their intended purpose. Inter- national force is brought to bear not to defeat but to neutralize the local forces because settlement, not victory, is the ultimate measure of success in peace operations. Settlement, however, is rarely achievable through military efforts alone as peace operations are designed only to create or sustain the conditions that will permit political and diplomatic activities to proceed. As demonstrated in Somalia, if the attempt to coerce a cessation of hostilities and a reliance on the political process fails, the sponsoring international organization is faced with difficult choices -- it must either go to war or abandon its goals.
As noted in FM 100-23, force is used in peace enforcement to coerce and may include "very violent combat actions." At the same time, it emphasizes the following caution -- one that perfectly fits the realities encountered in Somalia and highlights one of the most troubling dilemmas of peace enforcement:
The use of force may attract a response in kind, heighten tension, polarize public opinion against the operation and participants, foreclose negotiating opportunities, prejudice the perceived impartiality of the peace operation force, and escalate the overall level of violence. Its inappropriate use may embroil a peace operation force in a harmful long-term conflict that is counterproductive to the overall campaign objectives.
Another element which compounds the complexities of the peace enforcement alternative is the instinctively aggressive warfighting nature of the United States combat forces. In keeping with the Weinberger and Powell doctrines of the recent past, American forces have been trained to approach combat situations with an emphasis toward overwhelming force, decisive victories, and a prompt exit. Approaches oriented toward a lesser force and a gradual escalation to conflict were discredited and discarded by the United States after Vietnam. During UNITAF, the U.S. leaders appropriately handled this predicament by structuring their forces in such a way that the application of overwhelming force was made available but was prudently restrained. This approach proved effective in intimidating the lawless gangs and rival clans, forcing their cooperation, and facilitating the rapid seizure of key terrain.
Coalition Peace Enforcement and Command and Control: Dilemma Squared
In any UN peace endeavor, multilateralism is a cardinal principle. To be perceived as legitimate and truly impartial by all belligerents, the peace force will generally retain an international flavor and will usually be employed under UN command. Although UN-sponsored multilateral peace operations appeal to makers of U.S. national policy -- whether viewed from a budgetary, national security, or foreign affairs standpoint -- the multilateral framework presents a multitude of serious difficulties. Foremost among these are the command and control and combat capability problems that often vex UN peace efforts in the field. Such problems are, at least to some extent, inherent in coalitions. In peace enforcement operations, these difficulties are aggravated by the very nature of this mission and by the UN's politically oriented, multinational approach to coalition-building. Inevitably, some degree of national autonomy will be reflected in any multinational military effort. The best guarantee of military cooperation in any coalition is each country's unwavering political support for the coalition's chief purpose and for the method of achieving it. As difficult as this is to achieve during war where vital strategic interests are at stake, it is even more difficult to achieve in a coalition for peace where there is no compelling threat to unite the coalition. Perceived to be much less desperate than war, the role of the contingent forces committed to peace operations simply does not demand the same level of coordination and cohesion. Although the requirements of force may rise, the political commitments of the participating nations remain relatively low. National governments are therefore correspondingly less willing to meet the inherent financial commitments, risk casualties, or shelve their national agendas in order to achieve the UN's political goal.
The negotiated terms of reference (TOR) must pin down the most critical elements relating to a country's participation in a peace operation. Most significant among these elements are command relationships and organization. During UNOSOM II, adherence to the TOR became increasingly problematic. As the probability for armed combat increased, the concerns and apprehensions of the countries who had contributed forces rose accordingly. The parallel lines of command became painfully obvious as most of the multinational contingents made it a point to stay in close touch with their capitals. All too often, this concern manifested itself in a pronounced tendency for national contingents to seek guidance from their respective capitals before carrying out even the routine tactical orders. In some cases, contingents flatly refused to obey the UN chain of command.
Taking exception to the UN sponsored manhunt for Aideed, the Italian contingent commander reportedly took the liberty to initiate independent negotiations with the fugitive warlord. Although the United Nations requested this officer's relief from command, the Italian Government refused. At Italy's request, its Mogadishu units were redeployed elsewhere in Somalia. These command and control problems exemplify the tendency for coalitions members to view a Chapter VII mission with a Chapter VI mind set.
Although the loose interpretation of UN command and control proved adequate for traditional peacekeeping operations, it can prove deplorably insufficient for operations that go beyond traditional peacekeeping. The UNOSOM II Commander, Turkish Lieutenant General Cevik Bir, cited his lack of command authority over the assigned forces as the most significant limitation of this or any other operation organized under Chapter VII. In a post-mission report, Admiral Howe, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Somalia, expressed frustration with the UNOSOM II coalition:
The UN has all the disadvantages of a volunteer organization. Troop
contributors rotate units at short intervals and withdraw them altogether
with little notice. Nations want to dictate where their contingents will serve and what they will perform. The UN does not have the authority to hold individual nations to a fixed contract...
In addition to the absence of authentic command authority over coalition members, the general lack of combat capability so often associated with these forces can also prove to be particularly troublesome. By design, UN policy is to seek worldwide, politically disparate representation in formulating peace operations. Many poorer countries participate in peace operations simply because the UN pays a portion of their military budgets. The troops from these countries all too often arrive in theater lacking mission essential equipment and training. Because equipment considered standard in most western armies may simply not be present in the inventories of many military contingents from developing countries, interoperability may be impossible to achieve. The shortfalls in training can be especially critical. As in war, success in peace enforcement operations depends directly on the tactical competence of small units as actions performed at this level may well have immediate strategic and political implications. In a recent National Defense University study, John Heidenrich described the infamous October raid in Mogadishu as a microcosm where many of the most basic operational problems inherent in multinational coalitions were exemplified. Evident in this single tragic evolution were basic problems associated with language, doctrine, unit cohesion, chain of command, and force composition.
The UN-sponsored raid had remained under a purely American chain of command which, in the interest of operational security, had little contact with the United Nations chain of command in Somalia. The U.S. Army Rangers remained entirely under the direct command of the U.S. Special Operations Command in Florida, bypassing the UN command and control structure as well as the Commander of U.S. Forces in Somalia. Referring to this confusing command relationship in a candid post-mission analysis, Kenneth Allard concluded that "...the greatest obstacles to unity of command during UNOSOM II were imposed by the United States on itself."
The need to rescue the besieged Rangers, who were attempting to come to the aid of an Army helicopter pilot, immediately "multinationalized" the recovery operation. Without advanced warning or armored vehicles, the responding American infantry company was immediately ambushed and forced to withdraw. Next, the UN chain of command called upon an entire American infantry battalion, along with four Pakistani tanks and twenty-eight Malaysian armored personnel carriers, for assistance. This ad hoc force spent hours organizing itself in an attempt to achieve some degree of unit cohesion. The Pakistanis were then reluctant to put their tanks at the head of the column, reflecting a doctrinal difference with the Americans. More valuable time was spent in an effort to find English speaking Malaysian drivers to transport the Americans in the Malaysian armored vehicles. Seven hours after the initial call for assistance, the force finally arrived and managed to rescue the besieged Rangers.
UNITAF: Reasonable Objectives and Superior Command and Control
Operationally, the UNITAF operation was an impressive success, achieving its basic aim despite the dynamics of the political context and the emergency situation in which it was conducted. As the principle strategic actor, the United States was precise in its assessment of the conditions and the role to be played by its forces. The American National Command Authorities (NCAs) and principle U.S. military commanders identified one principle goal -- to achieve a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Somali people in the areas of greatest need. Great care was taken to develop an approved, well defined mission with attainable, measurable objectives prior to the operation commencing.
The terms of reference for UNITAF were negotiated by the United States as the lead nation. The United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) -- the U.S. unified combatant command responsible for UNITAF -- retained approval authority and screened each potential contributor, balancing capabilities and willingness to adhere to American operational control and rules of engagement with overall operational requirements. The First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) headquarters assumed the task of managing this multinational operation and became the nucleus of the UNITAF command and control structure. Not only did this headquarters integrate and employ 23 coalition member contingents, but it also met the liaison and coordination requirements for the 49 different humanitarian agencies involved. Consequently, the USCENTCOM commander, General Joseph P. Hoar, noted that both unity of command and unity of purpose was achieved. Disagreements between the UN and the United States, however, plagued the mission from the very start. Due to differing perceptions of such terms as "all means necessary" and "security," disarmament of the Somali factions became a major point of contention between the United States military, the non-governmental organization (NGO) community, and the UN. Disarmament was excluded from the mission because General Hoar firmly believed that it was neither realistically achievable nor a prerequisite for the mission of providing a secure environment for relief operations. Instead, he limited the confiscation of individual weapons to include only "technicals" (wheeled vehicles with mounted crew served weapons) and arms caches that were a clear threat to UNITAF forces. Despite UNITAF's considerable success in protecting the delivery of humanitarian aid, tensions between the United States government and UN officials flared as the proper role and length of stay of the American military forces and the preparations for the UN management of the next phase of the response were contested. The UN Secretariat saw disarmament of the factional militia forces as an essential UNITAF function which had to be accomplished before a transition to UN command could be effected. Additionally, the UN persistently pressed UNITAF to expand its operation to include northern Somalia, to reestablish a national police force, and to assist in the reparation of Somali refugees. Throughout the duration of the mission, USCENTCOM strove to avoid becoming involved in the inter and intra clan politics of Somalia, diligently resisted "mission creep" without express United States NCA directive, and pushed for a timely hand-over to the UN. By March 1993, USCENTCOM deemed that the level of security was sufficient to allow transition of the operation to the United Nations. The longer-term UN nation-building efforts were left to UNOSOM II with its broader political and economic rehabilitation mandate. Unfortunately, the UN Secretary-General did not agree.
UNOSOM II: Unfeasible Mandates and Inadequate Command and Control
"Forcible disarmament is the 'bright line' of peace operations: when you cross it,
you have entered a de facto state of war."
National Defense University
UNOSOM II inherited a ticking time bomb. Its objectives were vaguely defined, open-ended, its reach was exceedingly ambitious, and its results were difficult to measure. Officially established by UN Security Resolution 814, on 26 March 1993, the resolution: (1) mandated the first ever United Nations directed peace operation under the Chapter VII provisions of the United Nations Charter, including the requirement to disarm the Somali clans; (2) explicitly endorsed the objective of nation-building by rehabilitating the political institutions of Somalia; and (3) called for the establishment of a secure environment throughout the entire country. Ironically, a significantly smaller and less capable peacekeeping force was established to enforce these profoundly more ambitious objectives. A debilitating ends, ways, and means mismatch was thereby set into motion. The UN-U.S. disagreement over the roles and duration of UNITAF led to foot-dragging by UN officials and further complicated the transition between UNITAF and UNOSOM II. The slow pace setting up the UNOSOM II staff was aggravated by its composition, formed incrementally from the voluntary contributions of the multinational contingents who detailed personnel as they arrived. While the UNOSOM force was incomplete, U.S. forces were withdrawn on schedule. A formal change of command occurred on 4 May 1993, at which time the UNOSOM II staff was at only 30 percent strength. Overwhelmed from the start, at no time was the UN Force Command headquarters equipped, sourced, or capable of acting as a battle staff. Even the Civil-Military Operations Center, a UNITAF innovation established to deal with the multitude of non- governmental organizations (NGOs) and humanitarian relief organizations involved in Somalia, was subsequently abandoned.
To make matters worse, the less coherent and capable UNOSOM II force emboldened the warring factions and the mandate calling for nationwide disarmament stirred them into defiant hostilities. From the beginning, the Somali warlords were as interested in seeing the departure of the US-led force as were its commanders. There was little to be gained by attacking a powerful military force that had announced at the outset its desire for an early and clean departure. One month after UNITAF returned home, Aideed's armed faction launched an attack on UNOSOM II personnel. This incident -- described as the biggest single loss ever incurred by a UN peacekeeping operation -- resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and the wounding of 50 more. In response to this attack, the UN set the manhunt for Aideed was set into motion. This action forfeited any pretense of impartiality and led to the infamous 3 October firefight.
The Need To Go "Back To Basics"
The failures as well as the successes experienced in Somalia highlight the complexities associated with peace enforcement and begs two central questions regarding this mode of intervention missions. First, is peace enforcement a realistic and viable mission in a complex civil war environment typical of Somalia? Secondly, does the UN have the capacity to function as an effective military manager in peace enforcement operations?
In regard to the first question, Somalia is an excellent example of what can happen politically, when the public demands instant results to a situation that has no easy answer. Given the nature of this civil conflict political solutions upon which to base a peaceful settlement were difficult to define and simply may not amenable to peace operations. The warring parties in Somalia sought autonomy and independence and were unwilling to stop fighting without achieving their goals. Thus, outside intervention to bring peace carried high risk and low probabilities of success.
Peace enforcement was no panacea to remedy the causes of the Somali conflict. The enormous gap between the ambitious UNOSOM II mandates and the hopelessly inadequate means provided to accomplish the given objectives reflected the unrealistic expectations that were attached to the use of force at the strategic level. The former U.S. Ambassador to Somalia, T. Frank Crigler, expressed his doubts concerning the utility of peace enforcement in this environment:
...perhaps the fatal flaw lies in the very concept of peace enforcement, the notion that peace enforcement can be imposed on a reluctant and notoriously proud people at gunpoint and that the social fabric of their nation can be rewoven at the direction of outsiders."
Abstention in these situations may not be acceptable. The limited approach taken by UNITAF arguably offered the best alternative. This operation proved successful in stemming the tide of starvation and serves as a testimony to the fact that peace enforcement can be a viable tool under limited conditions. Superior leadership, a unified military command structure, well trained and equipped combat troops, and an unambiguous and realistic mission clearly demarcated the difference between UNITAF and UNOSOM II. In regard to the second question, the Somalia experience serves as a reminder to the fact that the UN is an organization predicated on volunteerism and collectivism, which is at once its moral strength and its functional weakness. The UN system is inherently dysfunctional in regards to mobilizing and controlling the complex military operations required in peace enforcement environments. In the absence of authorizing a given operation to be conducted by a capable major power such as the United States, the UN's attempts to undertake complex military operations such as UNOSOM II are antithetical to the UN's political nature and have proven militarily unworkable.
In January 1995, Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali recanted his ambitious 1992 Agenda for Peace by issuing a Supplement to an Agenda for Peace. That document incorporated many of the lessons from Somalia and reflected a return to more traditional peacekeeping themes. Specifically, the Secretary-General stated that the UN was not the proper organization for managing large, complex, and ambitious operations such as those in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. Elaborating further he wrote:
The UN does not have the capacity to deploy, direct, or command and control peace enforcement operations... and it would be folly to attempt to do so at the present time when the organization is resource- starved and hard pressed to handle the less demanding peacemaking and peacekeeping responsibilities entrusted to it.
Concerning the previous UN attempts to combine peacekeeping with peace
enforcement, the Secretary-General stated:
The logic of peacekeeping flows from political and military premises that are quite distinct from those of enforcement; and the dynamics of the later are incompatible with the political process that peace keeping is intended to facilitate. To blur the distinction between the two can undermine the viability of peacekeeping operation and endanger its personnel.
Clearly, the above comments an express acknowledgment of the failure experienced in Somalia and indicate the need for the UN to return to the more traditional basics in its military ambitions.
The Somalia experience reveals that many of the operational characteristics consistently present in traditional UN military operations are also constants in contemporary peace enforcement operations. In view of the dynamics which led to the strategic failure in Somalia, a number of fundamental policy changes must be made in order for peace operations to remain effective in today's changing world. The initial challenge here is for national policymakers to distinguish between proposed UN operations essential to collective security and those which may have the public's attention but have little effect on world order. Once a consensus has been reached concerning the strategic objectives and the decision to intervene has been made, the international community must define the "something" it can do in realistic, achievable terms and apply all the required means to implement the approved resolutions. Simply put, the utility of peace operations should not be undermined by attempts to reconcile peacekeeping with war-making under the rubric of peace enforcement. PDD-25 should go far in applying these lessons in a durable yet flexible policy which recognizes the limitations of peace operations while retaining this tool as an important component of the nation's national security strategy in the post-Cold War environment.
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