UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program and Modern Peace Operations-Common Themes and Lessons

The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program and Modern Peace Operations-Common Themes and Lessons


CSC 1997


Subject Area - Operations


Table of Contents






Executive Summary

I. Introduction

II. The Combined Action Program: A Historical Overview

III. Somalia: Operation Restore Hope

IV. The Combined Action Program and Somalia: Common Lessons

V. Doctrine for Peace Operations

VI. Conclusion

Executive Summary


Title:               The Marine Corps' Combined Action Program and Modern Peace Operations-                              Common Themes and Lessons

Author:            Major William W. Go, United States Marine Corps

Thesis:            The mixed performance of U.S. forces in recent low intensity conflicts or "small wars", i.e. Vietnam (counterinsurgency) and Somalia (peace operation), has been due in part to a failure to understand the political, economic, social, and cultural factors at work in the area of operations. The Combined Action Program (CAP) of the Vietnam War has been frequently cited by military historians as an example of a successful small wars operation, this because the CAP did have cultural aspect. The U.S. Marine Corps-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF) portion of the 1992-1995 UN operation in Somalia was successful partly because it applied lessons learned from Marine Corps small wars experience from the Central American "Banana Wars" of the 1930's and the CAP in Vietnam.

Discussion:            Counterinsurgency and peace operations are similar in that they both involve adversaries often indistinguishable from noncombatants and that operations frequently occur in an environment totally unfamiliar to Americans. Even more than conventional operations, they are characterized by ambiguity, uncertainty, and friction. In both cases, success depends on a well defined mission, properly trained and equipped forces, intelligently designed Rules of Engagement, and an in depth knowledge of the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the target area. As in conventional warfare, successful resolution of the conflict will depend on a political, not a military, solution.

            The Combined Action Program in Vietnam and UNITAF in Somalia both demonstrated that well trained and well led conventional forces can be successfully adapted to some unconventional roles. Both cases also demonstrated that military might, no matter how skillfully or how massively applied, cannot solve the underlying political cause of a conflict. Political problems require political solutions and the viability any political solution is wholly dependent on the characteristics of the native population.

            Presently, there is much that the U.S. military can do to improve the ways that it prepares forces for participation in peace operations. Too much emphasis is currently placed on tactics, techniques, and procedures and not enough is placed on cultural appreciation of the target area. A common failing of virtually all of our recent small wars experience has been that our forces have deployed "culturally underarmed."

Recommendation:      Peace operations preparation of forces should include, in addition to conventional tactics, technique, and procedures, intensive cultural indoctrination of the target country down to the lowest level. In addition, commanders and staffs should receive an thorough orientation on UN organization and functions as well as civilian agencies, NGO's, and PVO's likely to be encountered. All sources of "cultural intelligence" should be exploited, to include the contracting of civilian area experts and linguists.

I. Introduction

            The performance of the U.S. military in peace operations is at best mixed. Despite its participation in a number of these operations, the U.S. military is only now beginning to develop comprehensive doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures for the conduct of these operations. There are many similarities between counter-insurgency and peace operations, such as the difficulty in distinguishing friend from foe and the need for a thorough understanding of the cultural, economic, and political factors at work in the area of operations. The U.S. Marine Corps' Combined Action Program (CAP) from the U.S.-Vietnam War (1965-1973) is frequently cited by military historians as an example of a successful counter-insurgency operation. In fact, the limited successes of the CAP have caused the program to achieve an almost mythological reputation. This paper will examine the CAP as an example of recent U.S. counter-insurgency experience and will use this program as a framework to analyze the 1992-1993 U.S.-led peace operation in Somalia, called Operation Restore Hope.

            The paper will begin with a historical overview of the CAP, from its roots in U.S. Marine actions in Central America circa 1935 up to the termination of the program in Vietnam in 1971. The successes and failures of the program will be examined in detail. The CAP will then be compared and contrasted with Operation Restore Hope in Somalia, also known as Unified Task Force (UNITAF). Operation Restore Hope, Dec 1992- May 1993, was the generally successful U.S.-led portion of the UN intervention is Somalia that preceded the ill-fated United Nations Operations in Somalia II (UNOSOM II). Also examined are the lessons of the CAP that were successfully applied in Somalia. Finally, the paper will conclude with a survey of current U.S. doctrine on peace operations and will suggest additions and improvements to the ways that U.S. forces are prepared for participation in such operations.

II. The Combined Action Program: A Historical Overview

            The Combined Action Program was the child of Marine Corps experience in the "Banana Wars" of Central America, specifically action against Augusto Sandino's guerrillas in Nicaragua circa 1925-1933. Through this experience, the Marines gained an early appreciation of insurgent guerrilla warfare and its socioeconomic and political dimensions.[1] Operations were characterized by aggressive small unit patrolling, independent units operating well away from heavy logistical support, and close association with indigenous constabulary forces. The latter included the employment of combined units made up of a mix of U.S. and local forces. In addition to military operations, the Marines also provided public works, health, and education services.[2]

            The Marines published their lessons learned in their Small Wars Manual (SWM), first printed in 1940. Almost fifty years later, the SWM is still an excellent primer on low intensity conflict. The Manual defines small wars as "operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."[3] The SWM also enunciates the significance of economic, political, and social factors and the desirability of minimum application of force.[4] These ideas were the precursors of current doctrine on Low Intensity Conflict (LIC), or, as it is know more currently, Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW).

            The beginnings of the CAP were completely ad hoc. In July 1965, 3d Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, under the command of LtCol William W. Taylor, was responsible for the security of the Marine air base at Phu Bai, Republic of Vietnam. Assigned a large area to defend with a shortage of manpower, LtCol Taylor was able to supplement his forces with six local militia platoons, known as Popular Forces or PF's. His intent was to form the PF's into a security force that would augment his Marines and operate from villages around the air base. To organize and train the new unit, LtCol Taylor secured the services of 1stLt Paul R. Ek, a Vietnamese-speaking Marine officer. 1stLt Ek drew volunteers from the infantry line companies and formed them into rifle squads, each consisting of a squad leader (NCO), an assistant squad leader, three four-man fireteams, and a Navy corpsman. Each of these squads was integrated into a PF platoon to form what Ek called a "joint action platoon." These were the first combined action units. These elements were in turn formed into "joint action companies."

            1stLt Ek also started a combined action school, a week long crash course in Vietnamese political structure and culture. Notably absent from the syllabus was any sort of language training, a weakness of the program that would continue throughout its existence. Even at this early stage of development, three distinguishing characteristics of the CAP, the basic unit consisting of a Marine squad combined with a PF platoon, specialized training for Marines prior to duty with the CAP's, and the volunteer nature of the program, were established.[5] 1stLt Ek's experiment was successful. Security in the villages improved to the point that officials began sleeping in their homes again instead of at fortified positions. Villagers began to provide valuable tactical intelligence on the Viet Cong (VC) to the Marines, and VC tax collection and propaganda activity decreased markedly.[6] Soon, other Marine units throughout the I Corps Tactical Zone began to form similar units; from the beginning, CAP was a bottom up phenomena.[7] CAP enjoyed considerable support from the senior Marine leadership, notably LtGen Lewis Walt, the Commanding General of III Marine Amphibious Force (III MAF). This was despite resistance from General Westmoreland, the Commander of Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV), who was more interested in engaging the VC in conventional set piece battles. The Program, still functioning on an informal basis, expanded throughout 1966, ending the year with 57 operational CAP's.[8]

            On 17 July 1967, LtGen Walt formally inaugurated the CAP with III MAF Force Order 3121.4A. The CAP got its own Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) and operational control of the CAP platoons was removed from their parent infantry battalions and taken over by III MAF. The Combined Action Platoons were reorganized into Combined Action Companies (CAC's) and these into Combined Action Groups (CAG's).[9] The program expanded throughout 1967 and 1968, reaching its peak in August of 1969 with 114 CAP platoons organized in four CAG's. With the winding down of the American presence in Vietnam, the Program was disestablished in May 1971.

            The mythology of the CAP originates from the fact that by the quantitative measures of effectiveness used during the war, it was successful. The enemy/friendly kill ratio of the CAP platoons varied from 4:1 to 14:1.[10] By the MACV Revolutionary Development Scale, almost two-thirds of CAP villages had reached an eighty percent level of pacification, compared to less than one-sixth of non-CAP villages.[11] In addition, morale in the CAP units was high. Despite much higher casualty rates than conventional line companies, there were no desertions recorded during the period 1966-1970.[12] More than half of CAP participants volunteered to extend their tours in the program.[13] Much of the CAP legend derives from the exploits of CAP L-6 at Binh Nghia during 1966-1967, described in Francis West's book The Village. L-6 demonstrated the potential of the CAP. After a period of adjustment, the Marines there were accepted by the Vietnamese villagers and were able to organize an effective combined Marine/PF defense force. After fighting a series of pitched battles with the Marines throughout 1966-1967, the VC eventually abandoned their efforts to control the village. When the Marines were reassigned in October 1967, they left behind a functional Vietnamese self-defense force.[14]

            Despite the legend, the reality is that the CAP never amounted to more than a very minor sideshow of the war. Even at its peak, total CAP strength never exceeded two thousand Marines. At one rifle squad per village, the CAP was extremely manpower intensive and did not lend itself to widespread application. For example, in the I Corps Tactical Zone alone, there were in excess of one thousand villages. To put a CAP unit in each would have required more Marine infantry than was available in the entire theater.[15]

            The effectiveness of CAP units was largely inconsistent, partly because VC activity varied greatly from area to area. Some CAP's made contact on an almost daily basis whereas others saw virtually no action.[16] Another factor was inconsistency in the quality of CAP participants and their training. Many of the "volunteers" were not true volunteers. Some, in fact, were Marines who had effectively been kicked out of their previous units and many had no combat experience.[17] Even in its longest version, the formal CAP school was only two weeks in duration and tended to focus on military skills, omitting, because of its short length, much needed cultural and language training. The improvisational nature of the Program persisted throughout its existence, being created "out of hide" and existing at the expense of conventional line units, who constantly competed for limited resources. As such, CAP units were chronically underequipped and undermanned.

            In stark contrast to West's account of CAP L-6 at Binh Nghia are the Edward F. Palm's memoirs of his participation as a member of CAP P-3 at Thon Vinh Dai in 1967.[18] Unlike West's CAP at Binh Nghia, Palm's unit never succeeded in winning the trust of the Vietnamese. In the five month period described by Palm, the relationship between the villagers and the Marines was distant at best. The PF's refused to patrol certain areas because, according to Palm, they had probably reached an accommodation with the VC, which constantly strained the relationship between the Marines and the Vietnamese. Therefore, the mutual trust and respect that was key to the success of the Binh Nghia unit never developed at Thon Vinh. In addition, the Americans were, in Palm's words, tactically incompetent. Unit discipline and basic infantry skills were lax and, in five months, contact with the VC occurred only once. In Palm's experience, the CAP was a noble but failed experiment because the cultural gap between the Americans and the Vietnamese was "unbridgeable."[19]

            The inconsistent results of the CAP can best be summed up by the statement of Col. John E. Greenwood, former CO of 4th CAG, that "Almost anything that you can say about CAP is true."[20] Yet despite accounts like Palm's and others criticizing the efficacy of the CAP, the fact remains that some CAP units were successful in countering the VC. What features distinguished effective units, like West's CAP unit at Binh Nghia from ineffective ones like Palm's?

            The single most critical factor was the will of the Vietnamese to resist the VC. Clausewitz wrote that war is a clash of wills.[21]Where there is no will there can be no victory. Some Vietnamese leaders such as the Police Chiefs and the District Chief described by West were at least as ruthless as their VC counterparts, not being above resorting to torture or summary action to achieve their ends.[22] In addition, there were civilian villagers who were openly defiant of the VC. The Marines at Binh Nghia were also able to bridge the culture gap, eventually winning the respect and trust of the Vietnamese through their efforts in attempting to understand village culture and their demonstrated determination to face the VC on their own ground. West mentions that Marines were frequently invited into homes for meals and children did not avoid them as they did non-CAP Americans.[23] As such, the Marines became part of the social and political structure of the village.

            West's unit, unlike Palm's, was well trained and well led. They benefited from having consistently high quality leaders and from receiving only first class volunteers. Their military skills were good, as seen in their aggressive patrolling which kept the VC off balance. They were physically and mentally tough and self-reliant. In nine months of some of the fiercest village fighting in Vietnam, the CAP unit never called in a single air strike for fear of causing collateral damage, another sign of their respect for Vietnamese culture. They were a professional model for the PF's to emulate.

            In September 1966, Binh Nghia was attacked by a large main force VC unit, killing all but one of the Marines in the stronghold, but the PF's successfully held the position. The unit was soon rebuilt and continued to wage successful small unit actions against the VC, and, in March 1967, again successfully defended the village from a VC battalion.[24] This was the high water mark of the Binh Nghia unit, in terms of acceptance of the Marines by the Vietnamese and also of the viability of the PF's as a credible fighting force. By the summer of 1967, the VC had resigned themselves to the persistence of the Binh Nghia unit and began to avoid it. In October 1967, the Marines were pulled out and reassigned, leaving behind a capable, self-sustaining PF defense force.[25]

            In summary, the Binh Nghia CAP unit was successful because, first and foremost, the Vietnamese possessed the political will to resist the VC. This, coupled with a credible military capability, allowed them to be successful. In addition, the Marines were a disciplined, competent unit. In Binh Nghia at least, the Marines did win the "hearts and minds" of the villagers, being accepted first as big brothers and later as equal partners in the struggle. The combined unit provided the basic physical security that made initial pacification possible, but long term pacification was achieved only because the villagers wanted it to be. The enduring lesson of Binh Nghia is that security without political effort is useless and that if political action is not employed, victory is impossible regardless of the scope and intensity of military operations.[26]

                                                III. Somalia: Operation Restore Hope


            The United Nations (UN) intervention in Somalia (Sept 1993 - May 1994) can be divided into four phases, the minimalist and ineffective United Nations Operations in Somalia I (UNOSOM I, Sept 92- Dec 92), the generally effective U.S.-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF, Dec 92-May 93), the overstretched, coercive and failed UNOSOM II (May 93-Oct 93), and the final revised, scaled back UNOSOM II (Oct 93-Mar 95). The U.S. participation in UNITAF was code named Operation Restore Hope.

            Somali President Siad Barre, a past client of both the former Soviet Union and the United States, was overthrown in January 1991 by an alliance of factional clans. Afterwards, the clans attempted to form an interim government in Mogadishu. This effort failed and fighting broke out between two dominant factions of the United Somali Congress (USC). These were the forces of General Mohamed Farah Aideed's Habar Gedir clan and those of Ali Mahdi's Abhal clan. Both of these factions were subclans of the Hawiye clan.[27] The fighting caused widespread starvation and the collapse of all government institutions.

            On 24 April 1992, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 751, authorizing the dispatch of unarmed UN peacekeepers to Somalia to monitor a UN brokered cease fire.[28] U.S. involvement in Somalia started with Operation Provide Relief, which in August 1992 began to airlift supplies and the first UN peacekeepers into Somalia. Eventually, a force of 500 Pakistani peacekeepers were deployed to Mogadishu. Inadequately staffed, trained, and equipped, they were unable to take control of the airfield and port and were totally ineffective. In the absence of a legitimate government, fighting soon resumed between clan forces and was heaviest in and around Mogadishu.[29] Even with the fighting, food poured into Somalia from relief agencies and countries worldwide. However, despite an ever increasing amount of food arriving in country, the actual amount of food reaching the population decreased due to widespread looting.[30] The situation on the ground continued to deteriorate and by November of 1992 half a million Somalis had died as a result of fighting and starvation in two years of civil war. In addition, General Aideed and Ali Mahdi had ceased negotiations with the UN.[31]

            On 3 December 1992, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 794 which endorsed military action under Chapter VII of the UN Charter to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations in Somalia as soon as possible.[32] On 9 December 1992, U.S. Marines landed in Mogadishu as the lead elements of Operation Restore Hope.[33] The operation was conducted by the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM). The principal U.S. units involved were the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) and the Army's 10th Mountain Division. The Commanding General of I MEF, LtGen Robert B. Johnston, was appointed the Joint Task Force Commander by the Commander in Chief, CENTCOM.[34] Major Coalition force contributors were Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Morocco, and Pakistan. Minor contingents were sent by Botswana, Egypt, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Zimbabwe.[35] The U.S. and Coalition forces together comprised the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) which operated under LtGen Johnston's command.[36] UNITAF operated under a strict interpretation of UNSCR 794 which sanctioned UN action to establish a secure environment for relief operations. The UNITAF staff focused on the achievement of clearly identifiable and measurable military, political, and humanitarian objectives.[37] Despite wide disparities in languages, cultures, and capabilities, UNITAF, through extensive exchange of liaison teams, was able to achieve a high degree of cohesion and a sense of common purpose.[38]

            UNITAF's pacification operations were successful. By February - March 1993, UNITAF had accomplished the humanitarian mission. In excess of forty thousand tons of relief supplies had passed through Mogadishu and Humanitarian Operations Centers were established in all major population centers. UNITAF forces conducted extensive and highly visible patrolling operations in their respective areas. Though sporadic fighting in Mogadishu continued into January 1993, UNITAF was militarily and politically credible enough to withstand confrontation with the clans and did not allow itself to be dragged into the factional fighting.[39] By the end of January, an air of normalcy began to return to Mogadishu. The vehicularly mounted heavy weapons, known as "technicals", were taken off of the streets and stored outside of the city by their clan owners. No light weapons, except those authorized by registration with UNITAF, were visible on the streets. Shops and schools began to reopen. With U.S. advisory assistance, the Somalis established an interim police force. Units were patrolling the streets of Mogadishu by mid-January. At the time of the UNITAF-UN hand off on 4 May 1993, the police force was three thousand strong and operating in all of Mogadishu's eighteen districts.[40]Civilian casualty figures, especially those due to gunshot wounds, dropped sharply.[41]

            Throughout, UNITAF troops demonstrated remarkable discipline and restraint. Despite numerous incidents ranging from stone throwing to minor firefights, UNITAF forces for the most part followed their own strict rules of engagement. The Somalis recognized the UNITAF restraint and responded in kind.[42]As a result, Somali casualties during the five month UNITAF deployment were low, estimated at fifty to one hundred. UNITAF casualties for the same period were eight killed and twenty-four wounded.[43] UNITAF handed off operations to UNOSOM II on 04 May 1993.[44] From the outset, UNOSOM II was ill equipped and understaffed to assume control of peacekeeping and peacemaking operations. Neither the UN Security Council nor the Secretary General provided precise guidance on how UNOSOM II was to operate. No effective command and control apparatus was in place at the time of the handoff. The UNOSOM II staff, what little there was of one, was incapable of coordinating military and political functions, a particularly difficult task given the diversity of Coalition forces. For example, UNOSOM II Command never succeeded in establishing a uniform set of Rules of Engagement (ROE).[45]

            Given the lack of detailed guidance for UNOSOM II operations, the relatively easy success of UNITAF, and Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali's vision of the UN as a nationbuilder, the stage was set for mission creep.   On 26 March 1993, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 814.[46] Coercive in its wording (many provisions beginning with "demands that ..."), 814 was a mandate for a UN nationbuilding operation in Somalia. In addition, UNITAF and UNOSOM II differed fundamentally in style. UNOSOM II did not make the effort to engage the Somali people that UNITAF did. UNOSOM II tended to be aloof. UNOSOM II forces adopted a fortress mentality and were given to isolating themselves in their compounds. Thinking that it was no longer necessary, UNOSOM II closed the Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC), effectively severing vital communications channels with the Somalis and relief organizations. UNSCR 814 marked a major turning point of the UN presence in Somalia. The passage of Resolution 814 alienated the Somali people, who began to perceive the UN presence as neocolonialist. Relations between UNOSOM II and the Somalis thus began a downward spiral. This caused a series of escalating confrontations with the factions that eventually lead to the 5 Jun 1993 massacre of twenty-four Pakistani peacekeepers at the hands of General Aideed's forces.[47]

            On 6 June 1993, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 837 which placed a bounty on General Aideed.[48] Through its heavy handedness, UNOSOM II had in short order succeeded in alienating the Somali population and marginalizing their most prominent clan leader. Now, with the bounty on Aideed, the UN personalized the conflict and in the process elevated Aideed to the status of a folk hero. The U.S. was a willing participant in all of this. American Admiral Jonathan Howe, UN special envoy to Somalia, requested and received both Rangers and Delta Force commandos to hunt for Aideed. This special operations task force, known as Task Force Ranger, operated at the direction of Admiral Howe and outside of the UN chain of command. Its sole function was to find and apprehend Aideed.[49] This operation culminated in the disastrous 3 October 93 raid in Mogadishu that resulted in the death of eighteen Americans.[50] This fiasco, which highlighted the Clinton administration's lack of a coherent policy in Somalia, caused a rapid collapse of American public support for the mission. In March 1994, U.S. forces were withdrawn from Somalia. By this time, the Somalis still had not succeeded in establishing a national government or a permanent police force. By July, widespread fighting between armed factions had resumed in Mogadishu.[51] In March 1995, the UN, under protection of U.S. forces (Operation United Shield), withdrew completely from Somalia.[52]

            At the very beginning of the UN involvement in Somalia, the Bush administration and the UN Secretary General had very different visions of the UN mission. Boutros Boutros-Ghali advocated an aggressive role. He envisioned the UN as a nationbuilder.[53] Early on, he pressed for an aggressive clan disarmament program.[54] President Bush, on the other hand, harbored no illusions regarding the difficulties in rebuilding a country where the government had completely failed. Bush saw Operation Restore Hope as a narrowly defined and achievable military mission, to provide a secure environment for relief operations and then to get out. This was the literal interpretation of UNSCR 794. Bush continually resisted UN pressure (much of it at the behest of the Secretary General) to expand the mission beyond what 794 called for. In contrast, the Clinton administration, perhaps out of naiveté, did not. This critical difference between the Clinton and Bush administrations was central to the very different outcomes of UNITAF (perceived as an easy and quick success) and UNOSOM II (total failure).

            UNITAF was successful because its mission, to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations, was well defined, achievable and limited. From the beginning, the UNITAF command aggressively pursued a dialogue with Coalition contributors, relief agencies, and most importantly, the Somali people. This entailed the formation of a joint security committee and regular town meetings involving UNITAF officers and community leaders.[55] UNITAF forces, especially the Americans, patrolled extensively. The Marines, perhaps taking a page from their Small Wars Manual, were especially active inside Mogadishu. This served to maintain a high level of visibility and military credibility. The importance of the latter within the context of Somalia's clan based society can not be overstated. UNITAF's relationship with the clans was based on persuasion backed by firmness. The mere presence of military might was not enough. The clans' perception of UNITAF's strength was based on both capability and the demonstrated will to use it.[56] In other words, UNITAF was assertive, and was respected for it. In contrast, UNOSOM II, because of its obvious lack of organization and direction, was perceived as weak despite obvious and significant capabilities.[57]

            UNITAF had, as a result of competent staff organization, a clear understanding of what was possible and what was not. The UNITAF Command was well aware of their limitations. For instance, Boutros Boutros-Ghali favored an aggressive disarmament program as part of the relief operation. However, LtGen Johnston, UNITAF Commander, saw such an effort as completely unrealistic and unworkable. In addition, UNITAF, through its pursuit of dialogue with clan leaders, went to great pains to avoid being associated with a particular faction.

            Ultimately, UNOSOM II failed because it attempted to do something (nationbuilding) that was far beyond its and probably any nation's capability. Seduced by the relatively easy success of UNITAF, UNOSOM II became preoccupied with military solutions to political problems (i.e. the hunt for Aideed). UNOSOM II completely failed to appreciate the scope and difficulty of rebuilding Somalia. It lacked a clear strategy and was totally inadequate to the task of nationbuilding in virtually every respect.

            UN doctrine for peace operations covered only two extremes regarding the use of military force. At the low end of the spectrum was the traditional peacekeeping mission conducted under Chapter VI of the UN Charter which involved the diplomatic use of military forces. In these cases, UN troops were inserted between parties that had mutually agreed to stop fighting. The UN forces acted as guarantors of the armistice; they were effectively armed referees. At the high end of the scale were peace enforcement missions, which were authorized under Article 42 of the UN Charter. These involved large scale military operations against an obvious aggressor. The Gulf War, although ultimately authorized under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, used the language of Article 42 without specifically referring to it.[58] Boutros Boutros-Ghali, in pushing for a nationbuilding effort in Somalia, wanted the UN to experiment in a new form of peace enforcement mission, one that would bridge the gap between the use of lightly armed referees and large scale medium to high intensity military operations.[59] With no previous experience in a project of this sort, the rebuilding of Somalia looked possible, especially in light of the early success of UNITAF. As a result of this perception, UNOSOM II became dominated by military operations as it attempted to impose military solutions on political problems.[60]

            The UN, personified in Boutros Boutros-Ghali, failed to appreciate the political landscape in Somalia. His two track strategy of national reconstruction, military pacification accompanied by political resurrection, was based on a number of faulty assumptions. These were the existence of a Somali political "center" around which the factions would rally, the previous existence of a viable national government, and that western democratic ideals of government could be successfully applied in Somalia.[61]

            The reality of Somalia was exactly the opposite of these assumptions. In fact, there was no such thing as a collective Somali consciousness or national identity.[62] Anarchy, that is the absence of a central government, was the principal characteristic of Somali social organization prior to colonization. The basic social units were the clans which existed in a rough state of primitively armed equilibrium. Their behavior was governed by a code of conduct called the Xeer. The Xeer was a set of rules and norms that provided the basis for order in the nomadic Somali communities.[63]

            After colonization by and independence from Britain and Italy, Siad Barre became the President (dictator) of Somalia in 1969. Siad Barre quickly proved himself a ruthless and corrupt despot. Although his regime was roughly organized along clan lines, it did not consider itself bound by the Xeer.[64] Through the Cold War years of the seventies and eighties, Siad Barre was first a client of the former Soviet Union and later of the United States. During this period, a huge quantity of weapons was poured into the country by both sides. In reaction to the blatant corruption of Barre's rule, opposition factions emerged. Although these too were loosely based on clan affiliations, expediency, as in the case of the Barre regime, took precedence over familial relations. In time, the armed faction came to replace the clan as the fundamental unit of Somali social structure.[65] The major change from pre-Barre times was that none of these organizations considered itself bound by the Xeer or any other set of rules.

            The 1991 overthrow of Siad Barre by the United Somali Congress (USC), a Hawiye-dominated faction led by Mohamed Farah Aideed, marked the beginning of the complete collapse of the last vestiges of Somali social organization. With the common enemy (Barre) vanquished, the opposition factions soon turned on one another in an intense competition to control territory and resources. The power of the mob had replaced the tyranny of the dictator and, in the absence of the rule of law, the gun had supplanted the Xeer as the Somali social fabric.[66]

            The subtleties and complexities of Somali clan/faction structure were lost on Boutros Boutros-Ghali. For example, in advocating an aggressive program to disarm the factions, he saw the weapons as the root cause of the absence of social and political order. Besides failing to appreciate the futility of such a venture[67], he failed to realize that the weapons were only a symptom and not the cause of lawlessness.[68]

            With UNITAF's accomplishment of the limited humanitarian operation in early 1993, Boutros-Ghali continued to press for the expansion of the UN mission. In a report dated 3 March 1993, he stated that, despite improvements in humanitarian conditions, a secure environment still had not been established in Somalia. He concluded that UNOSOM II should be granted authority under Chapter VII of the UN Charter and endowed with enforcement powers.[69] The result of this was the passage of Security Council Resolution 814, the mandate for nationbuilding. This precipitated the downward spiral of events seen in the massacre of the Pakistanis, the hunt for Aideed, and the Ranger debacle that ultimately led to the UN pullout in March 1995.

            The greatest error of UNOSOM II was that it failed to see that political reconciliation between the factions could only have been accomplished with a radical transformation of the factional political landscape from one of armed competition for territory and resources to one of mutual respect and cooperation. To have expected such an event to occur was totally unrealistic given that the Somalis had no culture of national unity and that their only past experience with centralized authority, Siad Barre, had been overwhelmingly negative.[70]

            There are many lessons to be learned from Somalia for future humanitarian relief operations. First, an ad hoc approach will not work. The overall objective of the operation must be clearly defined at the outset. Vague objectives are an invitation to mission creep. It may be just as useful to explicitly state what the objective is not as it to state what it is. Detailed planning is essential given the wide variety of players likely to be involved in any peace operation. [71] The Joint Force Commander must establish early on the command relationships not only between the coalition military forces but also with the non-military participants such as the non-governmental organizations (NGO's) and private volunteer organizations (PVO's). This will probably entail the extensive use of liaison officers and the early establishment and adequate staffing of a Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC), as well as the recognition that civil affairs and psychological operations are as important to the success of the such operations as direct military action. Also, the inevitable transition of command from the U.S. to the UN must be meticulously planned, and any gaps in the UN capability, be it in staff planning, military forces, logistics or otherwise, must be identified early and corrected well in advance of the turnover.[72]

            Moreover, neutrality can be elusive in peace operations. Every humanitarian intervention is inherently partisan. In helping the "victims" of factional fighting, we are really helping the losing side, or else they would not be victims in the first place.[73]The relief force may come to be seen as another faction or ally of an existing faction, a factor which may be offset by the aggressive seeking and maintenance of dialogue with all participants.

            Military forces must arrive rapidly, in strength, and they must be credible, meaning that the presence of capability must be accompanied by a demonstrated will to use it. A rapid, credible deployment, as in the UNITAF phase, can potentially win the confidence of the population who will then come to regard the forces as an effective authority. In such cases, the seizure of initiative and momentum can be just as useful in peace operations as it is in conventional combat.[74] However, pacification will not be sustainable without a determined effort of political reconciliation and reconstruction. This was the critical element lacking in Somalia.

            Though it failed in Somalia, the "two track" approach of peace operations, that of parallel efforts of military pacification and political reconciliation, may still have applicability in other situations. This strategy failed in Somalia because of the previously discussed traits of Somali culture and because operations came to be dominated by the military aspect. A more calculated and balanced approach may work in some future operation. Before such an attempt in made, however, two things must be clearly understood by the donor nations and organizations. First, they must recognize that western values do not translate everywhere. The attempted imposition of western democratic values on a decidedly nonwestern culture was a crucial failure of UNOSOM II. The importance of what LtGen. A.C. Zinni, USMC, current Deputy Commander in Chief, USCENTCOM, called "cultural intelligence" cannot be overstated. Before we can go into strange places and do good things, we need to know how people there think. This is a lesson that we continue to relearn as seen in the cases of Vietnam and Lebanon.

            Second, any attempt at political resurrection is an open-ended mission where deadlines do not apply. Such an effort will require a long term commitment from both the assistance providers and the recipients. Open ended military missions are extremely difficult to sell politically. The current debate over the U.S. presence in the Balkans is but the latest example of this. Also, relief operations, by their very nature, tend to create relief based economies, much like the welfare morass that has developed in major American cities. Assistance solves short term needs but in doing so tends to retard the development of self-sufficiency, which in turn tends to lengthen the duration of the mission.[75] The transition from relief operations to self-sufficiency is the essence of nationbuilding. It will not be inexpensive nor will it be quick. Success here will require the will on the part of the relief providers to commit the time and resources necessary for the task. The single most important factor to success will be the political will of the recipient society to have a stable, self-reliant nation in the first place. In some cases, such as Somalia, that aspect will be lacking.

                        IV. The Combined Action Program and Somalia: Common Lessons


            The Vietnam War, a counterinsugency operation, and Operation Restore Hope, a peace operation, shared some common features of low intensity conflict. These included: the lack of an easily identifiable enemy; an overreliance on military solutions; a dual strategy consisting of pacification by military means accompanied by political reconciliation/reconstruction; operations in an environment alien to Americans; demonstration of the potential strategic effects of media coverage; and finally, failure due to the absence of a coherent political solution.

            In both Vietnam and Somalia, enemy forces were virtually indistinguishable from friendly civilians, which necessitated the implementation of rules of engagement (ROE). Thus, the ROE were sometimes overly complex and confusing, especially in Somalia. Both Vietnam and Somalia presented American forces with an environment, where in many cases, western values and norms of behavior did not apply, underscoring the importance of cultural awareness. This is particularly applicable in peace operations, where U.S. forces must not only understand the culture and capabilities of the "recipient" nation or nations, but also those of coalition partners with which they may operate.

            The U.S. in Vietnam and the UN in Somalia both used a two track strategy of pacification by military force combined with efforts to rehabilitate the political system. In both instances, this approach became unbalanced as military operations ascended to a position of dominance in policymaking, eventually causing attempts at political solutions to be shortchanged. Overreliance on military means occurred because military operations tended to present quick and tangible results. Military operations produced results that lent themselves to measurement, such as the body counts in Vietnam, which were often inaccurate, and the tons of food delivered in


Somalia. Statistics were pleasing to politicians and showed immediate results, creating in the minds of leaders the illusion that resolution of all problems are easily attainable if only the correct orders are given. This promise of near instant gratification by military action distracted leaders from seeing the larger picture and led them away from the much more difficult work of statesmanship, diplomacy, and cultural understanding. In both cases, leaders attempted to impose military solutions onto what were fundamentally political problems.

            Though the CAP was but a minor sideshow of the Vietnam War, it was nevertheless another example of the dominant military role in U.S. policy. The CAP did have a political dimension, unlike the majority of military operations in Vietnam. Nevertheless, it was still a military program, although it did demonstrate the need for political action to go hand in hand with military action. Where there was a political basis for pacification, such as the will to resist the communists, CAP units, such as the one at Binh Nghia, were effective in countering the VC. Where the villagers collaborated with the VC, CAP units were ineffective. At a strategic level, the preoccupation with things military prevented U.S. policymakers from appreciating the ineffectiveness of the South Vietnamese government. Likewise, the leaders of UNOSOM II, seduced by the early success of UNITAF, failed to appreciate the intractable nature of the clan/faction structure in Somalia as the tried to "rebuild" the society. Ultimately, despite some successes at the tactical level, such as the Binh Nghia CAP and UNITAF, both efforts failed because political solutions to political problems were not forthcoming.

            In both Vietnam and Somalia, American forces were committed without a clear understanding of the social, economic and cultural factors at work. Had American leaders had a better idea of how the people that they were dealing with thought and perceived our actions, they


might have been able to develop more successful strategies. Blindness to cultural and political issues prevented them from fully appreciating the problems at hand. Better "cultural intelligence" might have enabled policymakers to determine earlier what was or what was not possible and when the cause was beyond saving. In Vietnam we perpetuated a failed government, only delaying the inevitable collapse. In Somalia, UNOSOM II attempted to rebuild a "society" that never existed in the first place.

            Vietnam and Somalia also demonstrated the potential strategic effects of media coverage. That is, the power of the media to shape popular support for or against U.S. intervention. In Vietnam, adverse news coverage of such events as My Lai and the Tet Offensive were instrumental to the collapse of public support for the war. In the case of Somalia, the "CNN factor" got us both into and out of the operation.[76] Pictures of starving Somalis on the television night after night (just before Thanksgiving 1992) caused the media-inspired public outcry to do "something". The media got the U.S. into Somalia against the informed judgment of the CIA, which well before December 1992 correctly assessed the situation as beyond simple remedy and sternly warned against intervention.[77] Likewise, the media got the U.S. out of Somalia with the pictures of a dead American soldier being dragged through a Mogadishu street following the failed Ranger raid in October 1993. Yet politicians, by their nature, hate to be criticized in public, especially when they are accused of doing nothing. They want to be perceived as men and women of action. This tendency renders them vulnerable to making rash decisions under media pressure. As attractive as a proactive course of action might look and sound, the reality is


that sometimes the best course of action is to do nothing.      

            There are several common lessons to be learned for modern peace operations from our involvement in Vietnam and Somalia. Some of these might include the following: that mission clarity is essential; that command relationships should be as simple as possible; that high quality conventional forces are inherently flexible enough to do some unconventional roles; that in-depth cultural awareness is essential; that the two track military/political strategy, though not successfully used in either Vietnam or Somalia, is still probably the approach with the most potential for success; and most importantly, that an objective determination of what is possible is essential in order to prevent mission creep.

            Prior to the commitment of forces to any peace operation, the mission must be defined clearly. This should include, to the maximum extent possible, clearly defined tasks and criteria for success and a clear mandate from the UN. Such a mandate will not only define the mission, but will also determine how U.S. forces go about accomplishing it. The mandate will be used to shape political guidance to U.S. forces, and, as the U.S. is likely to be the leader in any future peace operation, input from the U.S. military may be useful in the crafting of the mandate through the U.S. ambassador to the UN.[78]

            Command relationships should be as simple as possible and all participants should have a clear idea of who they are responsible to. Even in Vietnam, the CAP units did not have a workable command and control apparatus until the program was formalized by III MAF. Before then, they tended to be treated as outcasts caught between their parent infantry battalions, III

MAF and MACV. With formalization of the CAP, they were brought under the control of a single headquarters.

            In peace operations, the need for clear command relationships is even more important given the added complexity of these endeavors. Not only are peace operations likely to be both joint (multiservice) and combined (multinational), they will probably involve a host of non-military non-government organizations (NGO's) and private volunteer organizations (PVO's).[79] Many of these players may have a hidden agenda. In the UNITAF phase of Operation Restore Hope, I MEF was designated the Joint Task Force Headquarters. This provided continuity of relationships and procedures that was critical to the effective command and control of forces and assets from more than twenty different countries.[80] In addition, UNITAF introduced the use of a Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) and the division of the country into Humanitarian Relief Sectors (HRS's). The former greatly facilitated the coordination between military and non-military organizations (NGO's and PVO's) and the latter allowed the division of the country into military areas of responsibility. The use of HRS's provided workable spans of control to the various military contingents.[81]

            In both the CAP and in the UNITAF phase of Operation Restore Hope, conventional forces were pressed into unconventional roles and were successful. Both operations demonstrated that well led and well trained main force organizations are adaptable to some non-standard missions. What little preparation that these forces had was ad hoc at best. There is much room for improvement in this regard. For future peace operations, time and resources permitting,


every effort should be made to provide as much predeployment training as possible not just in tactics, techniques and procedures, but also in the culture and history of the target area. The lack of such cultural preparation has been a long-standing weakness of U.S. forces. The more our forces understand the motivations at work in the target area, the greater their chances for success. Cultural understanding will entail far more than simply understanding the language. That said, some rudimentary language training will also be useful. Linguists may have to be sourced from outside the military, as in Somalia where contact linguists were hired, of whom many were Somali nationals living in the U.S..

            The two track strategy, military pacification combined with political reconciliation/reconstructon , was not used to its fullest potential in either Vietnam or Somalia. Despite this history, it is still the strategy that holds the most promise for success in future peace operations. The failures in Vietnam and Somalia (UNOSOM II) were caused by an unbalanced approach where military operations came to dominate the mission, causing the diminution of political efforts. In the future, we must avoid the trap of overreliance on military means. The allure of military operations is that they produce almost immediate results that are usually quantifiable in some way. The quick results of such operations, such as pacification by the application of overwhelming force, though superficially effective, are deceptive. These results will be short lived because they reflect treatment of the symptom, not the disease. The temporary pacification achieved by UNITAF was an example of this.

            Clausewitz is just as applicable to peace operations as he is to conventional war. The conflict will invariably be based in some political struggle and its solution will likewise be political, not military, in nature. The attainment of such a solution will obviously be much more

 difficult than simply ordering in the troops. It will require much patience and an intense effort to understand the motivations behind the conflict. The conduct of the operation should be governed by the progress toward a deliberately calculated endstate, not a rigid timetable, and our view must be long term. Most importantly, a durable peace will require the desire of the parties involved to reach an accommodation. Without the native desire for peace, any effort by third parties will be futile, as was the case in Somalia.

            The most important lesson of Somalia is that it reminded us that, even as the world's only superpower, we are not omnipotent. Future humanitarian crises may be rooted in political, economic and/or social problems that will defy solution or whose solution will involve unacceptable costs in terms of treasure or lives. Our formidable military capability will in almost all cases enable us to achieve favorable short term results, as was done by UNITAF, but in and of themselves military forces alone will not provide a long term solution.

            We must be painfully aware of the limits of our power. Sun Tzu said that "If ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are certain in every battle to be in peril."[82] Better that we realize our weaknesses ourselves before someone else points them out to us on some third world street. We must also resist the "CNN factor" if we cannot affect a real and lasting improvement in the situation. Short term solutions by force in otherwise hopeless situations may make for dramatic news stories and might cause us feel good about ourselves for a while, but will otherwise be a waste of American lives and money. The challenge of the future will be to identify the crises where we can make a real difference and which ones are beyond help, as the CIA warned about Somalia. Though it does not lend itself to "sound-bite" style news coverage,

sometime the best course of action is to do nothing. There is a Somali proverb: "If you sweep the earth with a broom, it is the broom that wears out."[83] The United States cannot afford to be the broom of the world nor should it try.

V. Doctrine for Peace Operations


            Peace operations, a subcategory of operations variously known as small wars, low intensity conflict (LIC), and Military Operations Other Than War (MOOTW), are not new to the United States military. Despite this, doctrine for these types of operations is sparse compared to that of conventional warfare; small wars doctrine has been relatively static since 1940. In contrast, doctrine for medium to high intensity conflict has been the subject of a tremendous amount of research by the armed services as result of the Cold War. Doctrine for peace/small wars operations may be old, but this does not necessarily mean that it is useless. For example, much of the Marine Corps' Small Wars Manual, first published almost sixty years ago, is as relevant today as it was during the 1920's.

            What are the criteria for a useful doctrine for peace operations? Doctrine, in the context of the U.S. military, is published material used to prescribe a way to think rather than what to think. This point deserves emphasis here because in peace operations, more so than in any other type of military operation, there is no standard "school house" solution to familiar problems. The problems that commanders are likely to encounter in peace operations, in the words of the Small Wars Manual, "seldom develop in accord with any stereotyped procedure."[84]

            Peacekeeping doctrine should emphasize, first and foremost, the need to understand the nature of the conflict, and what the parties are fighting about. This begins with a thorough knowledge of the target country, in all of its cultural, social, economic and political dimensions. Ideally, this doctrine should emphasize the point that in peace operations, ambiguity and uncertainty are even more pronounced than they are in conventional operations. The unique requirements involved in preparing forces for peace operations should be addressed. For example, a fundamentally different mindset is required, one that combines compassion and flexibility with calculation and resolve. The doctrine should also talk address the importance of perceptions, which can have the same impact on events as reality. A case in point is UNOSOM II in Somalia, where initial indecisiveness in the application of force was quickly interpreted as weakness. The necessity of practical rules of engagement (ROE) should be discussed, along with command relationships and the unique problems of coalition operations. This should include some discussion of the employment of liaison elements. The virtues of simplicity with regard to command and control and ROE should be stressed. Finally, peace operations doctrine should emphasize the importance of informed and competent leadership down to the lowest level. Given the expectation that each peace operation will be different, it probably is not feasible to devise a definitive "how to" manual as one might do with infantry tactics. The greatest utility of peace operations doctrine will be to help future planners "wargame the problem" and to attempt to anticipate the unique situations that they will be most likely to encounter. With these criteria in mind, this chapter will critique the primary doctrinal publications for peace operations of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Army, the Small Wars Manual and FM 100-23 Peace Operations.

Small Wars Manual (SWM). First published in 1940, the SWM is the compilation of U.S. Marine Corps experience in the Central/South American "Banana Wars" of the 1920's and 1930's. Once one disregards the more anachronistic portions, such as the chapters on obsolete infantry weapons and organizations, the material is surprisingly relevant to modern peace operations, particularly the sections in Chapter One dealing with small wars characteristics, strategy, and psychology. The SWM definition of small wars is as applicable today as it was in 1940.[85] The SWM correctly states that such operations seldom follow any established pattern and that our forces will most likely be dealing with a numerically superior adversary operating on terrain favorable to him.[86] A statement that is almost prescient of UNOSOM II's experience is made in the section on general characteristics: "Small wars are conceived in uncertainty, are conducted often with precarious responsibility and doubtful authority, under indiscriminate orders lacking specific instructions."[87] The vital importance of cultural understanding permeates the SWM, along with the idea that the conflict will probably be rooted in economic, social and/or political matters, that military force alone will not restore peace and that the ultimate solution will most likely be political and not military in nature.[88]

            The effect of psychological factors, both on friendlies and adversaries is discussed. The SWM states that friendly troops must adopt a mindset fundamentally different from that of conventional combat forces, one that is characterized by caution and steadiness rather than belligerence. Small wars operations require the absolute minimum application of force and the use of arms should be the exception rather than the rule. The training challenge will be to instill in our troops a temperament that is a mix of both peaceful and warlike tendencies.

            The cultural awareness issue is raised in the section of psychology. The SWM again emphasizes that forces must be prepared to deal with profound cultural differences and that this will require a serious study of the people and their racial, political, religious, and mental differences.[89] Our troops must understand how the natives think; only with this depth of understanding will they be successful. The SWM enumerates fundamental policies that are applicable to almost any small war situation. These are recognition and respect for local customs, the avoidance of any favoritism or appearance thereof, a thorough knowledge of the political situation, and respect for religious beliefs. The utility of psychological operations, what the SWM refers to as the "indirect" approach, is also covered. Specific methods mentioned are subtle inspiration, propaganda through suggestion, and the undermining of selected leaders. The efficacy of such methods is wholly dependent of a thorough understanding of the target audience.

            The SWM cautions against the creation of a relief based society. It states that some people are "too willing to shirk their individual responsibility and are too ready to let others shoulder the full responsibility for restoring and, still worse, maintaining order and normalcy." It goes on to say that "as little local responsibility as possible to accomplish the mission should be assumed" and that "any other procedure weakens the sovereign state, complicating the relationship with the military forces and prolonging the occupation."[90] In short, American forces should not allow themselves to be drawn into taking over and running the country, as was done in Vietnam. The psychology section closes with a discussion of perceptions and rules of engagement (ROE). The early establishment of military credibility is vital, as any indecisiveness in the use of force will likely be interpreted as weakness, a point that was clearly illustrated in the failure of UNOSOM II. ROE should be lawful, specific, and couched in clear, simple language.

            The subjects just discussed are covered in the first thirty-two pages of the SWM and are the most useful. In this short but densely packed section, the SWM addresses most of the salient points of peace operations. The dominant theme is the importance of cultural awareness. The desirability of minimum use of force, indirect methods and a mindset of tolerance and sympathy combined with firmness and strength is also heavily emphasized. The remainder of the SWM is less useful, particularly the obviously obsolete sections on chain of command (Goldwater-Nichols was still forty-six years away.) and infantry weapons. Some of the sections on tactics, such as the chapters on convoy and riverine operations, may still be of some use, at least as background reading. The most useful part of the SWM, however, remain the first four sections. These fulfill the purpose of the manual in that they instruct the reader in how, not what, to think about the conduct of small wars.

FM-100-23 Peace Operations. Published in December 1994, this is the most current doctrinal publication concerning the planning and conduct of peace operations. The introduction provides a history and overview of peace operation concepts and explains that commanders are obligated to set clear objectives, define the mission, firmly guide operations, and measure progress and success. FM 100-23  states that the peace operation environment will be less well defined than in conventional war, that the identity of belligerents may be uncertain, and that traditional elements of combat power may not apply. Echoing ideas presented earlier in the SWM, FM-100-23 states that an understanding of the political and cultural dimensions of the conflict are critical and that an over-emphasis on firepower may be counterproductive. In peace operations, the conflict itself, not the belligerents, is the enemy.[91]

            Chapter One covers the fundamentals of peace operations, explaining strategic concept, types of peace operations, and their principles and variables. Types of peace operations are split into support to diplomacy, peacekeeping, and peace enforcement. This section is very useful as it explains the differences between peace operations types in the context of today's joint and combined world. Most interesting is the section describing the differences between peacekeeping and peace enforcement. Peacekeeping operations are undertaken with the consent of all major belligerents; peacekeeping forces are put in place to monitor an existing agreement.[92] In contrast, peace enforcement operations are "the application of military force, pursuant to international authority, to compel compliance with generally accepted resolutions and sanctions."[93] Peace enforcement may include combat action. FM-100-23 states that the differences between peacekeeping and peace enforcement are not a continuum, that they occur under vastly different circumstances of consent, force, and impartiality. For example, peacekeeping requires high levels of consent (by the belligerents) and impartiality (by the peacekeeping forces) whereas in peace enforcement this is not necessarily so.[94] A key point raised is that because of these profound differences, a force trained for peacekeeping may be completely unsuitable for a peace enforcement mission and vice versa.[95]

            Chapter Two covers describes the subjects of command and control, coordination, and liaison. The importance of well defined command relationships, in the context of UN/multinational ad hoc coalition operations is discussed in some depth. The necessity of extensive liaison with civilian agencies, coalition partners and non-governmental organizations is also covered. Chapter Three describes planning considerations. This includes the topics of mission analysis and the operational functions of intelligence, maneuver, fire support, mobility/counter-mobility, combat service support, C3, coordination, force protection, and information. Considerations for rules of of engagement (ROE), such as intent and multinational interpretation, are discussed briefly. Conspicuously absent from this sections is any mention of the need for ROE to be simple enough to be practical. Force training and tailoring is covered only superficially. Taking up less than two pages, this section is inadequate and needs much development. The discussion is dominated by force structure and not enough attention is given to force training, such as cultural indoctrination of ground troops. Little if any discussion is devoted to the use of linguists and cultural subject matter experts.

            The final chapter is on logistics and discusses the need to appreciate the capabilities and limitations of coalition partners and other agencies. The most useful section in this chapter is the one covering special considerations of UN operations, specifically the limited planning capabilities of UN staffs. The manual closes with a number of useful appendices on UN organizations and functions, international relief organizations, training requirements, and a sample ROE. A listing of references is also provided.

            Overall, FM-100-23 is a useful primer on modern peace operations. The sections of force tailoring and training need more development, especially in the area of cultural indoctrination of forces. Like the SWM before it, it succeeds in reminding the leader and planner about the unpredictable nature and unique considerations of peace operations. Its greatest usefulness derives from doing this in the modern context of post Goldwater-Nichols, UN-sanctioned joint/combined operations.

            In conclusion, the U.S. military does have a functional doctrine for peace operations, albeit one that has not attained the same prominence and level of development of doctrine for conventional combat operations. There is no standard "template" solution for the planning and conduct of peace operations since each peace operation promises to be unique. The only common characteristics of future peace operations will be an unfamiliar environment and an abundance of friction, ambiguity and uncertainty. The challenge for future leaders and planners will be to properly prepare and equip our forces, especially in cultural matters, and to define clear and achievable missions, straightforward command relationships, and practical ROE. Despite our best efforts, it is inevitable that future operations will severely test the judgment of commanders at all levels. The purpose of doctrine is to remind leaders of these common considerations and to approach each operation with an open mind to innovative solutions. The SWM, particularly its opening sections, does an excellent job of this. FM-100-23 does this also but to a lesser degree. The ideal would be a combination of these two publications, one that joins the well developed general characteristics, psychology, and strategy sections of the SWM with the modern planning considerations covered in FM-100-23.

                                                            VI. Conclusion


            Counterinsurgency and peace operations are similar in that they both involve adversaries often indistinguishable from noncombatants. These operations also frequently occur in an environment totally unfamiliar to Americans. Even more than conventional operations, they are characterized by ambiguity, uncertainty, and friction. In both cases, success depends on a well defined mission, properly trained and equipped forces, intelligently designed Rules of Engagement, and an in depth knowledge of the political, economic, social, and cultural aspects of the target area. As in conventional warfare, successful resolution of the conflict will depend on a political, not a military, solution.

            The Combined Action Program in Vietnam and UNITAF in Somalia both demonstrated that well trained and well led conventional forces can be successfully adapted to some unconventional roles. Both cases also demonstrated that military might, no matter how skillfully or how massively applied, cannot solve the underlying political cause of a conflict. Political problems demand political solutions and the viability any political solution is wholly dependent on the characteristics of the native population. Where there is no widespread indigenous desire for victory (in counterinsurgency operations) or peace (in peace operations), there will be no successful outcome. This was the case in peace operations in Somalia, where the basic social "structure" was anarchy. In such cases, the unpalatable truth is that peace operations of any sort, short of a complete takeover and disarmament of the country, are futile in the long run.

            In the absence of a viable political solution to the root cause of the conflict, foreign military intervention alone can provide short term pacification but nothing more. Where intractable problems exist, the U.S. must come to grips with the limitations of its national power and accept the reality that despite its abundant wealth and military might, some situations remain unsolvable or require a prohibitive price to be paid. Future American participation in peace operations, limited by ever shrinking military resources, will force our leaders to carefully choose the areas of involvment. The future challenge will be to identify the situations where we can make an meaningful, lasting contribution and then to act decisively.

            Our current peace operation doctrine is fundamentally sound albeit immature. Efforts to correct this are ongoing.[96] Presently, there is much that the U.S. military can do to improve the ways that it prepares forces for participation in peace operations. Thus far, training has concentrated in tactical skills. Peace operations preparation should include, in addition to conventional tactics, technique, and procedures, intensive cultural indoctrination of the target country down to the lowest level. In addition, commanders and staffs should receive a thorough orientation on UN organization and functions as well as civilian agencies, NGO's, and PVO's likely to be encountered. All sources of "cultural intelligence" should be exploited, to include the contracting of civilian subject matter experts and linguists. A common failing of virtually all of our recent small wars experience has been that our forces have been deployed while "culturally underarmed." The resources to correct this (for virtually any location in the world) exist today within the U.S.. It is time that we started to take advantage of them.


Allard, Kenneth. Somalia Operations: Lessons Learned. Washington, DC: National Defense                        University Press, 1995.

Chopra, Jarat, Eknes, Age, and Nordbo, Toralv. "Fighting for Hope in Somalia," Journal of                    Humanitarian Assistance, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Peacekeeping               and Multinational Operations, No. 6 1995. Down loaded from the Internet. Quantico,                     Va.: Marine Corps University, 13 December 1996.

Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret                               Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

Field Manual 100-20/Air Force Pamphlet 3-20 Military Operations in Low Intensity Conflict.                      Washington, DC: Departments of the Army and the Air Force, 1990.

Field Manual 100-23 Peace Operations. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1994.

Hirsch, John L. and Oakley, Robert B. Somalia and Operation Restore Hope.

            Washington, DC: United Stated Institute for Peace Press, 1995.

Lui, Eric P. Speaking the Truth: The History and Mythology of the U.S. Marine Combined                    Action Program. History Senior Essay, Timothy Dwight College, 1990.

Maren, Michael. "The UN's Failure in Somalia."    Down loaded from the Internet.

            Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps University, 18 Dec 1996.

McGrady, Katherine A. W. and Zvijac, David J. Operation Restore Hope: Summary Report.                        Alexandria, Va.: Center for Naval Analysis, 1994.

Palm, Edward F. "Tiger Papa Three: A Memoir of the Combined Action Program, Part 1." The                        Marine Corps Gazette, January 1988. "Tiger Papa Three: The Fire Next Time, Part 2."                        The Marine Corps Gazette, February 1988.

Peterson, Michael E. The Combined Action Platoons, The U.S. Marines' Other War in Vietnam.                      New York: Praeger Publishers, 1989.

Rosenblatt, Lionel. "Humanitarian Crises, Policy Making, and the Media: Expanding the               Constituency." Refugees International Home Page. Down loaded from the Internet.                        Camp Pendleton, Ca.: I Marine Expeditionary Force, 29 April 1996.

Simons, Anna. "Shades of Somalia."  The Washington Post, 17 December 1996.

Small Wars Manual. Reprint of 1940 Edition. Washington, DC: Headquarters, U.S. Marine                 Corps, 1987.

Stevenson, Jonathan. Losing Mogadishu, Testing U.S. Policy in Somalia. Annapolis: Naval               Institute Press, 1995.

Sun Tzu. The Art of War. Translated by Samuel B. Griffith. New York: Oxford University                     Press,             1963.

Wasielewski, Philip G. "Revolutionary Warfare,"  Marine Corps Gazette, September 1989.

West, Francis J., The Village. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1972.


[1]           Michael E. Peterson, The Combined Action Platoons, The U.S. Marines' Other War in Vietnam (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1989), 15

[2]           Ibid, 16

[3]           Small Wars Manual, Reprint of 1940 Edition (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1987), 1-1

[4]           Ibid., 1-9

[5] Peterson, 24

[6]           Ibid, 25

[7]           Eric P. Lui, Speaking the Truth: The History and Mythology of the U.S. Marine Combined Action Program, History Senior Essay, Timothy Dwight College, 1990, 11

[8] Peterson, 32

[9]           Ibid, 36

[10]          Ibid, 87

[11]          Lui, 23

[12] Peterson, 87-88; In 1967, a CAP Marine had a seventy-five to eighty percent chance of being wounded once.

[13]          Ibid.

[14]          Ibid, 34

[15]          Lui, 39

[16] Peterson, 86

[17]          Ibid., 33

[18]          Edward F. Palm, "Tiger Papa Three: A Memoir of the Combined Action Program, Part 1,"  Marine Corps Gazette, January 1988, 34-39, "Tiger Papa Three: The Fire Next Time, Part 2," Marine Corps Gazette, February 1988, 66-76

[19]          Palm, 76

[20]          Lui, 34

[21]          Carl von Clausewitz, On War, Edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976), 75

[22]          Francis J. West, Jr., The Village (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1972, 1985), 56-57

[23]          Ibid., 102

[24]          Ibid., 142-143

[25]          Ibid., 265

[26]          Philip G. Wasielewski, "Revolutionary Warfare",  Marine Corps Gazette, September 1989, 50-54

[27] Katherine A. W. McGrady, and David J. Zvijac, Operation Restore Hope: Summary Report (Alexandria, Va.: Center for Naval Analysis, 1994), 33-35

[28]           John L. Hirsch, and Robert B. Oakley, , Somalia and Operation Restore Hope, Reflections of Peacemaking and Peacekeeping (Washington, DC.: United States Institute for Peace, 1995), 21

[29]           Ibid., 27

[30]           Ibid., 25; In September 1992 alone, food shipments increased from twenty thousand to thirty-seven thousand metric tons. However, due to widespread looting, the amount of food actually reaching the most needy fell by forty percent during this same period.

[31]           Ibid., 31

[32]           Ibid., 177-181

[33] McGrady and Zvijac, 38-44

[34]           Ibid., 5

[35]           Ibid., 62

[36]          Ibid., 5

[37]          Hirsch and Oakley, 72-73

[38]          Ibid., 75-76

[39]          Ibid., 79

[40]          Ibid., 87-92

[41]          Ibid., 81-82

[42]          Ibid.

[43]          Ibid.

[44] McGrady and Zvijac, 64

[45]          Hirsch and Oakley, 112-114

[46]          Ibid., 199

[47] Jonathan Stevenson, Losing Mogadishu (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1995), 104, 109, 119-120

[48]          Ibid., 104

[49]          Ibid., 105, 119-120; This is a prime example of the dysfunctional UNOSOM II command and control apparatus. Task Force Ranger, commanded by Major General William Garrison, USA, operated under the direct control of Admiral Jonathan Howe, UN Special Envoy and Major General Montgomery, USA, UN forces second in command. These two Americans conducted the manhunt for Aideed outside of the formal UNOSOM II command structure, undercutting the actual UN forces commander, General Cevik Bir, a Muslim Turk.

[50]          Ibid., xiv

[51]          Ibid., 108-110

[52]          Jarat Chopra,   Age Eknes, and Toralv Nordbo, "Fighting for Hope in Somalia,"  Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, Peacekeeping and Multinational Operations, No. 6 1995, down loaded from the Internet (Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps University, 13 December 1996), I-2

[53] Stevenson., 51

[54]          Hirsch and Oakley, 104

[55]          Ibid., 58, 70

[56]          Ibid., 162

[57]          Hirsch and Oakley, 114

[58] Chopra, Eknes,and Nordbo, I-7

[59]          Ibid., I-9

[60]          Ibid., I-10

[61] Stevenson, 3-5, 72; We must confront the possibility that the problems of some nations regarding religious, tribal or clan-based violence are intractable. Somalia had no tradition of conventional government as we understand it. In Somalia, there was no "society" in the western sense. The clan-based Somali social structure was what Stevenson referred to a "pastoral anarchy"; there were only two types of clans, the stronger and the weaker. Before Siad Barre, these factions existed in a rough equilibrium for hundreds of years. When Siad Barre became a client of first the former Soviet Union and later the United States, his clan ascended to a position of total dominance. Post-Barre, the other factions aspired to be as dominant as Barre was. Only in this context can the idea of a Somali "government" be understood. Thus the UN mandate to rebuild Somalia as a nation was doomed from the start. Boutros Boutros-Ghali failed to appreciate the fundamental nature of Somali culture. In attempting to reinstate a legitimate Somali government, he was chasing a ghost, for one never existed in the first place.

[62] Chopra, Eknes,and Nordbo, II-1

[63]          Ibid., II-2; The Xeer was a set of rules and norms which was designed to safeguard security and social justice within and among Somali communities. As Islam spread through the area, Muslim values were incorporated into the Xeer. The Xeer was a social contract that was based on the generally accepted ethic of relying on one's own labor and resources rather than exploiting others. It was a self-regulating system that prevented one group from dominating another.

[64]          Ibid., II-4

[65]          Ibid., II-5

[66]          Ibid.

[67]          Total disarmament of the population at large would have been a completely unrealistic objective. In addition to being extremely provocative, such a goal would have necessitated sealing the borders and searching house to house for contraband weapons. This still would not have addressed the huge hidden stockpiles certain to exist.

[68] Chopra, Eknes,and Nordbo, III-5

[69]          Ibid., III-10

[70]          Ibid.

[71]          Hirsch and Oakley, 167

[72]          Ibid.

[73]          Anna Simons, "Shades of Somalia," The Washington Post, 17 December 1996

[74] Chopra, Eknes, and Nordbo, III-11

[75] Stevenson., 107

[76]           Lionel Rosenblatt, "Humanitarian Crises, Policy Making, and the Media: Expanding the Constituency", Refugees International Home Page, down loaded from the Internet (Camp Pendleton, Ca.: I Marine Expeditionary Force, 29 April 1996)

[77] Stevenson, 55, 57

[78] Kenneth Allard,  Somalia Operations: Lessons Learned (Washington, D.C., National Defense University Press, 1995), 22

[79]           Ibid., 55-56

[80]           Ibid., 22-24

[81]           Ibid.

[82]           Sun Tzu, The Art of War, Translated by Samuel B. Griffith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1963), 84

[83]           Michael Maren, "The UN's Failure in Somalia", down loaded from the Internet (Quantico, Va.: Marine Corps University, 18 December 1996)

[84]           Small Wars Manual, Reprint of 1940 Edition (Washington, DC: Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, 1987), 1-5

[85]           SWM, 1-1; The SWM defines small wars as "operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation.

[86]           SWM, 1-5 - 1-6

[87]           Ibid., 1-9

[88]           Ibid.

[89]           Ibid. 1-10

[90]           Ibid. 1-14

[91]           Field Manual (FM) 100-23, Peace Operations (Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1994), v

[92]           Ibid., 1-2

[93]          Ibid., 1-6

[94]          Ibid., 1-14

[95]          Ibid., 1-12

[96]           The Marine Corps Combat Development Command is currently updating the Small Wars Manual. The Joint Warfighting Center recently published the Joint Task Force Commander's Handbook of Peace Operations (28 February 1995).

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list