Operation Uphold Democracy:
The Execution Phase
Dr. Robert Baumann and Dr. John Fishel
Operation Uphold Democracy marked the United States' first overt, large-scale military involvement in Haitian affairs since the great misadventure that began in 1915 and dragged on until 1934. This time, the Americans were determined not to repeat the Marines' experience. To begin, U.S. troops would be part of a multinational force with broad international approval for their mission. They brought with them, moreover, a commitment to respect the populace and not to do for Haitians what Haitians might reasonably be expected to do for themselves. Still, circumstances constrained American options. Intense political controversy over the mission in Congress dictated that it be cautious, relatively brief, and confined to achieving minimum objectives that would facilitate the restoration of elective government and stability in Haiti.
Meanwhile, even as they stood by to board their aircraft at Pope Air Force Base, some soldiers, aware from news reports of the Carter mission to Haiti, suspected that operations would be suspended. As explained by Major Mike Davino, 4th Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment,
Although we had received the order to execute, I had a feeling that the operation would still get called off. I had heard earlier that afternoon about the mission former President Jimmy Carter was leading to Haiti to try to head off an invasion. I purposely held off camouflaging my face. After I reported to my plane and drew my parachute at plane side...Sonny [Moore, the division chaplain] told me that he heard that the mission had been canceled and that the first serial would be turning around and returning to Pope Air Force Base. Sure enough, shortly after I returned to my plane, we heard over the commercial radio on a TMP vehicle that the invasion had been called off. A few minutes later, we got the official word through the chain of command.1The cancellation signified that U.S. troops would enter Haiti unopposed, but not without cost. As the risk of casualties diminished, so, too , did the clarity of the situation. Under the best of circumstances, involvement in the internal affairs of another country, even when greeted by popular support among the host population, is invariably a complex, sensitive, and even risky enterprise. The agreement permitting the peaceful entry of U.S. and multinational troops into Haiti complicated matters by introducing severe ambiguity into what to that point had seemed a difficult but fairly straightforward undertaking.
Changing Horses in Midstream
As Clausewitz observed, one should never embark on a war (or, in this case, a military operation other than war) without possessing a clear understanding of objectives and means. OPLAN 2380 Plus, based on an ambiguous assessment of entry conditions in Haiti, represented a hasty amalgamation of elements of OPLANs 2370 and 2380. Planning did not, however, consider the improbable contingency that the OPLAN 2370 take-down plan would be subject to reversal once it was in motion (see figure 6). The abrupt turn of events was fraught with unforeseen implications.
As Lieutenant General Shelton observed in an interview, "Never in my wildest imagination did I think that I would be coming in here with the mission of cooperating and coordinating in an atmosphere of mutual respect."2 The abrupt switch in approach just hours after forcible-entry operations had been put into motion not only necessitated a hasty psychological adjustment but left considerable uncertainty about the situation on the ground in Haiti. Shelton had no clear knowledge that all armed agencies in Haiti would respect the terms of the new agreement. Had a forcible entry been conducted, armed opposition elements presumably would have been destroyed or at least isolated within a few days. Suddenly, according to the new rules and conditions of American entry, Shelton had to transform himself from a soldier into a diplomat. Nothing in JTF 180 planning to that point had prepared him to undertake direct, peaceful negotiations with the Cedras regime, which only hours earlier he had expected to remove by force.
Compelled to choose a course of action, Shelton opted to err on the side of caution, balancing impressive displays of military power with a civil but firm personal demeanor. He decided that from the moment of his arrival, his personal posture should reflect the confident authority of one who enjoys unquestioned control of the situation, notwithstanding his private reservations. Accordingly, upon landing by helicopter at Port-au-Prince International Airport, the general stepped out in camouflage uniform and beret, looking professional and exuding confidence. He subsequently attempted to press his point home in face-to-face meetings with Cedras and other leaders of the current regime by means of tough talk and unequivocal demands for prompt compliance with all his directives. The posture of American forces in the streets of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere was to reinforce this message for the benefit of the public at large. Shelton wanted America's military presence to be visible, simultaneously imposing and reassuring.
Establishing just such a posture proved a bit difficult in the initial stages of operations. Part of the problem stemmed from popular expectations among most of the Haitian populace. Many anticipated the immediate arrest or worse of all persons associated with the repressive junta and its armed forces. Instead, they heard conciliatory statements from U.S. spokespersons. As General Powell put it at a news conference with President Clinton and former President Carter, "We have not had to do something which may have contaminated the relationship between the two countries for years, decades to come."3 However, the unfolding scenario in which American liberators appeared to be cooperating with Cedras and the FAd'H (Armed Forces of Haiti) proved confusing and disillusioning to many Haitians. The apparent contradiction in the U.S. approach drew fire from the American press, which later reported that, as a result of the ne otiated entry, soldiers received briefings to the effect that the FRAPH (Revolutionary Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti), the paramilitary henchmen of the junta who would have been quickly neutralized according to the original plan, should be considered representatives of a legitimate opposition political party.4 This portrayal differed sharply from intelligence assessments preceding the mission.
Shelton, nevertheless, had to play the hand he had been dealt. He now saw his objective as severing the junta leadership from the FAd'H without provoking a panic among the rank and file. To facilitate this, he negotiated a turnover of command from Cedras to Major General Jean-Claude Duperval, who in turn promoted figures acceptable to Aristide into high positions in the FAd'H. Believing that he needed the FAd'H in the short run to avert anarchy, Shelton determined to reform the organization incrementally. Its abrupt collapse, he feared, would start a rapid and uncontrollable social decompression that might result in fugitive members forming an anti-Aristide guerrilla movement in the hills.5 His preferred course, therefore, was to coopt those elements of the FAd'H that were not hopelessly compromised by direct participation in the 1991 coup or complicity in subsequent human rights violations.
As a practical matter, the FAd'H, for all its grave faults, remained the only fully functioning public institution in Haitian society. In recent years, this situation, by default, had conferred on the FAd'H far-reaching civil and judicial authority. Its immediate dissolution would have left none but the American forces (and their multinational partners) in Haiti to fill the void, a role for which they were not adequately equipped due, among other things, to a shortage of Creole linguists and lack of cultural familiarity. Fulfillment of such a role by the Americans, furthermore, would have made the United States and its multinational partners entirely responsible for civil order and welfare across Haiti. Conversely, employment of the popularly despised FAd'H to establish a stable and secure environment in Haiti during the transition of power seemed at best paradoxical. The forced-entry plan, after all, had painted a bull's-eye on the FAd'H, marking it as the enemy. In addition, the assumption, even after the American arrival, that the FAd'H could maintain order in Haiti without resort to its customary methods of terror and intimidation proved unsound.
The change in American posture, consequently, not only clouded the soldiers' sense of the mission but left the Haitian populace baffled and disillusioned. Inclined initially to view the Americans as liberators, most ordinary Haitians experienced a profound sense of unfulfilled expectations upon discovery that American soldiers were negotiating and then collaborating with the despised FAd'H in maintaining order in the capital. To be sure, many Haitians had expected U.S. forces to exact retribution from members of the junta. Indeed, some envisioned scenes of street justice gainst their former oppressors of the sort that have long marked transitions of power in the two centuries since the Haitian Revolution. As one American officer observed, all too often in Haiti's past, vigilante justice was the only kind available to the average Haitian.6 Outbreaks of mob retribution, however, were never part of the American scenario for restoring democracy in Haiti. Thus, at the behest of the United States and the UN, President Aristide urged the populace to remain calm until his return. Whether his public statements in support of reconciliation with his enemies reflected his true feelings was doubted by some. Former Haitian Prime Minister Robert Malval expressed his own skepticism: "In his [Aristide's] mind, reconciliation meant that the masses and traditional bourgeois would join forces and everyone in between would be left aside."7 Whatever the reality, realization that a deal had been cut and that the leaders of the military junta would go unpunished caused palpable disappointment among most Haitians.8
Events quickly placed these tensions in full view of the international press corps. The day after the mission began, on September 20, a tragic incident illustrated the initial illogic of the situation. Near the harbor, astonished and frustrated American troops stood by passively while members of the FAd'H lunged into a peaceful crowd that had gathered to celebrate and observe the the extraordinary events unfolding in the capital. The police swiftly attacked the Haitian civilians and brutally beat one man to death. Witnessed by television crews and an international audience, the affair created a public relations crisis. In point of fact, similar incidents had already occurred outside the view of the media.9 Initial guidance directed that U.S. troops would not supplant the FAd'H in maintaining public order in Haiti; nor would they intervene in "Haitian-on-Haitian violence." The politically neutral tone of this phrase, in the eyes of some observers, suggested that the Americans were willing to forget the human rights record of the junta and its backers.
The painful result was a loss of prestige and legitimacy among the U.S. and the Multinational Force (MNF), not to mention their initial failure to establish order in Port-au-Prince. The affair not only exasperated American soldiers but publicly humiliated the United States and enhanced the credibility of the FAd'H. Ordinary Haitians were left in doubt as to who was actually in charge. The same day, an American soldier reflected on the situation to a correspondent for the New York Times: "I'm disgusted."10 Although U.S. forces adjusted quickly, modifying their rules of engagement (ROE) to prevent a repetition of such incidents, the damage had already been done, and the United States and the Multinational Force had to work diligently to establish the legitimacy that Shelton's military posture had been intended to achieve. Behind the scenes, Shelton sent an emissary, Colonel Michael Sullivan, commander ofthe 16th Military Police (MP) Brigade, to Port-au-Prince Police Chief Colonel Michel Francois with an unequivocal message that assaults on the populace would stop or Francois would be held accountable.11
Meanwhile, in Haiti's second city, Cap Haitien, situated on the northern "claw" of the island, the popular "legitimacy" of the intervention was no less at risk. There, however, the U.S. Marines who conducted the initial occupation of the city interpreted the ROE in a less restrictive manner than did Army forces of the 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team (1 BCT) in Port-au-Prince. The Marines began aggressive foot patrols upon arrival, thereby establishing a high-visibility presence. On September 24, as one such patrol led by a Marine lieutenant approached the Cap Haitien police station, FAd'H members outside began to make what the lieutenant perceived to be threatening gestures, including one man reaching for a weapon. The Marines opened fire, killing ten of the FAd'H in a brief fight; no Marines were hit. Third Special Forces Group commander, Colonel Mark Boyatt, later concluded that the incident, however tragic in the immediate context, was from a security perspective the best thing that could have happened.12 10th Mountain's 2 BCT commander, Colonel James Dubik, concurred that the incident dispelled doubt in the city that U.S. forces were in charge and enhanced the legitimacy of the mission in the public's mind.13 On the other hand, as Major General David Meade noted, news of the episode inevitably strained working relations with the FAd'H.14
Word of the firefiglit spread like wildfire, first throughout Cap Haitien and then the entire country. The Haitian people in the main responded enthusiastically. On the following day, September 25, mobs in Cap Haitien looted four police stations. In a related occurrence, rioting and pillage broke out at a warehouse in the city. The Marines sent a Light Armored Reconnaissance Company to halt the disorder. Three days later, on the 29th, a terrorist hurled a grenade into a crowd at a ceremony marking the reinstallation of popular Port-au-Prince mayor, Evans Paul.15 To calm the capital, maneuver elements of JTF 190 poured into the city in force. On September 30, a patrol apprehended "Bobby," the notorious FRAPH terrorist responsible for the grenade incident. His subsequent interrogation yielded a bounty of information on other operatives. Besides HUMINT (human intelligence) passed on by well-meaning civilians, CNN reporting constantly monitored at headquarters often proved a valuable source of timely reports of breaking events in the capital.16
Although ten deaths and limited disorder were the price of the firefight in Cap Haitien, the message resonated widely that the Americans were serious. About that time, the ROE in Port-au-Prince were clarified to make, certain that U.S. soldiers could employ discretionary force,as necessary to prevent any violence directed at members of the Multinational Force or Haitian people. Meanwhile, when 2 BCT under Colonel Dubik replaced the Marines in Cap Haitien on October 2, his troops were perceived by the people as a legitimate force whose mission was to protect them from the predators of the former regime.17
Unfortunately, 1 BCT and TF Mountain continued to send mixed signals to the populace in Port-au-Prince. This difficulty apparently stemmed, in part, from Major General Meade's stringent force protection policy and early hesitation to become engaged in the streets, which in turn flowed from uncertain intelligence and the division's recent experience in Somalia. Conditioned to a more hostile and explosive environment, the command of the 10th did not interpret and carry out its mission as hoped by Lieutenant General Shelton. According to Lieutenant Colonel Edward Anderson, the J3 civil affairs officer with JTF 180, the JTF 190 commander and staff did not share Shelton's view that the mission required U. S. forces to become attuned to "street rhythms" and therefore to maximize engagement of the populace.18
JTF 190: The 10th Mountain Division
On July 29, 1994, the 10th Mountain Division "stood up" as Joint Task Force 190 for planning purposes. (The planning effort that resulted in OPLAN 2380 is covered in chapter 2.) One pressing issue concerned the need to transform the division staff into a joint staff, capable of planning for, and exercising control over, a JTF. In part, this meant expanding the 10th Mountain staff to more than double its size (from some 300 to 800), a process that, once completed, resulted in a staff that was joint in name only. There were neither augmentees from the other services nor a "joint plug" from USACOM. As for the newly arrived Army augmentees, some later confessed that they felt like outsiders, isolated from a division staff that had been working together for some time.19
In the midst of these adjustments, the division began a mission rehearsal on August 30. Less than two weeks later, it received its deployment order. On September 12, the Aviation Brigade and Colonel Andrew R. Berdy's 1 BCT deployed by air to Norfolk, Virginia, where they boarded the aircraft carrier, USS Eisenhower. The use of the Eisenhower as an Army helicopter and troop carrier was the first operational test of the concept of adaptive joint force packaging (AJFP), which the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, had directed CINCACOM, Admiral Paul David Miller, to develop. Relatively simple in concept, this arrangement entailed a host of practical problems, beginning with the fact that Army helicopters are large and require greater storage space than their Navy counterparts. Not only did AJFP include using the carrier to transport Army helicopters and troops, but it also required the Navy to support the Army in innovative ways with such services as intelligence.20 The rest of the division's equipment, meanwhile, deployed by rail to Bayonne, New Jersey, where it was shipped by sea to Haiti. There, units arriving by air would rejoin their equipment.
On the morning of September 19, 1 BCT conducted an air assault into Port-au-Prince International Airport, where it greeted the arrival of Lieutenant General Shelton. Aircraft streamed in, soldiers and matériel stacked up, the press corps assembled, and throngs of Haitians lined the fence marking the airfield perimeter. Confusion reigned. Adding to the muddled scene was the sight of combat troops of 1 BCT taking up defensive positions on the airfield in their BDUs, with body armor, kevlar helmets, and loaded weapons, while a field grade U.S. Army officer in short-sleeve summer uniform and embassy personnel in business suits greeted Shelton, who was wearing his beret and BDUs.
At first, living conditions for U.S. troops were, to put it mildly, Spartan. Latrines were in short supply, as was fresh water. Arriving units gathered their equipment and set up their tents around the airfield, a convenient, if sometimes soggy, location after the rains began. As if the oppressive heat, spiders, and mice were not sufficient reminders of nature's grip on life in Haiti, the fields around the airstrips were sloped to ensure that rainwater drained away from the runways. While conducive to air traffic, this particular landscaping meant that water collected in living and working areas. Following Tropical Storm Gordon, water in the vicinity of the airfield was ankle deep.21 Conditions on the ground in Port-au-Prince were generally worse than expected, particularly from an engineering standpoint. Engineers were not adequately represented in the planning process, partly as a result of extreme compartmentalization and incomplete intelligence. Once they arrived in country, they had to adopt a number of ad hoc responses to the conditions they discovered. Landfill sites pushed beyond capacity, inadequate drainage in many places, uncertainty as to the structural soundness of bridges, and the enormity of the sanitation crisis initially took the Americans by surprise.22
The main operational and living center, meanwhile, was set up at the nearby Light Industrial Complex. There, sandbags and concertina wire secured the front perimeter of the encampment facing the road to the airport. Physical security measures, such as a fence, were gradually developed in the rear of the compound, which was bordered by open fields. The chief security measure initiated outside the encampment was the clearing of massive piles of foul garbage and waste, often ten feet deep, that constricted the city's main streets.
Between September 20 and 28, follow-on elements of the 10th Mountain Division reached Haiti, and a sense of order gradually prevailed. In addition to 1 BCT in Port-au-Prince and 2 BCT in Cap Haitien, Task Force Mountain arrived to form a third maneuver element of the 10th. Based in Port-au-Prince, Task Force Mountain, under the command of Brigadier General George Close, organized remaining division assets around 10th Mountain's artillery element, which was reconfigured to operate as a headquarters. This organizational expedient, already tested in Somalia, worked out effectively, given that there was no requirement for standard artillery in Haiti and that the division artillery possessed the requisite staff and communications infrastructure to support a maneuver element.
To his credit, Major General Meade recognized that neither U.S. troops nor the MNF could impose apolitical solution on Haiti that would secure democracy. A Haitian solution offered the only path to stability. Given that precondition, U.S. forces and the MNF could not assume the role of Aristide's police force, rounding up every last paramilitary thug or weapon, an impossible task in any event. Furthermore, an endless search of dwellings, churches, and schools might drive the enemies of the regime to resort to desperate measures, including attacks on U.S. and MNF soldiers. Meade thus concluded that Aristide needed to preserve, and probably coopt, the military and police with the exception of those personnel whose criminality was beyond doubt. Resurrection of the judiciary would be the next essential step on the road to elections.23 Unfortunately, in Meade's view, the Aristide government appeared to have no such vision, and without strategic guidance, day to day operations by the MNF lacked overarching purpose. Given the circumstances, Meade did not intend to risk his troops by flailing aimlessly about the capital.
The concept of operations that guided the 10th Mountain Division's share of JTF 190 was that 1 BCT and Task Force Mountain would control the principal center of gravity, which had been identified as Port-au-Prince, while 2 BCT would control Cap Haitien, the secondary center of gravity. Troops of the 10th Mountain Division began patrolling the capital by day and later expanded operations to include missions "out of sector" and, beginning on October 1, so-called "mountain strikes" in search of concealed weapons stores. The timing of the campaign reflected a desire to disarm likely troublemakers before the arrival of President Aristide later that month. Searching for weapons soon revealed that not all tips were reliable and that some may have been inspired by ulterior motives, such as personal revenge. According to Major Chris Hughes, who accompanied the force in the field as an analyst for the Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), 90 percent of searches turned up no weapons.24 In one such foray on October 7, a combined arms team from TF Mountain confronted a band of FRAPH members at a barricaded site in central Port-au-Prince. With the help of a few smoke grenades and warning shots, they managed to clear the building but turned up no weapons.25
Of equal concern was the fact that for many Haitians, who tended to congregate wherever there were groups of U.S. troops, the mere search of a local residence implied that the occupants were supporters or henchmen of the Cedras regime. As observed by CALL analysts, crowds acting on that assumption sometimes stormed and looted homes in the wake of the American inspections. Though an unintended consequence of U.S. actions, such outbursts might have been anticipated. To preclude further violence of this nature, American PSYOP teams attached to search and seizure missions began announcing by loudspeaker when no weapons were found and urged that the property of those whose homes had been searched should be respected.26
U.S. Military Police proved invaluable in many street situations in Port-au-Prince. More accustomed by training than infantrymen to carrying out arrests and other missions at the low end of the violence continuum, MPs demonstrated the ability to seize suspects, while exercising restraint and preventing situations that might have degenerated into exchanges of gunfire. In one instance, when a group of U.S. infantrymen was in pursuit of a notorious and armed fugitive, MPs on the scene calmly approached the suspect, instructed him to leave his vehicle and turn over his weapons, and took him into custody without creating any disturbance.27 The MPs exercised extraordinary latitude in the arrest and detention of suspects, who were taken to a holding facility upon apprehension. MPs at the facility had not only to maintain humane conditions but were prepared to receive attorneys, family members, and even diplomats who came to visit detainees. Their mission also entailed facilitating the release of individuals who, although found innocent of any crimes, might become the targets of retribution from Haitians perceiving them to have been associated with the hated former regime. The issuance of identification cards in Haitian Creole, affirming that the U.S. Army had not found the individual in question responsible for any crimes against the populace or members of the Multinational Force, was one way of dealing with this problem.28
Throughout Port-au-Prince, MPs began to take shifts at Haitian police stations, both to provide supervision and to set a professional example. Female MPs, at first a curiosity in the context of male-dominated Haitian culture, acquitted themselves well. The MP Corps also introduced police dogs to Haiti. The large American shepherds, gigantic by comparison to the scrawny curs that scurried about the streets of the capital, immediately gained the respect of potentially rowdy individuals. Their presence also tended to facilitate successful interrogations.29 In addition to patrolling the streets of Port-au-Prince, MPs and other elements of 1 BCT and Task Force Mountain eventually provided security for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the Presidential Palace, guarded key locations, conducted reconnaissance, and provided logistical and administrative support.
Meanwhile, acting as a JTF headquarters, the 10th Mountain Division served also as the Multinational Force headquarters and assumed responsibility for the reception, tasking, and supervision of MNF units (see map 12). This began with the arrival of the CARICOM battalion on October 4, a Guatemalan company on October 24, a Bangladesh battalion on October 28, and finally a platoon from Costa Rica. The division further served as the higher headquarters for the International Police Monitors and UN observers.30 Not least of all, it also carried out the weapons buy-back program, with varied success, and helped supervise the repatriation to Haiti of refugees deported from Guantanamo Bay.
Still, as noted previously, the execution of operations by the 10th Mountain Division in Port-au-Prince did not fully meet the expectations of Shelton and JTF 180 headquarters. Some observers believed a "base camp" mentality pervaded the force. Restriction of personnel to Camp Democracy (as the LIC became known) was so tight that the Civil Military Operations Center (CMOC) could not function effectively; furthermore, security requirements made it difficult to bring Haitians within the compound. Civil affairs officers subsequently found it somewhat easier to work outside the LIC, in the Haiti Assistance Coordination Center, or HACC.31
Without question, Meade kept force protection at the forefront of his concerns from the outset and demanded the strictest possible adherence. On the day U.S. troops began arriving, soldiers were ordered in no uncertain terms not to fraternize with Haitians through the chain link fence around the airfield at Port-au-Prince. Moreover, despite the oppressive heat and humidity, even slight deviations in the wearing of kevlar helmets with chin straps fastened, not to mention full body armor, were liable to draw a stem rebuke or worse. The general was entirely justified in making force protection a priority until the threat to U.S. personnel in Haiti could be clarified. The division's policy was inflexible, however, and did not change in a timely fashion, either to reflect the virtual absence of resistance or Shelton's sense of the mission.32
It could hardly have been expected that the 10th would easily put behind it the experience of Somalia, where a humanitarian mission devolved into a conflict leading to the deaths of eighteen Army Rangers in a firefight. The highly publicized incident attracted intense political scrutiny and led to a reversal of U.S. policy and a withdrawal of American troops. Many officers in the division had been to Somalia, and one survey indicated that 40 percent of enlisted personnel in the 10th had previously deployed there.33 Although the division had been chosen for the permissive-entry mission in Haiti, training at Ft. Drum prior to deployment stressed combat tasks, including the use of mortars, artillery, and C-130 gunships. The division staff did not assume that entry would in fact be permissive. Whatever his own perceptions prior to deployment, it would be mistaken to infer that Meade failed to realize that Haiti was not another Somalia after the division began operations in Haiti. Meade's grasp of the difference emerged in a personal memorandum sent not long after October 15 to Admiral Miller at ACOM. Noting that the level of threat constituted the "biggest difference" between Somalia and Haiti, Meade explained that the 10th had entered a Somalia where five years of civil war had created entrenched, armed factions. There, the United States had forfeited its neutrality and been drawn into the conflict. Many of the Somali officers were not only veteran fighters but had at one time trained either in the United States or Soviet Union. In contrast, "The threat in Haiti was not well armed or equipped." The U.S. forces had established and preserved a position of neutrality in Haiti, as confirmed by the fact that "we still get calls for assistance from all sides."34 Above all, in Meade's view, the force remained popular with the general public.
Notwithstanding his clear-eyed appraisal of the stark difference between conditions in Somalia and Haiti, Meade added a cautionary note: "But as we learned in Somalia, we cannot let our guard down and must be ever vigilant. You can never tell when the population may get excited or when just a single person or group of people may threaten the safety of American soldiers."35 Force protection policy in Port-au-Prince reflected this concern.
American troops rarely left the living compound at the Light Industrial Complex because of restrictions imposed as part of the division force protection policy. Consequently, 10th Mountain Division units during the first two weeks of the mission in Port-au-Prince did not actively patrol the city by night, thereby unintentionally leaving the streets to the regime's armed thugs. One particularly harmful consequence was that Haitians who voluntarily brought valuable information to the Americans about the whereabouts of weapons caches or noted criminal figures associated with the old regime were left vulnerable to reprisal. A notable feature of life in Port-au-Prince, especially in the beginning of Uphold Democracy, was that each morning dead bodies could be found in the streets. When American troops did venture out of doors, they wore helmets and body armor. The force protection posture gradually eased within the compound but remained in full force for anyone venturing into the city. This proved especially frustrating and demoralizing for some of the Army's Haitian-American linguists who were prevented from visiting their families early in the mission.36 Inactivity, moreover, bred boredom among the troops and nurtured the perception that the mission lacked a real purpose.
According to one well-placed officer, Meade's emphasis on force protection compelled Shelton, who initially expected to remain with JTF 180 in Haiti for only about a week, to extend his stay to thirty-five days in order to supervise the mission personally.37 Shelton and the JTF 180 staff could not comprehend initially why the 10th Mountain Division had not moved quickly to define sectors in Port-au-Prince and cultivate an active presence in the city. From the perspective of the division, roving patrols of MPs were adequate to achieve the intended effect. This led Lieutenant Colonel Anderson of JTF 180 to conclude, "The 10th Mountain Division seems to have come out of their experience in Somalia with a siege mentality, where it seems that they have made the determination, at least from their actions, that there is a significant threat out there.... And, of course, our assessment is totally the opposite."38 Whatever Meade's misgivings, Shelton wanted American soldiers in the streets engaging the populace.
Gradually, and after much prodding, the 10th Mountain Division became more active in Port-au-Prince and its environs. Ultimately, U.S. troops found that the most opportune time to move convoys through the streets of the capital was at night, when movement was not impeded by the heavy traffic that prevailed during daylight. Furthermore, they abandoned all pretense of moving with tactical stealth during darkness. In the first place, barking dogs announced all comers in the generally quiet streets. In the second, the troops concluded that overt movement at night actually reduced the chances of precipitating an incident.39
Engaging the Populace
In brief, the U.S. mission as sanctioned by the United Nations called for the establishment of a safe and secure environment suitable to the restoration of the Aristide presidency and the near-term conduct of national elections. If the objective itself was reasonably clear, the concrete steps by which it was to be obtained were less so, and the consequent ambiguity contributed to divergent approaches.
In analyzing the prospects for violence against U.S. forces in Haiti, Army intelligence had anticipated more random attacks on American soldiers than actually occurred.40 Indeed, OPLAN 2380 stated, "There will be armed individuals, criminal bands, dissidents, malcontents, opportunists or whomever, ready to cause trouble and, given the opportunity, harm the force, and thus the mission."41 The resultant caution exercised by JTF 190, however, was self-reinforcing. The failure to be more active in the streets denied Meade's headquarters the human intelligence that might have changed their perception of the threat. The reality in Haiti was that, once the Americans had consolidated their position in the capital, the most significant threats were the deplorable state of sanitation, low-hanging power lines, and the virtual absence of manhole covers along city streets.42 Recognizing this fact, nonmilitary observers, who moved throughout the capital extensively, drew their own conclusions. According to Dr. Bryant Freeman a long-time expert on Haiti from the University of Kansas, who subsequently served as an adviser to Major General Joseph Kinzer, commander of the United Nations Mission beginning in March 1995, the preoccupation of American forces in Port-au-Prince could be summed up in two words: "no casualties." Gradually, especially after the departure of the 10th, the American posture moderated, in this respect, but conventional forces in the capital never let down their guard.43
Many in the press offered scathing commentary on this tendency. Writing an opinion piece for the New York Times, Bob Shacochis charged in January 1995, "If one lesson has emerged from the occupation, it is this: in the post-Cold War world of small, messy conflicts, the U.S. Army might as well leave the infantry at home." The "muscle-bound" 10th Mountain Division, he claimed, "has rarely seemed capable of pushing more than two buttons [,] establishing secure perimeters around ports and airfields or sending limited patrols out as a show of force."44
In the view of the JTF 180 leadership, achievement of the mission required winning the trust and confidence of the populace, a task calling for far more intimate contact with the people in their own streets and neighborhoods. Not only would such contact serve to create the proper psychological climate for the restoration of civil life, but such engagement, on a regular and sustained basis, would predictably yield a bounty of information on local circumstances and events.45 A civil affairs officer, one of the few American soldiers with the freedom to move around the capital, asserted that the JTF 190 leadership had isolated itself and lacked an appreciation of the public mood.46 The Americans, moreover, were not playing to their strength. As summarized in CALL's Initial Impressions Report II, published in April 1995, "The American soldier and his presence on the streets, market places, parks, schools, and businesses of the cities and on the roads, fields, and villages of the countryside were the greatest weapon present to prevent oppression."47
A related question concerning the employment of U.S. forces was the continuing requirement that troops in Port-au-Prince wear helmets and body armor whenever they moved outside the compound, despite the intense tropical heat and a declining perception of the threat. In fact, the first CALL team to return from Haiti recommended a reassessment of this requirement in its November briefing.48 U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, free of this requirement in the hinterlands, came sarcastically to refer to the Port-au-Prince area as the "kevlar zone."49 Yet as one officer in the 10th observed, no U.S. soldiers were lost in Port-au-Prince, at least in part because of their "no nonsense" posture.50
In general, the preoccupation with force protection varied inversely with proximity to the JTF 190 headquarters. The 2 BCT, 10th Mountain Division, in Cap Haitien operated more assertively than did 1 BCT and TF Mountain. There, of course, the Marines had set the early tone, and the distance from division headquarters encouraged greater initiative. Furthermore, Meade, preoccupied with the task of controlling Port-au-Prince, neither phoned nor summoned Colonel Dubik on a regular basis. The refusal to interfere was to Meade's credit. In the meantime, the transition from Marine to Army operations in Haiti's second largest city went relatively smoothly. Two weeks before the handover, the Army sent a Forward Support Battalion into operation in Cap Haitien to ensure advance coordination and proper logistical support for arriving Army elements. The additional time also provided an opportunity to establish security around the port facilities and the U. S. encampment. There, Americans soon concluded that the greatest threat to security was the apparent absence of a threat, a perception that might breed complacency and negligence.51 Regardless of the circumstances, U.S. soldiers could not afford to become casual about security.
The desired military end state, a secure and stable environment, ultimately required definition by commanders on the ground. Dubik offered a general definition and formulation: "Acts of violence and criminal acts below the threshold that interrupts normal civic and economic life.... [S]ea and airports open to normal traffic and unctions."52 Accordingly, he developed a four-phased campaign plan to achieve this end state. Phase I consisted of occupying the port and airfield at Cap Haitien (see map 13). Phase II involved airport and port security operations and city security. Phase III saw the addition of operations in outlying areas, and Phase IV prepared and executed partial redeployment of the force in conjunction with, the planned transition to UNMIH.53 Specific security operations included securing fixed facilities, conducting patrols in the city and over 14,000 square kilometers of northern Haiti, emplacing U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachments Alpha or ODAs ("A-teams," normally consisting of a dozen soldiers, but often split up into smaller groups in Haiti) in the small villages of the zone, and establishing the Interim Public Security Force (IPSF) and the local prison. These activities were supported by civic-action projects and a coordinated information campaign.
By mid-October, elements of the Multinational Force had arrived, requiring General Meade, its commander (as well as that of JTF 190) to negotiate the missions of the third-country forces allocated to him. The situation was even more complex in Cap Haitien, where Dubik commanded the joint and multinational 2 BCT built around the 2d Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division and consisting of U.S. Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard elements; a Caribbean battalion; a Guatemalan composite company; Haitian IPSF police; United Nations Observers; and International Police Monitors. Overall, Dubik oversaw or coordinated with personnel from nearly a dozen nations (see figure 7).54
The U.S. Understanding of Haiti
Without doubt, the diverging points of view held by U. S. commands stemmed in part from a collective shortage of knowledge about Haiti and Haitians. Though armed with considerable intelligence on Haitian politics, heavy weapons stocks, and port facilities, the Americans' cultural understanding of Haitians was generally superficial. Even Shelton indirectly acknowledged this fact. His background meetings on Haitian culture, by his own account, focused on the roles and probable actions of central political figures. Former acting ambassador to Haiti, Barry Watson, offered advice on the likely behavior of the Haitian public to the Americans on their arrival, as did the general's aide, Haitian-American linguist, Captain Berthony Ladouceur.55 Still, this offered a limited prognosis on the effects of the prolonged, direct interaction between Americans and Haitians that was to follow.
Given this cursory understanding of Haitian political culture, Shelton's guiding adage for American conduct was short and to the point: "...there are two things that they [Haitians] understood: one was force and one was fear."56 In fact, this was more a prescription for handling Cedras and his henchmen than for dealing with ordinary Haitians, whom American soldiers would come to understand through direct engagement.
In the meantime, American understanding of Haitians depended inordinately on the knowledge of Haitian-Americans in the force, most of whom served as linguists in support of the mission. The essential contribution of Creole linguists can hardly be overstated in as much as they were integral to virtually all communication and interaction with the native populace. Still, the utter dependency of the force on a relative handful of cultural navigators was a source of slight discomfort as well. The information provided by members of the Haitian community in the United States, even those who were full-time soldiers, could not be easily confirmed due to the virtual absence of alternative sources. This was a concern for two reasons. First, many Haitian-Americans had spent little or no time in Haiti during the previous fifteen to twenty years and therefore had little direct knowledge of the country's current social and political climate. On the other hand, the fact that many retained familial or other ties to the Republic of Haiti mitigated this concern to some degree, but in turn suggested a new problem. To the extent that Haitian-American soldiers were connected through relatives or contacts to affairs in their former country, it was not unreasonable to assume that some might be unduly influenced in the way they approached the mission.57
Some native Haitians drew the same conclusion and were reticent in dealing with Haitian-American linguists out of concern for the possible ties these people might have to elements inside the Haitian regime. According to Dr. Bryant Freeman, a knowledgeable Haitian citizen whom he brought over for an interview with Major General Kinzer (Commander, UNMIH) in 1995 refused to discuss anything of importance in the presence of a Haitian-American lieutenant colonel.58 At the same time, some Haitian-American soldiers harbored apprehensions about their own personal security or that of relatives and friends. Captain Ladouceur observed that some of the linguists declined upon arrival to wear name tags for fear of recognition by figures hostile to the American presence.59
Still, Haitian-American soldiers often helped clear up simple misconceptions. For example, one Army primer on Haiti erroneously advised against wearing red hats, suggesting that Haitians would construe this as threatening. On a strategic level, Haitian-Americans such as Ladouceur repeatedly emphasized that they did not expect significant resistance in Haiti and that the environment there would not, on the whole, prove threatening to U.S. troops.60 Events proved this observation well founded. Finally, linguists were critical to making assessments on the spot, especially in remote areas. Conversely, the absence of linguists could have adverse consequences. In one instance, Special Forces soldiers, lacking a linguist, were led by an English-speaking Haitian woman to arrest a local figure, whom she identified as a criminal thug. Shortly thereafter, a large crowd formed outside the jail to protest the incarceration of one of the town's leading proponents of democracy.61
In the final analysis, the United States had little choice but to depend on Haitian-Americans, not only for cultural assessments but for their services as linguists. An early survey by the Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER) revealed that the Army simply did not have the minimum essential number of Creole linguists in its ranks. As a result, the Army was forced to seek the assistance of a private contractor, BDM Corporation, to bolster linguistic support.62 To be sure, the Army possessed a small number of Creole speakers of non-Haitian origin among the Special Forces contingent, but facility with the language was in general lacking, as was an understanding of the country. Fluency in French, as opposed to Creole, was an asset but provided access only to the small, educated slice of the populace who spoke the language.
Special Forces (SF) in Haiti
While the main elements of the 10th Mountain Division operated out of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien, both regarded as centers of gravity in Uphold Democracy, the remainder of the country belonged to U.S. Army Special Forces in an "economy of force" role. Like the rest of JTF 190, Special Forces had not anticipated the sudden switch of missions following the Carter-Cedras agreement. One immediate consequence was that the aircraft called for under the forcible entry plan to get them to Haiti were not available. They deployed, nevertheless, courtesy of Air Force Special Operations Command aircraft, which had originally been assigned to combat missions. Once on the ground, the Special Forces promptly fanned across Haiti in a "hub and spoke" network (see figure 8), establishing themselves in one area, then moving on to new ones.
From the outset, Special Forces elements did not hesitate to take charge. As they radiated out from forward operating bases in Jacmel, Cap Haitien, and Gonaives (the "hubs"), SF A-Teams demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to local conditions and take the initiative. Above all, they quickly implemented a policy of maximum engagement of the populace. Their assessment upon arrival was that the threat to U.S. forces in Haiti was relatively low, and they reached out accordingly. Given their small numbers, Special Forces teams needed all available hands if they were to make a difference by their presence. They established contact with community leaders (or, on occasion, even appointed them if none could be found), patiently explained the nature of their mission, and enlisted the cooperation of locals in moving quickly to establish area security. An important piece of this action was to identify the worst local criminals and human rights abusers. Under the rules for weapons seizures in UN Chapter VII, the Special Forces had broad discretion to hold individuals the natives identified as threats to peace and order until hearings could be conducted. (In one instance at Fort Liberté, Special Forces and Rangers apprehended seventeen suspected "attachés," the U.S. term for proregime vigilantes in a barracks and seized fifty to sixty semiautomatic assault weapons. The guns turned out to be in poor condition but still could have posed a threat to U.S. personnel.)63 Determining who should be detained resulted in occasional effors, most of which were rectified as soon as they were discovered.64
Sometimes, the arrest of well-known thugs reaped huge public relations dividends for American soldiers. In one small town, when Sergeant First Class Sam Makanani single-handedly captured a much-despised FAd'H member, his persona quickly catapulted to hero status, and he was lionized in songs and stories. Makanani's ability to speak French and play the guitar further enhanced his celebrity and fostered his emotional connection to the people.65
In establishing area security, the Special Forces had to be careful not to undermine completely the remnants of the FAd'H, an organization with which they would have to work, if possible, during the period of transition to a new police force. One instance related by a Special Forces officer illustrates the delicacy of the situation as well as the need for quick decisions. On the day in September when Major Tony Schwalm arrived in Jacmel to assume control of the city, he observed a crowd that had already formed at the airfield. As Schwalm looked on, a group of Haitians attacked and disarmed a member of the FAd'H who was doing guard duty along the airfield's perimeter. Responding rapidly to keep the situation under control, a Special Forces NCO jumped into the crowd, seized the weapon the group had taken from the guard, and returned it to the FAd'H soldier, in the process making the point that acts of violence against FAd'H members, and anarchy in general, were unacceptable.66
As they carried out arrests and engaged the population, Special Forces soldiers remained attuned to Haitian cultural concerns. They cuffed the hands of detainees in front of their bodies, rather than in back, the latter method having associations with slavery and thus regarded as particularly humiliating.67 In another instance, a Special Forces medic brought a Voodoo priest with him. to treat a seriously ill Haitian patient. Rather than clash with Haitian beliefs about the spiritual dimensions of sickness, the medic applied conventional, modern medicine within the prevailing belief system of rural Haiti.68
At times, the Americans also had to learn from their mistakes. In Jacmel, Special Forces organized Haitians and helped them repaint a FAd'H station so as to erase its association with the junta's brutality. The SF subsequently learned that their active participation in this task was perceived by the locals as usurping a role that properly should have been filled by Haitians.69 Special Forces officers often found themselves exercising authority over extremely large areas. With thirty-five soldiers (soon cut to twenty-five) under his command, Captain James Dusenberry served as the senior U.S. officer on La Gonave, an island with a population of about 80,000. As part of his duties, Dusenberry had to sort out conflicting accusations about which locals were guilty of crimes against the population and who might be concealing arms and so forth. He prudently stuck to U.S. standards of jurisprudence and declined to "go around busting down doors every time someone accused someone else of having a weapon." On one occasion, locals urged him to arrest a seventy-year-old blind woman who, they claimed, was a werewolf. Dusenberry chose not to act on this recommendation.70 Elsewhere in Haiti reports of zombies, ghosts, and witches were not unusual.
Among the first projects in which SF participated was the Weapons Buy Back Program, conducted at thirteen sites across Haiti. Although there would be debate about the effectiveness of the operation, it did help address popular and governmental concerns that hidden weapons might be used by supporters of the junta to undermine Haiti's democracy. The Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) directed a month-long PSYOP effort to secure public cooperation. Still, initial collection proved a problem. In a typical case at Bowen airfield on September 27--28, only eight guns were accepted on the first day. As a result, intelligence teams from JTF 190 went into the field to survey the public to find out what went wrong. The answer should not have come as a great surprise: the presence of FAd'H personnel at the site intimidated many. Others were overawed by the throngs of reporters who besieged the first Haitians who turned in weapons. Another factor was that cash payments were initially lower than the market value of the weapons. Soon, procedures were altered both to raise the payments for weapons and to pay for information leading to weapons seizures.71
As an integral part of neutralizing security concerns, Special Forces moved proactively to build local support, working quietly to help restore functioning local government. This often meant giving lessons in the elementary civics of a democracy or calling town meetings. Special Forces organized the populace to undertake infrastructure repairs and, as necessary, provide expertise to restore well pumps and power generators. All the while, they tried to resist the temptation to do for the natives what the natives could do for themselves. When necessary, Special Forces prodded local judges to hear outstanding cases of individuals who had long been held in Haitian prisons without formal charges or without formal notification of their next of kin. Haiti's. judicial system had scarcely functioned prior to Uphold Democracy. In Les Cayes, on Haiti's south coast, SF soldiers entered the notorious local jail, where they found forty-two emaciated prisoners confined to a single cell in conditions of criminal neglect.72 Special Forces teams located the responsible parties and instructed them to make immediate changes.
Even the Special Forces, of course, could not ignore the threat of sporadic attacks in Haiti. Proof came relatively early in the mission when a member of the FAd'H shot and wounded a Special Forces soldier in Les Cayes. The area Special Forces commander, Major Tony Schwalm, disarmed all of the local FAd'H on the following day. At the request of Brigadier General Richard Potter, the commander of TF Raleigh, a quick reaction force of U.S. Army Rangers, in full body armor, promptly reached the scene by U.S. Army MH-47 Chinook helicopter to offer vivid demonstration of the combat power readily available to remotely situated A-Teams. The Rangers searched the homes of area FAdH members and seized their weapons. In Potter's view, the episode marked a "turning point" in establishing calm in the vicinity of Les Cayes. Potter directed the rotation of two Ranger companies through the area for nine days to make his point. Gradually, the quick-reaction-force role passed to infantry of the 10th Mountain Division.73
Unfortunately, the working relationship between Special Forces and conventional forces operating in Port-au-Prince was not always smooth. In the first place, SF soldiers, who did not routinely wear helmet and body armor in the countryside, chafed under the restrictive force protection controls they encountered upon entering the "kevlar zone." Owing largely to differences in doctrine, training, and SOF culture, Special Forces, PSYOP, and civil affairs personnel, on the one hand, and conventional warriors, on the other, sometimes lacked a common perspective. At times, personnel of the 10th Mountain Division were unaware of what was happening in the countryside and on occasion were surprised to encounter Special Forces teams when conducting out-of-sector missions in more remote parts of Haiti. In a muted reference to this problem, Potter observed on October 23, "I think there is a misunderstanding [on the part of 10th Mountain and the JTF 190 command] of what SOF does and how it does it."74
Consisting imagesof exceptionally mature, self-reliant soldiers, SF teams in the field must constantly improvise and are sometimes accustomed to operating with less formality and regimentation than is customary in many conventional units. What Special Forces often construe as accommodation to local conditions, conventional troops sometimes view as a violation of good order and soldierly conduct. On occasion, despite warnings from their own officers, SF soldiers neglected to adopt the prescribed dress standard when they entered the Port-au-Prince area and were subject to punishments of varying severity. A few were personally reprimanded by Major General Meade.75 In one encounter on the first day of operations in Haiti, Brigadier General George Close, 10th Mountain's assistant deputy commander, instructed bewildered Special Forces soldiers in no uncertain terms not to mingle with Haitians through the fence at the airport. Soldiers who have operated in conventional and unconventional environments attest both to the differences in military culture between the two and to the fact that misperceptions are not uncommon. In this case, the Special Forces soldiers' sense of what their mission naturally entailed, engagement of the populace collided with the JTF 190 requirement for force protection.76
One oft-mentioned instance of misunderstanding in Haiti occurred just days into the mission at Camp d'Application, home to the Haitian Military Academy (and, subsequently, the new police academy) and the FAd'H special weapons company, identified as a principal threat by Army intelligence prior to Uphold Democracy. Soldiers from 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne) reached the camp with the mission of taking control of the grounds and weapons but also of building a working relationship with FAd'H soldiers there, with whom they would have to cooperate soon. In this spirit, Special Forces and members of the FAd'H set up shared accommodations in the barracks. By chance, and without prior coordination between the conventional and unconventional forces, a unit from the 10th Mountain Division subsequently arrived on the scene to retrieve the camp's heavy weapons. Unaware of what Special Forces were trying to accomplish, they adopted a battle-ready stance, backed by armored vehicles and infantry in full combat gear in accord with standard procedure, and appeared to regard the FAd'H as an enemy force. Fear among the FAd'H was immediately palpable. Concerned that their own mission was being compromised, one or more Special Forces soldiers sought to relieve the building tension. They taught the assembled Haitian soldiers to "do the wave." This gesture, in turn, was perceived as an act of disrespect by officers of the 10th Mountain Division. In an atmosphere of mutual indignation, charges and an investigation of the SF unit followed.77 No one, however, was punished as a result.
Regrettably, the incident at Camp d'Application seemed to set the tone for relations between special and conventional forces. Some Special Forces soldiers, on increasingly infrequent visits, found the regimented atmosphere at the Light Industrial Complex frustrating and oppressive and much preferred the relative informality of remote field operations. Overall, SF soldiers were outspokenly critical of the JTF 190 force protection posture, and a few even marked the frontier on maps with caricatures of soldiers mummified in kevlar. The contrast in approaches between conventional and Special Forces in Haiti was not missed by the press and other observers. According to a New York Times columnist, "The more ambiguous threat [in Haiti] is better addressed by the Special Forces, not the infantry, which has had little to do in Haiti since October except guard itself." In contrast, "They [Special Forces] do everything from repairing wells and delivering babies to arresting notorious thugs and rescuing victims of mob violence."78 Gradually, however, as more units from 10th Mountain Division participated in out-of-sector missions in the countryside where they dealt directly with Special Forces teams, the climate between the two groups improved.
As the mission in Haiti unfolded, some conventional soldiers and Special Forces alike voiced questions about the purpose of keeping military forces in the country. Some Special Forces felt that, as the situation stabilized, SF teams were no longer required for tasks that could be performed equally well by Army engineers or members of the Peace Corps.79 Generally, however, in rural areas across Haiti, Special Forces found the populace receptive to their presence, a fact that contributed to a relatively high sense of satisfaction that Haitians were actually benefiting from the American presence. Through constant, low-level interaction, bonds of trust and understanding formed.
What many participants construed as vague guidance with regard to the mission on the ground in Haiti compounded existing uncertainties. Although the Americans were to help establish conditions for a secure return of Aristide and the conduct of free elections, they were directed not to take over functions of local or national government or in any way substitute themselves for private organizations performing charitable and developmental work in Haiti. The ambiguities inherent in this mission surfaced early, especially in the civil affairs arena.
Major General George Fisher, commander of the 25th Infantry Division, which replaced the 10th in January 1995, observed, "There was a conscious decision by the United States not to engage in nation building and the mission expansion and mission creep that accompanies nation building."80 Fisher expected that funds and assistance for development projects would flow from international and interagency sources following the establishment of U.S. forces in Haiti. To the surprise of military planners, the expected support did not arrive. Meanwhile, U.S. forces lacked Title 10 authority from Congress to assume responsibility for providing a broad array of support and relief. Likewise, according to Lieutenant Colonel Edward Anderson, the J3 civil affairs officer for JTF 180, mission intent explicitly excluded extensive projects for rebuilding Haiti's infrastructure, or so-called nation building. Rather, U.S. forces were to assist civil authorities, even to the extent of ensuring that primary credit for any services provided by the Army go to local figures.81
Unfortunately, these guidelines left important issues unaddressed. For instance, no one initially seemed to have a comprehensive list of private aid organizations operating in Haiti, much less fists of contacts and phone numbers.82 An absence of close interagency cooperation, or even accepted channels for coordination, often left civil affairs officers in the field operating in a vacuum. Responsibility for answering questions, such as who would take responsibility for vetting the FAd'H or handling interagency coordination, gradually fell by default to the JCS J5, Lieutenant General Wes Clark, and his chief of the Political-Military Branch, Brigadier General John WalSh.83
Identification of civil affairs projects placed top priority on spotting potential crisis situations in their incipient stage. Particular focus was on incidents that might result in loss of life, flagrant human rights abuses, or serious outbreaks of disease. Contaminated sources of drinking water were a special concern, as was the possibility of widespread fire or large-scale rioting in the city.84
Regardless of initial intentions, discrepancies soon appeared in the American approach to civil affairs projects in Haiti. If the plan was to minimize dependency on American support and to deflect credit to local authorities, some U.S. participants, such as Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, believed practice soon deviated from policy, At the direction of Admiral Miller, U.S. troops stepped in and restored electric power, provided temporary sources of clean water, and otherwise engaged in projects that, however useful in the short term, may have contributed to the perception among Haitians that the U.S. military "can come in and fix anything." Absent any long-term mandate for American forces in Haiti to prop up the local infrastructure, Anderson felt that U.S. actions served to raise expectations of help the natives would receive from Americans rather than from their own government. Anderson observed, "Basically, it's a formula for failure, and it's been written about in every development manual that the American military has ever put out."85
More to Anderson's liking were the efforts of the Special Forces teams in the Haitian countryside. Special Operations Forces, collectively called Task Force Raleigh, included ten Civil Affairs Direct Support Teams, all of which scrupulously avoided becoming the principal actors in getting things done. Rather, they encouraged and supported locals in the distribution of food and fuel, the establishment of local security, and the restoration of effective local government. On occasion, they served as basic civics instructors or repair mechanics but left the essential work to those who would have to carry it on after they left.
Despite these contributions, and contrary to the view of Lieutenant Colonel Anderson, many civil affairs (and other) officers felt that the United States could and should have been doing more, not less. Only the humane emergency created by Tropical Storm Gordon's devastation brought forth resources needed to tackle even modest infrastructure development projects in outlying areas. Many participants felt that the tangible assistance to devastated areas enhanced the credibility of the mission.86
In reality, the civil affairs fimction, particularly in the form of engineering projects, extended well beyond the transfer of the mission in Haiti from the American-led Multinational Forces to the United Nations Mission in Haiti. Foremost among the ongoing projects was the restoration of electric power across the country. Because Port-au-Prince had the only modem power grid in the country, it was the logical place to begin. In outlying areas, restoration of power depended on the delivery of fuel or spare parts to repair generators.87 Another major engineering effort entailed the improvement of numerous major roads. In addition, a team of thirty-four Army Reserve civil affairs officers provided advice to Haiti's twelve governmental ministries and helped assess Haiti's most urgent needs in preparing a return to effective democratic administration. The team reported to U.S. Ambassador William Swing and passed its findings to organizations such as the United States Agency for International Development.88
Assessing the overall civil-military operations effort, Colonel Jonathan Thompson, commander of the 20th Engineering Brigade, contended that more could and should have been done in Haiti and "that [the] safe and secure environment that we're establishing here is dependent upon more than armed soldiers policing the streets."89
Closely related to the civil affairs effort was the PSYOP campaign conducted by U.S. forces in and around Haiti. Given the delicacy of native perceptions about the role of U.S. forces and Multinational Forces in Haiti, the American-directed information campaign was essential to preserving a psychological climate conducive to fulfillment of the military mission, the restoration of Aristide, and the eventual conduct of national elections. Here, in particular, American forces had to overcome not only the memory of the Marine intervention of 1915-34 but also the unmistakable impression left by the Harlan County episode that the Americans lacked the resolve to face down elements in Haiti that opposed fulfillment of the Governors Island Accord.
Execution of the PSYOP campaign began in advance of ground operations in September. On August 22-23, for example, the Air Force conducted a leaflet drop at St. More. A typical leaflet displayed the words "democracy," "prosperity," "opportunity," "education," and "law," overlaying a drawing of three persons moving into the sunlight. From September 13-17, roughly 7 million leaflets were released over Port-au-Prince, Cap Haitien, and Les Cayes.90 Broad guidance for the campaign came from the Military Information Support Team in Washington, which cleared all its plans through the National Security Council.
A major part of American efforts was the use of EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft for radio broadcast operations by the 4th Psychological Operations Group working through the Air Force 193d Special Operations Group (of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard). To facilitate the effectiveness of the broadcast campaign, the Air Force dropped roughly 10,000 radios across parts of Haiti. Broadcast messages, transmitted on three FM bands, sought to discourage the flotillas of boat people by announcing that entry to the United States would henceforth be possible only through the INS office in Port-au-Prince. A dramatic drop in boat interceptions after July 7, 1994, suggests that the campaign had the intended effect.91 Later messages aimed at preventing local vigilantes from taking retribution against supporters of the Cedras regime.
From the beginning of operations in the country, both JTF 180 and JTF 190 incorporated tactical PSYOP teams (TPTs) with loudspeakers. Each team normally consisted of four persons, although some split into two-person teams in support of remote Special Forces operations. Those TPTs that would have supported a forced entry were armed with taped messages in Creole demanding immediate surrender. Company A of the 9th PSYOP Battalion was attached to the 82d Airborne Division for the take-down mission.92 Loudspeaker systems aboard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were also ready to go in to broadcast messages. Instead, of course, TPT operations supported the peaceful entry of American forces through calls for calm and order when they announced the peaceful arrival of U.S. forces. Subsequently, TPTs broadcast declarations of support for the Aristide presidency and proclamations concerning the guns-for-cash program. The latter attracted much media attention but probably had little impact on the total number of guns in Haiti, particularly given the relatively porous frontier with the Dominican Republic. Indispensable for infor ming the public and quelling brushfire rumors in the streets, PSYOP tmm typically accompanied routine patrols and cordon-and-search missions as well.93
Getting word out to the populace in outlying areas, nevertheless, required close attention. According to Major James Boisselle, who participated in the planning and execution of the PSYOP campaign in Haiti (early reports from TF Raleigh's Forward Operational Base 33 and Operational Detachment B 370 [SFODB 370] in Gonaives), "many Haitians did not yet know that the United States had landed forces in large numbers throughout the country and, if they did know, they were not aware of the purpose and intent of the operation."94 The message subsequently went out by means of airborne loudspeakers and leaflet drops. Troops of the Multinational Force also succeeded in peaceably taking over Haiti Radio and TV Nationale and restoring them to the control of the legitimate government.
Some elements of PSYOP, of course, remained unplanned or at least unintentional. Captain Ladouceur reported that, early in the deployment, after an address by Shelton to the Haitian people went over the air in translation, many Haitians believed that the general himself was actually a Creole speaker. Figuring that this perception enhanced the credibility of U.S. operations, Ladouceur did nothing to discourage this belief when directly questioned by ordinary Haitians whom he encountered.95 Beyond such small incidents, the general posture of American forces conveyed a message as well, although different components of the force may have diverged inthe messages they delivered.
Support of 10th Mountain Division fell to Company B, 9th PSYOP Battalion, which assigned TPTs to Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien. The JPOTF in Port-au-Prince soon included about 250 personnel, among them 33 Haitian Creole linguists and Dr. Stephen Brown from the 4th PSYOP Group's Strategic Studies Detachment. Program content was largely educational, embracing explanations of the concept of democracy, the creation of a new public security force, and the functions to be performed by the Multinational Forces arriving in the country. In addition, the JPOTF took the lead in encouraging the 10th Division to establish a higher-profile presence in the neighborhoods of the capital."96
Despite PSYOP efforts in Port-au-Prince, looting remained a problem in the early stages of Uphold Democracy. TPTs became a standard piece of the response team in support of the 16th Military Police Brigade. During a large-scale episode on September 29, airborne loudspeakers appeared on the scene and for several hours appealed to a crowd estimated at 3,000 to disperse. Eventually, the mob broke up without requiring U.S. troops to employ riot control agents. Continued strife appeared in the streets of Port-au-Prince that, based on an analysis by Dr. Stephen Brown, reflected a vacuum in public security resulting from the passivity of the Haitian police.97 Eventually, however, the populace began to feel more secure and, in a sense, "took back their own streets."98
At one point, evidence began to surface that the creation of joint U.S.-Haitian police patrols was being interpreted by the man in the street to symbolize an emerging alliance between the United States and repressive ordans of the Cedras regime Many Haitians were deeply concerned that the Americans had done little or nothing to round up local "attaché" Colonel Jeff Jones, commander of the 4th PSYOP Group (Airborne), specifically addressed this problem in a memorandum to the JTF 180 commander on October 2.99 In short, the United States appeared a "paper tiger" in Port-au-Prince. American raids on weapons stores and FRAPH and attaché hideouts followed. Generally, PSYOP teams appeared on the scene to broadcast a series of graduated warnings that, if necessary, ended with an ultimatum. Standard procedure entailed isolating the suspected site by clearing adjoining buildings and forming a cordon around the target. From that point, infantry units ordinarily had little trouble weeding out those who did not surrender immediately. It was often the case, however, that when U.S. patrols appeared in a neighborhood, the locals would inform them that members of the FRAPH had fled hours earlier.100
Even dealing with friendly crowds often required assistance from tactical PSYOP teams. Accordingto one infantry company commander who commanded Bradley vehicles assigned to Haiti as a quick reaction force, "Without a civil affairs or bullhorn team or loudspeaker team, I would get nowhere in Port-au-Prince." This commander found that his Bradleys created a sensation wherever they went. Given the tight streets in the capital and the speed with which swarms of friendly Haitians gathered, movement could quickly come to a standstill.101
Perhaps the greatest PSYOP challenge in Haiti was selling the public on the program to professionalize the armed forces and reconstitute the Haitian National Police. Given the extensive involvement of these organizations in repressive acts by assorted dictatorial regimes over the years, public skepticism toward them was only natural. (Indeed, it is instructive for Americans to remember that the framers of the U.S. Constitution shared deep misgivings about the potential of a standing army to abuse the citizenry.) The JPOTF, therefore, produced a series of publications designed to inform members of the police and security forces in Haiti of the concepts of civilian control and professional standards of conduct as incorporated in the Haitian constitution.102
By the end of October 1994, the JPOTF had a plethora ofprograms in operation as described by Boisselle:
Techniques and tools for disseminating PSYOP themes now included not only traditional methods, such as radio, television, handbills, loudspeakers, and leaflets, but also innovative promotional techniques such as T-shirts, billboards, buttons, and even a new national song of reconciliation. This song, titled "Long Live Peace," called for an end to violence and a renewal of justice and peace. Tactical PSYOP teams distributed over 20 million copies of handbills, posters, flags, and bumper stickers and conducted over 750 ground and 67 aerial loudspeaker missions.103Medical Support in Haiti
Yet another critical component of U.S. military operations in Haiti was the work of American medical teams. Without a doubt, Haiti presents one of the most medically challenging environments in the world. One U.S. medical assessment compiled before operations commenced put the problem this way:
The general level of heatth in Haiti is the lowest in the Western Hemisphere. There is a high incidence of communicable diseases due to extremely poor sanitation and health practices. Disease prevention and soldier protection cannot be overemphasized. Command emphasis throughout the force is required to ensure that deploying service members are properly briefed and disciplined in protective measures, and that field sanitation teams are properly employed.104The 10th Mountain Division surgeon, Lieutenant Colonel, Larry Godfrey, was first alerted to the possibility of a Haitian mission on July 27, 1994. Upon learning soon thereafter that the division would be functioning as JTF 190, Godfrey discovered that no guidelines existed for setting up a JTF Health Service Support Plan. With some difficulty, he managed to obtain a sanitized copy of the XVIII Airborne Corps plan. Joint coordination was to be handled through USACOM, which agreed to answer specific questions but otherwise had little to offer in the way of a template for a joint setup.105
The eventual plan included several important assumptions. First, no host-nation medical services would be available. Nor, in turn, was the U.S. military to become extensively involved in the treatment of Haitians. As noted in the plah, "Except for detainees, JTF medical forces will limit care for Haitians to emergency care for persons injured as a result of US/UN action and emergency care necessary to prevent loss of life and limb." JTF 190-ARFOR medical services, however, could assist on a case by case basis as approved by the commanding surgeon and requested by the J3 civil affairs. Still, primary responsibility for providing help to the indigenous medical infrastructure belonged to local authorities and assorted international and nonmilitary U.S. agencies.106
One form of support extended to both governmental and nongovernmental organizations providing medical assistance in Haiti was a series of evaluations compiled for the Army's first Health Facility Assessment Team (HFAT). Brigadier General Peake, the JTF 180 surgeon and Commander, 44th Medical Brigade, deployed a team to carry out inspections of local medical facilities to expedite the referral of injured or ill Haitian nationals. Eventually two teams were deployed, each consisting of a facility planning officer, nurse methods analyst, biomedical equipment technician, environmental engineer, and Haitian linguist.107
On occasion, teams inspected nonmedical facilities to evaluate their suitability for conversion to temporary general hospitals. In one such case, Major Patty Horoho, a nurse methods analyst, went with an HFAT to assess the Hotel Simbie in Port-au-Prince. Her description speaks volumes about initial conditions in Haiti:
When we arrived we found 200 families living in the abandoned hotel. The hotel was dilapidated and filthy. There were waste products all over and dripping off some of the balconies. A few dirty needles were lying on the ground in some areas, and a few elderly males were lying curled up in a corner dying of starvation. There was no electricity or running water. Children ran around without any clothes and urinated wherever. Initially the occupants were guarded because they felt that we were going to take away their home. SGT Jacques and I were cornered on the second floor by approximately 25 hostile occupants. We both remained calm and SGT Jacques did an excellent job of talking to them in Creole and was able to calm them down.... The initial assessment was that the hotel could be renovated into a general hospital but would require a lot of work.108The reason that HFATs had to consider transforming such exotic candidates as the Hotel Simbie into hospitals was that, not surprisingly, existing medical facilities were too few in number and generally in a deplorable state of repair. According to Horoho, most of Haiti's hospital equipment was forty to fifty years out of date, and much of that did not function. Those facilities that did possess reasonably modern equipment typically lacked the means to repair or maintain it, a bad situation made worse by the UN embargo. Basic medicines were also in short supply. In light of these circumstances, Horoho was struck by the irrepressible good humor of most of the population.109 In any case, it was not the U.S. military's mission to improve, replace, or repair existing facilities. Military personnel did, however, help identify requirements that could be addressed by aid agencies operating in Haiti.
The Rockwood Case
One of the more intriguing and troubling incidents of Uphold Democracy from the Army's point of view was the case of Captain Larry Rockwood. Assigned to the mission of counterintelligence for the 10th Mountain Division, Rockwood arrived in Haiti on September 23, 1994. There, he had extensive access to sensitive information from sources throughout Port-au-Prince. Although informed that his first concern was the collection of information that might bear on the security of American forces in Haiti, so-called "Haitian-on-Haitian violence" was also a priority interest. Rockwood soon became deeply disturbed at information contained in numerous reports that indicated serious and continuing human rights abuses in government prisons in the capital.110 U.S. intelligence had identified five centers for incarceration and torture in Port-au-Prince and knew of a body dump north of the city. What especially bothered Rockwood was that the 10th Mountain Division was apparently taking no action, either to verify conditions in the local prisons or to establish a roster of prisoners that would enable the Army to hold prison administrators accountable for the well being of their wards.
Beginning with the legal section, Captain Rockwood pressed his concern through various channels inside and outside his chain of command and was dissatisfied at the lack of urgency that greeted his reports and queries. Finally, on September 30, he complained officially to the division inspector general, fully aware that this action was hardly routine and might adversely affect his career.111 Believing that he had already "crossed the Rubicon," Rockwood unilaterally resolved to pay a visit to the infamous National Penitentiary to demand a full accounting of the prisoners and the right to view the facility. Although he had no specific information on torture at the national prison, Captain Rockwood chose to visit it because he knew its exact location and believed he could get there easily. If he could obtain a list of prisoners, he would in effect establish the responsibility of the prison administration for their condition. In executing this plan, he violated an explicit order from his command.
Rockwood subsequently defended his action on the ground that he was carrying out the spirit of President Clinton's mission statement, which included human rights concerns. By implication, he asserted that he had received an illegal order not to intervene. This claim received no support from any figure in the administration. Rockwood's arrest stemmed specifically from violation of a direct order from a superior, a fact that he fully understood. Although he underwent a psychiatric evaluation that verified his mental health, some speculated whether Rockwood had been predisposed, either emotionally or philosophically, to create an incident due to his well-established interest in human rights and law of war issues. His father, as a GI, had participated in liberating a German concentration camp at the close of World War II and had sensitized Captain Rockwood to questions of rights and prisons. In fact, while a student at Fort Leavenworth, he had researched a paper on the massacre at My Lai.112 In any case, the implications of Rockwood's action were many and controversial. One officer of Task Force Mountain cautioned that, in the confusion prevailing at the time, Rockwood's hasty action potentially could have precipitated politically motivated murders in the prison of the very sort that the captain wanted to prevent. Furthermore, deplorable, even dangerous conditions, could be found in many parts of Port-au-Prince, not just the prisons. However, another officer who was serving in Haiti with civil affairs at the time sympathized with Rockwood's intent and believed that the Army should have moved more aggressively to inspect the prisons.113 Ultimately, Rockwood chose to subject himself to a court-martial rather than accept nonjudicial punishment. One result was his removal from the service.
Though fascinating in its own right, the Rockwood case is significant to the history of Uphold Democracy, both because it reflects the ambiguity of the American position and because it invites further conjecture about the posture of the 10th Mountain Division. Rockwood's legal defense sought to establish an obligation to intercede on the basis of the law of armed conflict or international law. The Army, in turn, maintained that the timing of any intercession was up to the MNF commander. No legal obligation to inspect the prisons existed, Army lawyers argued, because the United States was not in Haiti as an occupying power within the meaning of the Hague Convention, which would have implied specific obligations for the well being of the population, but as part of an MNF that entered the country through a negotiated agreement with the Cedras regime. Furthermore, according to the Army, customary international law does not impose any such requirement.114 Despite this legal position, early revisions of the rules of engagement did authorize members of the Multinational Force to intercede to halt Haitian-on-Haitian violence.
Perhaps the real point is not whether any legal requirement existed but whether it would have promoted American aims in Haiti had an inspection of prisons been made an early priority. A more proactive stance on the part of the 10th Mountain Division might well have garnered public support and mitigated concerns that Americans were not doing enough to put down the FAd'H. The fact that Rockwood's actions made him a hero to many Haitians is evidence to this effect. Broadly speaking, concern over the prisons may have been shoved aside as a result of command concern in the 10th over force protection and the urgency of establishing order in the streets of Port-au-Prince. Months later, Brigadier General James T. Hill of the 25th Infantry Division confirmed, in a public interview, that horrific conditions still existed in the prison in January 1995 and emphasized that alleviating those conditions was a priority concern.115
Transition to the 25th Infantry Division
The 25th Infantry Division received an oral warning in early November that it would replace the 10th Mountain Division in Haiti. A formal order to that effect arrived on December 4. The mission statement of the 25th indicated that, on December 26, it would begin a deployment of about 3,500 soldiers to carry on current peace operations aimed at maintaining a secure and stable environment that would permit the return of normal government and the transition of the entire operation to United Nations (UNMIH) control.
Training of the 25th Infantry Division began immediately, with direct support from the Center for Army Lessons Learned at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Major Chris Hughes of CALL, who had spent approximately two months in Haiti with the 10th Mountain Division (along with other lesson collectors), helped the staff of the 25th plan its training program. Hughes and other analysts from CALL had observed as many different aspects of Uphold Democracy as time and circumstances allowed in order to assemble a list of "lessons learned" for dissemination to those who might need them. Furthermore, at the request of 25th Division commander, Major General Fisher, Hughes wrote a series of training vignettes intended to recreate the kinds of ambiguous and often tense situations that typified the daily working environment in Haiti.116
These vignettes, based on actual events, covered a broad range of tasks: day and night patrols, fixed-site security, checkpoint operations, search operations, participation in the weapons buy-back program, working with the Haitian police, civil-military operations, VIP escort, and a series of situations, such as crowd control, that might warrant the use of graduated responses. The CALL training package also offered a few basic observations about the nature of Haitian life and culture.
Implementation of the training program began with the assistance of observer-controllers from the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) to create an environment that reflected real conditions on the ground in Haiti. Fortunately, the 25th had already conducted extensive training on its own for tasks ordinarily associated with operations other than war. In addition, some officers of the 25th traveled to Haiti in advance of the force to get a better feeling for the environment.117 Ultimately, the plan for relieving the 10th Mountain Division allowed for a brief period of overlap, during which members of staffs and units would observe and work with elements of the 10th.
Once the 25th Infantry Division was up and running in Haiti, the time came to hand overall control of operations to the United Nations as of March 31,1995. USACOM organized a "United Nations Staff Training Program" in early March, the first ever of its type, to forge the diverse multinational staff into a functioning and coherent organization.118 In a similar fashion, selected Special Forces personnel prepared for a transition from Forward Operational Base (FOB) 31 to FOB 32, which would assume the mission with the transition to UN control.119 The absence of any Special Forces doctrine for working with a UN command compelled Army SF elements to invent procedures as they went along.
At the top, Major General Joseph Kinzer assumed the dual role of U.S. force commander and United Nations force commander. Kinzer reported directly to Lakdar Brahimi, the Special Representative to the Secretary General of the United Nations. Brahimi, therefore, as the political head of the UN Mission, became the single most influential actor among the UN contingent in Haiti, particularly in terms of policy and the fiscal dimensions of the operation.120
The focus now turned to preparations for legislative elections, to be conducted on June 4, and the subsequent presidential election in the fall. As should have been expected, the electoral process encountered practical difficulties in a country where the concept of democracy, at least as Americans understood it, had not yet established roots. Candidates had a specified length of time to file applications with a body known as the Civilian Election Project (CEP), in which the Lavalas party of President Aristide enjoyed a preponderance of influence. Published ballots displayed pictures of the candidates, as well as symbols of party affiliation, to assist voters in making their selections. The party symbols, in fact, were usually better known than, the candidates' faces, since the average Haitian did not have access to a television set. Unfortunately, the names of some candidates never found their way onto election ballots. This might have been the product of simple human error, but it contributed to a widespread perception that the process had been manipulated by the CEP. In other instances, pictures, names, and symbols were inadvertently misaligned, thus sowing confusion. According to one Special Forces commander operating in the countryside, some Haitians burned ballots rather than lend credibility to an election in which their favorite candidates were not included.121
Such popular perceptions held down participation in the subsequent presidential election; the official turnout plummeted to only 28 percent.122 Even worse, participation in local and senatorial elections in April 1997 drew only 5 percent of the eligible voters, and that official figure was judged by some experienced observers to be inflated.123 Still, if the principal objective of the United Nations Mission in Haiti was to maintain a stable and secure environment conducive to the conduct of free and fair elections, that objective was fulfilled.124 Whether or not a foundation for long-term democracy in Haiti had been laid was an altogether different question.
Training the Haitian National Police
Foremost among the tasks that would precede a UN departure was the building of the Haitian National Police. At the direction of ACOM, formation of a model Interim Public Security Force began in Cap Haitien, where the FAd'H had disintegrated following the October 3 clash with the Marines. During the interim, the attempt to bring back some FAd'H members for service met with strong public resistance. Consequently, vetted members of the FAd'H from other cities assumed duties in Cap Haitien. An intensive PSYOP campaign to explain this move to the public followed. The campaign highlighted supervision by International Police Monitors and President Aristide's approval of a vetting commission (see table 3).125
Overall, of the roughly 7,000 persons in the FAd'H, about 3,000 faced removal or reassignment once Ray Kelly, former chief of the New York City Police Department, arrived in October to direct formation of Haiti's new police force. About 620 of the remaining FAd'H were subsequently arrested on the basis of human rights violations.126
At the same time, although the FAd'H had not disintegrated in Port-au-Prince, it lacked effective control of the streets, in large part due to an absence of real police skills and regular patrols. As explained by Colonel Michael Sullivan, commander of the 16th Military Police Brigade, "it took a while, a week or more, for the light to come on for me to realize these guys don't know what the hell they are doing." This became apparent when the FAd'H proved unable to control looting in the capital. Consequently, American MPs "became the de facto police department in Port-au-Prince."127 Sullivan placed a company of MPs at each of the six major police stations in the capital. The U.S. role thus became one of guiding as well as controlling the FAd'H until its replacement by a new police force.
Like the Special Forces, the MPs, supported by civil affairs and PSYOP, on the whole dealt effectively with the nuances of working in Haiti. Still, there were occasions when coordination with infantry of the 10th Mountain Division left much to be desired. One early mishap occurred after MPs and civil affairs soldiers had begun working with a FAd'H unit whose barracks adjoined the palace. There, the absence of operational boundaries exacerbated confusion over responsibilities and missions. Two truck loads of infantry from the 10th conducted a raid on a FRAPH compound in the same environs and began making arrests. Learning of the commotion, members of the FAd'H arrived on the scene. In this instance, they were getting out into the streets just as their American MP advisers had been encouraging them to do. As they did so, however, U.S. infantrymen immediately disarmed and arrested them, taped their mouths shut, placed them in handcuffs, and hauled them away. Learning of the affair over CNN that evening, remaining FAd'H members at the station panicked. Some, humiliated and demoralized by the surprising turn of events, burned their uniforms in protest. Meanwhile, neighborhood civilians, sensing a vacuum of civic order, began rioting.128
Colonel Sullivan subsequently commented that,
after about a week, if you have sufflcient military police forces in an urban area, and all the associated combat support that would be required to sustain the military police force, and you had the special operations forces out in the countryside, and the necessary combat service support to sustain them, the thing to do, in Mike Sullivan's meager opinion, is to pack up the infantry and send them home and get them trained for the next mission.129His point was that the infantry is not well suited to static guard duty. Rather, infantry "are trained to be the king of the hill in their AO (area of operation). And I would say that operations other than war don't really lend themselves to that, because there's too much movement that has to take place through those areas and the battle drill of infantrymen, and the skills that senior combat arms officers learn through their careers train them to be closed."130
MP and infantry culture also clashed on the question of force protection. According to Major David leMauk, JTF 190 LNO to the Haitian Police, the wearing of vests and kevlar "gives the wrong impression for the Haitian police because it shows that we're not practicing what we preach. I think for the population as a whole, that it gives them the impression that they're being occupied, and that we are here to oppress, perhaps, rather than to relieve them of the burden of Cedras' government." Moreover, he added, "The threat here, as far as we are concerned, is insignificant, and it makes our job harder by having to patrol with machine guns and flak vests; it would be better if we could transition to a different uniform, I think, for everyone concerned."131
According to plan, International Police Monitors soon arrived in Haiti as human rights watchdogs. Coordination here, too, proved problematic. LeMauk described the situation:
And, when the IPM's came in, they took on the same role that the Haitians did; they would, kind of, sit there with them. Sometimes they would go out on patrol, but they would not get out of their vehicle; they would not go into dangerous areas; they would not respond to incidents where the possibility of violence might be.... Some of the IPMs refused to go on combined patrol with the US, while at the same time, their Director was saying that he was very much in favor of it.132The environment for police officers in Haiti, unless they happened to be wearing FAd'H uniforms, was not particularly dangerous but did exhibit distinctive cultural nuances. When in November 1994 a Haitian national, College Francois, employed at the American Embassy, murdered three coworkers and fled with $50,000 in cash, he was discovered through the network of Voodoo priests, or houngans. An American investigator working with the International Police Monitors found a houngan who, in turn, had heard that Francois was seeking to purchase a potion from another houngan to make himself invisible. With the assistance of the latter houngan, Francois was lured into a trap. Instructed by the houngan to appear in a remote location, unarmed, carrying the stolen money, wearing only his underwear, and carrying goat meat over his head, Francois delivered himself in the prescribed condition to his captors.133
The UN-sponsored CivPol (civilian police) replaced the International Police Monitors in 1995 (see table 4). This group was a composite organization including personnel from Canada, Australia, France, Jordan, the Philippines, and Nepal whose task was to oversee the Interim Public Security Force in Haiti. In practice, Special Forces in the field provided much direct assistance, such as accounting for weapons issued to the IPSF, but coordination was difficult because of the lack of compatible radios and the fact that CivPol lacked its own motor vehicles.134
The burden placed on the IPSF was enormous from the beginning. Because many of the temporary cops were vetted members of the FAd'H, the organization was tainted in the eyes of much of the populace, especially supporters of Lavalas. The employment of former FAd'H initially was expedient because there was simply no other source of leadership or experience in Haiti. Human rights observers, such as attorney William O'Neill, a consultant to the National Coalition for Haitian Refugees based in New York City, lamented that "these interim police officers received just four days [actually six days] training and hardly ever left their barracks except when accompanied by the United Nations International Police Monitors."135 Thus, public confidence in them was conspicuously absent. In some areas, beleaguered IPSF personnel lacked not only credibility with the population and President Aristide but weapons as well. For example, IPSF personnel in Zone 4, which included Les Cayes, had to be issued revolvers confiscated from other parts of Haiti. Until then, the minority who possessed functioning weapons typically had a mere one or two bullets per weapon. Special Forces Major Walter Pjetraj described the situation this way: "The IPSF, for the most part, did not have handguns.... Because of that, these guys were a joke. Not so much that they looked stupid or incapable, but the people just didn't respect them." Lacking authority, members of the IPSF were naturally reluctant to carry out their job. To make matters worse, most went months without receiving their pay and had no uniforms but those of the former and still despised FAd'H.S136 Finally, despite public assurances to the contrary, members of the IPSF had little chance of gaining admission to the police academy.
Police credibility grew as graduates of Haiti's National Police Training Center began to reach the streets as the new Haitian National Police (HNP). The U.S. Department of Justice's International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program, which employed a number of retired Special Forces soldiers, retained formal responsibility for testing and instructing candidates for the force. The usual procedure was that Army PSYOP (later information teams) would visit testing centers in advance to get word out to the public. Candidates were advised to bring their own food and water, as well as to provide their own transportation. Unfortunately, the perception, at least in Zone 4, was that the process was rigged by Lavalas, which made selections based on political loyalties rather than merit. In any case, selectees completed the four-month formal course of instruction, which entailed eight weeks at the academy at Camp d'Application in Port-au-Prince and eight weeks at Ft. Leonard Wood. The curriculum included two eight-hour-long courses entitled "Human Dignity" and "Human Rights," which emphasized the role of law and civil liberties, in a democracy.137
However, as pointed out by Colonel David Patton, "they're [the HNP] all rookies." As of February 1996, the average HNP officer was twenty-five years old and had 1.9 months experience on the force.138 This condition contributed, on one hand, to well-publicized incidents in which HNP members resorted to excessive force, as well as to a reluctance by them to enter the volatile slum of Cite Soleil, on the other. By February 1997, some 400 members of the 5,000-man force had been cited for various abuses, and 13 stood charged with murder.139 Yet for all of this, according to Dr. Freeman, the greatest problem with the new HNP was that they are excessively polite, hence commanding insufficient respect, and too few in number. To control a populace of 7 to 8 million with some 5,000 junior policemen is perhaps asking too much.140
What this chapter has shown is that the sage of war, Carl von Clausewitz, was right in his most oft-paraphrased lesson that war is an extension of politics by other means. In other words, Operation Uphold Democracy, as well as its planned predecessor, Restore Democracy, had an objective that was primarily political in nature. That objective, moreover, had to be included in military plans for U.S. operations in Haiti. It is clear, however, that not even the most far-sighted planners can anticipate everything. No one suspected that OPLAN 2370 would be tamed off in the midst of execution, with all the attendant political and military consequences.
The evidence from Uphold Democracy and other recent operations leads to a number of conclusions, including the impression that the U.S. Army is not really structured for modem contingency operations. This is seen particularly in the concept of the joint task force, which has become the norm for the conduct of operations with forces of all sizes. In reality, the only Army organization that can easily adapt to the JTF role is the corps. Yet, in planning for what became Uphold Democracy, the 10th Mountain Division had to become a JTF headquarters, something it could not do without massive augmentation, both from the Army and the joint community. Such vital augmentation was not fully forthcoming from the Army and hardly at all from the responsible unified command, USACOM. On the 10th Mountain's side of the issue, it was hard to adjust to being a joint headquarters rather than a subordinate Army one.
In its execution of the mission, the 10th Mountain Division took limited account of recent experience but perhaps lost perspective in the process. Conscious and unconscious reference to the experience of Somalia, where during the UNISOM II phase the division provided the brigade that acted as the quick reaction force for the UN, raised a false analogy for what the division faced in Haiti. As the situation in Somalia deteriorated, the 10th adopted a siege mentality, and it brought that mentality with it to the planning and execution of Uphold Democracy. An analogy more relevant to the Haitian scenario was the posture of the 10th in Somalia during its initial deployment under Major General Steve Arnold in the first phase of the operation. As the ARFOR in Operation Restore Hope, the 10th had enjoyed a high degree of success in a relatively low-threat environment. In Haiti, the contrast between the behavior of the 10th's units in Port-au-Prince and 2 BCT in Cap Haitien points to the way in which different leaders interpret similar experiences (through different uses of analogy) and establish different command climates, with attendant consequences in terms of attaining military and political objectives.
The Haitian experience underscored the importance of Special Operations Forces, Special Forces, civil affairs, and PSYOP to a complex operation. Each SOF element was used in its appropriate role, resulting in significant force multiplication. Special Forces controlled the countryside largely by themselves, supported by civil affairs direct support teams. When combat power was needed, it was provided by the Rangers and 10th Mountain units. With respect to civil affairs forces, complications surfaced involving command and control of civil affairs units and the operation of civil affairs units with SF teams.141 Finally, PSYOP proved extremely effective, a powerful force multiplier, in a wide variety of situations, before, during, and after execution.
The delivery of medical support demonstrated that, in missions of this kind, the whole combat support and combat service support component of the Army brings critical assets to the accomplishment of the operational and strategic objectives. The power of medical support as a force multiplier, nevertheless, was weakened by resource constraints and by its apparent lack of coordination with civil affairs, the latter of which provides the planning and civil-military operations expertise required to develop the link between the host civilian government institutions and the U.S. Army.
The strange case of Captain Larry Rockwood brings us back to the fact that the Army is not prepared below the level of corps to undertake effective leadership of a JTF. This is especially true in the case of a multinational and interagency environment. The particular problem highlighted by the Rockwood case is the lack of correct prioritization of objectives such that the strategic-political objective drives the operational and tactical, rather than the other way around. It was Rockwood's misfortune to believe that by violating a lawful order, he could rectify the situation and accomplish what he perceived to be the strategic mission.
The variety of problems encountered by the 10th Mountain Division early in the operation convinced the Army leadership that replacing the 10th at the earliest opportunity would be appropriate. Thus, plans were made to have the 25th Infantry Division relieve the 10th. The process that got the 25th ready and facilitated its smooth transition with the 10th is testimony to the adaptability and flexibility built into the U.S. Army. The question remains--given the high operational tempo of the 10th and the likelihood that the resulting problems could have been anticipated--why a relief of the division by U.S. forces had never been forseen by the planners.
The subsequent transition to UNMIH was expected, and the planning was generally effective. The execution of the transition itself appeared to be equally effective. Despite the apparent ease of transition to UNMIH, problems of major proportions surfaced as the operation became more multinational and interagency. In the process of establishing interim and long-term Haitian security forces, those problems were highlighted by conflicts among CivPol, ICITAP, and the Haitian government over the new Haitian National Police.
U.S. planners defined the "exit--strategy" in Haiti to be "the planned transition to the host nation of all functions performed on its behalf by peace operations forces."142 In the opinion of scholar Michael Mandelbaum," the exit strategy became the mission."143 Still, key conditions for departure--basic order, the return of Aristide, and the conduct of a presidential election resulting in a peaceful transfer of power--were met. In addition, particularly given the Army's tendency to focus on process and the successful execution of specificjobs, rather than the long-term political objective in Haiti, the official scorecard looked good. Units on the whole performed well. Logistics, infantry, communications, PSYOP, civil affairs, public affairs, aviation, military police, Rangers, medics, and so on all showed proficiency in their doctrinal roles, often overcoming much adversity along the way.
Still, the UN mission dragged on into July 1997 for the simple reason that little in Haiti had fundamentally changed in terms of the big picture. The new Haitian National Police continued to struggle to control the streets, especially in the expansive human tragedy called the slums of Cite Soleil. Politically motivated violence continued intermittently, and newly elected President Preval was forced to purge his own police force. A disastrous economy, overpopulation, ecological ruin, and deep-seated racial (mulatto-versus-black) and class antagonisms remained fundamentally unaltered by three years of intervention.
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