Old Principles and New Realities:
Measuring Army Effectiveness in
Operation Uphold Democracy
John T Fishel
This chapter attempts to measure the effectiveness of the U.S. Army in Operation Uphold Democracy and the transition to the follow-on UN Mission in Haiti. In addressing this subject, it is good to take account of the words of former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, in the first edition of the new series of joint doctrine manuals, Joint Pub 1, where he articulates the premise that the modern American way of war is joint warfare. Thus, in Powell's view, the U.S. Army never again will go to war alone; it will always be part of a joint team. And if Operation Uphold Democracy is indeed a harbinger of the future, then the Army in the future will almost invariably participate only as a member of a joint, interagency, and multinational team!
This chapter will consider each of the sequential phases of the operation according to how well or poorly it was executed in terms of standardized principles of U.S. Army and joint doctrine as exemplified in both the nine principles of war and the six principles of military operations other than war (MOOTW).1 There is significant overlap between the two sets of principles in relation to three of the principles: objective and security, in which the overlap is complete, and unity of command, where that term becomes a subset of the principle of unity of effort. The remaining principles of war are offensive, mass, economy of force, maneuver, surprise, and simplicity; while those of MOOTW are legitimacy,2 perseverance, and restraint.
Using the principles of war and MOOTW as criteria for determining the degree of success of the "intervasion" of Haiti does not imply that all of these principles were specified bythe commanders and their staffs in planning and executing the operation. The principles of war and MOOTW are neither gospel nor dogma. Rather, in the case of Haiti, the principles provided an intellectual underpinning for the operation that was implicit in nature, in some cases, but explicit in others, as in UNMIH commander Major General Joseph Kinzer's statement of intent. U.S. Army officers are nurtured on FM 100-5, Operations, which addresses both sets of principles directly and is part of the intellectual baggage that officers bring to war and warlike operations.
Operation Uphold Democracy can be divided into five phases for analytical purposes: (1) planning, (2) deployment, (3) employment, (4) transition,3 and (5) redeployment. These phases will be analyzed in respect to their application to the principles of war and MOOTW. Four possible outcomes of the analysis are contemplated. First, the principle was applied successfully during a particular phase. Second, it was either not applied or applied in inappropriate ways that resulted in failure. Third, the application of the principle by the force was to varying degrees appropriate or not, which resulted in a mixed outcome. Fourth, the principle in question was not applicable to a particular phase of the operation.
With few exceptions, the principle of the objective was well applied during the planning phase of Operation Uphold Democracy. The objective was stated clearly in the several UN Security Council resolutions on Haiti. These required the restoration to office of the democratically elected president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the removal of the military junta that had replaced him. The conditions required to permit the return of President Aristide were also the conditions necessary to turn the mission over to the UN, that is, the creation of a secure and stable environment in Haiti. The specific terms of such an environment, however, were never clearly articulated or elaborated as an end state at the strategic level. This failing was more than adequately addressed on the ground, however, at the operational level. Nevertheless, restoring democracy and establishing "a secure and stable enviromnent," in the words of the Carter-Cedras agreement, left some early confusion at the tactical level. Long-term security and stability were linked to the political objective of restoring democracy, which, while never clearly defined, generally seemed to imply the return of the democratically elected president to office and the holding of a series of subsequent free and fair elections that would culminate in the election and inauguration of a new president.
In the planning process, the objective of the offensive was well and fully served by a U.S. Army that is nothing today if not offensive minded. Hence, the concept of OPLAN 2370 was offensive violence inflicted suddenly, from sky and sea, with overwhelming but appropriate force. OPLAN 2380, by contrast, was developed for a permissive entry but still sought to land large numbers of well-armed troops in an offensive and combat-ready posture. OPLAN 2375 took a position somewhere in between, and when it was further modified and executed as 2380-Plus, it retained the offensive capabilities inherent in OPLANs 2370 and 2380. The one planning failure was in clarifying the rules of engagement for 23 80-Plus before the operation was executed. Although not a planning failure per se, no one even considered the possibility that 2370 would be aborted even as it was being executed!
Mass was the certain complement to the offensive in all the plans. It was clear from the beginning of the planning that a large number of forces were going to have to be landed in Haiti expeditiously, after which they would quickly make their presence and power felt in the two centers of gravity in the country, Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien. This was built into all versions of the several plans. The mirror image of mass is economy of force. Here, the planners' record was mixed. With respect to U.S. forces, the plans called for the use of Special Operations Forces in an economy of force role, occupying the towns and villages of the hinterland. Operation Uphold Democracy was never a unilateral American operation; all plans called for multinational elements, to be led by the CARICOM battalion, either to enter with the U.S. forces in a permissive environment or to act as follow-on forces after a forcible entry. In no case, however, did the plans address in detail how the CARICOM contingent was to be employed.4 In addition, military planning appears not to have taken into account either additional multinational forces or the follow-on UN mission force, even though this was specified in UNSCR 940.5 In short, as the planners moved from a U.S.-only military operation to a multinational one, and one that involved interagency players, the planning became less and less complete. Even though Operation Uphold Democracy was the first-ever case of interagency political-military planning directly linked to a military operation, it failed to mass the interagency forces effectively and achieve synergy with the committed military units. This was largely because several of the interagency actors failed to develop the parts of the plan they had agreed to draft. The planners, moreover, did not plan completely through the entire campaign to redeployment.
The above discussion leads directly to consideration of the principles of unity of command and unity of effort. As suggested above, the planners left multinational and interagency operations to be considered in detail later or elsewhere. Although planning for Uphold Democracy included an interagency plan for the first time in any modern operation, it was in no way comparable in quality to the joint OPLANS.6 Nor was it entirely integrated with those plans. There were numerous problems in the joint planning as well, especially in the integration of OPLAN 2380 with 2370. The latter was the product of the XVIII Airborne Corps in its role as JTF 180, while 2380 was being developed by the 10th Mountain Division as JTF 190. The division staff, however, was insufficient in numbers and experience to command and control a JTF without augmentation, let alone plan for one, and the augmentation was less than instantaneous in arriving and in achieving full integration. In addition, much of the combat support and combat service support planning was in the hands of the same planners who were developing plans for JTF 180 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As Walter Kretchik makes clear, this entailed many flights back and forth between Forts Bragg and Drum, with some degradation of the planning effort due to lost time, compartmentalization, and sheer fatigue.7 Furthermore, all the plans assumed that the 10th Mountain Division would be JTF 190 for the duration. At no time was the 25th Infantry Division mentioned in the plans.
All the plans stressed security of the force in two senses. First, security of the force was developed in terms of force protection and ROE. Second, the mandate for Uphold Democracy and the Multinational Force dictated that the mission would be complete "when a secure and stable environment has been established and UNMIH has adequate force capability and structure to assume the full range of its functions..."8
The American military is perhaps the most maneuver-dependent force in the world at the strategic and operational levels. Maneuver, as used here, refers not only to the process of moving forces but, even more important, to that of gaining relative advantage over the adversary. At the strategic level, the CINC, USACOM, chose to enhance his maneuver capability by making use of the adaptive joint force packages he had been experimenting with over the previous two years. As a result, Army helicopters were positioned on the carriers USS America and Eisenhower for SOF and 10th Mountain Division forces respectively. This innovative use of the carriers significantly enhanced the flexibility ofthe JTFs at the strategic and operational level and permitted a much more rapid transition from a forced-entry plan (2370) to the revised "permissive-entry" plan (2380-Plus).
This maneuver capability was used in an attempt to ensure operational and tactical surprise. Still, with the deliberate sacrificing of strategic surprise for good and sufficient political reasons (the United States hoped that the demonstration of what it was capable of doing would result in a negotiated departure of the Haitian junta and the return of President Aristide), maintaining secrecy at the operational and tactical levels of the operation was highly problematic. In fact, it was the discovery of the departure of forces from Pope AFB and the report of it to General Biamby during the Carter negotiations that nearly derailed the settlement when the Haitian principals abruptly fled the negotiations only to be re-engaged after Mrs. Cedras told the delegation how to find her husband. In turn, the evidence that the United States was prepared to use whatever force was required finally ensured that the settlement was accepted.9
The plans for the forced-entry operation were in no way simple in execution. Where the overall concept was quite simple--seize Port-au-Prince by airborne assault and Cap Haitien by amphibious landing at night, with forces spreading out over the entire country the next day--the air operations around the capital were extraordinarily complex. At one time, there were to be some 300 aircraft, all operating within the same confined airspace--a nightmare for air traffic control. This expedient did not violate the principle of simplicity; the operation was simple in conception, but it was complex in execution, requiring that special attention be given to control measures--the most important measure of which was rehearsal--designed to deconflict actual operations.
The final principle to be considered in the planning phase is the single most important principle in MOOTW--legitimacy. At the international level, legitimacy was granted by UNSCR 940. In Haiti, the planners concluded that legitimacy would be gained by the restoration of the elected president, Aristide, and the dismemberment of the hated FAd'H and its auxiliaries, variously known as attachés or simply macoutes.10 As it happened, the actual circumstances of Operation Uphold Democracy--the creation and execution of 2380--Plus upon the aborting of 2370 in the midst of execution--determined that the elimination of the FAd'H and its auxiliaries would not happen as rapidly or with the degree of ruthlessness desired by much of the public. The accomplishment of this particular aspect of legitimacy was further impeded by the initial confusion over the proper ROE and the lack of assertiveness by the 10th Mountain Division in and around Port-au-Prince. Finally, the operation would gain legitimacy in the United States if American casualties were limited, if Haitian-on-Haitian violence subsided, and if the illegal waves of Haitian migration to the United State ended.
The deployment phase of the operation began as soon as the president, through the secretary of defense, issued the warning order to execute OPLAN 2370. With the exception of airborne units, the forces required for Operation Uphold Democracy began to deploy by land to their embarkation stations upon receipt of the warning order. The paratroopers would not begin deployment until the execute order was issued a few days later.
The principle of the objective was adhered to scrupulously in the deployment phase. The strategic objective of restoring democracy (not carefully defined, as noted in the previous section) depended completely on the successful attainment of the operational objective of the mission. It was clearly stated in all the plans and, indeed, remained the same no matter which plan was executed. In essence, the operational objective was to establish a stable and secure environment in Haiti for the return of the democratically elected president to office. At the operational and tactical level, securing this objective meant taking control of the two principal cities of the nation, Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien, which were identified as centers of gravity. The deployment from Fort Bragg by air and Norfolk by sea aimed at seizing control of the centers of gravity in a swiftly executed coup de main. With the two cities in U.S. hands, SOF forces would move into the rest of the country and establish control.
Mass also was essential to all plans. OPLAN 2370 put SOF and the 82d Airborne Division into Port-au-Prince concurrently with the Special Marine Air-Ground Task Force's (MAGTF) arrival at Cap Haitien. Immediate follow-on would involve the landing of 10th Mountain Division forces from the USS Eisenhower by helicopter. These forces were more than sufficient to overwhelm the FAd'H. Once the execute order was given, airborne forces began to deploy, and the ships carrying the command and control elements, the Special MAGTF, and the 10th Mountain moved into assault position. Forces were, thus, effectively massed for the execution of OPLAN 2370 (or any variation of 2370 or 2380, should that be necessary).
All plans designated that economy of force would be achieved by SOF, and those forces were deployed to control the Haitian countryside. Strategic maneuver was the essence of the deployment phase. Generally, the deployment went like clockwork, by sea and air. Operational and tactical maneuver, however, does not become relevant until the employment phase. Deploying the force has been extremely well developed in the Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES) and well practiced by U.S. military forces over many years, including Panama in 1989, Operation Desert Shield in 1990, and Somalia in 1992. Thus, while there were some innovative refinements to the deployment system, such as the CINCUSACOM's use of carriers as the base for his adaptive joint force packages, these only incrementally stressed the strategic maneuver system.
For the deployment phase of the operation, the principle of unity of command clearly took precedence over its twin, unity of effort. Although the operation was generally successful, there were some real problems with air traffic control at Port-au-Prince International Airport. These difficulties were fairly handily resolved, nevertheless, and had no significant or lasting effects on the deployment. Security was addressed by the emphasis on force protection and rules of engagement, which, during the anticipated combat phase, were quite robust. Legitimacy was inherent in the execution of a UN mandate and in the safe and peaceful arrival on the ground of U.S. forces and their initial enthusiastic welcome by the Haitian people.
Finally, U.S. restraint was evident when the deployment was changed from a forcible entry to a permissive one. At that point, the flexibility of the U.S. military was demonstrated when the 82d Airborne was turned around in midair, and the 10th Mountain Division directed to land by helicopter in an ostensibly peaceful environment on the morning of September 19. In short, the overall deployment phase was supremely successful.
While the objective of Operation Uphold Democracy was clear enough during the planning and deployment phases, it rapidly became more ambiguous after the forces landed in Haiti. This was partly due to the change in plans being executed from 2370 and/or 2380 to 2380-Plus (with some inspiration from 2375). Although the strategic objective of restoring democracy did not change, nor the operational objective of establishing a secure and stable environment, the supporting objectives to both became fuzzy; nor was it clear whether these objectives required the FAd'H to be replaced. It was not certain if the agreement worked out with Cedras required that the FAd'H be treated as an ally or a threat. Moreover, under the terms of the peacetime ROE initially in effect, there was no guidance for the 10th Mountain trooper if he encountered Haitian-on-Haitian violence being perpetrated by his newly acquired "allies" in the FAd'H. As a result, the level of confusion was extremely high in Port-au-Prince.
By contrast, the Marines in Cap Haitien had interpreted the ROE to permit the use of deadly force in self-defense when they perceived that deadly force was about to be directed against them. This interpretation resulted in the fortuitous firefight between the Marines and elements of the FAd'H that established in Cap Haitien, and later in the rest of Haiti, the legitimacy of the intervasion force, despite the fact that many Haitians perceived the Carter-Cedras agreement as a "sellout." The Marines' firefight not only bought time for the JTF and MNF headquarters in Port-au-Prince to adjust the ROE so that troops of the 10th Mountain could intervene in Haitian-on-Haitian violence, but it also ensured that the ROE modification would support the objective. Ultimately, in terms of the principle of the objective, significant redefinition was required on, the ground, and for a time, that redefining hindered the effective prosecution of the mission. The question remains why did the 10th Mountain Division and the Special MAGTF interpret the ROE so differently? Was it a difference in service cultures or the result of the peculiar circumstances ofthe units involved and their commanders?
While the answers to these questions are speculative, it is likely that unit experience and the personal peculiarities of the commanders were the driving forces. Clearly, the 10th Mountain was strongly influenced by its recent experiences in Somalia as the quick reaction force of UNOSOM II, where the ROE were sometimes overly restrictive and, at other times, not restrictive enough. This experience was coupled with the anticipation that Haitians would behave in ways similar to Somalians.11
Mass, too, was somewhat misapplied in the early stages of the operation. While the selection of Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien as centers of gravity dictated the massing of troops in those two cities, forces were overconcentrated in the capital, as well as poorly utilized. Early in the operation, 10th Mountain soldiers did not conduct any night patrols, leaving the streets to the thugs.12 For a long time, moreover, the soldiers of the division were not used significantly to patrol outside Port-au-Prince, which irritated CINCUSACOM.13 Again, this overcautious attitude seemed prompted by the division's experience in Somalia during UNOSOM II.
Problems in the application of economy of force (the alter ego of mass) also occurred in the execution of the operation. On the positive side, the SOF forces were appropriate to the economy of force role and effectively brought stability--a sense of order and security--in the countryside. However, the need was felt for the presence ofthe heavier division forces to enhance the credibility of the SOF. But, while Colonel Dubik conducted active patrolling in his sector to support the scattered SOF elements, JTF 190 headquarters, in the capital, seemed reluctant to mount similar operations in the city and countryside. The reluctance to put the troops on the streets with the people meant that the principle of economy of force, like that of mass, was somewhat compromised. The difference between the division's units in Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien seems to rest on two factors. First was the quite different way in which the division commander and Dubik perceived the Somalia analogy, resulting in directives from the former focusing only on the inherent dangers, while those from the latter addressed opportunity, as evidenced in his more aggressive operation. Second, the fact that Dubik was far enough away from Port-au-Prince that face-to-face communication was difficult gave him significantly greater autonomy than his counterpart in 1 BCT.
Although it did not break down in the technical sense, unity of command did not always result in unity of effort or, in some cases, coordinated actions among separate components of the command. Besides the difficulty in getting 10th Mountain Division to conduct night patrols to establish security in Port-au-Prince and to initiate patrols from the capital into the interior, a lack of coordination existed between the Special Operations Forces and the conventional infantry of the 10th Mountain's 1 BCT. There were also significant discrepancies between JTF 190 and JTF 180, and after the departure of JTF 180, between 190 and USACOM, as well as with various elements of the MNF. By contrast, joint operations in 2 BCT's area of operation went much more smoothly. As for interagency operations, they left much room for improvement. This was due more to the lack of preparation on the part of the interagency players than problems within the military operation itself.
From the first days of the operation, the commander of JTF 180 was unhappy with the performance of the 10th Mountain Division in the Port-au-Prince operational area. Critical of the division's lack of aggressive patrolling in the city and of the problems it experienced in adjusting the ROE to fit the changed situation in Haiti, JTF 180 pushed for changes in 10th Mountain's procedures. After the XVIII Airborne, Corps returned to the United States and the 10th assumed responsibility for operations throughout the country as JTF 190, pressure on the division to be more aggressive continued, now emanating from USACOM. The point was made in a variety of sometimes subtle ways, one of which was a briefing by USACOM for the 10th Mountain on how it envisioned JTF 190 should carry out its mission of aggressive patrolling within and outside the capital.14 As the higher echelons became more unhappy with the way the 10th Mountain was executing the mission, the 25th Infantry Division was abruptly notified to prepare to take over the operation in Haiti. This notification took place in October.
It should be admitted that as the employment phase progressed, unity of effort began to fall into line. With respect to the MNF, however, effective unity of effort was not achieved until the 25th Infantry Division replaced the 10th Mountain as JTF 190. This change of players had its greatest impact on the way the MNF began to conduct business, with the shift in emphasis from force protection to legitimacy.
While security was generally effective during the employment phase of Operation Uphold Democracy, it was not the rousing success that some initial postoperation discussions made it seem. Security must be considered in terms of force protection as well as the objective of attaining a stable and secure environment. The early emphasis that the 10th Mountain put on force protection--an emphasis it retained throughout its deployment--impacted negatively on its interpretation of the ROE so that initially it refused to act to end Haitian-on-Haitian violence and was reluctant to patrol aggressively within the capital at night and outside the capital at any time. Neither observation pertains to 2 BCT in Cap Haitien, while 1 BCT and Task Force Mountain did become more aggressive as time went on. The result was an increasing balance between security as force protection and security in the achievement of a secure and stable environment.
The employment of military forces during Operation Uphold Democracy clearly reflected the principle of simplicity. With the success of the Carter mission, the need for a complex air operation disappeared and with it any need to violate theprinciple of simplicity. The only complicating factors came from the MNF and the interagency players. The MNF complication was solved by adherence to the principle of simplicity in assigning the national contingents operating sectors where they were under the tactical control of the MNF commander.15 While control of interagency players was not established, the solution to the problem they presented was found in the simple expedient of treating them as elements in support of the operation as a whole and gaining their cooperation by request.
Although the perception of the legitimacy of the MNF in Haiti improved significantly from the early days in Port-au-Prince, there was vacillation on the issue. The degree of MNF legitimacy, moreover, varied from zone to zone, depending on what force or unit was in charge. Generally, legitimacy was greater in the Cap Haitien zone than in Port-au-Prince (for reasons already discussed). This was largely because the capital was where overt political activity and resultant problems existed, and these naturally presented the force commander and his political advisers with greater difficulties. Among these was the issue of the prisons, which were not fully brought under MNF control until the 25th Infantry Division relieved the 10th Mountain. In the meantime, the issue resulted in the court-martial of a zealous (some would say overzealous) intelligence captain in the 10th Mountain's Army intelligence, who sought to end what he suspected were human rights abuses in the prisons by taking actions in violation of direct and legal orders from his superiors.16 Despite, or because of the notoriety brought on by his court-martial, Captain Rockwood was perceived as something of a hero in Haiti. Also complicating the legitimacy issue were a number of things the military forces did not control--the Interim Public Security Force and the new Haitian National Police--as well as the civilian government agencies that needed reestablishing. Although the American military had no control over these organizations, U.S. forces were blamed, to a degree, by the populace for their actions; therefore, U.S. troops took on a more active role than they desired. One example of such involvement was the establishment of Ministry Support Teams from among the U.S. Army civil affairs forces. Borrowing from the experiences in Panama and Kuwait, these teams provided the local government with needed professionals and skills during the critical period in which it was being newly established. Legitimacy was greatest in the interior of the country where the SOF forces held sway and applied their doctrine with great success.
The principle of restraint was successfully applied throughout the employment and subsequent phases of the operation. Even though the U.S. military was criticized at the beginning of the operation for being too restrained, forces over the course of the operation carried out their missions with a high degree of professionalism, innovation, and proper restraint. This result enhanced the operation's credibility and legitimacy.
The principle of perseverance also figured in the operation. Military planning, however, paid limited attention to this precept. This was mostly in the form of the expectation that the largest contingent of the follow-on UN mission, UNMIH, would be United States forces and that interagency planning looked to an extended period of support to the new Haitian government. Planning, in this regard, however, was neither particularly detailed nor well integrated. At the same time, JTF 180 was being rotated back to the United States, and efforts to reduce the size of the American force moved rapidly ahead without much regard for the actual needs on the ground. This reduction of the American presence was driven by the perception held by America's political leadership of the need to have a quick victory, with as few U.S. troops committed for the long term in Haiti as possible. These conflicting priorities leave a mixed message with regard to perseverance.
Operation Uphold Democracy never was meant to be a long-term U.S.-led mission. Indeed, UNSCR 940, which established the mandate, also ordered the estabtishment of a UN Mission advance party in Haiti and directed "that the multinational force will terminate its mission and UNMIH will assume the full range of its functions ... when a secure and stable environment has been established and UNMIH has adequate force capability and structure..."17 Thus, the mandate not only established the objective for the mission but also determined a transition from a member-led mission to a UN peace operation, an operation that would begin under chapter VII of the UN Charter (threats to the peace) and end in operations under the terms of chapter VI (peaceful settlement of disputes).
The MNF and the UNMIH advance team made significant progress together in determining the objective and its measurement.18 The measurement of a secure and stable environment had been developed on the ground largely by Colonel Dubik in Cap Haitien and then transferred to the rest of the country.19 In effect, this meant that Haitian-on-Haitian violence would be significantly reduced, President Aristide would be restored to office, and ministries would begin operating. It also would indicate that the IPSF was being established while the new Haitian national police were being trained. Meanwhile, the MNF would be reduced to the strength of their UNMIH replacement. With these conditions developing, the UN Security Council passed UNSCR 975 on January 30,1995, extending the UNMIH mandate for six months and directing that the transition from MNF to UNMIH be completed by March 31, 1995.
As stated above, the UNMIH force was going to be much less robust than the MNF, with a mere 6,000 troops. While this was adequate for the threat, it raised questions about the effective use of the principle of mass. Would there be enough forces available to control the two centers of gravity and the other population centers, or was the force going to assume significantly more risk by accepting an economy of force role in more places than desirable? To make the combination of mass and economy of force work, the newly appointed UNMIH force commander, U.S. Army Major General Joseph Kinzer, developed a vision-intent statement toward the end of 1994. In it, he identified the tenets of the mission as "unity of command, simplicity, economy of force, objective, security, safety and fiscal stewardship of our resources."20 To exercise the principle of mass and attain adequate force protection, Kinzer emphasized readiness and stated, "We will design and exercise a reaction force capable of response within the ROE across the spectrum from guard and patrolling to combined operations."21 Key to carrying out Kinzer's intent with respect to economy of force was the retention of a U.S. SOF capability, a point which had been the subject of some discussion.22
While the official record of unity of effort in the transition to UNMIH is one of unquestioned success, the reality is that there were many hitches in the process. First, there was the problem faced by the UNMIH advance party that was directed by UN Headquarters in New York to maintain its distance from the MNF, even though its mission was to plan the transition from MNF to UNMIH.23 Second, during the period of the MNF and early days of UNMIH, there was significant conflict between the head of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Haiti and the mission staff, which was only resolved when UN headquarters replaced the LTNDP official in question.24 Third, although General Kinzer stated, "I see interagency cooperation and unity of effort as the keys to successful overall mission accomplishment," several reports indicate that there was delay and conflict among the agencies-civilian and military, governmental and nongovemmental--that continued to a greater or lesser extent throughout the mission.25 Symptomatic of the problems in the interagency arena were the complaints of a Canadian CivPol (civilian police) officer about the lack of communication between his organization and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program of the U.S. Department of Justice, which had complementary responsibilities in training the Haitian National Police.26 Eventually, however, most of these problems were resolved, and the multinational staff worked well together in the UNMIH environment.
This was especially true of the relationship between General Kinzer and Special Representative to the Secretary General Lakdar Brahimi. Kinzer also found that his Canadian chief of staff, Colonel Bill Fulton, was an invaluable source of information and sound advice in dealing with the UN.27 Among the trickier points was the need to separate bilateral U.S.-Haitian relations from those with the UN, particularly because Kinzer was "dual hatted" as the commander of U.S. forces in Haiti. The resolution was that his American deputy would undertake all bilateral representations in conjunction with U.S. Ambassador William Swing.
Transition to UNMIH significantly increased the legitimacy of the operation in the eyes of nearly all the relevant publics. This was true even in the case of the Haitian public, which was reassured by the fact that the force commander was an American and that the largest contingent of troops was American. This relieved any remaining apprehension that the "thugs" were going to return in the near future. In the United States, concerns of the American public, which had grown accustomed to blaming the UN for many of the things that had gone wrong with recent U.S. foreign policy adventures, especially in Somalia,28 were largely assuaged by the fact that UNMIH was commanded by a U.S. Army general and that the operation had gone so well that the American forces participating had been reduced to a mere 2,400, only a few more than 10 percent of what they had been at the peak. For their part, the Haitian leaders were pleased with the transition because it reduced whatever residual fears President Aristide and his supporters may have had over a repetition of the U.S. Marine occupation of Haiti from 1915 until 1934. As a practical matter, it gave Aristide somewhat more room to maneuver than he had had during the American-led and dominated NINE The issue of "room to maneuver" also benefited Aristide's opponents, who would have fewer foreign troops interfering in their business, legitimate or not.
The extension of the mandate for six months in January 1995 and again in July was significant in reinforcing both the legitimacy of UNMIH and indicating that the UN was willing to persevere until the mission was completed. The follow-on extensions of the mandate, although the force would no longer include U.S. troops, reinforced both perceptions. When coupled with bilateral American support in the forms of ICITAP, economic assistance, and a U.S. Support Group to coordinate military exercises (especially engineer and medical), Haitians began to recognize that the international community, including the United States, was prepared to help them help themselves over the long haul. Finally, UN forces, like the MNF before them, exercised admirable restraint in the use of force. Their presence was extremely effective, especially when coupled with behavior that was both restrained but brooked no nonsense. The unanswered question with respect to the use of military forces in a peacekeeping operation remains whether more is gained by regularly moving among the people with kevlar helmets and body armor than is lost by not presenting a view that the environment is adequately secure and stable.
With the end of the third extension of the UN mandate in December 1995, UNMIH began to plan and execute the transition to end the major U.S. participation. A new force commander was named, a Canadian general, and UNMIH's chief of staff, Colonel Fulton, executed a transition that marked the redeployment of all American troops, including those of the U.S. Support Group.29
Colonel David Patton, Commander, U.S. Support Group, had planned to stay in Haiti continuously through the changeover from an American-commanded UNMIH to a Canadian command. On Christmas Eve, 1995, Patton briefed General John Shalikashvili, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Support Group plans, which included leaving its approximately seventy-person headquarters in place. The general complimented him on the plan but said that for political reasons--the administration had promised that all U.S. troops would come out of Haiti--the Support Group was coming out too. It would return after a short but decent interval.30 With this action, the United States sent several, often conflicting signals. First, it indicated to the UN, the Haitians, the American public, and alI concerned that the U.S. government thought its mission in Haiti was over. This both delegitimized the U.S. contingency involvement in the eyes of the American people and indicated to the Haitians that the United States and the international community were not willing to persevere to achieve a long-term solution to Haiti's problems. Second, and conversely, the return of the Support Group and its continued operation, generally with around 500 engineers and/or medical personnel, reinforced both the legitimacy and perseverance of the American involvement. The signals were clearly mixed.
Redeployment of all U.S. military forces along with some UN contingents clearly deemphasized the principle of mass while, at the same time, stressing the principle of economy of force. Indeed, redeployment brought out the most effective economy of force units--the SOF elements, as well as most of the combat forces--replacing them with undertrained and weakly commanded Haitian National Police supported by a CivPol that would, over the next year, be reduced from 900 to 300. ICITAP attempted to train these new police in a new academy, under a five-year contract with the Haitians. Coordination between ICITAP and CivPol was hardly perfect, however, and there is little indication that it has improved to any great extent. As a result, security in Haiti has been reduced somewhat from the days of the original transition to UNMIH, to the extent that President René Preval (who succeeded Aristide) had to request U.S. assistance to retrain his executive protection service after it was found to have been infected with a severe case of politicization.31 In short, all of the measures of long-term strategic success for the operation are mixed at best.
What was accomplished by Operation Uphold Democracy? In simple terms, a bunch of thugs was finally removed from Haiti, and the government was returned to the Haitian president who had been elected by the people. A series of free and relatively fair elections were held to legitimize the holders of legislative and municipal offices, and, finally, a new president was elected who took the office peacefully from his elected predecessor--the first such transition for Haiti since 1804. But democracy is more than free and honest elections, and the efforts to restructure the economy and the judiciary of Haiti have tagged far behind, while the international community, led by the United States, has been rapidly losing interest in the Haitian experiment. As the UNMIH mission wound down, the indications were that Haiti would most Iikely revert to the kind of authoritarian regime it has known since it won its independence-what scholars of Haiti have dubbed "a predatory regime."
This conclusion sounds very much like it is heralding the failure of a mission that has been touted as nearly a complete success. How can we explain this seeming paradox? The problem lies in the linkage between the strategic and operational levels of conflict. In fact, the issue is that there was a disconnect between the strategic objective of restoring and upholding democracy and the operational objective of maintaining a secure and stable environment in Haiti. What was required to ensure strategic success was a set of operational objectives leading clearly to the upholding of democracy, which would describe an operational end state that made the desired democratic outcome as nearly certain as possible. This was not accomplished.
Although the principles of war were addressed at the operational level, emphasis was not on reaching the desired strategic end state. Rather, for example, both planners and executors focused on achieving and maintaining the legitimacy of the force and, only secondarily, on the legitimacy of the government. Thus, it was always assumed that President Aristide had legitimacy because he had been elected and not that he had to work to maintain that legitimacy. As the scheduled presidential elections approached, there appeared to be a campaign to extend Aristide in office to account for his three years in exile or to change the constitution so that he could run again. Although Aristide did not make these arguments, his refusal to endorse the candidacy of his friend, ally, and former prime minister convinced most observers that the president was behind this campaign. As a result, only when Aristide's behavior demonstrated that he was bent on extending his mandate did UNMIH focus on the legitimacy of the electoral system as opposed to that of the Aristide regime.
Similarly, the principle of security, more often than not, was addressed in terms of force protection rather than with respect to the security ofthe people of Haiti--those on the streets of Port-au-Prince as well as in the villages of the interior. Nor was security, as a principle linked to the economic well-being that is essential to the legitimacy of a system of government. In short, the probable strategic failure of the intervasion of Haiti has roots in the fact alluded to in our discussion of planning: that is, the political-military plan for Haiti, the first of its kind, was poorly integrated with the strictly military plans. The lesson for future operations is that there is a need to develop political-military plans fully and in complete coordination with--and in such a way that they drive--the military planning process, Only in this way can we be assured that a predatory state will not return to render our efforts useless.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|