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Operation Uphold Democracy

In December 1990, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a charismatic Roman Catholic priest, won 67% of the vote in a presidential election that international observers deemed largely free and fair. Aristide took office in February 1991, but was overthrown by dissatisfied elements of the army and forced to leave the country in September of the same year. From October 1991 to June 1992, Joseph Nerette, as president, led an unconstitutional de facto regime and governed with a parliamentary majority and the armed forces. In June 1992, he resigned and Parliament approved Marc Bazin as prime minister of a de facto government with no replacement named for president. In June 1993, Bazin resigned and the UN imposed an oil and arms embargo, bringing the Haitian military to the negotiating table. President Aristide and Gen. Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, signed the UN-brokered Governors Island Agreement on July 3, 1993, establishing a 10-step process for the restoration of constitutional government and the return of President Aristide by October 30, 1993. The military derailed the process and the UN reimposed economic sanctions. The political and human rights climate continued to deteriorate as the military and the de facto government sanctioned repression, assassination, torture, and rape in open defiance of the international community's condemnation.

In May 1994, the military selected Supreme Court Justice Emile Jonassaint to be provisional president of its third de facto regime. The UN and the U.S. reacted to this extraconstitutional move by tightening economic sanctions (UN Resolution 917). On July 31, 1994, the UN adopted Resolution 940 authorizing member states to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure of Haiti's military leadership and restore constitutional rule and Aristide's presidency.

In the weeks that followed, the United States took the lead in forming a multinational force (MNF) to carry out the UN's mandate by means of a military intervention. In Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY US objectives were fostering democratic institutions and reducing the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States. Despite the pledges of a military-backed regime in Haiti to return power to the democratically elected government it had ousted, the regime did not relinquish authority but became increasingly repressive and presided over a deteriorating economy. As the result of deteriorating conditions, tens of thousands of impoverished Haitians fled the country, many attempting to enter the United States.

The United States responded with Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, the movement of forces to Haiti to support the return of Haitian democracy. The U.S.-led Multinational Force for Haiti (MNF) began on September 19, 1994 with the approval of the Security Council, which, at the same time, approved the follow-on U.N. operation.

The American road back to Haiti began in early 1994 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Eustis, Virginia; and Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. At these installations, during the XVIII Airborne Corps' Super Thrust I and Super Thrust II exercises in April and June 1994, units formed a concept of operations for Haiti. These exercises laid a framework for synchronizing critical operations tasks. The US began planning for Operation Uphold Democracy in August 1994. The group had to simultaneously plan for two contingencies: a permissive entry in Haiti (Operation Uphold Democracy) or a forced entry (Operation Restore Democracy). Crisis action planning for Operation Restore Democracy stopped when former President Jimmy Carter's negotiations with Haiti's General Raoul Cedras proved successful.

In preparation for this contingency, DOD simultaneously planned for an invasion and for the peaceful entry of forces into Haiti, and executed portions of both scenarios. The US Army today is "offensive minded." Hence, the concept of Operations Plan (OPLAN) 2370 was offensive violence inflicted suddenly, from air and sea, with overwhelming but appropriate force. By contrast, OPLAN 2380 was developed for a permissive entry but still sought to land large numbers of well-armed troops in an offensive, combat-ready posture. OPLAN 2375 took a position somewhere in between, and when it was further modified and executed as 2380+, it retained the offensive capabilities inherent in OPLANs 2370 and 2380. There were numerous problems in joint planning, especially in the integration of OPLAN 2380 with 2370. The latter was the product of the XVIII Airborne Corps as Joint Task Force (JTF) 180 while OPLAN 2380 was being developed by the 10th Mountain Division (Light) [10th MD (L)] as JTF 190.

For the invasion, an airdrop was planned involving 3,900 paratroopers. Most of this force was airborne when Haitian officials agreed to a peaceful transition of government and permissive entry of American forces. With U.S. troops prepared to enter Haiti in a matter of hours, President Clinton dispatched a negotiating team led by former President Jimmy Carter to discuss with the de facto Haitian leadership the terms of their departure. As a result, the MNF deployed peacefully, Cedras and other top military leaders left Haiti, and restoration of the legitimate government began, leading to Aristide's return on October 15.

Air refueling was used extensively for reconnaissance and combat air patrol missions, with 297 sorties and 1,129 flying hours logged by KC-135 and KC-10 tankers. To transport personnel and materiel from the continental United States to the Caribbean basin, strategic airlift relied on three stage bases close to onload locations: C-5s staged at Dover AFB, Delaware, primarily, and also at Griffiss AFB, New York, while C-141s staged at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. In Haiti, Port-au-Prince was the destination of the strategic airlifters. Airfield conditions at another offload site, Cap Haitien, precluded its use by C-5s and C-141s. C-5s and C-141s delivered troops and cargo to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, where the personnel and supplies were transloaded to C-130s for movement to Cap Haitien and other Haitian locations.

The credible threat of overwhelming force--combined with skillful, eleventh-hour diplomacy--enabled U.S. forces to land unopposed and avoid the negative consequences that combat would have brought. The MNF initially employed over 20,000 U.S. military personnel, plus some 2,000 personnel from a dozen other countries. The mission was to restore democracy by removing the de facto military regime, return the previously elected Aristide regime to power, ensure security, assist with the rehabilitation of civil administration, train a police force and judiciary, help prepare for elections, and turn over responsibility to the U.N. A prior but unfulfilled political agreement between the parties on Governor's Island (New York) in 1991 served as a template to shape objectives. There was a major commitment to peace-building by civilian agencies of the U.S. government, particularly USAID, closely coordinated with the U.N. and numerous other international, regional, and non-governmental organizations.

U.S. special operations forces played an essential role in establishing security and assuring de facto public administration in rural areas.

The Maritime Administration activated 14 of its Ready Reserve Force vessels, this time to support UPHOLD DEMOCRACY in Haiti. The ships transported military cargo from various U.S. ports to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. All were fully crewed by a total of more than 400 civilian American seafarers and were operational within four days of being requested, ahead of the military's activation requirement. General John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the "flawless, timely response" of everyone involved in activating the RRF ships to support American troops serving in Haiti.

UPHOLD DEMOCRACY succeeded both in restoring the democratically elected government of Haiti and in stemming emigration, thanks to well-executed political, military, diplomatic, and humanitarian activities. On March 31, 1995 the United States transferred the peacekeeping responsibilities to United Nations functions. Advanced planning and coordination for the transition were well managed by the U.S. and the U.N., as were the selection and training of senior leaders to sustain continued cooperative international action. In contrast to the Somalia transition, the U.N. deployed an advance headquarters element to Haiti six months prior to the change of command. On March 31, 1995, a smaller U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti (UNMIH) succeeded the powerful MNF, with a March 1996 deadline for completion, after a newly-elected President is scheduled to take office.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:36:12 Zulu