In September of 1994, elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps, 10th Mountain Division (Light), Special Operations Forces (SOF), and 25th Infantry Division, were organized into a U.S.-led Multi-National Force (MNF). These forces were assembled and deployed in support of Operation Uphold Democracy in the Republic of Haiti to reinstate ousted President Jean Bertrand Aristide and return the country to a democratic state.
We will go over a brief portion of the very turbulent history that has brought these forces to this troubled island. We will continue into a little of the planning and the difficulties they faced in a constantly changing environment, even a little of who it involved. The next item of business will be moving into the execution phase of the operation and the actions throughout. We will then close with some of the lessons learned; what worked and, of course, what could have gone better. First we will delve into just a portion of the very turbulent history leading up to Operation Uphold Democracy.
The history of the island nation has proven to be volatile through most of its recorded history. A majority of the political heads of state have never managed to last for very long without being removed from power.
The election of President Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier in 1957 ushered in the modern phase of the Haitian political life.1 Gradually; paranoia and a willingness to rule through terror became the trademarks of his presidency.2 “Papa Doc" managed to hand the presidency down to his son, Jean-Claude Duvalier, also known as "Baby Doc" in 1971. “Baby Doc’s” failure in leadership led to the near collapse of the government; this, in turn, led to his resignation and ultimate exile from Haiti in 19...
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...of the biggest success stories was the Special Forces in the hinterland. The JSOTF were better trained for this level of interaction with the local people. They came in aggressive where they needed and set the tone early as to their purpose. They assisted in the rebuilding, and yet not to a level that the Haitians would feel that the Americans would just do it all. The takeaway here is for the conventional forces to be able to emulate how the JSOTF performed in their duties.
In the grand scheme of things, Operation Uphold Democracy was a success. The basics were accomplished; we put President Aristide back in power and set the stage for the follow on elections. We paved the way for the successful transition of responsibilities to the UNMIH and with minimal loss of life. From what I have read, the Haitians did appreciate us helping them in their time of need.