JUNE 1995










The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the Unites States Air Force, or Air University.



Major Susan E. Strednansky was commissioned through Officer Training School in 1981. After graduating from the Defense Information School, she was stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where she served as Media Relations Officer, Chief of Internal Affairs, and Chief of Community Relations. Her next two assignments were in Germany as Chief of Public Affairs at Zweibrucken Air Base and at Sembach Air Base. She was subsequently assigned to Headquarters Air Force Public Affairs (Pentagon) and from there she was selected to serve as the Chief of the Air Force News Desk in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs. Major Strednansky was awarded a bachelor’s degree with honors in Mass Media Communications from Texas Lutheran College, a master’s degree with honors in Public Administration from Golden Gate University, and was a distinguished graduate from Air Command and Staff College. She then attended the School of Advanced Airpower Studies and was awarded a master’s degree in Airpower Art and Science. In September 1995, Major Strednansky was assigned to the U.S. European Command as an international political-military affairs officer on the J5 Staff.




I would like to acknowledge several people without whose support and help I would never have gotten off the ground with this study. I want to thank Colonel Charles E. Miller, Senior Military Assistant to the Director of Net Assessment, Office of the Secretary of Defense, who took the time to guide me through the many corridors of the Pentagon to link me up with just the right people. I would like to recognize all the experts on war termination and planning who interrupted their busy schedules to grant me interviews in my quest for knowledge to complete this paper. I am especially grateful to the staff at the Air University Library for helping me every step of the way, from the beginning to the very end of the research process. Their patience and understanding were unmatched. My advisor, Dr. James Corum, and my reader, Dr. Harold Winton, have my gratitude for having faith in my ability to finish this project, even when I did not.

Most importantly, I want to express my sincere appreciation to my husband, who was my "unofficial reader," for his unfailing love and support when I was struggling with this paper. His critiques and suggestions were not always what I wanted to hear, but it made all the difference in producing a successful work.



This study analyzes the role of the military commander in termination planning during operations other than war. First, the author assesses past and present political guidance, such as the Weinberger Doctrine and the presidential directive on Peace Operations, as well as conditions that affect exit strategy planning. The conclusion is that most of the guidance is vague and that internal and external influences make the process of transforming political goals into viable military objectives very difficult. Next, the writer evaluates actual end-state development and the subsequent exit strategies in Somalia and Haiti operations. The results of the Somalia case study indicate that the military commander was not provided specific end-state conditions and had to determine a termination strategy as he was prosecuting the conflict. Although this approach worked for a brief period of time, political events eventually overcame military planning and U.S. forces were withdrawn without accomplishing the political goals. Having learned from the Somalia operation, the Haiti planning was more thorough and looked specifically for concrete end-state conditions. Consequently, the military mission was more successful, though it is questionable what the political results of this intervention will be in the future. The final chapter states three conclusions: (1) if the political leaders do not provide a specific end state, the military commander will have to develop one and pass it up the chain of command for consideration and approval; (2) much better results can be expected from a military mission which is given an end state that was developed in coordination with both the political and the military establishments prior to commencement of hostilities; and (3) in all cases, the planning process will be difficult and fluid.



Chapter Page






Problem Statement and Significance 1

Methodology and Analytical Criteria 3

Definition of Terms 6

Summary 7


Background 9

Weinberger Doctrine 9

Current Guidance 17

Planning for Conflict Termination 19

Summary 26


Background 31

Political Considerations 33

U.N. Mandates 34

Exit Strategy 37

Success or Failure? 39

Weinberger’s Principles Revisited 41

Summary 43


Background 47

Political Considerations 49

U.N. Mandates 52

Exit Strategy 54

Success or Failure? 57

Guidance Revisited 61

Summary 62



Conclusion 66

Political and Military Lessons 68


Chapter 1: Introduction

If you concentrate exclusively on victory, with no thought for the after effect, you may be too exhausted to profit by the peace, while it is almost certain that the peace will be a bad one, containing the germs of another war.

B.H. Liddell Hart

Problem Statement and Significance

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, the United States, as the remaining superpower, has faced increased pressure to take the lead in resolving regional conflicts around the globe. Each year since the end of the Cold War, there have been approximately 35 regional conflicts documented around the world. In addition, numerous natural disasters such as the floods in Bangladesh or the droughts in Somalia have often produced calls for U.S. help and intervention. World opinion has influenced decision-makers to take action even when vital U.S. interests were apparently not at stake. As recent history has documented, U.S. involvement in these small regional conflicts has usually been either a part of a multinational coalition or on behalf of the United Nations, particularly in those cases where there were little or no U.S. interests involved. However, there is a change underway in which conflict and violence affect larger numbers of people in every corner of the world. This situation creates a threat to the collective security of all nations. It may be, therefore, in most major nations’ interest to become involved. If this is true, it would then appear it may be best to prevent, contain and control conflicts, no matter where they occur. Additionally, most conflicts gain global interest when the media takes them into households all over the world in real time; and the economic interdependence of nations draws more actors into the picture. At the same time, policy-makers will have to balance the people’s desire to help with their wish to ensure conflict resolution is swift and done with minimal collateral damage.

Domestic influences will be significant as nations face scarce resources, and public perception that large-scale conventional wars are a thing of the past may contribute to an increasing tendency to use the military forces for non-traditional missions. These missions seem to get the people their money’s worth from defense expenditures by gainfully employing the members of the armed forces on a daily basis. As a result, there will be political pressure generated by the American voting public to support actions that appeal to a particular group.

When the United States chooses to participate in low intensity actions, it should establish or be given well-defined goals and objectives. However, even specific goals may not necessarily translate into pre-planned exit strategies or a clearly identifiable conflict termination. An exit strategy is highly desirable because the lack of one could result in reduced confidence in leadership, drop in troop morale, possibility of increased casualties and may negate any successes achieved by the actual intervention which, in turn, may negate public support. Yet, at the same time, the exit strategy must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in goals and objectives, the effects of fog and friction and coalition political desires. A viable end state, along with a strategy for termination and conflict exit, should drive the ways and means for the execution of the intervention. All that said, it may not be simple to devise a workable strategy due to the uncertain nature of conflicts and even a precise strategy may not lead to the desired termination objectives.

There are many reasons that make it difficult to develop a termination strategy. Because the United States will likely be a part of a coalition or a U.N. group, the various other partners may have different perceptions of what the end state should look like, what means to employ to reach it and how much time and effort they are willing to expend to resolve the conflict. Ironically, political and military experts have spent a lot of time thinking about entering a conflict and spend much energy on winning, but there is very little planning devoted to the conflict termination itself. This is partly because no one knows precisely how the conflict will develop and often there are only broad political goals articulated by the civilian leaders. Additionally, it may be very difficult if not impossible to translate the political objectives into tangible end-state conditions. Therefore, this study will address the question of what the proper role of the military commander is in helping the political leaders define exit strategies for military operations other than war.

Methodology and Analytical Criteria

Most of the literature deals with terminating major wars, and very little has been written about stopping conflicts short of conventional fighting. Therefore, the author studied literature dealing with war termination and examined if some of those conclusions applied to the more limited actions. Accounts such as The Generals’ War by Michael R. Gordon and Gen. Bernard E. Trainor and Crusade by Rick Atkinson only touch upon the issue of exit strategies; and while they provide good insight into the political machinery, they do not shed much light on the difficulties of developing a conflict termination strategy. Although Every War Must End by Fred Charles Ikle focuses on war as opposed to operations other than war, it is an excellent analysis of external issues that affect termination, such as the fog of military estimates, nuclear weapons and political objectives. The collection of essays in Conflict Termination and Military Strategy by Stephen J. Cimbala and Keith A. Dunn identifies how termination goals affect military strategy. Again, the book was written during the Cold War and its central theme concentrates on wars and the resulting superpower interaction. Nevertheless, it includes several articles on how to end limited wars and conflicts, expands the spectrum of termination understanding and offers interesting, but broad, prescriptive ideas for the future. The most comprehensive account concerning the actual problems of war termination came from Bruce C. Bade’s essay "War Termination: Why Don’t We Plan for It?" As the title indicates, the essay examines the military’s reluctance to plan for war termination and highlights the reasons why. Bade faults the U.S. mentality by claiming that Americans like to think that war termination will take care of itself.

In addition to the written materials, the author conducted interviews with senior commanders (active duty and retired); Department of Defense policy-makers; Joint Staff and U.N. officials; and members of the Carnegie Corporation’s Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict. Several questions were explored: (1) how does the Weinberger intervention test influence the decision-making process for both intervention and conflict termination; (2) who should plan for conflict termination and how difficult is it; (3) is planning for termination beneficial or is it a strategy for defeat or failure; and (4) when implemented, does the war termination planning process work.

Two case studies were selected to evaluate the execution of exit strategies: Operations in Somalia and Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. The reason these operations were chosen is that they are the most current low intensity operations and symbolize the types of operations other than war the United States will most likely face in the future. In both cases, there was U.N. participation as well as coalition forces play.

A review of the literature indicates that most authors agree (1) conflict termination planning and the development of an exit strategy prior to or at the beginning of the conflict is a must; (2) not enough time and thought is dedicated to termination planning; (3) current doctrine does not provide the necessary guidance to military strategists; and (4) more work in this area is required. What the literature does not address in depth are the difficulties planners face when trying to translate national objectives or goals into quantifiable military goals as well as the military conditions which must be met to achieve the desired end state. This study does not judge the reasons why the United States decided to enter a conflict; rather, it examines how the rationale for intervention influences the exit strategy. Specifically, the study determines the role of commanders in termination planning and concentrates on the difficulties they face when transforming the political end state/objectives into a military termination strategy under the influence of the political input. Chapter two identifies the broad policy guidance used by the United States to determine the feasibility of interventions and how the directives affect conflict termination. The case studies in chapters three and four examine the success or failure of U.S. exit strategies by exploring political influences, stated and unofficial goals of the United States and the United Nations, predetermined conflict termination plans or end-state declarations, and actual conflict resolutions. The final chapter draws conclusions by comparing operations in Somalia and Haiti.

Definition of Terms

The issue of conflict termination is clouded by the many interpretations of the various terms used to discuss conflict dynamics. For the purpose of this study, operations other than war are those operations that are outside the realm of conventional war. This involves a variety of actions to include insurgencies, counterinsurgencies, peacekeeping, peace-enforcement, domestic operations (such as disaster relief) and humanitarian aid. In turn, these can be categorized in two groups, each distinct from the other. The first category includes operations that require the application of combat force to act in hostile areas such as providing support for insurgencies, counterinsurgencies and peace-enforcement. These are politically based confrontations between competing actors. The second category focuses on operations that, by nature, are noncombat-oriented such as humanitarian aid to disaster areas and operations that may require police action such as peacekeeping and crowd control. These may or may not be politically based.

Conflict is a clash of political, ideological or economic interests between two or more groups. Additionally, in this paper, conflict is also the battle against such hostile natural forces as famine, drought or hurricanes. Conflict termination is the process leading to the resolution of a conflict and the basis for mutual acceptance of interests and objectives to ensure lasting settlement conditions. Conflict termination not only includes the use of force but may involve all the instruments of power such as political, economic and informational. On the grand strategic level, the task goes well beyond the time when hostilities stop. There must also be congruence between termination on the military level and on the grand strategic or national level. Nothing will happen militarily without a clear understanding of what the goals are. Clear objectives are important, but it is also important to know what the end should look like, because the end state will affect the means and ways used in prosecuting the conflict. The end state is defined as a clear and concise description of required conditions that, when achieved, will accomplish the national strategic objectives. Although joint doctrine identifies the need for termination and post-conflict operations, it provides very little guidance about the planning or execution of an exit strategy, which can be defined as a plan to remove U.S. military combat forces once the end state has been achieved and "the military instrument of power can give way to other instruments. At some point, military forces will be largely in support of other U.S. and international agency efforts."


As the United States prepares to enter the next century it must not only carefully consider valid criteria for entering conflicts but also plan how to terminate them. Therefore, exit strategy and conflict termination planning must become a part of the military culture and must be included as a requirement in joint planning. Having said that, however, the task facing the commanders will remain difficult to accomplish due to the political constraints and restraints; fog, friction and uncertainty; changing objectives and, most importantly, the difficult task of translating often intangible end-state goals into quantifiable military objectives. For these reasons, chances are that even the most thorough termination planning will be inadequate at best and simply wrong in the worst case. As the conflict develops, however, the goal is to have plans that closely resemble the actual action yet flexible enough to adjust to changing conditions faster than the plans of the enemy.

The next chapter compares past and current political guidance pertaining to conflict interventions and examines internal as well as external influences that affect the development of exit strategies.

Chapter 2: Theoretical underpinnings

...we may eventually come to agree that a threat to national security means anything on the globe which challenges a people’s health, economic well-being, social stability and political peace.

Paul Kennedy

Preparation for the Twenty-First Century



During the Cold War, the United States’ vital interests appeared to be more easily definable than they are currently. Most conflicts were perceived as "proxy wars" because they seemed to be supported by one of the two superpowers. Due to the fear that conflict escalation might end with the use of nuclear weapons, there were inherent and largely unwritten limitations placed on the use of force that now no longer exist. In their place, however, new constraints materialized and political and economic criteria are playing an increasingly stronger role in determining the use of the military instrument of power for intervention, be it aggressive or humanitarian. Peacekeeping and peacemaking, although not new missions, are becoming more common and the successes of operations such as the efforts in the Sinai have established a precedent that makes it appear feasible to use military forces to reduce and control conflicts in the new world order. Liddell Hart’s idea of a "better peace" has ignited international interest.

Weinberger’s Principles

In the two decades since the end of the Vietnam War, much military and political thought has been dedicated to the issue of U.S. involvement in conflicts around the world. Specifically, decision-makers wanted to avoid another situation such as they faced in Vietnam. Although there is a great deal of literature discussing when the United States should intervene with military forces, the most notable and propagated thought came from the former Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, who in 1984 outlined six conditions which a conflict should meet before the United States would consider getting involved. Weinberger called these conditions an intervention test that, in his mind, would prevent another quagmire and ensure "firm national resolve...to achieve our objectives." These principles became the "touchstone for the use of military power." In view of the changing world they warrant a closer look to determine how they affect conflict termination. The decision to intervene in Weinberger’s analysis is dependent on a clear definition of mission accomplishment. Therefore, the analysis offers an insight into exit strategies because the two concepts are interdependent.

The six principles are:

1. The conflict should be of vital national interest to the United States and its allies.

2. Intervention must occur wholeheartedly with a clear intention of winning.

3. The country must have clearly defined political and military objectives.

4. The relationship between the objectives and the forces must be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.

5. There must be a reasonable assurance that the American people and Congress will support the intervention.

6. Commitment of U.S. forces should be the last resort.

The first problem is that there is no specified definition of the word "vital," therefore, the interpretation of what is truly vital to the nation is left open and becomes highly subjective. Not all interests are of the same intensity; rather, depending on the situation, they can be classified along the spectrum of "vital, significant, important and of interest." Looking at history, Somalia might be impossible to justify as being of higher "vital interest" than the conflict in Bosnia. Often, the U.S. vital interest may merely be a perceived prestige that comes along by being associated with an operation. What it seems to come down to is the administration’s inclination to use or not use military force for various political gains and the word "vital" offers an opportunity to develop a basis for arguments that can go either way. Additionally, an era is approaching when the United Nations exhibits a much greater role in global involvement in conflicts as well as humanitarian missions. The United States will have to make some tough decisions when called upon to participate in operations it may not consider vital to the national interest in the classic sense; however, these operations may be vital in the global sense and decision-makers may find themselves pressured to comply with the request for forces.

Public support, often measured by polls that guide the politicians, does not always portray a true interpretation of the level of the nation’s interest. The tolerance for casualties may provide a better gauge; if the effort is truly of vital interest then the American people will accept higher numbers of casualties. By the same token, the tolerance of casualties will disappear if the objective is perceived as unimportant. Unfortunately, this indicator comes only after the engagement has begun and that is too late. What does this imply for conflict termination? The same lessons that apply to getting into a conflict apply to getting out of the conflict. Once the conflict is underway or the United States realizes that it is not in its best interest to be involved, it will be difficult to terminate participation. The whole world watches U.S. actions and, as the only superpower in the world, America may be judged by the international community according to their perception of U.S. behavior.

A clear intention of winning was one of the key factors neglected during the Vietnam War where U.S. forces fought a limited war against an enemy whose existence depended on not losing and was committed to victory by fighting a total war. In his recent memoir, then-Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admits that the United States had an ambivalent attitude towards winning. Although behind closed doors President Johnson ordered his select advisors to win the war, publicly, because of the 1964 elections, he presented a much more reluctant image in an attempt to paint the Republican challenger as a warmonger. Just as domestic politics influenced military actions during the Vietnam War they will influence military actions in the future. In addition, the United States will have to accommodate the desires of its allies or the other members of the coalition, all of which will make it that much more difficult to develop a viable plan for intervention as well as conflict termination.

What happens when a nation decides to pull out of a conflict short of accomplishing its goals? The prevalent military thought in answering this question seems to be that trying to disengage or even refuse to participate can cost the United States credibility. The feelings among military planners are that other countries will question the U.S. commitment and deny their future support in discords that do matter to the United States. This, however, may reflect the "Beltway mentality" rather than reality. There are several historical examples indicating that few if any nations suffered loss of credibility when they decided to act in their best interest. On the contrary, France increased its credibility by leaving the war in Algeria in the early 1960s. At the same time, the United States’ reluctance to extricate itself from Vietnam hurt U.S. credibility worldwide. In the most recent case, the United States did not suffer because it left Somalia when the American people decided to terminate the U.S. participation in the conflict.

A failure to clearly define political and military objectives is probably one of the most severe criticisms one can make of the Vietnam War. Recent operations indicate that this lesson may only have been partially learned. Without clear objectives it is impossible to develop a clear understating of what the end state should look like and, therefore, it becomes difficult to develop a functioning exit strategy for conflict termination. For example, one of the major problems in Bosnia is that the military finds it difficult to plan how to employ armed forces effectively and then have a viable strategy to leave. The lack of clearly defined objectives or end states makes it tough for the military to know where to begin and where to end. The challenge remains, however, to know how to deal with objectives that change in the middle of an ongoing operation and translating political goals into a workable end state. As the objectives change, political and military leaders must constantly re-evaluate the end state to align it with the new objectives.

No one has expressed the importance of the relationship between objectives and forces better than Carl von Clausewitz: "The first, the supreme, the most-far-reaching act of judgment...is to establish...the kind of war on which they are embarking; neither mistaking it for, not trying to turn it into, something that is alien to its nature." In Somalia, the U.S. troops arrived on station to support the efforts of the international community to feed the people who were starving; yet, during the course of the stated mission a new objective was added and the troops were instructed to demilitarize the area and thus faced hostile thugs who were armed and willing to use their weapons. This new mission changed the nature of the involvement and required a different approach as well as equipment. Although the on-scene U.S. commander requested armored support, then-Secretary of Defense Les Aspin turned down the request. This lack of appreciation for the change in the "so-called" humanitarian mission likely contributed to the loss of 18 American lives and 72 wounded and prompted the American public to demand a withdrawal. In the case of conflict termination, the relationship between the objectives and end-state/termination strategy must continually be reassessed and adjusted as required.

Obtaining public support was another key lesson from Vietnam. As Clausewitz argued in his theory about the "remarkable trinity," the essential basis for military operations is a balanced combination of people, government and armed forces. Civilian population is fundamental to the conduct of war because it often influences the politicians, who in turn determine the political objectives. From Clausewitz’s point of view, it is the interaction between the people (who symbolize violence), the army (which exploits chance) and the government (which interjects reason) that forms a basis for a successful military venture. To remain effective a nation ought not disregard any one of these variables; all three must have a clear understanding of the goals and objectives and support the chosen course of action. During Desert Shield and Desert Storm, then-President George Bush asked for and received congressional authorization for U.S. participation and rallied the country behind him. Generals Colin Powell, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Norman Schwarzkopf, the theater commander, remembered their days in Vietnam and helped maintain public approval through daily military briefings. Political leaders definitely have the ability to persuade the people to grant their support.

Presidential determination can overcome dissent in most if not all cases. Just as President Bush was supported in his determination to expel Saddam out of Kuwait and in his decision to deploy troops on a humanitarian mission to Somalis, so too was President Clinton supported in his sure and swift decision to launch a cruise missile attack on Baghdad.

The bottom line is that it will be the people who will drive the final decision and without strong leadership they can be quick to issue the "order" to terminate U.S. actions.

This issue of last resort deserves some discussion. In December 1990, Admiral William J. Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was one of the strongest proponents of giving sanctions against Iraq a chance to work. In congressional testimony he thoroughly opposed any military intervention or the use of military force at that time. As a matter of course, military leaders usually advise against the use of force until all other venues have been exhausted as illustrated by examples in Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Haiti. As the crisis continues and the other instruments of power are not producing the necessary results, the expectations grow that the military will be able to intervene and provide a solution to the problem. Consequently, the "last resort" proposition suggests that there is a "natural order to the process" and the "use of force options become pitted against alternative options, rather than considered in concert with them." What happens when this last intervention does not work? Since all hopes are riding on the military instrument of power, it will become that much more difficult to terminate the involvement. Additionally, one must consider that the nation’s military arm with its size, composition and readiness affects the use of the other instruments of power by all actors involved. Therefore, to accomplish its goals, a country must recognize that it often needs to use the threat of military force as well as be backed by its military power to prevail in the economic and diplomatic arenas. All the instruments of power working in conjunction with one another stand a better chance of success.

As the above discussion illustrates, the six Weinberger principles sound reasonable; but closer study reveals that most of them are open to multiple interpretations. The general problem is that all the issues the Weinberger principles wish to define clearly in prospect can frequently only be seen clearly in retrospect. For example, very seldom can the leaders accurately predict the strength of the national will to support an intervention which in only under consideration. Some experts even argue that the Weinberger intervention test is wrong and that the six principles do more to obscure the issue than illuminate. However, General Powell subscribed to the principles and in the Gulf War left a legacy by expounding on several points. He stipulated that if the United States is going to succeed, the intervention must (1) be kept short, (2) with few casualties and (3) the force used must be decisive and overwhelming to ensure point one and two. But even this refinement causes problems for conflict termination because it calls for a brute-force strategy that may not be applicable in many of the operations other than war. Typically, missions that involve low intensity conflict, guerrilla warfare and nation-building will take a long time to complete and an overwhelming force applied to an end state that requires "winning the hearts and minds of the people" could do more harm than good.

Current Guidance

The debates over intervention continue; and the main focus of modern conflict resolutions is the trend towards more U.N. participation, especially in the arena of peacekeeping and peacemaking. In May 1994, President Clinton signed a presidential decision directive addressing the administration’s policy on reforming multilateral peace operations. The document recognizes the value of these missions as "one useful tool to help prevent and resolve such conflicts before they pose direct threats to our national security" and uses the term peace operations "to mean the entire spectrum of activities from traditional peacekeeping to peace enforcement aimed at defusing and resolving international conflicts." While official rhetoric confirms that the primary mission of military forces is national defense and the ability to fight and win wars, it stresses the need for reforms in operations other than war. The document claims to establish a balance between U.S. capabilities, U.S. interests and collateral security needs by ensuring a more effective approach to U.N. operations.

Some of the new directive’s key concepts for U.S. participation require well-defined objectives and an established endpoint for U.S. presence; the advancement of U.S. interests and acceptable risks as well as sound command and control arrangements; the necessity of U.S. participation for the coalition’s success; and the availability of domestic and congressional support. Additionally, if the operations are likely to involve combat, there must exist the determination to commit sufficient forces, plan for adjustments as necessary and achieve objectives decisively. For the most part, the guidance shows a close resemblance to the Weinberger principles, but there are two significant differences. First, the document addresses the issue of financing the peace operations and implies that resources should be expended on actions that will bring the highest return on investment. The word "vital" is no longer a driving force. Second, the Clinton document is specific about a conflict termination timeline and that to support peace operations the missions must "provide finite windows of opportunity,...should not be open-ended,...should have a specified timeframe tied to intermediate or final objectives," and political/military strategy should be integrated with humanitarian assistance efforts. The language of the document is clear, as is the meaning behind the language, and the policy was apparently designed to allow decision-making based on the cumulative weight of all the arguments. The document specifies that the United States will not normally sign up for an operation with an unclear mandate and an unclear end state. The author’s examination of the Haiti case study will demonstrate, however, that it is one thing to demand a clear mandate and receive it, and quite another to interpret it in order to develop the specific military goals that will lead to accomplishment of the stated national objective.

There is also a danger that if a specific timeline is set at which terminating action will commence, the belligerent will try to wait out the peacekeepers. As soon as the last U.N. troops left Somalia, Gen. Mohammed Farrh Aideed denounced the military intervention and celebrated the departure of the multinational forces. Free to continue his quest for power, Aideed is now demanding to be recognized as the head of the state and his technicals are once again inflicting violence on the Somali people. Although it remains to be seen if he can succeed, there is a chance that an enemy can survive the foreign intervention by lying low. Especially in low intensity conflicts, where the enemy can disperse into the population, he can easily outlast the resolve of the United States, United Nations or coalition forces. Sooner or later, the cost-benefit analysis may drive the decision towards termination and as soon as the forces leave, the belligerent will be free to pursue his goals.

Planning for Conflict Termination

Jane E. Holl, executive director of Carnegie’s Commission on Preventing Deadly Conflict, argues that exit strategies are dysfunctional and are not at all helpful to the military commander. She says the commander should focus on winning the conflict; figuratively speaking he is planning to "take the hill" and as such, any planning for conflict termination or exit strategy diverts his attention and his resources to activities that are not associated with his primary military objective. If the military strategist has done the right planning, then the military objective selected was the right hill and once the hill is taken it becomes a political decision how to exploit it. Holl claims that end states are just crutches for the military since they may not understand or appreciate what the true end state should be. The United States wants the end state to be stability in the Balkans, but the Bosnians may not have the same ideas. To them, fighting may not be a bad thing. Instead of developing an exit strategy, Holl says the military strategist should plan for contingencies and obtain "cold, sober assessments" throughout the conflict to assist the forces taking the hill. Lt. Col. Daniel R. Williams, a civil affairs expert on the Joint Staff, looks at the issue from a similar perspective. He contends that as the conflict develops, the commander’s attention will not be on war termination, rather he will focus on accomplishing the military objectives as well as trying to keep refugees and humanitarian agencies from impeding the military effort. Lt. Col. Williams’ recommendation is to select a post-conflict commander who would have started his planning before the hostilities ended and who would take over the operation once there was a cease-fire. Ideally, he would arrive augmented by a new set of troops with a humanitarian mindset. This way, the combat commander can fully focus on the military objectives.

In theory, separating the different phases of the conflict sounds good; however, it is necessary to recall the military’s ability to translate goals into tangible objectives. How easy is it to select the right target when the "hill" is a safe and secure environment? When do you know you have won? And can a commander divorce himself from the political process? Bruce C. Bade assigns a definite conflict termination role to military commanders. Not only does he stipulate that conflict termination planning should be discussed by the military planners and policy-makers, he extends the dialogue to the diplomatic corps. Conflict termination is not a science as much as it is an art and a professional judgment call. The best people to make the call will be the military leaders on the scene and, as such, they need to be involved in the political processes. Certainly during Desert Shield/Desert Storm, Gen. Schwarzkopf played the military and the political roles; he understood the national goals and his responsibility to integrate policy into his military plans. At the same time he dealt with the Saudi Royal Family as well as the other coalition leaders and was instrumental in developing conditions for the exit strategy. Ironically, outside the United States, military generals often possess high credibility and are regarded as capable professionals who will continue to be involved in the political discussions surrounding a conflict.

Yet, military officers will be the first to admit that it may be difficult to translate statements of objectives into workable, quantifiable military goals and end states, such as the percentage of enemy forces to be destroyed or the number of food convoys reaching their destination. No one can argue the political guidance and the accompanying orders from President Bush were not sufficiently specific. Yet, even then "we had trouble to decide when to stop....Many people had different opinions, even though we knew what the president wanted. There were some claiming we stopped too soon, others that we did not stop soon enough which is to be expected in any conflict." However, looking at the situation in Iraq today, one could argue convincingly that the war stopped too soon. In part because it was a high-intensity war following the Powell legacy of overwhelming force towards a decisive victory, the military commander recommended stopping the war as soon as he perceived victory over Iraq. This "all-or-nothing" approach may prove insufficient for the many conflicts around the world that may not rely on a decisive victory but instead require the military forces to support "diplomacy, protect peacekeepers, or carry out humanitarian tasks." By and large, it is the theater commander’s job to translate the desired political end state into a military strategy; and part of this strategy must include an understanding of when and how to leave the conflict.

Some experts argue that planning a specific strategy for conflict termination may give the impression that the forces are planning for defeat or failure. Strategy targets success, and when one develops a strategy one anticipates victory. To consider the termination of a conflict short of the accomplished goals goes against the intuitive nature of military planners and they would question the commitment made by the both political and military leaders. Planners on the Joint Staff agree that this is a serious issue and argue that if the United States considers plans for withdrawal short of achieving the objectives, even in cases where little U.S. interest is involved, such actions will have long-term implications. Down the road, the United States would lose face and prestige, its credibility would be reduced and the country may be signaling weakness to the world by not achieving a decisive outcome. One argument supporting this approach is that war and conflict resolutions are instruments of policy and often represent contests of domestic and international power and, as such, are difficult to stop. This actually may not be a problem in theater-level warfare because a country which has embarked on waging a conventional war will consider the objectives important enough to increase efforts to succeed. In low intensity conflict, especially peace operations, however, the United States should be willing to cut its losses and quit when the cost outweighs the benefit. Preferably, the determination of how far the nation is willing to go should be reached in advance.

A closer examination of the National Security Strategy reveals that the political leaders are certainly willing to consider the option of withdrawing early or accept defeat because the official document clearly states that the military planners should have exit strategies for both a successful operation and one that has failed. On the other hand, a nation’s consistent refusal to participate in collective security can certainly harm its credibility. For example, both Germany and Japan are seeking a seat on the U.N. Security Council, yet they are not willing to commit troops outside their borders. Although a nation does not need to fight every battle, now and then a show of resolve in a carefully chosen situation is necessary to demonstrate to the world that it will honor commitments that matter and stand up for its interests.

Not many will argue with Clausewitz’s premise that military interventions are extensions of national policy by other means, and it is universally accepted that U.S. decisions pertaining to political goals during an intervention will be made by the civilian leadership. But there are several inherent dichotomies between the political and military states of affair that make the formulation of an exit strategy difficult. Whereas the political statements imply better conditions in the end, the operational commander has to translate them into issues such what to do with captured territory, how to accommodate prisoners of war, or where to bury the dead. The politicians may have different ideas than the military commanders as to when to halt the action that have nothing to do with the stated objectives or end state; rather, political pressure may dictate decisions that will puzzle the commander. Towards the end of Desert Storm, the order to stop came before the planned envelopment had a chance to unfold fully, apparently because "there was some concern about the attacks and the carnage on the highway from Kuwait to Basrah." Although Gen. Schwarzkopf would have preferred to follow through on the military plan, he understood and heeded the political orders. On the other hand, the politicians may get so caught up in the conflict itself that no end strategy is considered, the objectives change as the fighting continues and the means become the ends. During World War II the Japanese, although recognizing that by attacking Pearl Harbor they were starting a war that had to end at some point, ignored the important question of war termination.

Entering into a conflict is normally not undertaken lightly; rather, it is an interagency process that involves people from various governmental departments. Often the recommendations and quality of thought that comes out of these planning sessions depends on the different personalities involved. The assumption generally is that the participants are rational people who base their decisions on an objective cost-benefit analysis. That may not be always the case. The decision-making vehicle is a complicated process and is not only based on a rational thought process but is also influenced by the organizational make-up and the aggregate of political factors, personalities, bargaining and consensus building. There may be many competing interests at the time of a crisis and the weight of the individual interests will definitely color the support for all of them. As a result, a game of pulling and pushing will complicate the decision-making for all concerned. Fred Charles Ikle summed it up by saying that "if the decision to end a war were simply to spring from a rational calculation about gains and losses for a nation as a whole, it should be no harder to get out of a war than to get into one." The case study on Somalia will show that the same principle about termination applies to operations other than war as well. It is also important to understand that each political entity will have its own understanding of the terms used to describe the objectives or the end state. As a result, end-state statements often seem fuzzy and broadly worded because they have to be approved by all those who will be involved. This includes not only the departments within the U. S. interagency process, but also the United Nations and the coalition partners. By the time the goals get approved at all levels, even an end state that started with concise and quantifiable objectives has been turned into something like "safe and secure environment," which is open to much interpretation. As the conflict develops, the various players understand "safe and secure" to mean different things, and the commander who translated the broad statement into achievable military goals may or may not have chosen the correct military targets. The above process is a political reality and part of the give-and-take process. Political leaders may vote for an objective the nation does not fully support only to gain votes for something that is more important to the United States.

The process of deciding on an end state is also hindered by ethnocentrism. The following statement by Douglas Bennett, Jr., Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs at the U.S. State Department, highlights how Americans tend to see the world and points to the mindset that is applied to policy decisions to include conflict termination:

Will we have a set of standards and expectations that will permit most people in most places, most of the time, to exist in a manner that we like to think of as normal--where children go to school, families worship together and people generally have control over their lives? Or will we see a world ...evolving backward toward the 19th century, with big countries picking on little ones and contests for ethnic or cultural supremacy festering

around the globe.

It is an American failing to suffer from a lack of understanding of foreign cultures and a tendency of "mirror-imaging." This is a major issue because the United States will be involved in conflicts where the success of U.S. actions will be directly dependent on the ability to correctly determine what the end state should be from the point of view of the native people. If the United States is going to spend the time, money and maybe lives to help a nation, it must ensure that resources are not wasted.


In the last several years, the world changed from bipolar to multipolar and the United States became the sole superpower. As other nations looked to the United States for leadership and resources to help solve conflicts around the globe, political and military leaders tended to seek guidance as to what conflicts could be morally and economically supported by applying the six principles of former Secretary of Defense Weinberger’s intervention test. The test established the conditions for intervention as (1) vital interest, (2) intention to win, (3) clear objectives, (4) capable forces, (5) public support and (6) commitment should be the last resort. Closer study of the principles revealed that the precision and lack of ambiguity Weinberger desired are very difficult to obtain. General Powell added his own experiences and left a legacy of "all or nothing" involvement with the proviso that conflicts should be short, quick and decisive.

As discussions about conflict intervention continued, the Clinton administration issued new guidance on peace operations that resembled the Weinberger principles; however, the presidential directive stressed that resources must be expended on missions with the highest return on investment and that a definite timeline should be established prior to engaging the troops to accomplish clearly defined objectives. While the desire for clear objectives remains, many experts argue that arriving at a viable termination strategy can be difficult when trying to translate political goals into workable military objectives. The military commander faces a formidable challenge to develop specific plans to reach end states that typically are expressed rather nebulously as "secure the environment" or "promote political reconciliation."

The United States cannot be the world’s policeman; it needs to pick its fights carefully. The argument that a country will lose credibility if it declines to participate in operations which bear little or no relationship to the national interest is scarcely credible. There is no clear historical or other evidence that support this position. On the other hand, there are many examples, such as the French withdrawal from Algeria, that show that a nation increases its credibility when it extricates its military from unmanageable conflicts that do not threaten national core interests. However, there are times when a country must be willing to demonstrate its willingness to take a stand. Once a country has decided to engage, there will be external conditions affecting the development of an end state. The decision-makers will be subjected to political pressures from domestic and international sources and competing bureaucratic interests as well as personal obstacles such as ethnocentrism, all of which will influence not only the reasons for action but also the reasons for terminating the conflict. The military commander should be fully involved in the political process in order to have access to the dynamic flow of decisions and to be able to advise the political leaders.

The next two chapters will examine recent U.S. exit strategies by assessing military operations in Somalia and Haiti.

Chapter 3: Somalia Case Study

The biggest weapon in Somalia is food....Food is used as the coin of the realm and banditry is the last growth industry of Somalia.

Maj. Gen. Steven L. Arnold

Commander Army Forces, Somalia

The final U.S. mission in Somalia proved one thing: Somalia was easier to abandon than it was to help or befriend.

John Balzar

Los Angeles Times reporter, Somalia


To consider conflict termination in the new world order, Somalia presents an excellent case to demonstrate the conditions, problems and challenges the United States can expect in future conflicts. Before 1992 the average citizen probably had never heard of Somalia. That changed when the international media began broadcasting vivid pictures of hungry families along the sides of dusty roads, children playing in the dirt and thousands of people dying of starvation each week. In August 1992, even though the United States and the world were preoccupied with the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, President Bush issued an order to commence Operation Provide Relief to airlift food to Somalia in an attempt to arrest the widespread starvation and lessen the obvious suffering. The U.S. involvement did not end with the delivery of food, but escalated into airlift support to multinational troops dispatched to protect supply shipments. The security situation on the ground grew increasingly more dangerous and looters frequently attacked food convoys as well as the incoming aircraft until few were able to deliver their cargoes. Although the United Nations had authorized multinational peacekeepers to ensure security for those delivering aid, President Bush decided to commit U.S. ground forces; and on Dec. 9, 1992, Operation Restore Hope was initiated as U.S. troops occupied the Mogadishu airport to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations.

Five months later in May 1992, the operation became UNOSOM II, and included extensive nation-building efforts. The U.S. involvement was to consist mostly of logistical support; however, President Clinton was asked to provide a Quick Reaction Force to conduct military operations to safeguard the surroundings for U.N. reforms. As part of this expanded mission, the U.S. Army soon found itself in full pursuit of Gen. Mohammed Farrh Aideed, one of Somalia’s most powerful warlords. Bloody clashes between U.S. troops and the locals and the loss of several U.S. soldiers led the President to withdraw American forces by March 31, 1994, even though the end state of the U.N.-desired restored Somalia had not been accomplished. Therefore, almost 20 months after the initial engagement, the United States officially concluded its active participation in Somalia. At this point, the mission was transferred to the United Nations whose troops, along with the many private and non-governmental organizations, remained in Somalia to provide continued assistance. Only a year later, in March 1995, the U.N. troops were withdrawn as well; and the situation in Somalia seems to have reverted back to the hostile and troubled environment it was before the United Nations intervened in early 1992. As soon as the last U.N. tank disappeared, thieves grabbed anything they could and totally destroyed what remained of the U.N. base in Mogadishu. The looting was soon interrupted by heavily-armed militiamen belonging to Aideed who once again started to assert his power over the Southern Somalia.

Political Considerations

The intended U.S. involvement in Somalia was expected to last only a short time and its main purpose was to establish a "secure environment for private relief groups to deliver assistance" to the starving Somalis. Although the administration could not guarantee the U.S. Congress that no U.S. forces would remain in Africa 12 months later, and while the stated intentions were to be back home in two to three months, several Congressmen had their doubts about the U.S. ability to pull out without getting entangled in an operation that promised to involve more than just provide protection for food deliveries. The frustration about Bosnia and the associated inability to take action with minimum involvement as well as minimum loss of life led key individuals in Congress and the administration to press for an intervention in Somalia instead. The idea of saving people from starvation appealed to the country and made Americans feel less helpless about the atrocities being committed in the former Yugoslavia where the situation was grim. The crisis in Somalia was seen as a "definable and doable mission" in which the United States "could rapidly make a significant and tangible difference." The African famine seemed in the beginning like an easy "enemy" to conquer; the forces would go in, establish safe corridors so the food could reach its destination and hundreds of thousands of lives would be saved. Therefore, the media-encouraged "feel good strategy" of helping those in need overcame the justified worries of how to disengage.

Yet at the same time, U.S. officials seemed to understand intuitively what an operation in Somalia meant. The State Department did not hide the fact that maintaining a secure environment might prove difficult, and thus, this could be a humanitarian operation unlike any other in the past. The United States pressured the United Nations to put together a force that would be "heavily armed, with very robust rules on engagement." Some experts also recognized the importance of involving the Somali leadership and their role in the resolution of the crisis. Andrew S. Natsios, the President’s special coordinator for Somali relief, testified before Congress in September 1992 that without an end to clan and sub-clan conflicts there was no hope for the country to move from an emergency state to a long-term rehabilitation. As history has now shown, Somalia’s leaders chose not to play by U.N./U.S. rules and even the multinational armed forces could not put an end to the clan feuds.

U.N. Mandates

Phase I: In April 1992, the U. N. Security Council approved Security Council resolution 751, whose purpose was to provide humanitarian aid and facilitate the end of hostilities in Somalia. The problem was that the United Nations, United States and, for that matter, the rest of the world assumed the Somalis would welcome external actors and willingly stop the fighting to receive the offered supplies for those who were suffering. The answer was not that simple, however, and Maj. Gen. Arnold, the commander of U.S. Army Forces in Somalia explained why: "There was a population of seven million. Of that, one million were victims, six million were not. Some were killed in the civil war, some were starved to death, some were driven into Ethiopia." So for all practical purposes, the operation was destined to help only a small portion of the population and was not appreciated by those who were fighting in the civil war. The warlords did not seem to harbor any humanitarian thoughts and resented the foreigners who, by virtue of their presence, got bogged down in Somali domestic battles. Food soon became the weapon of choice in the power struggle and the fights to obtain it escalated the problems. The idealistic, though for most part Western, end state of well-fed people on their way to an orderly, democratic existence was ethnocentric and not necessarily what the majority of the Somalis envisioned.

It definitely was not the end state for the various clan leaders who were willing to accept a certain amount of starvation if it helped them achieve their goals. Violence has been the way of life for the Somalis for centuries. In order to survive in the desert where any one area could sustain only a finite number of people, families have used the threat of violence and actual force when needed to keep intruders away. While such violence appears incomprehensible for members of democratic societies, to many Somalis it is a way of life. The Central Command’s historian summed it up as follows:

...neither those making the appeals [for help] nor those who were moved by them fully appreciated the factors militating against successful humanitarian intervention: Somalia’s nomadic traditions, its historical reliance on intimidation and violence, the resourcefulness of individual Somalis in extracting resources from the international community and the plethora of weapons available to those accustomed to using violence as a means of resolving differences. Rather, to the proponents of intervention, the goals of saving lives, reducing suffering and reversing national chaos appeared to be reasonable and well within the capability of the international community to achieve.

As the situation on the ground worsened, President Bush ordered operation Restore Hope and the second phase of the mission began.

Phase II: The U.N. mandate for operation Restore Hope, issued on Dec. 3, 1992, specified peace-enforcement actions in support of humanitarian efforts with two implicit missions. One was to provide humanitarian assistance, the other was to restore order in southern Somalia, and both implied acts of disarmament. The operation grew fairly rapidly; and soon the United States was heading up a "coalition of more than 20 different countries, many [of whom] chose to demonstrate broad international support for the U.N. mandate [rather] than to provide complementary military capabilities." The Armed Forces had to deal with almost 50 private humanitarian organizations who had no obligation to follow the military’s direction. Although the given military statement mentioned termination, it merely specified that once the environment was secure the operations would transfer to the U.N. peacekeeping forces. It is not difficult to understand why the turn-over of the security mission to the United Nations was repeatedly delayed. The U.N. Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, applied a more liberal interpretation to the objectives and expected the United States not only to disarm the bandits and warring clans, but also rebuild the country’s various infrastructures. The United States characterized the mission as one of peace enforcement and humanitarian assistance, but not of nation-building. Despite the disagreements over the end state of operation Restore Hope, the operation was eventually turned over to the United Nations.

Phase III: UNOSOM II operations were directed by Security Council resolution 814 on March 26, 1993. The resolution stated explicitly "the objective of rehabilitating the political institutions and economy" of Somalia. It also expanded the "secure environment" to encompass the whole country. The new mission presented the end state in a whole new light. The implications of the resolution were that Somalia would be restored to a viable country, ready to take over its destiny. Nation-building, however, is a long-term involvement, and the expanded idea of humanitarian assistance way beyond the feeding of starving people did not coincide with the American public’s wish for a short intervention. This illustrates rather well how "mission creep" can affect an operation compounded by the problem of the United States providing the muscle required for the success of the mission. America soon discovered how difficult it would be to conclude participation in a conflict since the coalition depended on U.S. resources such as airlift, manpower and firepower as well as a great deal of moral leadership. Because the broad language of the objectives did not specify what the rehabilitated political and economic systems should look like, it only added to the American dilemma.

Exit Strategy

The final result of the Somalia operations remained elusive. As already discussed, the military commander is often responsible for translating political goals into military objectives as well as planning for termination of the conflict by formulating an exit strategy. The role of the end-state strategist fell squarely on the shoulders of the military in Africa. Yet as the Army discovered, "conditions required to achieve end state during operations other than war are difficult to define and require continued refinement during the operation."

For operation Restore Hope, the published U.N. end state was "to create an environment in which the United Nations and non-governmental organizations can assume full responsibility for the security and operation of the Somalia humanitarian relief efforts." In the next chapter, the study of objectives used in Haiti will show that the intangible wording of the Somali end state is not uncommon. On the surface, it was a specific objective, with an implied end state. What did it mean in concrete military terms? The top military leaders were not provided termination conditions and did not really know what the end state was. Maj. Gen. Steven L. Arnold, then-commander of Army Forces in Somalia, considered this lack of an end state difficult. He said he wished he had been at least given a set of conditions as to what the politicians wanted to see in Somalia when the military objectives were finished. Out of necessity it became his responsibility and that of the 10th Mountain Division to "brief up" what they perceived the end state to be. The planners at the U.S. Central Command developed specific objectives derived from the U.N. mandate and had them approved by the U.S. National Command Authority. The command statement provided the troops in theater with concrete guidance. Consequently, the military commanders played a key role in determining the end state during Restore Hope, even when they established the end state as "to be able to eventually leave." Although far from ideal, this simple understanding directed the military forces until they were able to turn the operation over to the United Nations. What helped however, was that the operation was still fairly limited and was under U.S. control.

The situation was not as clear when the mission shifted to U.N. control and was expanded under UNOSOM II. The United States had no intention of getting involved in a lengthy nation-building process and objected to the systematic demilitarization, insisting on disarming the factions only when they presented a threat. The command of the forces changed to retired U.S. Admiral Jonathan Howe, who pursued the end state as determined by the United Nations. Apparently other nations also found the end-state conditions broad and open to interpretation because many of those involved had a different opinion and a list of concrete accomplishments they considered essential to the definition of a viable end state. Countries such as Pakistan and Italy perceived the task as a classic, traditional peacekeeping assignment and interjected their own national agendas into the meaning. Italy in particular was quite vocal about its own understanding of the Somalia mission. Although the United States had input into the U.N. decision-making process, the military commanders were left with broad statements that contained many implied tasks which did not specify the exact role of the military forces. To exacerbate the problem even further, there were dual and triple chains of command and the various military leaders often disagreed among themselves.

Success or Failure?

The initial objectives of stopping starvation were apparently achieved, because Somalia is now harvesting one of the largest crops in recent memory and the widespread hunger had been arrested. At the same time, even before the U.N. withdrawal, many called Somalia a failure because, in the end, the level of violence had not diminished. By the beginning of 1995, Aideed seemed to have set himself up unilaterally as the president and the technicals (armed militiamen) were patrolling the streets. There is no viable government in sight; and clashes between the warlords are common as Aideed insists on being recognized as Somalia’s head of state.

The operation cost the United States (through December 1994) an estimated $1.2 billion and the U.N. operation was estimated at an additional $1.5 billion. Thirty U.S. soldiers were killed in combat and 175 were wounded. There were an additional 13 noncombat deaths and one person remains missing. The United Nations lost more than 140 peacekeepers and thousands of Somali citizens died by violent means. Looking at these numbers while considering the current state of affairs in Somalia, it is difficult not to question the validity of the intervention and ask whether it was worth it. Granted, the country-wide starvation ended, and "the U.N. Children’s Fund vaccinated some 753,000 Somali children, built about 3,700 wells and put about 62,000 children into schools," but only to witness indications that the country is slipping into chaos as clans revert to their old ways of doing business. So, as the last of the Marines departed Somalia, the country started to drift close to a civil war and although some moderates try to broker peace there does not appear to be much hope for success. Any attempts at creating a U.N.-backed government failed and there is little to show for the almost $3 billion spent there.

The heavy use of the various Air Force airlift platforms took its toll on the equipment, yet the United States validated the claim of global reach by showing its capability to feed people halfway around the world. The aging C-141 aircraft were plagued by equipment failures resulting in repeated groundings and cargo weight limitations sometimes delayed delivery of supplies. Despite these problems the airlift efforts proved effective. At the same time, the operation highlighted a major deficiency of the United Nations by demonstrating its lack of ability to logistically support U.N.-sponsored missions. U.N. officials admitted that the United States was key to the success as only America could provide the logistical resources, command and control and intelligence assets that were needed. Actually, it did not take very long for the humanitarian relief organizations to find out "that their resources of both personnel and supplies were overwhelmed" and "the security environment presented new challenges...and further limited the effectiveness of traditional relief programs." The international community thus turned for help to the sole remaining superpower, the United States.

Weinberger’s Principles Revisited

Many people keep asking themselves if this was worth even one American life, which leads to an analysis of how the Weinberger principles were applied to the operations in Africa. Were there vital interests? Somalia was one of those missions where the tolerance, or better yet the lack of tolerance, for casualties indicated the level of U.S. interest. Initially, seeing the images of starving children, the public felt compelled to approve assistance and the idea of engaging the military’s huge capability for transport, organization and readiness seemed the ideal solution to a seemingly simple problem. But once engaged, the mission changed and the tolerance for dealing with U.S. soldiers dying in the desert disappeared. The bad taste left in many people’s mouths of having "wasted" American lives may have a far-reaching impact. In the future the United States may not be as willing to get involved to help someone else. Americans may apply greater measures of isolationism to their decision-making process and choose not to support U.N. efforts without a direct threat to their own country. Even the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. John Shalikashvili, admitted that he could not imagine anyone else intervening in Somalia again: "They are on their own."

The bottom line is that Somalia was not a vital interest. So, while initially the operation generated some good feelings, soon the public called for U.S. withdrawal which was not an easy task due to the international nature of the conflict. From the start the U.S. commitment was limited and the nation was not willing to pay, in direct or indirect costs, for anything more than a short-term intervention. As soon as costs escalated and U.S. soldiers started to die, the American people wanted to leave. But as a country with the most resources and capabilities, the United Nations and the world had expectations of the United States and thus the termination process desired by the American people was greatly influenced by external political pressures. At the same time, the political objectives were too broad and kept changing which made the difficult task of developing a viable exit strategy based on accomplished goals virtually impossible. As the goals changed, the composition of forces was not adjusted quickly enough to the new tasks thus contributing to diminishing public and Congressional support and the administration was faced with a U.S. mandate to terminate the participation but not the conflict, thereby leaving the Somalis only slightly better off than when the U.S. forces first arrived.

In the end, Somalia was a "deadly, costly, muddled and probably counterproductive campaign." Yet there are those who sense a more optimistic future for Somalia and hope that once the foreigners are gone the Somali people will reach an agreement amongst themselves and establish a productive government. U.N. special representative to Somalia, James Victor Gbeho, reports that most of the warlords are starting to run out of ammunition and cannot continue the unbridled violence as they have in the past. Additionally and ironically, the U.S.-led U.N. effort seemed to have "left the Somalis united behind one idea: a common disregard for outside meddlers." Although on the surface the shooting and violence have not diminished, this hopeful outlook outweighs the alternative of a bloody, impoverished life for the millions of Somalis who now barely exist in the civil-war torn country and conveys the prospect that a viable end state may yet be achieved. Only time will tell whether the efforts of the international community were worthwhile.


The intervention in Somalia started as a seemingly simple mission of helping to feed starving families in the famine-stricken African country. The need to "do something," especially in the light of the U.S. inability to affect the situation in Bosnia, and the daily media reports prompted most Americans to approve of the operation. Within months, however, the mission changed to include peace-enforcement and selective disarmament. The United States was willing to secure the environment in support of humanitarian aid, however, it resisted the United Nations’ push for systematic disarmament and nation-building. When the United Nations further expanded the mission and specified nation-building by defining the end state as a "restored Somalia," and when U.S. soldiers started to die at the hands of Somali thugs, Congress, and ultimately the American public, demanded force withdrawal short of the desired termination objectives. Since then, and in spite of the U.N. presence for another 12 months, the country has largely reverted to its pre-intervention state with no viable government and warlords resorting to violence to gain individual power.

The role of the military commander in the termination planning process was instrumental in developing the end-state conditions for Phase II. However, once the United Nations took over, the end state turned into a desired operation beyond the scope of the military.

Somalia demonstrates how easy it is to get bogged down in "mission-creep" when political leaders adopt broad political statements that are left open to interpretation and as such do not clearly specify end-state conditions. The United Nations plus the coalition nations each had their own understanding of what a restored Somalia should look like and what they were willing to contribute to the effort to make it a reality. Additionally, the mission was designed to help only one seventh of the population while the rest of the Somali people did not really appreciate the foreign intervention while they were struggling with a civil war. The United Nations and the rest of the coalition underestimated the severity of the problem and the desired nation-building never materialized. Consequently, the final product of a restored democratic Somalia remained elusive.

Ultimately, Somalia was not a vital interest to the United States and in spite of the good feelings that the operations initially generated, Americans viewed their involvement as limited in scope and they were not willing to pay the price, especially when it came to American lives. Although some experts feel hope that eventually the Somalis will be able to get their country back on its feet, the violence continues and, for the time being, no one has an answer.

The next chapter examines the U.S. intervention in Haiti.

Chapter 4: Haiti Case Study

The stage is being set for a return to business as usual....All that has changed are some of the actors. The play is a tragedy and in Haiti, as in theater, the outcome of a tragedy is predictable; it invariably ends without solutions and with many deaths.

Anthony P. Maingot

Haiti: The Political Rot Within

A hungry flock doesn’t listen hard.

A missionary in Haiti



The U.S. action designed to restore the democratic government to Haiti presents an example of a limited U.S. intervention under the auspices of U.N. resolutions. Initially, the situation on the ground in Haiti resembled Somalia, prompting the U.S. military to plan a hostile intervention. However, the successful last-minute negotiations by former President Jimmy Carter and retired Gen. Colin Powell allowed the armed forces to move into Haiti under permissive conditions; and on Sept. 19, 1994, the U.S. Army occupied the Port-au-Prince airport to initiate operation Uphold Democracy. As a result, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, who had seized the presidency in a September 1991 coup, was forced into exile. On Oct. 15, 1994, the legally-elected president, Reverend Jean-Bertrand Aristide, assumed his office as the head of the state. After three years of dictatorship, hope for democracy appeared on the horizon. Instead of facing hostile resistance, the military forces were met by a cheering population. By the beginning of 1995 the United States and the United Nations determined that the environment was stable enough to permit the withdrawal of U.S. troops and on March 31, 1995, the United Nations officially assumed responsibility for the campaign. A 6,000-person multinational contingent wearing United Nations’ blue hats is scheduled to remain in Haiti until February 1996 to oversee the laying of foundations, not only to improve living conditions but also to establish democratic practices.

However, Haiti’s problems are far from over. The history of the island was marked by decades of corrupt dictatorial governments with predicaments encompassing all aspects of life: economic, social, cultural, political and environmental. Enduring solutions will require a long-term fix that will not be accomplished quickly. Improvements involve creating systems for the population’s every-day existence. Military intervention was just the beginning and true conflict resolution, one that will ensure a permanent settlement, may take more than the removal of the U.S. or U.N. forces from the island. Haiti is a country without a viable judicial system, police, sewage treatment, political structure or any of the other infrastructure common to modern civilizations. The physical conditions are in no shape to support the agricultural requirements needed to feed the population and no institutions exists to implement changes to the few existing education and training programs. Therefore, the political objective of bringing a democratic government to Haiti hinges on more than just removing Gen. Cedras and his advisors and returning President Aristide to power.

The return of one man to his country does not necessarily translate into restoring democracy. That is an ambitious as well as an ambiguous political goal; and it is hard to believe that the use of military power could put in place those habits and institutions that make a democracy work, especially in a country where these attributes have never been cultivated. Additionally, the rebuilding of the economy will require capital as well as knowledge, both of which will need to come from foreign sources. All along it has been the United States’ point of view that the Haiti situation required commitments from the international community. America did its part by obligating resources to secure the environment for the return of the Haitian president, and officials called for the rest of the democratic world to contribute its share "so that democracy can truly and finally flourish."

Political Considerations

The Department of Defense initially advised against an entry by force and recommended an extended period of embargoes, sanctions and political pressures be given a chance to work. However, in the end, the Haiti Executive Committee, an interagency group whose Assistant Secretary-level members included the Department of Defense, National Security Council, Central Intelligence Agency, Justice Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, decided to follow the recommendation of the President and proceed with the invasion. Although the plan did not dispense with political efforts such as sanctions and embargoes, the Joint Staff envisioned an operation in which the military would seize key targets, get control and remove Cedras and any of his supporter and military forces. Throughout the process, it was the wish of the administration that the operation would take place quickly, the objectives would be limited and U.S. troops would withdraw as soon as it was possible for the United Nations to take over. While the Carter/Powell negotiations dispensed with the planned forced entry, the military units who were trained for war proved they were capable of functioning under the more peaceful conditions of the new scenario. Although the planning was hampered by an initial compartmentalization of information, the soldiers had the discipline and versatility to adapt to the changing nature of this operation other than war.

The administration listed several international as well as domestic issues that supported the U.S. interest in a Haitian intervention. The current U.S. national foreign policy of fostering new democracies to help promote new markets for economic growth as well as supporting people’s rights was highlighted by U.S. officials as significant, because Haiti was one of few countries in the Western hemisphere where the population was denied democratic government and human rights were violated on a daily basis. Even though the United State did not agree with Haitian domestic politics, the situation there did not pose a threat to U.S. citizens or U.S. security and there seemed to be no urgent reason for the United States to intervene in the internal problems of a sovereign nation.

The Congressional Black Caucus as well as the more than one million Haitians living in the United States with strong cultural ties to their suffering relatives flexed their political muscle to pressure the administration to take action. For years, U.S. presidents struggled with policy decisions concerning the fate of Haitian "boat people" who were trying to flee poverty and political persecution in their country. The direct as well as indirect costs of this problem were high. The Coast Guard patrolled the seas to intercept the boats while enforcing U.S. policy which either turned the boats back or escorted the people to a holding base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At that point U.S. officials tried to determine who was eligible for a political asylum to the United States. An added predicament was the issue of AIDS, a very common disease in Haiti, and the resulting political as well as social consequences of deciding how to treat Haitians who were infected. This became a major concern since the majority of the boat people tested HIV-positive.

Compounding the dilemma and providing the United States with another motive to justify an operation may have been a surge in drug smuggling. Recent developments showed that some drug shipments were being routed from Columbia through Haiti to the United States. In 1992, one metric ton of cocaine was seized by Haitian authorities and in 1993, in spite of the embargo, the U.S. Coast Guard found "100 pounds of cocaine onboard a Haitian freighter on the Miami River." However, the concern over drug trafficking manifested itself almost overnight while the year before Haiti was only number eight on the list of ten countries smuggling narcotics. Representatives Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs claimed the illegal trade served the purpose of establishing the need for military action in Haiti, an example of the manipulation of geopolitics.

Overall, the administration established domestic as well as international security imperatives to advocate that a mission in Haiti was not only doable but also beneficial. Most Americans, however, disagreed and were against a U.S. intervention in Haiti. So why, if there was no economic reasons, no threat to U.S. security or its citizens and the illegal drug trade only an excuse, would an administration press for action even without the Congressional and public support? Of the several reasons cited, the most compelling case can be made for trying to stop the flood of refugees that has troubled the United States for years, but it is doubtful that this issue would have necessitated an invasion. A more skeptical answer may be that it was just good domestic politics. Many critics assert that the administration may have been trying to sway the African-American vote for passage of the health-reform bill. Finally, the most compelling reason to act in the face of the constant problems with Haiti was probably the need for the U.S. government to "do something." Americans have a tendency to want to help and in the face of criticism and bad press, the need to take dramatic action of some type to solve the problem, even if only for a short time, seemed to the only choice for senior government officials.

U.N. Mandates

The U.N. Security Council passed several resolutions to express concern over the declining conditions and condemn the political and criminal violations taking place in Haiti. Throughout the crisis the United Nations directed economic sanctions hoping to provide incentives for Haiti to stop the violence and implement a capable government as well as military and police forces to establish order in the country. But the situation continued to deteriorate and in September 1993 the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 867 that instituted the existence of the U.N. Mission in Haiti for a period of six months. The U.N. Mission consisted of police monitors chosen to train the Haitian police and oversee their activities as well as provide noncombat training to the military forces and a military construction unit responsible for working with the Haitian military on various humanitarian projects. Since then the Mission has been repeatedly extended and is in place today, scheduled to terminate in February 1996.

On July 3, 1993, President Aristide and the Commander-in-Chief of the Haitian armed forces, Gen. Cedras, signed the Governor’s Island accord aimed at developing a peaceful and stable environment by modernizing the armed forces and creating a new police force under the watchful eye of U.N. forces. The agreement created an expectancy that the situation in Haiti would soon stabilize and the legitimately elected president would return to his Presidential Palace. However, any hope of Haitian normalization was dashed when the military blocked the agreement in October 1993 and violence started to escalate, eventually seriously threatening the safety of government officials, key installations and the public at large. As a result, in June 1994, the U.N. Security Council requested a manpower increase for the Haiti Mission. Finally, on July 31, 1994, the United Nations declared the situation in Haiti a threat to the peace and security in the whole region and passed the most stringent resolution yet that ultimately led to the September military invasion.

Security Council resolution 940 condemned the de facto regime’s disregard for agreements as well as its refusal to cooperate with the U.N. Mission and reaffirmed the goals of the international community to restore democracy and return the legitimate leader, President Aristide, to his rightful position as the head of state. In an attempt to clear up the crisis once and for all, the United Nations presented a mandate that authorized the creation of a multinational force that "under a unified command" was authorized "to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure...of the military leadership,...the prompt return of the legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate authorities...and to establish and maintain a secure and stable environment...." Specifically, the mission included the added responsibility of "facilitating free and fair legislative elections." As seen in the discussion of Somalia, Haiti was no exception and the objectives, although on the surface precise and distinct, were open to interpretation by the participants. This was a problem even after an intentional attempt by the Security Council to define the end state in more specific terms. The one lesson that the United Nations, both the Security Council members as well as the Secretary General, took home from Somalia was the necessity to make mandates more feasible by focusing on goals that were explicit and concrete. One can see the differences in some of the language such as removal of the military leadership; however, the expression of "secure and stable environment" that once caused problems in Somalia was again included in a resolution.

Although the U.N. language and the U.S. official rhetoric continuously specified that the operation in Haiti was about restoring democracy, in military actions the United States never signed up for anything more than securing the environment so President Aristide could return to establish his government. Having learned from Somalia and wanting to avoid a "mission creep" that would be unacceptable to the American public, the United States designed a carefully defined operations that allowed for a quick withdrawal of the U.S. forces and left the actual restoration of democracy to the United Nations.

Exit Strategy

The U.S. military kept the predetermined exit strategy in mind and drew down its forces from 22,000 to 2,400 as soon as the United Nations accepted the military commander’s recommendation that the area was stabilized. The rest of the force is remaining as a part of the 6,000-person U.N. army to oversee a country where crime and violence run rampant, the lack of economic activity leaves people hungry and desolate, and where there is "no justice, no police, no jail."

Is this the end state the United States or the United Nations envisioned? There are two ways of approaching the desired solutions for Haiti. First, on the political level there is the safeguarding of human rights and the restore-democracy agenda that will require extensive nation-building efforts. Second, there is the more military vision of stopping the violence and establishing a semblance of a normal existence for the Haitian people. According to John F. Christiansen, the director of Haiti Task Force at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the second end state was part of the basic military planning process. Exit planning started in advance and "from the beginning we asked how we were going to leave," said Christiansen. Throughout the initial stages of developing operation Uphold Democracy, the Task Force and the members of the Executive Committee stressed the importance of knowing how "to get in and out quickly."

There can be no doubt that the U.S. experience with operations in Somalia positively influenced the planning process of the mission in Haiti to make it fit the profile of what the American people seem to expect: an overwhelming force got the job done quickly. The Joint Staff and the planners at the U.S. Atlantic Command worked from the beginning on end-state conditions in conjunction with the Executive Committee, fusing the political and military objectives into a desired exit strategy. Thus, in the Haitian operation the military was able to participate in determining what conditions were necessary to bring about the political goals.

Yet, even with this concentrated effort towards the development of an end state, the military faced some of the same challenges regarding the interpretation and translation of the official language as did the commanders in Africa. Termination itself was delayed when the U.N. political apparatus held back the awaited transition. Although Lt. Gen. Henry Shelton, the multinational forces commander, declared Haiti "secure and stable" in January 1995, the United Nations did not take over command until March 31, 1995. This illustrates that even an agreement that was developed prior to the ensuing conflict can be interpreted to accommodate a participant’s particular need or agenda. Initially, Haiti had been primarily a U.S. show. There have been disagreements between President Aristide and the U.S. Government concerning many issues in the past, and some analysts say that with the entry of the United Nations, this situation will only become worse. The more participants, the more differences will surface dealing with each of their perspectives, perceptions and expectations. With a U.S. commander at the helm of the U.N. forces whose composition is almost one-half American, this mission may still be perceived as a U.S. responsibility, but without the ability to make unilateral U.S. decisions. The U.S. action has raised expectations among the population and frankly, the presence of U.S. troops may increase the odds for success. However, true Haitian sovereignty will not occur until after all the foreign troops have left.

The main criticism remains that the peacekeeping job was only half-done and that one of the reasons why crime, corruption and drug smuggling have been rising since the U.S. departure is because the military units failed to do adequate nation-building. In a sense, the operation in Haiti mirrored the one in Somalia; in both cases the military intervention temporarily established some order; however, the permanent end state of a secure and stable environment continues to elude. The military certainly has the competence to conduct civil affairs and they have demonstrated this capability in Grenada, Panama and Kuwait. However, all those countries should not necessarily be compared with Haiti. Each of them had a functioning government and already existing infrastructure to serve as a conduit for the nation-building. Haiti’s only similarity is that its society needs an extensive linkage "to functioning health-care, postal, banking" and school systems as well as quiet, safe streets to make the country work. A few thousand troops cannot completely reform a wrecked nation in just a few months. If in fact the United States was serious about restoring democracy to Haiti as the official rhetoric indicated, then the criticism that the task of securing the environment and the subsequent exit strategy were too narrowly defined may be valid. As recognized by most experts, the successful restoration of society with its most basic needs requires the kind of rebuilding that is a long-term effort and could not be completed in six or even 12 months. As a result, the carefully interpreted U.S. mission that ended in March 1995 may have stopped short of any truly significant contributions to Haiti’s future. So, in the long run the United States may have won its battles, but may lose the war.

Success or Failure?

The Clinton administration called operation Uphold Democracy a success and a "triumph of freedom over fear." The Haitian official rhetoric also held only the highest praise for the U.S. intervention and claimed the United States saved the Caribbean nation from an assured destruction. President Aristide thanked President Clinton, assuring him that the U.S. forces moved Haiti "from death to life" by their presence. No public mention was made of the recent killings of Aristide’s supporters as well as a leading opponent, nor the planned assassinations of key political officials, when the two heads of states celebrated the withdrawal of the U.S. troops in a ceremony on March 31, 1995. The murder of Aristide’s opponent, Mireille Durocher Bertin, has been linked to Monesir Beaubrun, the interior minister in Aristide’s government. In response to reporters, President Clinton alluded to President Aristide’s request for an FBI team and only confirmed that the investigation was underway.

It is too soon to celebrate. "Things in Haiti are not what they seem;" and the United Nations is faced with more nation-building than it ever wished for or imagined. The $1-billion-dollar operation Uphold Democracy was at best a limited success. Although Haiti’s democratically elected president was returned to office and the issue of refugees that plagued two administrations has been temporarily resolved, the U.S. troops were not able to eliminate the violence that runs rampant throughout the country. The U.N. mandate did not require the United States to keep a large contingent in Haiti once the environment was safeguarded and the exit conditions upon which the United States and the United Nations had agreed to before the intervention were executed, to the dismay of many Haitians. On the other hand, some experts agree with the withdrawal claiming it may be more beneficial to complete the urgently needed restorations under the U.N. flag. But the question whether a viable and enduring end state could become reality remains and it is uncertain if the United Nations has the capability to conduct the kind of rehabilitation that is necessary. The U.N. role has expanded rapidly in the recent years and there is a need for improvements on all levels. For example, until recently there was no 24-hour U.N. command center to handle emergencies outside the normal work hours. In Somalia, the U.N. quickly found out that good intentions could not substitute for manpower and resources. The United Nations’ lack of direct authority over its troops as well as its meager assets seem to question the United Nations’ capability to affect any major improvements in Haiti. It is also unclear whether the Haitian communities have what it takes to change their destiny since, ultimately, it is a Haitian problem. The democratic ideas that many nations around the world cherish may be lost on people who cannot feed their children and who are afraid to walk in the streets.

Despite the positive official rhetoric, reports from Haiti indicate a growing unease of the Haitian people about the future. The threat to stability is contained in the ever-present violence, the increase in crime and the lack of economic recovery. The disarming process was not as successful as expected and paramilitary troops were able to hide their weapons before they could be confiscated. As a result, the "national conference of peasant groups...adopted a resolution last month [February 1995] calling the foreign military deployments a ‘useless presence’ and a ‘waste of money’ because they failed to root out...[the] gunmen." Aristide is also concerned that the remaining forces will not do enough to maintain security in the country and act as a reaction force only. Certainly, rules of engagement for the U.N. forces have become more complicated because they do not face a hostile military forces, but civilians with hostile intent. Security for the upcoming elections will be challenging as the U.N. forces do not have enough people "to guarantee the security of all candidates and voting booths" as some Haitian political leaders are demanding. Also troubling is the existence of only one party, which is headed by President Aristide. The one-party rule has been a continuous problem that violates the agreement between Presidents Aristide and Clinton. Since his return, the Haitian president has installed his own people in all governmental channels to include the military. John J. Tierney from the Heritage Foundation classifies Haiti at this point not as a budding democracy, but as a full-fledged dictatorship that is already erupting into violent political repression.

Restoring President Aristide to his office cost about $900 million; the U.N. Mission expense is estimated at $30 million per month; and the international aid package promises to become more than $1 billion, 25 percent of which will come from the United States. The final cost is yet to be seen. Ironically, this is not the first U.S. intervention in Haiti. In 1915, 330 U.S. troops occupied Haiti and stayed for 19 years leaving the country without having achieved the desired democratic objectives. Last year, 22,000 troops landed on the island, almost 20,000 have already departed and 2,400 remain. One can only hope that this time the outcome will be different and no further U.S. intervention in Haiti will be necessary, however, the historical record does not encourage optimism.



Guidance Revisited

At the same time the United States considered an intervention in Haiti, the administration approved the presidential directive reforming peace operations. As such, the Haiti dispute and the directive were considered together and influenced each other by both following the philosophy of establishing definite objectives, determining end-state goals and setting timelines. The U.S. experiences in Somalia enhanced the decision-making process and as the politicians were contemplating what to do about Haiti, they kept one aspect in mind; they wanted to be able to designate an end that would serve U.S. interests but prevent an open-ended, continuously expanding operation or "mission-creep." Even though this was not a large conventional conflict, the Powell legacy of fast, decisive action seems to have permeated all aspects of military intervention thought and aroused expectations that the problems in Haiti could be solved quickly by inserting a large contingent of U.S. forces. The United States succeeded in maintaining the prearranged agreement for prompt withdrawal, and although the U.S. forces’ exit was delayed, it basically completed the limited mission to which it signed up. It is questionable, however, whether the short-term U.S. involvement was enough and if the situation can be remedied permanently with U.N. assistance. If the United Nations fails in its attempt to restore Haiti to a peaceful existence with hope for prosperity then what remains of the pay-off for the U.S. invasion efforts? It is also questionable how the United States can claim to have terminated its actions in Haiti when 2,400 troops remain on the island under U.N. control. Surely the United States must have known that returning democracy to Haiti was an highly difficult if not impossible task. As already discussed throughout this study, experts agree that to build a democracy from scratch is a slow, painful and very expensive effort with no guarantee of success.

The accounts from Haiti range from hopeful to terrible, and it is difficult to decide whether the many writers consider this the case of a glass half full or half empty. As with Somalia, the American public would like to think that the U.S. military intervention has set Haiti on a course to success and the cost and efforts were not wasted. Only time will tell if the Haitians are capable of resurrecting their country from shambles with the help of the U.N.-sponsored mission. The local elections in June and the presidential elections in December will provide the best indications what the future may hold for this fearful, run-down nation. However, the outlook remains gloomy.


On the surface, operation Uphold Democracy went as planned. The U.S. decision to intervene in Haiti may have been motivated by domestic politics, however, the mission succeeded in returning Haiti’s legally elected president to office. At the same time, the majority of the U.S. forces withdrew with minimal delay and without getting caught up in a "mission-creep" such as further peace-enforcement or nation-building. However, the U.S. intervention can be called only a limited success because 2,400 U.S. soldiers stayed behind as part of a 6,000-person U.N. contingent safeguarding the country that any day may slip into the same chaotic state that prompted the invasion. Haiti is plagued by extensive political, economic, social, cultural and environmental problems and the United Nations does not have the resources to undertake the massive nation-building efforts this disaster-torn country requires. Crime and violence are on the rise and the economy has not improved.

From the beginning of the operation, the United States planned a limited involvement and, having learned the hard way in Somalia, insisted on a set timeline as well as well-defined objectives. Although the United Nations provided both, the military commander faced some of the same problems as did the commanders in Africa. Once again, the mission of "securing an environment" was open to interpretation and the U.S. troops were required to remain in Haiti for almost three months after the commander declared the objective was achieved. However, this time the role of the military commanders and planners in the determination of the end state was very pro-active since the Haiti interagency task group included the military members in the planning process from the beginning. To both the political and military leaders the end-state conditions were an important factor in the planning as specified by the presidential directive on peace operations.

In spite of the positive official rhetoric, many predict the same fate for Haiti as witnessed in Somalia. Returning one man to his homeland does not make that country a democracy. If the end state is a democratic Haiti then it will take many years, not six or 12 months of intensive support to restore the Caribbean nation to a healthy, self-reliant society. For the most part, only the Haitians themselves can change the course of events. However, history indicates that there is not much reason for hope or optimism.

The last chapter reviews and compares the termination process in Somalia and Haiti and draws several conclusions.

Chapter 5: Conclusion and Lessons

The question of war termination is not an issue of whether the nation should devote sufficient military means to achieve the chosen political objectives. It is rather a matter of effective coordination in development of objectives and strategies at the critical juncture between the political leadership and the military commander.

Bruce C. Bade

War Termination: Why Don’t We Plan for It?



In the Somalia operations the end state was never clearly defined. Thus, the U.S. involvement was open-ended, which resulted in a U.S. presence that went beyond what the American public intended or was willing to finance. Since the initial guidance did not include an exit strategy, it was up to the military commander to start planning conflict termination at the tactical level and forward it up the chain of command for political approval. This worked only for a short time. Soon the political events and the U.N. goals overcame this process, and the initially limited mission objectives continued to expand until the administration was left no choice but to recall U.S. troops short of achieving the desired end state. Therefore, the first conclusion of this study is that when the political leadership does not provide a clear end state, the military leadership’s only alternative is to propose an exit strategy from the bottom up. This solution may, however, be inadequate.

Political and military leaders contemplating the Haiti intervention were determined not to repeat the same mistakes and applied many of the lessons from Somalia to their planning. Although the U.N. mandate contained a broad objective of a "secure and stable environment," the U.S. portion of the mission was narrowly defined to "secure the environment to restore President Aristide to office" and was aimed at preventing another Somalia-type "mission creep" by ensuring the American active participation could be accomplished in a specified timeframe. The military commanders and planners from the U.S. Atlantic Command as well as the Joint Staff were involved from the beginning in the conflict termination planning. Thus, the second conclusion of the study is that improved results can be expected when the political and military establishments jointly define the end state and develop the accompanying exit strategy prior to the beginning of the conflict.

The U.S. experiences in Somalia and Haiti highlight the many dilemmas a nation and its military commanders face while trying to develop viable, workable end states once the country has chosen to participate in a conflict. The case studies illustrate how domestic and worldwide concerns will try to influence the leaders’ decisions. Political and military leaders need to understand that determining the end state in a multinational conflict is a highly complex process that, by necessity, will require diplomacy and will often result in general, broad mission statements. Unless the United States distances itself from these coalition endeavors it will have to learn to deal with end states that are acceptable politically to all the participants. Lastly, the third conclusion to be drawn is that, in all cases, developing a viable exit strategy will be difficult and fluid.

The burden will remain with the military commanders to translate vague political objectives into a military strategy with workable end states and hope that the planning is as close to the actual anticipated events as possible. The commanders are integral to the political process and must be able to anticipate changes, advise political leaders about military capabilities as well as limitations and adjust the termination conditions as needed. The idea that the military should only focus on winning the conflict with minimum harm to its forces and maximum damage to the enemy while letting the political leaders worry about the rest does not have much credibility. In operations other than war, it is imperative that the various instruments of power be fully integrated for a synergistic effect.

Political and Military Lessons

Most of the available literature suggests that it is necessary to consider conflict termination prior to a conflict and that not enough time is dedicated to its planning. That may be a reasonable criticism because most Americans expect the end state to "take care of itself." But it is also a possibility that everyone expects too much from such exit strategies and termination planning. Even a precise end state will not ensure success in advance, and it may not prevent failures. Conflict termination is an art that cannot be reduced to metrics or numbers; it is not a science. Commanders will not have prescriptions to follow; rather, they will have to resort to their own best judgment.

One should not forget, however, that conflicts other than war are vulnerable to the same fog and friction phenomena as conventional wars. As situations change unexpectedly, even the best defined and most carefully thought-out termination plans will require revisions. Consequently, a planned end state and a predetermined termination date do not guarantee the withdrawal will be allowed to proceed as planned. Haiti is a perfect example that even an agreement that was signed prior to the ensuing conflict can be altered in such ways as to accommodate another participant’s needs. The more participants, the more differences will surface in dealing with each of their perspectives, perceptions and expectations. Additionally, both case studies made it clear that terminating a conflict may not necessarily lead to conflict resolution whether or not the declared end state clearly specifies it.

Operations other than war will require a different mindset from both the political and military communities. Involvement in these conflicts does not instill in the American people the sense of sacrifice that a conventional war does since national security is not at stake. Additionally, in many cases the military arm alone will not be able to solve the underlying problems and political leaders need to remember the limitations of the military instrument of power in low intensity conflicts. Peacekeeping, for example, is a unique job and military forces "must always have a rifle in one hand and a shovel in the other...." As Somalia and Haiti demonstrate, the Colin Powell legacy of short, quick interventions with an overwhelming force failed to gain the desired end state. In Somalia, 30,000 troops were asked to restore a country of seven million people engaged in a civil war. It should be no surprise that they did not succeed. In Haiti, 6,000 troops were asked to bring democracy to five million people who had never experienced it and to complete their mission by the beginning of 1996. Few should be surprised if, in the end, Haiti turns out to be another Somalia. Unless the intervening nation is willing to occupy the territory in question and assume all the responsibilities that go along with that occupation, military forces are likely to provide a merely temporary reprieve. Rebuilding countries from despair will always take more resources, money and time than most nations are willing to give.

Conceptual thinking about end states and conflict termination needs to be a part of the planning process, and it is time to include post-hostility actions in the military mindset. However, exit strategies should not become the means to an end. Planning must account for shifts in the political process and deal with belligerents who are willing to wait out the intervention. In general, the planning must be flexible enough to accommodate changes in the national will.

What are the real lessons? The end state has to be regarded as a continuum, and no predetermined end state will survive the first contact with a hostile environment. Exit planning is merely a tool providing a road map for the military to commence actions towards a perceived end state as dictated by the national will. The problem is that in the beginning of the conflict, it is difficult to discern what the public will support; and by the time the politicians find out the people’s true intent, the country is fully engaged in action. Yet each involvement brings valuable lessons. Operation Desert Storm did not repeat the mistakes of Vietnam, and Rwanda did not become another Somalia.

Politicians and military commanders are learning the importance of thorough planning. However, planning for intervention is not enough. Actions in Somalia and Haiti were terminated when the national will to champion these operations other than war disappeared. As a result, the military operations achieved only those goals the American public was willing to support. Maybe the true lesson is that both civilian and military leaders still have much to learn about operations other than war and the United States may have to be willing to stop categorizing these missions as either a success or a failure. Finally, no matter what the military planning process determines, it will be the American people who will ultimately dictate the end based on their confidence in the political as well as military leadership, thus balancing the variables in Clausewitz’s remarkable trinity.




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