SOLLIMS Sampler Volume 10, Issue 1 - Page 12

That said, U.S combat arms leaders/units were not properly prepared to carry out their mission (restore and preserve civil order; create a secure environment), as evidenced by the following early incidents: (1) The day after the mission began, on September 20, a tragic incident illustrated the initial illogic of the situation. Near the harbor, astonished and frustrated American troops stood by passively while members of the FAd’H lunged into a peaceful crowd that had gathered to celebrate and observe the extraordinary events unfolding in the capital. The police swiftly attacked the Haitian civilians and brutally beat one man to death. Witnessed by television crews and an international audience, the affair created a public relations crisis. In point of fact, similar incidents had already occurred outside the view of the media. …The painful result was a loss of prestige and legitimacy among the U.S. and the Multinational Force (MNF), not to mention their initial failure to establish order in Port-au-Prince.” (Kretchik et al, pp. 97-98) (2) The [U.S.] Marines began aggressive foot patrols upon arrival, thereby establish- ing a high-visibility presence. On September 24, as one such patrol led by a Marine lieutenant approached the Cap Haitien police station, FAd’H members outside began to make what the lieutenant perceived to be threatening gestures, including one man reaching for a weapon. The Marines opened fire (spraying the building with 1,000 rounds), killing ten of the FAd’H in a brief fight; no Marines were hit. …Major General David Meade [Commander, 10th Mountain Division] noted, news of the episode inevitably strained working relations with the FAd’H. …Word of the firefight spread like wildfire, first through- out Cap Haitien and then the entire country. The Haitian people in the main responded… On the following day, September 25, mobs in Cap Haitien looted four police stations. In a related occurrence, rioting and pillage broke out at a warehouse in the city. …Three days later, on the 29th, [an individual] hurled a grenade into a crowd at a ceremony marking the reinstallation of popular Port-au-Prince mayor, Evans Paul. To calm the capital, maneuver elements of JTF 190 poured into the city in force. (Kretchik, pp. 98-99) In contrast to combat arms units, U.S. Army MPs – trained for law enforcement and prepared to deal with the public – performed civil security/public order tasks with great skill and success. U.S. Military Police proved invaluable in many street situations in Port-au-Prince. More accustomed by training than infantrymen to carrying out arrests and other missions at the low end of the violence continuum, MPs demonstrated the ability to seize suspects, while exercising restraint and preventing situations that might have degenerated into exchanges of gunfire. In one instance, when a group of U.S. infantrymen was in pursuit of a notorious and armed fugitive, MPs on the scene calmly approached the suspect, instructed him to leave his vehicle and turn over his weapons, and took him into custody without creating any disturbance. The MPs exercised extraordinary latitude in the arrest and detention of suspects, who were taken to a holding facility upon apprehension. MPs at the facility had not only to maintain humane conditions but were prepared to receive attorneys, family members, and even diplomats who came to visit detainees. … Throughout Port-au-Prince, MPs began to take shifts at Haitian police stations, both to provide supervision and to set a professional example. (Kretchik, p. 104) Thanks in large part to the work of U.S. Army MPs in urban areas, the actions of U.S. Army Special Forces operating in rural areas (discussed below), and the subsequent efforts of the 25th Infantry Division (which relieved the 10th Mountain Division in January 1995), Haitians Table of Contents | Quick Look | Contact PKSOI Page 11 of 36