SOLLIMS Sampler Volume 10, Issue 1 - Page 13

came to appreciate the U.S. military/security forces and their ability to oversee civil security/ public order. Of note, culture shock (due to gaps and deficiencies in cultural awareness preparation/ training) was a significant, adverse factor in the overall security equation – handicapping 10th Mountain Division’s performance of its security mission: Culture shock also made American troops more than willing to follow strict orders to limit contacts with the local population. An information packet on Haitian culture and history distributed to American soldiers aimed at increasing cultural awareness, but it contained so many inaccuracies that it proved counterproductive. As a result, many soldiers saw all Haitians as Voodoo sorcerers ready to throw magic powders in their face and to attack them with HIV-infected syringes. …Gen. David C. Meade, who commanded the 10th Mountain Division and took over as head of the entire multinational force in October 1994, insisted that his troops stay inside heavily protected barracks, and that they not talk or give food to anyone outside. …Such strict orders contradicted FM 41-10, the standard field manual on civil-military affairs, which encourages "direct involvement with the civilian populace" and lists among an occupying force's main duties the protec- tion of law and order and the prevention of human rights abuses. (Girard, pp. 6-7) In contrast to 10th Mountain Division, U.S. Army Special Forces did a much better job of appreciating the culture of the host nation and engaging its populace: While the main elements of the 10th Mountain Division operated out of Port-au- Prince and Cap Haitien, both regarded as centers of gravity in Uphold Democracy, the remainder of the country belonged to U.S. Army Special Forces in an ‘“economy of force” role. …As they radiated out from forward operating bases in Jacmel, Cap Haitien, and Gonaives (the “hubs”), SF A-Teams demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to local conditions and take the initiative. Above all, they quickly implemented a policy of maximum engagement of the populace. Their assessment upon arrival was that the threat to U.S. forces in Haiti was relatively low, and they reached out accordingly. Given their small numbers, Special Forces teams needed all available hands if they were to make a difference by their presence. They established contact with community leaders (or, on occasion, even appointed them if none could be found), patiently explained the nature of their mission, and enlisted the cooperation of locals in moving quickly to establish area security. … As they carried out arrests and engaged the population, Special Forces soldiers remained attuned to Haitian cultural concerns. They cuffed the hands of detainees in front of their bodies, rather than in back, the latter method having associations with slavery and thus regarded as particularly humiliating. In another instance, a Special Forces medic brought a Voodoo priest with him to treat a seriously ill Haitian patient. Rather than clash with Haitian beliefs about the spiritual dimensions of sickness, the medic applied conventional, modern medicine within the prevailing belief system of rural Haiti. (Kretchik, pp. 115-116 and 118) Closing Thought: “Uphold Democracy introduced U.S. forces into a culture vastly different from their own. Yet, in pIanning for the Haiti operation, the Army, in general, had little appreciation of Haitian history and culture. Few planners knew anything about Haiti, other than its basic geography. In a combat operation, where overwhelming firepower achieves objectives, sensitivity for the local population’s culture and traditions clearly is not a top Table of Contents | Quick Look | Contact PKSOI Page 12 of 36