Herbert A. Friedman
I have entitiled this article Operation Uphold Democracy, but the
campaign has also been called Operation Restore Democracy, and even Operation Maintain Democracy. The confusion seems to be from the fact that there were two distinct plans of action about the intervention into Haiti , both peaceful and by force. There were also two different taskforces formed, one from the 10th Mountain Division and one from the 18th Airborne Corps. There have been reports of other unnamed causes for the duplication in names. Regardless of the name, the story is the same, the U.S. Intervention in Haiti in 1994. Haiti
In December 1990, the people of
elected former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide as President with 67% of the vote. He took office in February 1991, but the military overthrew him in September of the same year. Joseph Nerette, who held power with the help of the armed forces, replaced him. In June 1992, Marc Bazin, who ruled as Prime Minister, not as president, replaced Nerette. In June 1993, Bazin resigned and the United Nations passed Resolution 970 which imposed an oil and arms embargo aimed at forcing the Haitian military to the negotiating table. As a direct result of the embargo, over 21,000 Haitians left the poverty-stricken country, many attempting to illegally enter the Haiti . United States
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
General Raoul Cedras
General Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian armed forces, signed an agreement on 3 July 1993, which approved the return of President Aristide by 30 October 1993. These were known as the
Governors IslandAccords and consisted of 10 statements. The Accords said in part;
The President of the
Republicof Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces of , Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras have agreed that the following arrangements should be made Haiti
of the President of the Republic, Jean-Bertrand Aristide on 30 October 1993. Haiti
Verification by the United Nations and the Organization of American States of fulfillment of all the foregoing commitments...
An amnesty granted by the President of the Republic
Adoption of a law establishing the new police force
USS Harlan County
On 8 October, the USS Harlan County carrying peacekeepers to help with the transition of power attempted to dock in Port-au Prince. An armed mob turned the ship away.
The United States Army Special Operations Command Historical Monograph: Operation Uphold/Restore/Maintain Democracy: the role of Army Special Operations, November 1991-June 1995, points out that PSYOP personnel supporting Joint Task Force Haiti entered the country the day before the arrival of the USS Harlan County and then found themselves playing a game of cat and mouse with the Haitian military after President Clinton was pressured to withdraw the ship.
President Clinton, infuriated, authorized Joint Task Force 180 under the 18th Airborne Corps to develop plans to intervene in
. The political and human rights climate deteriorated as the military sanctioned repression, assassination, torture, and rape to terrorize and control the Haitian people. In May 1994, the military appointed Emile Jonassaint the provisional president. The United Nations and the Haiti countered this illegal action by introducing United Nations Resolution 917. This Resolution says in part: United States
Strongly urges all States to freeze without delay the funds and financial resources of (Haitian) persons to ensure that neither these nor any other funds and financial resources are made available, by their nationals or by any persons within their territory, directly or indirectly, to or for the benefit of such persons or of the Haitian military, including the police
Decides that all States shall prevent:
The import into their territories of all commodities and products originating in
and exported there from after the aforementioned date Haiti
Decides to prohibit any and all traffic from entering or leaving the territory or territorial
seaof Haiticarrying commodities or products the export of which from Haitior the sale or supply of which to would be prohibited Haiti
Task Force 180 was first authorized for the initial invasion, made up of the 82nd Airborne Division. On
29 July 1994, the 10th Mountain Division was authorized to form Joint Task Force 190 for the second phase, the occupation of Haiti after it had been taken by the airborne troops. On 31 July 1994, the UN adopted Resolution 940 authorizing member states to use force to free of military dictatorship and return Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. The Resolutions said in part: Haiti
Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, authorizes Member States to form a multinational force under unified command and control and, in this framework, to use all necessary means to facilitate the departure from Haiti of the military leadership, consistent with the Governors Island Agreement, the prompt return of the legitimately elected President and the restoration of the legitimate authorities of the Government of Haiti, and to establish and maintain a secure and stable environment that will permit implementation of the Governors Island Agreement
By summer of 1994, the sight of rickety wooden boats packed with starving Haitians trying to make landfall on the beaches of
was a daily sight on the evening news. Thousands were intercepted on the high seas by U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships and taken to Guantanamo Naval Base in Florida . The economy of Cuba was nonexistent, and the people had no choice but to flee in hope of a better life. The Haiti took the lead in forming a multinational force (MNF) to carry out the United Nation's mandate by means of a military intervention. The goal was to stop the illegal immigration, protect the people of United States , and stabilize that island with a legitimate constitutional government. Haiti
The USASOC Monograph says that on 18 June 1994 the
U.S.created a Military Information Support Team (MIST) in . The MIST consisted of soldiers from the 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) and a number of Creole speaking civilian linguists. Two radio stations were created: Radio Democracy, an FM station focused on delivering Aristide's message and Radio AM 940, which carried messages designed to deter Haitian immigration. One of the problems facing the Washington, DC WashingtonMIST was the availability of radios in to make a campaign built on that medium viable. As an interim solution to the problems, SOG aircraft parachuted 10,000 small radios complete with batteries into various urban centers in Haiti . Haiti
Translators and interpreters were Haitian born soldiers serving in the
Army. However, the pool of Haitian born soldiers was not large to begin with and secondly; Haitian Creole is an evolving language. Many of the soldiers used in the test audience had left United States long ago and were no longer current on language structure or contemporary slang. Haiti
Marine Fast Company Fighting Position on the Roof of the U.S. Embassy
By July 1994, things were so bad at the American Embassy that the Ambassador called a Marine FAST Company for added protection. There were intelligence reports that orders were given for American personnel were to be killed and the Embassy was to be attacked by the Ton Ton Macoute if Haiti was invaded by U.S. forces. The regular Marine Security guard detachment was responsible for internal security of the embassy but was ill equipped to handle the growing threat from the Haitian mobs and military. In July of 1994, the Marine Corps deployed 18 combat personnel from FAST Company to secure the embassy from any and all possible threats.
The Marines flew in civilian aircraft wearing civilian clothes and carrying diplomatic passports, but on an early trip their bullet-proof vests and helmets were confiscated by Haitian police. The Fast team then staggered their entry into four small groups and exited the planes on the taxiway and jumped into State Department vehicles before the waiting Haitian police could inspect their baggage. In the military we called that Lessons Learned.
The FAST Marines hardened the Embassy by building sandbag positions on the roof and fighting positions in the flower beds surrounding the embassy. The ground positions were concealed to keep up diplomatic appearances. During the next several months there were many attacks on the embassy, most of them sporadic small arms fire but at times the volume of fire was extensive; so much so that the Marines received a radio transmission one night from the Duty Officer of the USS Inchon asking if they were in need of immediate support.
Once operation Uphold Democracy began in late September, the FAST Marines mission was complete. They left the country in late October having endured months of attacks by organized and unorganized assailants, all without ever firing back. While there were many opportunities to engage gunman, there was never a threat of losing the Embassy and so the Marines displayed incredible discipline by adhered to their strict rules of engagement. The unit members were awarded the Marine Corps "Combat Action" ribbon, and also received the Armed Forces Expeditionary campaign medal for actions while deployed.
The military campaign was named Operation Uphold Democracy. Plans were made for either a military invasion or a peaceful entry into
. Operations Plan (OPLAN) 2370 was the military offensive with a massive invasion from air and sea with overwhelming force. OPLAN 2380 was developed for a peaceful permissive entry into Haiti . The operation's deployment phase began on Haiti 18 September 1994when the president, through the secretary of defense, issued the order to execute OPLAN 2370.
This operation is discussed in an interesting 1999 British Joint Services Command and
Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part: Staff College
government planned a military operation to force General Cedras to resign and to restore President Aristide.The PSYOPS support for this operation was divided in 2 phases; PSYOPS support prior to the invasion and PSYOPS support during the operation. US
PSYOPS staffs provided intelligence on regional, social and religious preferences of
. A Military Information Support Team (MIST) was set up in June 94. Its aims were to assist President Aristide to broadcast towards his country and to fight the Juntas propaganda. All the products delivered by the MIST had to be approved by President Aristide and the CINCUSACOM ( Haiti Atlantic Command). A series of 900 hours of broadcast were transmitted by the commando SOLO aircraft before any troops had landed on the island. These messages were carefully combined with popular programs of Haitian music and local news. To increase the impact of this campaign, 10,000 radio sets were sent to Commander in Chief, U.S. . There is no doubt that this operation influenced the final negotiations between General Cedras and Former President Jimmy Carter, which led to the resignation of the Junta on the 16 September 1994.Thus the landing of US troops took place in a relatively peaceful environment. Haiti
Former President Jimmy Carter, Senator Samm Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell
Almost 4000 American paratroopers were on their way to invade
on Haiti 19 September 1994when the Haitian military lost its nerve and agreed to a peaceful transition of government. Lieutenant Colonel David Bentley tells the story in Operation Uphold Democracy: Military Support for Democracy in . He says: Haiti
Shortly before the commencement of Uphold Democracy, a last diplomatic effort was attempted. Former President Jimmy Carter, accompanied by Senator Sam Nunn and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, went to
Haitiand met with the de facto rulers of , General Cedras and the illegitimate President Emile Jonaissant. Late in the night of September 18, while airborne forces from Haiti Ft. Braggwere en route to Haiti, an agreement was signed calling for Haitian military and police forces to cooperate with the military and for Cedras and his cronies to retire and leave the country peacefully. The synergy resulting from the combined diplomatic/military approach brought about the agreement which meant that the invasion plans had to be changed literally overnight. While U.S. military forces would have quickly overwhelmed the Haitian military and police, this negotiated solution saved lives on both sides, made the task of securing Haiti for Aristide's return easier, and avoided awakening of nationalist anti-U.S. sentiment which might have occurred had fighting taken place. U.S.
As a result, American troops entered the country peacefully and without bloodshed. The
military and the multi-national force eventually numbered over 23,000 troops from over a dozen nations. General Cedras and his military staff left United States and President Aristide returned on Haiti 15 October 1994. The multinational force recovered nearly 33,000 weapons through buybacks, discovering caches, and roadblocks. The flood of refugees from , 3,000 per day in July 1994, virtually stopped. The Haiti repatriated more than 13,000 Haitians home. United States
Douglas Waller mentions the military-PSYOP connection in an article entitled "How a Spec Ops Campaign Saved Lives," Armed Forces Journal International, June 1995. Some of his comments are:
One reason the casualties were so low: the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA waged what one Department of Defense memo termed an "unprecedented psychological operations campaign."
The PSYOP units involved in the Operation Uphold Democracy were the 2nd and 4th PSYOP Groups, and the 1st and 9th PSYOP Battalions.
Humiliated in Somalia, the Clinton administration was desperate for the generals to leave Haiti without bloodshed. The White House formed a PSYOP Working Group to decide on themes each week for radio and leaflet messages. A Ft. Bragg team set up a makeshift studio near the Pentagon, which Aristide used to tape speeches for daily broadcasts.
Fearing Aristide might slip in incendiary allusions to torturing opponents as he had in the past speeches, the PSYOP Working Group had Haitian linguists screen each speech. But Aristide, who was being gently coached by US officials ahead of time, never had to be edited. I have come to ring the bell of reconciliation, he pledgedexactly the theme the psy-warriors wanted conveyed to assure Haitians he would not seek political revenge when he returned."
It is interesting to note that the author makes an allusion to "incendiary" but does not elaborate. Aristides followers were known to dress political enemies in a "Pere Lebrun," a rubber tire placed around the neck and set on fire. The New American, Vol. 13, No. 3, 1997 describes Aristide thusly: " Has been on video extolling the hideous practice of "necklacing" -- the placing of a gasoline-soaked burning tire around the neck of a victim -- as "attractive, splendorous, graceful, and dazzling."
He allegedly said in a televised speech of 27 September 1992, "A faker who pretends to be one of our supporters, just grab him; make sure he gets what he deserves the burning tire. What a beautiful tool! What a beautiful instrument! Its fashionable. It smells good. Wherever you go, you want to smell it."
There were others that were very critical of President Aristide. Canadian Lynn Garrison was an advisor to Haiti's ruler, Lieutenant General Raoul Cedras and the interface between the American embassy and the Haitian military during the 1991 to 1994 period. He said in regard to the American propaganda broadcasts that few Haitians listened to them. The Hercules radio broadcasts were so tepid that no one listened. He claimed that many Haitians believed the radio transmitters were actually based inside the American embassy. Instead, they tended to listen to Aristides taped broadcasts on local radio stations that were much more volatile than the ones transmitted from the C-130s.
He added that allowing Aristide to return to power was to be in coordination of the building of a new Forces Armees d'Haiti (FAdH) that would be strong enough to keep the dictator under control. The new Army still exists on paper but was never built. This gave Aristide free reign in Haiti. Garrison concludes:
Aristide is a major criminal but holds many dossiers on high-level people he bribed. Because of this he will never face justice for his murders, massive thefts of funds or control of the cocaine business.
Operation Uphold Democracy restored the democratically elected government of
and for the most part, halted the illegal emigration. On Haiti 31 March 1995, the handed over the peacekeeping responsibilities to United Nations Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). Thirty four nations sent contingents to the UNMIH which reached about 6,000 troops by June 1995. In September 1995, the force had dropped to 2,500 American soldiers out of a total of 6,000 UN peacekeeping troops, and 800 UN civilian police, drawn from thirty-one countries. United States
The major American forces involved in the peaceful occupation were from the 18th Airborne Corps and the 10th Mountain Division. The PSYOP units were part of a Joint Psychological Operations Task Force. They included parts of the 4th PSYOP Group, 2nd United States Army Reserve PSYOP Group, 1st PSYOP Battalion, and the 9th PSYOP Battalion.
Dr. Robert Baumann and Dr. John Fishel discussed the PSYOP used during the campaign in depth in an article entitled Operation Uphold Democracy. Some selected comments are:
Closely related to the civil affairs effort was the PSYOP campaign conducted by
forces in and around U.S. . Given the delicacy of native perceptions about the role of Haiti forces and Multinational Forces in U.S. , the American-directed information campaign was essential to preserving a psychological climate conducive to fulfillment of the military mission, the restoration of Aristide, and the eventual conduct of national elections. Haiti
Execution of the PSYOP campaign began in advance of ground operations in September. On August 22-23, for example, the Air Force conducted a leaflet drop at St. More. A typical leaflet displayed the words "democracy," "prosperity," "opportunity," "education," and "law," overlaying a drawing of three persons moving into the sunlight. From September 13-17, roughly 7 million leaflets were released over
, Port-au-Prince , and Les Cayes. Cap Haitien
A major part of American efforts was the use
of EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft for radio broadcast operations by the 4th Psychological
Operations Group working through the Air Force 193d Special Operations Group (of the
Pennsylvania Air National Guard). To facilitate the effectiveness of the broadcast
campaign, the Air Force dropped roughly 10,000 radios across parts of
TPT with Loudspeakers
From the beginning of operations in the country, both Joint Task Force (JTF) 180 and JTF 190 incorporated tactical PSYOP teams (TPTs) with loudspeakers. Each team normally consisted of four persons, although some split into two-person teams in support of remote Special Forces operations. Those TPTs that would have supported a forced entry were armed with taped messages in Creole demanding immediate surrender.
Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Arata adds in an article entitled Psychological Operations in
, Small Wars Journal, April 2005: Haiti
United Statesmilitary arrived in to begin operations, several internal Haitian threats faced us. These included the population, the environment, the Haitian Army (Forces Armée d'Haïti or FADH), and the Revolutionary Front for Hatian Advancement and Progress (FRAPH). The threat from the Haitian population included the common criminal element, large crowds and the threat of riots, and Haitian on Haitian violence. This included retaliation and retribution by the Haitian people towards former FAD'H members. Haiti
offered a challenging environment for PSYOP employment. Literacy is low, and Haitian society relies on word-of-mouth communication. Official news broadcasts and publications are viewed with suspicion. Rumors are the preferred source of information, and credibility is judged by how well the listener knows the person repeating the rumor. Anyone in a uniform is to be mistrusted and even feared. Haiti
The 4th PSYOP Group booklet PSYOP Support to Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY adds:
They were often effective. When an Angry mob of some 2,000 Haitians surrounded a military headquarters in Gonavies seeking revenge, a mobile loudspeaker team played a Garth Brooks country music tape and lured the curious crowd out of the town.
Tactical PSYOP Teams would eventually conduct over 760 ground PSYOP missions covering an area from the northern tip of Haiti near Port-de-Paix to the southwestern city of Jeremie. Aerial loudspeaker teams flew 67 missions in support of ground operations, facilitating PSYOP dissemination in the rugged and mountainous regions bordering the Gulf of Gonave and in other denied areas.
LTC Arata discusses loudspeaker use:
Next, PSYOP teams would use their loudspeakers and linguists to communicate the consequences of certain actions. Finally, they would give directions for subsequent actions or movement. Tactical PSYOP teams also helped with the seeking out and capture of several known members of the FRAPH who were wanted by the joint task force headquarters for questioning. In early October, one task force planned a series of raids on suspected locations of members of an activist political organization and other hostile individuals known as attaches. The tactical commander decided to use a graduated response tactic that began with TPTs broadcasting surrender messages, followed by a countdown sequence. Approximately 80% of the individuals at each objective surrendered and the rest offered no resistance when the assault team entered the building. Not a shot was fired during the entire operation. Again, a well-planned and well executed PSYOP campaign, in direct support of the tactical commanders mission and intent, was invaluable to the successful and safe accomplishment of the mission.
In the Special Operations History magazine Veritas, Volume 11, No. 1, 2015, Dr. Jared Tracy wrote about Haiti in an article entitled A True Force Multiplier Psychological Operations in Operation Uphold Democracy, 1994-1995. Some of the loudspeaker messages mentioned by Tracy are:
Encouraged pro-Cedras militants to lay down their arms; Neighborhood crime watch; preventing Haitian-on-Haitian crime violence; political reconciliation; No to violence, no to vengeance, yes to reconciliation; Support Aristide; Turn in you weapons for cash.
Some Initial problems
One of the major PSYOP problems in
Other problems according to the USASOC Monograph arose when field commanders and staff officers began to impose their views on product development. A PSYOP officer explained: Haitian is a very abrupt language. You don't say, Please move back. You say, Move back now or you might be killed. Several staff officers took issue with the term killed and ordered it changed. None of the officers involved had any working knowledge of psychological operations let alone expertise in Haitian language or, culture.
There was also a seeming lack in interest to have PSYOP soldiers enter with the first waves. XVllIth Airborne Corps planners were only willing to dedicate a minimum number of assets to psychological operations. In one instance, a PSYOP unit and its equipment were temporarily displaced from a scheduled flight in favor of a supply of Port-A-Johns. Apparently, crappers had priority over trained psychological operators.
Another problem occurred since the original invasion plan called for US forces to capture intact radio stations as well as newspaper equipment. The peaceful landing left those facilities in Haitian hands. The Joint PSYOP Task Force had to request $750,000 to cover operating costs and material expenses over the next six months and immediate funding to cover costs for the first ten days of the operation. The money was forthcoming and it was only a matter of days before PSYOP leaflets, billboard advertisements, and radio messages were having their impact on the Haitian population.
Army Reserve magazine of spring 1995 mentioned the
operation. It featured several photographs of reservists handing out 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" leaflets with pictures of Aristide that encourage national reconciliation. Some of the article text is: Haiti
Using language capability, cultural sensitivity and information technology, the PSYOP soldiers create a combat multiplier effect giving the
forces an edge in many kinds of conflict situations. Over 80% of U.S. PSYOP forces are Army Reservists, and in October, U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (USACAPOC) established the 2nd PSYOP Group, a composite unit made up of Army Reserve PSYOP soldiers from across the nation. In U.S. , PSYOP was tasked with supporting the 8,600 combat troops of the 10th Mountain Division as they oversaw the peaceful change over of the Haitian government. Haiti
On the subject of the 2nd Group, The winter 1996 issue of Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association is dedicated to the
intervention. The 2nd Group deployed 67 reservists to Haiti , assigned from Cap Hatien in the north to Jeremy Jagmel in the south. They put 18 loudspeaker teams in the field. Haiti
There are only two leaflets that are known to have been dropped before the American intervention into
. The first depicts a formal black and white portrait of President Aristide with a Haitian flag in the background. The back of this leaflet has five lines of blue text in Creole: Haiti
THE SUN OF DEMOCRACY. THE LIGHT OF JUSTICE. THE WARMTH OF RECONCILIATION WITH THE RETURN OF PRESIDENT ARISTIDE.
The New York Times of
September 15, 1994featured a Reuters photograph of hundreds of the above leaflets showing deposed President Aristide on the streets of an unidentified Haitian city. The caption is, "A U.S. plane dropped leaflets in supporting the exiled President." The British Broadcasting Company announced on 14 September that two million leaflets were dropped over Haiti and two other cities asking the population to support the Port-au-Prince invasion and demanding the return of US 's ousted President Jean-Bertand Aristide. One published report states that seven million leaflets were dropped on Haiti , Les Cayes and Cap Hatien from 13-17 September. Another says that three million leaflets were dropped on the night of 14 September. A third report states that the Aristide leaflets were dropped over Port-au-Prince and La Plaine during the early morning hours of 10 September. There seems to be much confusion about where and how many leaflets were dropped, but it is clear that before the Americans hit the beaches, the people of Port-au-Prince had been psychologically prepared for the intervention. Haiti
Veritas mentions several leaflets and gifts. Generic leaflets such as the Aristide portrait were prepared prior to the operation. There was a platoon-sized product development Detachment that printed all of the posters, leaflets and handbooks that were disseminated in Haiti. The PSYOP teams also distributed pro-Aristide buttons, T-shirts and radios. 20,000 calendars were printed and they were extremely popular. Pen, pencils, notebooks, bumper stickers and soccer balls were also popular among the Haitians. US PSYOP teams printed a newsletter entitled the Cap-Hatien Newsletter. By February 1995, ten issues of the newsletter were printed and 60,000 copies had been distributed throughout Cap-Hatien. Although the leaflets were not coded, the Army did have an internal identification code for all their leaflets:
Leaflet 4A-01-02L informed Haitians U.S. Forces have arrived to restore democracy to your country.
On 4 October PSYOP teams distributed 1,500 leaflets promoting weapons buyback, 700 leaflets explaining Haitian rights and responsibilities, and 700 miscellaneous leaflets.
On 12 October handbills were disseminated supporting the new police; from 12 to 14 October 2,000 pro-Aristide leaflets were distributed as well as campaign buttons.
The Associated Press reported:
Pro-army militiamen beat up some people trying to pick up the American leaflets, which announce the return of
's elected president. Capital Police Chief Michel Francois was heard on the police band ordering soldiers to shoot at the aircraft as they flew over at Mindful of uniformed and plainclothes soldiers and auxiliaries, nervous people intentionally ignored fliers dropped downtown within blocks of the National Palace, seat of the government installed by the army in May, and Haitian army headquarters. Soldiers picked up the fliers that fell on Bel Air before the people could even read them. When the plane flew over, the soldiers at the post cordoned off our area and fired their automatic weapons into the air. Haiti
The second leaflet depicts a radio at the far right with the frequency of the American-sponsored government station, a map of
and the flags of the Haiti and United States at the left. The text is: Haiti
Help us to help you. Listen to Radio 1080 AM 24 hours a day.
The back is all text,
The American Army has arrived to re-establish democracy. For your own and your family's safety, follow the advice below: Remain calm. Stay indoors. Keep away from windows. Do not form in groups on the street. Leave the American Army alone to work. Do not block traffic. Listen to the radio on 1080 for information. For more information tune your radio to 1080 AM."
This leaflet was dropped along with portable radios on
15 September 1994.
Speaking of the portable radios, Tracy mentions the radios handed out to Haitians so that they could hear the American programming several times. Some of his comments are:
An earlier airdrop of 10,000 radios had broadened the listening audience; [On 12 October] 1,300 radios were distributed around Port au Prince; [Between 12 and 14 October] 2,100 radios were distributed.
Tracy mentions that the small portable radios that were given to the local people were bought in bulk at Radio Shack. Some of the PSYOP radio messages were:
Violence is not an answer to the road to peace and reconciliation; The new year is a chance to reconcile, start anew, and give peace a chance;
Make your community a safer place to live. Support and join your community watch program.
A Haitian who was on the ground during the drop makes an interesting observation. Admittedly he is Pro-Army and anti-Aristide but he says:
I had an opportunity to view the American PSYOP projects from inside of
. The C-130s were a waste of fuel since their broadcasts were much milder than ones already being broadcast on the local Haitian radio stations. Contrary to the propaganda, there was no censorship of Haitian media. They said some awful things about General Cedras. Radio Tropic, one of the most vocal, was just around the corner from Grand Quartier General, the military headquarters. The Americans were broadcasting to Haitians who knew the truth. There was no systematic violence or rape. The military was blamed for many things through very effective propaganda controlled by Aristide. Haiti
I can remember the night when low flying 130s dumped radios all over the place. Many of these were turned in to the police, while Haitians claimed to have converted others so they could listen to Radio Superstar. Loads of leaflets could be seen cluttering the streets. I saved a few.
The Rand Corporation makes an interesting comment on what seems to be this radio leaflet in their Organization Publication MR 1287, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield for Urban Operations.
One proposed PSYOP campaign developed for Operation Restore Democracy in
might prove illustrative of why perception assessment is necessary. Prior to deployment, leaflets were published informing the Haitian populace of Haiti intentions. The original leaflet was published in Dutch, the language of the Haitian elite. The one actually used for the PSYOP campaign was published in Creole, the official language of U.S. , because an astute PSYOP team member realized the need to publish to the wider audience. If the Dutch flier had been dropped on Haiti , it could have undermined the American mission to the country in several ways. The majority of the population would have been unable to read the flier. The subsequent deployment of Port-au-Prince forces into the country therefore, could have been perceived to be hostile. The mission itself, which was intended in part to restore equity within the nations social structure, could have backfired if the Haitians viewed the Dutch flier as an indication of U.S. favoritism to the Haitian elite. U.S.
The New York Times said on 16 September that:
Paramilitary forces seized many of the thousands of radios that were dropped from an American plane that flew over the capital after President Clinton's speech. Because the security forces have beaten those who stopped to pick up pro-Aristide leaflet scattered in earlier airplane forays, many people today simply ignored the latest flyer, dropped last night which proclaims that "The road to a prosperous future begins with democracy."
Three small leaflets circulated about the time of the American entry. They are not the standard 6 x 3-inch leaflet size. They are 6 x 2-inch in size, black and white line drawings, crude in production and with blank backs. Very little is known about them, but it has always been assumed that they were CIA products.
One shows a rifle round covered by a "prohibited" symbol at the left and an armed soldier exploding at the right. The text is:
There is going to be an explosion. We have destroyed some weapons.
The second shows two soldiers throwing their weapons down on a pile of rifles and pistols. The text is:
Remain where you are. Put your rifles on the ground.
The final leaflet shows a thug holding a club over his head. He is covered with the "prohibited" symbol. The text is:
Don't seek vengeance.
One of the great fears of the multinational forces was that the Haitian people would rise up and attack the former police and military that had terrorized them for so many years.
In addition, there were a number of leaflets that were produced but not disseminated. These are standard 6 x 3-inch leaflets, certainly produced by the 4th PSYOP Group, but not approved for some reason. Perhaps they were meant to be used in case the Haitians resisted. All of the leaflets are in black and white.
The first leaflet shows two Haitians surrendering to an American soldier. A pile of weapons is at the left. There are seven lines of Creole text on the back:
This is how you conduct yourself upon arrest.
Remove all the bullets that are in your gun.
Tie a towel around the barrel of your gun.
Place you gun upside down on your shoulder.
Approach the multinational soldiers very slowly.
If you do these things,
all will go fine.
The next leaflet depicts an American soldier in front of a Haitian and American flag. Text on the back is:
The American force will arrive in this zone. They have come to work with leaders of the nation to re-establish law and order for the people of
The third leaflet has the same vignette of an American soldier in front of the Haitian and American flag. The text on the back is:
The American Army has arrived here to re-establish democracy in your country. Remain calm. Do not jeopardize military operations. The American Army will work with all speed to finish the job.
It was considered important to explain to the Haitian people why the Americans were there. The USASOC Monograph explains:
Some of the first products to reach the Haitian public explained why us forces were in
. Although few Haitians had any personal recollection of the Haiti Marine Corps presence in their country from 1915 to 1934, the Cedras regime had launched a psychological operations campaign of its own designed to reinforce the idea that the Americans would repeat the abuses of the Marine occupation. United States
The fourth leaflet shows a family walking toward a sunrise. Text on the front is:
Happiness. Democracy. Prosperity.
Three lines of text on the back are:
That which leads you to prosperity starts with democracy.
The fifth leaflet shows two clocks. One is at , one at The text is:
If you are out during the hours you can be arrested. Harm can come to you.
There are five lines of text on the back:
By order of the commander of the multinational force in
everyone must remain indoors every day from
10 o'clock at night to in the morning.
The sixth depicts a Haitian solder throwing his rifle away at the left, shaking hands with a
soldier at the right. A similar leaflet vignette was used during Desert Storm, (C54) except it was reversed because Arabs read from right to left. Text on the back is: U.S.
People who cooperate will be paid. People who cooperate will have jobs. People who cooperate will be part of
's future. Haiti
We mentioned earlier that there was a buy-back program for weapons. LTC Arata discusses this campaign:
Finally, one of the major programs that the infantry battalions, along with other units, were involved in was a weapons buy-back program. The intent of this program was to remove, voluntarily, dangerous weapons and munitions from the streets of
, in an effort not only to protect the local population, but also to enhance force protection for the soldiers in the multi-national force. Payment price increased according to how dangerous the item was or what operational condition the weapon was in. The better the condition of the weapon, the more money was paid to the Haitian turning it in. Although the intent of the program was worthy, it was the opinion of many that the weapon buy-back initiative was only marginally successful. Most weapons turned in were rusted and non-operational, and most explosives appeared unstable and perhaps posed a greater danger to the soldiers and Haitians handling them at the turn-in station. Haiti
The USASOC Monograph says that a campaign theme around a cash for guns program. It became apparent that there were considerable numbers of guns available that could be turned against US soldiers or used by various different factions within the Haitian population to terrorize their opponents. The gun buy-back program was complicated by the fact that the Haitian constitution sanctioned gun ownership. Because the
USentry into had been with the permission of the Haitian government, the constitution remained in effect. Only private ownership of military weapons, defined primarily as being capable of automatic fire, was banned by the Constitution. Over the three phased periods of the program, US forces seized 15,236 guns, most coming from various mlitary garrisons, and purchased another 10,196 from the people. Most were of poor quality and many were unserviceable. Haiti
The final rejected leaflet consists of three panes. At the left, a looter comes through a store window. In the center, a citizen informs a
soldier. At the right, the looter is arrested. Text on the back is: U.S.
HELP US HELP YOU. Support law and order. Report all criminals. Do not loot. Cooperate with the multinational force.
Two examples of cards
Two examples of bumper stickers
"They can beat you if you respect one another"
Waller specifically mentions the seed leaflet in his Armed Forces Journal article: "PSYOP succeeded in no small measure because 20,000 US soldiers were there to back up the message. Cleverly worded leaflets and slick radio ads by themselves will not bring stability. We can only sow the seeds of democracy." admitted the 4th PSYOP Group's Commander, Colonel Jeffrey Jones. The Haitians have to nurture the plant.
In addition to those leaflets prepared for, or used in the actual military landing, dozens of signs, bumper stickers, cards, posters and even T-shirts were prepared during the consolidation phase while the new government was taking power. Many were patriotic in nature and showed the flags of the
and United States in full color, or white doves of peace, clasped hands, and other signs of friendship between the American and Haitian people. Haiti
The USASOC Monograph adds:
In part due to the non-hostile nature of the
intervention, the Joint Psychological Task Force found itself with its most innovative environment to date for the dissemination of products. Messages appeared on T-shirts, bumper stickers, billboards, soccer balls, buttons, and street banners. Enthusiastic crowds turned out wherever PSYOP teams appeared to disseminate products. US
There were also the usual warnings against touching unexploded ordinance. Several leaflets warned children not to touch strange objects and pictured explosions. Some leaflets pictured the flags of the multinational nations to show the Haitians that they were supported by the world. Others featured the new police force in an attempt to show them as caring professionals, instead of the brutish thugs that beat civilians in the past.
This PSYOP product attempted to show the people of Haiti how to grow a democracy. According to Waller (see below), the message was unclear. Cultural differences can be confusing. I recall once attempting to teach the use of a 1:50,000 military map to a similar group. I showed them the contour lines and said "The map is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimension world." Confusion. It took quite a while to explain the concept of thin brown lines representing 20 vertical meters in the real world. It simply was not within their frame of reference.
There were additional leaflets that glorified President Aristide, or showed seeds being watered that grew into democracy and prosperity.
Waller mentions the Army's efforts in greater depth, "The Army's 4th PSYOP Group at
, divided Fort Bragg, NC 's population into 20 target groups to be bombarded with different types of leaflets. No detail was ignored. Radio broadcasts began with the crow of a rooster, the mascot for Aristide's party. Leaflets were printed in red and blue, the colors of Haiti 's flag. Haiti was avoided. It was the color of Orange 's hated military buildings." Haiti
About the preparation of the battlefield he says, " Two months before the September 19 intervention, the daily Commando Solo broadcasts began - from to and Market surveys showed many Haitians slept during the day because of the stifling heat.
The CIA had its own campaign to psyche out the Strongmen. Anonymous phone calls went out to Haitian soldiers warning that the regime's days were numbered. CIA planes did manage one air drop five days before the intervention; thousands of transistor radios were parachuted in so
's poor could tune into Commando Solo broadcasts." Haiti
On the subject of CIA operations in
, The New York Times said on 27 September, "President Clinton has approved a secret contingency plan that authorizes unspecified political activities to neutralize the opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, senior Administration officials said today. In addition, the $5 million plan authorizes the Central Intelligence Agency to spend $1 million on propaganda to help ease Father Aristide's return and to use covert means to protect American forces there from hostile groups, they added." Haiti
The following leaflets show some of the important themes and subjects prepared and disseminated by PSYOP troops during Operation Uphold Democracy.
This leaflet shows the flags of the nations of the Multinational Force and reminds the Haitians that the world is concerned for their welfare.
These leaflets show the new well-trained professional Haitian policeman and encourages the populace to listen to his instructions.
This is a unexploded ordinance-warning leaflet and reminds the children of
not to pick up odd items found on the ground. Haiti
This leaflet asks the people of
to turn in looters to the multinational forces. Haiti
Some American troops in Haiti were issued a small pointee-talkie booklet. The cover shows an American soldier in front of the flags of Haiti and the United States and the text "MWEN SE OU SOLDA AMERIKAN" ("I AM AN AMERICAN SOLDIER"). The 46-page booklet introduces the troops to Haiti's history, culture and religion, has a pronunciation guide, and ends with a number of Creole phrases and expressions. Some of the more interesting ones for soldiers in peril are:
Two pages from the pointee-talkie booklet
Picture showing an injured foot. "English: I am injured. Creole: Mwen Blese."
Picture showing a hand holding a banknote. "English: The Americans will reward you if you if you take me to them. Creole: Ameriken yo ap peye ou, si ou aide mwen alle kote yo ye."
Ambassadors of Peace Do's and Don'ts Card
The "Ambassadors of Peace" card was a complete lists of Do's and Don'ts issued to American troops who were in country supporting Operation Uphold Democracy.
Another interesting handout depicts a Haitian man attempting to beg gasoline from a US Army soldier in a Humvee. The soldier is clearly telling him "no" and the text warns the Haitians not to interfere with military operations. The back of this handout is blank.
1 and 20 Credit Notes
We dont know much about these credit notes. In some combat zones where change is short the military will occasionally print chits to be used as quarters or whatever is needed. There does not seem to be any need for change during the short Haiti operation. We dont know who printed these chits. We dont know why they are in Credit denominations, but one could make a case that they were to be used to pay civilian workers. Perhaps they were printed for the purpose of being redeemed for cash or goods? We can say that they are fairly professional looking, printed on a thin card stock, and bear the flags of the United States and Haiti and are similar to many of the paper products printed by PSYOP units. If anyone can tell us more we would be very thankful. The original finder is an old friend Garry Arva who was a First Sergeant in the 101st Airborne Division during Operation Desert Storm. He said:
I received them from a PSYOP unit soldier with the 82nd Airborne Division. I had two or three of each but found no one interested in them. I was told that they were never issued. They were made by whatever print unit from Fort Bragg went to Haiti for the operation. They were supposed to be used to pay civilian workers at the camp.
Lieutenant General Henry L. Shelton, Commanding Officer of the 18th Airborne Corps had this to say about PSYOP in Haiti:
"As Commander of Joint Task Force 180 during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, it is my belief that the integration of psychological operations early in the planning process was critical to the successful execution of the operation. Long before any American military forces stepped ashore, PSYOP helped us quickly accomplish our political and military objectives by semi-permissive operations. Without a doubt, PSYOP won the hearts and minds of Haiti's citizens, as well as setting the stage for the peaceful accomplishment of the Joint Task Force's mission.
There is no question PSYOP saved lives, on both sides, during operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY. It proved to be the unsung, yet vitally important, factor in this operation. A true combat multiplier."
Commando Solo over
We mentioned the use of the EC-130 Commando Solo aircraft many times during the American intervention in
. A major earthquake struck southern Haiti Haition 12 January 2010, knocking down buildings and power lines and inflicting what its ambassador to the United Statescalled a catastrophe for the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. It is estimated that over 100,000 people died in the earthquake and as many as one million are homeless. The magnitude 7.0 quake, the most powerful to hit Haitiin a century, struck shortly before 5 p.m. and was centered about 10 miles southwest of . Port-au-Prince
Because of the loss of power and destruction of radio stations, a
U.S.Air Force EC-130J Commando Solo was sent to broadcast news and information to survivors from the skies over . These specially modified aircraft, which are operated by Air Force Special Operations Commands 193rd Special Operations Wing, can broadcast their own signal over AM and FM radio, UHF and VHF television bands. Haiti
The aircraft relay live broadcasts of Voice of
Americacall-in shows in s national language, Creole. The plane also broadcasts pre-recorded public service announcements with practical advice like information on emergency sanitation. There are also pre-recorded warnings to discourage Haitians from trying to attempt a dangerous ocean crossing to Haiti . In this case a combat multiplier weapon has been used to save lives and ease the pain of a suffering people. Florida
The author encourages interested readers who may have additional information or personal experiences with Haiti and Operation Uphold Democracy to write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 3 April 2005