~ 720th Military Police Battalion Reunion Association History Project ~
Operation Restore Hope

     In the 1960’s American interest in the Horn of Africa region dates back to the Cold War when both the Soviet Union and the United States competed to gain allies and influence throughout the world. The United States established a presence, including communications listening posts, in the northern part of Ethiopia and backed the traditional regime of Emperor Haile Selassie. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, replaced the weakened Italian influence in neighboring Somalia and supported the authoritarian regime of Mohammed Siad Barre, who took power in 1969.

     1977 Somalia precipitated a disastrous war against Ethiopia and their situation grew worse. The country lapsed into sectarian and ethnic warfare run by regional warlords. This situation led the struggle over food supplies with each clan raiding the storehouses and depots of the others. Coupled with a drought, the actions brought famine to hundreds of thousands. Private and volunteer relief organizations established refugee camps to try to prevent widespread deaths from starvation, they could not handle the massive amounts of aid and the requisite security structure that were needed to safeguard the supplies from the warring clans.


24 April 1992 The United Nations approved Resolution 751, which authorized humanitarian relief operations and established United National Operation Somalia (UNOSOM). A small group of peacekeepers deployed to the country and while some progress was made in the major cities, significant amounts of supplies were hijacked by the armies of the clans and the relief organizations hired security guards.

15 August 1992 The U.S. launched Operation Provide Relief during which they tried to avoid the Somali ports, storehouses and clans by flying in supplies to remote back back country airfields. Problems of distribution within the country continued to hamper the relief effort.

3 December 1992 The UN Security Council passed Resolution 794, which endorsed the a U.S. led operation.

8 December 1992 President George H. W. Bush ordered the start of Operation Restore Hope under the direction of a Unified Task Force, or UNITAF. The I Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, California, formed the bulk of the headquarters, with augmentation from all the services.

9 December 1992 Marine Corps and Navy special operations elements moved into Somalia in the early morning hours. Somali warlords quickly a greed to cooperate with each other and work with the U.S. Troops to establish a relatively benign and secure environment. They were soon joined by coalition forces including large components from France, Italy, Belgium, Morocco, Australia, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Canada.

        The main challenge to the smooth flow of relief supplies continued to be the rivalry between feuding warlords, General Muhammed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi Mohamed. By late December the port and the airport reopened and relief supplies began moving quickly ashore.

January 1993 While conventional forces concentrated on major cities and regions, U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) moved quickly to establish a presence in the rest of the countryside, place liaison cells with coalition forces, and conduct civil affairs (CA) and psychological operations (PSYOP).

February-May 1993 The relief mission proceeded well, with few incidents of violence. Despite some setbacks and incidents, Operation Restore Hope succeeded in its goal of bringing an end to mass starvation.

26 March 1993 The United Nations passed Resolution 814 which broadened its mandate to intervene in another country’s affairs. The resolution underlined the charters of the first UNOSOM mission and Operation Restore Hope and that of the new mission, UNOSOM II. Turkish Lt. Gen. Cevik Bir was appointed commander of the UNOSOM II force , with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Montgomery as his deputy, who reported to Marine Corps General Joseph P. Hoar, CENTCOM.

4 May 1993 UNOSOM II assumed the mission, the United States provided a substantial logistics structure (consisting of about 2,600 troops) and a small special operations element.

5 June 1993 The Somalia National Alliance forces (warlords) led by Aideed ambushed and killed 24 Pakistani soldiers assigned to UNOSOM II. Another 44 were wounded. The following day, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 837 adopting a more aggressive military stance toward Aideed.

12 July 1993 In a direct challenge to Aideed’s leadership, the American Quick Reaction Force attacked a major Aideed compound with helicopter gunship's. After the raid, a hostile crowd near the compound killed four western journalists covering the action, displaying their bodies for the world to see.

8 August 1993 Aideed’s forces detonated a mine under a passing U.S. Military Police vehicle in Mogadishu killing four MP’s. As the military situation worsened, the UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali asked the new U.S. Administration of President William J. Clinton to assist him in capturing Aideed.

22 August 1993 President William J. Clinton, directed the deployment of a joint special operations task force (JSOTF) named Task Force Ranger. They had the mission of capturing Aideed and his key lieutenants and turning them over to UNOSOM II forces.

August-September 1993 The task force conducted six missions into Mogadishu, all of which were tactical successes. The situation in Mogadishu worsened even as the raids continued. Multiple attacks by Aideed’s forces resulted in the death and wounding of coalition and US forces.

3-4 October 1993 TF Ranger launched its seventh mission, this time into Aideed’s stronghold in the so-called Black Sea slum district, near the Bakara Market to capture two of his key lieutenants. This mission resulted in the book and movie named “Blackhawk Down.” TF soldiers encountered a very well coordinated and heavy resistance, trapping them inside the city limits. Previous request for artillery and armored assets for the TF had been turned down by President Clinton’s secretary of defense leaving the TF without its needed support and casualties were heavy. TF Ranger lost 16 soldiers and had another 57 wounded, with 1 other killed and 12 wounded on 6 October by a mortar attack on their hangar complex at the airport. The 2–14th Infantry suffered 2 Americans killed and 22 wounded while the Malaysian coalition partners had 2 killed and 7 wounded and the Pakistanis suffered 2 wounded. Various estimates placed Somali casualties between 500 and 1,500. Many of the US dead had to be left on the streets, one US helicopter pilot was captured.

6 October 1993 President William J. Clinton was now focused on the withdrawal of U.S. troops rather than to punish Aideed He directed the acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to stop all actions by U.S. forces against Aideed except those required in self-defense.

14 October After intense negotiations, Aideed agreed to release the wounded US pilot and a previously captured Nigerian soldier as a “goodwill gesture.”

25 March 1994 Most of the American troops were out of Somalia, ending Operation Continue Hope the follow-on mission to Restore Hope. Only a few hundred marines remained offshore to assist with any noncombatant evacuation mission that might occur in the event violence broke out that necessitated the removal of the over 1,000 U.S. civilians and military advisers remaining as part of the U.S. liaison mission. All UN and U.S. personnel were finally withdrawn almost a year later in March 1995.

3 March 1995 Operation United Shield, the final UN withdrawal from Somalia, was completed.

     The United States entered Somalia to stop the starvation of hundreds of thousands of people. Although it succeeded in this mission, the chaotic political situation bogged down U.S. and the coalition in what became a poorly organized UN nation-building operation. In a country where the United States expected some measure of gratitude for its help, its forces received increasing hostility as they tried to establish a stable government. The military and diplomatic effort to bring together all the clans and political entities was doomed to failure as each supplement continued to attempt to out-jockey the others for supreme power. The Somali people were the main victims of their own leaders, but forty-two Americans died and dozens more were wounded before the United States and then the United Nations capitulated to events and withdrew. American military power had established the conditions for peace in the midst of a famine and civil war, but, unlike later in Bosnia, the factions were not exhausted from the fighting and were not yet willing to stop killing each other and anyone caught in the middle. There was no peace to keep. The American soldier had, as always , done his best under difficult circumstances to perform a complex and often confusing mission. But the best soldiers in the world can only lay the foundation for peace; they cannot create peace itself.

Edited from, The US Army in Somalia 1992-1994, Center for Military History, Publication 70-81-1, , By John S. Brown, Brigadier General, USA, Chief of Military History.

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