Operation Restore Hope/Battle of Mogadishu
(Created by R. Snyder, History 135, August 2001)
WWW Sites
Recommended Books
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U.S. Troops in Somalia. Source=http://www.cnn.com Map of Somalia. Source=http://europe.cnn.com/WORLD/maps/somalia.mogadishu.jpg


What were some of the factors that explain how what began as a peacekeeping mission in Somalia ended in a firefight?


Over the last quarter of a century, Somalia has struggled with internal fighting and poor economic and social conditions for its people.  Since decolonization there has been no real centralized authority in Somalia, and presently the country is divided into at least sixteen warring factions, based on clan alliances, which constantly change.  In 1969 Mohammed Siad Barre became the leader of Somalia through a military coup.  After a long and difficult regime, he, in turn, was overthrown in January of 1991 by a coalition of opposing clans, known as the United Somalia Congress.  Soon after the revolution, the coalition divided into two groups, one led by Ali Mahdi and the other by Mohammed Farah Aidid.  The resulting inter-clan warfare led to the destruction of the agriculture of Somalia, which then led to starvation for many of its people.
One of the main sources of power in Somalia has been the control of food supplies.  Hijacked food was used to secure the loyalty of clan leaders, and food was routinely exchanged with other countries for weapons.  In the early 1990’s up to 80% of internationally provided food was stolen.  Meanwhile, between 1991 and 1992 it is estimated that over three hundred thousand Somalis died of starvation.  In July 1992 United Nations military observers were sent to Somalia in accordance with a ceasefire signed by opposing clan factions.  In August 1992 Operation Provide Relief (UNOSOM – I) officially began to provide humanitarian relief for the people of Somalia.  This mission was unsuccessful due to the UN’s inability to deliver food and supplies.  Relief flights into Somalia were often looted as soon as they landed.
The U.N. asked its member nations for assistance.  In December 1992, in one of his last acts as President, George Bush proposed to the U.N. that United States combat troops lead the intervention force.  The U.N. accepted this offer and 25,000 U.S. troops were deployed to Somalia.  President Bush stated that this would not be an “open-ended commitment.”  The objective of Operation Restore Hope was to rapidly secure the trade routes in Somalia so that food could get to the people.  President Bush stated that U.S. troops would be home in time for Bill Clinton’s inauguration in January.
Once President Clinton was inaugurated he stated his desire to scale down the U.S. presence in Somalia, and to let the U.N. forces take over.  In March 1993 the U.N. officially took over the operation, naming this mission UNOSOM – II.  The objective of this mission was to promote “nation building” within Somalia.  One main target was to disarm the Somali people.  UNOSOM – II stressed restoring law and order, improving the infrastructure, and assisting the people with setting up a representative government.
President Clinton supported the U.N. mandate and ordered the number of U.S. troops in Somalia reduced, to be replaced by U.N. troops.  By June 1993, only 1200 U.S. troops remained in Somalia, but on June 5, 1993 24 Pakistani soldiers were ambushed and killed during the inspection of a Somali arms weapons storage site.  The U.N. responded with an emergency resolution to apprehend those responsible.  While it was not specifically stated, Aidid and his followers were believed to be responsible.  On June 19, 1993 Admiral Howe ordered Aidid’s arrest and offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to this.  He also requested a counterterrorist rescue force after the massacre of the Pakistani troops.
From June 12 through June 16 U.S. and U.N. troops attacked targets in Mogadishu related to Aidid.  On July 12 U.S. Cobra helicopters attacked a house in Mogadishu where clan leaders were meeting.  They destroyed several buildings and many Somalis were killed.  When four Western journalists went to investigate the scene they were beaten to death by a mob of Somalis.  On August 8 four U.S. military police were killed when a land mine was remote-detonated by Somalis.  Two weeks later, six more U.S. soldiers were wounded.  It was at this point that Task Force Ranger was deployed to Somalia.
On August 29 Task Force Ranger flew into Mogadishu.  They were led by General William Garrison and consisted of 440 elite troops from Delta Force.  Their mission was to capture Aidid.  But, at the same time, in September 1993 the Clinton Administration began a secret plan to negotiate with Aidid.  U.S. military commanders within Somalia were not apprised of this.  U.S. Defense Secretary Les Aspin denied a request for armored reinforcements made by General Montgomery.
On October 3, 1993 Task Force Ranger raided the Olympic Hotel in Mogadishu to search for Aidid.  This led to a seventeen-hour battle in which eighteen U.S. soldiers were killed and eighty-four were wounded.  Bodies of dead American soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, shown on international news reports. Hundreds of Somalis also died, although the official number has never been released.  This was the longest, most bloody battle for U.S troops since the Vietnam War.  On October 7 President Clinton responded by withdrawing U.S. troops from Somalia.  The hunt for Aidid was abandoned, although U.S. representatives were sent to resume negotiations with clan leaders.
Two weeks after the Battle of Mogadishu General Garrison officially accepted responsibility. In a handwritten letter to President Clinton, Garrison took full responsibility for the outcome of the battle. He wrote that the Task Force Ranger had adequate intelligence for the mission and that their objective (capturing targets from the Olympic Hotel) was met.
What began as a peacekeeping mission to provide relief to the starving people of Somalia essentially ended with a firefight during the Battle of Mogadishu. After all of the U.S. troops were withdrawn in March 1994, 20,000 U.N. troops were still in Somalia. By the late Spring of 1994 all of the remaining U.N. troops were withdrawn, ending UNOSOM-II.


Mohammed Siad Barre, through a military coup, became leader of Somalia.
January 1991
Overthrow of Dictator Mohammed Siad Barre by coalition of opposition forces, United Somalia Congress.
Conflict between Somalia National Movement, Aidid's party, and other factions led to clan infighting.
March 3, 1992
Faction leaders signed ceasefire to allow United Nations monitoring mission into Somalia for humanitarian assistance.
April 14, 1992
U.N. military observers sent to Somalia after U.N. Security Council approval of U.N. operation in accordance with ceasefire.
July 1992
50 unarmed U.N. military observers deployed to Mogadishu to oversee ceasefire.
August 15, 1992
U.N. humanitarian relief effort in Somalia (UNOSOM I), named Operation Provide Relief, began.
December 4, 1992
Due to U.N. inability to deliver food and secure delivery routes into Somalia, President George Bush responded to U.N. request for assistance by proposing U.S. combat troops lead security force.
December 5, 1992
U.N. accepted U.S. offer, President Bush ordered 25,000 U.S. troops to Somalia.
December 9, 1992
First U.S. Marines landed on beach.
December 1992
U.S. named mission “Operation Restore Hope.”
January 1993
President Bill Clinton inaugurated.
March 15-28, 1993
Addis Ababa Accords – led to agreement to end violence in Somalia.
March, 1993
UNOSOM II began.
March 28, 1993
Various nations deployed troops to Somalia to support UNOSOM II.
May 9, 1993
U.S. officially turned over operation to U.N.
June 1993
Only 1200 U.S. troops remained in Somalia.
June 5, 1993
24 Pakistani soldiers ambushed and killed during inspection of Somalia arms weapons storage site.
June 12 – 16, 1993
U.S. and U.N. troops attacked targets in Mogadishu related to Aidid.
June 19, 1993
Admiral Howe ordered Aidid’s arrest and offered $2500 reward for information.  Admiral Howe also requested counterterrorist hostage rescue force from Washington.
July 29, 1993
Last sighting of Aidid.
August 8, 1993
4 U.S. Military Police killed by remote-detonized land mine set off by Somalis.
August 29, 1993
U.S. Army Task Force Ranger flew into Mogadishu, led by Maj. Gen. William Garrison.
September 1993
Clinton administration began clandestine initiative to negotiate with Aidid.
September 1993
U.S. Defense Secretary Les Aspin denied request for armored reinforcements from Gen. Montgomery.
October 3 – 4, 1993
Task Force Ranger’s assault on Olympic Hotel to search for Aidid resulted in 17 hour battle in which 18 U.S. soldiers killed, 84 wounded.  Later named the Battle of Mogadishu.
October 7, 1993
President Clinton’s response was to withdraw U.S. troops.  Declared U.S. troops to be withdrawn by March 31, 1994.
October 14, 1993
Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant, who was captured after his helicopter was shot down during the Battle of Mogadishu, released.
March 25, 1994
20,000 U.N. forces remained in Somalia, U.S. troops withdrawn.
Spring 1995
Final U.N. withdrawal from Somalia.
August 1, 1996
Aidid died from bullet wound.
January 12, 2001
U.N. Security Council called for new peacekeeping mission in Somalia, lacking military troops.

WWW Sites

For an excellent overview of the history of Somalia leading up to the U.S. intervention of Operation Restore Hope, review the Backgrounder Article by Thomas P. Sheehy.  This article was written in December 1992 and gives a perspective on the intervention before any violence occurred.  It discusses problems the U.S. forces might encounter and why their mission might be a difficult one.  One writer who perhaps has done the most research on the Battle of Mogadishu is Mark Bowden.  He wrote a series of articles for the Philadelphia Inquirer entitled “Black Hawk Down.” Bowden later edited his articles into a book by the same name.  This web site includes an analysis of what went wrong for Task Force Ranger during the Battle of Mogadishu and a background of the mission.  Also included are maps, photographs, video, and audio clips.  The audio clips contain interviews of Rangers involved in the battle, radio transmissions during the battle, and interviews of Michael Durant about his capture and detention by Somali officials.  Another excellent site is the PBS web site for Frontline, which aired a program entitled “Ambush in Mogadishu.”  This site details the program and adds further specifics regarding the problems between the United States military and the Clinton Administration during the early years of President Clinton’s tenure.  Unfortunately, these clashes caught U.S. troops in the middle, most visibly during the Battle of Mogadishu. On October 20, 1997 The Christian Science Monitor published an article entitled “Post U.S. – Somalia Finds Cash In on Chaos.” This discusses the situation in Somalia after the United States and the United Nations left Somalia.  The United Nations Somalia web site contains news on the latest updates in Somalia, United Nations reactions, geographical and population maps, and online information databases. Another overview of Somalia can be found at either the CIA Factbook, the Library of Congress country studies or the Department of State background notes. For an overview of the Battle of Mogadishu from the U.S. Army Ranger point of view, look at Ranger.org.  In contrast, a report on the situation in Somalia from President Aidid’s perspective can be found in an article entitled “President Aidid’s Somalia” written by Harold G. Marcus.  An account of Aidid’s death and history can be found online.  Another interesting article that is meticulously sited was written by Stephen R. Shalom, and is entitled “Gravy Train:  Feeding the Pentagon by Feeding Somalia.”  The Carter Center has a web site that identifies Former President Carter’s activities in the role of mediator during both Operation Restore Hope and the Battle of Mogadishu.



Recommended Books

Bowden, Mark. (1999). Black Hawk Down:  A Story of Modern War.  Atlantic Monthly Press.  This is the most comprehensive account of the Battle of Mogadishu.  The story is told through the eyes of the U.S. troops that fought during the battle and is based on interviews of combatants on both sides, video, and radio transcripts.
Clarke, Walter (Editor) and Herbst, Jeffrey (Editor).  (1997).  Learning From Somalia:  The Lessons of Armed Humanitarian Interventions.  Westview Press.  This book contains a compilation of editorials from people who were in Somalia at the time of the United Nations intervention.  It includes lessons learned for future peacekeepers throughout the world.

Diehl, Paul.  Peacekeeping:  With a New Epilogue on Somalia, Bosnia and Cambodia (Perspectives on Security). (1995).   Johns Hopkins University Press.  This book explains the difference between peacekeeping and multinational intervention.  It compares and contrasts six separate missions.

O’Hanlon, Michael.  Saving Lives with Force:  Military Criteria for Humanitarian Intervention.  (1997).  Brookings Institute.  The book was written by a military analyst and discusses how outside intervention can be successful in ending civil warfare in a country if the intervention force has the appropriate military training, objectives, and support.

Peterson, Scott. (2000).  Me Against My Brother:  At War in Somalia, Sudan and Rwanda.  Routledge.  This book contains a discussion of the United Nations intervention in Somalia and the outcome of these actions.  It also compares the situations in Somalia, Sudan, and Rwanda and why the U.N. intervened in Somalia, but not in Sudan or Rwanda.

Shawcross, William. (2000).  Deliver Us From Evil:  Peacekeeping, Warlords and a World of Endless Conflict.  Simon & Schuster.  This book was written by a foreign affairs journalist and compares situations throughout various hotspots in the world.  It points out the errors in peacekeeping missions in war-torn countries, comparing the situation in the United State’s Civil War with what occurred in those regions.

Von Hippel, Karin.  Democracy by Force:  U.S. Military Intervention in the Post-Cold War World. (2000).  Cambridge University Press.  This book contains an analysis of the United States military in the post-Cold War era and looks at U.S. interventions in Panama, Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia.  Each section questions why the United States became involved in these countries, outcomes of the interventions, and what Americans can learn from these activities.

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This page is copyright © 2001, C.T. Evans and R. Snyder.
For information contact cevans@nv.cc.va.us