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Us Involvement in Mogadishu Essay

In response to the impending starvation of hundreds of thousands of Somalians the United States entered Somalia in December 1992 to provide humanitarian aid and establish a functioning government as under the UN mandated United Nations Operation in Somalia II (UNISOM II). Acting as a replacement for the ineffectual United Nations Operation in Somalia I (UNOSOM I) mission UNISOM II was carried out by United States-controlled (UN-sanctioned) Unified Task Force (UNITAF). UNISOM was given the power to establish a stable environment in Somalia under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. On October 3, 1993 a battle between UNISOM joint forces and Somali militia ensued in Mogadishu. The operation was in decline following the two day battle of Mogadishu. In the fighting 18 US soldiers perished and a further 83 casualties were reported. The bodies of several US casualties were maimed and dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by an assortment of civilians and members Aidid’s Somali National Alliance. In response to the events pressure mounted for the immediate withdrawal of US troops. President Clinton announced in the days following that, “our mission from this day forward is to increase our strength, do our job, bring our soldiers out and bring them home” and that
by mid 1994 all troops would be withdrawn. The US, for fear of a repeat of the events in Somalia reshaped foreign policy terms the years following. The resulting concept of the “Mogadishu Line” became intertwined in post Cold War international relations discourse. The withdrawal of US forces following the Battle of Mogadishu has been identified by its commentators as the key reason for the failure of US intervention in later conflicts such as the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. “The ghosts of Somalia continue to haunt US 2

What effect did US involvement in Mogadishu have on US foreign policy? policy. Our lack of response in Rwanda was a fear of getting involved in something like Somalia all over-again”1 Further instances of Clinton refusing to mobilize US ground troops: • 200 lightly armed hostiles at the Haitian harbor of Port-au-Prince causing the withdrawal of the USS Harlan County a week after the Mogadishu battle • Bosnia and Herzegovina 1995 • August 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania Killing 224 people and wounding more than 5,000 • Clinton administration retaliates with missile strike on al-Qua’ida training camps at Zahwar Kili in Afghanistan Policy makers became more keen on risk avoidance. This became evident in a change in military tactics. Following the1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and the failure to kill Osama bin Laden prompted for the construction of plans for an armed assault to capture the Saudi mastermind. Officers within the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) “were eager to go after bin Laden” 2. The CIA’s evaluation of the plans estimated a 95 percent chance of successful SOCOM capture of bin Laden given the chance to launch. The plans for the operation were opposed by the top brass. According to a Pentagon officer there was “reluctance to even discuss pro-active measures associated with countering the terrorist threat through SOF operations.” 2. Concluding in a Pentagon study Richard Shultz expressed that “The Mogadishu disaster spooked the Clinton administration as well as the brass”2. There was a prolonged and persistent refusal to implement surgical special operations strikes in the face of increasing intelligence regarding unspecified al-Qa’ida plans to attack US targets. A team of 20 Delta operators and SEALs from Task Force 20 were intent on conducting a raid on a home in Mosul, Iraq. The team was backed by a force of approximately 200 of the 101st Air Assault Division. Forces were repelled by
small arms fire repeatedly. To deal with the threat US forces evacuated neighboring homes and fired 18 antitank missiles thus neutralizing the threat. Following the September 11th attacks “US policy makers became more risk acceptant in dealing with the threat posed by al-Qa’ida.” 2. 1

Former US deputy special envoy to Somalia, Walter Clarke.

Command Posts (Aug 2010) “The Mogadishu Effect and Risk Acceptance” Retrieved August 2nd, 2012, from Command Post site: http://www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishueffect-and-risk-acceptance/ 2

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What effect did US involvement in Mogadishu have on US foreign policy?

Evaluation of Sources
John S. Brown, Brigadier General, U.S. Army Chief of Military History. Taken from ‘The United States Army in Somalia 1992 – 1994‘ The source offers the perspective of a historian under military command who was alive at the time. With both hindsight and first hand knowledge the source allows for a more-complete over view of the situation. With the purpose of education, the source is trustworthy to have usable information, however it could very well contain altered information as it has been assembled by a member of the armed forces involved. This source in particular is valuable in that it provides an overall evaluation of US involvement in Somalia from incursion to excursion. With this being written by a member of the US armed forces there is a clear bias towards US service members. This is evident in the statement “The American soldier had, as always, done his best..”. The source highlights the scope of the blow to US forces during the operation and validates the US’s later decision to refrain from providing military aid on humanitarian missions to come. “fortytwo Americans died and dozens more were wounded”. While the source serves as an accurate recount of what happened during the operation and provides a brief insight into the events following (Bosnia) it is limited by failing to directly address the topic at hand. The
source does not address United States foreign policy changes as a result of the conflict. Benjamin Runkle. August 27, 2011. Taken from ‘The “Mogadishu Effect” and Risk Acceptance’ http://www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishu-effect-and-risk-acceptance/ The above source is an extract from an article written specifically concerning policy changes as a result of incidences during the US lead operations in Somalia. It has been taken from a site focusing on military history and policy. “CommandPosts.com was launched October 5, 2010, by St. Martin;s Press as a site for military history, current events, and fiction” 3. The purpose of this source is to provide relevant information to those seeking more in depth knowledge concerning Military history. “It is the intention of CommandPosts.com to foster a community that will engage the audience and provide a location rich in rational discourse and commentary, and find creative ways to support the military community” 4. Benjamin Runkle ‘is a former paratrooper 3

Command Posts (Oct 5, 2010) ‘About’ Retrieved Oct 30, 2012 the Command Posts site: http://

www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishu-effect-and-risk-acceptance/ 4

Command Posts (Oct 5, 2010) ‘About’ Retrieved Oct 30, 2012 the Command Posts site: http://

www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishu-effect-and-risk-acceptance/ 4

What effect did US involvement in Mogadishu have on US foreign policy? and presidential speechwriter, with a Harvard PhD, and a Bronze Star from Operation Iraqi Freedom. He has worked in the Department of Defense and the National Security Council, and is currently a Professional Staff Member on the House Armed Services Committee.’ This makes him a person who may have more direct knowledge concerning the topic. The source is limited in that Benjamin Runkle’s current affiliation with government organizations could result in some of the information being censored. The source supports the ideas concerning the ‘Mogadishu Line’ and its prevalence concerning
following operations, especially those under the clinton administration. “The Clinton administration later declined to intervene to prevent repeated atrocities in Bosnia and a genocide in Rwanda due to its experience in the Aideed manhunt”.5

Analysis
It became apparent following the unacceptable loss of U.S. lives in what was intended to be a humanitarian effort that changes needed to be made to the way the U.S. deals with foreign affairs and combat operations. A week following the Mogadishu battle the USS Harlan County was withdrawn from the Haitian harbor of Port-au-Prince. The ship was faced with lightly armed hostile demonstrators who’s numbers were well bellow 200. It became evident that the Clinton administration did not want a repeat of the events in Somalia where simple peace keeping initiatives would turn into hostile combat against the very the people the U.S. forces were sent to help. Bosnia and the Rwanda genocide were no different. As a result of its experiences the U.S. officials maintained a safe distance “deciding against taking a leading role”.7 in Rwanda. Instead public statements, diplomatic demarcates, initiatives for a ceasefire and attempts at contacting both the interim government perpetrating the killing and the RPF were the chosen course of action. The U.S. further advocated that the UN refrain from a “robust response”. 7 With the 1998 bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 people and wounding 5,000+, the Clinton administration opted for a missile strike on the al-Qa’ida training camps at Zahwar Kili, Afghanistan. Officers within the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) were keen to launch an infiltration assault to capture Osama bin Laden, head of al-Qa’ida. In spite of a high 95 percent CIA predicted success rate of capturing bin Laden, should forces be given the go ahead to launch, members of the top brass were not convinced. The plans received strong opposition. “The Mogadishu disaster spooked the Clinton administration as well as the Command Posts (Aug 2010) “The Mogadishu Effect and Risk Acceptance” Retrieved August 2nd, 2012, from Command Post site: http://www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishueffect-and-risk-acceptance/ 5

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What effect did US involvement in Mogadishu have on US foreign policy? brass.”6 It was evident in the Pentagon conducted study that there was “reluctance to even discuss pro-active measures associated with countering the terrorist threat through SOF operations.”7 Not only was the Battle of Mogadishu an exemplar for a raid to capture bin Laden. The failed 1980 operation “Desert One” was “repeatedly cited as a catastrophic precedent”7 in which a team attempted the rescue of American hostages in Iran. Chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff, General Hugh Shelton dismissed the proposed SOF raids as “dumb-ass ideas, not militarily feasible,” and “something in a Tom Clancy novel” which ignored “the time-distance factors.”7 In the face of increasing warnings of active al-Qa’ida plans for attacks on U.S. targets the refusal to consider “surgical special operations strikes in Afghanistan persisted.” A formidable team of 20 Delta operators and SEALs from Task Force 20 were intent on conducting a raid on a home in Mosul, Iraq. The team was backed by a force of approximately 200 of the 101st Air Assault Division which were situated themselves in support by fire positions to the South and northeast of the target building. Forces were repelled by small arms fire repeatedly. Commanders decided against laying siege as it was unknown if there would be escape tunnels leading away from the building. Fears were mounting for an insurgent retaliation, “trapping the U.S. forces in an ambush similar to Mogadishu.” To deal with the threat US forces evacuated neighboring homes and fired 18 antitank missiles thus neutralizing the threat. This action showed the unwillingness of US commanders to spare the lives of their men for an objective. Decreasing the number of U.S. casualties has become a priority in United States combat operations in foreign lands. Following the September 11th attacks “US policy makers have became more risk acceptant in dealing with the threat posed by al-Qa’ida.”.

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Richard Shultz.

Command Posts (Aug 2010) “The Mogadishu Effect and Risk Acceptance” Retrieved
August 2nd, 2012, from Command Post site: http://www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishueffect-and-risk-acceptance/ 7

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What effect did US involvement in Mogadishu have on US foreign policy?

Conclusion
As a result of the tragic loss of U.S. lives in Mogadishu changes in foreign policy were issued in attempt to “prevent repeated atrocities” in future conflicts. The American public became and its leaders became sensitive to the thought of loosing more American lives. For the remainder of the Clinton administration policy towards foreign conflicts was more reserved. U.S. officials took a restrained position on conflicts concerning lands or military operations of a likeness to that of their hunt for Aideed. The losses at Mogadishu and the similar loss during the 1980 “Desert One” mission combined to restructure the way officials approached military objectives. A higher value was placed on the lives of soldiers which resulted in an increased use of alternative methods such as direct missile strikes to neutralize a thread or complete restrained actions in response to a hostile situation such as Rwanda.

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What effect did US involvement in Mogadishu have on US foreign policy?

Bibliography
• ‘About’ [section detailing Website purpose] Command Posts (Oct 5, 2010) Retrieved Oct 30, 2012 the Command Posts site: http://www.commandposts.com/2011/08/the-mogadishu-effect-and-risk-

acceptance/ • “Battle of Mogadishu” Wikepedia (2012) Retrieved June 5th, 2012, from Wikepedia site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Mogadishu_(1993) • “Bosnia and


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