So you came in on one premise, and then pretty quickly the premise changed.
You had one mandate when you came in, just to get the multinational UN forces
together, I assume, and then once the resolution passed things shifted for you,
as far as what you felt like you needed to do.|
There really had been very little preparation done by the United Nations in
anticipation of this resolution. So what we had to do is sit down as a staff
-- to the extent that we had a staff -- and really build a strategic plan which
looked at all the elements; disarmament, determining political representative
government and how you got there through district and regional and finally a
national assembly. [We had] to look at the whole economic system and how we
could help and perhaps direct the re-construction as well as the emergency
relief efforts that were going on. It became a much more complex kind of
charter, and it also was for the whole of Somalia, not just the areas of
starvation, [a mandate to] help this country which was struggling throughout
its borders to make its recovery.
So how did you feel with that awesome task?
Well, I felt that it was a huge task, frankly, to undertake. My biggest
immediate problem when I arrived was amazement that we had so little there and
so little had been done to anticipate what was needed. There was a major lack
of personnel, there was a lack of resources in order to do the job so we needed
to get those requirements out. My first message to the Secretary General
within about three days of arriving was, "We need help, big time."
Did that mean both troops and staff?
We needed everything. The troop levels was another whole story, but the
military was starting to at least organize and get its act together and we
hoped that big forces were going to flow in. It turned out that it took a long
time for them to get there, where you expected them in a month, they came in
three months. But it wasn't just that, it was getting organized for political
representation, to have people all over the country that could be helpful when
that process [began], the rebuilding of schools and the wiping out of diseases,
bringing the health and the water systems back together. So it was kind of a
What was the clan breakdown right now? At this point in March, what would
you say is the political climate?
Clanwise, there were basically 15 factions. There were political factions, but
in a broad sense they represented the different clans. There were many other
clans and many sub-clans; it's a very complex society, [but these particular 15
political factions] had signed the Addis Ababa accords. And of those factions,
of course there were some that were more powerful than others, some were small.
There were three fairly small groups who were allied with Aidid's clan, the
rest of them were either independent or allied with Mahdi in sort of a loose
coalition. And that's sort of where they stood, before things got rough.
But when you got there, the Addis Ababa accords had just been passed, right?
Had everyone agreed at that point?
Yes, everybody had signed a document, but of course that's only the beginning,
when documents get signed. Nonetheless, after a great deal of talk and
discussion back and forth and hand waving and so forth and agonizing, they did
sign an agreement which we adopted in developing our own UN strategic plan.
How about your military advisors? Who were the people that you personally
would work closest to?
I worked very closely with the commander of the UN force, General Bir. He is a
Turkish general today, and a very fine one, he's number two in the Turkish
armed forces today, and he was the commander of the overall UN force. His
deputy was Lt. General Montgomery, who was US, and so I worked with those two
How complicated was it, having Montgomery wear two hats [as the commander of
US forces in Somalia and, concurrently, Deputy Commander of the United Nations'
forces for UNOSOM II]?
It was a mechanism that served the purpose of making the US comfortable with
the arrangement for the forces that were left behind, the Quick Reaction Force,
then the logistic forces. It was a workable arrangement with General
Montgomery, he worked very closely with General Bir, they consulted together on
everything, they helped each other out, the staffs were fully integrated. So
that was not a huge problem. What was a problem, however, was that those US
forces had specific requirements; what they did had to be blessed in Washington
or at least by the central command. And so therefore it wasn't necessarily a
force that the commander General Bir could control, necessarily, or even
General Montgomery, if he wanted to do something, it required a lot of constant
liaison back and forth with the various commands in the United States.
Do you think that the American public understood that there was a shift that
was happening with the US/UN mission?
Well you know this word "nation-building" -- which is essentially what that 814
Resolution has been called -- it's become a pejorative word. But obviously the
US had had a big hand in that; the US had led the effort in the Security
Council, as I understand it, to put that resolution together and to get it
passed, but I think that there was a gap in the understanding of the Congress
and the American people, in terms of what that resolution meant and what kind
of a commitment then we were making with the passage of that kind of
What was your timetable?
We had two time tables. One was this 4th of May date, that's when we ultimately
turned over [from] the US UNITAF forces and UNOSOM took charge. In terms of our
strategy, we as a staff -- and this is not something dictated from New York --
knew that it would not go on forever, that countries would pour aid into
Somalia [only for so long], we thought we had about a two year window. The
Addis Ababa accords talked about two years to reach representative government.
So we designed a strategic plan that was based on two years in the hope that by
that point you would actually have elected governments of some type, some
representative government that existed, and things had been glued back
together. The institutions had been absolutely disestablished, so there was a
lot of rebuilding to do, but optimistically we were hoping we could meet the
goal that the Somalis themselves had established in the Addis Ababa accords,
That there should be this kind of work done, maybe disarmament, maybe
nation-building, maybe infrastructure, did you think then that more needed to
We were very clear that this was to be a humanitarian mission and that's what
we were willing to do -- I'm talking about the Bush administration now -- and
that this would be a period of fairly rapid transition to a UN force, UN peace
keeping effort to come in and take the place [of US forces.] We also insisted
that there would be a chapter VII kind of operation, peace enforcement not just
peace keeping; in other words we recognized there could be dangers and
hostilities. But the UN Secretary General wanted to do more, he wanted to do
disarmament, he wanted to do things that would have long term consequences Our
attitude was no "mission creep," in other words we were not willing to go
beyond what President Bush said we were going to do. Feed the hungry, correct
the starvation, the hundreds of thousands of people that were dying of
At this point Bush is just a lame duck president, with just eight more weeks
left of his term. Was there any other option? Could he have suggested to go for
something had long term implications like disarmament? I'm just wondering if
there was some kind of restriction, even if he could wish his wildest
Well, you'd need to ask President Bush that question.
I'm asking just out of actual policy, how could he as a president commit to
a policy that the National Security Council, that he himself, that everyone
would understand would go up follow into the next administration?
He really did not want to give the next administration another headache or
another foreign engagement to worry about, he worried about that. He's a person
that really cares, and feels that the transition [between administrations] is a
very important phase, and sometimes has been a disastrous phase. He wanted our
forces, frankly, out by the time of Inaugural Day. He wanted them to go in
quickly; I think ideally he would have had us in and the UN following closely
behind taking over, but he was quickly disabused to that because we weren't
going to get there soon enough, we weren't going to be able to get established,
it was going to be too long for the UN to get there, so he realized that it
could not happen by inauguration. And I think probably in those days we
underestimated the difficulties of uncoupling yourselves from these situations
once you start, and perhaps we overestimated the capabilities of the UN to
undertake a complex and difficult and dangerous mission like this one.
There's been a lot of criticism or talk about whether it really was a US
operation, the UN operation. Though Bir was the commander in charge, really it
was stacked with Americans, and that a lot of the policy-makers had been newly
retired generals that were brought back that were US folks, and that the US
also had this other side force that had its own autonomy and ability to command
troops and make the policy decisions. What's your feeling about that
criticism, or commentary; it's not necessarily even a criticism, it's just
something that has been said time and again.
It has, and it was said at the time, and there was a lot of sniping from the UN
itself because other nations kind of raised this whole question, "How come all
these Americans were there?" As the SRSG my concern was I needed to solve
problems, and I had hundreds of them and I needed good people to do them, and I
didn't care what nation they came from. I spent a huge amount of my time when I
got there trying to recruit people from all over the world calling ambassadors,
calling friends, of course pushing on the UN personnel system. I called
everywhere, trying to get people to come, because we needed people just to come
for 6 months. The UN system was overwhelmed, they were just finishing up in
Cambodia, the whole Bosnian business was going full time, and [it] was very,
very difficult to get the people that they recognized we needed, but simply
didn't have. So, we needed a lot of very good people, and of course the US was
responsive in many ways.
But in the end was the balance really American?
No, I don't think that's fair. We had something like 68 nations represented on
my staff. We had people from every continent.
I want to talk about the circumstances under which there's a weapons
inspection at the radio station. Can like give me a little bit of a background
There were a number of things that we were doing in the April/May time frame to
really carry out the Addis Ababa accords. There was the peaceful settlements of
disputes, committees that had both factional representation and representation
by other [groups] of Somalis, such as the women's groups, the elders and
others; there was a constitution writing committee that was going to be a
charter drafting committee; there was still our disarmament committee. All
these committees were being brought into Mogadishu and were meeting just to
solve problems.... I think that there some antagonism grew up as the UN started
to carry out this Addis Ababa mandate which was also part of the 814
Resolution. And the looking at the facilities where armaments were kept --
there were five authorized facilities that had been in the agreement with Aidid
[where] his weapons were stored -- was just one thing that was going on of many
things going on at the time. The idea was simply we had some evidence that
weapons were being taken out of these areas, and they hadn't been inventoried
since February, and so the idea was to simple notify in advance so that there
wouldn't be any alarm or undue concern, to send teams from the UN force into
these areas to simply look them over.
Did you anticipate that there was going to be friction as a possible result
No, we really didn't. The military that came with us wanted to notify [them] in
advance for that very reason; they didn't want anybody to misinterpret, they
simply wanted to go, and that was the intent of that message that we simply
need to inventory these, we'll walk around with you and count and see what's
Who was to give permission?
This was a notification that was made to Aidid, it was addressed to Aidid but
it was actually given to his security chief.
So then the fact that there was retaliation was a surprise.
Yeah, the fact that it didn't go smoothly and that there was a lot of hostility
was very much unpredicted. In fact, my first report was that it had all gone
very smoothly and everything was done. We went on to other things and then
suddenly we were interrupted with the news that there was this killing at the
feeding centers, that a big ambush at the cigarette factory of the Pakistanis
So what ended up happening?
Well, what happened is that there was a major ambush. The inspections were
conducted, there a major ambush of Pakistanis that were coming out of this
place called the cigarette factory. [It was] a very carefully orchestrated
military attack on this Pakistani force that was simply going back to its
barracks location. And also the Pakistanis that were helping on a feeding
station were attacked, and in addition there were demonstrations and shooting
all over town. For example on the compound where the civilians were, where I
was, there was a hand grenade thrown over the wall, there was machine gun fire
into the compound, there were people shooting sporadically in and out, so a lot
of that was going on all over town. There was a major eruption.
And how did you respond?
Well, of course, we sat down immediately, those of us that were clustered in my
headquarters, and started to discuss what's going on and what do we do about
it. We dispatched someone who had entree with Aidid to go on out and say, "You
know, let's stop this, what's going on?" And get things calmed down.
So were you pretty clear that it was Aidid that orchestrated the
It was very clear to us that it was Aidid. I was very careful not to say it was
Aidid until we had more evidence, at least publicly, but in the minds of all of
us who were involved in this consultation, because it was so well orchestrated,
and as we talked more to the Pakistanis that were involved and others in the
ensuing days, it became clear to us that clearly this is something that Aidid
had decided to do, that it was in his interests to attack the UN forces.
Why was it in his interests?
Well, I don't think he liked the US being there. He opposed it until the last
minute, and I don't think he liked the UN or any other international force
being there. I don't think he liked what representative government would mean,
because he didn't have the votes. I think this really meant a loss of power to
My feeling is that [it was] probably the fact that the UN was actually starting
to implement the Resolution 814 and the Addis Ababa accords, even though he'd
signed them. In the long term, representative government wasn't really in his
interests because he was occupying a lot of territory that he'd gotten through
guns, and he didn't have the vote nor did his clan have the votes in a totally
representative national assembly. And so I think he saw this as a threat to
his power probably, this whole international force. So he would be very happy
to have all the international people pack up and leave. And I think he saw that
striking a blow to the Pakistanis who had replaced the Americans in South
Mogadishu, which was his territory, was a way to get the UN to leave.
So now, the day that it happened, who were the people that composed the
group that started to talk about what the UN's next resolution was going to be?
Who are the key people that are involved in these discussions?
We had our normal staff meeting that day...
How big is that?
That might have involved 20 or 30 people being there, then we retreated to a
smaller group, which were basically the division heads, the humanitarian
division, the political division, all their representatives, and the UN
agencies, UN, UNICEF and UNHCR, the development group and others were all
How about back in New York? I mean Boutros Ghali and Madeleine Albright.
What's their role in this and how does the communication flow?
First they have to find out what's going on, and of course that's my job to
inform them. One of our immediate tasks was to inform them that we had a
problem. I was talking to now Secretary General Kofi Annan -- who I talked to
daily, frankly, during the whole time that I was in Somalia -- and his staff, a
French woman named Linda Elizabeth Lindemeyer, who was a wonderful person, who
was really responsible for Somalia activities from the UN, and then later on I
talked to the Secretary General. And we simply were talking about -- and of
course we were writing messages as well to put this in writing -- what had
happened to the best extent that we could tell, and then of course about what
should we do about it.
What was the basic text of the resolution?
The UN Secretary of the Security Council went into emergency session. This had
happened on a Saturday, and Sunday New York time they passed Resolution 837,
which basically said three things: arrest the perpetrators of these crimes
against the Pakistanis, disarm this city (obviously you've got way more weapons
than you possibly anticipated because of all this shooting that went on against
the Pakistanis), and put a stop to this vitriolic propaganda that is coming
through various media means of the Somalis, obviously aimed at Aidid's radio
station. So that in essence was the mandate that came out late Sunday, our
time, from the UN Security Council.
And then it's your role to execute it, with your staff. Is that
Yes, of course, that exactly was our job. It also asked for more armament and
things that we needed in order to deal with a much more dangerous and difficult
situation than people anticipated -- armored personnel carriers and other items
of equipment that the military needed.
I know that there was talk at one point of actually naming Aidid as the
Can you talk a little bit about that?
Well, I wasn't involved in that because I'm here with my hands full in
Mogadishu, and that went on in New York. As I understand it, the draft
resolution had his name in [it] but I wasn't in on [the drafting], we simply
got the outcome.
And so, a couple of weeks later, there's the infamous $25,000 dollar reward
that's put out for the capture of Aidid.
Let me straighten you out on this particular wanted poster because I know that
there's been a lot of discussion about it. [That was a] very tough decision
that we weighed back and forth; at least, I listened to a lot of advice and I
certainly discussed this with New York a number of times [about] whether to
name [Aidid] as somebody that we felt should be detained. And for a lot of
reasons on the 17th of June, I announced that Aidid was somebody that we felt
should be detained for public safety, the safety of the Somalis and for the
safety of the international people that were present in Somalia. The reason I'd
come to that conclusion is that we had progressed far enough in the
investigation that we were starting to be convinced that he really was
responsible. I didn't want to say anything; there was huge pressure in the
press, "When are you going to name Aidid? Why aren't you arresting him?" We
wanted to do this very, very carefully.
Another thing was that on the 13th of June there had been a rally in the
kilometer-four circle area. Shots had been fired, and we had intelligence,
pretty solid evidence, that there had been firing into the crowd by Aidid's
people in order to swell the number of casualties and make this look like the
United Nations to the public. They were very clever in their public relations
efforts, their media handling, [trying] to show that this was the UN going
berserk. This bothered me in the sense that I felt that if this man would kill
his own people in order to accomplish his goals, he really was a menace to
safety and he really ought to come off the streets, he ought to be detained.
He needed to go through a legal process. So, it was about this 17th June day
that it was decided and announced that he needed to be accountable. We also
wanted the message in the political process that said we're not against his
faction, we're not against his clan, it's just the individuals responsible.
What happened is about two or three weeks later -- so this presses us even into
July -- our military came and said, "You know, nobody on the street believes
us, when we say that we want to detain Aidid, because you're not providing any
cash, there are no rewards for providing information to where he is, there's
nothing in this for us, you're not serious." They were saying we're not really
credible unless we offer some kind of reward, and of course for terrorists of
anything throughout the world, these kinds of rewards for information are
provided, so then I began a process of talking to the UN, because I didn't have
$25,000 that I had control of, that I could pay out in case somebody did in
fact give us the information that led to his detention. So a process went on
and we asked the US for money because the US has billions of dollars that could
be allotted for terrorism. The US refused but the UN eventually gave us the
green light that yes, we could do it, and then some leaflets were distributed
that said he was wanted.
By naming Aidid, was it basically really creating a war on him?
Well, to go back to Resolution 837, it said arrest "those responsible" and
bring them forward for trial, which would be a responsibility of the UN itself
in New York. That path had already been identified for us in terms of what we
needed to do, there needed to be some responsible accounting for what had
happened. We'd had you know 22, 26 people killed and another 55 wounded in this
event. These were just people carrying out their lawful assignments, and they
were assaulted, and so something needed to be done. And in my view we couldn't
simply ignore that, we needed to handle that in a responsible way. I don't know
if I'm answering your question.
Well, I guess even maybe a better question is did you feel that Aidid was
really declaring war on the UN by having this attack?
Yes, I thought on the 5th of June he had decided that getting rid of the UN and
certainly harming the Pakistanis was a way to do this, that this was a
considered, deliberate decision that had been made against the United
The United Nations worked to see if there was a way to do this without using
force, because we did not want to use force and we knew there were great
problems ahead if we had to use force, and so we tried to see if there could be
a discussion between us about how do we resolve this peacefully, which could
have been done in many ways. Resolution 837 could have been carried out
[peacefully]. When that didn't seem to be in the offing, then we felt that the
alternatives of not responding for us, in our own mission throughout Somalia,
our own credibility and also for peacekeepers around the world, if you could
just let this kind of a vicious assault happen and you just forgot about it, or
you just said, "Well, we'll forgive and forget," that this was not the right
way to go. I think that we could have returned very quickly to civil war in
Somalia if the UN had simply had no strength in this a moment to respond to
One would understand why some action needed to be taken, yet does this
formal recognition by the UN that Aidid's going to be captured then create
another host of problems for you?
A lot of just practical problems needed to be dealt with -- Where do we put
him? How do we do it? What is the legal process that we'll follow? We [had to
do] a lot of planning, particularly when the Ranger force came in and the
prospects were greater than they were initially. If [the military commanders]
didn't have a force like the Ranger Delta force we eventually got several
months later, they really couldn't do a surgical arrest. They just didn't have
the troops that were trained to do that; unless he fell into our hands by some
miracle, weren't really capable of accomplishing that mission. That's why so
very early on we asked for that kind of a force to have that capability, and
also to deal with kidnapping which was a standard Somali way to dealing with
things, to kidnap a relief worker or kidnap a UN person, and take them off and
then hold them hostage. We wanted to have a response for that, so we asked
very on early on, as early as the 8th of June, for that kind of capability to
come to us.
What was the July 12th mission all about, the Abdi House?
The July 12th mission. What happened there was that the military had disrupted
Aidid's headquarters with a very well done five nation operation. Moroccans,
Italians, French, Americans and Pakistanis. That had disrupted, for a while,
the Aidid attacks on the UN, but they simply started to regroup in other
places. We had a number of incidents that went on after as we were going in to
various clandestine ammunition and weapons storage areas and eliminating
those.... We had the assassination of six of our workers that distributed [our
newspaper]. We had a little newspaper; it's an oral society, not everybody
read, but we tried to distribute it around the country, and 6 of the workers
that were coming to the force compound to pick up their copies of the
newspapers to distribute were stopped and gangland-style murdered. This was a
big threat to Somalis who worked loyally and faithfully for the United Nations.
These were obviously Aidid's people. Then there were a whole bunch of ambushes
going on of convoys trying to go out and work with justices and do other
missions outside of the compound. There were shootings going on all over and
mortars coming in on the compounds.
So the military came and proposed that the next thing they needed to do was
attack the Abdi house. This had become the center for planning these various
operations around town, the ambushes, the attacks on the port, the attacks on
various facilities, the mortar raids, and so on. This was kind of a command
control headquarters, and so the UN military came with a proposal that this was
the next area that they wanted to attack.
So now do you have to agree with it, in order for them to go forward? How
does it work?
Well, these kind of discussions do happen, and that's why they come to get
ultimate permission to do that. Also since this involved the Quick Reaction
Force they went through their Washington chain as well because this had to be
approved as well by the United States. But from my standpoint when I was first
told about it, we were very concerned that it wasn't going to involve -- which
every other operation we had done up to that point involved -- warnings and
then letting the civilians come on out. When we first heard this proposal, we
said, "You gotta go back and figure out some way to let people out of that
building." Anyway discussions went on and it turned out that the only way they
could do it and the only people who were willing to do it were the US Quick
Reaction Force. We'd gotten to the point where we needed to do something
because of the attacks against the United Nations to get the thing righted and
to get back to reality in terms of the military side of the equation, and
hopefully, with all these military things that we did, provide incentives for
discussion and negotiation to continue.
So what happened?
Well, what happened is that this headquarters was attacked, and they were
holding a meeting at the time. Forces actually went into the building and out
quickly. Some people were taken prisoner and brought out, and some people
unfortunately were killed in the operation, that is, on the Somali side that
had been in the building. But the key ring leaders associated with these
operations and these ambushes and attacks on the port, by the effort of the
intelligence that we had, were in fact there, involved in that meeting.
So those folks, were they taken out of the building?
Well, those that were alive and moving around, some of them were removed and
taken out by the soldiers. Others were killed, some were wounded.
Was the building bombed?
It was hit by a helicopter rocket. It wasn't bombed, we didn't have airplanes
with bombs, but we had missiles from attack helicopters.
So at this point this has been reduced to almost "tit for tat." There was
lots that's happening against the UN troops and then this is a reaction to
In a sense that's fair to say. I mean there were a number of events going on
and we felt that something else needed to be done to keep this thing in
somewhat of a balance.
Did you feel at this point that things were spinning out of control?
No, I don't think we felt they were out of control, but they weren't going in
the kind of direction that we wanted them. A lot of our programs were going
very, very well, particularly the political efforts being made around the
country, humanitarian not as well because some of the humanitarian groups were
reluctant to come back in the country because of the dangers. Frankly, we
didn't want to use force but when you're being attacked by mortars and so
forth, you've got to go out and disrupt those sources of attacks or else many
more people are going to be killed.
Did the use of force end up creating a bad feeling with the Somalis?
When you have to use force in a situation, you certainly do cause problems.
People, even if they don't like Aidid, they have sort of a clan loyalty, [and
they feel that something has to be done in retaliation.]
We found what Aidid was doing, which was pretty clever, is that he was starting
to increase the number of roadblocks and the number of ambushes that were
occurring. We had a big incident that occurred in September where our people --
the Pakistanis -- were simply clearing a road, one of the primary access roads,
and people fired [at them] from all sides. A favorite Aidid tactic was to bring
women into the mix, so you have women and children in front; he even joked
about this, it perplexes the soldier in terms of, "Well I can't shoot a woman,
and I can't shoot children" and the gunmen are firing behind On the 17th of
June, the Moroccans had been really viciously assaulted by this particular
tactic. We'd seen it and started to recognize it.
But, of course, when you protect yourselves and you protect your soldiers from
being killed and you have to use helicopters, then ultimately there are going
to be people [killed] that you would hope would not be killed in that fight,
even though they've presented themselves as fighters. You may militarily win
something, but really you're losing politically because all of these events
simply add to a question about what's going on, why are you having to kill
Somalis? And of course it was very regrettable that we did.
Personally, how were you feeling at this point? You came in in March, this
is something that you had been thinking about for a year at that point, by that
point as far as policy and what can be done and what's possible, and come June,
there's the attack Pakistanis, your people, and then it keeps on
disintegrating. What are you thinking, what are you feeling at this
Well, we're feeling that we continued to need more help. The military plans
often couldn't move because the right forces hadn't arrived and the commander
didn't have enough forces of the right kind. For example in the northeastern
part of the country we simply couldn't even get a token force up there to give
to them. That would have made a difference, it would have made them feel more
secure, and it would have helped the humanitarian flow come in behind it. So
we were really pushing for resources. We needed the military forces that had
We started to see the problems of lack of training of some of the militaries;
the inability to go out and, for example, take care of ambushes at night, or
mortar firing, just because certain troops didn't have that training. They
needed heavy equipment to have confidence that they could operate in the urban
center. It's very difficult to operate in a city, if there's anybody shooting
at you from around a corner behind a building, for any kind of a force, no
matter how well trained. So all these things were happening militarily.
Politically we were making quite a bit of progress not on a negotiation with
Aidid, although we were talking constantly to sub-clans and also his
representatives and other people, we were working with the religious leaders,
trying all the different things that we could but those were not coming
So at that point you're still trying to get into negotiations with Aidid, is
We always wanted to see if we had come to a moment where we could have a
peaceful resolution of 837. We always held that out.
This may sound strange, but if you have a notice out that you're going to
capture him, how is a negotiation possible?
Well, this is a good question. We weren't going to negotiate with him directly,
but either through the... Ethiopians and Eritrians who were trying to help, or
through our direct contacts. We could meet with some of his people, and we even
got to a point later on in which we were discussing who could be there at the
table and so forth. Of course, it was in our interest to guarantee the safety
of anybody that would come to these kinds of discussion. We got to the point
[later] where we said we may have to call off these arrest operations that were
being run by the Rangers and Delta because we had gotten to a point where there
was genuine reciprocation in terms of interest in working this thing out
peacefully. We never got quite to that point. But certainly it was in our
So now the Task Force Rangers are getting ready to come in August. How aware
of you of that fact that they're going to be entering?
Well, remember that on the 8th of June just after the June 5 incident we had
asked for a force capable to do that kind of a job, because we felt that was
part of the mandate of Resolution 837, and necessary because of kidnapping. So
we had been lobbying and hoping that either a force from the United States or
from some other country would give us that added capability that we felt we
needed. We'd been asking for these people for a long time. We had almost given
up on getting the US forces because we had been turned down, when there was an
incident in early August in which the first Americans that were lost while I
was there, when a jeep was blown up by a remote detonated bomb. That was
around the 8th of August, and I think that got some attention. It certainly got
my attention, but it got attention in Washington as well, and may have been
something that pushed this decision to finally send this force that we'd been
asking for for so long.
The military commanders were delighted when we got the word that this force was
coming. For two reasons, one, it would help us if we had a chance of arresting
Aidid [to do so] without a lot of casualties. These were the people that could
do it for us. Secondly, it would add leverage that would make peaceful
negotiations perhaps possible. It certainly would put the pressure on Aidid's
followers and Aidid to look at other alternatives besides trying to fight and
attack the United Nations. And in fact it did, it brought pressure. As soon as
they started to arrive, and it was clear they were coming, then there was some
much more genuine interest in seeing if we could resolve 837 in a peaceful
Were you aware of Montgomery's request for armor and for M1 tanks?
General Montgomery had been very concerned about mining and remote detonated
bombs and ambushes and other concerns about logistics, mobility in the city,
and felt that he needed heavier forces. I can remember on the very first night
that the Ranger Delta force, which had been shelled upon its arrival, was going
to respond to that. I sat with General Montgomery and the liaison with the
Ranger force, kind of following the operation, and he told me, "Great news.
We're going to get these four heavier forces that we've asked for. " And we
were very pleased this special force was here and he'd gotten some pretty good
indications [that] this other force that he'd requested was coming. So this
was in late August; we were very, very pleased about that and certainly aware
that that request was in the process.
So then when did you know that the request wasn't going to be
Well this was a bit later, several weeks later, I don't remember the exact
date, but this wasn't the first request that we'd made that we didn't get a
Did you feel that this was now escalating into more of a combat
Well, I felt that that request was very valid, that he needed better protection
in order to get the convoys, including the humanitarian convoys, [through]. I
mean, they were preventing and ambushing humanitarian convoys.... And so he
needed the ability to move forces, and it was a heavy urban area. And so I was
certainly fully behind that request.
How did you learn about the October 3rd raid?
Well, I learned about it in a different way. I had been sent by the secretary
general on a mission to Ethiopia, and I was flying home on that Sunday and
coming into Mogadishu, and as we were approaching they told us [we were going]
into a holding pattern, we couldn't land. That was my first inkling that
something was going on. We of course [eventually] could land, then I could see
the helicopters in operation. I got on the phone to my chief of staff and said,
"What's going on?" Obviously I got to the headquarters as fast as I could, and
got into the situation at that point, and of course [made] sure that New York
was being appropriately informed.
So around what time is that you were getting to the airport?
It's probably four or five in the afternoon.
So therefore are you then involved with helping and planning a relief
I saw my mission as first of all to inform my superiors in the United Nations,
as well as to do everything possible to help General Montgomery to accomplish
what he needed to do. So I certainly spent some time over there observing him
in operation, and seeing how I could be helpful, sitting around this table as
he was directing his commanders, particularly the UN part of it which was to
get the heavier armor that we needed to get into that very tough situation in
Mogadishu, that very tough area. We could be helpful there as well if there
was any problem in terms of nations. Actually the response was very good by the
nations. He had an immediate response from the Malaysians, as well as the
Pakistanis, who by then actually had some tanks and some heavier armor. And to
their credit the Italians who are now out of town but had armor and the Indians
who had just arrived and were not even planning to come into Mogadishu but were
planning to go to the Baidoa area, also were contacted and also were willing to
make their tanks available, if these others fell through and we needed to make
a second thrust in order to rescue the force. So I was shown all, [I watched]
Montgomery do this and organize the force, and I thought he did it in a very
professional, careful way, so that we wouldn't have another disaster on our
hands but could also get there to meet the urgent need of the Rangers.
He how does he know what's going on? Is it through radio?
He's getting relayed from General Garrison, and various reports, plus the Quick
Reaction Force had made efforts to try to get in to be the relief force and
they were unsuccessful in that, so he was getting different kinds of
communication reports on the radios and telephones.
There was some talk, and we have been doing some interviewing, that part of
the reason there wasn't a backup plan as far as having the other nations on
alert when the Rangers went in was because there was getting to be some
difference of opinion about how to approach this situation with capturing
The special forces have their own ways of operating and protecting themselves.
They're really the best in the world at this business. And so there's a
certain independence of action in terms of how they go about their business,
whether the suspicions that existed about some of the motives of other nations
-- and this did go on at the military headquarters -- was part of their
calculus or not, I don't know. You'd really have to ask General Garrison
Did you hear about friction with...
Oh, I was very much aware of it. When you put together 30 different nations...
with a force of this type that hasn't trained together, hasn't worked together,
is not part of a kind of common alliance. That suddenly they're thrust
together, they have whole different cultural background, they have different
political masters, their motives for being there are all different and may have
nothing to do with what the UN resolution says or why those particular
countries donate their troops. But [many] countries are reluctant to let loose
of their troops and truly put them under a unified UN command. Instead they're
getting calls from headquarters saying, "do this" or "don't do that" or what we
call micro management from 5,000 miles away. This was endemic. And people
didn't show up on time. People left, or this country didn't show up or their
forces left, they did all kinds of things. So this is a nightmare for the UN
commander to command his troops. It's fine if everybody's in a static
situation, cooperating and you're kind of overseeing some humanitarian food
distribution, [but] when it gets to people actually trained to attack you and
you may have to maneuver your forces or you need help from this or that, it
becomes a much more difficult situation. There were lots of problems, there
were countries that said, "We don't do windows," basically, I mean, "We won't
You were talking about the fact that it was really actually successful to
have the Rangers in coming in, just as Carter was actually making some
diplomatic negotiations. I guess at first [Carter was talking on his] own
initiative, but then I guess Clinton had gone along and agreed with him. My
question is really about having a two track policy. Do you feel that it makes
sense to try to heighten pressure on Aidid, planning on capturing him or
bringing in the special forces, and then also trying to pursue a diplomatic
I'm not commenting particularly on a special initiative by President Carter or
someone like that. But as a general proposition in these sort of complex
situations, in which you hope you'd never have to use force, I think you always
have to have a peace track that is available, and hopefully you can persuade
the right people that are causing the problem, or at least their followers, to
follow that track and to get on that track. I certainly think that the force
that was sent in in August, the Ranger Delta force, provided [that] pressure
because I think there was a real concern perhaps on Aidid's part that he would
be captured. These were serious forces, they were very capable and therefore
this alternative of finding this peaceful resolution became more attractive.
In retrospect, are there specific things that you felt that you would wanted
to be done differently, especially on some of the dates that we have
Well, there's first a general proposition I think that's important and that is
that if you're going to undertake an operation like the US effort or the UN
effort in Somalia, you need to provide the resources that match the mandate.
In other words, it needs to be front loaded for success. You need to have the
people and the resources, you need to have the agricultural and school support,
you need the political support, the radios and all of the different things that
go into trying to put a nation back together.
The Somalis desperately needed to be shown that the world cared and there was
support coming. I remember the example of the police force, and here was a
group all around the country that wanted to do their jobs, these were a pretty
professional people, but they didn't have trucks, they didn't have radios,
they didn't have guns. They [didn't] have the resources they needed or the
training to do the job that was expected of them. And there was a resource
just waiting to become productive with a little bit of help from the outside,
and yet we had endless bureaucratic groups and survey studies, and people
sitting on their hands and things not happening.
Another thing is that if you're going to make this kind of a commitment, it
really needs to be in your national interests, or at least compatible with your
interests and values as a society. And you have to recognize that whether it's
Somalia or Bosnia or Haiti or whatever, there are risks associated with these
operations, and you hope it goes wonderfully and nobody is ever hurt. But if
you go into a Chapter VII UN operation you are recognizing that there is
potential for hostilities and a need for enforcement may be there, and you need
to be committed to that, and so do all the nations that are involved. They
can't kind of pull against each other, they have to work together, and that
means at the highest policy level. Ministers need to meet and agree, and if
you come to one of these events -- you mentioned a date, June 5 -- that's a
major kind of turning point, you need to assess it and say, "All right, are we
still right with this, do we still support it? And if we are, then let's really
Do you feel like you didn't have that opportunity to do the things that you
wanted to do?
Oh, absolutely, we did not. We just were pleading constantly for the resources
to help people. Our mission out in the field was to help the nation of Somalia
get back on its feet. And at the least to help people from not starving, to
get the basic systems back, water and health systems. The political process
also needed to be carried out. And you need the kind of resources to do it.
And I think perhaps one problem for our nation, the US, in its support of this
is that it wanted to have it both ways, it certainly wanted to be successful
but it didn't want to do very much in the process. Now the US did a lot, and I
don't mean to minimize what the US did because it did a lot, but you have to
realize that the UN is a weak organization, it's very dependent on nations, and
it needs help.... I think it takes the leadership of countries like the United
States to say, "Yeah, we're going to make this work and we're going to get
behind the UN." The kind of force we got after October 3 that came in for 6
months which wasn't allowed to do much was actually the kind of force that
would have probably been a deterrent to an Aidid or anybody else that really
didn't see the UN succeeding in its interests. It probably would have
prevented that from happen[ing], and made that peaceful track work.