interviews: general anthony zinni
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Zinni was Director of Operations for UNITAF (Unified Task Force, Somalia) between November 1992 and May 1993. He was also the Assistant to the Special Envoy , Somalia (Ambassador Oakley) in October 1993 in the negotiations with Aidid for a truce and the release of captured US Ranger Michael Durant. He is now Commander in Chief, Central Command.

What was your role in Somalia?

Actually I had three roles in Somalia, the first during the period of the initial US intervention -- UNITAF, the United Task Force. I was the Director of Operations for five months until UNITAF left and turned it over to the UN. After the incident with the Rangers in October of '93 I went back as the Military Assistant to the Special Envoy from the President of the United States, Ambassador Robert Oakley, and assisted him in trying to get the prisoners released -- Chief Warrant Officer Durant and the Nigerian prisoner held by General Aidid -- and to work with the factions to try to get the political process back in place and the violence to stop. I had a third role in the final chapter of Somalia, I commanded the United Task Force United Shield, the name of the operation that covered the withdrawal of the UN forces in March of 1995.

When you were advising the folks that were going to enter into the summer of '92, what were the key elements that you wanted to impress upon them as far the issues that were going on in Somalia?

In 1992 when we received the initial mission for the intervention, it was a limited mission and I think what was important to us and what we admired from previous involvement in peacekeeping, humanitarian operations is to make sure that we stayed within the framework of the mission; it was limited in duration and limited in terms of scope. When we got on the ground we found the situation was a little different..., if Somalia was to be helped beyond the humanitarian stage and get into nation building or development or rehabilitation, it would be a much broader requirement and one more appropriate, we felt, for the UN or some international agency rather than a US led coalition, so I think the important point for us was to stay within the framework of the mission.

Can you talk about the warlords [that] were in power at that point? Who were you in touch with in the UNITAF operation?

When we first got there we discovered that there were 15 factions that were really vying for power in one form or another. Obviously most people have heard of General Aidid or Ali Mahdi, the two probably most prominent of the "warlords" or faction leaders, but there were 15 throughout Somalia that we dealt with. Some were clan based, some were politically based, [with] varying degrees of cooperation [with us], varying degrees of the way they viewed us and our mission and role in Somalia. We tried to set up committees so that we had constant communication and the ability for those faction leaders to bring issues or concerns to the table, we didn't want them to feel in our time there that they were isolated or they had no recourse other than to wield an axe if they had a problem. Ambassador Oakley, who was the US representative at the time, had set up a political committee, a security committee, a judicial committee, a number of committees representing all 15 factions. Prior to UNITAF leaving, we had worked with the UN for the 15 factions to come together on some agreement for a transitional government, at least some sort of federal government, and we had gotten it in Addis Ababa before we left, [we got] the 15 factions to sign up in principle to a plan to come together in some sort of transitional or transnational governmental structure, but it never panned out. After the UN had taken over, it fizzled and went nowhere.

So what was the relationship then, after the Addis Ababa accords, with General Aidid?

My relationship with General Aidid in the beginning was very cordial. We often met with General Aidid, oftentimes he had questions or concerns. I accompanied Ambassador Oakley, or sometimes on my own, went to see General Aidid or his lieutenants on concerns that he might have or we might have. He was always receptive to those meetings; we set up a relationship over time. I think in the beginning he felt the US intervention was good; I think by the time the UN was taking over he saw that this wouldn't work toward his interests, he felt he should be the leader of Somalia. There was a very strained relationship between the UN and Aidid when we left. Not necessarily the US and Aidid, and he had made that clear, I think the strength of the personal relationship that Ambassador Oakley had and I had had with Aidid helped us when we went back to unconditionally get an agreement to free Warrant Officer Durant and the Nigerian soldier that was a prisoner. Aidid agreed, I am convinced, just on the basis of his friendship with Ambassador Oakley.

In earlier days, would you describe what the atmosphere was like. What Somalia was going through at that point?

In the early days when we first arrived, I think there was a lot of apprehension on both sides, the Somalis and even the Americans -- when I say Americans, I mean the American-led coalition. We weren't sure what we were getting into. We were received by the people with open arms, I think the expectations may have been too high, I think they expected us to do more than just provide humanitarian assistance, but put the country back together again. So there was a degree of maybe overly ambitious expectations on their part, and I sense that after we did the initial feeding and medical care and the basic humanitarian efforts, the reception by the warlords was also very positive. They were, I think, very willing to work with us.

[There was a] very friendly atmosphere, [we] spent a lot of time meeting with General Aidid, Ali Mahdi and the others. I can recall General Aidid giving us very sound advice on how to conduct operations out on the field. For example he would tell us, "Don't just go out to the hinterlands unannounced, you may have an unintended clash with the militia or a group out there, make sure they know you're coming and the purpose of your visit, it will prevent any unintended violence. Come with NGOs, non-governmental organizations, with food, so they look at you as not just another gun club out there, but associate the food and medicine with you so you're there for some positive purpose." [He gave us a lot] of helpful hints [for] operating in the areas, especially those that he controlled, or his subordinates controlled, that worked very well. And in the beginning I felt that he was very cooperative and supportive. Our headquarters was in his area, Mogadishu, our main logistic lines and bases, the air base and the air field, and the port were in his area of control, so it was very important that we had him cooperating, especially in the beginning.

Why then was there this transition from a peacekeeping mission to the peace enforcement mission?

I think we could see some things happening toward the end of the UNITAF period as UN forces were coming in. There was about a six week overlap [as the US forces] eased out and the UN eased in. I think especially in the case of General Aidid, he began to see that the involvement of outside forces was not working to his interests. I think that he saw that he wasn't going to be able to leverage this to get complete control of the country....

I think when the UN came in, [and] the mandate changed [so that] the UN was going to actually get involved in the nation building aspects of this, I think he saw clearly that he would lose his position as sole leader of the country. There were a number of things that were done, the incident with the Pakistanis -- that was handled, I think, very poorly on behalf of the UN -- and the way the inspection was conducted [that] resulted in the clash. If it hadn't been that, it would have been something else I'm sure, [that] resulted in violence. And I think the principal thing that went wrong regarding the so-called warlords, is that the UN attempted to work around them, and I think a fact of life was that the 15 warlords or faction leaders represented the only leadership in that country, there was nothing else. It was not the best leadership, some of it was pretty bad, some of it was probably OK but not great, but they had the guns, they had the following, they had control of the political and clan organizations and they had to be dealt with. In our time in UNITAF our feeling was you had to set up some mechanism, some forum to deal with these leaders in one way or another, you couldn't avoid them, that just would spell trouble. I think the UN attempted to just ignore them.

What was your opinion as far as the nation building aspect? How viable did you think that this new mandate was? How long did you think it was going to take, as someone who had been there and was exiting?

Ambassador Oakley and I had talked about this, and General Johnson who commanded the Unified Task Force, before we left. We had talked about prospects for the future and the UN mandate and what they attempted to do. Our concerns at the time were that to take on nation building in Somalia was a monumental task. The problems of Somalia were so complex and the degradation of the infrastructure of the government or any law and order was so heavy that the effort was going to take a tremendous amount of time and resources and a lot of luck. What we were concerned about is this UN mission seemed to exceed the resources that they had available. I don't think that the UN really received the kind of force levels that they wanted and the kind of commitment maybe that they wanted, certainly not what would have been required to deal with that complex a situation. I think we assessed going out that this was about a fifty-fifty chance at best...., but we hoped that there might be some things that broke right, again going back to luck, that maybe the people would respond, really be tired of the fighting and the war and maybe pressure the leaders not to continue any more violence, and maybe a few institutions could take hold and begin to establish themselves like the police, or like judiciary system, but that never really happened.

What was the June 5th incident about?

As I understand it -- and I had no direct involvement in June 5th -- we had done inspections in the past in the UNITAF phase of what were called "containment sites" or authorized weapon storage sites or AWSSs, as we termed them. Part of the initial agreement in the UNITAF phase is that the faction leaders and militia leaders could keep their weapons until negotiations had decided how we would handle militias and disarmament and all that, but they [were] to be contained and accounted for, inventoried and subject to inspection. We conducted inspections in the UNITAF phase, in a very orderly, cooperative way, and the procedure in our time was that I would go before the security committee -- I had counterparts that were generals in Aidid's factions -- and we would tell them that we wanted to do an inspection of a given AWSS, they would come back to us and say, "Fine, OK" and a few days later we would conduct this inspection, usually with a very senior officer, announced well enough in advance. We had ways of monitoring the AWSS so we knew if weapons were moving in and out; it wasn't like we'd given them plenty of time to hide weapons or get the inventories right, as a matter of fact in several incidences we found inventories not right, or we found weapons caches that were not accounted for, and walked in and we confiscated them, but it was done through a security committee and very formally, with senior officer representation and notification.

My understanding of the June 5th [incident] -- and I base this on what I have heard and what I saw in the UN investigation of the incident -- is that the night before the investigation a couple of lieutenant colonels came to the Aidid faction to announce that they would inspect his authorized weapon inspection storage site. It was a Friday which is a Muslim weekend and holy day so there wasn't anybody around. There was some confusion with Aidid's folks, and they felt that this was not appropriate for the inspection to go that fast. I know that particular AWSS site was one that we watched very carefully, the militia in there were very tough. We had understood from some of Aidid's lieutenants that it was not one that they controlled very well, and it was a very aggressive militia. Also it was the site of Aidid's radio station, which had been a point of a lot of controversy during the UN period. There were some rumors going around that they were going to shut down the radio station, which we never subscribed to [during] the UNITAF phase.

Was the UN trying to provoke Aidid, do you think?

I wouldn't say the UN was trying to provoke Aidid. I certainly wouldn't say that, but I think their method of doing the inspection was different than ours. We did the inspections deliberately in a way that didn't embarrass the faction leaders or their militias or provoke them, that's not what we were trying to do. We were trying to establish the principle of accounting for weapons, containing them and making an agreement work in some way, lessening the number of weapons on the street and [ensuring] adherence to rules we had laid on weapons reduction and weapons visibility, so ours was a was very much a cooperative method of doing business. When they went out to this inspection site, I don't think they had agreement or concurrence on the part of the militia, perhaps the UN felt they didn't need it. When the Pakistani soldiers were sent out, as I mentioned, the radio station was there, the radio station was a point of contention; there had been rumors, at least, that the UN was going to shut down or close down the radio station. We had resisted any of thoughts of that in our time in UNITAF; we felt even though the radio station broadcast a lot of nasty anti-US/UN rhetoric, as long as it [didn't] provoke violence, we felt we wanted to demonstrate freedom of the press and freedom of speech, so that radio station we countered with our own radio station, and as a matter of fact it was very effective because Aidid called me over to his house several items to complain about our radio station and I told him that if he didn't like what we said on the radio station, he ought to think about his radio station and we could mutually agree to lower the rhetoric.

At any rate, I think when the Pakistani soldiers went into the authorized weapons storage site, there was a belief that they were coming to close down the radio station, there was an attempt to go into the radio station, as I understand it -- I'm getting this from Aidid's people that I spoke to later -- and there was shooting. Depending on who you talk to, one to three Somalis were killed as the Pakistanis left. The word of the "attack" on the radio station spread throughout Mogadishu. All sorts of people grabbed their weapons and arms and ran to 23 October Road, which was the route which was used by the Pakistanis. By the time the Pakistanis were on their way back to their area they were attacked by all these armed militia and others -- I mean, everybody in Mogadishu had an AK47 or a rocket launcher. I talked to people afterwards that were not Aidid supporters, far from it, [and] they felt that it was spontaneous, it certainly could not have been planned because they didn't even know this inspection was going to take place before the night before, [there was] a belief that this was an attack, or an attempt to close down the radio station, there was a scuffle and some shooting, and then the reaction in the streets. The reaction was so quick and spontaneous and violent, it not only attacked the Pakistani soldiers that were coming back from the inspection, but also Pakistani soldiers that were guarding feeding stations in the area.

What was your thought when you heard about this?

I was really devastated. Ambassador Oakley had called me, we talked about it, we both really felt badly. We feared something like this would happen. We knew things were not good, that there was a lot of tension, that everybody was on the edge and it would just take one spark to set it off like this. We just felt that everything that in the UNITAF phase we had built up, although very difficult and very fragile, [was] just going down in virtually one day.

So now this was Admiral Howe; he was trying to really execute all of the policy of the UN, is that correct?

Admiral Howe, [in his] mission as the political leader, the UN Special Representative to Secretary General, provided the leadership for the entire operation in that area. His mandate was very clear, he was trying to establish a viable form of government leadership in the country, responsive to the people. I think he was trying to get more popular involvement and defuse some of the power of the warlords [in order to] make whatever kind of government that succeeded in place be one more responsive to the people and their needs and maybe even more democratic in a way. I guess my view of things in Somalia is that's something which couldn't be done in two years or so, or whatever the mandate called for in the UN. It was something that was going to be a long process. What we needed in the interim was probably some sort of authority that provided for law and order, lessening of the violence, and then from there work on a government that might be more democratic, more responsive to the people. I didn't think in this short term you could get there that quickly, you certainly could not get there without the cooperation of the faction leaders, they were going to have to be involved, no matter how distasteful that might have been. They had the power and the authority.

So it was a miscalculation in approach?

I think it was a gamble. I think that there was maybe more belief that the Somali people had had it with violence and had it with anarchy and chaos and were willing to stand up. I think in a way it was naive because if you understand the clan and political structure in Somalia, that's not the way that things would work. They were very tied to their leaders, in a lot of cases their leaders were not "warlords," even the term probably gave us a misperception. Take General Aidid, he was a legitimate general; he was a general that was trained in Rome. He was probably the most successful general in the Somali army, the only one that had tactical successes in the war with Ethiopia. He was highly regarded by his troops as tactically very capable. He was very bright, he was an ambassador from Somalia to India, he had served in the cabinet there, he was respected in his clan, he had a following that sincerely believed that he was their George Washington. There was a very strong case to be made on his behalf by his followers, and of course [there was] his contention that "I should rightfully lead." To completely deny that he had credibility [or a] case to be made would be wrong. Now to say that he should have had sole control would probably be wrong too, although he felt he rated it, and should not share power. He was ruthless and he was tough, but he was intelligent and he had some legitimate credibility and authority, certainly with his followers.

So this June 6th security council resolution, is that basically declaring war on Aidid?

I think that [with] the resolution to declare Aidid a criminal and put a price on his head, first of all, I think it was ridiculous, second of all, I think you were no longer in peace enforcement or peacekeeping, you were now in a counterinsurgency operation, or in some form of war, however limited it might be. And maybe the most dangerous period was entered when they began to get into this quasi sort of environment of thinking we're still doing some humanitarian and peacekeeping, peace enforcement, [and] at the same time [go] into these battles on the streets of Mogadishu. Now in fairness there were parts of the country, probably most of Somalia, that they were involved in outside of Mogadishu, [where] low level peacekeeping and humanitarian operations were the norm.

If they're planning on capturing Aidid, why are they saying it? How likely is it that the UN can capture someone that is this military expert, who moves in his territory so well? How logical is it to actually make that declaration?

I think that one of the main [problems] was not understanding the clan culture. I think there might have been a belief that Aidid's followers might have turned him over or that there might have been some reaction by the Somali people to offer him up to be held accountable, and a belief that the UN forces were sufficient enough, maybe underestimating the military capability that those militias and armed Somalis had.

What was your opinion when you heard that they were going to bring the Task Force Rangers in to try and capture Aidid?

I thought that was a mistake. I thought that if we were going to get into the business of moving a force in there like that, to begin to hunt down Aidid, we were at war. We were now in a country where we had defined an enemy and we were fighting and we were going to be involved in taking casualties and killing Somalis. In the end you look at what national interests are involved, whether we should be involved in this sort of thing, whether in the end this was going to be productive and help our humanitarian or peacekeeping [activities]. I didn't see it, and I thought that that was a mistake. I think we had crossed the line when we got into that. I also think that the capability we had in there with Task Force Ranger -- very elite, highly trained, obviously very brave and courageous soldiers -- I think that was the wrong kind of mission [for them] to be there in the long term. It was it was a misuse of an asset that's very valuable and very capable and very well trained.

This opinion was shared by the top people in the military; Colonel Powell wasn't keen on bringing in the Rangers and expressed that concern. General Hoar didn't believe that the Rangers could capture Aidid; he gave a one in four chance that they would find him. Why is it that the Rangers are brought in despite the fact that at the top level there's so much concern?

[At that point], I had left UNITAF and I was onto other things, and I wasn't to come back until after the battle in Mogadishu in October '93, so I was not involved in that whole decision making process. I was watching it from outside, and, again, couldn't understand it. As a matter of fact, my reaction was that the worst thing that could happen is that they capture Aidid, that would have turned the worst thing because he could have become a martyr, he could have become a symbol, and all of Mogadishu could have erupted and it could have been into something much worse. Actually having captured Aidid could have been a worse situation than killing him or not capturing him in the long run, and caused a lot more casualties and a lot more fighting.

I talked to Aidid at length personally about the day of the battle in Mogadishu and the tactics involved. I was [an] interviewer, [and] I was interested [in hearing] from his side. I was on the ground and had talked to General Garrison and his forces about what had happened, and of course we were about getting the prisoners out, but I took the opportunity to ask Aidid what had happened that day and how he had organized himself for this. He said, "We had watched those men at the airfield," -- he called them "those dangerous men at the airfield" -- and how they operated and he made the determination that the helicopters were the vulnerability, or the center of gravity, and so when they held a meeting he put people on the roofs of the houses around the meeting place with the machine guns and rocket launchers and they were to concentrate all their fire on the helicopters. He really believed if he shot a helicopter down, that would cause them to gather round the helicopters, they could fix them and pin them in one area. The reaction force, he said, always came out of the airfield -- in our day in UNITAF we had a number of reaction forces come from different ways, but he said unlike those days the reaction force always came out of the airfield -- "so we watched where the reaction forces came from [and] we put in an ambush, and it was only activated when we held meetings, so it would engage the reaction force or slow it down or stop it," which I think happened that day. He had designed a set of tactics that ended up working, unfortunately. Though I think that operation would have been a success and the Rangers would have been out of there had the helicopter not been hit right toward the end; it would have been a tremendously quick in-and-out operation. [I think it was a combination of a] little bit of bad luck in [Aidid's] favor, and what I think might have been some pretty astute tactical decisions by General Aidid and his militia.

Do you think that Aidid baited a trap?

I don't think that this was a trap. I think that the Rangers came very close to pulling it all off and getting out of there and would have had a number of his lieutenants. I certainly don't think that this was a trap or it was baited in any way. As a matter of fact I think that incident probably shook up Aidid and his militia to an extreme amount. When we went back in to see Aidid, when we were going to meet with Aidid himself, we were trying to figure out how Ambassador Oakley and I would get to meet him. There was no truce declared or anything, it was something that we had got an agreement by Aidid to cease fire and everything, but on the UN side it was really nothing like that. We were escorted out into the center of Mogadishu by the Marine unit that was providing security for the US liaison office, the Ambassador there, not by any UN forces, or US forces in support of the UN. We were taken to a half way point [where] we were met by Aidid's militia. Aidid's militia took us to his hide out. We met with their technicals and militia, and some of their really hard core militia fighters that were involved in the battle were extremely shook up, in my view. A couple of them had come up to me and said, "No more, we have to stop the shooting." I think the battle that day really took its toll, the closeness of maybe grabbing some very key people, the number of casualties that they suffered in terms of militia -- in the hundreds, I think. That really affected them deeply. I think at that stage of the game they were really down and worried; I saw that in Aidid too, I'd never seen him like that before, I think that was probably the most frightened I saw him.

How effective do you think the military intelligence was?

There were some aspects of our intelligence that was extremely good. I think our street intelligence was good. In the UNITAF phase we had counterintelligence teams on the ground. The human intelligence was developed in a very short period of time, turned out to be very good, and what we were receiving from that kind of street level tactical intelligence was extremely valuable. Some of the access that we had in there operationally -- I mean our ability to look and listen and take pictures -- was very helpful; aerial photography of these authorized weapon storage sites [so that we could] count weapons and everything, make sure they were there, was all very helpful. I think [what we lacked was] probably the ability to penetrate the faction leaders and truly understand what they were up to, or maybe [the ability to] understand the culture, the clan association affiliation, the power of the faction leaders, and maybe understanding some of the infrastructure, too. We did very well at the tactical level, we did very well at the operational level, but that other aspect of it, we maybe lacked at times and [that] maybe led to things like not understanding where a particular individual was, or who he was, or what his relationship was, and maybe caused mistargeting in some cases by those that were after Aidid or his lieutenants.

Did Aidid say to you that he was able to benefit though from some of the informational systems?

I don't recall him ever talking about intelligence one way or the other. I think he was very confused by the whole intervention, and I can understand why he was confused. I think he saw the UN come in initially, UNOSOM I, a kind of a very weak, poor, ineffective kind of effort... then that's followed by a very robust US operation... UNITAF. We kind of stayed longer than I thought we were going to stay, we stayed 5 months.... Then he saw the UN come in with UNOSOM II. He saw a parade of people that he interacted with, going back to the Special Representative of the Secretary General in the original operation, Shaheem Katomi, then he sees Oakley, and then he sees a series of successors for Oakley... And each change represented, even subtly, a new approach, and I think he was getting confused, so I certainly don't think he felt he had any information or understanding of what was going on; I think he was just trying to figure out the intervention, where it was going, based on what was in his own best interests.

I'm also curious about the chain of command. You're talking about the turnover but there is also the fact that there's a real heavy US presence. Is it really a UN operation or is the really US in charge?

I think one of the lessons learnt out of Somalia is -- and I think anybody in the chain of the command would say this -- [that] the chain of command really became complicated, and that didn't help. When I went back with Ambassador Oakley we found this awkward chain of command. We had a UN operation, we had General Bir in charge of the UN forces. The US forces were really under his deputy, General Montgomery, but then General Montgomery retained national command authority the CINC and General Hoar provided the forces in some sort of tactical control, but obviously never relinquished command. That's another myth; the command was never relinquished to US forces, so all but US forces were under this UN command and control. I think there were forces on the ground that were under Chapter VI instructions, I think you might find the Germans and others that were there under chapter VII. There were forces off the coast that would come in and react that had another chain of command, marines and naval forces. You had the special operation forces and Task Force Ranger there that had another kind of direct chain of command that really weren't under Montgomery even though they were US forces. It became very confusing, and in part I think caused a problem with intelligence, whose intelligence was being used, how the reporting chain went. There is a principle of war that says unity in command is desirable in any kind of conflict; it certainly was not there between US and UN and even within the US structure.

Can you comment on the conflict between the US and the Italians?

In our time there the Italians had provided a very robust force. I thought they were very effective. It was clear to me in our time there that the Italians were not into this, they didn't see this as a shooting war. I'd operated with Italians before in different situations. If they deploy under one mandate, it's not that easy for them to get authority and approval to change it....

I wasn't familiar exactly what went on in the streets that caused some of the problems, whether they were slow to respond or whether UN had expectations on them that they never felt they could live up to, or where the problem was, but it seemed to me that we might be expecting other nations to respond the same way that we would have US forces, and I knew they couldn't all do that. We had forces in there in the UNITAF period from 23 nations, and it ran the gamut from almost [no] possibility of shooting to others that would be fully cooperative and were ready to do whatever it took. It spanned the entire spectrum.

The Rangers basically were saying [that they] felt that the Italians were in collusion with Aidid and they wanted to distance themselves from this capturing process of the US.

I can believe the latter, that they might want to distance themselves from the capturing process. There were a number of people that didn't believe that that was going to be productive in the end; I'm not so sure I believe that it was a wise decision. Whether they were in collusion or not -- this happens with any colonial power, and the Italians [were] a former colonial power. From the time the Italians came in there were always these things, "Well, they're in collusion with Ali Mahdi," that was the big rumor, then "They're in collusion with Aidid," now they're in collusion with somebody else. There were always these stories about who they were in collusion with. In the beginning it was that they were trying to prop up Ali Mahdi as the president. I don't know about the political side, [but] when I talked to the Italian military I am convinced that they had no instructions like that, certainly not in the UNITAF phase. They weren't told who to support or who to prop up. Whether politically or from an intelligence base something else was going on, I certainly didn't know about it.

What do you think are the lessons that have been learned [from Somalia?]

I think first of all the business about the chain of control and command is a key lesson from Somalia. [Another is the importance of] an understanding of the culture that you're involved in and the environment you're involved in. I don't think we understood the Somalis, I don't think we understood the clan infrastructure and how that worked, I don't think we understood the faction leaders. I think that before you take on nation building in your mind's eye as to how it should be, you'd better have a clear understanding if this is doable and will work. I think that one of the worst lessons that we learnt earlier on in UNITAF, but got lost along the way, is everybody with some degree of authority, even if it's out of the barrel of a gun, you'd better give them a forum in which to bring their case. When they're isolated, there's no recourse other than to violence. You have to give everybody another recourse as some means other than violence, no matter how distasteful it may be to have to deal with them and what they represent. You should avoid making enemies, but if you make enemies you have to deal with them firmly, you can't sort of deal with them on the side, you can't be running this operation and say, "Well, I've got this enemy here and I'll just sort of take care of him with a special unit outside the framework of the operation." That can come back to get you if the enemy's significant, [as] in this case Aidid [was].

Has what happened in Somalia had an impact on recent current foreign policy?

I think there has been a Mogadishu effect, but I don't think it's Mogadishu alone. It might be a culmination or an accumulation of a lot of effects, it might even go back to Vietnam and other places. I think the Mogadishu effect, if I had to define it, is we need to be more careful where we decide to commit US forces, and for what reason, and to make a clear judgment as to what we can and can't do and whether it's in our interests, or we could afford the resources that it would take to make the situation right.

Some people walk away and say the Mogadishu effect is the Americans can't take casualties. In the UNITAF phase we took casualties, we took killed and wounded in gun fights in the street, and we took killed and wounded by mines. There was no problem back here with those casualties, I think for several reasons, one, the numbers weren't great, certainly, but [also], the mission was clear to everybody back here; I think everybody thought we were there to do a very limited humanitarian effort. When it became nation building and hunting warlords, then casualties associated with that mission were not understood. It was not what the American people felt that they had signed up to. The lesson and the effect as it relates to casualties isn't that the Americans can't take casualties, because I don't think that's true, I think it's they can't take casualties for causes and reasons that aren't understood and clearly laid out before you get in.


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