(This paper was prepared for the National Security Council at the joint request
of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Center for Naval
Analysis. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily
reflect the views of the Carnegie Endowment or the CNA, neither of which take
positions on such matters.)
1. Operational concept: A US-led international force would enter the heart of
the famine zone, establish either a series of safe havens in which the relief
agencies and UN could operate safely without escorts and a larger exclusion
zone from which armed vehicles would be prohibited. The zone would be
monitored by JSTARS and TARPS and patrolled by armed helicopters. Rapid
response teams would be based in the forward areas to respond to any threats to
personnel, military or civil relief workers, in the safe haven. The safe havens
would be supplied by air and from the sea. While the actual operating area for
ground forces would be relatively small, using a combination of the exclusion
zone and demarches to the faction leaders not to interfere with allied or UN
operations would permit us to influence events beyond the haven and exclusion
zone. The allies would make it clear that operation would be strictly
humanitarian and that as long as the factions did not interfere, they would not
be harmed. The duration of the mission would be short term, no longer than the
beginning of the next rainy season (mid-March) and an approximate withdrawal
date would be announced in advance. Turnover would be to a UN force.
2. The objectives:
a) Provide security so that relief agencies can do their job.
b) Break the back of the famine and stop the deaths.
c) Create an environment conducive to drawing the people back to the land.
d) Create sufficient security that refugees in Kenya are drawn back to
3. Force Structure:
The operation would be spearheaded by a Marine Expeditionary Unit operating
off the coast. The Marines would land from an LHA supported by AV-8Bs and
AH-1Js. They would secure bases ashore including a primary port and one or
more airports inland in the heart of the famine zone. The operation should be
structured so that terminals at each end of two MSRs are secured.
Main security force:
Once the air and beachheads are secure, the main security force would be
landed by ship and plane. A force of brigade to possibly division strength
would be drawn from US Army light infantry or airborne forces: (101st
AirMobile, 82nd Airborne, 325 Inf. or 7th Inf.) and if necessary supported
offshore by a MEB. If the city of Mogadishu is included in the security zone,
elements of an armored division will also be needed (2nd ACR) with tanks, IFVs,
Army support elements should include:
-- 2 MP Battalions;
-- 2 CA companies
-- 1 engineering battalion (with tracks);
-- 1 transportation company;
-- Associated supply and logistics units.
-- 1 HQ support unit;
-- One ANGLICA
In addition to the 24 helicopters attached to the MEU:
-- 2 US Army helicopter companies of UH-60s,
-- 1 helicopter company of CH-47s,
-- 1 detachment of USAF CH-53D Pave Coins
-- 1 company of AH-6 Apaches
-- 5 C-5s or 12 C-141s
-- 15 C-130s
Naval task force:
A naval task force assembled around the PhibRons supporting the MEU and MEB
would be reinforced from the Naval Transport Command and would supply the force
ashore and deliver replinishments.
Depending on the security situation, it may be advisable to station a CV with
supporting elements over the horizon.
The SOCCENT SF HRT should remain on station ex Mombasa. In addition, 1 Marine
HRT/Recon Unit should remain off-shore ex Mogadishu throughout the operation.
4. Security zones: The intervention should establish a series of airtight safe
zones in which the relief agencies can work freely and an interlocking
exclusion zone where they can travel with minimal risk. Unescorted convoys
should be able to transit the exclusion zone without risk. The zones should
encompass sufficient area that relief agencies can deliver seeds and
agricultural inputs without risk and Somali herdsmen should be able to move
their livestock without fear of attack.
The heart of the famine area is the area around Baidoa. At a minimum, the
zone should include: Baidoa, Houddur, Wajit, Belet Weyne and the areas
surrounding them plus a seaport.
The area should not include the areas west of the Juba River. That area can
be reached via cross-border operations from Kenya and once the zone is
established, effective control can be established via a limited exclusion
5. Exclusion zones: All attacks on food convoys, warehouses, and relief agency
compounds have been carried out by men using "technicals" (four-wheel drive
vehicles or pick-up trucks mounted with machine guns or recoilless rifles).
This is the key to their mobility. Restrict them from the area and it would be
very difficult for the bandits or factions to operate. In the rural areas,
there aren't that many vehicles moving about. Furthermore, the technicals have
heat and acoustical signatures that would be easy to fingerprint with JSTARS.
6. Ports: The operation will need at least one port. Unfortunately, the best
harbors are at Mogadishu and Kismayo, both of which should be avoided. Brava
and Marca are being used by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
using liangement to ferry the supplies ashore. However, amphibious landing
craft of the type carried by a Marine Expeditionary Unit's (MEU) PhibRon would
have no problems in either port. Brava is first choice.
7. International composition of the force: The US must have participation from
some allies. This makes it easier for the UN and relief agencies to work with
the military force, gives the operation more legitimacy internationally, and
facilitates the hand-over to a UN peacekeeping force. It may be possible to ask
the countries that have agreed to commit troops to the UN but have not yet sent
them to join the allied force.
A resolution from the UN Security Council similar to the one for northern Iraq
will be required.
8. Total force: The total force should be large enough to do the job but small
enough to demonstrate that it is a humanitarian operation defending the NGOs
and making it possible for them to operate. As in northern Iraq, the area that
we can influence will extend beyond the area that is actually secured.
A force composed of a MEU (1800-2100 Marines), two infantry brigades (7,500
soldiers), and armored regiment (4,500), support elements (3,500), aviation
units (2,500) plus associated allied troops (2) could accomplish the task.
Total on-the-ground US troop commitment would be approximately 20,000 soldiers
9. Security for relief agencies prior to execution: Since the US forces will
be seeking a resolution of the Security Council to intervene in Somalia, armed
factions and bandits will have prior notice of the operation. Some faction
leaders may try to oppose the intervention and independent bandit groups will
certainly try to steal as much as they can before the troops land. Thus, it
will be necessary to guarantee safety for relief personnel in Mogadishu and
outlying towns in advance of the landing. This can be accomplished in two
ways: 1) a demarche to the faction leaders ordering them to protect the
agencies and holding them responsible for any harm, and 2) deployment of UN
peacekeeping forces around relief agency compounds 48 hours before execution.
In addition, the SF HRT and the USMC Recon/HRT should be deployed close to the
main operating areas of Mogadishu and Baidoa.
10. Timing: If this concept is adopted, CENTCOM could initiate detailed
planning for a deployment within two weeks. Assuming that 1) a decision can be
made by the national command authority before Thanksgiving and 2) that the UN
will act within one week of a presidential offer if forces, and 3) that there
will be no significant opposition from Security Council members, and 4) that
Congressional leaders can be notified and briefed during the UN SC debates;
deployment according to this concept could begin as soon as December 7.
11. Threat Analysis: As with any irregular force, the threat is difficult to
predict. Faction leaders do not have absolute control over the elements within
their AOs and many bandits operate independently. The key to controlling both
the factions and the bandits is by restricting their mobility: eliminate the
"technicals" and they cannot steal large quantities of relief supplies.
The most troublesome element is the likelihood of sniping. There will
undoubtedly be some individuals and possibly groups who will find cause to fire
upon US or allied troops. The terrain outside the city is not suitable for
ambushes or sniping; it is flat and open. The most likely place for sniping
will be Mogadishu since it alone offers concealment and escape possibilities.
For this reason, it is strongly recommended that US and allied forces stay out
of the city (the reasoning was explained earlier in OpsCon 1 (3)
1 The author is President of INTERTECT Relief and Reconstruction
Corporation, an Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
and lecturer on Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations at the UN Force
Commanders Course in Niinsalo, Finland.
2 If Mogadishu is included in the plans, we should encourage the British
to commit an experienced force ex Northern Ireland to manage the irregular
urban warfare threat.
3 See also the after-action report on the Indian Peace-Keeping Force's
experience in Jaffna, Sri Lanka in 1987.
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