Academic journal article Military Review

Old Principles, New Realities

Academic journal article Military Review

Old Principles, New Realities

Article excerpt

IN ADDRESSING the US Army's effectiveness in Operation Uphold Democracy and its transition to the follow-on UN Mission in Haiti (UNMIH), we must take into account former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) General Colin Powell's premise that the modern American way of war is joint warfare, as articulated in the first edition of the new series of joint doctrine manuals, Joint Publication 1-02, Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms. Thus, in Powell's view the Army never again will go to war alone; it will always fight as a joint team. And if Uphold Democracy is indeed a harbinger of the future, then in the future the Army will invariably participate as a member of a joint, interagency or multinational team.

This article considers the operation's sequential phases in terms of how well or poorly it was executed in accordance with standardized principles of US Army and joint doctrine-the nine principles of war and the six principles of military operations other than war (OOTW).1There is significant overlap between the two sets on three of the principles as illustrated in the figure. Note that unity of command (war) and unity of effort (OOTW) are similar.

Uphold Democracy can be divided into five phases for analytical purposes: planning, deployment, employment, transition and redeployment.2 I address each phase with respect to its principles of war and OOTW application. I discuss four possible outcomes: the principle was applied successfully during a particular phase; it was either not applied or applied in inappropriate ways, resulting in failure; the principle's application by the force was to varying degrees appropriate or not, resulting in a mixed outcome; or the principle in question was not applicable to the particular operation phase.


With few exceptions, the principle of the objective was well satisfied during the planning phase of Uphold Democracy because it was stated clearly in several UN Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs) on Haiti. These all required that the democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, be returned to office and the military junta that had replaced him be removed. The conditions required to permit the return of Aristide-a secure and stable environment in Haiti-were also the conditions necessary to turn the mission over to the UN. Such an environment was never clearly articulated as an end state at the strategic level, but this failing was more than adequately addressed on the ground at the operational level. Long-term security and stability were linked to the political objective of restoring democracy, which while never clearly defined, generally seemed to manifest itself as returning Aristide to office and holding a series of subsequent "free and fair" elections culminating in the election of a new president and his inauguration.

In the planning process, the principle of the offensive was well and fully served. The US Army today is "offensive minded." Hence, the concept of Operations Plan (OPLAN) 2370 was offensive violence inflicted suddenly, from air and sea, with overwhelming but appropriate force. By contrast, OPLAN 2380 was developed for a permissive entry but still sought to land large numbers of well-armed troops in an offensive, combat-ready posture. OPLAN 2375 took a position somewhere in between, and when it was further modified and executed as 2380+, it retained the offensive capabilities inherent in OPL,ANs 2370 and 2380. The one planning failure appears to have been in clarifying the rules of engagement (ROE) for 2380+ before it was executed.

Mass was the certain complement to the offensive in all the plans. It was clear from the beginning that large numbers of forces were going to have to be landed in Haiti in a short period of time to quickly make their presence and power felt in two centers of gravity (COG)-Port-au-Prince and Cap Haitien. Thus, mass was built into all versions of the several plans. …

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