Operation Uphold Democracy

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Operation Uphold Democracy
Port-au-Prince airfield seizure.jpg
Soldiers of C Company, 2nd Battalion 22nd Infantry, 10th Mountain Division securing Port-au-Prince Airport on the first day of Operation Uphold Democracy.
Date 19 September 1994 – 31 March 1995
Location Haiti

Operation successful

 United States
Commanders and leaders
Bill Clinton
George Fisher
Sławomir Petelicki
Enrique Molina Pico
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Raoul Cédras
Émile Jonassaint
Robert Malval
Casualties and losses
1 killed Unknown

Operation Uphold Democracy (19 September 1994 – 31 March 1995) was an intervention designed to remove the military regime installed by the 1991 Haitian coup d'état that overthrew the elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The operation was effectively authorized by the 31 July 1994 United Nations Security Council Resolution 940.


The operation began with the alert of United States and its allies for a forced entry into the island nation of Haiti. U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Air Force elements staged to Puerto Rico and southern Florida to prepare to support the airborne invasion, spearheaded by elements of the Joint Special Operations Command[1](HQ, 75th Ranger Rgmt), followed by 3rd Special Forces Group, the US Army 7th Transportation Group (Army watercraft and terminal elements) and the 10th Mountain Division. These elements were staged out of Hunter Army Airfield (JSOC) and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The operation was directed by Commander, Joint Task Force 120 (JTF-120), provided by Commander, Carrier Group Two.[2]

As these forces prepared to invade, including elements of the 82nd Airborne already in the air, a diplomatic element led by former President Jimmy Carter, U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell persuaded the leaders of Haiti to step down and allow the elected officials to return to power. The main leader holding power was General Joseph Raoul Cédras and was the key focus of the delegation. It was only through General Powell's personal relationship with Cédras from when Cédras was a student in the "School of the Americas" as a young officer that the delegation convinced Cédras to relinquish power, even as the invasion had already been launched.

This effort was successful due in part because the U.S. delegation was able to point to the massed forces poised to enter the country. The military mission changed from a combat operation to a peace-keeping and nation-building operation at that point with the deployment of the U.S.-led multinational force in Haiti. This force was made up primarily of members of the 3rd Special Forces Group, but also included members of the 101st Military Police Company, and 101st Aviation Brigade (Ft. Campbell, KY),3/2 ACR from Ft. Polk LA and Marine Forces Caribbean. Teams were deployed throughout the country to establish order and humanitarian services. Regular Army forces consisting of units from the 10th Mountain Division occupied Port-au-Prince with 3rd Bn (Airborne) 73rd Armor Regiment (82nd Airborne Division) and elements from the U.S. Army Materiel Command provided logistical support in the form of the Joint Logistics Support Command (JLSC) which provided oversight and direct control over all Multinational Force and U.S. deployed logistics units. This included the 46th Support Group, the Joint Material Management Center, JMMC and the follow on civilian contractor LOGCAP. Additionally, the 28th CASH (Combat Support Hospital) provided medical care for service members and Haitians alike.

The U.S. Coast Guard played a significant role in the operation, providing command, control and communications services from the CGC Chase(WHEC-718) a 378' high endurance cutters anchored in Port-au-Prince Harbor. Numerous 210' and 270' medium endurance cutters, as well as 110' patrol boats worked with Navy SEAL gunboats to provide security for forces entering and exiting the twelve-mile exclusion zone and Port-au-Prince Harbor. The 10th Mountain Division was relieved in place by units of the 25th Infantry Division (Light) under command of Major General George Fisher. The 25th Infantry Division deployed on 4 January 1995 from their home station of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and officially assumed command authority from the 10th Division on 9 January 1995. General Fisher and the 25th Infantry Division were the headquarters element of what is officially known as the Multinational Forces, Combined Task Force 190, Republic of Haiti.

The U.S. Army Reserve unit, 458th Transportation Detachment (ATMCT), Belleville, Illinois, was activated and reported to Fort Bragg, North Carolina within 48 hours of notification.[citation needed] This was the fastest a Reserve unit has ever been deployed.[citation needed] The 458th manned the 18th Corps Joint Movement Control Center (JMCC) in support of the mission.

Father Jean Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti in October of 1994 after 3 years of forced exile.[3] Operation Uphold Democracy officially ended on 31 March 1995 when it was replaced by the U.N. Mission in Haiti (UNMIH). U.S. President Bill Clinton and Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide presided over the change of authority ceremony. From the March 1995 until March 1996, 2,400 U.S. personnel from the original Operation Uphold Democracy remained as a support group commanded by UNMIH under a new operation called Operation New Horizons.[4] A large contingent of U.S. troops (USFORHAITI) participated as peacekeepers in the UNMIH until 1996 (and the U.S. forces commander was also the commander of the U.N. forces). U.N. forces under various mission names were in Haiti from 1995 through 2000. During the operation, one U.S. service member was killed by hostile fire. He was a U.S. special forces staff sergeant shot during a roadside check.

Three Argentine Navy corvettes of the Drummond class joined the mission to force the commercial embargo of Haiti.[5]


  1. Joint Special Operations Command
  2. "Carrier Group Two". Military. GlobalSecurity.org. April 26, 2005. Retrieved November 13, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Von Hippel, Karin (2000). Democracy by Force. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. p. 96.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. John Pike. "Operation New Horizons, globalsecurity.org 05.07.2011". Retrieved 1 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "con el propósito de asegurar el cumplimiento del embargo comercial, dispuesto por el Consejo de Seguridad, por medio de las corbetas ARA Grandville, ARA Guerrico y ARA Drummond.". Retrieved 1 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • "Operation New Horizons". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 10 July 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Award Certificate of Sergeant First Class Gary D. Soots, 25th Infantry Division