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Haiti has a longstanding history of US military intervention and occupation going back to the beginning of the 20th Century. US interventionism has contributed to the destruction of Haiti's national economy and the impoverishment of its population.
The devastating earthquake is presented to World public opinion as the sole cause of the country's predicament.
A country has been destroyed, its infrastructure demolished. Its people precipitated into abysmal poverty and despair.
Haiti's history, its colonial past have been erased.
The US military has come to the rescue of an impoverished Nation. What is its Mandate?
Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?
The main actors in America's "humanitarian operation" are the Department of Defense, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). (See USAID Speeches: On-The-Record Briefing on the Situation in Haiti, 01/13/10). USAID has also been entrusted in channelling food aid to Haiti, which is distributed by the World Food Program. (See USAID Press Release: USAID to Provide Emergency Food Aid for Haiti Earthquake Victims, January 13, 2010)
The military component of the US mission, however, tends to overshadow the civilian functions of rescuing a desperate and impoverished population. The overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.
The dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
A massive deployment of military hardware personnel is contemplated. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has confirmed that the US will be sending nine to ten thousand troops to Haiti, including 2000 marines. (American Forces Press Service, January 14, 2010)
Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships has already arrived in Port au Prince. (January 15, 2010). The 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit as well as and soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division "are trained in a wide variety of missions including security and riot-control in addition to humanitarian tasks."
In contrast to rescue and relief teams dispatched by various civilian teams and organizations, the humanitarian mandate of the US military is not clearly defined:
“Marines are definitely warriors first, and that is what the world knows the Marines for,... [but] we’re equally as compassionate when we need to be, and this is a role that we’d like to show -- that compassionate warrior, reaching out with a helping hand for those who need it. We are very excited about this.” (Marines' Spokesman, Marines Embark on Haiti Response Mission, Army Forces Press Services, January 14, 2010)
US Military Assets to be Sent to Haiti. (according to official announcements)
The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and amphibious dock landing ships USS Fort McHenry ('___' 43) and USS Carter Hall ('___' 50).
A 2,000-member Marine Amphibious Unit from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit and soldiers from the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne division. 900 soldiers are slated to arrive in Haiti by January 15th.
Aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson and its complement of supporting ships. (arrived in Port au Prince on January 15, 2010): USS Carl Vinson CVN 70
The hospital ship USNS Comfort
Several U.S. Coast Guard vessels and helicopters
USS Carl Vinson
The three amphibious ships will join aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy and guided-missile frigate USS Underwood.
Leading Role of US Southern Command
US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) with headquarters in Miami is the "lead agency" in Haiti. Its mandate as a regional military command is to carry out modern warfare. Its stated mission in Latin America and the Caribbean is "to conduct military operations and promote security cooperation to achieve U.S. strategic objectives." (Our Mission - U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) The commanding officers are trained to oversee theater operations, military policing as well "counterinsurgency" in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the recent establishment of new US military bases in Colombia, within proximity of the Venezuelan border.
General Douglas Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command has defined the Haiti emergency operation as a Command, Control, Communications operation (C3). US Southern Command is to oversee a massive deployment of military hardware, including several warships, an aircraft carrier, airborne combat divisions, etc:
"So we're focused on getting command and control and communications there so that we can really get a better understanding of what's going on. MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti], as their headquarters partially collapsed, lost a lot of their communication, and so we're looking to robust that communication, also.
We're also sending in assessment teams in conjunction with USAID, supporting their efforts, as well as putting in some of our own to support their efforts.
We're moving various ships that we had in the region -- they're small ships, Coast Guard cutters, destroyers -- in that direction, to provide whatever immediate assistance that we can on the ground.
We also have a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, moving in that direction. It was at sea off of Norfolk, and so it's going to take a couple of days for it to get there. We need to also just resupply it and give it the provisions it needs to support the effort as we look at Haiti. And then we're looking across the international agencies to figure out how we support their efforts as well as our efforts.
We also are looking at a large-deck amphibious ship with an embarked Marine Expeditionary Unit on it that will be a couple of days behind the USS Vinson.
And that gives us a broader range of capability to move supplies around, to have lift capability to help support the effort there also.
So bottom line to it is, we don't have a clear assessment right now of what the situation on the ground is, what the needs within Port-au-Prince are, how extensive the situation is.
We also, finally, have a team that's headed in to the airport. From my understanding -- because my deputy commander just happened to be in Haiti when this situation happened, on a previously scheduled visit. He has been to the airport. He says the runway is functional but the tower doesn't have communications capability. The passenger terminal -- has structural damage to it, so we don't know what the status of it is.
So we have a group going in to make sure we can gain and secure the airfield and operate from it, because that's one of those locations we think we're going to have a lot of the immediate effort from an international basis going into.
And then we're out conducting all the other assessments that you would consider appropriate as we go in and work this effort.
We're also coordinating on the ground with MINUSTAH, with the folks who are there. The commander for MINUSTAH happened to be in Miami when this situation happened, so he's right now traveling back through and should be arriving in Port-au-Prince any time now. So that will help us coordinate our efforts there also, because again, obviously the United Nations suffered a significant loss there with the collapse -- at least partial collapse of their headquarters.
So that's -- those are the initial efforts that we have ongoing And as we get the assessments of what's coming next, then we'll adjust as required.
The secretary of Defense, the president, have all stipulated that this is a significant effort, and we're corralling all the resources within the Department of Defense to support this effort." (Defense.gov News Transcript: DOD News Briefing with Gen. Fraser from the Pentagon, January 13, 2010)
A Heritage Foundation report summarizes the substance of America's mission in Haiti: "The earthquake has both humanitarian and U.S. national security implications [requiring] a rapid response that is not only bold but decisive, mobilizing U.S. military, governmental, and civilian capabilities for both a short-term rescue and relief effort and a longer-term recovery and reform program in Haiti." (James M. Roberts and Ray Walser, American Leadership Necessary to Assist Haiti After Devastating Earthquake, Heritage Foundation, January 14, 2010).
At the outset, the military mission will be involved in first aid and emergency as well as public security and police activities.
US Air Force Controls the Airport
The US Air Force has taken over air traffic control functions as well as the management of Port au Prince airport. In other words, the US military regulates the flow of emergency aid and relief supplies which are being brought into the country in civilian planes. The US Air Force is not working under the instructions of Haitian Airport officials. These officials have been displaced. The airport is run by the US Military (Interview with Haitian Ambassador to the US R. Joseph, PBS News, January 15, 2010)
"The FAA's team is working with DOD combat controllers to improve the flow of air traffic moving in and out of the airport. The US Air Force reopened the airport on 14 January, and on 15 January its contingency response group was granted senior airfield authority ... Senior airfield authority enables the Air Force to prioritise, schedule and control the airspace at the airport, ..." (flightglobal.com, January 16, 2010, emphasis added)
The 1,000-bed U.S. Navy hospital ship, USNS Comfort, which includes more than 1,000 medical and support personnel has been sent to Haiti under the jurisdiction of Southern Command. (See Navy hospital ship with 1,000 beds readies for Haiti quake relief, Digital Journal, January 14, 2010). There were, at the time of the Earthquake, some 7100 military personnel and over 2000 police, namely a foreign force of over 9000. In contrast, the international civilian personnel of MINUSTAH is less than 500. MINUSTAH Facts and Figures - United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
Originally posted by highlyoriginal
This is definitely worth the read... s
Originally posted by highlyoriginal
I'm so tired of the US govt. making these type of decisions without properly going through the procedures first, such as actually talking to the government they are supposedly helping before basically raiding it.
Originally posted by jerico65
Think about it this way: Who else has the means to get the supplies and aid to Haiti in the quickest way possible?
Originally posted by highlyoriginal
I'm not stating that the US isn't there too help, but if you actually read the article there is much military being deployed. Why so much?
Originally posted by highlyoriginalThe overall humanitarian operation is not being led by civilian governmental agencies such as FEMA or USAID, but by the Pentagon.
Originally posted by highlyoriginalThe dominant decision making role has been entrusted to US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
Originally posted by Lou Minotti
i really don't think that there's much to exploit from haiti. i think this is one of the few instances where our country is acting benignly. that, and it's great pr for the Obama administration