UNITED STATES PSYOP
IN SOMALIA

Herbert A. Friedman

This article is used with permission by the British Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) as reference material to provide high quality command and staff training to selected officers of Britain’s armed forces. In addition, it is used by the Military Information Support Team (MIST) Kenya as a reference source for continuity and information on U.S. PSYOP in Somalia. In 2014, permission was given for images from this article to be used by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in their "Design and Violence" project.

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I have hesitated in writing about the Psychological operations (PSYOP) planned and carried out during the United Nations intervention in Somalia simply because there are so many items to describe and so much data already written about that brief African adventure. The leaflets alone number close to 100, and if we add in the handbills, posters and other items, there are well over 100. I did write a short report entitled "A Brief Look at Propaganda over Somalia," for the winter 1994 issue of Perspectives, the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association. In that report, I illustrated and translated four UNITAF leaflets, including the first two that we show further down in this article. This time we will study the operation in much greater depth. Because of the number of PSYOP products involved, we will select and show only those that are particularly interesting.

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American newspapers seem to get excited about wars and famines in foreign countries in cycles. At one time, they would write headlines and print numerous articles and editorials about the Guerrilla wars in Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, and a host of other Central and South American nations. For a few weeks the headlines would be full of pictures and stories about the death and destruction, and then their interest would wane and they would go on to another hot topic. The wars still go on, and people are still dying, but the newspapers have lost interest.

We have seen the very same sort of cyclic activity when it comes to mass starvation, drought and famine in Africa. The newspapers will depict photographs of starving children with bloated bellies, weeping mothers, and bone-dry fields where nothing grows. It might be Ethiopia, the Congo, Somalia, or more recently, Liberia. After a few weeks, the journalists move on, no longer interested in the starving children. They still die, but the publishers have sold their papers and it is time to find another disaster to publicize and exploit.

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In some ways, this is how the United States became involved in Somalia. For weeks, the newspapers told of the suffering people and the warlords who kept them starving and in poverty. The United Nations clamored for a military force to protect food shipments, the newspapers demanded that the United States be part of that force, and slowly and gradually, the American military found itself unwillingly sucked into the vortex that is Africa.

A host of local petty warlords and clans ruled Somalia. They fought bitterly to control their small parcels of barren land and starving citizens. This was especially true in the capitol city of Mogadishu. The situation was so bad in that city that it was estimated that 500,000 Somalis would die of starvation in 1992. President Bush found himself under tremendous pressure to send American troops to protect relief workers and the food shipped to the starving nation. He finally authorized the deployment of American troops in an operation called Restore Hope.

The Army Times of 14 December 1992 lists the major warlords and their organizations:

Somali National Movement – Abdul Rahman Tur.
Somali Salvation Democratic Front – Colonel Tusuf.
United Somali Congress (Aideed faction) General Mohammed Farah Aideed.
United Somali Congress (Ali Mahdi faction) Ali Mahdi Muhammed.
Somali National Front – General Mohamed Said Hersi Morgan.
Somali Patriotic Movement – Colonel Omar Jess.

First, a history of the United Nations political and military activity in Somalia. This information is courtesy of the United Nations Department of Public Information.

The United Nations in Somalia, United Nations Department of Public Information, April 1993, says:

The downfall of President Siad Barre on 27 January 1991 resulted in a power struggle and clan clashes in many parts of Somalia. In November, the most intense fighting since January broke out in the capital Mogadishu, between two factions - one supporting interim President Ali Mahdi Mohamed and the other supporting the Chairman of the United Somali Congress, General Mohamed Farah Aided. Since then, fighting persisted in Mogadishu and spread throughout Somalia, with heavily armed elements controlling various parts of the country. Some declared alliance with one or the other of the two factions, while others have not. Numerous marauding groups of bandits added to the problem.

An article entitled  “Crisis in Somalia,” published in the booklet Blue Helmets - A Review of United Nations Peacekeeping adds in part: 

The United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM I) was set up to facilitate humanitarian aid to people trapped by civil war and famine. The mission developed into a broad attempt to help stop the conflict and reconstitute the basic institutions of a viable State.

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General Mohamed Farah Aideed

From November 1991, there was heavy fighting in the Somali capital of Mogadishu between armed elements allied to General Mohamed Farah Aideed, or to Mr. Ali Mohamed Mahdi, the appointed "interim President," and yet other factions. In addition to Mogadishu, there was conflict in Kismayo, and in the northwest, local leaders were pushing to create an independent "Somaliland". The country as a whole was without any form of central government. Banditry was rife.

The fighting that followed, with clans and sub-clans constituted in loose alliances without central control, took place at a time of serious drought. That combination proved disastrous for the population at large. By 1992, almost 4.5 million people, more than half the total number in the country, faced starvation, severe malnutrition and related diseases. The magnitude of suffering was immense. Overall, an estimated 300,000 people, including many children, died. Some 2 million people, violently displaced from their home areas, fled either to neighboring countries or elsewhere within Somalia. All institutions of governance and at least 60 per cent of the country's basic infrastructure disintegrated.

Meanwhile, conditions within Somalia continued to deteriorate for the great majority of its people. In resolution 767(1992) of 27 July 1992, the Security Council approved the proposal to establish four operational zones - Berbera, Bossasso, Mogadishu and Kismayo - and strongly endorsed sending a technical team to Somalia. On 24 August 1992, the Secretary-General requested an increase in the authorized strength of UNOSOM to create the four operational zones. For each zone, UNOSOM would receive a military unit of 750 personnel. The total strength of United Nations security personnel envisaged for Somalia thus rose to 3,500. On 28 August, the Security Council, by resolution 775 (1992), authorized the increase. On 8 September, it agreed to a further addition of three logistical units, raising the total authorized strength of UNOSOM to 4,219 troops and 50 military observers. The first group of security personnel arrived in Mogadishu on 14 September 1992.

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Somali “technicals” armed vehicles

Implementing the program proved difficult. Continuing disagreements among Somali factions on the United Nations role made the countrywide and more effective deployment of UNOSOM impossible. On 28 October, General Mohamed Farah Aideed declared that the Pakistani UNOSOM battalion must leave Mogadishu. He also ordered the expulsion within 48 hours of the UNOSOM Coordinator for Humanitarian Assistance. Subsequently, General Mohamed Farah Aideed's forces shelled and shot at UNOSOM forces controlling the airport, and Mr. Ali Mohamed Mahdi's forces shelled ships carrying food as they attempted to enter Mogadishu port. General Aideed objected to United Nations control of the airport; Mr. Ali Mohamed Mahdi wanted UNOSOM to take full control of the port. On 13 November, after coming under machine-gun, rifle and mortar fire, the Pakistani troops controlling the airport returned fire. In the absence of a government capable of maintaining law and order, relief organizations experienced increased hijacking of vehicles, looting of convoys and warehouses, and detention of expatriate staff.

The N.Y. Times of 2 January 1993 discusses the warlords:

General Aideed controls most of southern Somalia, including a large part of Mogadishu, while Mr. Ali Mahdi presides over northern Mogadishu…other key figures include General Mohammed Said Hersi Morgan who controls the town of Bardera, and Colonel Omar Jess, who controls Kismayu.

On 3 December 1992, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 794. The Council welcomed the United States offer to help create a secure environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid in Somalia and authorized, under Chapter VII of the Charter, the use of "all necessary means" to do so. United States President George Bush responded to Security Council resolution 794 with a decision on 4 December to initiate Operation Restore Hope, under which the United States would assume the unified command.

We should point out that before the actual start of military operations in Somalia the United States had tried to quietly feed the people using civilian agencies. This is discussed in the booklet, U.S. Army in Somalia 1992-1994. It says:

In response to the worsening famine, the United States decided to assist the relief efforts by airlifting food from nearby Kenya to remote airfields in the interior of Somalia for distribution, thus bypassing congested ports and reducing the need to send out easily looted convoys. For this purpose, the United States launched Operation PROVIDE RELIEF on 15 August 1992. The actual ground distribution continued to be accomplished by the international relief organizations already established in the country. PROVIDE RELIEF was thus a limited attempt to use U.S. expertise in logistics to help the relief effort without engaging American military forces on the ground.

Problems of distribution within the country continued to hamper the relief effort. In the countryside, lawless gangs seized relief supplies and used them to buy local loyalties while letting thousands starve. In the cities, the warring political factions, supported by their private armies, amassed food stockpiles as bargaining chips and signs of their power. These rival entities, often barely controlled by their clan leaders, terrorized the international organizations, stealing food and killing whoever did not pay protection money.

The first elements of the Unified Task Force (UNITAF) came ashore on the beaches of Mogadishu without opposition on 9 December 1992. The first PSYOP soldiers deployed from Fort Bragg to Mombasa, Kenya, where they joined the U.S. 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Tripoli. They accompanied the initial Marine landing at Mogadishu. 1,300 marines flew by helicopter directly to Mogadishu airport. Navy Seals landed quietly and stealthily in the dark before dawn and were immediately blinded by the blazing lights of television crews who had been told of their arrival. The U.S. Army component of UNITAF was Task Force Mountain. TF Mountain was built around the 2d Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, and at its peak consisted of approximately 10,000 soldiers including two infantry battalions, an aviation brigade, and division artillery and support assets. While conventional forces concentrated on major cities and regions, U.S. Special Operations Forces moved quickly to establish a presence in the rest of the countryside, place liaison cells with allied forces, and conduct civil affairs and psychological operations.

Over the next several weeks, eight tactical PSYOP teams accompanied UNITAF ground forces as they deployed throughout central and southern Somalia to secure relief convoys and to promote stability. On 13 December, United States forces had secured the airfield at Baledogle, and by 16 December, they had seized Baidoa. The number of United States forces would rise to approximately 28,000 personnel, augmented by some 17,000 UNITAF troops from over 20 countries.

On 3 March 1993, the Secretary-General submitted to the Security Council his recommendations for effecting the transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II. He indicated that since the adoption of Council resolution 794 in December 1992, UNITAF had deployed approximately 37,000 troops in southern and central Somalia, covering approximately 40 per cent of the country's territory. The presence and operations of UNITAF had a positive impact on the security situation in Somalia and on the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance. However, despite the improvement, incidents of violence continued. There was still no effective functioning government in the country, no organized civilian police and no disciplined national army.

The Security Council established UNOSOM II by resolution 814 on 26 March 1993. UNOSOM II took over from UNITAF in May 1993 and ended March 1995. It consisted of approximately 28,000 military and police personnel; there was also a provision for some 2,800 international and locally recruited staff. UNOSOM II was to complete, through disarmament and reconciliation, the task begun by UNITAF for the restoration of peace, stability, law and order. UNOSOM II was also entrusted with assisting the Somali people in rebuilding their economy and social and political life, re-establishing the country's institutional structure, achieving national political reconciliation, recreating a Somali State based on democratic governance and rehabilitating the country's economy and infrastructure. In February 1994, after several violent incidents and attacks on United Nations soldiers, the Security Council revised UNOSOM II's mandate to exclude the use of coercive methods.

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PSYOP in Somalia

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A mixed Group of Allied Leaflets to Somalia
Militariaforum.com

Looking at my own notes from 1992-1993, I see under “General Information” the following comments:

“UNOSOM was established 24 April 1992 to monitor the cease-fire, provide security, and escort humanitarian supplies to distribution centers. There were about 3,500 UN troops originally assigned. An additional 3,500 troops joined the force in August 1992 to protect convoys and distribution centers.

The United Nations authorized UNITAF on 3 December 1992. The United States led it with about 28,000 troops. Operation Restore Hope originated 9 December 1992. Another 20 nations would send troops for a total force of about 37,000 peacekeepers. The mission was to ‘use all force necessary to establish a secure environment.’

The United Nations authorized UNOSOM II on 3 March 1993. It was the first peacekeeping operation authorized to use force. The mission was to effect a political reconciliation and transfer of power to a civilian institution. The first force commander was Lieutenant General Cevik Bir of Turkey. The manpower was about 20,000 combat troops, 8,000 logistical troops, and 2,800 civilians.

The United Task Force Somalia (UNITAF) disseminated 37 leaflets between 9 December 1992 and 4 May 1993.

U.S. Army in Somalia 1992-1994 adds:

Turkish Lieutenant General Cevik Bir was appointed commander of the UNOSOM II force, with U.S. Army Major General Thomas M. Montgomery as his deputy. General Montgomery also retained his position as commander of U.S. Forces in Somalia Thus the U.S. forces retained their own national chain of command while inserting themselves into the UN structure. By October 1993 UNOSOM II consisted of over 16,000 peacekeepers from 21 nations. This number would jump to 29,732 soldiers from 29 nations by mid-November with the arrival of over 17,000 additional U.S. personnel as part of a U.S. joint task force.

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The 4th PSYOP Group published a book entitled Psychological Operations in Support of Operation Restore Hope in late 1993. It gives background on the early aspects of the operations:

PSYOP was a key Battlefield Operating System used extensively to support UNITAF operations.  In order to maximize the PSYOP impact, we established a Joint PSYOP Task Force (JPOTF) under the supervision of the director of operations, and limited the PSYOP focus to the operational and tactical levels.

The JPOTF was comprised of approximately 125 members of the U.S. Army’s 4th PSYOP Group, and several of its subordinate battalions, the 8th (command and control), the 9th, (a tactical loudspeaker battalion), the PSYOP Dissemination Battalion and one U.S. Navy sailor and a dozen Somali linguists. The JPOTF worked with coalition forces, senior U.S. and U.N. civilians, and nongovernmental and private volunteer organizations. The JPOTF designed, produced and disseminated thirty-seven different leaflets; large numbers of more than a dozen different handbills and posters; issued 116 editions of a Somali language UNITAF newspaper RAJO (Hope) with as many as 25,000 copies printed and distributed daily to every town and village where UNITAF forces were deployed; transmitted radio broadcasts twice daily; produced and disseminated more than seven million leaflets over central and southern Somalia; deployed tactical PSYOP teams with the coalition forces; and provided advice to the U.S. special envoy, Ambassador Robert Oakley and his staff.

A detachment of the 9th PSYOP Battalion was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division. The arrangement is described by Captain James C. Boisselle in an article entitled "Detachment B910 in Operation Restore Hope: Operations and Lesson Learned," in Perspectives - the Journal of the Psychological Operations Association, spring 1994. Some of CPT Boisselle's comments are: 

The mission was to plan, coordinate, and execute PSYOP in support of the 2nd Brigade of the United Task Force campaign plan. The Brigade's initial focus was combat operations such as reaction to ambush, raid cordon and search...initially the role of tactical PSYOP in support of these operations was straight forward; induce surrender, deter resistance, and prevent civilian interference.

 

A day or two before the arrival of forces, the PSYOP plan was executed. This usually consisted of a leaflet drop explaining certain 'rules' and face-to-face messages conveying the US forces' operations. Once an area had been stabilized and relief supplies were again moving, Detachment B910 conducted follow-up assessments and developed programs to help achieve PSYOP objectives.

I should point out that the story does not end with the UNITAF leaflets. When UNOSOM II took over for UNITAF, they produced another entire series of leaflets, even more extensive than the UNITAF series.  

The PsyWar Society published a booklet in April 1995 entitled Illustrated Catalogue of UNITAF Aerial Leaflets used in Support of Operation Restore Hope, Somalia, 9 December 1992 – 4 May 1993. As I gathered the leaflets, I numbered them 1 through 37. The booklet numbered them with the prefix PSN followed by S1, S2, etc. I will use their codes simply because it is easier for the reader to follow a published reference. Unfortunately, the leaflets are uncoded so any numbering system is completely arbitrary.

United States Marines CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters dropped the first two leaflets (S1 and S2) over Mogadishu on 9 December. Because of small arms fire, the initial drops were from 1,000-5,000 feet. Later drops were from 500-1,000 feet. United States Air Force C-130 Hercules also dropped leaflets on Somalia. The leaflets were initially printed at Fort Bragg, NC, on the 4th PSYOP Group’s Heidelberg print presses. The leaflets are discussed in detail by LTC Charles P. Borchini in a Special Warfare article entitled “PSYOP in Somalia – The Voice of Hope.” He says:

The initial landing of U.S. forces in Mogadishu on 9 December was preceded by a drop of approximately 220,000 leaflets from a U.S. Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter. This operation used two kinds of leaflets to announce the arrival of U.S. forces and to alert inhabitants of the need for convoy-security missions. The “handshake” leaflet communicated the basic message that the intent of the mission was to assist, not harm Somalis; the convoy security leaflet stressed that coalition troops would use force to protect the relief shipments. These three-by-six-inch leaflets had been printed at Fort Bragg by the 4th PSYOP Group.

Throughout the operation, PSYOP teams, using U.S. C-130s, U.S. Marine CH-53s, U.S. Army UH-60s and UH-1s, and a Canadian C-130, continued to drop the two leaflets along major supply routes. The handshake leaflets were dropped two or three days prior to the arrival of UNITAF forces in each town; the convoy leaflets were dropped two or three days afterward. During one operation, PSYOP teams used U.S. Navy S-3 Viking fixed-wing aircraft to jettison 60 canisters, each carrying 2,500 leaflets, over the target area. With the gradual redeployment of U.S. C-130s, leaflet missions were also conducted from New Zealand "Andovers," a smaller version of the DC-3.

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Convoy Leaflet

The very first leaflet clearly shows the intent of the United Nations resolution. It depicts a military food convoy protected by armed high mobility multipurpose-wheeled vehicles (Humvees) and helicopters. Happy Somalis wave at the convoy. There are numerous ways to interpret and translate the Somali language. I will use that translation that seems to best fit the intent of the leaflet. Text on the front is, “We are here to protect relief convoys! Do not block the roads.” The back depicts a UN symbol, an American flag, and the text “Our forces are here to defend the people helping you Do not get involved in any manner. Do not block the roads! Force will be used to protect the convoys.”

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A young Somali boy holding the handshake leaflet.

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Handshake Leaflet

The second dropped leaflet received a lot of print and newspaper coverage when some linguists claimed that the text was an insult to the Somalis. The front has no text and is a handsome full-color depiction of an American soldier and a Somali citizen shaking hands. These leaflets were regularly dropped two to three days before UNITAF forces arrived in a Somali town. Once again, armed humvees and helicopters are in the background. The back depicts the flag of the United Nations and the United States. The official translation of the text is, “The forces of the world (United Nations) are here to assist in the international relief effort for the Somali people. We are prepared to use force to protect the relief operation and our soldiers. We will not allow interference with food distribution or with our activities. We are here to help you.” This leaflet is found in three variations. In the first, two United Nations flags are on the back. In the second, a US flag is barely visible beneath the text.

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The San Francisco Chronicle of 12 December 1992 said about this leaflet, “The Marines are here, and they may need a few good men who can translate. A leaflet the U.S. forces are using to win over the Somali people bears an almost incomprehensible message, muddled by at least three misspelled words, one word that does not exist and poor syntax…the first word is the most noticeable error. It was supposed to read ‘aduunka’ or ‘world’ in the phrase ‘world forces.’ The word appears as ‘adoonka,’ which means slave.”

Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini, Commander, 8th PSYOP Battalion, remarked:

This error was a result of poor communications and a failure to double check the final product before we printed it. We sent a facsimile of the English message to Norfolk where the sailor (a native-borne Somali who left home at age of twelve) was based; after he translated it into Somali and sent a facsimile of the translation, we then typed the leaflet into our computer. After the Central Command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff changed some of the words, we passed the changes verbally over the telephone to the sailor, and received the changes to his translation back over the telephone. We then produced the leaflets. We should have sent him a facsimile of the final product before we printed it.

Of the 37 leaflets prepared during the UNITAF phase of the Somalia intervention, many featured standard PSYOP themes. Some of these themes are the number of Allied forces in the coalition occupying a nation, the rebuilding (consolidation) of the nation, the prohibition against weapons, warning against touching mines and bombs, the prohibition against looting, and a general call for law and order among the populace. Some of the standard leaflet themes that we do not find are rewards for individuals or weapons and safe conduct passes. In general, the leaflets are crude with most in printed in just one or two colors.

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S3

An example of the number of allied forces of the coalition is leaflet S3. The leaflet depicts an Allied soldier (probably an Australian from the cut of his uniform and his "boonie" hat) shaking hands with a Somali on the front, and the flags of the 21 nations above and below the vignette. The Australians namesd this campaign Operation Solace. They sent about 1,200 men, 1 Royal Australian Regiment Battalion Group, an Australian HQ and the HMAS Tobruk.

The leaflet is found with two different texts on the back. Both mention prohibited weapons. The text is:

UNITAF – SOMALIA. These weapons are prohibited in Baidhabo. Light and heavy machine guns and mortars. Armored cars with weapons on them (technicals). A person cannot carry weapons (of any type) without permission. If one of these weapons is seen, it will be confiscated immediately. Killing and looting of the humanitarian aid will not be tolerated. UNITAF have orders to use force if they think they are being threatened.

Notice the use of the term "technical." The Technical is the most significant symbol of power in southern Somalia. It is a small truck with large tripod machine guns mounted on the back. A warlord's power is measured by how many of these vehicles he has.

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S15

There were numerous mine warning leaflets. S15 shows a Somali about to touch a mine. There are 23 coalition flags above and below him. Drawings of different kinds of explosives are all around the boy. Text on the front is:

Do not touch mines or explosive things. Tell someone about them.

The back depicts the boy telling two soldiers about the mines with the text:

Meaningless death. Parents please tell your children to keep away from mines and other explosive things. Tell the peace-keeping force about mines and other explosive things.

This leaflet appears in several variations with different colors. It was printed with fronts and backs in blue, red or green.

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S13

Leaflet S13 features and anti-looting theme and depicts Somalis trying to steal grain bags from an armed UNITAF convoy. Text on the back is:

Looting, stealing and throwing stones is not Somali. It is criminal. Pointing guns, (even playing or the play one) threatens everybody. The forces of UNITAF have the right to use deadly force if they feel they are threatened or if they feel they are in danger. Help us stop this behavior before someone else is wounded.

This leaflet was printed in red and green.

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S28

Leaflet S28 has a nation-building theme. The front depicts Somalis and Americans working together to clean up the streets. The American drives a bulldozer. The text is:

Operation Clean Streets. The program of cleaning the streets begins 28 December 1992 from 9:00 p.m. until 4:00 a.m.

The back is all text:

Operation clean streets will clean the streets and remove any items that are blocking them, such as abandoned cars, dirt, stones and other rubbish. Please remove your kiosks, your cars and any other possessions from the sides of the streets. We can rebuild Somalia together." A bulldozer was shown again on S30, this time telling the Somalis, "The UNITAF engineers who are working to help the Somali people mend the roads. Help us so that we may help you. Report mines!

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S20

Leaflet S20 depicts a bulldozer and an engineer with a theodolite on the front in bright red. The back is all text in green. The text is:

ANNOUNCEMENT ANNOUNCEMENT

The UNITAF engineers are mending the main roads between the towns and the humanitarian distribution centers. This will make it possible for the aid convoys and Somali transport owners to move their loads easily. UNITAF is not able on its own to carry out this project so we need cooperation.

Please stay away from the workers and their equipment.
Do not allow your children to play by the work sites.
Stay away from all places in which there are “danger” flags.

The 4th PSYOP Group booklet says about these engineer leaflets:

Leaflets, posters and handbills supported several engineer projects. In December 1992 and again in March 1993, engineers cleared the streets of Mogadishu of abandoned and destroyed vehicles, downed telephone poles, and other objects that blocked the flow of traffic along major road areas. Engineers also removed sand and tons of debris that had narrowed streets. Later in the operation, Army engineers and Navy Seabees repaired or constructed over 1,200 miles of roads, drilled fourteen wells, and erected a Bailey Bridge across the Juba River near the town of Jilib. PSYOP complimented these efforts by informing the Somali people of the programs and asking them to cooperate by staying clear of the hazardous engineer equipment.

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S4

Leaflet S4 features a nation-building theme and depicts Somalis farming, receiving food and building a home. The back is all text:

UNITAF's mission is to provide a secure environment for humanitarian relief efforts throughout Somalia. Initial emphasis was on securing key cities; now the focus is on expanding the security to smaller towns and villages. As they are secured, relief agencies are beginning to distribute dry food, seeds and farm utensils to help displaced families return to their farms, rebuild their homes and plant their fields. Now it is harvest time for many crops. Preparations need to be made for the next planting.

The 4th PSYOP Group booklet adds:

PSYOP supported several operations conducted by Non-Governmental Organizations or NGOs. A major problem facing Somalia is the large number of displaced persons and refugees who were forced to leave their homes during the civil war. With no reliable source of food or medical care, these groups have been very dependent on relief provided by the NGOs. The "Pastoral Scene" leaflet (S4) supported programs to encourage displaced persons and refugees to move back to their homes - when it was safe to do so - in order to harvest crops and begin planting for the next growing season. The goal of this leaflet describing specific NGO resettlement programs was to help break the cycle of dependency and encourage self sufficiency.

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S25

Leaflet S25 depicts the flags of 23 nations at the top and bottom and the text:

ATTENTION MORGAN FORCES.

All forces and weapons must be moved out of the lower Juba Valley to locations north of Dobley by midnight 25 February, or risk destruction. These locations must be designated and provided to UNITAF officials on 25 February. Any forces found outside of these locations thereafter will be engaged by UNITAF forces and any weapons located will be destroyed.

Text on the back is:

The UNITAF forces are more than powerful enough to settle the military situation in the area of Kismaayo and they are prepared to do that if the Somalis cannot do it or they do not choose peace and agreement over fighting. There is no benefit in continued war between Somalis, nothing but mounting difficulties for the Somali people. The time has come for the people living in Kismaayo and the surround region to reject the path leading to war and to turn to honesty and agreement, peace and prosperity.

LTC Borchini mentions this leaflet in his article "PSYOP in Somalia: The Voice of Hope"

PSYOP also responded quickly to the repeated crisis in Kismayo. After Hersi Morgan took Kismayo in late February, Johnston and Ambassador Oakley issued an ultimatum for him to withdraw his forces to a town on the Kenyan border. The JPOTF produced and dropped leaflets informing Morgan's supporters, as well as the people of Kismayo and other major towns in the lower Juba valley, of the situation.

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S8

The last leaflet we will mention is S8. This leaflet listed the prohibited weapons and aircraft dropped a version of it in all of the larger cities that UNITAF occupied. Almost identical leaflets were prepared for Beledweyn, Mogadishu, Baraawe, Jilib, Kismaayo, Marka, and Afgooye. The leaflets are generally the same. They show a technical vehicle at the left, armed Somalis in the center, and a roadblock at the right. Text on the front is:

These weapons are prohibited from Kismaayo. Technical vehicles (armored cars). Pointing weapons. Weapons (such as light or heavy machineguns or mortars).

The back is all text:

UNITAF – SOMALIA. The rules for Kismaayo. Light and heavy machine guns will not be tolerated. Armored cars, cars with weapons in them (technicals) will not be tolerated. Weapons clearly carried (of all types) will not be tolerated. If one of these is seen, it will be confiscated immediately. Kismaayo roadblocks will not be tolerated. Killing and looting of the humanitarian air will not be tolerated. UNITAF have orders to use force if they feel they are being threatened.

The Forbidden Weapons Series

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Wanleweeyn Warning – No flags

This leaflet appears in two versions and many variations. It lists weapons forbidden (or “prohibited;” the word has been translated both ways) in those areas of Somalia that were occupied by Allied forces. Aircraft dropped one or both versions in all of the larger cities that UNITAF and the Combined Task Force (I should note that the Army translation is “Combined Task Force,” but the Psywar Society translation for the same leaflet is “Restore Hope Allied Forces.” In this article I will use the former because I think it is more likely correct) occupied. Almost identical leaflets were prepared for Muqdishu (Mogadishu), Beled Weyne (Beledweyn), Baraawa (Brava), Baidhabo (Baidoa), Jilib, Kismaayo, Marka (Merka), Wanleweeyn (Wanlaweyn), Afgooye and possibly other towns. The leaflets are slightly different. The Psywar Society booklet lists ten different leaflets from this series. On the front those produced by the Combined Task Force show from left to right; a “Technical” armed civilian vehicle, an armed Somali fighter, a machine gunner, and a military armored car. The leaflets prepared by UNITAF are almost identical on the front except that the text is generally smaller and the last image depicts an armed Somali manning a road block. In addition, the flags of the Coalition forces are at the bottom of the leaflet. Both versions have “prohibited” symbols at the right and left. Having said all this, there is a great mix of the leaflets and images so although we can talk about what is on the front or the back, we can never be sure who about the exact wording on a leaflet and if things like the flags will appear. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. There is great variation. I will show the front of a leaflet with flags and one without flags.

The back of the leaflets are slightly different. The text is very similar but the Combined Task Force leaflet has an American flag and a U.N. symbol. The back of the UNITAF leaflet has the U.N. symbol and a Somali star.

Although the texts can differ slighter, in general the text on the front is of the Combined Task Force or “no flags” version is:

These are forbidden in Wanleweeyn…Technical type vehicles, armored vehicles, pointing or aiming weapons at the Combined Task Force, crew-served weapons, machine guns, mortars and recoilless rifles.

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Mogadishu Warning – With flags

The text on the front of the UNITAF or “flags” version is:

These are forbidden in Mogadishu…Armored and technical type vehicles, blocking roads, openly carrying weapons of any type (rifles, hand guns, grenades), crew served weapons, machine guns, mortars and recoilless rifles.

The back of the Combined Task Force leaflet is:

COMBINED TASK FORCE – RESTORE HOPE RULES FOR WANLEWEEYN

Machine guns, recoilless rifles, mortars and other crew served weapons will not be tolerated. Armored vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, or vehicles equipped with weapons mounts (Technicals) will not be tolerated. If any of these items are seen they are subject to immediate confiscation. Killing or looting of relief supplies will not be tolerated. Anyone aiming or pointing a weapon at CTF forces will be shot. CTF forces are authorized to use force if they are threatened or perceive they are threatened.

The back of the UNITAF version is:

UNITAF – SOMALIA. RULES FOR MOGADISHU

Machine guns, recoilless rifles, mortars and other crew served weapons will not be tolerated. Armored vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, or vehicles equipped with weapons mounts (Technicals) will not be tolerated. Carrying any type of weapon openly will not be tolerated (rifles, hand guns, grenades). If any of these items are seen, they are subject to immediate confiscation. Blocking road into Mogadishu will not be tolerated. Killing or looting of relief supplies will not be tolerated. UNITAF forces are authorized to use force if they are threatened or perceive they are threatened.

Army Times of 30 December 1992 adds:

In Mogadishu, military planes dropped 100,000 leaflets on all parts of the city warning clansmen and marauding gunmen that looting and killing would not be tolerated and that weapons and combat vehicles would be confiscated on sight.

Robert Bauman seems to be talking about these leaflets in My Clan against the World: U.S. and Coalition Forces in Somalia 1992-1994 when he says that Major General Arnold wrote a directive about the “4 Nos.” They were: no bandits; no checkpoints (erected by armed Somalis for the purpose of extortion); no technical vehicles and no visible weapons:

In the General’s opinion, these rules would be simple to remember and translate well, lent themselves easily to a PSYOP campaign and could actually be enforced.

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Announcement Kismaayo!

We mention “Technicals” above and the Museum of Modern Art was interested in images of Technicals for a project they were working on. As a direct result, I decided to add this one, a rather bland leaflet in black and white, but with a nice image of an armed Technical civilian vehicle. The other side depicts an armed Somali. The text on the front is:

Announcement Kismaayo!

Technicals and machine guns must be turned in to the former police station by at least five o’clock in the afternoon, 31 December 1992. Come with the weapon turned to the back with the mouth of the gun turned down.

After five o’clock in the afternoon, 31 December 1992, any weapon which is found in the town will be taken by UNITAF forces.

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Mine Warning Poster

Besides the 37 leaflets airdropped leaflets, there were also a number of other leaflets that are larger than the standard 3 x 6 inches. Some of these were handed to the Somali people; others were in poster form and attached to poles or buildings. One poster that needs no translation is bright red, shows a skull and crossed bones, and pictures various mines and explosive all around the border.

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A Mixed Group of Mine Warning Posters
Militariaforum.com

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Pointee-talkie leaflet

The Americans also produced a "pointee-talkie" card for use by servicemen who might fall into the hands of the Somalis. The card is printed in black and white and laminated. The front depicts the flags of Somalia and the United States. Some of the 13 phrases in English and Somali are, "My friend, I am hungry. Please provide me with food," and "My friend, if enemy troops come, please conceal me."

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The Gift Card

The UNITAF authority desired to reward certain Somalis who had been helpful to the United Nations forces. They printed a bright yellow cardboard "gift certificate" depicting the 21 flags of the coalition nations and English text on one side, and the flags of the United Nations and Somalia with the same message in both English and Somali text on the other side. The all-English text is, "The holder of this note is entitled to a bag of wheat, to be issued at the stadium complex. This Somali citizen has made a contribution to the Coalition forces by providing useful information. The information assisted Task Force Mogadishu with locating criminal elements, weapons cache sites, the surrendering of a personal weapon or crew served weapons. Treat this Somali citizen with respect and dignity. Authorized signature." The duplicate text on the mixed side of the card is, "Thank you for helping us make your city more peaceful. Please take this note to the Marines at the gate of Mogadishu stadium. You will receive wheat as a token of our gratitude. Consider us your friends. Together, with your assistance, we can make Mogadishu a peaceful city for the future of your children."

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MEDCAP Booklet

Booklets and leaflets were also produced in support of MEDCAP. The booklets were printed in both English and Somali and addressed various health concerns, such as malaria, food sanitation, and hand washing. The booklet depicted above is an example of such a MEDCAP publication, designed by the Product Development Center, B Company, 9th Psychological Operations Battalion (Airborne) in support of Operation NATURAL FIRE, a joint operation between the U.S., Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania circa 1998 in East Africa. 

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Among the oversized (5 1/2 x 8 1/2 inch) leaflets, one depicts a hospital on the front. The text in English is "UNOSOM II MEDCAP." People gather in front of the hospital protected by armed humvees. The back is all text and shows the flags of Somalia and the United Nations.

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Another oversized leaflet is identical on front and back and depicts a doctor at the left and Somali text at the right

 

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UNITAF newspaper RAJO (Hope)

We will now discuss the UNITAF newspaper RAJO. The 4th PSYOP Group booklet says about RAJO:

The daily Somali language newspaper RAJO was first published on 20 December 1992 printed on both sides of 8 1/2 x 14 inch paper. RAJO was distributed to every town and village where UNITAF was deployed…the JPOTF published up to 28,000 copies of RAJO daily; however, average daily publication quantities often did not exceed 15,000 copies because the supply of paper was limited and it was necessary to reduce wear and tear on the print presses.

UNITAF Somalia PSYOP Themes that were incorporated into RAJO included:

Explain that the UNITAF rules of engagement are applied fairly regardless of faction or position. Highlight that UNITAF does not support or favor any faction.

Reinforce that Somalia's problems can only be resolved by Somalis, that UNITAF and relief agencies can only assist the process. Highlight the roles and capabilities of the 22 nations participating in UNITAF, particularly those from Africa and the Islamic world. Highlight the seamless transition from UNITAF to United Nations Operations in Somalia; emphasizing that there will be no change in the rules of engagement or troop performance. Encourage displaced persons to return to their homes to harvest crops and plant fields. Highlight the redevelopment and re-establishment of Somalia's infrastructure. Highlight the agreements made by faction leaders and the consequences for violating those agreements. Focus on the disarmament, keeping everyone apprised of the progress in each Humanitarian Relief Sector.

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PSYOP Soldier passes outcopies of RAJO on the streets of Kisymo, Somalia.

LTC Borchini comments:

Four days after the arrival of the main contingent of forces in Mogadishu, the JPOTF began publishing a daily newspaper and broadcasting a daily radio program — both called “Rajo,” which is Somali for “hope.” At the beginning of operations, the Rajo publishing and editorial staff included 4th PSYOP Group soldiers and civilian specialists as well as Somali linguists from the U.S. Rajo articles covered a number of relevant issues but generally focused on military operations to secure Mogadishu and each of the major towns, humanitarian relief provided to the famine areas, redevelopment efforts, hope for the future and analyses of the reconciliation and national-unity process.

Regular features included interviews with relief-agency staff, public-health information on treating common childhood diseases, the status of security in each humanitarian-relief sector, reports on rebuilding the educational system and judicial institutions, and forming local police forces and security councils. As a complement to the newspaper, the JPOTF established Radio Rajo, a 45-minute, Somali-language program transmitted twice daily on AM/medium wave, FM and shortwave. The program included readings from the Koran, Rajo newspaper articles, selections of Somali poetry and short stories, news about Africa, significant events throughout the world and Somali music. The programs broadcast over shortwave eventually reached every city and town in Somalia where UNITAF forces were located.

One of the most popular features of the newspaper was a cartoon devoted to the comments and the observations of a Somali man named Celmi (after the U.S. Navy sailor who was born in Somalia and served as a linguist for the JPOTF) and his wise friend, the camel Mandeeq. The dialogue between these two characters reinforced various PSYOP themes and described specific aspects of the UNITAF mission.

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Abdi Hirad

It was not only the military performing PSYOP. One of the civilians working for LTC Borchini was a Somali named Abdi Hirad. He served in Somalia from December 1992 to May 1993 along with over 100 other translators and linguists working with the operation. The civilians were sent to Somalia in military aircraft, wore U.S. battledress uniforms, and were fed and billeted by their supported units. He told me:

For the first operation in Somalia (Operation Restore Hope), my main tasks were: Consultant augmenting the US Army's Joint Psychological Operation Task Force; I managed a radio station that broadcast daily programs, supervised and trained local employees; edited a daily newsletter, translated leaflets, handbills, posters, and handbooks; and produced mine awareness literature and recorded loudspeaker messages.

For the second operation (Operation United Shield), I was in Fort Bragg from November to December 1994, and then deployed off the coast of Mogadishu aboard the USS Belleau Wood to March 1995. My main duties included: Service as a civilian linguist with the Joint Psychological Operation Task Force; deployed with the PSYOP Group and monitored and translated daily radio broadcasting of local languages; and summarized local newspapers to gauge the sentiments of the population.

The USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) was a new Tarawa-class general-purpose amphibious assault ship that served off the coast of Somalia as the command platform for Operation United Shield. The ship was named in honor of a WWI United States Marine battle against German forces in June, 1917. The Belleau Wood arrived off the coast of Mogadishu, Somalia on 8 February 1995 and participated in the landing of Marines ashore in Mogadishu for the evacuation of U.N. forces from the country. The withdrawal marked the end of two years of U.N. support for Somalia.

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Certificate of Participation

His site manager requested citizenship for Mr. Hirad and said in part:

He has repeatedly gone among the residents of Somalia to broadcast messages urging them to turn in arms and expose hidden weapons caches. He has been the very foundation for the publication of the Joint Task Force Somalia newspaper. He spent endless hours developing psychological operations leaflets, writing and editing articles and broadcast tapes encouraging a more peaceful way of life. He was the team leader for the publication of all psychological documents…

LTC Borchini adds:

My unit was responsible for developing over 50 different leaflets, handbills and posters…Hirad was the linchpin to my entire operation. Without him, it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible to accomplish the mission…He was our very best Somali translator, and was as good as my very best military writers…

Barton Gellmann discussed the newspaper RAJO in an article entitled "GIs Edit Daily to Tranquilize Mogadishu" in The Washington Post, 24 December 1992. He says in part:

Specialist Jeffrey Hood, a cartoonist, draws a daily strip featuring a young man named Celmi and his camel Maandeeq. ‘Originally I was going to use a donkey but it turns out that certain clans are associated with donkeys, and others aren't, and we don't want to get into that.’ ‘Hey, what is that?’ the camel asks in the first cartoon of the series. ‘It is a leaflet. It says that the combined task force is here to protect supplies for the Somali people,’ Celmi replies. ‘Oh, that is good. There has been enough suffering already’." The author points out that some Somali gunmen were not impressed. "Look here," says one, outraged, "Here is the camel and here is the man. They are talking. They are saying that we are like animals."

The 4th PSYOP booklet mentions the use of radio as a PSYOP medium.

As a compliment to the RAJO newspaper, the JPOTF established a radio station on the US Embassy compound. Radio RAJO conducted a 45-minute Somali language broadcast twice daily on AM, FM, and short wave. The program included a reading from the Koran, a reading of the RAJO newspaper articles, selections of Somali poetry and short stories, news about Africa, significant events throughout the world, and Somali music. After extensive antenna adjustments, the radio programs broadcasted over short wave eventually reached every city and town in Somalia where UNITAF forces were deployed. Guided by a broadcast journalist from the 4th PSYOP Group's PSYOP Dissemination Battalion (PDB), Somali staff members, PSYOP specialists and civilian analysts worked together to develop articles. For example, to encourage Somali clans to put aside their differences and rebuild their country, JPOTF staff members traveled to Marka where they interviewed President Abdullah Usmaan, Somalia's first head of state and an important symbol of national unity. Excerpts from his interview were published in the RAJO newspaper and broadcast over the radio.

The quality of the PSYOP radio improved with the arrival of Abdullah Omar Mohammed. He was a naturalized citizen who was born in Mogadishu, and a contract interpreter for the State Department. He told the Americans not to broadcast a weather report. Weather comes from Allah, and it would be presumptuous for the Americans to attempt to guess what God might do next. He also insisted that the broadcasts start with a passage from the Koran. The station then played a Somali song and the local news. After that, the station played upbeat American music, which was a favorite of many Somalis.

Radio Rajo began broadcasting with 600 watts. It was first heard on 1480 kHz but in January 1993 was heard on the short-wave frequency 9540 kHz.  The humanitarian mission was multinational so the station later identified itself as the "Voice of the United Task Force." When UNOSOM II took over the station it became Radio Manta (Today) broadcasting on both the old frequency of 9540 kHz as well as 6170 kHz. Italian psychological operations troops also broadcast Radio Ibis on 89.7 MHZ FM.

In the book Battle Ready, by Tom Clancy, with General Tony Zinni (Ret) and Tony Koltz, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, NY, 2004, General Tony Zinni (Ret.), Director of Operations, Somalia Task Force, 1992-1993 and Commander of the Combined Task Force protecting the withdrawal of UN Forces from Somalia in 1993 wrote:

One of my responsibilities was to coordinate our psychological and tactical operations.

Though there were plenty of sources of "information," the Somalis had little access to accurate news accounts. Most Somali news sources -- notably, Aideed's--,were nothing but propaganda ... much of it inflammatory. We published leaflets and a newspaper, and set up a radio station, to counter the lies. The paper and radio station, which were called "Rajo"--"hope" in Somali--made Aideed very unhappy; and he counterattacked through his own radio station. A period of "radio wars" ensued.

When he summoned me to his compound to complain about our broadcasts, I told him we’d tone down our broadcasts when he toned down his own inflammatory rhetoric. He agreed.

Another victory for nonviolent engagement.

According to Dr. Robert Cialdini of Arizona State University, Aideed had an understanding of PSYOP:

Somali warlord Mohammed Aideed … distributed toy rifles to Somali children, hoping that some would be mistaken for real rifles by UN troops, prompting them to fire on Somali children, which would make great propaganda against UN troops. The UN recognized this danger and ran influence campaigns, which were unsuccessful in convincing Somali parents to turn in the toy guns. It was only when the head of the Somali Women’s Organization, who was trusted in the community, urged their surrender that the toy guns were turned in.

The Italian PSYOP Contingent

 

The Italian military contingent in Somalia produced PSYOP leaflets, newspapers and radio broadcasts. Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini said more about the Italian PSYOP campaign in his personal monograph "Psychological Operations Support for Operation Restore Hope." He says:

The Italian forces came to Somalia confident in their ability to deal with the Somali people. Based on their historical relations, many Somalis spoke Italian, and the Italians believed that they would have a special relationship with the Somalis. This probably was true to some extent.

I paid the Italian force headquarters a visit. I met their Civil Affairs and PSYOP officer...He showed me several leaflets they had designed, translated into Somali and printed in Italy. They were color, high quality products, that used the phrase "help us to help you" that we adopted and used. One of the leaflets pictured an Italian doctor and nurse treating a baby; however, the baby they were treating was white. We discussed the issue that all PSYOP products must be approved through the J3 (Operations) to insure a singularly focused, well coordinated PSYOP effort, and how we could produce any PSYOP product they needed.

Borchini adds that the Italians also produced a bi-weekly newspaper for distribution in Mogadishu. The Italians had their own radio station, and although once again the Americans worried that they were producing independent PSYOP that might go against the JTF scheme, it turned out that, the station only broadcast music and messages from Italy for the Italian armed forces. The few messages that they did send to the Somali people were concerning medical treatment and vaccinations.

About the Italian operation Borchini concludes:

Although my initial feelings were that only the JTF should produce leaflets or a newspaper, or run a radio station, the intent of the Italians was pure. They wanted only to foster good relationships and promote peace, security and development in Somalia. Through close coordination, we were able to harness their efforts along with ours to maximize the overall PSYOP impact.

The German PSYOP Contingent

This German operation is discussed in an interesting 1999 British Joint Services Command and Staff Defense Research Paper by Chef de Bataillon, M. E. Limon. He says in part:

The German PSYOP organization is Das Fernmeldebataillon 950 Operative Information (FmBtl 950-OpInfo). This battalion, based in Andernach, consists of 709 regular personnel. The Battalion consists of a Headquarters Company; Company Two produces radio and television programs (live or video); Company Three provides all printing capabilities; and Company Four provides loudspeaker teams. A 93-man “Quick Reaction Force” is kept on alert. The Germans normally deploy a small number of personnel to the theater of war, while all the PSYOP products are planned and designed in the Germany-based Headquarters Company. Their mission was to explain the role and objectives of the German forces to the local population, to explain the objectives of the UNOSOM II forces, and to maintain morale of the German troops.

The German element deployed to Somalia was composed of 20 personnel in three teams; a functional Headquarters (4 personnel), a printed products team (12 personnel), and a loudspeaker team (4 personnel and four loudspeaker trucks).

The OpInfo Battalion printed 16,000 copies a week of the newspaper IRRIDA NABADA (“The Gates of Peace”). In addition, they printed 87,000 leaflets and 4,500 posters, many on the subject of landmine awareness. They regularly took part in loudspeaker broadcasts and produced a weekly 45 minute radio program. The personnel remaining in Germany produced leaflets and pocket guides for the German soldiers and 118 hours of radio programs to maintain the morale of their personnel.

The German PSYOP unit explains its Somalia responsibilities thusly:

UNOSOM was the first UN deployment for the PSYOPS forces: From 19 to 29 May 1993 the first two soldiers of Signal Battalion 950 were on duty as a reconnaissance and advance party of the German support unit in Somalia.

On the basis of the reconnaissance results the battalion was assigned the following mission:

1. Distribute information on the mission of the German UN forces among the Somali population.

2. Support non-violent resolution of conflicts.

3. Support troops by providing field postcards and special postmarks and broadcasts by “Radio Andernach” from Andernach, Germany.

4. Produce target audience radio programs for the Somali population to support and explain the UNOSOM II mission.

Originally, this mission was to be carried out by 19 soldiers. As it was impossible to support non-violent resolution of conflicts without the use of loudspeakers, a loudspeaker team of 4 was added.

In the course of the deployment, numerous products were produced by the PSYOPS forces, including flyers, posters and newspapers such as “Gateway to Peace” for the Somali population.

The first UN deployment in the history of Signal Battalion 950 ended on 23 March 1994 with the final parade and deactivation ceremony for the support unit in Köln-Wahn.

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PSYOP Loudspeaker Humvee with Patrol

The 4th PSYOP booklet also mentions the use of loudspeaker teams in Somalia,

From the initial landing on the beach at Mogadishu to the transition to UNOSOM II, the eight loudspeaker teams participating in Operation Restore Hope faced many different challenges. The loudspeaker teams broadcasted numerous messages, including surrender appeals, instructions during weapons sweeps and at roadblocks and announcements to organize crowds at feeding sites. Loudspeaker teams also distributed the UNITAF newspaper RAJO in many of the major towns and villages in each humanitarian relief sector.

As loudspeaker teams were attached to Army and Marine forces in each of the humanitarian service sectors, they were given the responsibility and authority to request specific leaflets based on the situation confronting each maneuver commander

The heliborne PSYOP personnel also disseminated leaflets informing the people of Mogadishu that the objective of the operation was to improve security in the city. It was earlier noted that children liked to chase the leaflets, which also provided a simple and effective way to draw them out of the way of the potentially dangerous areas being searched.

UNOSOM II

UNITAF was a moderate success. Most Somalis were being fed and there was a reasonable amount of law and order within the country. The United Nations was not satisfied. Besides the earlier ongoing missions, UNOSOM II was also entrusted with assisting the Somali people in rebuilding their economy and social and political life, re-establishing the country's institutional structure, achieving national political reconciliation, recreating a Somali State based on democratic governance and rehabilitating the country's economy and infrastructure. Force was authorized. The mission that started with feeding the Somali people and protecting food convoys had become one of building a new society. This is sometimes called "mission creep." That required the neutralization of the warlords, and would lead directly to the American military disaster popularly depicted in the book and movie "Blackhawk Down."

But first, we must mention a lesser known loss of a Blackhawk helicopter that led directly to a PSYOP leaflet being prepared and dropped over Mogadishu. 

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Somali Militiamen on wreckage of “Courage 53”

At 0200 on 25 September 1993, during a night reconnaissance mission over Mogadishu, a 101st Airborne Division UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter with the call sign "Courage 53" was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. The explosion ignited the fuel and brought down the aircraft. As the helicopter fell from the sky in flames, the pilot tried to steer it toward friendly forces occupying the seaport. Instead, the helicopter hit the top of a building and then fell to the ground and skidded over a hundred yards before it came to rest against an embankment.

PFC Matthew K. Anderson, SGT Ferdinan C. Richardson, and SGT Eugene Williams were killed in the fiery crash. Chief Warrant Officer Dale Shrader the pilot, and Chief Warrant Officer Perry Alliman the co-pilot, survived the crash.

Shrader's arm was broken and Alliman was badly burned and blinded. Somali militiamen rushed to the scene and opened fire on the two Americans with AK-47s and hand grenades. Shrader fought them off and killed at least one attacker. In the midst of the firefight a friendly Somali approached the two Americans waving a flashlight and yelling “American boys!” They had no choice but to trust him. He led Alliman and Shrader to a nearby United Arab Emirates unit that was securing the seaport. That Somali saved their lives.

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“Thank you Mogadishu” leaflet

After the attack, in an attempt to foster friendship with the Somali people, UNOSOM printed a leaflet thanking the good citizens of Mogadishu for their help in rescuing the two Americans. The front of the leaflet depicts the downed helicopter, the two injured pilots, the Somali that guided them and others who point the way to safety. Text on the back is:

Thank you Mogadishu. Three UNOSOM soldiers died during the attack on a helicopter last Saturday. But other UNOSOM soldiers were saved by the actions of the brave Somali rescuers. These rescuers are heroes, and UNOSOM salutes them. Their actions bring great honor on themselves and Somalia. 

Michael Clauss who served in Somalia from July 1993 to March 1994 as a sergeant (E5) with the 10th Aviation Brigade (10th Mountain Division) in the Quick Reaction Force S-2 (intelligence section) adds:

We eventually found the Somali who helped the crew and offered him a reward. He asked for a job instead.

In May 1993, all the parties involved in the civil war agreed to a disarmament conference proposed by Mohammed Farah Aideed, the leading Somali warlord. However, on 5 June, 24 Pakistani troops in the UN forces were killed in an ambush in an area of Mogadishu controlled by Aideed. On 8 August his forces detonated a mine under a passing U.S. Military Police vehicle on Jialle-Siaad Street in Mogadishu killing four U.S. MPs. The UN passed resolution 837 calling for the arrest of all involved. On 22 August Task Force Ranger deployed to Somalia under the name Operation Gothic Serpent. The Task Force was made up of U. S. Army Rangers from the 75th Ranger Regiment, 130 members of the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment (Delta Force), and 16 helicopters from the 160th Special Operations Regiment (Night Stalkers). During August and September 1993, the task force conducted six missions into Mogadishu, all of which were tactical successes, although in one instance the task force members mistakenly raided an unlisted UN facility and temporarily restrained some UN employees.

On the afternoon of 3 October 1993, the task force received intelligence that foreign minister Omar Salad and top political advisor Mohamed Hassan Awale, two of Aideed's Habr Gidr clan leaders, were in central Mogadishu. The task force sent 19 aircraft, 12 vehicles, and 160 men to arrest them under Operation Irene. The two leaders were quickly arrested along with a number of other suspects. During the action, two MH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were struck by rocket propelled grenades and crashed. The end result was a 15-hour pitched battle that resulted in 18 American combat deaths and 73 wounded in action. The Somalis desecrated the bodies of the American soldiers and television stations around the world broadcast the scenes. The soldiers could not be rescued by tanks or heavy armored vehicles because Clinton Defense Secretary Les Aspin had personally turned down repeated requests for heavier armor, believing that the sight of such weapons would make the Americans appear to be on a mission of conquest rather than peacekeeping. One American, Chief Warrant Officer Mike Durant was taken hostage, but was returned to American forces on 14 October 1993. Operation Gothic Serpent ended on 13 October 1993. Following these events, the United States reinforced its Quick Reaction Force with a joint task force consisting of air, naval and ground forces equipped with M1A1 tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. At the same time, United States President William Clinton announced the intention of the United States to withdraw its forces from Somalia by 31 March 1994. Secretary Aspin resigned under fire at the end of 1993.

Each year, all over the United States, races are run called the “Mogadishu Mile” in honor of the route taken by American Rangers and Delta Force soldiers from the helicopter crash site to an appointed rally point held by the 10th Mountain Division during the battle of Mogadishu. This is a typical American commemoration of the night when the soldiers fought their way, many on foot, out of Mogadishu while under fire from hundreds of the enemy.

Curiously, the same thing happened after the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. New York City firefighter Stephen Siller was on his way home when his scanner told of the first plane hitting the Twin Towers. Stephen drove his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel only to find that it was closed to traffic. With sixty pounds of gear strapped to his back, he ran through the Tunnel, hoping to meet up with his own company, Squad 1. He was killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers, but each year his dedication is commemorated by a number of races called “Tunnels to Towers.”

UNOSOM II PSYOP

The PSYOP transition from UNITAF to UNOSOM II was not a smooth one. Lieutenant Colonel Charles P. Borchini, the Commander of the 8th PSYOP Battalion and the PSYOP Task Force hired and trained local Somali reporters and journalists, translators, artists, broadcasters, radio producers, and printers so that after the U.S. Army personnel from the 4th PSYOP Group returned to Ft. Bragg and the UN took over, the transition would be seamless. The UN seemed to agree. In February 1993, two UN officials recommended that the operation use the Somali civilian staff with the addition of some UN employees as supervisors.

In March, the UNOSOM II staff surprised everyone by requesting that there be no change in the PSYOP staffing, and that the U.S. Army personnel remain.

In April, the Central Command still planned to have the 4th PSYOP Group redeploy back to the Continental United States. Meanwhile the State Department approved the United Nations request. LTC Borchini reduced the military manpower to the absolute minimum and shipped all non-essential equipment home. At the same time, the UN assigned a single US Army officer to supervise the PSYOP organization.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Admiral Jonathan Howe visited the PSYOP Task Force on 3 May 1993, the night before the change from UNITAF to UNOSOM II was to take place. After seeing the complexity of the operation, he requested more UN personnel that same evening. Meanwhile, LTC Borchini left four noncommissioned officers to supervise the operation until the UN was ready to take full control.

UNOSOM II Leaflets

The official code numbers for the UNOSOM II leaflets are partially known. All start with the letters CH followed by a number. The highest number that I am aware of is 40, but I have at least six with unknown numbers, so there could be more than 40 standard airdropped leaflets. Like the UNITAF leaflets most are fairly crude pen and ink drawings. Some are in color, some not. Some of the more interesting leaflets are:

CH3Somalia.jpg (21903 bytes)

CH3

Leaflet CH3 depicts a white dove of peace being crushed by a fist labeled "USC/SNA" ("United Somali Congress / Somali National Alliance"). Text on the back is:

The people of Somalia are striving for peace, but USC/SNA is bringing armed conflict back to serve their own greedy purposes. Only the Somali people can break the grasp and return peace to the country. Embrace peace and bring Somalia back to prosperity and security.

UNOSOMIICH5.jpg (18045 bytes)

CH5

Leaflet CH5 depicts a Somali woman showing her children where to hide as armed gunmen pass by on the other side of the street. Text on the back is:

Citizens of Somalia. To insure the safety and well-being of all Somali citizens, UNOSOM II asks that if at any time violence or military actions commence in your area, you immediately leave the area or seek the nearest available shelter.

UNOSOMIICH6.jpg (21322 bytes)

CH6

Leaflet CH6 depicts a street with happy civilians walking and shopping in peace. Some citizens enter a building where one of the civilian charity agencies that donate food to the Somali people is located. The text on the back is:

Along with UNOSOM II came the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), bringing food and aid for the people of Somalia. Do not allow this beneficial relationship to be destroyed. When stability returns to Mogadishu so will the NGOs. Cooperate with the UN and continue the progress that has been made toward improving the lives of all the Somali people.

UNOSOMIICH31.jpg (23147 bytes)

CH31

Leaflet CH31 depicts a Somali walking along a road toward a beautiful city with a signpost that says "progress." He pulls a camel that bears the Somali star. Text on the back is:

The answer to Somalia's problems lies within you. The world community will continue to donate its vast resources to the restoration of Somalia, but relief efforts are being hampered by a few individuals. We must work together to end the violence and create a safe secure environment for the relief and restoration of Somalia.

CH10Unosom.jpg (14247 bytes)

CH10

Leaflet CH10 depicts General Aideed at the left and a woman holding her dead husband at the right. Text on the back is:

On 19 June at 1240 a.m., four gunshots were fired by Aideed bandits VIC of K-4. The Aideed bandits were In a white car that shot bullets into a group of innocent Somali people who were in the streets by the Saudi Relief Agency compound. A number of innocent Somali casualties occurred due to this ruthless action by the Aideed bandits. This proves to the Somali people that Aideed is an enemy to the Somali people and the entire world.

UNOSOM asks the assistance of the Somali people to catch the bandit Aideed so that he may be tried by an international court so that the whole world will know of the criminal acts that he has committed against the Somali people.

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UNOSOMIICH12B.jpg (18415 bytes)

CH12

CH12 also depicts the Somali warlord. Text to the left of his sketched portrait is:

To any Somali citizen. UNOSOM is offering a reward to any citizen who provides information leading to the arrest and apprehension of Mr. Aideed, former chairman of the USC/SNA. Information should be provided to UNOSOM force headquarters at gate eight, or Mr. Aideed can be delivered to force headquarters.

The identical message is on the back to the left of a second sketch of Mr. Aideed, this one bareheaded.

The N.Y. Times of 11 June 1993 stated that the United nations is offering $25,000 for the arrest of General Aideed. It says that 500 posters and 60,000 leaflets have been prepared and disseminated.

CNN reported that helicopters dropped "wanted" leaflets showing a drawing of Mohammed Aideed from 22 to 24 June 1993. The English word "wanted" and the Somali words "Raadin Abaal Marin" were on the front of the leaflet. The back had a message offering an unnamed reward for Aideed's capture.

The NY Times of 24 June 1993 mentions the United Nations military campaign against Mogadishu warlord and clan leader Mohammed Farah Aideed:

American gunships bombed the clan leader’s weapon depots and Radio Mogadishu, the site used for General Aideed’s broadcasts, and then ground forces were deployed on 17 June to attack his headquarters. Today the United nations dropped tens of thousands of leaflets over Mogadishu that offered a reward of an undisclosed amount to any Somali who turned General Aideed in or provided information leading to his arrest. Bold letters across the top of the bright yellow posters bearing a sketch of General Aideed proclaim him to be ‘wanted.’ Some Mogadishu residents are collecting the posters as souvenirs.

General Zinni noted in Battle Ready that bombing Aideed's radio station wasn't necessarily a good idea:

The months to follow would show that the UN failed to learn this lesson. Instead of countering Aideed’s hostile media blasts in kind, they tried to close down his radio station. Freedom of the press has to work both ways; we don’t shut down the radio stations just because we don’t like what is broadcast. The resulting confrontation was the opening of the violent war between the UN and Aideed.

CH18Somalia.jpg (17687 bytes)

CH18

Leaflet CH18 depicts an armed helicopter taking aim at a pile of munitions. The text on the back is:

UNOSOM II has taken and will continue to take decisive steps towards reestablishing stability in Somalia. These actions are not directed against any clan or group, but against those who continue to use violence. This destruction of unauthorized weapons and the facilities that contain them will help move Somalia forward intro a new era of stability and peace.

UNOSOMIICH19.jpg (14257 bytes)

CH19

Leaflet CH19 depicts a UN helicopter firing rockets and destroying a Somali armed "Technical" vehicle. Text on the back is:

UNOSOM II will not tolerate any actions which threaten the safety and security of the Somali people or UN personnel. Response to these attacks will be stern and direct. UNOSOM II is determined to end the violence and ensure the restoration and rehabilitation of Somalia.

UNOSOMIICH21.jpg (13812 bytes)

CH21

Leaflet CH21 shows a mother and two children looking at a young man holding a grenade. The text is:

Some of Aideed's supporters are using innocent children to attack UNOSOM troops. These selfish criminals do not care about the Somali people or their safety. They care only for themselves. Parents protect your children! Do not allow them to be used by others to commit violent acts. Children are the future of Somalia. Assist in the capture of these criminals before any children are injured or killed as a result of these ruthless acts.

UNOSOMIICH33.jpg (27758 bytes)

CH33

Leaflet CH33 has a nation building theme. It depicts citizens walking happily down a peaceful street where shops are open and children play. Text at the top is, "Tomorrow's future will be prosperous if..." and at the bottom, "We work together!" The text on the back is:

The world community will continue to donate its vast resources for the restoration of Somalia. We must work together to end the violence and create a safe environment for all the people of Somalia. The answer to Somalia's problems lies within you!

UNOSOMIICH40.jpg (18167 bytes)

CH40

Leaflet CH40 depicts a Somali "technical" armed vehicle firing a rocket. Text on the back is,

Citizens of Mogadishu! Recently the criminal elements of the SNA and its illegal leadership have launched indiscriminate rocket attacks of the citizens of Mogadishu. These attacks have resulted in numerous casualties among innocent citizens. This must be stopped. UNOSOM forces will take direct measures to destroy these rockets and the personnel firing them. We seek your assistance. Report these criminals to the Somali police force or UNOSOM II forces.

Reuters reported on 9 September 1993 that UN helicopters dropped leaflets over Mogadishu warning of eminent military activities. Women and children were warned to stay indoors after dark.

UN Chronicle,June 1993 lists the four phases of UNOSOM II. Military support of relief activity and the disarming of factions would continue. Operations would be extended into Northern Somalia. Once all of Somalia was under control, the military presence would be scaled down and some civilian government supported. In phase four, the military forces would be reduced. UNITAF already occupied 40% of Somalia with 37,000 troops. The UNOSOM II force of 20,000 troops was considered sufficient to control the rest of the country.

The September 1993 issue of UN Chronicle reports on the death of Pakistani peace-keepers:

Twelve of the soldiers were helping to unload food at a feeding station when they were foully attacked by cowards who placed women and children in front of the armed men. On 17 June, UNOSOM raided the headquarters and weapons stores of the SNA/USC faction to deprive General Aideed of weapons and tools needed to intimidate the Somali people.

In the June 1944 UN Chronicle, the headline is "Mandate for UNOSOM II revised. Coercive methods not to be used." The Council on 18 November 1993 in its resolution 886 had asked the Secretary-General to provide a future strategy for UNOSOM II. In the wake of five months of violent confrontations between international peace-keepers and as armed Somali faction, including a 5 June ambush of a Pakistani contingent which resulted in 24 deaths and street fighting in October during which 18 American soldiers lost their lives."

Like UNITAF, UNOSOM II broadcast on the radio and published a newspaper with the same name. Instead of Radio RAJO (Radio Hope), UNOSOM used the name Radio MANTA (Radio Today). The radio station was operated on shortwave by the United Nations staff in Mogadishu. Radio Manta began broadcasting on 4 May 1993 following the handover of the international operation in Somalia from the US-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM). It broadcast news, inquiries about missing persons, songs, plays and poems. The station transmitted in the Somali language from two 600-watt shortwave transmitters. Their schedule was as follows: 0415-0500, 1000-1045, 1100-1145 and 1300-1345 on 9540 kHz. The station also broadcast at 1600-1645, 1700-1745 and 1900-1945 on 6170 kHz. The radio signal was not strong enough to reach all over Somalia.

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Maanta Newspaper

UNOSOM II continued the UNITAF policy and produced the newspaper Manta, (sometimes written as "Maanta"), written by Somalis but edited by the United Nations staff. This paper was distributed in Mogadishu.

I spoke to a Special Forces trooper who served in the 8th and 9th PSYOP Battalions from 1989-1994 and worked on both the UNITAF newspaper RAJO and the UN newspaper Maanta. Both were printed on high speed Risograph machines. He still grieves for five Somali civilians who delivered the newspapers throughout Mogadishu. During one of their delivery runs, they were stopped by a group of gunmen who opposed the UN campaign. The five were executed on the spot. He said:

They may not have been soldiers, but they believed in our cause.

A second member of the 8th PSYOP Battalion who served in Mogadishu from January to October 2003 added:

I have my own memory of these men. Two of them in particular stand out in my mind. The leader of our deliverers was a gentleman we referred to as “the Colonel.” He was older and always carried a walking stick and claimed to have been trained in the United States when there was a legitimate Somali Army.

The second man is the one that still bothers me to this day. I don't recall his name, but he was a young man about 18 or 19. I dip Skoal (a smokeless tobacco), and agreed to buy Skoal for him if he would stop chewing khat (a mild narcotic). When he came to pick up Maanta for the day he would make sure that he had a great big plug of tobacco in his mouth, and I would make sure that he had been laying off the khat. About two weeks later the slaying occurred. I can still picture his face in my mind.

Victor K. Bolena was a Sergeant (E-5) assigned to the 8th PSYOP Battalion from 1990 to 1994 as a 97E Interrogator and Korean Linguist. He arrived in Somalia April 1993 and departed October 1993. He remembers:

We had a very tight knit group and we worked practically non-stop to keep up with demands of the United Nations staff and managing the couple dozen Somalis working for us. A few of us were awarded a United Nations commendation medal by Lieutenant General Bir prior to our departure. The day that our delivery crew was executed was an extremely sad day for all of us.  I think about those men often.  Everything you wrote was correct to the best of my recollection except that I remember that our lead deliveryman was referred to as “the Major” and not “the Colonel.”

One of my favorite PSYOP products was the Aideed “Wanted” poster.  We were actually just toying around with the Old-West wanted poster motif when one of our senior Somali translators told us that we should use it since Somalis love American Western movies.  It took some convincing but the United Nations staff eventually approved the poster and we ran with it. 

This may be the poster mentioned by William J. Durch in UN Peacekeeping, American Politics, and the Uncivil Wars of the 1990s, Macmillan, 1996. Durch says:

Admiral Howe printed and distributed a wanted poster that offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of General Aideed.

Thomas K. Adams adds in US Special Operations Forces in Action, Taylor & Francis, 1998:

The initial response was a counteroffer by Aideed of one million for Admiral Howe’s head.

If nothing else, Aideed apparently had a sense of humor.

Radio Rajo, the voice of the Unified Task Force, was changed to Radio Maanta (Radio Today) with the handover of command from the US-led Operation Restore Hope to UNOSOM-2 (UN Operation in Somalia Phase 2) on 4 May 1993. It broadcast only in Somali and has two short-wave transmitters which with a power of 600 Watts. Their schedule is as follows: 0415-0500, 1000-1045, 1100-1145 and 1300-1345 on 9540 kHz, 1600-1645, 1700-1745 and 1900-1945 on 6170 kHz.

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Certificate of Appreciation – Restore Hope

This was the standard Certificate of Appreciation awarded to members that took part in the Somalia operation. I add this because it actually is a PSYOP product. It sometimes seemed that PSYOP units did more printing for American military units than for the enemy. Fancy full-color certificates are a great motivator and build pride in a unit or individual. I once told an audience that I could borrow a jeep or get a thousand rounds of ammo simply by offering a First Sergeant some notepads with his name and an image of his stripes at the top. Americans love paper. A half-dozen notepads might get you a set of wheels for three or four days, or a GP Medium tent. Everything is up for trade.

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Certificate of Appreciation – Continue Hope

Operation Continue Hope provided support of UNOSOM II to establish a secure environment for humanitarian relief operations by providing personnel, logistical, communications, intelligence support, a quick reaction force, and other elements as required.

Conclusion

Major General S. L. Arnold talks about the U.N. Accomplishments in an article entitled "Somalia: An Operation Other Than War," Military Review, December 1993. He says:

The cycle of starvation in Somalia has been broken. Except for some isolated incidents, the food emergency is over. Factions have turned in many of their crew-served weapons, and disarmament talks are being conducted. Marketplaces have opened and are thriving, while many displaced persons and refugees are moving back to their homes, villages and farms…We have come very close to establishing the right environment to enable the Somalis to arrive at a ‘Somali solution.’ The last obstacle is the warlords. They must join together, combining their power for the collective good of all, or individually, they must lose power. Only then will Somalia be on the road to full recovery.

LTC Borchini adds:

Operation Restore Hope focused international attention on the challenges faced by military forces as they applied their combat talents and training to support different humanitarian objectives. The soldiers of the 4th Psychological Operations Group (ABN) readily adapted to the demanding requirements of the challenge. Based on their experiences in Somalia, they are better prepared to face new opportunities to use their unique skills in operations around the globe. The devastation and loss of life in Somalia humbled our soldiers, but having witnessed how PSYOP directly contributed to that country’s first tentative steps toward peace and reconstruction has also strengthened their readiness to participate in future peacekeeping operations.

The United States Army in Somalia says:

The United States entered Somalia in December 1992 to stop the imminent starvation of hundreds of thousands of people. Although it succeeded in this mission, the chaotic political situation of that unhappy land bogged down U.S. and allied forces in what became, in effect, a poorly organized United Nations nation-building operation. In a country where the United States, perhaps naively, expected some measure of gratitude for its help, its forces received increasing hostility as they became more deeply embroiled into trying to establish a stable government. The military and diplomatic effort to bring together all the clans and political entities was doomed to failure as each sub-element continued to attempt to out-jockey the others for supreme power. The Somali people were the main victims of their own leaders, but forty-two Americans died and dozens more were wounded before the United States and the United Nations capitulated to events and withdrew.

The author encourages interested readers who may have additional information or personal experiences with Somalia and Operation Restore Hope to write to him at sgmbert@hotmail.com.

Note: In September of 2008, I received a request from Cedoca, the Documentation and Research Centre Office of the Commissioner General for Refugees and Stateless Persons of the Belgian agency that is responsible for the processing of applications for asylum. They asked me if I had any information that would be helpful in the case of the asylum applicant General Morgan. What role did General Morgan did he play in the peace talks? Where is he at present? Is his militia based in Southern Ogaden (Ethiopia) and is his family living in the United States? I explained that I simply wrote about the military aspects of the war and have no special knowledge of the current whereabouts of the players. The request would indicate that Morgan is attempting to find amnesty in Belgium.

Addendum

The NCO Journal of August 2013 stated:

In October 2013, the Army will mark the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Mogadishu...As part of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum at Fayetteville, N.C., is in the process of developing an in-depth temporary exhibit dedicated to telling the story of the battle. The exhibit will incorporate video interviews with veterans of the battle, as well as testimonies from Family members and artifacts from the battle.

Fort Benning will also play a role in the exhibit, as Fort Benning TV is helping conduct interviews with subjects who live nearby.

One veteran, former Ranger Sgt. John Belman, visited Fort Benning recently to share the story of his role in the battle. Belman was a member of a combat search and rescue team sent into the streets of Mogadishu after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade on Oct. 3, 1993.

Once the CSAR team arrived at the crash site, Belman said it began to take heavy fire from the Somali militia. As casualties mounted and more and more Soldiers were wounded, Belman said he found himself thinking he probably would not survive the battle. “Very early on, I assumed I was going to die,” he said. “The thought just occurred to me that the odds of us making it out alive were very slim given the amount of fire we were taking, the number of wounded and what we had left to help get us out.”

The CSAR team held its position for 15 hours into the early morning of Oct. 4, when an armored United Nations convoy and elements of the 10th Mountain Division were able to extract it and the survivors of the Black Hawk crash.